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tv   Up W Steve Kornacki  MSNBC  May 5, 2013 5:00am-7:01am PDT

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an express cardmember you can expect some help. but what you might not expect, is you can get all this with a prepaid card. spends like cash. feels like membership. good morning from new york. i'm steve kornacki. seven u.s. troops were killed saturday in two separate incidents in afghanistan. president barack obama this morning is on his way to ohio where he'll give his first commencement address of 2013 at ohio state university. we want to start today with the latest developments in syria this morning. israeli warplanes conducted an air strike inside syria early this morning. the second such strike in just about two days. a senior u.s. official tells nbc news that the target was a military research facility north of damascus. this follows an israeli attack
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overnight thursday that was directed at a suspected shipment of republicans israel said was headed for hezbollah in lebanon. the israeli strikes come amid an intensifying civil war in syria in mounting pressure for the international community to intervene. in an interview during his trip to costa rica, president obama would not comment on thursday's strike says in general he supports the interruption of the flow of weapons to hezbollah. >> the israelis justifiably have to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like hezbollah. we coordinate closely with the israelis, recognizing that they are very close to syria. they're very close to lebanon. hezbollah has repeatedly said that they would be willing to attack as far as tel aviv, so the israelis have to be vigilant, and they have to be concerned.
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and we will continue to coordinate with israel. >> obama's remarks come as the international community and the u.s. specifically weigh the possibility of some sort of intervention in syria after u.s. officials said last week that the regime of bashar al assad had likely used chemical weapons against its own people. in response to those reports in the same interview yesterday, the president virtually ruled out the possibility of sending u.s. troops into syria. >> i cannot see a scenario right now in which american boots on the ground would make any sense, and i cannot see a scenario in which actually the syrian people would benefit from american boots on the ground. >> the president's caution reflects a dramatic shift in how americans think about war from just ten years ago when similar calls to intervene in iraq produced an intractable and unpopular conflict. the chilling horrific reports from syria are likely to prompt many a people to ask what the u.s. can do to alleviate the suffering of the syrian people. but the poll suggest that americans are weighing that
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natural human response against the very real consequences from a decade of war in afghanistan and iraq. a "new york times"/cbs poll on tuesday found that 62% of americans do not believe the u.s. has a responsibility to take action in syria. only 24% of the u.s. does have that responsibility. nbc news chief foreign correspondent is in turkey with more on the overnight developments. >> reporter: steve, this is the second time in just about 48 hours that israel has carried out an air strike in syria. this time in damascus. a witness we spoke to in damascus told us that it began around 2:00 this morning, that there was a huge fireball, something that people across the city could feel. they also felt a giant shock wave. and that after this initial explosion that one person said lit up the night sky turned the night sky into day briefly, there were a series of secondary explosions and that those explosions lasted for about four hours. most of the blasts took place in a very small area in the
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mountains. the mountains are right on the edge of damascus, and the entire area is a network of military bases. it is an area where people aren't allowed to go. heavy security presence. according to rebels, there were at least ten different targets that were hit. a u.s. official said this was an israeli air strike, although there's been no official confirmation from israel itself. some of the different targets that were struck according to rebel sources we've been speaking to, a syrian republican guard base, a missile base, a weapons depot, and it seems that it was as these munitions were exploding. that's why the explosions lasted for so long. the apparent air raid and people, witnesses did hear low-flying aircraft may have been very brief, but then as the explosions continued and continued, people said there was ash and dust raining down on the city. there has been some comment from syrian government officials,
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syrian state tv blamed the attack on israel, said that israel was working in alliance with the opposition, an opposition it calls terrorists. steve? >> nbc news chief foreign correspondent richard engel. right now i'm joined by political analyst joan walsh, the author of a book and editor for professor of middle eastern history and a member of the day-after project, a coalition of syrian opposition groups planning for a post-war transition. andrew tabler, author of "in the lion's den." senior fellow with the washington institute for near east model. and senior fellow at the progress think tank the century foundation. so we're all just sort of digesting the latest overnight. you hear that report from richard engel there, fireballs, ash raining down on damascus. i know we've had israeli air strikes earlier this year, i think back in february, but now
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we're talking about damascus. we're talking about something that to me seems like -- at least it feels like wow, are we entering into something that's rapidly escalating here? i guess the question everybody is asking is what's going on right now? >> i think this is quite a significant escalation in that now we see direct strikes against, you know, damascus itself, the mountains where you have some of the heaviest concentrations of the elite forces of the regime. and just by looking at the pictures and talking to some of our colleagues inside syria, inside damascus, it's not just the research facility but obviously much wider spread of targets that have been hit there. and all this is -- now we need to assess how significant this strike, and this will be reflected in whether the regime is able to continue its ongoing activity on the ground in terms of pounding the positions of the opposition in the outskirts of damascus and inside damascus itself.
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>> and the target status, i mean, reports are sketchy at this point, but it does appear to be somewhat different. it's not just the transfer of weapons to hezbollah, which has been the pattern in previous strikes, but potentially degrading the capacity to deliver chemical weapons, targeting missiles. and so that's -- you know, that's the difference, and i think a much greater escalation than anything we've seen in the past. >> and that point interests me because speaking as a layman here, my understanding has been we have all this talk about red lines, and we'll get into that with how the u.s. and how president obama have used that term. my understanding has been the red line the u.s. has been drawing has basically involved chemical weapons, and the red line that israel has been drawing has basically involved, like you say, the use of weapons, the use of syria as a conduit. now we're getting these reports saying this is israel. this is munitions. and i'm trying to sort of square that. >> well, what we're looking at here is chemical weapons, and the reports we've seen, that's a type of strategic weapon.
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there are other kinds of strategic weapons, surface missiles, scud missiles and sophisticated anti-aircraft systems. so our red lines are different than the israeli's. for the israelis, they're worried about not just chemical weapons but also the delivery systems. and so that's why we're seeing these strikes now. what's very interesting is that over the last few months, israel has been enforcing, laying down and enforcing red lines with assad, and true to form, he hasn't responded after the strike has occurred. this goes back very early in his presidency, also when israel bombed a nuclear reactor. now we have a massive -- i mean, really unprecedented attack, certainly in assad's presidency. it will be very interesting to watch, does damascus continue to do nothing, or do they respond in kind? one of the deputy ministers called last night's strike an act of war. and we'll have to wait and see what damascus does in response. >> do we have any reports on casualties? richard didn't mention that, but it just seems like just looking
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at the pictures and the scope of the bombing, it seems like it's going to be more than just munitions systems. there's going to be -- >> we should say there have not been any reports that we have received. >> unconfirmed reports of casualties of up to 2,000 -- >> unconfirmed. just to stress. >> we don't have anything official. just to add one thing here as well, when we look at this sort of israeli action, to me, it kind of ties in with what you're talking about, obama's red lines. the way i am reading this, i think that the israelis have looked with concern, increasing concern, at the shifting red line that the obama administration has purr susued chemicals. they've taken their own action. in essence, you can interpret this as the israelis saying you know what? we're not waiting for you to sort of step up to the plate. we're going to take care of this problem ourselves. we have serious concerns. and like andrew pointed out,
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they're slightly different, and we're not going to wait. we're going to act now. we're going to ensure these weapons and the delivery systems do not come anywhere near what we consider to be a serious threat to ourselves. >> you mentioned -- and we've teased this a couple times now -- obama's statement on the red line. and this came about a year ago. i do want to play it just for context. this is when obama originally sort of issued the red-line statement last august. >> we cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people. we have been very clear to the assad regime but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. that would change my calculus. that would change my equation. >> and so now we're in this situation where in the last few weeks we have reports of senior u.s. officials saying that they suspect chemical weapons in some
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way have been used. now the president saying we want a fuller investigation of that. and we have a report in "the new york times" today that sort of suggests that maybe that statement last august was more an off-the-cuff statement and the white house is sort of trying to find a way out of it right now. >> that was fascinating. and who once known or believed that it was an off-the-cuff statement that was going to be puzzling everyone for a few days because it does imply there's some attempt to walk away from it. >> there's definitely a division. i think the reason for this red line is not just because, of course, you know, loading chemical weapons into am bos which eventually happened last autumn according to the white house, that's a big worry. but by and large here, we're looking at a situation that assad has been moving up the escalation chain. it went from using snipers, now to firing scud missiles on his own population. and these kind of, you know, developments, this is all taking place in a context, right? i think obama wanted to put a cap on it. but at that time it was a faraway cap.
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we didn't think -- we thought that he was deterrable. assad isn't like that historically. assad is a man who isn't deterred. he pushes red lines. and right now he's pushing obama's red line, and there's a real division on what does america do to respond and not move up our own escalation chain and get sucked into a conflict in a fuller sense. >> and you have just asked the million-dollar question. and we're going to get into it right after this. tylenol works by blocking pain signals to your brain bayer back & body's dual action formula includes aspirin, which blocks pain at the site. try the power of bayer back & body. [ agent smith ] i've found software that intrigues me. it appears it's an agent of good. ♪ [ agent smith ] ge software connects patients to nurses to the right machines while dramatically reducing waiting time. [ telephone ringing ] now a waiting room is just a room.
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michael, i know andrew just raised the point of basically the red line was set more of this abstract-feeling thing maybe a year ago, and now the administration's being confronted with it to believe "the new york times" today maybe they didn't think they were going to be. >> that's right. i would add a note of caution. these are sketchy allegations, reports. there are tests that indicate a likelihood of low-level usage of
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chemical weapons. there are big questions still about chain of custody, perhaps command and control and how decision-making is being made within the syrian military. so i think we're not perhaps at a point where we can draw far-reaching conclusions. and of course, there are the los of other red lines that have been crossed. war crimes, crimes against humanity, usage of chemical weapons is a very important international norm, and it needs to be protected. but i don't think we should see this an isolation as the linchpin that should shift u.s. policy and u.s. strategy. >> although we should say so more recently now when you have the senior -- the suspicions now that chemical weapons have been used, the president sort of clarified, maybe even moved the goalposts a little bit, i think this was a week or two ago where he said now it's the systematic -- the systematic use of chemical weapons on civilian populations. so he's sort of qualifying it. and the feeling i'm getting listening to this is basically this is a guy who does not want to be intervening and is looking
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not to be drawn into it at almost any cost. >> but it's worse because he said we don't know weather and we don't know where. does it matter when and where they were used if they've been used? they've been used. and then the last one, by who? the regime -- delivering chemical weapons is not something that you can just, like, you're sprinkling sort of frosting on a cake. it's a complicated, delicate process. it requires very high certain type of technology, and only the regime has it. to even ask the question of who used it -- >> this is where it gets interesting. i think and very complicated because you're right, at a certain level, we can document all sorts of horrible things, all sorts of atrocities that have played out over the two years. >> look at just a few days ago. >> but i think the question becomes, when we start saying the natural human instinct is to do something, but there can also -- i think there's a com l compelling that doing something could make it worse. >> it's hard to seeing how doing
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lessor the same. the trajectory of the conflict on so many different levels is getting so bad. if the dead pools continue at this rate, we'll reach the 100,000 mark in syria. that's roughly the number killed in bosnia in 2 1/2 years of fighting. that's also the second anniversary in august of president obama saying that assad has to step aside, right? so to continue what we're doing now, it's important to know what was used, right? it's important to go up that chain. but then we have to look at, well, what is the investigative structure here? it's the united nations. the investigation to come and look at the site is being blocked by the assad regime. even the scope of that investigation can only investigate one site. after they go to that one site, they're not allowed to assess who used the weapons. how is that going to help us solve this problem? so i think the united states needs to look at how else can they go about trying to solve this problem, find out what
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happened and keep assad from moving up the escalation chain. i think that's what the white house is asking now. how do you not get sucked into a conflict quickly where you're forced to escalate and do something that could make the situation worse and could also hurt the president politically. >> we shouldn't get stuck in a false binary influenced by the israeli air strike, that the choices here are what we're doing now versus direct u.s. military, a la no-fly zone. there are options and that's where we need to focus at the moment. >> what are some of those options? >> first of all, we have to have an investigation into what happened. the white house leaked a story to "the new york times" a few months ago saying they leaked. you could hit those bombs. those are loaded guns. they could hit that and lay down that red line. there are lots of other things you could do, too. no one is talking about putting
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troops on the ground in syria. the president has said that. the american public won't top late it. there could be missile strikes, a lot of other options that could enforce this red line and keep assad from moving up the escalation chain. >> i've read very compelling arguments saying when you start talking about tactical or focused air strikes, practically speaking, that's very difficult to do. and i think in a lot of the arguments for intervening, people hear -- we mentioned the polls, people hear a lot of echoes of the debate we had ten years ago headed into iraq, and i think that's shaping the conversation here a little bit. i do want to talk about the iraq angle of this after this. [ both ] ugh! when it came to our plants... we were so confused. how much is too much water? too little? until we got miracle-gro moisture control. it does what basic soils don't by absorbing more water, so it's there when plants need it. yeah, they're bigger and more beautiful. guaranteed. in pots. in the ground. in a ukulele. are you kidding me? that was my idea.
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i was talking about sort of the echoes of the iraq debate from a decade ago maybe being a little evident in the syria debate we're having now. i want to play lindsey graham from last week on "face the nation." >> if we keep this hands-off approach to syria, this indecisive action towards syria, not knowing what we're going to do next, we're going to have a
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war are iran because iran's going to take our inaction in syria as meaning we're not serious about their nuclear weapons program. we need to get involved. and there's a growing consensus, bob, in the u.s. senate that the united states should get involved. >> so when i hear that and when i hear other sort of arguments for taking a more aggressive approach to syria, i think of, in the run-up to iraq, we heard all about the atrocities that saddam hussein had committed against his own people. we were all horrified by that, rightly. we heard we cannot allow a mad man like saddam hussein to defy the u.n. because it will embolden him and others like him. those are the two arguments i remember resonating besides the wmd before iraq. and now we're hearing all of the atrocities, we're rightly horrified about, and we're hearing we have this red line and if we don't back it up, he will be emboldened, iran will be emboldened. if we fell for it in iraq and it
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didn't work -- >> do we have national interests in preventing syria from collapsing as a state, becoming a failed state, and what implications that would have on the region as a whole, and our strategic interests in that region. there's also the humanitarian side as well. i'll let maybe andrew talk about the strategic side, but for me the humanitarian side is also very important. there is a humanitarian catastrophe. we hear of ethnic cleansing and the dangers of what might happen if, you know, the opposition wins and what will happen and so on and so forth. right now if we refer to the sunni population, part of the -- as the majority, they're being massacred. we had horrible, horrible scenes coming out near banas, terrible massacres being perpetrated, and now parts of the population are moving out of those areas because they're the wrong sect. and this is also something that
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is moral that we, if we are able to do something, then we should try and do something about it. let alone the strategic interests that we have and the catastrophe that would happen if you would allow a state like syria to collapse. >> we do have interests in syria. there's the humanitarian angle. there's the question of spillover which is increasingly clear with hezbollah and other actors directly involved. iran is directly involved in this fight to a great extent. we have the issue of growing radicalization within the rebel movement. these are all very serious concerns, and we do have interests. i think the question is how do you best vindicate those interests? and again, you know, we don't -- the escalation ladder of potential u.s. actions i think somewhat obscures the debate. and i worry that we're going to see an israeli air strike and immediately extrapolate as to what the u.s. can do, not contextualizing the sort of limits that face the united states that don't face israel. and of course, the united states getting involved isn't a one-off raid.
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the united states would have to be seriously concerned about political ramifications and the sense of responsibility for the aftermath. so i think we can talk about things like intelligence sharing, targeting fuel depots, logistical supply chains, perhaps air crews. these are all things that could have an impact. but more importantly, i think we also have to think about this as a multiyear protracted conflict. there is no -- there's no indication at this point that there is any kind of silver bullet, even if we imagined american involvement in setting up a no-fly zone. this is a resilient regime. we don't see many defections anymore. it's clear that this is going to be with us for some time. and i think we have to shift accordingly. >> i think we're looking at a situation here where i think michael's absolutely right. i mean, the initial thing is how do you keep assad from using the full lethality of his arsenal. that conflict has generated
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essentially the meltdown of syria. three general parts, one is what's left of regime control and there we have hezbollah, terrorist organization, very active. in the center, in the sunni areas, but also we have an al qaeda affiliate also very active. and then the kurdish areas, we have the pyd which is an affiliate of the pkk, another terrorist organization. three syrias, three terrorist organizations active. and this conflict is pushing people over the borders. hundreds of thousands of people going across the border into jordan. if the numbers continue, we'll have about 770,000 syrian refugees in jordan by june 1st, okay? these countries can't handle that number of people. half the syrian population on the move. it's time to deal with the disease itself and not just the symptoms of the disease. but how do you do it in a smart way that keeps you from getting completely sucked in to a conflict that america is not willing to fight? so how is america willing to be more assertive to try and help arrest the situation and shape
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an outcome in syria, some of the things that michael was talking about here in the future. >> and you get the idea of america not being willing to have that fight. and i want to look a little closer about that because it's really striking to me if you take the last ten years and the ten years before, how dramatically public opinion towards the idea of intervention has changed. and we'll get into that after this. my mother made the best toffee in the world. it's delicious. so now we've turned her toffee into a business. my goal was to take an idea and make it happen. i'm janet long and i formed my toffee company through legalzoom.
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choose ishares for their etfs. ishares by blackrock. call 1-800-ishares for a prospectus, which includes investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. read and consider it carefully before investing. risk includes possible loss of principal. major ingredient of the discussion here, and we talk about potential u.s. involvement, potentially ramped up u.s. involvement in syria, is public opinion here. and it really is striking to me. i talked about the parallels to iraq earlier. and i just remember, you know, ten years ago we were in the wake of 9/11. so obviously there was a lot of fear in this country. also, we had a reaction to the stories of saddam hussein gassing his own people, saddam hussein killing his own people. and i think it was very human and very understandable that these stories just absolutely horrified us. and so the idea of hey, we can do something, we should do something i think was very appealing to people. and it also came after a decade -- i can remember in 1991 when we had the first gulf war,
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we relatively speaking, there weren't a lot of casualties in that for the united states. and i can remember the drumbeat throughout the '90s, the only mistake that the first bush administration made in iraq, in kuwait, was not finishing the job, not going into baghdad and taking out saddam hussein. it fed this idea in my mind that war was easy. >> and there was a concern we hadn't reacted in rwanda, hadn't acted fast enough in kosovo. there were things that were not easy but doable and didn't destabilize whole regions. you kind of carried that lesson into iraq where it turned out not to have any validity whatsoever. >> and there were successful interventions in the 1990s. >> right. so that's what i worry about here. we talked about there are certain things we can do in targeted air strikes, might be easier, nothing's easy, but really nothing is easy. and if it was easy, the administration would be doing it. i don't want to give them too much credit. there's obviously disarray over there. but when i see lindsey graham
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beating the drum for more war and i see this becoming a partisan battle where republicans are trying to paint themselves as hawkish, i think the american skepticism about where this is going is very valid. the american people are very smart about this. >> i think the american public should know at this point the limitations of american military power. >> yes. >> there are real limitations and sort of the efficacy particularly of air power alone, you know, how does this link up to achieving any of the political objectives that have to be part of the discussion when we're thinking about syria. i think people are rightfully cautious. >> but let me jump in here. i mean, let's look at this. what we're trying to do is, in effect, take away from assad his most potent hitting power, and that's the air power and the scud missiles that he's using to flatten his cities. and i think to do that is not as complicated as some would like to say. you know, you don't have to have a no-fly zone simply to stop planes flying.
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you can do this by taking out the airfields. targeted cruise missile strikes or a similar ordnance against these air foofields could knockm out. without the air power, without the scuffle missiles, and that could be a significant impact on the regime to pursue war at the escalated level it is pursuing it now. and might actually provide the sort of game changer that we want and open doors to areas, possibly even, you know, to political negotiated transition because that might then force assad to reconsider their calculus. right now with those resources available to them, they're not going to change. they're not going to change their behavior. >> but let's put it in perspective, too. air power is probably about 10% of the mix in terms of what the assad regime is using. this isn't the linchpin. i think it's important in terms of harassing areas outside of its control, but this isn't a regime that is reliant solely on air power. >> no, but you talk to the guys on the ground and why some of their offensives fail, it's always because the air power -- as soon as the air power comes
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into play, it stops any offensive. it stops everything in its tracks. and also its indiscriminate use against civilians has caused the most horrific of casualties. >> isn't there another issue here? i think juan made this point, if you really want to disable chemical weapon capability, that's something that almost necessarily requires ground troops. >> i think it would depend on, are you trying to deter assad from using them and make him responsible for using them or try and destroy the depots? that's one way of looking at it. by and large we're confusing a couple things here. one is, there's a difference between being assertive and being aggressive, okay? what the world -- i just came back from a long trip to all of syrian's border regions with the exception of iraq. we have tons of people with lots of money. they want us to be more assertive. they want us to follow through on our words to get assad to step aside. they want us to lead a coalition. when i asked them, why don't you do it yourselves?
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we have too many cross-purposes. they want our leadership, right? that's different than -- i think it's very good to be cautious about the use of military power, right, and how you use it. it's part of the mix. we need to do a lot more. we need to focus and have a coalition to get rid of the assad regime and to try in that process to have relations with the opposition on the ground in all of the areas and to try and gather them around a common cause so that after the war is over, that they can then get together and reform the syrian nation in a more democratic way and in i away that is more in keeping with the sort of zeitgeist of the overall revolution as a whole. i think if we do that, if we focus on doing that and then we focus on some of the other stuff later on, the post-assad syria things, i think we will be able to accomplish something. >> can we really do that and how do we do that? >> we can help shape it. i'm not talking about unilateral action. we can help lead this coalition in various ways, whether it's politically at the u.n. look, a deal with the russians or to try to get assad to leave,
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it's a great idea. maybe we can pursue it at the end of this process, try and pursue it from the ground up instead of the top down. secretary kerry is going to russia next week. we don't expect him to walk away with anything. but if we could get him to walk away with something at the end of the year after working with the opposition on the ground and trying to convince -- trying to work with them to have a viable alternative to assad that's more organized, more coherent. but like michael said, this is a multiyear conflict that's going to go on, and it's going to involve a political strategy at the end of these military means. >> it won't be the last conversation we have. i want to thank you, andrew tabler, michael hanna. can the voters who made obama president make his agenda reality? that's after this. o help make e. what if you could save over $500 bucks a year by changing one small thing? yeah, let's do it! let's do it. the average fast food breakfast can run you over $4 a meal per person. i know. walmart has a ton of breakfast options. a meal like this costs about $1.64 per serving. if you replace just one fast food breakfast each week
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[ male announcer ] at visa signature, every upgraded experience comes from listening to our cardholders. visa signature. your idea of what a card should be. that's 3 moves, 5 jobs, 2 newborns. it's no wonder i'm getting gray. but kate -- still looks like...kate. with nice'n easy, all they see is you -- in one simple step, nice'n easy with colorblend technology, gives expert highlights and lowlights. for color that's perfectly true to you. i don't know all her secrets, but i do know kate's more beautiful now, than the day i married her. with the expert highlights and lowlights of nice 'n easy, all they see is you. the new coalition that powered barack obama to the white house in 2008 and it kept him there in 2012 has so far proven one thing. it will show up at the polls when barack obama's name is on the ballot.
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but the long-term future of the president's agenda and of the values that move his supporters hinges on whether that coalition will become a permanent, full-fledged participant in electoral politics. whether, in other words, obama's voters begin treating every election like it's 2008 or 2012. there are two new reports that offer a revealing glimpse into whether that coalition will be the change they've waited for. one study conducted by a demographer at the brookings institution found that despite widespread republican-led efforts to suppress their turnout, african-american voters last fall participated at a greater rate than white voters for the first time in history. their mobilization and that of other non-white con stin wencys proved decisive in his re-election. if white and black voters had voted in the same proportion last year that they did in 2004, we would actually have president romney today. another study found that young people, another crucial part of the obama coalition, are as
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distrustful of the political system as they've ever been. while a slight majority under 30 say they approve of the job obama is doing, just 39% say they trust him to do the right thing, down from 44% in 2010. and just 18% of young people say they trust congress, again, that's down from 25% in 2010. those numbers pose a challenge for democrats and for the president. as obama said in a speech to organizing for america in march, he's hoping to keep those voters engaged in the years between elections. >> what we want is to make sure that the voices of the people who put me here continue to be heard, that they're not just heard during election time. that they're not just heard in terms of dollar solicitations, that we are helping to build or sustain a network of citizens who have a voice in the most
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critical debates that are going to be taking place over the next year, year and a half. and if it works, potentially beyond. >> i want to bring in msnbc contributor maria teresa kumar. nia henderson, national political reporter at "the washington post," and nate cohn, basically the numbers guy there at "the national republic." i guess we listened to the president, and he could have said, in my mind, he could have drawn a distinction between presidential elections and then say midterm elections because that's sort of the story over the last four years. the president and his party were empowered by the 2008 election with massive majorities in both chambers. and you had in 2009 and 2010 the most productive sort of legislative session this country's had since the great society, the lbj days back in the 1960s. then in 2010, the obama coalition did not show up. you had a republican revolution in the house. they nearly got control of the senate as well.
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and the obama agenda has largely been stalled since then. and that's what we're living with right now. so the real question for this coalition -- i mean, there are two questions. will it ever show up again? secondly, will it show up in those midterm elections when the legislative branch is chosen? >> probably not. i mean, history shows that they haven't shown up. you had women in 2010 pretty much reverse course, and they backed obama greatly in 2008, backed republicans to a greater extent in 2010. they haven't been able to figure that out. you had the obama coalition -- or the obama supporters go out and plead with black people, you know, have his back again. they were on black radio, for instance, with those young folks, african-americans, latinos just haven't shown up. i think one of the things you see obama doing at this point is the whole gun-control debate. that's one of the ways they want to try to keep folks engaged, urban folks, african-americans,
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suburban moms. but if you look at what's happened at the legislative agenda so far, you still have a republican house that doesn't care about the obama coalition. they weren't elected by these folks. they're not having to be held accountable in that way. >> i think from 2010 to today, we actually have one big player that is not actually backing a lot of the tea party, and that's the media. the media for more than anything has actually backed away from supporting a lot of these candidates. i think folks on the conservative side have realized it's not good business. number two, what's going to motivate the voters in 2014 is a lot of the local legislative fights that are happening. when you start talking about gun control, yes, but then you start looking at this whole rash of legislations that are against a woman's right to choose. more than anything, that's what's mobilized people. so the more they can go and start talking about local legislative races and how this is definitely still very personal, you have an opportunity. and again, it's going to be a different -- it's historically people don't turn out for the midterm elections, but because there's so many things on the
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ballot that are so personal for individuals like gun control, like a woman's right to choose, that might be the base. >> in a way it's sort of a age-old question. if you look at midterm elections, we have lots of parties who have gained 30, 40 seats. it's like a miracle when bill clinton and the democrats got five seats in 1998. oh, my god! put him on mt. rushmore. at a certain level, it's sort of unfair. it's also very tantalizing for democrats to look at the results in 2012, to look at the demographic trajectory of the country to say this is a country that's becoming less and less white, millennial voters, college-educated voters, are now overwhelmingly breaking for the democratic party. if you look at those trends and if you could get that turnout, you're looking at a long-term majority that could really do things. >> and is eventually going to filter down. between 2006 and 2010, it declined to 77%. if that continues in 2014,
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you're down to 75%, which is basically the '08 electorate at that point. the problem, though, is with even the 2012 electorate, democrats didn't win the house because of the way these congressional districts are drawn. even if democrats get the turnout they need, there's not much prospect for them to regain the chamber. >> that's an interesting point because a lot of people talk about the word here is gerrymandering. the democrats didn't win the house because of it. it's more complex. it's population distribution, isn't it? >> yes. democrats do better in cities than republicans do in the countryside. since we assume that our districts should preserve, when you draw these urban districts, they waste more democratic votes than the republicans waste in their rural districts. >> right. >> to nate's point, one way the democrats can start picking off a lot of these folks within gerrymandering districts, is identify those politicians that actually want statewide office, whether senators or governorship. it opens it up to the whole demographics and they have to be
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careful where they stand on their policies if they do want a long-term national platform. >> we're still seeing those republicans, if we're talking about republicans, more afraid of either tea party or right-wing challengers than of liberal democrats that they might have to face down the road. >> but i think what they're doing is this is what happened with the romney campaign. the romney campaign was running as if they had a tea party backing and they were going to have major turnout. again, the conservative media platform is just not backing them anymore. they keep -- and this is the same thing with cruz. they keep making these calculations that they're in a different time. where the rest of the country is not. >> i remember -- i was in virginia on election day last fall. i remember talking to republicans that day. what it would really come down to, they were very friendly about this. there wasn't any maliceness. the black voters who turned up in 2008 are not going to come out today. i want to look very closely because that statistic was astounding in the report this week that participation rate of black voters this year -- last year outpaced whites for the
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so we've mentioned the very high participation rate of african-american voters last year. and from this brookings study last week basically outpaced white voters. nate, there's an implication that you took issue with this week. we'll get to that. on the broader question of that very high african-american participation. i remember there was a statistic right after the election. you look at ohio, swing state of ohio, where the african-american share of the vote went from 11% in 2008 to 15% in 2012. and obviously that ended up being the state where karl rove went crazy and the democrats won the election. that was the key state. you can really look at the big impact there. i guess what i'm kind of curious about is what is driving that? is it a response to having an african-american leading the ticket? is it in response to that african-american being sort of under real attack from the right for four years and really rallying around him? is it a response to voters suppression? is it a permanent mobilization? is it all?
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is it some? >> i think it's clearly all of those things. i mean, it's clearly having our first african-american president, clearly having him treated really horribly with so much racially tinged and racist opposition. and i totally think that the voter suppression efforts backfired. voting, once again, became a civil rights movement. and the response of organizations on the ground was unbelievable and excellent. people didn't just whine. they mobilized. they said, these are the problems. these are the laws that need to be changed, but we're also going to get our people to the polls. whether we're going to see all that again, we're obviously not, at least in the next -- well, we could have deval patrick. i don't want to rule anything out. >> that's a question -- that's the question i kind of asked. is the lesson of 2008 and 2012 for democrats, you need to have a non-white presence on your ticket going forward? >> i think it is ultimately about the candidate. >> right. >> maybe it's deval patrick. maybe it's hillary clinton.
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i don't think it's cuomo or o'malley, no offense to those governors, but i do think it is about obama and some of the things you just said. all the sort of racially tinged language. republicans misjudged the coalition. they look at the coalition and say, we've got to really peel away latino voters. they are misjudging the fact that the coalition is about african-american voters as well. and that you can reasonably argue that bush doesn't win the presidency in 2004 if he doesn't do well among african-americans, not only in ohio, in florida, in north carolina, in virginia. he was able to double his share of the black vote in those states. nationally he didn't do great, 10% or 11%. mostly people look at that and they say it's about the latino vote, but he was only able to increase his share of the latino vote mostly in the republican south and texas. >> speaking of 2004, i want to get this in because we said this earlier, the brookings study says that in 2004, if the election had been held with the turnout figures from 2012,
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that -- excuse me, if you had it in 2004, that romney would have won. nate, i know you did the numbers and you came to a different conclusion. >> yeah, i think that conclusion is premature. the study compares the 2012 exit polls with the 2004 current population survey from the census. and by mixing those numbers together, you end up exaggerating the amount that turnout changed over those two elections. in reality, the amount that turnout increased among minority groups is much more modest. take colorado where whites were 7878% of the electorate according to the exit polls, but the current population survey is probably going to say it was something like 84%. and that big gap in the suddeny winds up being attributed to changes in turnout rates when in reality it's due to the different methodologies of the two studies. while it's true that latinos alone are insufficient for republicans to take back the presidency, it's also true that changing black turnout rates isn't sufficient for the president to enact the presidency. according to the census, democrats got an additional 1.5 million votes. obama won by 5 in the electoral
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college. there are a lot of states where the black vote doesn't play as big. if you think colorado is the most important state you could argue because it was obama's 270th electoral vote, the black population there is very small. >> we're up against a break, but i want to get into also the other components of the obama coalition. talking about latinos, young people and women. talk about a lot of things after this. white marks or worries. [ man ] on in 5! [ female announcer ] it works as hard as you do... to outlast your day. [ man ] action! wow! [ female announcer ] secret outlast clear gel is better than the next leading invisible solid on white marks. secret outlast clear gel. ♪ the middle of this special moment and i need to run off to the bathroom. ♪ i'm fed up with always having to put my bladder's needs ahead of my daughter. ♪ so today, i'm finally talking to my doctor about overactive bladder symptoms. [ female announcer ] know that gotta go feeling?
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i appreciate it. i'll be right back. they didn't take a dime. how much in fees does your bank take to watch your money? if your bank takes more money than a stranger, you need an ally. ally bank. your money needs an ally. hello from new york. i'm steve kornacki here with msnbc political analyst joan walsh, also with maria teresa kumar, nia-malika henderson from "the washington post" and nate cohn with "the new republic." the obama coalition, it's also been called the coalition of the ascendant. i think ron brownstein coined that term. i've been ripping it off for months, so i'm going to keep using it. the issue of latino voters.
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obviously that's sort of at the heart of the immigration, this effort by republicans to cut into the huge advantage that democrats have racked up for a couple of straight elections now. you know, in excess of 70% among latino voters. you know, maria, how permanent do you think the democratic advantage with latino voters is that they've sort of developed? >> i think that what's interesting about the latino vote is they're issue-based voters. i think that's when you start talking about how are they going to go, it really is going to hinge on the immigration passage of that legislation. and it has to include a pathway to citizenship because short of that what's going to happen is that if they don't pass the pathway to citizenship for the majority of latino voters, they're going to say you just don't think we're american. and republicans will still have a voting problem within this group. but taking a step back of what's happening with the 2016 election and you start talking about is the obama coalition going to stay fierce, is it still going to come out? i think what's going to happen is if the republican party still is anti-gun regulation,
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anti-women, anti-immigration, anti-health, all those things and voter suppression, all those things together, it's going to make this election very personal once again. and i think once again, they are counting on a pop star not being on the democratic ticket, but their policies, at the end of the day, is what's mobilizing folks locally. >> when we talk about the latino vote, the white whale for democrats has been texas. for 20 years i've been hearing, we have the changing population in texas. and that is going to lead to -- that's going to lead to a permanent democratic majority or a democratic majority there. >> what's interesting is texas, they're actually developing a deep bench of leadership of latino leadership that they didn't have -- that the democratic party didn't have before. obviously you can start with the castro brothers, but you also have pete guy yea gallegos. 2.4 million latinos unregistered in texas. when you talk about the great white whale, people are looking at it district by district
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recognizing there is an incredible opportunity. they also have the lowest turnout for all 50 states. it's a challenge. >> nate wrote something really fascinating about this. what we forget about when we talk about the rising prominence of latinos in texas is there's sort of been maybe a backlash among white voters in texas. you said that's why republicans have sort of survived the wave so far. can you explain that a little bit? >> i'm not sure whether the backlash among white voters is causal if you were suggesting that, but it is the case that democrats have done worse among white voters in each of the last four presidential elections in texas. to the point where there are counties in texas where romney is winning 90 plus percent of the vote. that's allowed republicans to basically balance the changing composition of the texas electorate. now, with romney winning texas by 16 or 17 points, it's going to be a long time before enough hispanic voters are schedule tered to turn out to vote before you can overcome republicans winning something like 75% or 80% of texas white voters. >> i think that's right.
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i mean, you have efforts down there, i think some of the obama folks are probably down there right now trying to figure this issue out. and if you look at other states, democrats are also looking at georgia, talking to kassim reed, an up-and-comer, mayor of atlanta. they're looking at this demographic shift, but they do, i think, need to be cautious because ultimately it will come down to who the candidates are at the top of the ticket. and also, if you look at somebody like rubio, rubio doesn't need to run the board if he runs for president. he doesn't need to run the board with latinos. he really needs to get, you know, maybe 15, 20 more points over what romney was able to do. and then he has a pretty good chance. i think the problem there, if clinton runs, clinton -- the only candidate that latinos love more than obama is clinton. so but again, i do think democrats do need to figure out how to deepen their bench. you talk about texas. but nationally, they certainly
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don't have a deep bench compared to what republicans have. >> and especially we talk about maybe if one of the lessons of '08 and '12 for democrats to have a non-white presence on the ticket, we could talk blacks who are in the pipeline, deval patrick, governor of massachusetts, and that's where -- >> maybe ckamala harris who is really attractive, apparently. >> we're not going to get into that. the other group is young voters. we have a statistic that really -- i want to put this up. this is a graph of voter turnout in 2008, 2010, 2012. this illustrates it perfectly. they're there for obama in 2008. they disappear in 2010. they're back in 2012. and it seems like, again, this is something that democrats look at and say if we could make this a regular part of our coalition, there's a lot of potential here. but how do you do it? >> well, i think one of the worrisome things is that the republicans have figured out that if they can just thwart the president, it's not just about
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thwarting the president for the fun of it -- it is fun for them -- but it's also about blocking his agenda and making this generation that's coming up in this era very cynical about government. and you're seeing that there's also that recent poll that showed they are -- they are losing hope. they are worried that things can't change. you know, they may not entirely understand why. and they certainly blame the republicans more than they blame obama, but they blame both parties. and so i have a little bit of fear about the lesson of this gridlocked second term if that's the way it turns out. >> we talked about this a little bit on the show yesterday where you enter into this cycle in washington, i think ezra klein wrote about it this week. a candidate like obama comes along promising to change washington. people invest so much hope in the individual not realizing that congress doesn't belong in the same party. >> right. >> you're going to have that kind of gridlock. i want to play a back-to-back set of clips that speak to what you're saying. you might remember this. this is from 2008 when clinton
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was running against obama. she took a lot of heat for this at the time. i want to play it. >> none of the problems we face will be easily solved. now, i could stand up here and say, let's just get everybody together. let's get unified. the sky will open. the light will come down. celestial choirs will be singing. and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect! >> you seem to suggest that somehow these folks over there have no responsibilities and that my job is to somehow get them to behave. that's their job. they are elected, members of congress are elected in order to do what's right for their con stin wencys and for the american people. >> it feels to me like barack
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obama has learned in his time in the white house what hillary clinton learned in her time in the white house with her husband, and that maybe that contributes to the cynicism among young voters. >> what contributes to it today and even 10, 15 years ago was that the cynicism happened before is that they weren't participating in politics. they weren't paying attention because they weren't going to the polls. now what you're saying is that the re-election of obama wasn't an anomaly, that they are paying attention, and they're starting to understand how the process works. what you find, too, pew did a study, if you have a voter that votes three times, they become a lifetime voter. you're actually going into a group of folks that are becoming third-time voters, hopefully, and they're engaged. so yes, they may be cynical, but they're starting to understand the process and at least they're engaged and recognize what they need to do to move forward with their agenda. >> i think they're engaged, but they're also unemployed. a lot of folks coming out of college have a ba degree, liberal arts degree like maybe we all do at this table, just
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not worth what it used to be. you have this generation of voters who had so much hope when they went to the polls and voted for obama and then just see, what does this mean for their lives? what sort of changes has what he's done in office actually meant for their fortunes? >> i guess the political science on this is that voter preference, party preference, gets locked in place around the time people are in college, and the hope for democrats obviously is that with that enthusiasm for president obama, that translates into a long-term advantage. i guess the risk is that it translates into disillusionment instead, and it's people who aren't engaged. >> the ones that are the easiest to pick off are young white men. they're more susceptible to the republican agenda. what's going to move them, it's jobs and they must feel hopeless because they are not fulfilling the american dream that their parents and grand parents have. there's an opportunity for them to speak directly to them. when you look at young women,
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people of color, that's harder to do. one of the demographics that folks don't talk much about but that really proved critical was the asian vote and the fact that they are increasingly growing. and you ask them why are they participating in politics for the first time? a group that historically has not. and a lot has to do with the tone of immigration as well and the fact that they want to be seen as americans >> i want to thank maria teresa kumar for joining us this morning. what you don't know about anthony wiener that has nothing to do with twitter, that's next. ? no, not at all. how many of these can we do on our budget? more than you think. didn't take very long, did it? this spring, dig in and save. that's nice. post it. already did. more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. keep you yard your own with your choice lawn insect controls, just $8.88. if you have high cholesterol, here's some information that may be worth looking into.
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for the record, i really didn't think it was fair that anthony wiener's political career blew up two years ago because of some exchanges with women on twitter. exchanges that were lewd definitely, but they were also consensu consensual. i also didn't think it made it that far up the political ladder in the first place.
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as you may have heard, weiner is eyeing a political comeback as mayor of new york. it has to do with where, when and how his career was launched. a devious choice that weiner made in getting a -- in the interest of get ing ahead in politics. let's set the scene, brooklyn, august 1991, crown heights neighborhood where african-americans and hasidic jews had been living in uneasy co-existence. a boy is struck by a van driven a hasidic jew. he's killed. tensions that had been simmering for years boil over. some of the outraged black residents turned to violence. ros rosenbaum who is in the u.s. to pursue a graduate degree who had nothing to do with the accident is stabbed to death. a riot ensued. stores are looted. 129 arrests are made. there's panic around the city. race relations are rip add part. the rioting lasts three days until a fragile peace is established. at the same time that all of this is happening, a race for
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new york city council is heating up just a few neighborhoods away. anthony wiener is one of the candidates. he's young, just turning 27, he's been working as a staffer for the local congressman, chuck schumer. weiner is ambitious, very ambitious. he previously thought about moving to florida, thinking there might be more of a chance to run for office there. this is his big moment. if he can win the democratic primary, he'll win the city council seat. if he can win the city council seat, he can go somewhere bigger from there like, i don't know, congress. but he's the underdog. he doesn't have the endorsement, money, the deep local ties that his two opponents do. he's been joust hustling them, but it might not be enough. when brings to the flyer. you called them ed koch democrats back then. they're terrified by crown heights, infurious at the mayor, david dinkins. soon enough, these voters, thousands of them, open their mailboxes and discover the flyer. it invokesdinkins, the first black mayor, jesse jackson and
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adele cohen and urges voters to, quote, just say no to the jackson/dinkins agenda. it's unsigned. no one wanted to be associated with it, but the message couldn't be clearer. when the primary is held, there's a surprise winner, young weiner beats cohen by just 195 votes. only after that, only when it doesn't matter anymore, does weiner admit that the mailer was, in fact, his. we didn't want the source to be confused with the message, was his explanation. "the new york times" chastises weiner for his, quote, hit-and-run tactics in an editorial, but no one reads that. just like that, the whole episode is forgotten, lost to history which, of course, is exactly what weiner was counting on. he joins city council, makes a lot of noise, gobbles up media attention and campaign cash and perfectly positioned to inherit the congressional seat in 1998. you know the rest of the story. forget all that twitter stuff. this is the story that reveals something important about what weiner's been willing to do in his public life. he made an ugly appeal to
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voters' worst nature. he did it at a very sensitive time. he did it to get ahead and because he figured no one would catch him. really he did get away with it. if it hadn't been for the twitter silliness, he'd be well on his way to being mayor right now and maybe more. earlier this week when salon brought up weiner's 1991 campaign, weiner himself contacted them to express his irritation with what he called, quote, a completely made-up report. but when the editor asked him for specifics, he didn't refute any of the key elements of the story. this morning in a story in the "new york post," he offers an apology. the point here isn't just to single out anthony wiener although as he flirts with getting back into politics, it's well worth remembering the full story of his career. but there's a bigger lesson here, one that maybe should inform our thinking about all of our leaders. because while we spend so much time judging them by what they're saying and doing right now when they're in the spotlight, the most revealing lessons about who and what they are are often found in places no one ever thinks to look.
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a suite of online tools that lets you turn insight into action. in less than a year, ted cruz has gone from little-known former texas official to national tea party icon. now he's being touted as a serious contender for the white house in 2016. "national review" cited sources close to cruz saying he's seriously considering a run despite only having been elected to senate last year. on his facebook page, cruz downplayed what he called "wild speculation," but he didn't actually deny the report. on friday, he had headlined two major conservative events in two separate states. at the nra convention in houston, he challenged vice president joe biden to a debate on gun control. and later that night in south carolina, he spoke at a republican fund-raiser that's been a traditional stop for gop presidential hopefuls. because his senate seat is the only position he's ever held, i lacks a long legislative track
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record. there's plenty we know about him. opposes gay marriage, supports overturning roe v. wade, he supported full extension of the bush tax cuts, opposes the bipartisan effort on immigration reform. he voted against both john kerry's nomination as second state of state and chuck hagel calling them less than ardent fans of the u.s. military. both served in vietnam. on obama's gun-control push in the wake of shooting in newtown, cruz released a statement saying, quote, i am prepared to use any procedural means necessary to ensure that congress does not pass any laws infringing on the second amendment. cruz's opposition helped spur the gop movement to filibuster background checks. and in a statement that raised even republican eyebrows over the past week, cruz ridiculed his fellow republican senators who criticized the filibuster.
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>> look, there are a lot of people that don't like to be held accountable. but here was their argument. they said, listen, before you did this, the politics of it were great. the dems were the good guys, the republicans were bad guys, now we all look like a bunch of squishes. well, there is an alternative. you could just not be a bunch of squishes. >> joining us now is abby rappaport, staff writer with the american prospect and not a squish, for the record. >> definitely not. >> but you know, this cruz question is so interesting to me because we're talking about maybe he's going to run in 2016. and my theory, by the way, we've talked a little about the invisible primary before the show. my theory he's running until he says otherwise. he might in 2015 hold a press conference and say i'm not running, but right now we might as well treat him as somebody who's interested in running for the nomination in 2016. we talk about his prospects. maybe he could be the nominee, maybe he couldn't.
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more broadly when i look at ted cruz, this is the embodiment of the fear that every sort of more pragmatic-minded republican member of congress, republican senator, sees because this is a guy who was basically nobody a year ago, came up and beat the texas establishment in the primary, and now by going as far to the right as possible embracing this image of purity, i would say, has made himself a national star. and you can hear, he's giving his very, you know, self-indulgent view of that meeting with republican senators, but, you know, he conducts -- he opens his mouth in that room, and they're scared of him. >> right. yeah, you come out of a meeting with your colleagues, and you reveal what was said in a meeting, and you call them squishes, he's making no friends on that side of the aisle. challenging joe biden to a debate, i mean, that's just classic ted cruz. he really thinks a lot of himself. but democrats have to be saying run, ted, run. democrats are really looking at this and thinking, this guy would be a very easy guy to
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beat. it would be a very interesting -- it would be a real choice. you wouldn't have any of that mitt romney, is he or isn't he? he was a massachusetts moderate. now he's pretending to be a conserve perspective. you would have a true blue conservative and the tea party would get their test. the tea party has been saying the problem with mccain and romney, they weren't conservative enough. pollsters and deming demografr that's not the problem, but this would be the test. let them have their candidate and see what the nation does. >> at the very least, it seems very hard for him to actually get through a primary because typically, i mean, as much as there is this clamoring for conservative candidate, the moderate always wins. i mean, george bush was compassionate and conservative -- >> the only reason i'm not sure that's true this time is there's no front-runner. republicans often give it to the guy who came in second. nobody came in second in 2012, really. >> yeah. >> santorum. >> isn't the other question, i mean, we call mitt romney the
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moderate last year because that was his reputation. and conservatives suspected he was a moderate in a very negative way. and i think nonconservatives hoped he was a moderate in a more optimistic way. but when you look at the platform that mitt romney sort of embraced and ran on last year, that was about the most conservative republican platform i've ever seen. >> and i'm not sure if i can come up with anything where cruz is that much farther to the right than romney. he's temperamentally much more conservative, but i'm not sure whether on the issues he's taken any stances to romney's right. >> he's the force that pulls a guy like romney to the right. >> yes. exactly. >> and i think the other thing that's kind of hard about assessing ted cruz is that he's able to, you know, there was the kind of exchange with dianne feinstein, for instance, where she kind of comes out saying i'm not a sixth grader. i think she walks away feeling like she won that, right? but so does ted cruz. and i think there's kind of this strange gap in, you know, in kind of perceptions about ted cruz where democrats are like oh, he's going to be easy. we're going to be able to beat them, et cetera. but the base and the tea party
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makes up, you know, a majority of the republican party at this point. they dominate activism in the republican party. they are so pumped about him, and he's doing exactly what he said he'd do. he's kind of -- you know, and i mean, you mentioned he beat the establishment republicans in texas. establishment republicans in texas are not squishes. let's just say. >> they like their gun, too. >> i mean, it really was a kind of masterful campaign performance, something nobody expected to kind of overcome the perry regime. >> and i think he's been masterful so far in really elevating his name, elevating his status among tea party folks, not only the fight with feinstein, but sort of implicit fights with mccain and these other moderates in the party or establishment folks. i think he -- i think of a ted cruz as almost like the hispanic huckabee. he taps into this, like, evangelical, he's a southern
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baptist. i believe his dad is a preacher at this point in his life. he understands the language of evangelicals. he understands sort of the body language. he's a fantastic speaker. he's a fantastic debater. he's obviously a smart guy. he went to princeton and harvard. so i think he feels a lot of she's slots that newt gingrich had in some ways as sort of the quasi-intellectual that santorum and huckabee had. he fuels a sue i generis, and rubio seems like he's following behind rand paul in some ways. >> rubio is probably going to get himself in trouble with his immigration leadership. we think oh, they've got to get that latino vote. this is a no-brainer for them. it's not a no-brainer for them, and there's a lot of white conservative pushback on this idea. in the robert costa story that talked about why cruz is likely to run and why he's got a strong chance, a lot of party figures feel like rubio has hurt himself
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and rand paul is a flake. >> i think republicans are enhancing sort of the legend of ted cruz. we play that clip of him talking about hey, here i am in the backroom meeting are republican senators. we're talking about gun strategy and they're a bunch of squishes because all they're saying is this is a bad vote politically. i listen to that and say in a way he's right because what the republican senators are arguing with him is basically hey, don't do this, ted. this will look bad politically. they're right, by the way, it will look bad politically, but their argument is not it's not a violation of principles. their argument is we're scared of political implications. it allows him to go in public and say i'm the only one who's willing to stand on principle. they're a bunch of squishes. >> at the moment there is not other republican candidate that is positioned as well to be the candidate of the tea party. i think scott walker is maybe his biggest threat in that regard. but i think it's unclear whether he could command the support necessary to challenge ted cruz. and as long as marco rubio is
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not able to consolidate the right, ted cruz is going to have a pretty clear route to being the candidate of the right. >> go ahead. >> i was just going to say, one other thing, i think a lot of the other tea party candidates, kind of tea party-endorsed candidates haven't quite been ready for primetime. rick perry kind of comes to mind, right, as an example. wasn't quite ready for the national media. you know, ted cruz was going to be a pro by the end of the year, he'll have had more national media attention than almost anyone on his side. >> in some way, that will help them, probably with the republican base. in other ways that may not help him. we talk about this, joan brought up sort of the issue of general election viability. david plouffe tweeted this week basically, you know, this would be a total electoral tsunami. and i tend to basically agree with that conclusion. but i want to look a little bit more at it because i kind of wonder if we talk about ted cruz in 2016 if we're asking the wrong question when we talk about electability.
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we were talking a little bit about the potential electability of ted cruz or someone like him. the disclaimer you have to put on all these discussions, 1980,
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people said roin couronald reag could never be elected. there's too much damage having seen as that extreme and that kind of personality. anyway, we talk about electability. i said maybe we're asking the wrong question. i want to put a clip up. this is what david frum wrote at the daily beast. conservatives are turning their back on the executive branch and rediscovering a base of operations in congress. it becomes less for choosing a potential national leader and more a theater for arguing movement themes. they're kind of concluding we don't need to worry about using the presidency anymore. we can use congress as our beast and starve the beast by using congress, and they sort of are right now. >> yeah. >> i was going to say, it helps when you don't have, like, a proactive agenda. >> right. >> like the agenda is stopping
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things. and congress is a great place from which to do that. >> right. >> it's not a great place if you want to enact legislation. but, you know, if you look at ted cruz, part of his rise has been exclusively in stopping different things. i think he's introduced a couple gun things. on the whole, what he's made headlines for is his opposition. >> i actually think that the republicans have a more proactive agenda than democrats in some ways right now. now the democrats have passed health care reform and suppose they get immigration reform done. the only big thing left on the democratic docket that is cap and trade and preserving the welfare state against the republicans' big opportunity over the next two decades to reduce the size of government to account for demographic changes. and republicans can't get that done unless they elect a president. and that, to me, seems like something that's potentially achievable over the next two decades and something that requires the presidency. >> you talk about reducing the size of government. the main blueprint republicans have put out for that would be the paul ryan plan, which would
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require not just the presidency but they'd have to have the house. they'd have to have probably 60 votes in the senate to do it. it seems to me what frum is arguing here, that was the bet for 2012 for republicans. we got the house. we're close in the senate. there's no way they're going to re-elect obama with unemployment near 8%. so then we'll implement the ryan plan. they said if we couldn't get it then, maybe we retrench -- >> chip away. >> these continuing resolutions that keep funding the government. we hold up the debt ceiling a bunch of times. it seems right. it seems right to me in this concern about the deficit that wasn't there for all those years that they had the presidency? >> if the republicans shed a bunch of cultural issues, though, is it not possible that they could take the presidency have this huge advantage in the house of representatives and then can you imagine a scenario where, say, the economy falls back into recession between now and 2024 and revenues are down and the debt is larger than projected? i don't think it's inconceivable. maybe not the ryan plan. >> i mean, i think -- you know,
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the republicans do have to figure out a way how to actually sell getting the deficit under control, right? i mean, it still isn't a sexy issue. there's still not a real connection that americans have reducing the deficit and jobs, right? and maybe you've had a party, i think, that used to be the party of big ideas. now it just seems to be the party -- a very effective party at stopping things in washington, but i think so far, they still don't have a real pulse for what people are talking about around their kitchen tables. >> and in large measure, the deficit is coming under control. it already isn't the issue that it once was. and it never was the big issue to voters. you know, it's an ideological determination to slash the welfare state, to slash social security and medicare. it's not necessarily all deficit related. and i think they do need the presidency to do big things, but they've proven that they don't need it to do small things and also, again, to frustrate that
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obama coalition into saying -- out of being lifelong democrats towards being i don't know what. >> and what it comes down to, when obama says let's put chained cpi on the table, what are you trying to do? you're trying to take the safety net away from seniors. this idea that there is this widespread support among folks for slashing medicare and social security, there's not. i mean -- >> and that's sort of the essential thing to me about tea party ideology and sort of current conservative ideology. it's really rooted in the democrats won in 2008. and now we're going to use the deficit as a political tool, you know, now we're going to -- the issues that were ignored completely when bush was president, issues ignored when reagan was president suddenly come back into focus. it makes me wonder if republicans ever got the executive branch back again. and as nate suggested, let's say they were hit with a recession. past republican presidents had been fine with stimulus during recessions. they're against it when it's the democratic stimulus. would the definition of
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conservatism suddenly change again if republicans got the presidency back? >> i think one thing that's interesting is if you look at state legislatures, right? we haven't seen that. so state legislatures are dealing with actually governing their states, and a lot of them are republicans -- republicans still dominate at the state level. you know, what we're seeing is folks sticking with the conservative, you know, kind of national agenda. so you know, slashing things, not expanding medicaid, not doing things that, you know, another era of republicans might be much more amenable to doing. so i mean, i think that gives some indication when republicans are in control, you know, kind of where their governance heads. >> and abby wrote about this this week. there's a new study out that attempts to really understand the tea party. and whether you like it or not, the tea party right now is driving the republican party in washington. the republican party in washington is preventing the obama administration from doing pretty much anything at this moment. i want to talk about that study and understanding what the tea party is and where it's going, and that's after this.
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we've been talking about ted cruz embodies the threat of the tea party, the tea party movement. if you don't conform to tea partiology, you will probably lose your seat in a primary. abby, there's research out this week, and you wrote a lot about it, about exactly what the tea party's role and size within the republican party. >> i mean, it's fascinating because if you look at something like what percentage there are of activists in the republican party activities, it's over 70% of active folks. that indicates to me this isn't a group you can ignore or say the rest of the republican party. that's not a sizeable group. and the other really kind of key thing to me is the fact that these folks don't necessarily identify all that strongly as republicans, nor do they care particularly what happens to the republican party. so for instance, almost a quarter of people identified as other, not democrat, not republican, not independents, but other.
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70% identified as republicans, and yet if you look at kind of the breakdown of would you rather have someone who is likely to beat the democrat and agrees with you on most key issues versus someone who agrees with you on all key issues, the vast majority prefer someone who agrees with you on most issues, vast majority of someone who's less willing to compromise and stay true to beliefs. i was on the phone last night with a representative from the texas state rep who was elected through the tea party wave in 2010. i was kind of asking him what his thoughts were. and he was really fascinating because he said i can't stay a republican if they decide to elect somebody who doesn't conform to kind of a conservative platform. and i'm thinking, this is a person elected as a republican official who's telling me he's really ready to leave if the party doesn't stay hard conservative. and i think the number of people that are of that position are
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significantly higher than certainly i thought. and just to give details, it was a survey of about 12,000 freedom works members. so a pretty representative group, i think, of the tea party movement. >> and all the discussions we can have about the different policy debates in washington right now really come back to you until the incentives change within the republican party, i mean, you have a number of true believers you're describing in the republican party who this is just what they're totally far out on the right and that's it. but you have republican members who are more responsive to basic political incentive. i want to keep my seat. i do not want to lose a primary. until that changes where it's not of 60% of the people voting in my primary, you know, are anihilists when it comes to the government, we're stuck with this. >> you know, we saw this with the priebus autopsy that talked about, well, we have to be open to -- we have to attract young people, and the way to do that is to be less anti-gay and
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homophobic, but then immediately walking back, no, that does not mean we support rob portman on gay marriage and really gradually having to walk back anything that sounded the least bit substantive in the autopsy because they can't come out for real immigration reform now. they can't come -- of course they can't come out for gay marriage. i mean, as nate said before, i do think that there is a pathway forward. it may be a very long-term pathway, but if they can take away those edges that really drive away young people and be more tolerant on gay marriage and be less misogynist and less anti-women, there is a gradual way forward. but when you've got the tea party exercising this kind of almost veto power, at least in the red states. >> but i do think, i mean, if
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you look at the tea party, they are also hungry for some diversity. they were the party that pushed forward her mman cain. when you look at somebody like ted cruz, oh, we need a hispanic vote, and so they back ted cruz in that way. and i do think, again, if you look at their bench, somebody like kelly ayotte. she might be able to close the gender gap. i mean, she's had her issues among, i mean, around gun control. but i do think they got their sort of figuring him out. i think we sort of underestimate the importance of candidates, and we also forget the democrats also went through this long sort of, you know, trial in the wilderness about their party and were able to turn it around. >> but we haven't seen, when republicans in the tea party have been nominating the few latino candidates they've nominated, they have not outperformed other republicans when it comes to latinos. >> ted cruz only got 35%. >> lower than john cornyn. >> better than romney, at least.
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>> better than romney. >> that's the bar. >> ted cruz is complicated because he can call himself anything he wants. i'm not going to judge his ethnicity, but he does stressize irish and italian as well as cuban. again, i don't think that the surname is going to really drive latinos to say oh, we've got a republican hero when his policies are so right wing. >> he could stress canadian and talk about single-payer health care. >> then there's that. >> one mistake i think the republican establishment is not taking advantage of the hastert rule. they have an opportunity to let some of these tough issues go away just by letting obama pass a few things. background checks might be inevitable. immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship might be inevitable. if you get it off the table without your members voting for it, you save yourself an issue that you don't really care that much b and it improves your chances ee electrlek electoral.
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>> we're at a state to get near universal background checks, it's can republicans do this without risking a mass rebellion in their party, and that's really the policy which gets to the dysfunction. it frustrates me that that's the story in washington right now. what should we know for the week ahead? my answers after this. ♪ that's what ameriprise financial does. that's what they can do with you. let's get to work. ameriprise financial. more within reach. feby earning your degree fromore racapella university,re. you'll have the knowledge to advance your career while making a difference in the lives of patients. let's get started at that your mouth is under attack,
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so what should you know for the week coming up? you should know that tomorrow the senate will vote on the marketplace fairness act. a bill letting state governments collect sales tax from large online retailers. supporters say the bill will support state revenue and help brick and mortar stores. it's expected to pass the senate and the house soon after. you should know it's expected to do so bipartisan support. some conservatives are balking at the idea of leveling the sales tax playing field. maybe because the bill is specifically designed to make competition easier and more fair for small business. you should know that on thursday, the president nominated penny prits kerr.
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you should know that she has a reputation as a fill philanthro. finally, you should know that the special election between governor mark sanford and elizabeth colbert bush is two days away. even in a historically conservative district, there's polls that put colbert bush ahead. since returning to politics, there's been no shortage of challenges for sanford. shortly after accusations from his ex-wife that he trespassed in her home, the committee ended all support to his campaign. then in their debate, this happened. >> when we talk about fiscal spending and we talk about protecting the taxpayers, it doesn't mean you take that money we saved and leave the country for a personal purpose. >> everybody needs -- she went
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there, governor sanford. >> i couldn't hear what she said. repeat t i didn't hear it. i'm sorry. >> the good news for sanford is that on tuesday he got a big national endorsement. bad news, is came from larry flint. the publisher of hustler who says sanford has done more to -- that same day, ashley a website from married people looking to cheat on their spouses took out a billboard with sanford's face reading "next time use ashley" to find your "running mate." let's start with joan walsh on what we should know. >> that there's no evidence that the nra is looking to reach voters that it doesn't already have in its fold. its new president actually calls
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the civil war the war of northern aggression and referred to president obama as a fake president. so the culture war, the political war, the partisan war that they've been fighting is not going to ease any time soon. >> abby? >> i had a similar fight coming up on common core. which i think went largely unnoticed last week. several teachers unions who had kind of offered tentative support for the obama kind of endorsed set of curriculum standards for states has now kind of called for a moratorium and said we need to really look at this more and be more prepared before we implement it. which is a big deal since i believe at this point, 48 states are signed on to deal with common core. that district in south carolina that will be deciding on tuesday isn't as conservative as people think it is. in 2008, an openly gay woman who campaigned with her partner almost won that seat. she lost by only four percentage points. when you look at that race, i
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think, a, if colbert bush wins, she could be sort of a stemplat. also look for how black voters if they turn out and what that might portend for 2014. >> we talked about demographics under the assumption that republicans did well among historical white voters. the reason roim did so well with the white voetders, he did well in the south. romney ran well behind bush. key states like new hampshire, iowa and colorado that were carried by bush in 2000 or 2004. all right. my thanks to msnbc political analyst joan walsh. author of what's the matter with white people and abby rapoport from the american prospect, nia-malika henderson and nate cohn. thank you for joining us. we'll be back next weekend saturday and sunday at 8:00 a.m. eastern time. up next is melissa harris-perry on today's mhp, a glimmer of
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[ male announcer ] we've taken 100% whole grain brown rice and wheat, delicious sweet potato, and savory red bean... and woven them into something unexpected. the new brown rice triscuit line; with sweet potato and red bean varieties. a new take on an old favorite. this morning, my question, does coming out still matter? plus, the good and bad of public shaming. and the shocking police practice of dumping the homeless. but first, is this the beginning of the end of the war on drugs? good morning. i'm melissa harris-perry. we're going to get to all of the stories i just promised you. first, an update from the middle east where there are reports of israeli airplanes striking areas around the syrian capital of


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