tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC December 5, 2013 4:00pm-5:01pm PST
no, i don't think the president is right. we will not see another nelson mandela. it's not likely in our life time. but we can bring a little mandela in us and become better people in the spirit of nelson mandela. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. up next is a special edition of "hardball." an exclusive interview with president obama. tonight, we bring you to my interview with president barack obama. we present it against the backdrop of the passing of his personal hero nelson mandela. an event which msnbc will be covering for the rest of the evening. i have covered two great world events in my career. one was the fall of the berlin wall in 1989. the other was the first democratic election in south africa five years later. i was there when the country's black majority voted by the millions waiting in lines that stretched from one horizon to the other. i saw first hand the devotion to
democracy and the non-violent political change that was the great legacy of the man who died today. president obama paid tribute to nelson mandela today. through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom to others, he transformed south africa and moved all of us. his journey from prisoner to president embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the better. his commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example for all humanity to aspire to. whether in the lives of nations or in our own personal lives. i promised you the president of the united states, and he's here. let's play "hardball." ♪
it's my honor to introduce the president of the united states. >> hey. >> well, thank you, mr. president. thank you, dr. neil kerwin who is here for having us at the university. >> so what brought you to "hardball"? >> american university. "hardball" was just an excuse to hang out with these fine young people. you know, i've had just wonderful experiences here. first time i spoke here, actually, was when i was running for the presidency and ted kennedy announced his endorsement here. obviously he was an incredible
friend and had spoken here about immigration. i always have a wonderful interaction with the young people here. they're doing a great job. >> well, let's play "hardball." >> let's do it. >> you have a great audience here of college age people and graduate students an faculty. there's some resistance out there among young people. have seen it in the polls to enrolling in the exchanges and get involved in taking responsibility for their health care. what's your argument why they should do that? >> well, first of all, i understand why people would have been resistant to going on a website that wasn't working right. and fortunately because of some very hard work, we've now got it to the point where for the vast majority of people it's working well. and my message to the young people is take a look for yourself. the truth is that most college-aged students because of the law can stay on their parents' plan and they may be the best deal for them. we've already insured about 3 million people. and your first job where you don't have full health insurance
benefits may mean that you stay on your parents' plan a little bit longer, but at some point let's say when you turn 26, if you're between jobs or you have a passion wanting to start a business and you're not going to have health insurance, this gives you the opportunity to get high quality health insurance and for most people under 30, it's probably going to cost you less than your cell phone bill or your cable bill. less than 100 bucks. and there was a time when i looked healthy like these folks and thought i was never going to get sick. but what you discover is that some tough stuff happens. you have a run of bad luck. you suddenly need hospitalization. you have an accident. you get an illness. and for young people to realize it's in their health interest to
get ongoing preventive care, to be able to get free contraception, benefits like mammograms that allow them to maintain their health throughout their lives without fear of going bankrupt or making their family bankrupt if they get sick, that's something that's priceless. and i think most young people are going to recognize that. so my advice to everybody is the website's now working. go to healthcare.gov, take a look for yourself in your state what's available to you. there is no reason why you should not have health insurance. and by the way, if you don't get health insurance and then you get in an accident, the rest of us end up paying for it. because the hospitals, they end up essentially charge hidden subsidies for those who don't have health insurance. that's what we're trying to eliminate. >> you saw the story about the
national security agency basically patrolling all of the cell phones in the world, basically. a lot of young people point to the privacy requirements. they don't like being part of anything that's collecting information. health care. is this going to be one of the detriments for people signing up, they want to keep their privacy. >> first of all, health care is entirely different. it's more similar to seniors who sign up for medicare, people who file their taxes. you know, there are a whole bunch of things where you're providing information to the government. it's protected. it's governed by a whole series of laws. the nsa issues a broader issue. young people are rightly sensitive to the needs to preserve their privacy and maintain internet freedom. and so i am. that's part of not just our first amendment rights and expectations in this country, but it's particularly something that young people care about because they spend so much time texting and, you know,
instagraming. >> whatever. >> something's coming up every single day. so all of us spend more and more of our lives in cyber space. now, the challenge is first of all we do have people who are trying to hurt us. and they communicate through these same systems. if we're going to do a good job preventing a terrorist attack in this country, a weapon of mass destruction getting onto the new york subway system, et cetera, we do want to keep eyes on some bad actors. the second thing is that the same cyber space that gives us all this incredible information and allows us to reach out around the world also makes your bank accounts vulnerable. cyber crime is a huge problem and a growing problem. and so we've got to be in there in some way to help protect the american people even as we're also making sure that government doesn't abuse it. now, i think -- i can't confirm
or get into e the details of every aspect of what the nsa does. and the way this has been reported, the snowden disclosures have identified some areas of legitimate concern. some of it has also been highly sensationalized. and, you know, has been painted in a way that's not accurate. i've said before and i will say again, the nsa actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic surveillance. not reading people's e-mails, not listening to the contents of their phone calls. outside of our borders, the nsa is more aggressive. it's not constrained by laws. and part of what we're trying to do over the next month or so is having done on independent review and brought a whole bunch of folks, civil libertarians and lawyers and others, to examine
what's being done, i'll be proposing some self-restraint on the nsa and to initiate some reforms that can give people more confidence. but i wanted everybody to be clear. the people of the nsa generally are looking out for the safety of the american people. they are not interested in reading your e-mails. they're not interested in reading your text messages. and that's not something that's done and we've got a big system of checks and balances including the courts and congress who have the capacity to prevent that from happening. >> mr. president, let's look at that question of confidence a entrusted government. 50 years ago in june of 1963, president john f. kennedy spoke here at the american university. let's listen to something he said at that moment that i think applies to the place this country is in politically at the moment. >> our problems are manmade, therefore they can be solved by man and man can be as big as he
wants. no problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable, and we believe they can do it again. >> how do we get back to that confidence that we can solve our manmade problems and other problems? >> well, you know, i have that confidence. we gone through a tough time over the past five years. most of the young people who are here today have come of age during as difficult a period as we've seen in our modern history. we went through the worst financial crisis since the great depression. we have gone through wars. this is part of the 9/11 generation who was very young at the time, but remembers the trauma of that event. and yet if you look at it, we've now ended the war in iraq. we're about to end the war in
afghanistan. we've begun a recovery that's not yet complete coming out of the financial crisis, but the job market is getting better. our economy is improving. we have doubled our production of clean energy. doubled our traditional energy sources. we are on the brink of being as close to energy independent as any country our size could be in a very long time. a we still have the best universities and companies on earth. we're the envy of the world. so i continue to have great confidence in our capacity to solve our problems. there is a specific challenge that we've got. that is a congress and this city, washington, that is gridlocked and spends too much time worrying about the next
election and not the generation. the solution to that is ultimately what was envisioned by our founders. and what jack kennedy understood as well. and that's the american people. question go through these periods where aur politics gets all bollucks up. the truth is when you look at our history, there's been a lot of times where congress gets stuck. but the reason we get through it is the american people have good instincts. if over and over again they see we're not addressing the core problems we have, eventually they will put in place folks who are serious about getting the work done. >> let's talk about the problem with the legislative branch. the other day speaker boehner said that we can't get anything
done because we have a divided country, a divided congress. but that's the nature of america. they have an aisle down the middle of the senate. an aisle down the middle of the house. they've always been there. we've rarely had one party in power for more than a year or two. so we stuck with this as long as we have two parties running our government, they can't compromise. they used to compromise. my argument is in the old days they would compromise and then blame the other party for the parts they didn't like. today they don't compromise and blame the other party. why not strike a deal and then blame boehner for the parts of the deal you don't like and he can blame you for the parts he doesn't like. >> well, couple of things. first of all, i think chris it's fair to say i have always been prepared to not only negotiate, but to go ahead and push forward on principled compromises. in fact, sometimes on your station msnbc i've been blasted for being too willing to
compromise. so the problem is not generally speaking on the democratic side. and obviously i'm partisan here, but objectively i think you can look at it and say that the big challenge we've got is you've got a faction of the republican party that sees compromise as a dirty word that has moved so far to the right, that it would be difficult for a ronald reagan to win the nomination for the republican party at this point. and as a consequence, it is more challenging. but a couple of things i just want to point out. >> you've got three and a half more years to deal with the situation. >> couple things i'd point out. first of all, in our history usually when we've made big progress on issues, it has been when one party controlled the government for a period of time. i mean, the big strides we made in the new deal. the big strides we made with the great society. you know, those were times where you had a big majority.
and when ronald reagan made changes in the direction of a more republican agenda was when he had a majority. what you're right about, though, is when we have divided government, most of the time there's about 70%, 80% overlap between the parties. we're not like some countries that where you actually have a socialist party on one hand and an ultra-conservative party on the other hand. most of the time we're playing between the 40 yard line here. so my argument to boehner and mcconnell and everybody else up there is let's go ahead and have big arguments on the things we disagree about. but why don't we go ahead and work on the things we agree about. classic example is immigration reform. we know that the majority of the american people think the system's broken. we now have a vote out of the senate both democrats and
republicans voting for a common sense bill that would strengthen our borders that would fix the system and make it easier for talent to come here and work hard and become part of america. and that would hold companies accountable when they're hiring undocumented workers and taking advantage of them. and by the way would deal with the 11 million people who are in the shadows right now. now, we've got a majority of the american people who think it's a good idea. and we've got a majority of the senate including republicans who think it's a good idea. the only thing that's stopping it at this point is what i mentioned earlier. a faction in the republican house party that is resistant. i continue to be optimistic we'll get it done. i think john boehner is sincere in getting it done. >> didn't he just say we won't do it in '14, today? >> well, i think that there's so much focus on the politics of the base, and republicans being worried about getting challenged
during the primary season that that inhibits a lot of cooperation that is there. and i actually think there's a bunch of republican who is want to get stuff done. they've got to be embarrassed. the truth of the matter is they've now been in charge of the house of representatives, one branch -- or one chamber in one branch of government for a couple of years now. they just don't have a lot to show for it. >> let's talk about the executive branch which you control. back in 1964, we looked it up, a pew study, 76% of the american people believed that most of the time almost always the federal government did the right thing. now it's down to less than 20%. the trust question. the commitments you made before the rollout with health care. what is it? it's a serial decline, mr. president. it keeps going down. what's going to stop it, arrest
that decline? of you being honest, anybody who's president, there's skepticism out there. >> the cynicism and skepticism is deep. and i distinguish between, you know, just management of government and the basic blocking and tackling of getting stuff done to help the american people. and then the ability to move big policy changes that are going to help more americans. when it comes to the management of government, part of the reason people are so skeptical is that when we do things right, they don't get a lot of attention. if we do something that is perceived at least initially as a screwup, it will be on the nightly news for a week. let's take the example of the federal emergency management agency. fema.
we've got a guy who's been in charge, craig fugate, who has managed as many natural disasters over the last five years as just about anybody and has done a flawless job. >> so he's really doing a good job. not like his predecessor. >> he's doing a heck of a job. and that's not just my opinion. that's the opinion of every governor and mayor that works with him. including republicans. nobody knows who this guy is. and if, in fact, we go in after sandy or after the tornadoes in oklahoma or missouri and were helping people effectively and quickly and they're getting what they need, nobody hears about that. that's not something that's reported about. if on the other hand you've got an office in cincinnati in the irs office that i think for bureaucratic reasons is trying to streamline what is a
difficult law to interpret about whether tax exemption and they've got a list. there's some so-called progressives and you know perceived to be liberal commentators who during that week just were outraged at the possibility that these folks, you know, had been at the direction of the democratic party in some way discriminated against tea party folks. you know, that is what gets news. that's what gets attention. now, here's what i will say. there are a couple million people working for the federal government. i remember bob gates, my former secretary of defense wonderful public servant, when i first came in i asked him so bob you
got any advice for me. he said mr. president, just understand you've got a lot of people working for you. somebody somewhere at this very moment is screwing something up. and that's true. and so i have to consistently push on every cabinet secretary on every single agency how can we do things better? and we can do things better. part is we need to reorganize the government which was designed primarily in 1935 or '45. we could consolidate agencies. we've got to do a better job buying information technologies. how we make ourselves more customer friendly. those are all things that we can improve. but the upshot is the government still does a lot of good. the last point i'll make on this is we've had a politics, frankly, the entire republican
party brand since ronald reagan has been government's the problem. and if you day after day, week after week, election after election are running on that platform, and that permeates our culture and it's picked up by ordinary citizens who grow skeptical, then it's not surprising that over time trust in government declines. but as i said in a speech yesterday, the biggest issue that i see out on the horizon is how do we make sure an economy works for everybody and that every one of these young people can get a good job, pursue a career, support a family, not be loaded up by a hundred thousand dollars worth of debt. actually buy a home. how do we do those things that reduce inequality in our society and broaden opportunity? and government can't solve all of that, and we live in an
economy that is global and technological and is changing faster than ever before in history, but government can't stand on the sidelines when we're doing that. and without some faith in our capacity for collective action, those trends are going to get worse. so we've got to -- and the young people in particular have to understand government is us. government's not somebody else. government's us. we have the capacity to change it. voters have the capacity to change it. members of congress do as well as the president. >> let's talk about the chief executive, you. and let's talk about a lot of these young people came here to study government. there's all kinds of theories of how to be president of the united states. there's the spokes of the wheel method which kennedy used where he had direct contact with everybody all the time. then there was the strong chief of staff. the military command system of general eisenhower as president. and ronald reagan did it with a great chief of staff, a strong one jim baker. what concern -- zeke emanuel said the other day there should
have been one assigned by you to oversee the rollout of health care. and there wasn't. when secretary sebelius appeared in that hearing and was asked by marcia blackburn, who's in charge, it took her awhile to answer. and she final got to the cms. but it didn't seem like there was a top-down authority system from you. let's look forward. do you have a relationship with your cabinet that they follow through and execute as you envision they should or do you work through a coo. what is your system for management? >> well, first of all i think it's important to distinguish between this particular health care project where it is obvious that we needed additional controls in place, because it didn't deliver on time the way we wanted.
and how we've managed incredibly complex problems for the last five years. everything from wars to pandemics to, you know, natural disasters to expanding student loans for young people. generally speaking, my theory has been number one that yes i've got a strong chief of staff but i'm holding every cabinet member accountable and want to have direction with them. number two is i have an open door policy where i want people bringing me bad news on time so we can fix things. and the challenge, i think, that we have going forward is not so much my personal management style or particular issues around white house organization. it has to do with what i referred to earlier which is we had these big agencies, some of
which are outdated. some of which are not designed properly. we've got, for example, 16 different agencies that have some responsibility to help businesses large and small in all kinds of ways. whether it's helping to finance them, helping them to export. and so if you're a small business person getting started, you may think you need to go to the small business administration on one thing. you've got to go to commerce on another. we've proposed let's consolidate a bunch of that stuff. the challenge we've got is that that requires a law to pass. and framnkly there is a lot of members of congress who are chair of a particular committee. over certain aspects of certain policies. but this is going to be a major focus and has been over the last five years, but going forward over the next three years, how do we have a 21st century federal government? and this is part of the reason
why people are skeptical. there are just some things people have an interaction with the federal government where we could be doing a much better job. some of them aren't federal. everybody has the experience of trying to get their driver's license. it takes a long time. you know, why do you have to do a written driving test if you already have your license? i mean, there are just a whole bunch of things we could be using with the internet and new communication systems. and the more we can just reorganize the guts of how these agencies work, the easier it's going to be. because the white house is just a tiny part of what is a huge widespread organization with increasingly complex tasks in a complex world. >> let me ask you about something else. this is a twitter question from c. wilhelms. what can we do to stop the gop from rigging the votes state by state to disenfranchise voters and destroy our democracy? 36 states right now led by
republican legislatures have been trying to make it difficult for minority people to vote in big cities and older people. everybody knows the game. republicans often admit the game to deny people the vote. what's your reaction? >> well, couple of things. you saw the lines we had not only in '08 but in '12. some of these folks may have stood in line. i said on election night that's not acceptable in a democracy. that has been around as long as ours and the world looks to. so we immediately assigned by chief election lawyer and mitt romney's chief election lawyer to sit down with a group of experts and come up with a whole series of voter reforms. they're supposed to report back to me by the end of this year so early next year we're going to put forward what we know will be a bipartisan effort or a bipartisan proposal to encourage people to vote.
you can't say you take pride in american democracy, american constitutionism, american exceptionalism. so i think there's some common sense things we can do and i won't preview the proposals because i haven't gotten them yet. keep in mind, though, for all the efforts that have been made and some of them, by the way, may be illegal. may violate the voting rights act even after the supreme court's recent ruling. and our justice department is going to be staying on them. if we have evidence that you have mechanisms that are specifically designed to discriminate against certain groups of voters, then the justice department will come down on them and file suit. the one point i want to make, though, is even with all the efforts that were made in the last election, folks still
voted. and if people feel engaged enough and have a sense of a stake in our democracy, you know, you'll be able to vote. and our biggest problem right now is not the misguided efforts of some of these state legislatures. our bigger problem is the one you alluded to earlier which is people in government can make a difference. we still have about 40% of the population that's eligible to vote that chooses to opt out. they're not being turned away at the polls. they're turning themselves away from the polls. and that's something that we've got to get at. and young people in particular have a tendency to vote during presidential years. and then just are not excited at all during midterms. these midterm elections in many ways are more important because that's what's going to determine who's in charge of congress. and you may agree with me or
disagree with me, but don't think it all ends with me. it's also important who's the speaker of the house and who's in charge of the senate. and i hope young people increasingly understand that. >> government dysfunction is now the number one concern even b more than the economy. thank you, mr. president. we'll be back with more with president obama from american university. you're watching the "hardball" college tour from american university. >> there is the united states of america. there is not a black america. and a white america. and latino america. and asian america. there's the united states of america. honestly? no way did ia tablet was gonna be a good deal. you're talking to the guy who hasn't approved a new stapler purchase in three years. but then i saw the new windows tablet, with a real keyboard, usb port, and full office. it's a tablet that works for work. plus, it's got apps and games, for after hours, of course.
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i stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the united states of america. >> this is going to be remembered as one great day in american politics when barack obama with an american mother and a kenyan father, a graduate of the harvard law school, the president of the harvard law review, a senator in just his second year of office runs for president of the united states and is already the number two candidate. >> we're back at the "hardball" college tour at american university. your remarks the other day was so resonant on what the holy father pope francis has been saying. the belief we have a social responsibility, a moral responsibility to look out for people who haven't made it in this country. >> yeah.
there's no great religion that doesn't speak to this. at root, every great religion has some equivalent of the golden rule, some equivalent of the idea that i am my brother's keeper and my sister's keeper. some notion that even as we each take individual responsibility for acting in a responsible and righteous way, part of our obligation is to the larger world. and to future generations. you know, i think pope francis is showing himself to be just an extraordinarily thoughtful and soulful messenger of peace and justice. i haven't had a chance to meet him yet. but everything that i've read, everything that i've seen from him indicates the degree to which he is trying to remind us
of those core obligations. and as i said in my sweepeech yesterday, we live in a economy that is the greatest generator of wealth in history. we're risk takers, we're entrepreneurs, and we're rugged individuals. that's part of what makes us great. that's why we continue to be a magnet for strivers from all around the world. they think i'm not going to be held back by conventions and traditions. i'm going to go out there and i'm going to make it. and we want to maintain that sense of character. but what i always remind people is that what also built this country was a sense of community. and a sense of common endeavor. so whether it was building the transcontinental railroad or sending a man to the moon or helping to create the internet or curing diseases, we always understood that there's some
things we do better together. and that we should take pride as a nation in our ability to work in concert. and if, in fact, we are helping to assure that that kid over there who's not my kid has a chance at a good education or that guy over there who i'm not related to has a chance at a decent job and a decent retirement, i'm going to be better off. i'm going to be living in a society that is more cohesive and is going to create the kind of future for our kids that were all want. and that more than anything is at the core of the debate that i've been having with the republican party over the last several years. it's not just the details of the affordable care act or, you know, the minimum wage.
because as i said yesterday in the speech, if you've got better ideas for achieving the same goal, put them out there. i'm not wedded to one particular way of doing things. but the central argument i have is we do have an obligation to each other. and there's some things we can do together. in fact, the big challenges we have whether it's immigration, climate change, an economy that works for everybody, improving our education system, making college more affordable, competing in the world economy, dealing with questions of war and peace, those are not things that chris matthews or barack obama can solve by ourselves. by necessity we're going to have to do those together. and if we can at least agree on that and agree that our system of self-government allows us to come together to take on those big problems, then we can figure out the specific policies. that's where we can compromise and negotiate. but what i will not compromise
on is the idea, for example, we shouldn't have 41 million people in this country without health insurance. that i won't compromise on. that's where it gets to who are we as a country and my own sense of what my responsibilities are as president of the united states. >> we're almost done. i have to ask you a little question you may not like to answer. this could be tough. the qualities required of a president. vice president joe biden, former secretary of state hillary clinton. compare and contrast. >> not a chance am i going there. here's what i'll say. both hillary and joe would make outstanding presidents. and possess the qualities that are needed to be outstanding presidents. i think joe biden will go down in history as one of the best vice presidents ever. and he has been with me at my
side in every tough decision that i've made from going after bin laden to dealing with the health care issues to you name it, he's been there. hillary i think will go down in history as one of the finest secretaries of state we've ever had. and help to transition us away from a deep hole that we were in when i first came into office around the world. and rebuild confidence and trust in the united states. and they've got different strengths, but both of them would be outstanding. i'd say the most important qualities of any president. i'm not necessarily saying i have these qualities because i'm speaking historically. i think has to do with more than anything a sense of connection with the american people. that's what allows you then to have that second quality which is persistence. if you know who you're working on behalf of, if you remember as
lincoln did or an fdr did or truman did or a kennedy did, if you remember that person you met who was down on their luck but was a good character and was trying to figure out how they are going to support a family. if you remember that young child who has big dreams but doesn't yet know how they're going to get to college. if you feel those folks in your gut every single day, that will get you through the setbacks and the difficulties and the frustrations and the criticisms that are inherent in the office. and i think, you know, the interesting thing about now having been president for five years is it makes you humbler as opposed to cockier about what you as an individual can do. you recognize that you're just
part of a sweep of history. and your job really is to push the envelope a little bit before somebody else pushes it up a little further and the task never stops at perfecting our union. but what makes me more confident than ever is the interactions i have with young people like this all over the country who still believe in this country, still are optimistic fundamentally about their futures, are problem solvers, are practical. the american people are good and they are decent. and yes, sometimes we get very divided partly because our politics and our media specifically tries to divide them and splinter them, but we've got so much stuff going for us that as long as any president stays close to the
people, i think they're going to do all right. >> what i always thought was great you did in your early political career. this just my personal observation. you lost that race to bobby rush and you got in your car and drove out in the burbs with a map next to you in the passenger seat and said i'm going to do this thing. how many kids here want to go into politics? >> that's a pretty good number. >> are they right? >> it continues to be a way to serve that i think can be noble. it's hard. it can be frustrating. you got to have a thick skin. and i know it's tempting to say, you know what, why would i want to get in the mud like that and get slapped around and subjected to all kinds of scrutiny. and so for those people who say i'd rather serve in other ways
through nonprofits or through starting a great business and work with people who are completely on my side all the time instead of trying to undermine what i'm trying to get done, i understand that. and god bless you. that's part of what makes this country great. you know, we're not completely government centered. we've got all kinds of folks who are doing great stuff all around the country. but i tell you, the satisfaction you get when you've passed a law or you've taken an executive action and somebody comes up to you and says, you know what? my kid's alive because you passed that health care bill because he was uninsured. he got insurance, got a checkup, and we caught a tumor in time. or you see somebody and they say, you know, you helped me save my house. and i can't tell you what that means. it's pretty hard to get greater
satisfaction than that. so for those young people who don't mind a little gray hair, it's something that i not only recommend but i'm welcome. >> on behalf of the people who watch me every night and are loyalists, many of them to you, thank you for coming on the e show. >> great to see you, chris. thank you. [ applause ] with my united mileageplus explorer card. i've saved $75 in checked bag fees. [ delavane ] priority boarding is really important to us. you can just get on the plane and relax. [ julian ] having a card that doesn't charge you foreign transaction fees saves me a ton of money. [ delavane ] we can go to any country and spend money the way we would in the u.s. when i spend money on this card, i can see brazil in my future. [ anthony ] i use the explorer card to earn miles
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fineman, and of course david corn. each of you, i've just been chatting during the commercial break. it's obvious you heard things that i didn't hear. things i didn't even hear. i want to start with howard, because you grabbed me. what did we see in president the man, barack obama, who is a bit distant usually, what did we learn from him about being president? >> i would like to say that you and the students here got a once in a lifetime opportunity to see in person a president talking about what it's like the to be president, while he's actually president. now, he's gone from superman to rolling a boulder up a hill. he has a much more mature view, but he made the moral case for obama care. for you folks to consider obama care as a measure of community in america. that's what motivates barack obama. he knows it's tough -- >> and he gave it up. >> the last 15 minutes of this extraordinary were extraordinary. i've never seen anything like
it, where a president kind of unburdened himself to you about why he's in the ball game. and i thought he made a very compelling case for his own decency, whatever the screwups were managerially, and they were real. >> and chris, can i say, i felt like we saw two interviews with the president. in the first half of that interview, you saw a man who is incredibly frustrated by what i think he sees as the smallness of the debate in washington. where we don't talk about the big things, the big sweeping issues that matter to the country, or we boil it down to petty fights, frustrated incredibly with the republicans and with the media. but in the second half of that interview, i saw the guy that i first met in 2004, when he was essentially an activist, attempting to use politics to move forward grand issues, really big themes. somebody who really is, you know, in lead or in line with the way the pope feels about social justice. this is a guy who fought for social justice and that second half, i think you saw him strip away from the presidency, back to that guy. >> david, why did that happen?
is it the bad poll numbers that forced him back to being, dam t dammit, i'm going to be who i am. >> he was very self-reflective, as i think he is prone to be, but perhaps more so now in public. and i don't know if this is a negative spin on this, maybe because he feels even more frustrated, he's trying to get not to the point where he's giving up, but he's trying to figure out what he can do. he was very explanatory in this interview. not a lot of fight. there's still a lot of fights to be had. even about saving obama care. but it was really stunning to me, he talked about persistence and the connection between a president and the public and that motivating persistence. but that's different than fighting. so -- >> you just defined -- >> but motivation, about why he would continue to fight. comparing politics to rolling a boulder up a hill is a little different from the way he began his life in politics, like with
popping a champagne cork. this is tough stuff that he showed his own motivation. he said, i remember every day -- >> he's also -- guys, he's been there before. i didn't have to remind him of being in that car all alone, an african-american guy, heading out into the white suburbs and rural areas of illinois where a black guy's never won anything. he doesn't have a gps in the car, he's got a map on the passenger seat, i've got to discover illinois, after being beaten in a south chicago race. >> and after losing the 2010 election. remember that? that was a tremendous blow, and he sort of reassessed his presidency and how he could move forward and started emphasizing, some of what he talked about today, the difference in values between him and the republicans. when he said, the government is us, that's like the grand slogan here. us because we come together to do the things that he talked about. >> did you see the other end of that? when he said, people who try to restrict minority voting? how can they claim they blame in
american exceptionalism when they try to screw the voter out of voting. >> but he got back to the people, trying to do this collectively. you're looking at a president who's looking beyond what the presidency can do, and really yearning for people to recapture that sense of hope that they themselves can galvanize and try to work through. >> and don't forget, we're seeing him at a low point here. >> for sure. >> his approval ratings are way down. he's downtown, sitting there. he's got 3 kpaf years, as you say. what's the motivation? what are his goals? where is he heading with this in the tough sledding he's got. and the viewers of "hardball" get a rare glimpse of how he's going to motivate himself as he moves through this tough political season. >> we'll be right back with more from american university in just a minute. you're watching the "hardball" college tour, the place for politics. honestly, i'm not looking for five-star treatment.
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well, we've heard from the president of the united states tonight and we'll be coming right back with more on the "hardball" college tour from american university, after this. honestly? no way did i think a tablet was gonna be a good deal. you're talking to the guy who hasn't approved a new stapler purchase in three years. but then i saw the new windows tablet, with a real keyboard, usb port, and full office. it's a tablet that works for work. plus, it's got apps and games, for after hours, of course. compared to an ipad -- way more value. these tablets are such a steal; i couldn't find a reason not to buy them. ♪ honestly, i wanna see you be brave ♪
we're back from the american university here in washington, d.c., and the "hardball" college tour. i want to get a thought from you. bottom line for the president, what will you remember? >> i'll remember his deep belief in social justice, very much reflective of what the pope has said. >> isn't that great? >> as soon as you mentioned pope francis, the president kind of remembered yet again why he's dealing with all the complexities -- >> as opposed to what rush
limbaugh said when he -- >> one thing to say, change you can believe in, but making change happen is hard. >> rush limbaugh called him a marxist the other day. >> i saw a president who remains frustrated with the political media culture that he has to work within, and that he's looking to rally people, students here, and supporters, and people within the media. >> but david corn, you skeptic. he came to us today. >> which is what he's trying to do. he's trying to rally people behind this issue that he's been promoting for a couple of years. >> he did it the end here, today, chris, not by defending specifics, but by explaining why he's in the game to begin with. and i don't know about you, he's a professor, i don't know about what the kids at au think, but i thought at least at the end, it was extremely effective. >> and he didn't oversell the politics thing. >> he didn't -- >> that's one way to serve. >> lots of good options out there. >> it sounds like he might have been talking to his daughters.
anyway, thank you, joy reid, thank you, howard fineman and david corn. that's "hardball" for now. i want to thank everyone for being with us tonight here. and thank you, president obama, of course for being our guest on the "hardball" college tour. and also to the american university for hosting us. good night. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. a moral titan, a hero for the ages, one of the greatest men of our time is dead tonight. nelson mandela passing away today at the age of 95. shortly after his death, south african president jacob zuma addressed the nation. >> fellow south africans, our beloved nelson mandela, the founding president of our democratic nation has departed. our nation has