tv Weekends With Alex Witt MSNBC May 5, 2013 9:00am-11:01am PDT
9:00 in the west. i'm richard lui in for alex. a senior u.s. official confirming to nbc news that israeli because planes bombed a research facility north of damascus. this amateur video reportedly shows the air strike, but be in has not verified if it's authentic. if confirmed, it would bes second israeli air trike in syria in the past two days. richarden gel is in turk ee een with the latest. >> reporter: we've spoken with witnesses in damascus and they say that it wasn't just one target that was hit by what is widely to be believed an israeli air trike, but multiple targets. they were all clustered just on the edge of damascus. in the mountain, there is a series of military bases and it was these military bases one in
particular a research facility that was hit. and u.s. officials believe that there were a cluster of rockets there that were perhaps the primary target. these are described as feta 110 rockets and that they may have been dez continued for h ed foh. they have a range of about 500 miles and according to an israeli military official, they could be the kind of weapon that would change the balance of power, give hezbollah a dynamic advantage. because with these rockets if it were to receive them, that it could strike anywhere with israel with a great degree of precision. >> richard for us on the latest in what is happening in syria. thank you so much reporting out of turkey for us. swift reaction today to israel's latest strike in syria.
bill richardson and jim demint. take a listen. >> i think what happened with israel is israel is also sending a signal to iran, hezbollah, but possibly to us, too, that the situation right in the syrian area is getting very, very tense. but i think in the next few days, my view is that the president whether opt towards some kind of limited military option. >> i think we've probably taken too much of a passive or at least an unclear stance on this for too long that's created more instability. i think the president needs to make it clear what we will do and he's already tried to do that with his bright red line. so i don't know what his steps should be right now, but clearly his indecisiveness has destabilized and probably brought israel into this. >> the air strikes come as the obama administration considers how to respond to accusations
they have used nuclear weapons. >> i continue to believe that the israeli justifiably have to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like hezbollah. >> peter alex ander is at the white house. what's being discussed in that space? >> reporter: right now we're learning from a white house official traveling at the president at the ohio state university well be delivering a commencement address, and he said once again reiterating the administration's point that about a similar al assad must leave power and with a israel has done is justified. it's concern over hezbollah trying to gain access to the feta 110 rockets richard was
speak building and again insisting that the u.s. government has been in close contact with israel, as well. mike rogers says given what he described as the administration's sort of slow calculus in this situation, he said we now face the best worst situation, the best of the worst case situations right now. so what will the u.s. do going forward? the president has insisted he's trying to be prudent and deliberative about his decision making process. but interestingly, today the "new york times" noted that red line that has drawn the u.s. to this moment was an unscripted moment, that the president went further when he made that statement. so what does the administration do, what does the u.s. do going forward among the potential options right now obviously the effort to try to mobilize the international community with the arab league, with leaders in that region already helping out in their efforts with rebel
groups, one of concerns is the radical islamist within that community and the concern is that some of those aways could make their way to al qaeda affiliated groups. so no-fly zones are being discussed. further arming of rebels and direct arming of rebels and trying to deplete syria's means in taking on some of its own people. >> live at the white house, peter alexander, thank you so much for that. joining us now, post post reporter and chief correspondent. thank you both for being with us on a sunday. steve, as peter alexander was mentioning that red line, there are two attacks within the last two days coming from israel. the red lines are different for israel than that of the president's. when you look at what has happened here, does this put more or less pressure on the president to take action now? >> i think you have to look at it from two fronts. domestically here in the united states, the political pressure is mixed. american people are not eager to go into military action
particularly after 10, 11 years in iraq and afghanistan. however, air strikes only as we did -- or air support only in libya was accepted pretty easily by the american people. right now it's mix the about 40 to 30 with about 25% of the american people saying they haven't made up their mind. it's possible the israeli air strikes would ease the pressure on the president. a lot of americans could say they're taking care of it. but internationally, i think it increases the pressure the on the president of the united states to follow through, to show solidarity with israel. on the president's recent trip to israel, there was a t-shirt i saw that said don't worry, america, israel's got your back with a picture about of an f-15 fighter. i don't think that's the image of united states needs to send to the region or to iran that we'll outsource this to israel. they have to show there is no daylight between us and israel. very important right now. >> emily, steve there making an important distinction there and that is the perception of any action in syria here from the united states and then the reaction abroad. has the president looking at
those two areas worked at the right pace given some of the criticism that's been coming out right now? >> well, there have been discussions. certainly you've seen secretary of state john kerry has been engaged on this. so it's not just a matter of what president obama is doing. you're seeing secretary of state kerry this week heading to russia and to that area where he'll hold talks. and try to work on this idea of an international coalition that leaves syrian president isolated against people who want to see him leave power and who are supporting the rebels. so there are conversations going on on a number of fronts. and it's not just a matter of what president obama is going to do. >> complex calculus for doubt as you bring up. steve, tomorrow speaking of secretary of state john kerry, he's heading to russia. syria's most powerful ally at the moment. and it's been somewhat of a chilling relationship with russia and the united states in
recent years. what can reverse this? what is it that russia would need to get? >> there is nothing right now in russia's self interests or at least? vladimir putin's self interests that would lead him to change his position. the best the united states is hoping for is neutrality from russia. they won't actively support assad or actively oppose a u.s. led military action. >> i want to switch gears a little bit here and move to the nra's convention which is just finishing up this weekend. up to 90% of americans favored background checks, a number that we commonly had heard. but the nra still managed to pressure some members of congress to defeat the proposed legislation. here is the nra executive president speaking. take a listen. >> apparently there is nothing the president will not do to get something, anything, through congress to advance his agenda
to destroy our second amendment. nothing. so far thanks to you and millions of americans all over this country just like you, that's exactly what president obama has gotten, absolutely nothing. >> when you listen to wayne lapierre, and as well some of the other statements that were made at the nra convention, what's your thought about the balance of power, if you will, when you look at the nra and those who would like gun control legislation? >> well, the nra has a huge advantage. they have spent decades building up clout, building an organization that has that kind of power here in washington. and they have done it in so many different ways. they have done it on a grass roots level, they do it through political contributions, they do it through heavy lobbying. they have inroads at the atf. this is an organization that has for decades kind of had its finger everywhere.
so these newer organizations that are promoting gun control have that to go up against. and i think that with the shifting of where you're seeing people now supporting like you said 90% supporting background checks, that might start to shift a little bit and you might see some of these gun control organizations that have a little bit of money behind them like the bloomberg organization and the new one by former congressman gabby giffords might be able to make inroads. but they have a huge, huge hill to climb and that's the nra's entrenched power building machine. >> steefve, post newtown, the n did not have the best points being made in pr. we have new polls that show voters are more likely to support democrats because of their votes for background checks while republican snorkelsenator kel kelly and
kelly e kelly ayotte's poll dove. >> perhaps they're changing a little bit on this one issue before the background check is the one where the numbers are lopsided. wasn't too long ago they were talking about assault weapons ban and those numbers were nowhere near as solid. first of all, this is just one democratic polling firm that did all three of these surveys in north carolina, louisiana, and then in new hampshire. i'd like to see another poll that shows it. in north carolina and louisiana, the movement in favor of the democrats was very slight. and it's a year and a half to the election. the movement is more pronounced against kelly ayotte in new hampshire. >> thank you so much, steve and emily, for your time today. president obama scheduled to give the commencement address at the ohio state university in columbus later this hour. we'll be watching that and have it for you live right here.
seven u.s. soldiers were killed in afghanistan credit. five by an improvised explosive attack and two more shot by an afghan national soldier in a so-called green on blue attack in the country's west. 19 u.s. personnel have died since the taliban spring fighting campaign officially began on april 27th. and lawyers for one of the men charged with lie to go investigators following the boston marathon attack say their client is not a threat and should be released from jail. a hearing is scheduled for tomorrow for robel phillipos. shorts say he lied about visiting bombing suspect dzhokhar tsarnaev's dorm room. his lawyer says he had nothing to do with the bombing itself. two other friends of dzhokhar are charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by concealing and destroying evidence. dzhokhar remains in custody at a prison in ft. devens, massachusetts and the manner in which the suspects are being treated was a flash point on today's "meet the press".
>> the president by his policies and by the words of senior officials in his administration are removing us from war footing and putting us back into a law enforcement model. five terrorists are reached their targets under barack obama's admin straristrationadme treated like common criminals. >> we've had a tiny handful, four, five, six military commissioned successful prosecutions. we've had hundreds in our courts. what are we afraid of? what are we afraid of? the law enforcement did a superb job in boston. these people are before courts. >> protestors begin to build outside a funeral home. new reaction from the senator who wants a green card for gay couple added to the immigration bill. [ male announcer ] this is betsy.
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there are a lot of people who want to kill an immigration bill no matter what. people can vote for or against any one of these amendments. >> and that was patrick leahy speaking this morning. the senator plans to add an amendment this week to the immigration bill. this amendment would let gays in america sponsor their foreign born partners for green cards. republicans warn the proposal is threatening to unravel a carefully constructed bipartisan deal on immigration. want to bring in a journalist and contribute door to "time" magazine. he made waves in 2011 when he revealed his status as an undocumented citizen. thanks for coming on. >> thank you for having me. >> so you're very aware of the
immigration bill amendment. would you support it without it? >> as far as i'm concerned right now, we're still in the conversation piece of this, which is why any talk about threat or like getting -- this is way too early in the process. i feel like as somebody who is undocumented and somebody who is gay, it's really tough to be asked to make choices about, well, what part of you is more equal to the other, right? >> do you feel like you're making such a choice? >> in some ways, you know, our politicians always allow us to make these choices. like i can't be undocumented and gay at the same time. it's kind of like saying i can't be jose and look asian at the same time. it's called if i would pfilipin. but this is how washington works. and looking at it from the republican perspective and looking at the fact that our country is at the process of redefining what marriage is we have a supreme court decision
that will come in the next few weeks which in some ways procedurally might take care of this whole problem, the country has moved on when it comes to gay marriage, same-sex marriage. how are we moving on in terms of immigration. >> what about doma, such an issue was also involved in doma and made it through. >> and made it lithrough. so i feel like there is a lot of throat clearing happening, a lot of posturing happening. but frankly, i'm for a bill that is as ib clus snclusive as we c possibly get it. to me, what's really troublesome about the whole conversation right now on immigration is how much of it is tied to border security. i was just on the border by the way. i went to san diego a couple of weeks ago, i'm filming a document. i went to see the border for myself. because as i travel this country, how many people just assume that because i'm mexican, just because i'm an illegal alien and i remind them in not
everybody comesed the bo not everybody crossed the border. a full million of the 11 million undocumented population is asian and pacific islander. no one is talking about that. >> so we're talking about lbgt and the is this something they won't agree o. upon? >> i think, again, right now the family provisions in terms of make being sure that we can sponsor right now our country looks the way that it does because a the lot of our asian american and pacific islander immigrants who became naturaled citizens were able to sponsor their siblings to come here. i come from a large filipino family. the bill we're saying that we care more about employment than we care about family. that's a big shift. and we're seeing asian american -- the api community
trying to figure out, wait a second, like don't sell us out. to me it's an interesting timing when they could be working together. i personally would like to see more of that. >> before we go, just to give a sense of how many how many we're talking about, it's limited 40,000 couples would benefit, 900,000 lgbt immigrants. one third undocumented. what will you be watching in the coming week? >> i'll be watching all the posturing and try to separate the posturing from the policy. right? a lot of this has become theater, but at the end of the day, actual people's lives are at stake. families are at stake. those 40,000 people you mentioned, those are families. >> jose, thank you so much for coming by about that we're
waiting for president obama to speak at ohio state. he's due to give the commencement address at any moment. as soon as he starts speaking, we'll bring it to you live. 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. i never really thought i would make money doing what i love.
columbus, ohio. president obama will be delivering the commencement address there, ohio state university. when it does happen, we will go straight to his comments. 1 # we'll keep an eye on that for you. earlier this morning, israeli warplanes conducted a second air strike. the target was a military research facility that strike because apparently captured on this amateur video. it follows word last week that the syrian regime has likely used chemical weapons against
its own people. joining us is tom rooney, republican from florida. member of the house armed services committee. congressman, thanks for being here with us. israel apparently targeting missiles sent from syria to hezbollah. when you look at the information of that possibility, do you support these air strikes and does it put more pressure on the u.s. to take action? >> well, first of all, i can't confirm that we have the intelligence that says that israel actually did that at this point. but the israelis certainly have the right to defend themselves. and if they did do this, it's certainly something i would support given that it's right in their backyard, in their national security interests to protect themselves. but whether or not that translates into the united states actually getting more involved at this point, i'm not sure that i agree with that. i differ a little bit from some people on my side of the aisle when it comes to what our involvement should be in syria
because on one side you have assad backed by iran, the other side you have these rebels now in-fill trafiltrated with al qa. so as chairman rogers said this morning, it's trying to side with the least bad option. i'm not sure what that is at this point. >> the president said this weekend he made comments about the potential u.s. action in syria. listen to what he said. >> i don't take any options off the table as commander in chief. circumstances can change. you never know what contingencies you have to deal with. but what i do know is that i cannot see a scenario right now in which american boots on the ground would make any sense. >> so no option the off the table, but also american boots not on the ground as the president said. what sort of military operations would you support? >> i agree with what the president said right there. at this point if we're going to
engage in a new military activity after afghanistan, after iraq, the president i would strongly recommend come to the congress, have the debate, make the argument. at this point it doesn't appear that he wants to do that and i think that he's right. it would obviously have to be something for us to get involved that would directly affect our national security, something that we're sure that we cannot avoid getting involved with anymore. and that might have something to do with israel or our allies. but at this point, it's just a very dire bad situation, you but one that does not have an easy solution. so people that are sort of arm chair quarterbacking the president at this point, you know, i think that you certainly -- they do not have all the information because like i said, the so-called rebels and the freedom fighters are the people that by and large are the people that we've been fighting
against for the last ten years. assad's a bad guy. he's backed by iran. they're arming hezbollah in lebanon trying to attack israel. these are all bad situations. i'd like to see russia more engaged to try to come up with a solution. but at this point, it's very hard to say. the one thing i would criticize the president on is kind of drawing the red line where he did. i think that that was probably a mistake. but again, it's easy for me to sit here and say he shouldn't have said that, but -- >> why? >> well, just because you can't quantify the fact and say, okay, 9 red line will be if you use chemical weapons, then we'll be really mad and have to do something at this point. what if the chemical weapons kill free people. in our minds we sort of see a mass chemical strike where there's misdevastation and that's not what happened here. so he has to walk that back. but again i won't nit-pick what the commander in chief has to do.
but there may have been a chance earlier on when we could have gotten involved more in the rebels on get them more shored up with weaponry. >> i want you to take a listen to what congressman tom cotton also republican said earlier on "meet the press" and then get reaction. >> we have to arm the opposition. i think we also need to move towards imposing a no-fly zone so assad cannot continue to use helicopter gun ships against civilians. >> do you agree with a no-fly zone? >> i don't agree. ic when we start getting involved in that kind of activity, it wouldn't be long before we do have boots on the ground. if we want to support what the israelis are trying to to, that's a totally different ball game. but arming the rebels as tom said there, i'm also a member will of the intelligence committee. unfortunately or fortunately, i'm previous have i to some information about these rebels
that you would second guess giving them arms. >> there are over 1,000, are there not, rebel groups there in syria, a good number are militant related. >> well, and the problem is some of them are so disorganized that when you have groups like al qaeda come in that do have the organizational structure and the leadership ability, they immediately ascend to the top. on your intentions might be good giving some of the rebel forces weapons to defend themselves and go after the assad regime. but eventually they will make their way to al qaeda and is that really what the american people want their taxpayer dollars going to after the last ten years? i don't think so. >> the "new york times" columnist wrote that basically the question is how much does iraq resonate in congress' mind right now when they're thinking about syria. how would you address that? >> it does. how can you avoid not thinking
about what happened ten years ago. i mean, it's not exactly saying there are differences. let's be honest. the american people my constituents are war weary and wary. and so we better be damn sure, excuse me french, that when we involve ourselves in another situation like this, it's for our national security interests, and it's for the reasons that will protect our people and our way of life moving forward. and if it's not, we better proceed with caution and i think that that's kind of where we are at this point. >> congressman tom rooney, republican from florida, thank you so much for your time and perspective. in today's off politics, alex sits down with former pennsylvania governor ed rendell. he talks about his time campaigning for hillary clinton and a job he would accept in a clinton presidency. but first alex asked about the recent success in congress dealing with the faa and
sequester. >> it had to be done, but there are two bad ramifications. number one as you said, it looks serve selfing. there's a great cartoon about a senator obviously with a neck brace on the plane smiling and the paper says tharaffic delays solved by congress and hungry kids on outside. but it also said to the public when you guys want to do something, you did it in two days. we can't get a plan to reduce our debt, the single most important thing for the wheamern economy, and we've been at it for two years. so it looked self-serving and it made it clear that when there is a will to act, they can act. >> are you done with elected politics? >> yeah, i'm done. some people ask me why don't you run for president. i said i don't want to spend three years of my life in iowa
and new hampshire. no offense to the hawk eye state and the granite state. >> i see so much clinton love around me here. and there is a picture of you with the lady who could be a democratic presidential nominee. >> sure. >> you're whispering something to hillary clinton. what are you saying? >> this is in the 2008 primary in pennsylvania. senator obama versus senator clinton. and we're at a rally in harrisburg and there is a speaker who will remain nameless, i don't know why, but remain nameless. and i was whispering to hillary, i said relax, this guy is such a bloef yater, he'll be another half hour. and she had that little smirk on her face. which is great. actually, realistically, i'd go back to public life for one thing and one thing only is if hillary clinton runs and wants me to be active in the campaign
or better still if she wins and wants me to do something in the white house. that's something i've never done and i would love to try to do once before my career in public service is over. i'm enjoying what i do very much and i enjoy my nbc work. although i would suggest to hillary as you would suggest to anyone running for president, if you're running for president, have someone who has run for office inside the team making the decisions. don't have it all be consultants. now of course hillary has probably the best politician ever to run for office in my lifetime in the president. >> but a guy that i see a picture of the two of you, it's from way back, it looks like when he was president, what are you doing, like shopping for groceries? >> no, we were campaigning in the italian market in the 1992 election. and remember president bush had matt remark that he hated broccoli. so we were holding up broccoli.
and it made all the papers. you campaign -- if you come to street campaign in philadelphia, you have to go to the italian market. it's the most colorful place, all sorts of fish and meat and vegetables. just a hoot. so we had the broccoli. >> former governor there from pennsylvania ed rendell also nbc analyst. great conversation. next weekend alex's interview with luke russert from his office on capitol hill. no doubt tons of fun, as well. we continue to watch live pictures coming out of columbus, ohio. we wait for that podium. president obama giving the commencement speech any minute. the crowd looks like they're enjoying good weather. we'll be watching that when we come back. [ male announcer ] this is kevin. to prove to you that aleve is the better choice for him, he's agreed to give it up. that's today? [ male announcer ] we'll be with him all day as he goes back to taking tylenol. that was okay, but after lunch my knee started to hurt again, and now i gotta take more pills. ♪
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for gentle hair removal at far less than salon prices. we asked total strangers to watch it for us. thank you so much. 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. straight to the horseshoe, the stadium there in columbus, ohio at ohio state university, the ohio state university, as president obama is about to
address a crowd of about 60,000 to 70,000. they have started up the band and we will continue to listen to them. when the president comes to the podium, we'll have it for you right here. now to a close race in south carolina with enormous implications. >> good to see you. >> a lot of that has been happening over the recent days. a special election between ex-governor mark sanford and elizabeth colbert bush just two days away. joining me now, sean drury, senior political editor of the zhou ca south carolina patch and writing a book about this very race. sean, some of the polls saying it's too close to call. we've been watching the race along with you. who needs to come out for sanford to win and who needs to come out for colbert bush to win? is it really women voters? >> yeah, certainly colbert bush needs women to come out for her. but for sanford, i think he just
needs regular republicans who were maybe put off by the appalachian drill stuff that everybody knows about and maybe were just holding their pattern until 2014. he has to hope that they're regeorgr reenergy guide eiuide re-energi after the debate and keep the seat. >> the tea party endorsed sanford yesterday. tea party express can it. what are the political implications if that district turns blue? >> politically that could bode well for the democrats across the state because it that means that's now an entire congressional district that's blue that vincent shaheen can call on in 2014. he'll probabliaby be the democr being nominee against governor haley in a year and he only lost to her by four points.
sorry little bit helps. and people will probably turn out for shaheen in that district and the idea that colbert bush will be on the ticket, now they're turning out for two so they could help each other out. >> and we're watching the president now arrive to go give his speech just very shortly the commencement. he is going to be coming to the podium very shortly to speak. probably have a formal introduction. so we will be watching that on the side of our screen right now as the president does come forward. sean, if we can squeeze this in before the president speaks and gets introduced here -- sean, we decided to let you go. we'll get you next time. here is the president as he arrives. and again as i was mentioning earlier, as he arrives to the ohio state university, he'll be addressing some 60,000 to 70,000 there not graduation. mostly family, friends of the graduating class. more than 10,000 buckeye seniors will get their diplomas, though
not all of them will be there for the ceremony itself. a very large university as many of you know. the president returning to ohio to give his first commencement address of 2013 there in columbus, ohio. and the university itself has seen many presidents speak in the past. for instance, gerald ford spoke there in 1974. but he did that at st. john arena, that was across the street. george w. bush spoke inside the stadium in 2002, as well as some republicans, too, house speaker john boehner who is an ohio republican, he did the commencement speech two years ago. john mccain spoke at the 2006 spring commencement. p.j. crowley is also watching
this along with me. he is the former assistant secretary of state. p.j., the president just coming back from that trip, he had made several statements, one to telemundo about what's happening in syria, his remarks today most likely will not involve necessarily specifics on that as he addresses the graduating class here. but president obama returning to ohio, a state that's become very important to them in the last two elections. >> sure. and obviously for john kerry as secretary of state, had he won ohio, he might have been president in 2004. >> so as we wait for the president to come forward with his comments here, with the overhang of what has developed in syria over the last few days with the two bombings that had been reported in syria at military facilities, the president now the question of what the red line is and what it isn't has been debated in the
sunday talk shows. has the president handled this subject in the best manner possible? >> i think it's important, richard, that we are at a critical juncture with respect to syria and the president needs some time to sort through what are not attractive options in terms of u.s. policy. it's also also important to understand that there are multiple conflicts manifesting themselves in syria. you obviously have the assad government challenged by the opposition, a rivalry between saudi arabia and iran who are on different sides of the con flisk flict. israel doesn't want to see hezbollah strengthened through its participation in the syrian conflict. so you can't look at it through one lens. you have to figure out does the
rut of u.s. action sustain the conflict as bad as it is within syria or does it compound and risk seeing a spillover as we have seen over the past several months. >> it's been a busy bunch of days for the president. he's been traveling internationally. as he has been going about his itinerary and we've had these reports of israel attacking syria, what is the conversation that happens? does president obama speak with israeli leaders, do they tell him we are considering x action? >> he spoke with a lot of leaders not only those who came to washington in recent day, he's been on the phone with s t vladimir putin. there will be bilateral issues such as boston. and then syria. everyone involved directly or indirectly looks at that time through a different wlelens.
certainly john kerry, it's unlikely that we'll see any kind of breakthrough russia and the united states to see the syrian challenge through fundamentally different lenses. >> part of the crowd here that we're watching on the right hand side, some of these graduating students, they could be rotc cadets, enlisting after graduating. what is the right tone for the president as he addresses this crowd understanding we now have the news of syria, we have the news of other major issues that need to be dealt with internationally by the president? we have the withdrawal time line coming out of afghanistan, as well. >> yeah, i wouldn't be surprised if his speech not only provides the wisdom that you expect a xhepsment speaker to provide, but also dealing with the domestic challenges that we've faced which you've mentioned.
i'm sure he will talk a little bit about the international challenges from the global economic crisis to syria and other priorities. and some of them like immigration, they have both an international dimension and domestic dimension. >> we were speaking to the congressman and his point that he was making is that a lot of his district, many of the voters in his district in florida are war weary. >> i was very impressed with congressman rooney. and it's that kind of careful deliberate discussion taking as much of the politics as possible out of the discussion. that's the kind of debate that we have to have whether about issues of war and peace or how to solve major challenges whether it's the cost of health care in this country or immigration o immigration or what to do about guns.
>> what can the secretary of state do to get russia to come along? >> i'm not sure that's the right con text. obviously consultation, managing differences that do exist. i don't see that there will be a breakthrough here. russia's interests in syria are different than the u.s.'s. russia's solution is perhaps a political transition, but one that bashar al assad gets to participate in fp united states's position is that after 70,000 people are dead, there needs to be a political transition, but he has to step aside as part of this. so it will be managing those kind of tensions, but also on the bilateraled a jen came is the issue of make sure that his intelligence cooperation as we try to reconstruct tamerlan tsarnaev's rtrip to russia.
so you'll work where he can and managing differences where they exist. >> related to this, not only russia, but also syria, iran, excuse my, hezbollah, the three together sort of forming an alliance in what they would like to do in the middle east. where does it leave that relationship? >> well, the interesting thing about the middle east is everything touches on everything else. and russiand at united states have a common aspiration. they don't want to see syria get worse. they want to find a way to resolve the iranian nuclear program. they have an interest, mutual interest, in middle east peace. so there is lots to talk about and see what kind of steps can be undertaken, some of which russia will agree with and some of which russia will oppose. so these consultations are very important even if there is not necessarily going to be an
immediate break through . >> in 2006 during the war then, hezbollah said to be stronger now with more military capability, more equipment than they had in 2006. what is your sense of that balance? are we going to see another conflict soon? >> i'm not sure that you are, although there is a risk here that in these steps that israel has taken, there is a risk of being drawn more significantly into the conflict and that changes the tenor potentially and how a lot of different players look at it. so it's a very significant and difficult tight rope that israel is trying to walk to deal with its own security without perhaps escalating tensions across the region. >> reports out of the "new york times" about the missiles, what is your take on the capability of these particular rockets if the reports do end up to be true
and correct? >> well, this is obviously a source of tension since israel withdrew from lebanon a decade ago and this is the great challenge, how to keep a quiet border between israel and syria, which has been quiet for several years, while also paying attention to lebanon and the -- this is also a challenge for lebanon's sovereignty. it's a monopoly on the use of significant force. and so it is not only a challenge to israel, but also to the state of lebanon and how you manage that the context of syria since the two are really joined at the hip. it will be a great challenge in the coming months. >> should we expect more altercations like this? should we expect to have reports of more attacks baez israeli air force? >> that potential is there. israel is trying to intra difficult a supply line that
does exist between syria and lebanon. soo th so they need to make sure it doesn't spill over. >> some republicans have been critical of the timing the president has undertaken in dealing with syria. what would you say would be the proper approach, the steps and tenor that the president should be taking or do you believe that what he has done so far is exactly when needs to done based on the complexity of this issue? >> he's got to manage not only credibility of his -- on the one hand, the red line issue is complicated. but on the other hand, as congressman rooney said, keep the focus on u.s. national security interests. and i think we should not the
interpret caution as necessarily weakness. obviously we've got to learn more about the use of chemical weapons. i think the red line has been crossed, but that doesn't automatically dictate a particular course of action. i think congressman rooney is correct in that the answer to this is more communication, let's sort through the various issues. we may be forced down a road of the least pad option which i think the first step will probably be expanding the nature of the support that goes to the opposition and trying to find a way to separate the good opposition from the extremist opposition. a very difficult proposition. >> how many congressman rooneys are there out there? >> not many. but this is where unfortunately, we've seen politics creep into, you know, issues of war and peace. it's always been a part of our history, but perhaps it just feels more recently than is
probably prudent. >> so secretary kerry as we were mentioning earlier heading to russia. what do you expect to come of that, will he walk away with some sort of support coming from russia? >> the russian/u.s. relationship has been trending negative since vladimir putin returned to the presidency. there are sharp differences. i don't expect a breakthrough, but you'll have an issue where there are clear areas of cooperation. figuring out what happened with the boston marathon bombing and that russia connection is an area where u.s. and russia can cooperate. we've seen some tensions over human rights issues, we have problems in terms of the adoption of russian children and american families, that has to be resolved. and even beyond just the issue of syria, you've got a renewed interest in middle east peace. i think the russians will be
intrigued to find out what the potential is there. and you have an important election next month in iran and what the international community does in terms of further dialogue in iran come summer. that will be very consequential, as well. >> since you brought it up, when you look at the kgb and cia, it appears based on what happened in the boston bombings that there is some -- that they are working together. is it sort of odd to see these two intelligence groups be working together given the past and as you said the relationship trending negative? >> well, on the one hand if you look over the past 12 years, there has been a tremendous expansion international cooperation over terrorism. putin was the first person to call george w. bush after 9/11. but there is also a great deal of mistrust between american intelligence agencies and russia intelligence agencies, some of that's a holdover of the cold war, but in this particular
case, there is a very significant shared interest. russia has concerns about what's happening in chechnya, dagestan and that part of its territory. probably is the source of the tip that came from russia regarding the tsarnaev family back last year. and they will want to work together in this area, try to figure out who he talked to in russia, whatever extremists he might have come across and what the ramification of that are. >> some of the issues going through the mind of president obama as he prepares for the commencement speech in columbus, ohio. thank you very much for being with us. we appreciate your perspective on this very issue. >> thanks, richard. >> watching along with us as we continue tole foll follow the pt here as he is readying to give the commencement speech at the ohio state university in front of some 60,000 to 70,000 people there in the audience. we have with us chairman of the college republican national
committee and advocacy director for young democrats of america. good day to both of you as we get to go back and relive, if you will, commencement speech day a little bit early. we're talking about ohio, the midwest, they have a calendar that is a little bit more accelerated than perhaps elsewhere in the country. one of the first commencements to be happening here. and richard, the youth unemployment rate which has to be in the minds of many of those who are about to listen to president obama speak, about to walk away with their diploma today, it now stands at 11.1%. and that's 53 straight months that it's been above 10% for 18 to 29-year-olds. we look at all the graduates out here. is this what is going to be top of mind? >> i think it's exactly what will be top of mind. that all these graduates out there looking for jobs and sadly, they're graduating college without having those options. what we need to see is action from congress to invest in
america's future and invest in america's economy so these young people can get a chance to get back to work rebuilding america. >> i want to go back to 2008 here, then senator obama beat senator mccain among young people 66% to 32%. in 2012, president obama shared the youth vote, it dropped a bit to 60%. now, romney got 36%. is this a trend, are democrats seeing less support in the youth vote or is this just a blip? >> i think it's absolutely the beginning of a trend. a virginia poll just yesterday, the republican is leading likely democrat by nine points among yuck voters. young voters are looking for solutions. >> stand by. president obama is now coming to the microphone. let's listen in.
>> thank you. hello, buckeyes. o-h. >> i-o. >> o-h. >> i-o. >> thank you so much. everybody please be seated. thank you dr. gee for the wonderful introduction. i suspect the good president may have edited out some other words that were used to describe me. i appreciate that. but i'll let michelle know of all the good comments. to the board of trustee, congresswoman beatty, mayor coleman, and all of you who make up the ohio state university for allowing me to join you. it is an incredible honor. and most of all congratulations class of 2013. [ applause ]
and of course congratulations to all the parents, family and friends and faculty here in the horseshoe, this is your day, as well. i've been told to ask everybody, though, please be careful with the turf. coach meyer has big plans for this fall. now, i very much appreciate the president's introduction. i will not be singing today. it is true that i did speak at that certain university up north a few years ago. but to be fair you can you did let president ford speak here once and he played football for
michigan. so everybody can get some redemption. in my defense, this is my fifth visit to campus in the past year or so. one time i stopped at sc hcsloos sloopy's to grab some wlumpg. anyway, i'm at sloopy's and many of you were still eating breakfast at 11:30. on a tuesday. so to the class of 2013, i will offer my first piece of advice. enjoy it while you can. soon you will not get to wake up
and have breakfast at 1 1671:30 tuesday. and once you have children, it gets even earlier. but the class of 2013, your path to this moment has wound you through years of breathtaking change. you were born as freedom force through a wall in berlin, tore done an iron curtain across europe. you were educated in an era of instant information that put the world's accumulated knowledge at your fingertips. and you came of age as terror touched our shores. and historic recession spread across the nation. and a new generation signed up to go to war. so you've been tested and tempered by events that your parents and i never imagined we'd see when we sat where you
sit. and yet despite all this, or perhaps because of it, yours has become a generation possessed with that most american of ideas. that people who love their country can change it for the better. for all the turmoil, for all the times you've been let down or frustrated at the hands that you've been dealt, what i have seen, what we have witnessed from your generation, is that perennial quint exceptionally american value of optimism.empa sense of community, a sense of service, all of which makes me optimistic for our future. consider that today 50 rotc cadets in your graduating class will become commissioned officers in the army, navy, air force and marines.
[ applause ] 130 of your fellow graduates have already served, some in combat, some on multiple deployments. [ applause ] of the 98 veterans earning bachelors degrees today, 20 are graduating with honors and at least one kept serving his fellow veterans when he came home by starting up a campus organization called vets for vets. and as your commander in chief, i could not be prouder of all of you. [ applause ] consider this graduates of this university served their country through the peace corps and
educated our children through established programs like teach for america, start ups like blue engine. often earning little pay for making the biggest impact. some of you have already launched start up companies of your own. and i suspect that those of you who pursue more education or climb the corporate ladder or enter the arts or science or journalism, you will still choose a cause that you care about in your life and you will foot li fight like heck to realize your vision. and there is a word for this. it's citizenship. and we don't always talk about this idea much these days. citizenship. let alone celebrate. sometimes we see it as a virtue from another time, a distant past. one that's slipping away from a society that celebrates individual ambition above all
else. a society awash in instant technology that empowers us to leverage our skills and talents like never before, but just as easily allows us to retreat from the world. and the result is that we sometimes forget the larger bonds we share as one american family. but it's still out there. all the time. every day. especially when we need it most. just look at the past year. when a hurricane struck our mightiest city and a factory exploded in a small town in texas, we saw citizenship. when bombs went off this boston and went a made malevolent pre-of governor fire, an ohio high school, a first grades classroom in connecticut, we saw
citizenship. in the aftermath of darkest tragedy, we have seen the american spirit at its brightest. and we've seen the petty divisions of color and class and creed replaced by a united urge to help each other. we've seen courage and compassion, a sense of civic duty and recognition we are not a collection of strangers. we are bupd are bound to one ana southwest ideals and commitments and a deep devotion to this country that we love. and that's what citizenship is. it's at the heart of our founding, that as americans, we are blessed with god-given talents and inalienable rights, but with those rights come responsibilities to ourselves and to one another and future generations. [ applause ]
now, if we're being honest with sources, as you've studied and worked and served to become good citizens, the fact is that all too often the institutions that give structure to our society have at times betrayed your trust. in the run up to the financial crisis, too many on wall street forgot that their obligations don't end with what's happening with their shares. in entertainment and the media, the ratings and shock value often trump news and story telling. in washington, well, this is a joyous occasion, so let me put it charitably.
i think it's fair to say our democracy isn't working as well as we know it can. it could do better. [ applause ] and so those of us fortunate enough to serve in these institutions owe to you to do better every single day. and i've been thinking a lot lately about how we can keep this idea of citizenship in its fullest sense alive at the national level, not just on election day, not just in times of tragedy, but all the days in between. and perhaps because i spend a lot of time in washington, i obsess with this issue because it that sense of citizenship is so sorely needed there. and i think of what your
generations traits, compassion, energy and a sense of selflessness, might mean for a democracy that must adapt more quickly to keep up with the speed of technological and demographic and wrenching economic change. i think about how we might perpetuate the notion of citizenship in a way that another politician in my home state of illinois, adlai stevenson, once described patriotism, not as short frenzied outbursts of emotion, but a steady dedication of a life time. that's what patriotism is, what citiz citiz citiz citizenship is. [ applause ] >> i don't pretend to have all the answers. i won't offer some grand theory on a beautiful day like this. you guys all have celebrating to do. i won't get partisan because that's not what citizenship is about.
in fact i'm asking the same thing of that you president bush did when he spoke at this commencement in 2002. americans need more taxpayers, spectators and occasional voters, he said. america needs full-time citizens. and as graduates from a university -- [ applause ] as graduates from a university whose motto is education for citizenship, i know all of you get that this is what you've signed up for. it's what your country expects of you. so briefly i'll ask for two things from the class of 2013. to participate and to persevere. after all, your democracy does not function without your active participation. at a bare minimum, that means voting eagerly and often.
not having somebody drag you to it at 11:30 when you're having breakfast. it means knowing who has been elected to make decisions on your behalf and what they believe in. and whether or not they deliver on what they said they would. and if they don't represent you the way you want or conduct themselves the way you expect, if they put special interests above your own, you've got to let them know that's not okay. and if they let you down often enough, there is a built-in day in november where you can really let them know it's not okay. [ applause ] but participation, your civic duty is more than just voting. you don't have to run for office yourself. but i hope many of you do. at all levels. because our democracy needs you. and i promise you it will give
you a tough skin. i know a little bit about this. president wilson once said if you want to make enemy, try to change something.president wils you want to make enemy, try to change something. and that that's precisely what the founders let us, the pouder to adapt to changing times. the keys to a system of self government. the tools to do big things and important things together that we could not possibly do alone. to stretch railroads and electricity and a highway system across a sprawling continent. to educate our people with a system of public schools and land grant colleges including the ohio state university. to care for the sick and the vulnerable and provide a basic level of protection from falling into abject poverty in the wealthiest nation on earth. to conquer fascism and did he
seize, to visit the moon and mars, to gradually secure our god given rights for all of our citizens regardless of who they are or what they look like or who they love. >> applause ]. [ applause ]. we the people chose to do these things together. because we know this country cannot accomplish great things if we pursue nothing greater than our own individual ambition. unfortunately, you've grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate sinister entity at the root of all our problems. some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. they will warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. you should reject these voices. because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and
unique experiment in self rule is somehow just a sham with which we can't be trusted. we have never been a people who place all of our faith this government to solve our problems. we shouldn't want to. but we don't think the government is the source of all our problems either. because we understand that this democracy is ours and we understand it's not about what america can do for us, it's about what can be done by us together. through the hard and frustrating but absolutely necessary work of self government and class of 2013, you have to be involved in that process. [ applause ] the founders trusted us with this awesome authority. we should trust ourselves with it, too. because when we don't, when we
turn away and get discouraged and cynical and abdicate that authority, we grant our sigh wlept c silent concept sent to someone will claim it. and middle class families demand washington stay out of that business and whisper in its year for special treatment you don't get. that's how a small minority of lawmakers get cover to defeat something a vast majority of their constituents want. how our political system gets consumed by small things when we are a people called to do great things like rebuilding the middle class and reverse the rise of inequality and repair the deteriorating cli the matt that threatens to do everything we plan to leave to our kids. ultimately only you can break that cycle. only you can make sure the
democracy you inherit is as good as we know it can be. but it requires your dedicated and informed and engaged citizenship. and that citizenship is a harder, higher road to take, but it leads to a better place. it's how we built this country together. it's the question president kennedy posed to the nation. the dream dr. king invoked. it does not promise easy success or immediate progress, but it has led to success. and it has led to progress. and it has to continue with you. which brings me to the second thing i ask of all of you. i ask that you persevere. whether you start a business or run for office or devote yourself to alleviating poverty or hunger, please remember that nothing worth doing happens
overnight. a british inveneventor named dy went through 1,000 prototypes. we remember like and he will junior dan's six championships. we don't remember his nearly 15,000 missed shots. as for me, i lost my first race for congress and look at me now. i'm an honorary graduate of the ohio state university. [ applause ] the point is it if you are living your life to the fullest, you will fail. you will stumble. you will screw up. you will fall down. but it will make you stronger. and you'll get it right the next time. or the time after that. or the time after that. and that is not only true for your personal pursuits, but it's
also true for the broader causes that you believe in, as well. so you can't give up your passion if things don't work right away. you can't lose heart or grow cynical if there are twists and turns on your journey. the cynics may be the loudest voices. but i promise you they will accomplish the least. it's those folks who stay at it, those who do the long hard committed work of change that gradually push this country in the right direction. and make the most lasting difference. so whenever you feel that creeping cynicism, whenever you hear those voices saying you can't do it, you can't make a difference, whenever somebody tells to you set your sights lower, the trajectory of this great nation should give you hope. what generations have done before you should give you hope.
because it was young people just like you who marched and mobilized and stood up and sat into secure women's rights and voting rights and worker's rights and gay rights often at incredibleed o danger, over a steady dedication of a lifetime and they never got acknowledged for it, but they made a difference. [ applause ] and even if their rights were already secured, there were those who fought to secure those same rights and opportunities for others. and that should give you some hope. where we're going should give you hope. because while things are still hard for a lot of people, you have every reason to believe that your future is bright. you're graduating into an
economy and job market that is steadily healing. the once dying american auto industry is on pace for its strongest performance in 20 years. something that means everything to many communities in ohio and across the midwest. huge strides in domestic energy driven in part by research at universities like this one have us on track to secure our own energy future. incredible advances in information and technology spurred largely by the risk takers of your generation have the potential to change the way we do almost everything. there is not another country on earth that would not gladly change places with the united states of america. and that will be true for your generation just as it was true for previous generations. so you've got a lot to look forward to, but if there is one certainty about the decade ahead, it's that things will be
uncertain. change will be a constant just as it has been throughout our history. and, yes, we still face many important dhchallenges. some will require technological break through oigs or new policy insights, but more than anything, what we will need is political will to harness the ingenuity of your generation and encourage and inspire the hard work of dedicated citizens. to repart middpair the middle c give more families a fair shake, to reject a country in which only a lucky few positive per but that's antithetical to our ideas and our democracy.per but that's antithetical to our ideas and our democracy. august of th all of this will happen if you are involved because it takes the dogged determination of our citizens. to educate more chuildren and a
yuck younger age and give more people a chance to get an education like you did at ohio state university and make it more affordable so that young people won't leave with a mountain of debt. that will take the care and concern of zit citizens like yo. to build better roads and airport and faster internet and to advance the kinds of basic research and technology that's always kept america ahead of everybody else. that willwill take the grit and fortitude of citizens. to confront the threat of climate change before it's too late. that inquires the idealism and initiative of zints. to protect more of our kids from the wars of gun violence, that requires the unwafrping passion, untiring resolve of citizens. it will require you -- [ applause ] -- 50 years ago, president kennedy told the class of 1963
that our problems are manmade. therefore, they can be solved by man. and man can be as big as he wants. we're blessed to live in the greatest nation on earth. but we can always be greater. we can always aspire to something more. it doesn't depend on who you elect to office. it depends on you as citizens how big you want us to be. how badly you want to seefor fo. look how big we've been. i dare you, class of 2013, to do better. i dare you to dream bigger. and from what i've seen of your generation, i'm confident that you will. and so i wish you courage and compassion and all the strength
that you will need for that t b tranquil and steady dedication of a life time. thank you and god bless you and god bless these united states of america. [ applause ] >> it is an exciting day there in columbus, ohio as 60,000 to 70,000 onlookers have the president of the united states today being energized, being brought to a point where they move forward in their career, the president covering many different issues there in his, oh, about 26, 27 minute speech there in columbus, ohio. still with us watching the entire commencement speech, we have alex schreiber and richard fowler. and so richard, let's start with you. the theme here was participate and persevere. which what did you think? >> i loved it. i think the president really spoke to the graduates of ohio as well as the entire country.
we can't expect to just send people to washington and have them do all the work. it's about america doing the work. that part of the speech that stood out the most is the part where he talked about the student loan debt crisis in this country. we have a trillion dollars in loan debt and no interest in congress. and the only way we'll get interest in congress is when young people come together and say we demand interest from congress. >> they're calling for privatizing student loans with the government help to go ensure back loans along the way and it says the federal government should not be in the business of originating student loans. alex, young people might be skeptical about that idea of letting banks handle their loan. what is the best way to approach this based on that view? >> so the president has shown us once again that he's an excellent wordsmith.
but people are looking for results. the average student loan did you tell of those 10,000 students at the ohio state university walking being a dloos stage today is 126,000. and the republican party platform spoke about the issue because it was the president who chose to take over all of the student loans in this country as part of his plan to pay for health care. we're literally putting health care on the backs of youngest americans having the student loan interest pay for the affordable care act. at the end of the day, that's irresponsible. that's not a solution for young people to have us face the bushd of health care for this generation. >> another one of the resonating points here, alex, the president bringing up a couple of mentions there, he brought up the peace corps. over 200,000 students have participated in that entire program which goes back to 1960 when then senator john f.
kennedy made the speech at the other university, the university of michigan not too far away from the ohio state university, and where he challenged the country's youth to go out and make a difference in the world. and he also did echo president kennedy in his speech saying that our problems are manmade, therefore, they can be solved by man. what do you think about him harkening back to the '60s and this idea of going abroad to assist in the troubled spots around the world? does that still exist and will students take that message and perhaps see that as a reasonable option for their future? >> sure, i think it's less about harkening back and looking in to the future. my own sister spent two years with the peace corps. the president mentioned teach for america. we're seeing thousands of graduates across the country sign up to give back in communities that are less fortunate and that's really part of this generation. this generation feels empowered, they want to give back, they see opportunities across the country and across the world.
and that's a bipartisan effort for that civic engagement that both parties need to be pushing. >> richard, to on yyou on that question. as well the president a couple times brought up the idea of entrepreneurialship, of part up, new graduates about 21, 22, coming from the midwest, a fairly healthy start up community there. is thatan entiinspiring message? >> it is. and the sad part is what you've seen from the congress the lack there of. i wish i could agree saying there was bipartisanship when it com comes to service, but we have seen then put on the chopping block. we're not seeing it from the other side of the aisle.
>> richard, alex, to be able to be back there in you columbus, ohio and watch it together, i kind of miss that commencement day, i think the two of you do, as well.and watch it together, f miss that commencement day, i think the two of you do, as well. thank you both for watching along with me today. grave new signs of escalating violence in syria and today israeli warplanes launching strikes inside the country targeting a shipment of weapons in lebanon. the ap reporting syria is calling the attack as flagrant violation of international law. joining me is peter walsh and general barry mccaffrey. thank you both. congressman, starting with you, do you support these air strikes? >> i do. israel has a legitimate self defense claim. so the decisions they have to make for their own self-defense are unique to israel and i do support their effort. >> general, i want to play sound
from senator john mccain. take a listen. >> we need to have a game changing action and that is no american boots on the ground, establish a safe zone and to protect it and to supply weapons to the right people in syria. >> that's really been the dominant question as we continue to watch syria over the recent months here. what is the right option? >> well, there is enormous anxiety about the security of israeli and i think that's the dominant national security interests we have. israeli right now surrounded by increasing danger from both egypt, syria, lebanon and hezbollah. iranians are pumping lots of arms through syria. so that's really the concern. our military options are extremely limited. establishing a safe zone in syria means, what, going after
the syrian air force, syrian anti-aircraft capacity. where do we do it from, from jordan, israel, cyprus. so our military options are extremely bad and we should be reluctant to get directly involved except to have the cia provide lethal support in my view to selected parts of the rebel opposition. >> congressman, react to that statement by the general. and that is the assistance to the rebel groups, it's on which said there are hundreds if not over 1,000 rebel groups that exist in syria. what's the best approach when thinking about assisting further? rebels have been asking for increased equipment support. >> well, first of all, i'd like to say that i think the politicians should listen more to some of the experienced military folks like general m mccalfry when it comes to us
pontifica pontificating. practicalities are extremely difficult. options are to potentially provide arms with our allies. but even in doing that, it would be a mistake for us to think that that would create a stable situation. what you have right now is chaos. the sooner that can be brought to order, this is a big effort, the better. but the reality is that there is she sunni, and they're ready to fight each other.reality is that the biggest challenge is chaos in the region. there is not a simple way to deal with it. consensus seems to be if we can give arms to pro western pro democratic rebel, then we can do
that, bitbut but the notion tha is a simple solution i think is very risky. >> general, i want to talk about the red line that has been discussed. what is the red line, have they already crossed it, what will the president do based on his definition of what that red line might be. and israel's red line being different than the president's and how they put those two together. can you discuss pow horimportan red line is? >> the president made that comment to try to keep assad -- remember 80,000 now murdered in this struggle between the dominant minority and sunni majority. i think he was just trying to stop the violence from spinning further out of control. but the practical matter is right now chemical weapons which
assad is probably used at least twice already have in mortar, artillery delivered scud missiles. if you want to go after the delivery systems and stockpile, you'd have to take down the sa-17 anti-aircraft defense. items not a realistic military option. so i think now we're trying to find ways to back off that challenge. >> general, what do you make of the reports of the 110 missiles? >> the number i'm using unclassified is israel is facing as many as 100,000 missiles from lebanon, from hamas and gaza strip, from the iranians shahab 3 missiles that can reach israel. it's a huge problem for them. that 2006 war scared the death out of the israelis. 1200 people got killed and it was an inconclusive outcome.
so seeing further missiles is a huge threat to israelis. >> and some saying hezbollah better equipped today than they were back in 2006. >> absolutely. >> thank you both very much. >> good to be with you. a testament to courage. gabby giffords will be awarded a prestigious honor. that's next. ♪ [ harrison ] is there anything you would not do for your family? punch it. ♪ [ male announcer ] back here on earth, your family is your crew. you would do everything in your power to protect them. that's why there's lifelock. and introducing lifelock junior. call 1-800-lifelock or visit lifelock.com/trek today and see star trek: into darkness, in theatres may 17th. rated pg-13. in theatres may 17th. there's a reason no one says "easy like monday morning."
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joining me now is former chief of staff for gabby giffords and now executive director for american for responsible solutions. thanks for being here. just two years aftof after gett shot, entering into a hot bed of gun legislation. how is she handling all the demands? >> that's a good point. actually it's been great to her. she's only 42 years old. she'll be 43 this summer. so for her to go from a very busy lifestyle and active career pre-shooting to sort of the role of just working on the rehab was a hard transition in and of itself. so the task of having a real mission again has been great for her and for all of us. >> and what are her plans in the coming weeks? congress is coming back to work on monday. what's on her schedule?
>> well, we've got a couple things in the works in terms of traveling around the country. ensuring that americans understand whether their senator supported the common sense policy of expanding background checks or not. which is as she promised a couple weeks ago making sure if we can't change the policy that we have today, we need to change congress. so we'll make good on that promise. but it looks like we're going to round towo and we are ready for it. >> those who did not support the background checks have gone down. is that what might change the tenor of the way the second round might be? >> i think it's possible. we're in boston this weekend. gabby is encouraging the row file in courage award and part what have she'll talk about is having the courage to do the right hinge. we all think congress needs more of that. so we're hoping in the second
round you might see support for someone for example like senator ayotte just up the road here in new hampshire who i think we could work with if she's interested in coming to the table on this. former attorney general obviously understands the tough on crime aspect that we need here in this country to keep our communities safer. so we're looking forward to working with some of the people that went astray but we're excited to bring new people into the fold and hopefully get this passed. >> i brought up an exciting day for gabby giffords as she is the recipient for this year's row fi profile in courage award. what was her reaction? >> it's a real honor.ow profile in courage award. what was her reaction? >> it's a real honor.w profile in courage award. what was her reaction? >> it's a real honor. profile in courage award. what was her reaction? >> it's a real honor. she obviously follows politics closely both democrat and republican and for someone like president kennedy and his legacy to honor her is -- words can't describe her excitement.
so we're all happy to be here today. >> you know her so well. you can please talk about the congresswoman's perspective now of the failure of the back fwlound checks to pass, gun legislation taking a step back. with so much in front of her at the moment, how is she doing in terms of the energy she has to participate in these events and to push forward in what she wants which is gun legislation? >> well, she is tireless. as she was before the shooting. so there is in doubt in that. she drives and motivates us every day to continue working on this and to go at the pace that we've been going. so she's doing very well and has sort of lifted the mantle here of optimism and hope and the fact that, yeah, we suffered a setback a few weeks ago know, but we're on the side of public opinion. polls are showing over 90% of the country says we support universal back ground check.
nothing extreme about it. gabby and mark are both moderates. so we wouldn't be supportive of something that was extreme or infringing upon our second amendment rights. so it's a fight, but she's ready and she's got the courage that it will take. >> and the strength. she's certainly inspirationains. thanks for stopping by. lawmakers return to capitol hill tomorrow with immigration reform on their agenda. this is america. we don't let frequent heartburn come between us and what we love. so if you're one of them people who gets heartburn and then treats day after day... block the acid with prilosec otc and don't get heartburn in the first place! [ male announcer ] one pill each morning. 24 hours. zero heartburn.
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president obama talking about immigration. take a listen. >> when i say i'm optimistic, i didn't say it was going to be easy. we always knew this was a challenging path. immigration debates historically have always generated a lot of passion and energy. but what we've seen is i think it's a substantial shift in attitudes in the republican party from, say, a year, two years ago. >> 100 days gone now, meredith, now looking forward to the next 100 days. is this where the president will double down on getting immigration reform through? >> i think immigration reform has always been one of the president's top priorities. i was watching your last segment about background checks and how it had failed and there is more political will to do immigration than even anything to gun control. so you have the bipartisan group
of eight senators who came out with a framework who have been extraordinarily cautious in trying to protect the bill. you have someone like made are compa marco rubio, ambitions running a presidential media operation and trying to debunk some of the conservatives who are attacking this because it's not going to be easy. even if it might be good for the republican party for this to get done and democrats want to see it done, it's a tough road ahead. you're seeing a lot of hearings in the senate judiciary committee, senate commerce will have a hearing this week. joint economic committee is having one. this will be worked out through regular order and that comes with some of the downfalls of that, everyone will talk about it, people will find faults in it. but at the same time, they're trying to do this in a way that makes it easier for republicans to get onboard. . we've watched this congress and last congress and it's difficult to get anything done. so it's hard to be as optimistic as the president is on this. but in terms of the issues that he's looking to address, it's the one that might benefit
republicans the most. >> you know, robert, as we look at this due date, we're 100 days in right now. some might say as we go through the regular process, more and more questions will be brought up, senator patrick leahy planning to introduce an amendment to allow gay americans to sponsor their foreign born partners, for instance, for green cards. the gop senator marco rubio saying this could kill the bill and senator jeff flake calling it a deal breaker for most republicans. will this stay on to this bill? or will it get voted down in the main thrust of what we now see as the immigration reform bill goes through? >> well, two-part answer, richard. i hope it does not get voted down. i can't imagine someone not being able to have their partner in the same country as them. so i do hope it does pass. but, politically speaking, though, i can see how unfortunately this amendment may go down in twos. if, in fact, many republicans out there, not just marco rubio, but also lindsey graham and
other folks and say something this is not something we can support, i can, unfortunately, see this amendment getting voted down for the sake of the broader bill, the broader immigration bill moving forward. remember, this is about 11 million undocumented workers, we're long overdue. >> there are many amendments to be considered in the process. and there is more than plan "a," "b," "c" and "d." jimmy, here's senator leahy on "meet the press," take a listen to this. >> there's a lot of people who want to kill an immigration bill no matter what. we will have votes on this. people can vote for or against any one of these amendments. now, i've had 20-something odd hearings. everybody can bring up whatever they want. we're going to have a fair and open thing and vote it up or vote it down. >> what's going to happen? >> well, i think you're going to
find a lot of senators that are going to offer amendments that have nothing to do with immigration reform. who will try to kill the bill. and meredith talked about regular order and that's exactly right. chairman leahy is going to bring this bill up, people are going to offer their amendments. every single amendment can be voted up or down in committee. and when you get to the floor, guess what happens, you can filibuster every single one of those amendments. i'm not as hopeful about this immigration reform thing. i think senators ought to pony up, vote up or down. if they don't like it, vote against it. if kwyou don't think gay americs should be able to get a green card for their partner, vote no, but don't hide behind the senate's rules. you're an elected official, pony and vote your way. >> it certainly does add a level of complexity. >> very quickly, let me disagree with my good friend jimmy here. i'm very optimistic that it's going to get passed. you have presidential will and republicans out there willing to
work with the president in a bipartisan fashion to get immigration passed. it's going to be bumpy, messy, but i think comprehensive immigration reform will be passed in this congress. >> jimmy, quickly. >> yeah, but for lindsay graham spoke to the republican party here in south carolina and he got booed and heckled when immigration reform came up. let's be clear, this is going to be a tough road for a lot of these senators and this cuts both ways. lindsay graham will have to vote up or down and he's not going to want to do that. but he's right. >> okay. >> i think it's going to go down, i think, it's not going to work. >> great discussion. we've got to move to the next topic and that's russian relations. meredith, tomorrow secretary of state john kerry heads to russia, syria's most powerful ally. what does the u.s. have to do here in order to basically reverse their support there of what syria's doing? >> so, i obviously can't get in the mind of russian leaders and know what is enough for them to be convinced from secretary of state john kerry. >> if you could -- it'd be magic, though. >> i don't want to get close to
that. no, what i wanted to say is this -- >> come on, meredith. >> there are a lot of issues that john kerry will have to discuss. our relationship with russia has not been the greatest this past year, there's going to be the issue of some of the like chechnya strikes because of what happened in boston. with syria, john kerry said this conversation was long overdue because now we're starting to see evidence both from our intelligence, from british intelligence that the situation in syria might be escalating in terms of their weapons development. so i don't know if you're going to be able to switch russia's mind or china's mind for that matter in terms of the u.n. security council and what u.n. action might happen. i think the conversation is going to be much more serious now than it was before. and john kerry will have the difficult task of trying to relay that information. even if they're not going to ease back entirely, i think that in order to preserve relations with us, that there might have to make some changes. but at the end of the day, i don't know what this
administration wants to do on syria. it's not an issue that's clear cut for them. it's one that advisers are getting nervous about and i'm sure we'll talk about this later in that, you know, the president has talked about this red line, but it was words that the white house really regrets because now he's sort of in a box too. >> must reads now. quickly to you, jimmy. >> today in the charleston post and courier, they endorsed elizabeth colbert bush for the first district seat. this is the first time in my lifetime i think they've endorsed any democrat. that's a big deal. >> the political has a very interesting story about the lack of diversity. a lot of minority groups are still very, very concerned that this president is lacking diversity. >> meredith? 15 seconds. >> the front page story in "new york times" on syria and the president's evolution since probably last summer on the issue and what the administration is going to do and what they can. >> meredith, jimmy, robert, thank you so much. it was a lot of fun today on the
big three. you guys have a great weekend. >> yeah, you too. >> you too. >> that wraps up this sunday's edition of "weekends with alex witt," "meet the press" is ahead. flying is old hat for business travelers. the act of soaring across an ocean in a three-hundred-ton rocket doesn't raise as much as an eyebrow for these veterans of the sky. however, seeing this little beauty over international waters is enough to bring a traveler to tears. we're putting the wonder back into air travel, one innovation at a time. the new american is arriving. meet the 5-passenger ford c-mc-max one. c-max two. that's a super fuel- efficient hybrid for me. and a long range plug-in hybrid for you.
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