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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  December 14, 2015 9:00am-10:01am PST

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cuba. look, he's from texas. there's a lot of oil in texas, right? i said to myself if ted cruz is against ethanol how does he win in iowa? crisis meeting. president obama at the pentagon at this hour, about to update americans on his latest report on how to combat isis as we unveil a new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll on how frightened americans are by the threat of terror. >> our men and women in uniform are stepping up our campaigns to destroy isil. our message to these killers is simple. we will find you and justice will be done. and on this anniversary, remembering sandy hook. three years after 20 children and six adults were gunned down, the parents of two of the victims talk to kate snow. >> grind your teeth, hug your kids, get through it. >> it's about remembering, remembering our children, those that we've lost and focusing on those that we still have, and then resolving our commitment to
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make change. good day. i'm andrea mitchell in washington. the republican debate stage tomorrow night is going to feature donald trump, now flanked on one side by his latest and perhaps greatest primary rival, texas senator ted cruz. a new bloomberg politics/des moines register poll shows cruz breaking away in iowa less than two months from the caucuses, for the first time up ten points ahead of trump. our new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll shows the cruz surge up 12 points nationally among republican voters, closing in on the front-runner. both candidates will have a lot of work to do if either were to win the republican nomination. our poll shows hillary clinton still with a commanding ten-point lead over donald trump and winning a closer contest
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with senator cruz next november. joining me, nbc's hallie jackson and katy tur in las vegas ahead of tomorrow night's republican debate. katy, first to you on how donald trump is likely to handle this cruz challenge. trump has already lashed out at cruz over the weekend. >> reporter: yeah, he's mildly lashing out in terms of trump standards right now. over the weekend we saw him talking about cruz being a maniac, questioning what he's doing in the senate, how well he can get along. we also saw him questioning cruz's religion, subtly saying not very many evangelicals come out of cuba. these are two attack lines that we do expect to hear more from from donald trump in the coming days, and his campaign tells me that they will be giving more of them as well. i'm sorry. my voice is in my ear. that's why i keep messing with it. donald trump is expected to go more on the attack with ted cruz. expect him to say something along the lines of i'm a winner,
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i make deals, i can get things done, look at ted cruz, he hasn't gotten anything done in the senate. we also expect to hear him talk more about this monmouth poll that has him up drastically, about 40% compared to i think about 14%, my numbers could be slightly wrong, but he's up dramatically in terms of the entire field. as for iowa, he may be losing to ted cruz. the des moines register poll has historically been very, very, very on the money. donald trump will not be giving up iowa. he says he will be going back there a lot in january, fighting for that win. donald trump does not like to lose anything and just going on and moving on from iowa and focusing on new hampshire, south carolina, is just not in his dna. >> it was that monmouth poll, sorry about the audio feedback, that monmouth poll is 41/14 with trump ahead. a new kwin pquinnipiac shows a l tie. against all this, hallie jackson, ted cruz playing it cool at least in public about
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donald trump, trying to avoid what other candidates have done by taking him on frontally. >> reporter: yeah. he's been turning the other cheek so you hear him, he's being likeable, being funny. he's coming out and sending funny messages and funny tweets. this does a couple things. first of all, the campaign seems to be betting that if there were to be an attack it would be clear to voters where that attack is coming from and that is a slippage in the polls even as this new quinnipiac poll shows the two of them, ted cruz and donald trump, running neck and neck in iowa. the other part of it is it allows ted cruz to be seen on a national stage, on a national debate stage, the same way he's often seen by supporters and voters in iowa, where he is shaking hands, as they kick the tires, they are seeing this different side, this different personality to ted cruz that hasn't been so visible on the national stage that we may see tomorrow night. i will say this. ted cruz has been turning the other cheek but remember, these two candidates will be side by side on that debate stage.
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at some point you have to imagine donald trump might physically turn to ted cruz and say something. at that point, i would imagine cruz would be hard-pressed to not respond in some fashion. >> both of you soldiering through with this feedback. we positively ji we apologize for the audio. the cruz response by tweet at least to trump calling him a maniac was a tweet in honor of my friend,@real donald trump and good hearted maniacs, hash tag maniacs everywhere so he's trying to kind of blow it off downplay it rather than getting into a verbal fight ahead of this debate with the guy who will been standing next to him, and not just towering over him, but occupying that center of the stage. >> reporter: because look, too, who it would benefit if they wnt after each other. it would benefit everybody sitting in the tier below them, like marko rubio, for example,
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if there was the much ballyhooed cage match. it's not in either of their interests necessarily to go after each other. in addition to of course getting that song stuck in all our heads over the last 24 hours. >> only in vegas could the two of you be bundled up in coats, standing in front of the grand canal and out in venice, out west in the united states. just don't know how that happens. vegas in venice. so man questions lingering about the republican field, leave it to "saturday night live." >> i'm entering the race for president of the united states of america. i tell you, i can beat these guys. let's take a look at some of the front-runners. dr. ben carson. i can barely hear him when he talks. cruz and rubio. rubio and cruz. sounds like a miami law firm.
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if you've been injured on the job, call rubio and cruz. then you got this knucklehead. >> joining me now for our daily fix, chris cillizza, msnbc contributor, founder of the "washington post" fix blog and "the washington post" political correspondent anne gaearan. you guys have moved a few blocks but it's the same brilliance from chris and anne, better lighting, perhaps. chris, let's talk about these latest polls showing cruz as the real threat right now to donald trump. >> yeah. you know, i think what's important here is remember, donald trump's sort of -- the reason for donald trump being is that he's a winner, that he wins. so what happens if he doesn't win? i think cruz, we have certainly seen over the last few days and
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confirmed by the des moines register poll which is the one we all wait for and look to, that cruz is quite clearly ahead in iowa. now, of course, he did fall through, we saw ben carson go ahead and fall back. i think he's the one to beat there. yes, trump remains pretty strong in new hampshire and very strong nationally. the issue is if the balloon gets punctured in iowa which is never a great fit for trump but if the balloons gets punctured in iowa, what does it mean for new hampshire? maybe it means nothing, but maybe the balloon keeps losing air. we have to see. cruz is quite clearly here to stay in the way ben carson was not. >> anne gearan, we spent a lot of time on the trail with hillary clinton. she will be in minnesota tomorrow giving a speech about her strategy against isis. the new poll, the new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll shows clinton doing really well against all the comers, meeting donald trump hypothetical matchup there, ten points. ted cruz, a lot closer. marco rubio also only three
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points. ben carson, strangely, one point. carson has lost a lot of elevation among republican voters, presumably because of his weakness on foreign policy, but here against the person with the most foreign policy experience in this whole campaign, he's basically tied. go figure. >> that is a little odd. but what hillary clinton is trying to do here, and will do to a large extent tomorrow, is to expand on that perceived advantage that she has as the foreign policy candidate to beat on both sides, and she's going to tweak it a little bit tomorrow and talk about the threat of home-grown and self-radicalized terrorism and extremism. which is according to a lot of polling, what people are more afraid of in the moment. what happens if i go to a shopping mall or i go to church, right, what happens here at home if some crazy person is sitting in the seat next to me or behind
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me, and that is more what she will talk about tomorrow. it was an area in which she had a little bit of vulnerability because she had been talking almost exclusively about the threat of terrorism coming from overseas. >> in fact, we have some new polling just this hour from nbc news/"wall street journal" polling. among all americans, 32% of americans are worried that a loved one will be the victim of gun violence. 29% of americans are worried a loved one will be the victim of a terror attack. going even deeper into this poll, 71% of americans believe shootings and random acts of violence are now a permanent part of american life. pretty stunning numbers. chris cillizza? that is really informing the political campaign. >> no question. gallup had numbers out this morning that showed terrorism shooting up in terms of as an issue. it had been a middling issue post-san bernardino, post-paris, up to the top of the issue
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concerns. the nbc/"wall street journal" numbers speak to the same thing which is an anxiety in the country, a fear in the country and a science that this may be the normal. i think if you are looking to understand and i have been for months, looking to understand donald trump and his appeal, that fear, that anxiety and the sense it may be time to make really serious changes, that's right at the heart for all the pomp and circumstance and hair around donald trump, i think that is sort of the fundamental question that he provides reassurance on whether you think it's false reassurance or real reassurance is an open question, but that's i think what people are responding to. >> anne, hillary clinton's campaign certainly focused on these kind of numbers. this 71% number of americans, that's a whopping number of people who think someone they know will be part of gun violence and that gun violence is really a permanent part of american life.
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>> yeah. she's been talking about gun control and gun violence for months now. it is in her stump speech tied right along with the threat of terrorism and i think she will tie it tomorrow to the threat of home-grown terrorism, that one common thread in the attacks we've seen in the united states with the exception of the bombing 20 years ago have been that almost all of them have involved guns and so i think she will talk to a large degree about the nexus in the united states between self-radicalization, radicalization in place as they call it and access to guns. >> it's one of the things that has really distanced her and bernie sanders. there's a new business insider interview with jeb bush that is must reading as well, what he says about donald trump, this is going to make the debate stage
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even more interesting because he says he's not fit to be commander in chief. stay tuned for all of that. thanks to you, anne gearan and chris cillizza. from the new "the washington post" newsroom. it has been three years since the day 20 children and six staff members were gunned down in a connecticut elementary school. a tragedy that many thought would transform the national debate over gun violence in america. since sandy hook, 554 children under the age of 12 have been killed by a firearm. msnbc's kate snow asked the parents of two newtown victims about guns in america. mark barden lost his 7-year-old son, nicole hockley lost her 6-year-old son. >> in light of san bernardino, i want to ask about politics just a little bit because we're in the middle of a heated presidential race. donald trump came out and said, the gop front-runner, that if everyone in that room had been armed, they would have been ail to take out the shooters.
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>> that looks good on paper or in the movies but in real life it doesn't work out that way. there's chaos. there's pandemonium. you will have people shooting each other. i read where in active shooter situations there were armed civilians that chose to not engage because they didn't know where -- >> didn't know who the bad guy was? >> didn't know who the bad guy was. the good guys don't know who the bad guys are. it just doesn't work. >> if there had been more guns there, there would probably just be more people dead, more innocent lives lost. it's illogical. we don't accept that. >> statistics prove that. it just doesn't work. >> do you worry at all about the discourse right now, the conversation around gun control and gun rights and gun ownership and by the way, the number of people buying guns right now is way up? they had the biggest sales ever on black friday. >> yeah. i think as long as we are perpetuating fear of each other,
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then that need to want to protect yourself potentially with a firearm is going to increase. so i can understand why more guns are being sold because people are hearing messages of fear and hate and wanting to protect themselves. i understand that. but that's not rational. it's emotion-based. there's no evidence to suggest that will work. and it's not the way we should be looking out for each other and helping each other through this. >> nbc's kate snow joins me now. kate, heartbreaking to see these parents again. we watched them in the rose garden, we watch them on each anniversary and nothing changes. >> right. that's how they feel. we talked at another point in that interview about their feelings every time there's a shooting in this country. mark said when he saw the news on san bernardino he collapsed to the floor. this is something that we can't even begin to relate to, losing a child at that age and then having to relive it every single time there's another shooting.
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so both of them have clearly taken their experience and use it now to fuel their activism. they are working really hard not just on gun control legislation which they care about, but they also realize that right now, they say perhaps their best opportunity is mental health legislation and trying to help people who need, you know, who need treatment. >> another horrifying statistic, an american child has died by gun violence every other day since sandy hook. >> yeah. >> part of your reporting. >> it's unbelievable. look at that map. those are all the incidents since sandy hook. nicole said at one point she thinks we are reaching a tipping point. a lot of people thought that it would be after sandy hook, that you know, remember joe biden lobbying and trying to get those measures passed the spring after newtown and it just didn't happen. but they do feel like we are now maybe approaching another tipping point and perhaps, you know, what they want is a move toward consensus.
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they want everybody on the same page because i don't think there's anyone in america who is not horrified by the number of shootings we're having. >> i have gotten to know gabbi gifford and mark kelly through all of this. they were at the white house last week. they have tried. they have dedicated themselves to this passion and -- passionate cause, and tried to make it a national cause. au andrew cuomo, who passed tough gun legislation in new york which is not an easy task, upstate new york very pro-gun, rural, yet he has said that an impossible task because you can't do it state by state. it has to be a national conversation because those guns jft come in in people's trunks from the south and they are actually more valuable because they get sold in the black market -- >> one state's law doesn't stop someone from the next step from having a gun. one thing i would say they want us to focus on, i said on this day, three years later, by the way, they are on vacation, they
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get away from sandy hook on this day because they don't want the spotlight on them, so we recorded that last week, but they said on this day, think about acts of kindness. think about treating someone just a little bit nicer, not just today, but every single day. that's something that they want to be part of the legacy of their children is this idea of paying it forward and treating people with kindness because they think a lot of violence could be prevented if people are surrounded by the kindness of strangers, then don't ultimately end up doing such heinous things. >> kate snow, thank you so much for being here. >> good to be here. make sure to watch more of kate's interview this afternoon here on msnbc. during her show at 3:00 eastern. not too long from now. moments from now, president obama will be speaking from the pentagon after a special national security council meeting on countering isis. brian williams will be here to lead our team coverage. back after this short break.
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brian williams here in new york. we'll be going back to andrea mitchell in just a bit. we want to take you to the pentagon briefing room just across the potomac from the white house. the president has held a special national security council meeting there. you see the massive lectern v vacant for now. there's tape on the carpet behind the lectern where various officials will stand. we don't expect any major policy pronouncements or policy changes, but with the war against isis, a kind of slow motion rollout as we have seen what they are capable of. the president wanted to have this event at the pentagon today and we're told he will take a few questions. back to the white house we go
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and nbc's kristen welker. i have noted a bit of an incremental change on american attitudes toward fighting isis even if it means more troops on the ground. >> reporter: that's absolutely right. more americans now saying they would be open to putting troops on the ground. president obama's goals here are a few. one, he wants to reassure jittery american public particularly ahead of the christmas holiday. he also wants to answer his critics who say he hasn't been tough enough against isis. as you point out, we are not expecting a major policy shift here. instead, president obama will likely argue that he has been ramping up the fight against isis in recent weeks, that there have been more air strikes, that they have taken out more isis leaders, isis fighters, than ever before in recent weeks. you will likely also hear him try to draw a sharp contrast with republican front-runner donald trump on the issues of muslims. president obama of course has been calling donald trump's rhetoric dangerous for national
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security. he probably won't mention donald trump by name. instead i think you can expect him to call for tolerance of all people in this fight against isis. if you look at the polls, 60% according to a recent poll of americans say they disapprove of the president's handling of terrorism, so he's really trying to turn the page on that. and this is the first step in really a full court press that you are going to see this week. tomorrow, he will be swearing in 31 immigrants and then on friday, or on thursday, i should say, he's going to visit the national counterterrorism center where he will hold another briefing and then update reporters on the threat assessment. so this is the start of a full court press to really turn the page on some of the criticism the white house has been receiving. >> on that criticism front, is there any let's call it acknowledgment there at the white house that the president's sunday night speech over a week ago now did not go far enough? here he was in the oval office for just the third time of his
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administration, certainly a backdrop of great tension and the consensus among just regular americans in the television viewing audience seemed to be that it was missing something. >> reporter: well, there is an acknowledgment and i think given the fact that he was speaking from the oval office, there was an anticipation that he was going to say something new. that didn't happen. so that opened the door for a lot of criticism, particularly from republican candidates. the white house has acknowledged that. i think that's part of why you are seeing this strategy in the week leading up to the christmas holiday, but the white house would also counter that president obama disagrees with this idea of putting a broad ground force back into the middle east like the one that we saw during the wars in iraq and afghanistan, so they hold firm on that point. you will likely hear president obama reiterate that today, when he addresses the public. >> kristen welker in the briefing room at the white house, thanks. again, on one side of your
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picture, the briefing room at the pentagon. we keep noticing members of the news media and members of the general staff at the pentagon coming in the door prior to us seeing the president come in and speak with the news media. we will keep that picture up. meantime, we are very happy to be joined by richard haas, president of the council on foreign relations in new york, a veteran of numerous administrations, white house and state department, a former staff member of the national security council. richard, i have been thinking a lot about the fight and world war ii lately. people think this is a slow motion, slow rollout world war we are involved in here. first of all, do you agree with that assessment? >> i don't find it a terribly useful one. sorry if it's yours. for the reason that world war ii is classic. it was fought by nation states, fought by soldiers, fought on battlefields. virtually none of those
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characteristics apply to this. and you are never going to have the equivalent of what we had after other wars, the battleship "missouri." terrorism is not the sort of thing that can be eliminated. it's always going to be present whether outside or inside our borders. i think we need to think about this and be very careful about using historical parallels to the classic wars of the previous century. >> how about the virulence of enemies and the last enemy willing to take their own lives as part of the cause, something that shocked a lot of americans who were in the fight and at home during world war ii, this is a tough enemy we are up against. >> fair enough. it is, and we are up against an enemy here that has, if you will, unlimited goals. their talk of establishing a caliphate without geographical limits and it's an enemy that's willing to do just about
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anything to anyone. they are obviously prepared to dramatize it. a big part of their strategy is to intimidate and create a sense of momentum and inevitability. we have to adjust our tactics as well as our strategy to the nature of the adversary. >> i'm guessing however we frame it, whatever name we give it, this is the next global fight we're involved in. >> certainly one of them. we don't know if it will be the only one. we still could have classic problems. we saw a hint of that with russia and ukraine. we don't know what will unfold there. china is obviously on a somewhat more assertive path in that part of the world and one could imagine incidents say between china and any one of a number of american allies, including japan. so my guess is we don't have the luxury of focusing just on that but right now, this is clearly front and center because it's not just a threat to american vital interests in the middle east. we have seen what it can do to destabilize europe and we have
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seen the possibility of radicalization here at home. again, what this argues to me is we have to stem the momentum. we can't eliminate these guys any time soon, if ever, but we can change the momentum. that would make it more likely that locals in syria would stand up and work with us on the ground which is the critical missing component of our strategy, and changing the momentum would also make young men and women around the world less likely to make the journey through turkey and show up in places like syria supporting isis. >> is there something about this conflict that could make allies out of enemies more than what we have already seen? >> we are actually living in an era of history where i find words like ally and adversary a little old-fashioned. some countries may cooperate with us on some issues, on some days, and oppose us on others. so russia is the perfect example of what you say. i think there's a decent chance that before this is done, the united states and russia could find they have more in common in dealing with a group like isis.
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iran obviously also opposes isis. the problem is they support the government in damascus that is fueling it. but i wouldn't rule anything out at this point. i think it's one of the reasons that diplomatically, that tool could be just as important as the intelligence and military tools before this is done playing out. >> because you are where you are and because you have worked where you have worked in life, how often do you find yourself wondering how this one looks from the inside? are these game faces we see on our public officials? is it as bad as we fear to get the intel and when they get their assessment of what we're up against with isis? >> i don't think any of the seriousness is feigned. it's real work and this is tough for us. we are in many ways a traditional military. we are up against a very untraditional opponent. we operate in ways that are
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constrained by morality and legality and political oversight. they obviously have none of that. the word asymmetry is a word one hears a lot and it applies here and it's frustrating. all of our advantages on paper don't necessarily translate to advantages on the ground. so when you see people come out looking serious, it's for good reason. this is going to go on for some time. people who talk about this in terms of days, weeks, months or even years, my sense is they are underestimating the dimensions of what it is we are up against. >> president of the council on foreign relations here in new york, richard, always a pleasure. thank you very much for sharing some of your time with us today. another check-in at the pentagon briefing room. there is a shot of the front of the room of the massive wooden lectern with the microphones. the press corps in the front row, who appear to have deployed
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newspapers to sit out the wait. the president and his team are running a bit late. jim miklaszewski of course covers the pentagon for us. jim, what's your understanding of this session beyond the president's stated desire to come over to the pentagon, the department of defense, and show one team? >> well, u.s. military and defense officials, senior officials, tell us that don't expect anything new. there's nothing new on the table to talk about today, presumably. in fact, just last week in his appearance before the senate armed services committee, defense secretary ash carter, when asked do you have anything new in an effort to accelerate the coalition offensive against isis in iraq and syria, and his answer was if i had anything new, i would be doing it. so what they're going to do is get an update. it's a review of the bidding to see what else may be done. we do know there are small numbers of special operations forces now rotating in and out
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of syria, working with the kurds forces there primarily to improve the air strikes targeting of isis targets there in syria, but to better coordinate u.s. efforts with those on the ground in syria and the 50 special operations forces that the president also authorized to go into iraq not only to provide aid and assistance to ground forces there, but to conduct raids against high value targets in iraq and syria, isis targets, in an effort to gather more intelligence. but we don't have any idea that those forces have arrived. i have to tell you, this argument about whether more ground forces, substantial u.s. ground force could go into iraq, well, quite frankly, as we are told, that's not a u.s. decision. iraq doesn't want that to happen but more importantly, we are told, that iranian elements, particularly the quds forces and
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those groups, those militias, have already ylet the u.s. know you put more ground forces in, you will have a bigger fight on your hands than you anticipated. >> of course, as has already been noted, some of the officials we will see standing behind the president apparently include the attorney general, the fbi director, the head of homeland security, a kind of visual reminder that the pentagon part of this, let's call it trying to fight this battle overseas, is just one component. this is video from inside just before the meeting started. the president there with the vice president and ashton carter, the secretary of defense. huge component of this is kind of holiday shopping americans and americans who by the millions will be traveling in the days to come wanting to know, wanting to believe that things will be buttoned down and
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safe here. >> well, that's right. you know, i'm not implying that there's any fault in terms of the american people, but most people weren't paying much attention to what was going on in iraq and syria until first paris and then san bernardino, and then it became evident hey, you know, we could be vulnerable here. and that's when the president ramped up his public appearances and campaign to sell the war against isis to the american people. >> jim miklaszewski, let us know when you need to bolt down the hallway to get into the very same briefing room we are watching here. we will come back to you. andrea mitchell, our chief foreign affairs correspondent, whose time slot of course we are trampling all over waiting for the president here, andrea, you heard richard haas. the question, is this making allies out of enemies, brought up russia. a very tricky part of this. i know a man you usually cover, john kerry, secretary of state, is en route to moscow?
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>> as we speak. en route to moscow, trying to enlist vladimir putin during meetings tomorrow to try to coordinate this policy in syria. so far, it is not working. as you know, there was no warning to the president or the secretary of state by putin when they were all at the united nations that the very next day, he was going to launch air strikes in syria and they tried to put the best face on it, saying he's getting into an afghanistan style quagmire, that moscow is underestimating. that said, it has made things a whole lot more complicated. i have been told by some of our reporting from the ground that it has made it much harder to get humanitarian aid into syrians across that turkish border. you have seen the conflict with turkey and the russian plane being shot down by turkey over that air space when they briefly, the russians briefly crossed into turkey so there's a lot to coordinate and a lot of people in our intelligence community telling me they think that putin's big play in syria
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was in part to distract from ukraine and try to soften up european opposition to the sanctions, so try to get the europeans to break off and ease up on the ukraine sanctions. it's always a rubik's cube when you talk about vladimir putin and the play he's doing in the middle east. all of that is on john kerry's plate. john kerry as you know just from the climate conference but also trying to talk to the so-called allies as you discussed with richard and getting back to something you were discussing with kristen welker. the president is typically coming out saying we don't want to get involved on the ground as we did in iraq and afghanistan, we don't want another ground war, and he is always positing it is a big 100,000 troops versus small ground special ops, but that according to many of the critics on the hill, most recently john mccain and others, that is not -- those are not the only alternatives. there are other military options
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that he hasn't gone for even as hillary clinton has, talking about the air space and having a no-fly zone. so hillary clinton is also going to get into this tomorrow with a big national security speech, even as our polling, new nbc news/"wall street journal" polling this hour says that 29% of americans believe that they or someone close to them are going to be subject to a terror attack even as 32% think that they are going to be subject to gun violence, this on the third anniversary of sandy hook. a lot of tension out there and the president will try to reassure the american public in this week leading up to christmas that it's safe post-san bernardino, post-paris. he's going to try to reassure the public but as you said at the very outset, he didn't really accomplish that in his sunday night speech from the oval office, and whether he can do that from the pentagon before he himself on friday leaves for vacation in hawaii remains to be seen.
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>> among all the numbers in our poll, those were among the more depressing numbers in our poll. also depressing to so many americans, we fear we are looking at the next titanic struggle in slow motion. you hear over and over people saying what scares them is you can't carpet bomb an idea out of existence. this notion of being able to stretch across the earth and radicalize someone living in this country, for example, that's what worries so many people that this is such a shadow boxing match with such a determined enemy. >> and in fact, that is the criticism that the national security council, certainly secretary kerry during his meetings, was voicing that the republican rhetoric this year and he doesn't usually comment in a partisan way, kerry, has been really very careful not to
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do that, but very concerned about the anti-muslim rhetoric and how that feeds into isis, and i think, you know, richard and others who have worked in other administrations would tell you that george w. bush's finest moments after 9/11 were going to the mosques, bringing the imam to the national cathedral. you remember that so well. we have not heard this kind of anti-muslim rhetoric from front-running republicans and that scares people. it scares people in the national security field because it believes -- they believe this is feeding the narrative of isis, that it is western war against islam and it plays right into their hands. one other point there is the state department under this secretary and democratic and republican predecessors has failed miserably in trying to have a counter social media propaganda war. it just doesn't work. recent gao report or rather, a report by a special panel
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investigating how well the state department is doing in this recent term is just saying that it doesn't work. they don't know how to compete, don't know how to compete online and they are winning the social media war, and then you read that homeland security wasn't even checking the social media contacts of farook's wife before she got her fiancee visa. there's a whole lot they have to consider in this meeting today, not just what the pentagon is doing, but what is homeland doing and what is the state department doing when they look at these visas and how are we competing online against isis with their huge social media outreach and with all the dark spaces where we can't even see them. >> that's right. that's another thing you hear lately. it's no longer enough to say that isis is social media savvy. it's time to admit they are just plain media savvy above all.
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we will be coming back to you. let's talk a little bit about the military angle we may hear discussed when the president and members of his national security council come out that side door and take their places around this podium there. jack jacobs, retired u.s. army colonel, recipient of the medal of honor in the vietnam war and our military affairs analyst, jack, what can, i know you have been asked this before, what can the president do militarily if it was you and him and he was coming to you asking for a list of options? >> not very much, quite frankly. at the end of the day, it's interesting that isis is rooted in territory. you can't have a caliphate unless you control territory. so just bombing discriminately even will not get you where you want to go. you actually have to control the territory that isis wants to control. that's going to take people on the ground. we are not going to put our
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people on the ground in any great numbers. it's going to require a regional force, multi-national force of interested parties in the region and you can't even get those people to agree on which side they're on. so it's going to be extremely difficult to eradicate isis militarily. what is going to happen, i believe, is that there's going to be a slight increase in special forces, special operations forces, people on the ground to control air assets, ground liaison officers and forward air controllers, and mobile training teams. but you're not talking about an enormous number of troops and you're not talking about having a long-term impact that is really going to suffice. the end of the day, i think its like general stan mcchrystal has said. this is a fight that's going to take decades and the united states by itself is not willing to commit the resources in order to do it. it's going to have to be a regional force which means the
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use of our diplomatic means to convince others in the region to actually get serious about combatting isis and other movements in the region, that's going to have to get better. we are great at using the military instrument of power as far as it goes, but by itself, it's not going to get it done. >> retired u.s. army colonel, recipient of medal of honor, jake jacobs, our military affairs analyst, thanks. we are, i should tell you as we watch this door, we are inside the two-minute warning. an official came out to the podium. that means the president and his entourage, specifically members of the national security council, are on their way to the room. we should be hearing from them shortly. again, you will see a lot of braid, presumably, among senior military officials. some will remain off to the side. you will see the secretary of defense but you will also see quite a sizeable domestic
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contingent because the domestic angle of the fight against isis is so urgent, worrisome and vast. so the attorney general will be in the room. the director of the fbi, james comey, jeh johnson, the secretary of homeland security, the secret service is coming in as the first wave prior to the president and we should as we said, see the president's group coming in. what we don't know yet is format. we suspect the president will open with remarks. we do not know yet if the pentagon press corps will get a chance to question the president. it is not every day that the president ends up in this briefing room across the potomac. it is considered, these are considered some of the best journalists in washington for knowing their beat and covering
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the pentagon means covering a vast piece of real estate. right there immediately, equipment, materiel, plans, a lot of it. so this press corps, hugely capable group of journalists. the president is also going to be, we are told, coming in with vice president joe biden, who you saw at his side, there was a little bit of video released earlier today. reporters were allowed in before the meeting got under way. they sat at a u-shaped table. all of the reading material in front of them. and it was vice president biden and on the president's other side, ashton carter, the secretary of defense, he was last seen at the army-navy football game saturday afternoon in philadelphia. but that is roughly the size of the group we'll be seeing.
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two-minute warnings are a term of art in washington. we learn time and time again they are far from a science. those of you playing our home game have probably noticed two minutes is well on its way to five minutes, and sometimes there are fits and starts and false alarms. they think the president's coming into the room. this event has now slid substantially over 40 minutes from the time we were first led to believe but here now, the president. >> good morning, everybody. today, the united states and our armed forces continue to lead the global coalition in our mission to destroy the terrorist group isil. as i outlined in my speech to the nation last weekend, our strategies moving forward with a great sense of urgency on four fronts. hunting down and taking out these terrorists, training and
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equipping iraqi and syrian forces to fight isil on the ground, stopping isil's operations by disrupting the recruiting, financing and propaganda, and finally, purchase sis tent diplomacy to end the syrian civil war so that everyone can focus on destroying isil. i just had a chance to meet with my national security council as part of our regular effort to review and constantly strengthen our efforts and i want to thank secretary carter, chairman dunford and vice chairman sulva for hosting us and for their leadership of our men and women in uniform. we heard from general austin, who is leading the military campaign in the region as well as general bochtell whose special operations forces are playing a vital role in this fight. i want to provide a brief update on our progress, because as we squeeze its heart, we make it harder for isil to pump its terror and propaganda to the rest of the world. this fall, even before the
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revolting attacks in paris and san bernardino, i ordered new actions to intensify our war against isil. these actions including more fire power and special operations forces are well under way. this continues to be a difficult fight. as i said before, isil is dug in, including in urban areas, and they hide behind civilians, using defenseless men, women and children as human shields. so even as we are relentless we have to be smart, targeting isil surgically with precision. at the same time, our partners on the ground are rooting isil out town by town, neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block. that is what this campaign is doing. we are hitting isil harder than ever. coalition aircraft, our fighters, bombers and drones have been increasing the pace of their strikes. nearly 9,000 as of today. last month, in november, we dropped more bombs on isil targets than any other month since this campaign started. we are also taking out isil
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leaders, commanders and killers, one by one. since this spring, we have removed one of their top leaders, their second in command, a top online recruiter, mohammad emwazi who murdered americans and others and in recent weeks, the finance chief, senior extortionist and weapons trafficker. the list goes on. we are going after isil from their stronghold right down -- right in downtown raqqah to libya, where we took out the isil leader there. the point is, isil leaders cannot hide and our next message to them is simple, you are next. every day we destroy as well more of isil's forces. their fighting positions, bunkers and staging areas, their heavy weapons, bomb making factories, compounds and training camps.
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in many places isil has lost its freedom of maneuver because they know if they amass their forces we will wipe them out. since this summer, isil has not had a single successful major offensive operation on the ground in either syria or iraq. in recent weeks, we have unleashed a new wave of strikes on their lifeline, their oil infrastructu infrastructure, destroying hundreds of their tankers, trucks, wells and refineries. we will keep on hammering those. isil also continues to lose territory in iraq. isil had already lost across kirkuk province and in tikrit, more recently they lost at sinjar, losing a strategic highway. isil lost with its oil refinery. we saw during the raid supported by our special forces which rescued dozens of prisoners from isil which master sergeant joshua wheeler made the ultimate sacrifice, so far isil has lost
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about 40% of the populated areas it once controlled in iraq. it will lose more. iraqi forces are now fighting their way deeper into ramadi, working to encircle fallujah and cut off supply routes into mosul, urban areas where isil is entrenched. our partners on the ground face a very tough fight ahead. and we are going to continue to back them up with the support that they need to ultimately clear isil from iraq. isil also continues to lose territory in syria. we continue to step up our air support and supplies to local forces. syrian kurds, arabs, christians, turkmen and they are having success. after routing isil at chobani, they have pushed isil back from almost across the entire border rooj on wi region with turkey. we are work tog seal the rest. isil has lost several thousands of square miles it once
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controlled in syria and it will lose more. the special forces that i ordered to syria have begun supporting local forces as they push south, cut off supply lines and tighten the squeeze on raqqah. meanwhile, more people are seeing isil for the thugs and the thieves and the killers that they are. we have seen instances of isil fighters defecting, others have tried to escape have been executed and isil's reign of brutality and extortion continues to repel local populations and helped fuel the refugee crisis. so many people are migrating, said one syrian refugee, isil she said will end up all alone. all this said, we recognize that progress needs to keep coming faster. no one knows that more than the countless syrians and iraqis living every day under isil's terror as well as the families in san bernardino and paris and elsewhere grieving the loss of their loved ones. just as the united states is doing more in this fight, just as our allies, france, germany
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and the united kingdom, australia, italy, are doing more, so must others. that's why i have asked secretary carter to go to the middle east. he will depart right after this press briefing, to work with our coalition partners on securing more military contributions to this fight. on the diplomatic front, secretary kerry will be in russia tomorrow as we continue to work as part of the process to end this syrian civil war. meanwhile, here at home, the department of homeland security is updating its alert system to help the american people stay vigilant and safe. and as always, our extraordinary men and women in uniform continue to put their lives on the line. in this campaign and around the world, to keep the rest of us safe. this holiday season, many of our troops are once again far from their families and as your commander in chief, on behalf of the american people, we want to say thank you. we are grateful and we are proud for everything that you do. because of you, the america that
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we know and love and cherish is leading the world in this fight. because of you, i am confident that we are going to prevail. thank you very much, everybody. >> we have been given some indication there could be a question and answer session coming out of that. as you saw, there was not. andrea mitchell, watching this along with us. kristen welker at the white house, to you, anything that you saw or heard from the president that you haven't seen or heard where you are? >> reporter: well, i think you heard an increased urgency in his voice, but as we have been saying, there was no new strategy rollout. it was really a defense of his strategy to defeat isis and you heard him argue that he's ramped up those efforts, that there have been more air strikes, that isis has lost a considerable amount of territory in iraq and syria, there are more special operations forces hitting isis.
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one thing i wrote down when you talk about rhetoric, he talked about squeezing isis at its heart. very different than what we heard when he addressed the nation from the oval office when he described isis as a cancer. you really got the sense that he has gotten the message he needs to do a better job of reassuring the american public, reassuring them as they head into this holiday season, one piece of news, though, that did come out of this, the fact that he's sending secretary carter to the middle east to try to secure some more commitments from the united states allies in this fight against isis. so much of this was about optics for this president and again, not only trying to reassure the american public, but trying to quiet his critics who have said he's just not been strong enough in this fight. >> kristen welker inside the briefing room at the white house, after this event in the briefing room at the pentagon. andrea mitchell, would you k concur, given the fact this had two audiences, one kind of overseas, the other domestic? >> yes indeed.
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we knew about this trip from secretary carter so it's been long in the planning. it just had not been publicly announced. that was the only thing he announced, a previously planned trip. the fact is that russians have just put out a press release, welcome to moscow, secretary kerry. they put out a press release saying that russian-american relations from the u.s. side have been confrontational and are very difficult. so if john kerry thought he would have an easy time with vladimir putin, that isn't happening. >> andrea, we will be coming back to you. jim miklaszewski has made his way to a camera. at very minimum you don't get to see all the military service chiefs in that room very often, say nothing of the president and vice president. >> that's for sure. it would have been nice if the president or any of those service chiefs could have answered some questions, but to follow up on what andrea said in terms of ash carter's trip to iraq, he's going on to turkey and other places as part of the
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annual christmas tour to visit the troops. that was the original purpose for this trip. that's been in the making for months. i particularly perked up when he mentioned libya once again. that's become a major concern to officials here and over in the region because in fact, there has been some success, we are told, in blocking that flow of isis fighters from turkey down into syria. those numbers have decreased. don't have exact numbers and it's not all that significant but there is some progress. but we are told by senior u.s. military officials that because that flow has been impeded somewhat, isis leaders are now informing isis followers, isis wanna-bes instead of going to syria, go to libya. that's the new front in this war against isis that is causing a lot of consternation only because if there were a flow out of north africa to europe, which is essentially right across the
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street, that might be exponentially larger than anything we have seen out of syria so far. that has raised increased concerns at the pentagon. >> jim, thanks. back to andrea mitchell we go. andrea, we are looking at that picture on the stage, four generals, 16 stars among them, yet that's only part of the equation. as jim points out, especially in the middle east, among the broken countries, among the countries where there is trouble, where there is a vacuum, that's the troubled spot. the u.s., to use the term of art at the pentagon, doesn't have eyes on all of that real estate. >> not at all. in fact, the iraqi partners have been woefully lacking. that's still a work in progress. we didn't get the regional force, the local force that we still are trying to put up in syria, for all the money that
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has been spent, and we aren't even as clued in to intelligence as we should be in afghanistan. look at the horrible attack in kunduz against the hospital. that was based on faulty intelligence from our afghan partners in part. so we really are not getting the kind of intelligence that we need on the ground and it is that kind of ground truth that will help us go after these isis leaders such as we have been able to, and continue to make inroads. we have a real problem here and they don't have answers, we don't have answers. easy to second-guess them but it's obviously a public relations and political problem for this white house as much as it is a military problem. >> andrea mitchell, whose time slot today has been all but dominated by this event at the pentagon. the president flanked by the service chiefs with again, a two-pronged message. one military and one domestic, as americans are, after all, concentrating more and


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