MR. TOM BROKAW: Our issues this Sunday: The nation elects Barack Obama its 44th president.
PRES.-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: It's been a long time coming but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
MR. BROKAW: And the transfer of power now begins. How will this new administration tackle the many challenges facing this country? We'll ask our exclusive guest, a close, longtime friend of President-elect Obama and the co-chair of his transition team, Valerie Jarrett. Then:
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together.
MR. BROKAW: After a long, hard-fought election, can the two parties come together on the common challenges? Joining us, the House Democratic whip, Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, and former chairman of the Republican Party, Senator Mel Martinez of Florida.
Plus, we'll have the insights and analysis from presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin; Newsweek editor and author of the new book "American Lion: Andrew Jackson and the White House," Jon Meacham; and Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell.
But first, the transition is under way, of course, and with us for an exclusive interview, the co-chair of the transition team, Valerie Jarrett.
Welcome to MEET THE PRESS, Ms. Jarrett. Nice to have you with us.
MS. VALERIE JARRETT: It's a pleasure to be here, of course; an honor to be here.
MR. BROKAW: You're really very well-known in Chicago, but our national audience may not be as familiar with you. So we have prepared what we call a MEET THE PRESS version of a baseball card. We're going to tell our folks out there watching a little bit more about you. We did not put a White Sox or a Cubs insignia on it. We know that you're probably a White Sox fan, given where you live.
MS. JARRETT: South Side, White Sox.
MR. BROKAW: South Side. You were born in Iran because your father was a doctor over at the time, at the time. Your parents were both socially active in causes. You went to Stanford University, where you got a degree in psychology, and twin that with a law degree from the University of Michigan. That's a good combination, coming to Washington. A single mother to Laura, who is attending Harvard Law School. She's now in her second year. CEO of The Habitat Company in Chicago, which is a big development company. You worked for Mayor Richard Daley as deputy chief of staff in Chicago. You hired Michelle Obama in 1991, and she said before she took the job she wanted you to meet her fiance, Barack Obama. And you were finance chairman for Obama in his 2004 Senate campaign. And he says he does not make a major decision without checking with you first. So that's something that I know that you're very proud of and that puts you in a very important position there.
Let's begin by talking about the transition. What are the priorities during this transition time for your team and how you work through the many challenges that are ahead of you?
MS. JARRETT: Well, we hit the ground running first thing Wednesday. Wednesday, President-elect Obama--it feels so good to say President-elect Obama--pulled together our team and we began to lay out the framework for how we want to move forward. As you would expect, both the economy and national security are top priorities. Friday, President-elect Obama brought in his advisers--people such as Paul Volcker and Bob Rubin, Governor Granholm, Mayor Villaraigosa from Los Angeles--trying to bring together a group of people--Warren Buffett--to help focus on the economy. So we will be looking to be efficient transparent, bipartisan. We want the American people to understand the transition and how we're moving forward. And in the days and weeks ahead, President-elect Obama will be making announcements as he makes decisions.
MR. BROKAW: What's the working model? Are you going to try to be a shadow government or just a very interested spectator off to the side?
MS. JARRETT: Well, it's a good question. There is one president at a time. President Bush is still the president. He's graciously invited President-elect Obama to the White House tomorrow to begin their conversations of the transition. So we respect that. He will be the president until January 20th. However, giving--given, really, the daunting challenges that we face, it's important that President-elect Obama is prepared to really take power and begin to rule day one. So we will be working closely with his administration. We're reviewing the agencies now. He will be making key personnel decisions. He gets national security briefings every day now as well, but he will not be the president until January 20th.
MR. BROKAW: One of the things I've been told is that your team, led by John Podesta, who worked for President Clinton in the White House, has gone back 50 years to study other transitions, hour by hour in some cases. What are the biggest lessons that you've learned from that study of past transitions?
MS. JARRETT: Well, that it's important to get going quickly but deliberately, and being very careful, being very thorough in our analysis. As you know, several transitions don't start to make announcements until as late as December. President-elect Obama's already announced that Rahm Emanuel will be his chief of staff, so he's now an integral part of the transition. Being careful, being deliberate, being thorough and being decisive.
MR. BROKAW: At the same time, you're dealing with an economy that no one knows where it's going except that it's in big trouble and it seems to be slipping ever deeper into trouble. I was also told that you're not prepared to name a Treasury secretary until you have a better sense of where this economy may be headed and who's best equipped to deal with that. So can we expect a Treasury secretary in the near term or are you going to wait a while?
MS. JARRETT: Well, you know, I think that's, that's obviously up to President-elect Obama. He's reviewing candidates. We have just a wealth of people who are so qualified for this position who are interested. He was very--it was very important to him last week to have his economic advisers in and begin the conversation with them. And so as soon as he's ready, I think he will, he will announce. I think the challenges are daunting, but we have a very good sense of what they are. And so I don't see that he needs to learn too much about the challenges ahead--that are ahead before he makes that selection.
MR. BROKAW: The prominent names we're hearing, of course, are Paul Volcker, who was chairman of the Federal Reserve under Ronald Reagan; Tim Geitner, who is the head of the Federal Reserve in New York City; Bob Rubin, who is a former Treasury secretary; and his deputy, Larry Summers. Are there other names out there that we don't know on the economic team?
MS. JARRETT: Well, now, you know I'm not going to share any of that with you. Part of the...
MR. BROKAW: Well, why not?
MS. JARRETT: Part of the strength of our team...
MR. BROKAW: It's just the two of us sitting here.
MS. JARRETT: I know. Exactly. I've heard that line before. I think one of the real strengths of Senator Obama's campaign and now President-elect Obama's transition is that he really does like to think this through thoroughly and not telecast what he's going to do until he's ready to make a decision. I am confident that he will pick the best person for the job. And it will be a daunting job, and the person he selects will be up to it.
MR. BROKAW: There's also a lot of speculation that you're likely to have some Republicans in the Cabinet or in important posts. Can you comment on that?
MS. JARRETT: Certainly. Throughout the campaign, President-elect Obama has talked about the importance of bipartisanship. We always joke that one of his favorite books is "Team of Rivals," and I know Doris Goodwin will be on your show following, and he really believes in having people around the table who have differences of opinion. He thinks he'll make better decisions if he's pushed hard by people with perspectives that are wide and broad. And so it's important to him to have that kind of breadth at the table, and so I'm confident that his administration will include people from all different perspectives.
MR. BROKAW: There is some speculation as well that he may carry over some Cabinet members from this administration, specifically Defense Secretary Gates. Is that a possibility?
MS. JARRETT: I think everything is a possibility right now. I think, you know, you're, you're asking me these questions just a few days into the transition. I think that, in a sense, putting together the Cabinet is like a jigsaw puzzle, and he wants to make sure that it represents the diversity of our country, diversity in perspectives, diversity in race, diversity in geography. And so all of those pieces are going to come together. And he will pick the best person for each position.
MR. BROKAW: So you would not rule out keeping some members of the Cabinet that are already in place?
MS. JARRETT: I wouldn't rule out anything. As I said, I think that President-elect Obama has an open mind, he's looking for talent wherever he can find it, and he wants to, and he wants to select absolutely the best team that he can find and the team will work together as a whole.
MR. BROKAW: The most conspicuous appointment so far has been Rahm Emanuel as the, as the chief of staff of the White House.
MS. JARRETT: Yes.
MR. BROKAW: It's gotten mixed reactions. John Boehner, who is the House Republican Leader, had this to say in a statement, "This is an ironic choice for a President-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center." Your president-elect is a soft-spoken man. No one would say that about Rahm Emanuel. He's the guy who plays tough. He has, well-described in this city, "very sharp elbows." Is there going to be a kinder, gentler Rahm Emanuel?
MS. JARRETT: That's part of the change we're talking about, huh? You know, I've had the pleasure of knowing Rahm for, oh my goodness, over 15 years now. He has had leadership experience both in the White House and now in Congress. He knows Senator, now President-elect Obama, very well. Tone starts at the top, and I think that President-elect Obama has made it clear that he wants an administration that is--that reaches out, that's bipartisan, that works in a collegial way. There's no one who can hit the ground running faster than Rahm Emanuel. He embraces President-elect Obama's philosophy. He's going to do an outstanding job.
MR. BROKAW: The, the Clintons have a pretty prominent role in all of this. Rahm Emanuel worked for President Clinton in the White House. John Podesta is running the transition team. Is President-elect Obama talking directly to President Clinton about what he should know?
MS. JARRETT: Of course. Senator Clinton has been a key adviser throughout the general election. They've campaigned together. They've had many conversations together. Senator Clinton has been very willing to speak to Michelle Obama about what's it's going to be like to be a first lady. So I think she's a key adviser, and we, and we look forward to working with her after he is president, of course.
MR. BROKAW: One of your mentors, Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago said to me about a year ago, "Ask any American citizen what the federal government has done for them recently and they don't have a good answer." I wonder if, as a Democrat, which has always represented the party of big government, whether there will be a kind of paradigm shift this time, that you'll take the Rich Daley model and shift more money and more responsibility to municipalities and the state government.
MS. JARRETT: You know, it's ironic that you would say that it's the Democrats that are responsible for big government because government has grown enormously over the last eight years. I think Barack Obama started out as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago. He saw firsthand on the ground the challenges that you face trying to get government to work for the people, and so I think that grounding will serve him well, and we'll see that the federal government is really focusing on what's in the best interest of the America people, and that begins at the local level.
MR. BROKAW: I want to share with you something that was said in the Chicago Tribune. "Obama said that having an adviser like Jarrett, someone who `knows your flaws but also knows your strengths' is crucial. What are his flaws?
MS. JARRETT: Well, that's the advantage of being his friend is that I only talk about his strengths. We never talk about his flaws, but he does have them. Nobody's perfect, of course. But I have to tell you, just on a personal note, I am so extraordinarily proud of, of President-elect Obama and the campaign he ran, the thousands of people who worked on the campaign and the hundreds of thousands of people across the country. We really have this extraordinary spirit in the country where everyone is excited about this. It says so much about our country that we could elect the unlikely candidate. It's been a great journey, and he will do a terrific job as our president.
MR. BROKAW: And your very good friend Michelle Obama...
MS. JARRETT: Yes.
MR. BROKAW: ...as first lady, will her model be more Laura Bush or Hillary Clinton?
MS. JARRETT: I think her, her model will be Michelle Obama. She's going to be her own first lady. There'll be nothing like it. She has journeyed this extraordinary path with him, learned so much from the American people, been so heartened by the spirit and the enthusiasm. The interests that she's had so far have been focusing on a work-life balance. She was a working mom. She knows how hard it is to manage being a mom, a spouse, have a professional job. And she has a lot of support. She's the first to say, "Look, I did it with all this support. What about the women out there who are doing it in such a challenging way?" She's also been focusing on military spouses and the challenges that they're up against. Volunteerism is another issue that's so important to her. So she'll be an extraordinary first lady.
MR. BROKAW: But will she have a place at the table? Bill Clinton use to say about Hillary Clinton, "elect one, get one free." And that's that she would be in on the decision-making within the bowels of the White House.
MS. JARRETT: Michelle is really not interested in doing that. Her first priority as she comes to Washington and moves into the White House are those two darling girls, making sure that they are OK, getting them in school, getting them comfortable. Her mom, Mary Robinson, is coming with them, and so she'll have her hands full.
After that, as I mentioned before, her interests will be work-life balance, volunteerism, military spouses. And she'll go from there. But having a seat at, at the table and being a co-president is not something that she's interested in doing.
MR. BROKAW: Do you have a vote in the puppy selection?
MS. JARRETT: No. You know what? I'm leaving that to the girls. I've heard many a conversation over the last two years about what dog they're going to select, and I think that they'll reach a consensus within the family, and we're looking forward to seeing that puppy. It's something that, that, that Barack Obama promised the girls long ago, and we're looking forward to that day.
MR. BROKAW: Let me ask you a personal question. Last Tuesday night, at 10 Central time, 11 Eastern time, all the networks made the announcement that your good friend Barack Obama was the president-elect of the United States. What went through your mind, and what was your reaction?
MS. JARRETT: Well, first tears, of course. I cried. Everyone who was with us was in tears. Just an immense sense of joy for the possibilities of our future of our country. I think it says so much about the American people that they were able to come together and support my dear friend. I've known for so long his extraordinary qualities and, and what he could offer our country. And the fact that he was embraced so broadly by more votes than we've ever had in an election just said so much about him. So deep sense of pride and gratitude and hopefulness about, about the future for our country.
MR. BROKAW: And what did you say to him?
MS. JARRETT: You know, it's so funny. I, I saw him backstage right before he gave his speech, and we just looked at each other, and we made some expressions, and we actually didn't say a word. But I think one look probably said a thousand things just in a sense of satisfaction and pride and, and hopefulness for the future.
MR. BROKAW: Valerie Jarrett, thanks so much for being with us.
MS. JARRETT: My pleasure.
MR. BROKAW: I know we'll be seeing a lot more and hearing a lot more from you. And you're always welcome to come back to this desk at MEET THE PRESS.
MS. JARRETT: I look forward to it. Thank you, Tom.
MR. BROKAW: OK. Thank you very much.
Coming up next, can the two parties unite after this tough-fought election? House Democratic Whip James Clyburn and Republican Senator Mel Martinez weigh in. Plus, our roundtable, with insights and analysis on this presidential election. All here this morning on MEET THE PRESS.
MR. BROKAW: Congressman James Clyburn, Senator Mel Martinez and our political roundtable after this brief station break.
MR. BROKAW: We're back, and joined by Senator Mel Martinez and Congressman James Clyburn; one a Republican, the other a Democrat, obviously.
Welcome to both of you.
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Oh, thank you for having us.
MR. BROKAW: I thought I would begin by sharing with our audience and with you as well a Gallup and USA Today poll taken the day after the election, "Does this describe your reaction to Barack Obama being elected president?" Sixty-seven percent of the people said they were proud, 67 percent said they were optimistic, 59 percent said they were excited. Those are very high numbers. How do you hold on to that in the face of this deteriorating economy and all the uncertainty that's still ahead of us, Congressman?
REP. CLYBURN: Well, I think the first thing we have to do is respond to the American people with a economic recovery package that will restore jobs, that will, once again, stand up our infrastructure: roads, bridges, water, sewage. I think we have to respond by saying to the children we are going to have a state children's health insurance program. I think we need to respond with a stem cell program, stem cell research. I think that the campaign told us a whole lot about what's on the minds of the American people, and I think that you keep that excitement by responding immediately to that. And I think that's why the president-elect made it very clear in his first press conference that he wants an economic recovery package and he would like to have it right now. And I would hope that the leadership of the Congress and the White House can get together on such a package in the near future.
MR. BROKAW: We want to get to the specifics in just a moment.
Senator Martinez, what about the Republican Party and keeping its place prominent after this pretty resounding defeat?
SEN. MEL MARTINEZ (R-FL): Well, the first thing we have to do is to celebrate the moment. And I think I agree with the sentiment of so many of those people in the polls, this is a historic moment. It's one that I thought Senator McCain properly recognized in his very gracious concession speech. And so we need to keep that kind of spirit of pulling together and finding common ground. However, I think the important thing for this new administration and for the leadership in Congress to do is to find the common ground agenda items. You know, when you look back to Florida, we have a lot of problems in the state of Florida. Unemployment parallels the national average, in some counties it's 10 percent, which is dramatically high. Find ways in which we can put people back to work and we can get our economy running again. Look for that checklist of things where there can be common ground, stay away from those items where, frankly, there'll be division and there'll be rancor and there'll be acrimony. So look for the common ground, and I think that'll be a prescription for us getting some things done.
MR. BROKAW: OK, we want to get to those specific things that may divide you more than unite you. But let's hear, first of all, from President-elect Obama, his first radio address in this new position yesterday, because he kind of laid out a general agenda of what he'd like to achieve.
PRES.-ELECT OBAMA: First, we need a rescue plan for the middle class that invests in immediate efforts to create jobs and provides relief to families that are watching their paychecks shrink and their life savings disappear. Then we'll address the spreading impact of the financial crisis on other sectors of our economy and ensure that the rescue plan that passed Congress is working to stabilize financial markets while protecting taxpayers, helping homeowners, and not unduly rewarding the management of financial firms that are receiving government assistance. Finally, we will move forward with a set of policies that will grow our middle class and strengthen our economy in the long term. We can't afford to wait on moving forward on the key priorities that I identified during the campaign, including clean energy, health care, education and tax relief for middle class families.
MR. BROKAW: He did not specifically mention a stimulus program. There's a good deal of talk about that on Capitol Hill when you come back into session.
Would you be in favor of $100 billion stimulus program at this point, Senator Martinez?
SEN. MARTINEZ: I think it needs to depend on the specifics that might be included in that program, but I think some sort of stimulus is appropriate. I, I would love to see it focused on, on home ownership, on, on getting back to the basics of what got us into this financial crisis in the first place, which is displaced homeowners, continuing rising foreclosures, things of that nature. We need to focus it on creating job opportunities for American families that are today out of work and extending unemployment benefits and things of that nature that I think, frankly, are appropriate. But we need to see what's in the package before we can just sign on. And I hope, frankly, part of this bipartisan spirit will be to be consulted in how we get to the package, inclusive in how we get to the decisions so that we can move forward in a united way, in a bipartisan way.
MR. BROKAW: And, Congressman Clyburn, do you think that you're going to have to defer some of the promises that were made in the last year, specifically the big issues like health care and maybe even tax increases on people who are making more than $225,000 a year, given the perilous state of the economy?
REP. CLYBURN: Well, I think you have to prioritize, and prioritizing means that you take them in order of importance, and you don't have to defer where there's the interest primarily...
MR. BROKAW: We can just get to it later.
REP. CLYBURN: Yeah. Well, I think that there are some things that will be going on as we tackle the big issues. Other people--I don't think it'll be on one track. I think that all the tracks will be working. But you raise to the level of, of public view those big items like infrastructure, job creation. I really believe that we have done all we need to do for the financial communities with that $700 billion program. The emphasis at this point has got to be, be on the middle class. It's got to be on job creation. It's got to be on stabilizing people's families, restoring dignity. That kind of excitement will not last if people don't have dignity restored to their homes.
MR. BROKAW: There is a very urgent matter that is before Washington, and that's what's going to happen to the American automobile industry.
REP. CLYBURN: Sure.
MR. BROKAW: The heads of the three companies were down here last week really pleading for help. Here's a letter that Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, and Harry Reid, the Democratic Senator--Senate leader, has sent to Secretary Paulson asking them to "review the feasibility of providing temporary assistance to the automobile industry during the current financial crisis." They didn't put a number on it. Would you be in favor of a 10 to $25 billion loan to the American automobile industry in the short term?
REP. CLYBURN: Well, I don't know if I'd put a number on it, but I am in favor of Secretary Paulson taking a hard look at that package that he has. I, for one, believe that he's got the authority to move quickly to do something to bring this industry back into the mainstream of our economy. They are about to drift out to the edge, and I think we need to bring them back in. I believe he has the authority, I think he ought to move rather quickly to do that, and, and I would support that.
MR. BROKAW: Senator Martinez, you represent the party of free markets, or it used to be the party of free markets. Do you think it's important for Chrysler, General Motors and Ford to survive?
SEN. MARTINEZ: I think...
MR. BROKAW: Or should we let the markets make that decision?
SEN. MARTINEZ: No, I think the United States must have an auto industry. We don't want to see a loss of over a million jobs. That affects a lot of American families, and so I think, with prudence and with caution, I, I would think that there's something we can do to save that, that aspect of our economy.
MR. BROKAW: You'd vote for a loan to the American automobile industry?
SEN. MARTINEZ: Certainly a loan and would have to see what the amount, appropriate amount would be. But I also hope that it could be part of the $700 billion package.
MR. BROKAW: That's already been voted?
SEN. MARTINEZ: That's right.
MR. BROKAW: It would--it would not be in addition to that.
SEN. MARTINEZ: Not in--I think as part of that package and within the authority of that package, I think it's possible for the secretary of the Treasury to direct a loan to that--to, to those entities. And you know, by the way, we just did 25 billion in loans to them just a couple of months ago. So that shouldn't be overlooked. We've helped them...
MR. BROKAW: But they're running out of money fast. I mean, it's possible that General Motors could run out of money by June of next year given the cash that they're burning through at this time.
SEN. MARTINEZ: But there's also a limit to what government can do to a failing industry. There's got to be some things that they do to restore the confidence of the people that might invest in their company.
MR. BROKAW: Congressman Clyburn, there's already a pretty spirited debate that is developing within your party, as you know. You have advised a pragmatic approach which you call "evolution, not revolution," that got a quick response from your good friend Charles Rangel, who's the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. "`He's a national leader, Clyburn,' House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel of New York snapped embodying the views of liberals who want to move fast on the most ambitious version of Obamanomics possible. `I'm thinking of his constituents, and he doesn't have the slightest clue about what he's talking about.' Rangel doesn't want to hear talk of containing the deficit. `For God's sakes,' he said, `don't ask me where the money will come from. I'm going to the same place that Paulson went.'"
REP. CLYBURN: Well, I think...
MR. BROKAW: You going to get something done with that attitude?
REP. CLYBURN: Well, I think if you go to same place where Paulson went, you'll find that the, the coffers are rather empty. I think that what we have to do is, Senator Obama, now President-elect, made it very clear during the campaign that he will govern from the center. It may at times be center right, sometimes center left, but always the center. I think that we have made significant mistakes in the past by lurching too far to the right or too far to the left. We cannot have as an antecedent for far right to go far left. We have to bring things back to the center. We saw what's happened with deregulation. We say, well, we "overregulated." So what--how do you respond? No regulation. That's not the antecedent for overregulation. We have to bring things back to center. We have to find consensus, and we have to govern from that point. And so Charlie and I have talked since that. I think the cameras caught him at a--an opportune time.
MR. BROKAW: Senator Martinez, I want to raise with you one of the issues that I suspect you may have been thinking of when you said we don't want to get involved right away in those issues that could divide us.
SEN. MARTINEZ: Right.
MR. BROKAW: Here's Senator Edward Kennedy today in The Washington Post pressing hard, very hard, for doing something about national health care. "The cost will be substantial, but the need for reform is too great to be deflected or delayed." Will the Republicans go along with the idea of doing something about national healthcare reform in the first year?
SEN. MARTINEZ: What we have to do as Republicans is not just be against what Senator Kennedy puts forward. We have to be ready with alternatives. We have to offer solutions. What is unacceptable is for 40 million Americans to be without health insurance. So we, as Republicans, we need to come up with a market solutions, accompanied by government, to deal with these kinds of problems that Americans are facing today. What is unacceptable is to say, "That's not a problem if 40 million Americans don't have health insurance or have no place to go for health care." We've got to be concerned about it, but we've got to come up with alternative solutions that are market oriented, that are, that are going to work for the American people, and not create a bigger government and single-payer type system, which I don't think ultimately would work.
MR. BROKAW: Congressman Clyburn, can you do that simultaneously with fixing the economy in the first year?
REP. CLYBURN: Absolutely. The first thing we've got to do in, in January is to pass a student--I mean, the state children's health insurance program. That ought to be the first thing. That ought to be the entree to universal access to health care. Then I think we ought to look at Medicaid and Medicare and see what to do about people living on fixed incomes as a, as a second step. And I really believe that this ought to be fleshed out in full by looking at our community healthcare programs. These programs have been around for a long time, people accept them as a part of their everyday lives. They are much more preventive, and, and President-elect Obama has talked about having a healthcare program that is preventive rather than curing illnesses. I believe that we have the framework already there for a universal access program that will, in fact, be market-driven, that will have partnerships. And we ought to look at community health, community healthcare programs.
MR. BROKAW: Would a massive overhaul of the American healthcare system, can that get done in the first two years of this administration, or even in the first term, given the state of the economy?
REP. CLYBURN: But the...
SEN. MARTINEZ: Well, it, it just can't be. I mean, this is precisely what we should not be doing. SCHIP was one of the most divisive issues of the last Congress, where there was no consensus, there was no common ground. To bring that back up now would be to restart the fights of the past, and we need to move past that. We cannot deal with health care in the current crisis mode that we're in. Senator Obama was correct in the priorities that he outlined. We need to deal with the current economic crises.
And by the way, Tom, we've not talked about foreign issues, and there's also a big bad world out there. We saw the very aggressive statement that the Russian president made immediately upon President-elect Obama winning. So we're not going to be able to work in a vacuum. And to start out with health care I think is a big mistake.
REP. CLYBURN: Well, I beg to differ. We didn't have--that's not a divisive program. We passed SCHIP in the Congress. The president vetoed it. So just because the president vetoed it doesn't mean that there's not massive support for it. We passed this thing with a big vote. I really believe that we have got to do this. And I don't believe there needs to be a massive overhaul of the healthcare problem in order to do it. We ought to do that incrementally, starting off with the children, going to people with fixed on--fixed incomes, and then take a look at these community-based healthcare programs that are universally accepted. And that would not call for a massive overhaul. I don't think you really need a massive overhaul.
SEN. MARTINEZ: Well, if it's not a massive overhaul, perhaps we can deal with a partial SCHIP-type issue.
MR. BROKAW: Senator Martinez, as you know, politics is about keeping score. I know this is tough for you to hear, probably, but you were 0-for-3 last Tuesday. You're a Republican; you are from Florida, that went to the Democrats; and you're Hispanic, or Latino in some parts of this country, and the Hispanics went overwhelmingly for the Democrats this time. Jill Lawrence wrote in USA TODAY: "`If the Republicans don't make their peace with Hispanic voters, they're not going to win presidential elections anymore. The math just isn't there.'" That's according to Simon Rosenberg, head of the NDN, a Democratic group that studies Hispanic voters." How do you get back to the Hispanics?
SEN. MARTINEZ: Governor Jeb Bush--former Governor Jeb Bush last week made a comment that if Republicans don't figure it out and do the math that we're going to be relegated to minority status. I've been preaching this for a long time to my colleagues within my party. I think that the very divisive rhetoric of the immigration debate set a very bad tone for our brand as Republicans. The fact of the matter is I think in Florida there was not a great ideological shift, but I think there was plenty of room for improvement in how that state was looked upon.
The fact of the matter is that Hispanics are going to be a more and more vibrant part of the electorate, and the Republican Party had better figure out how to talk to them. We had a very dramatic shift between what President Bush was able to do with Hispanic voters, where he won 44 percent of them, and what happened to Senator McCain. Senator McCain did not deserve what he got. He was one of those that valiantly fought, fought for immigration reform, but there were voices within our party, frankly, which if they continue with that kind of rhetoric, anti-Hispanic rhetoric, that so much of it was heard, we're going to be relegated to minority status.
MR. BROKAW: Speaking of the future of the party and some of the issues that we've been discussing here, Bobby Jindal, who is the governor of Louisiana, rising star in your party, had this to say: "[Republicans] need real solutions. It's not enough to be just against single-payer health care, for example. We've got to discuss how we provide private coverage, to apply our principles to the issues that affect people's lives." Is there going to be in the next two years within the Republican Party a real struggle for the identification of the GOP?
SEN. MARTINEZ: No question about it. And we have to. We have to modernize. There's a great meeting of Republican governors taking place in my state next week, and that is a laboratory of ideas. That's where we got a lot of the resurgence of our party on conservatism. The fact is that there's a lot of bright stars of our party. Mitch Daniels had an excellent day. On a day when the Republican ticket lost Indiana, he won re-election overwhelmingly. That's because the kind of governor he's been and the kinds of things that he has done. These are governors who have not been governing as partisans but who have been governing as getting things done for the people. And the ideas that are germinating in our states, I think, are very exciting and, I think, will give rise to the future of our party.
MR. BROKAW: Congressman, you have been personally witness to so many changes in this country in your own lifetime. Here you are the third most important Democrat in the House of Representatives, a leading spokesman for your party. You represent a congressional district in South Carolina, a part of the old South. At 11:00 Eastern time this past Tuesday night, when all the networks announced that Barack Obama would be the president-elect of the United States, what did you think to yourself?
REP. CLYBURN: I was a bit numb when the announcement first came. I was in a group of 1500 people, standing on the stage with my family and friends. And when I turned around and looked at the monitor, I looked right into the faces of my three daughters and two grandchildren, and tears were streaming down their faces. And it struck me that this was really intergenerational. And those of us my age who went through the sit-ins and all of that, we really have felt that we have been lucky to live to see this. But those were tears of hope. They were tears of vindication. Those of us who stayed with the system, worked within it, the John Lewises of the world, I, I said to myself, "We have been vindicated."
MR. BROKAW: And finally, your colleague Rahm Emanuel, who, who was a real spirit carrier in the House of Representatives, leading the charge for the Democratic Party, is now going to be the chief of staff in the White House. A lot of Republicans kind of have their dukes up already saying, "That's not the best signal to be sending. This is a guy who only played hardball with sharp elbows."
REP. CLYBURN: Look, the chief of staff manages the White House on behalf of the president. I think we would make a big mistake if we confused governing with managing. Those are two distinctly different things. Rahm Emanuel is a good manager. He's--he knows policy. He knows the president-elect very, very well. He will--he was an excellent choice. He will do well in that job.
MR. BROKAW: I can tell by the expression on Martinez's face.
SEN. MARTINEZ: No, I, I tend to agree. I, I think you need someone in that job who you can trust, who's going to cover your backside, and who's smart and can run the trades on time--the trains on time. So I differ with, with Leader Boehner. I think that Rahm Emanuel for Barack Obama's a good choice.
MR. BROKAW: All right. Thank you very much, Senator Mel Martinez of Florida.
REP. CLYBURN: We got agreement.
MR. BROKAW: You leave--we found something to agree on here.
SEN. MARTINEZ: Absolutely.
REP. CLYBURN: Very good.
SEN. MARTINEZ: Absolutely.
MR. BROKAW: Moving to the center right here on MEET THE PRESS.
Coming up next, insights and analysis on Decision 2008: Beyond from our roundtable. Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jon Meacham and Mary Mitchell all here only on MEET THE PRESS.
MR. BROKAW: We're back and joined by presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Mary Mitchell of the Chicago Sun Times, and Newsweek editor and author Jon Meacham.
Welcome to all of you.
Mary, you have been covering the Obamas from the beginning, up close and personal. Here's what you had to write this past Thursday in your column in the Sun-Times. "The Obama family will be the face of leadership of the most powerful country in the world. For too long, black families have been disparaged as being dysfunctional and the root of America's problems. But Obama and his wife, Michelle, have presented an image that speaks to the strengths, rather than to the weaknesses, of black families."
What do you think their impact will be on the black community and in those neighborhoods where there are dysfunctional families?
MS. MARY MITCHELL: Well, let me tell you, this morning I did a radio show, and the callers were up at 5:00 this morning talking about how excited and inspired they were, how they were going to go back and, you know, take this victory, not just, not just celebrate Obama's victory, but celebrate the community. Get the guys off the corners, get the kids in the school, encourage the kids to go to school. I mean, they were talking about basic things they could do right now today to improve the quality of life in their own neighborhoods. And I think that's a result of all the inspiration they've gotten from President-elect Obama's campaign.
MR. BROKAW: Do you think that that will be an active part of his presidency, that he will continue to remind families, as he did during the campaign, of their responsibilities?
MS. MITCHELL: Yes. I, I, I definitely think that when you, when you look at the messages that he sent out, he was always calling for African-American families particularly to take responsibility for their families, take responsibilities for their children, you know, value education. Because what his story tells African-American parents is that, you know, you don't just have the role model of the athlete. You don't have the role model of the, the rappers. You have someone who did what he was supposed to do. He got a good education, he married his sweetheart, he's a father for his children. That's the kind of image the African-American community needs right now.
MR. BROKAW: All right. We have some other issues to deal with, obviously, this new president does. Here's what Steven Pearlstein wrote in The Washington Post on Friday. He's the Pulitzer Prize winning economics reporter. "Now comes the hard part. Come January, President Obama will inherit the weakest U.S.economy in 25 years, with output shrinking, unemployment rising, the federal deficit out of control and a financial system on government life-support. The new president will probably spend his first year in office careering--or careening from crisis to crisis. The job will feel a lot less like a ship's captain and a lot more like that of a triage nurse.
"Parallels have been drawn to Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, two presidents who came to office in the midst of economic crisis and wound up reshaping and redefining American capitalism for the ensuing generation. Obama now has the same opportunity, along with a strong mandate to pursue it. His immediate challenge is not to allow himself to be trapped by his victory."
What lesson should he take from Franklin Roosevelt?
MS. DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: Well, I think the first thing that you take from Franklin Roosevelt is the awareness that great crises also creates great opportunities. You know, Abigail Adams once said at the time of the Revolution, "These are the times when a genius wants to live." So that there's a great possibility for a transforming presidency for him. But, like Franklin Roosevelt, you have to figure out timing, you have to educate and shape the country for it. You know, the election of Roosevelt in '32 was not unlike the election in '08. It was more a repudiation of Hoover than it was telling where the change was going to go.
So Obama's challenge now is to educate the country as to where he wants to take them. We saw landslides in 1964 for Lyndon Johnson. It got undone by Vietnam. A landslide in '72 for, for Nixon, it got undone by Watergate. You can't predict history. Roosevelt became great because of what he did. So the challenge will be he's got a mandate, he's got a majority, and he's got a program. Progressive goals are out there, he's going to have to learn like Roosevelt did in the, in the World War II, even more than the New Deal, move step by step to educate the country, but don't give, don't give up on those progressive goals. This is a mysterious cycle in events that we're going through. Just like Roosevelt said, "We have a rendezvous with destiny." It's a pretty exciting time. And my hope is that he doesn't let that go. LBJ did it in '64 and '65. It's one of those moments in history, you got to make use of that moment.
MR. BROKAW: Jon Meacham, you've got a new book out on Andrew Jackson, who was a powerful and dynamic figure in the early part of the 19th century. And then you got five ideas for the new president. You say, "Find people who will tell it like it is. Turn weaknesses into strengths. Speak to the electorate. Keep church and state separate. Always have a backup plan." You know, every administration is determined, every president is determined, "I want somebody who's going to get in my face and tell me," and then they step into the Oval Office and all that resolution fades away. They're--it's Mr. President...
MR. JON MEACHAM: "What a lovely tie, Mr. President."
MR. BROKAW: Right, right. Exactly right. That's as far as they're prepared to go.
MR. MEACHAM: That's right. I think Jackson was particularly good at this. Jackson was a candidate of change. He was the first self-made president. There are many parallels, I think, between '08 and 1828. He came to rule after the unpopular son of another president and was someone who believed that both the financial system and the political system needed fundamental reform. And he had--to go to Doris' point--a kind of mystical connection to the people. He believed that he was their tribune, that he was the enactor of the popular will, and he never wavered in his faith that if he were honest with the people that they would support him. And he saw that as a covenant of modern democracy, that he was going to be straight with them and that they would support him. You saw the beginnings of that in Grant Park. I thought one of the most remarkable things about that speech that Senator Obama gave--President-elect Obama, was he said, we, we--"I will tell you the truth, particularly when we disagree." And that's, that's a key part of democratic leadership. Jackson was the first great democratic president, lowercase D.
MR. BROKAW: He does have the power of political oratory on his side.
MR. MEACHAM: Hm.
MR. BROKAW: You say speak to the electorate.
MR. MEACHAM: Yeah.
MR. BROKAW: Should he do that on a regular basis, an FDR fireside chat basis?
MR. MEACHAM: I think so. I...
MR. BROKAW: Or big speeches?
MR. MEACHAM: I--well, you know, they worry too much about the big speeches and the celebrity and all that. I would say leverage your strengths. He is, interestingly, a--the personality is, is fascinating, because there, there could be a vice there. I mean, perhaps he's too much of a rock star. I don't think so. I think that the country, with due respect to President Bush in the last eight years, I think the, the country is not--is willing to hear some eloquence and I think is prepared for a kind of clarity of expression. Both Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan were very clear about what they believed, and communicated it quite, quite brilliantly. He has a special gift, and to quote Winston Churchill, "There are things afoot in the world right now that will be spoken of as long as the English language is spoken in any corner of the globe."
MS. GOODWIN: And you know what Lincoln understood? He said once, "With popular sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed." So to educate and shape the country, I mean, I thought what was most remarkable about his victory speech was that it echoed FDR during the World War II time. He said, "The climb will be steep, the road will be long. But, America, we will get there." When this famous speech that Roosevelt gave in the middle of the terrible aftermath of Pearl Harbor, he said, "We're going to have failures before we have successes, but I promise you, we will get there." Both men, I think, had a sense of history, which Obama has, to know that we may be in tough times now; we've been in much worse times before. Take solace from the strength of this country.
MR. BROKAW: Mary Mitchell, you told me when we first met about a year ago, I guess, that you came out of the projects of Chicago and you were a little suspicious of Barack Obama, because of where he came from, Ivy League education and all that. But then you came to the conclusion that was a great strength of his because he represented, in so many ways, so many cultures.
MS. MITCHELL: Yes, he does. The first column I wrote about the possibility of Barack Obama, now President-elect Barack Obama becoming president, is because he embodied so much that we needed in this country at this time. He's--has a white mother, he was raised in a white household. So he understood just what--how whites feel about the race issue. He also honed his skill as a community organizer in poverty--and in impoverished areas of Chicago, so he understood how black people feel about the race issue. And he was able to look at that whole situation--waters that most people don't want to even dare wade in, he was able to, when that flood came with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, he was able to give the speech--the race speech of his life and of any candidate's life to bring the country together. So I, I knew that he has a special gift, and that gift is he's a man of the time. He was able to look at the white side of things and the black side of things and bring us together. And I think that's what's going to serve him well throughout his campaign.
MR. BROKAW: Well, here's a pretty striking observation from Charles Krauthammer who was one of the most conservative columnists writing today and was very much on McCain side, obviously, during the campaign. He said, "With Obama we get a president with the political intelligence of a Bill Clinton harnessed to the steely self-discipline of a Vladimir Putin. (I say this admiringly.)" He says. "With these qualities, Obama will now bestride the political stage as largely as did Reagan."
Those are very high stakes for a president coming in facing what he's facing, Jon.
MR. MEACHAM: I think that that's, that's very insightful because we are in the midst of a great national moment about this candidate of hope, this candidate of change. This is a very tough man. He is a very tough politician. The main thing he remembered from growing up in Indonesia was his stepfather teaching him how to box and how to hit back. And so I, I think people who "misunderestimate" him, to use a term from the era now past--that is one legacy we will keep, I hope, and enjoy--you know, and, and people like me, I, I was very skeptical of this. I'm a Southerner. I, I thought it was a very long shot. Until the market collapsed, I thought it was a better than even chance that Senator McCain, who ran, I think, in all a noble campaign and we should, I think, mark that. It could've been a lot worse out there in the past couple of months. He knows how to fight and "See Rahm Emanuel."
MR. BROKAW: Doris, you wrote "Team of Rivals," and he's reading that, we're told. These were the people that Abraham Lincoln ran against and then pulled into his Cabinet to help him govern. One of the most gracious speeches we've heard in the course of the last nine months was given by John McCain the night that he was defeated. Should he find a place, specifically, for John McCain? If not in the Cabinet, necessarily, but reach out to him in Congress? And, and shake up Washington in a way that we have not seen it shaken up in a long, long time?
MS. GOODWIN: I think he's going to try to do something like that, and I think it's in McCain's interest to respond. McCain has a certain number of years left in public life. He's had such a noble career before him. He is a person who brings people together, that's what he was before. And that concession speech, I think, was his beginning road on that journey. It was so classy. You're so exhausted, your eyes are puffy, you've had this terrible rejection, you almost reached this White House. And to give that kind of a graceful speech was an extraordinary moment. And I think that Obama will be able to think beyond the normal. I think that's why he talks about Lincoln all the time. It wasn't just that Lincoln brought his chief Republican rivals in. He brought Democrats, former Whigs, they're fighting all the time, but he was able to bring them together in the most unusual team in history, and I'll bet you Obama will do that. I'd love to see McCain in some big position.
MR. MEACHAM: He...
MS. GOODWIN: Maybe, go ahead. No, I was just going to spout, so go ahead.
MR. BROKAW: One historian to another here.
MS. GOODWIN: Go for it.
MR. MEACHAM: Well, there was a rumor Walter Mondale asked George McGovern, "When does it stop hurting?" And he said, "I'll tell you when it does."
MR. BROKAW: Right. That's exactly right.
MS. MITCHELL: Oh.
MR. MEACHAM: And I think McCain has the personality, as you say, to rise about that.
MR. BROKAW: And, Mary Mitchell, how many of your friends want to come to Washington and be a part of this?
MS. MITCHELL: Oh, everybody I talk to. They're planning on coming to Washington. They're calling their friends. They're, you know, I, what I warn them about is don't fall for the Internet scams. You know, call your congressman, call your representative. Find out if you can really get a ticket for January 20 before, before you get on that bus.
MR. BROKAW: And how many of them want to come here and work?
MS. MITCHELL: Oh, well, a lot of them. But you know, I, I think that what we'll see is that President-elect Barack Obama will put a team together of qualified people; and, unfortunately, we love him, but he's--the ship is moving off.
MS. GOODWIN: But how wonderful, Churchill said to Roosevelt, "It's a great hour to live." What a fun decade to share together. I think people are feeling that right now. It's a great hour to be part of this and a lot of young people are going to want to come.
MR. BROKAW: More than anytime I can remember, since 1960, people are coming up to me and are genuinely excited and want to be in on it.
We have to leave it right there for now. Thank you all for being with us.
And for more on Jon Meacham's book, you can find an excerpt to "American Lion: Andrew Jackson at the White House" on our Web site, which is mtp.msnbc.com.
MR. BROKAW: That's all for today. A special day for MEET THE PRESS, the longest-running television show in the world. We're celebrating our 61st birthday. We'll be back next week because if, it's Sunday, it's MEET THE PRESS after 61 years.