MR. CHUCK TODD: Our issues this Sunday: Disaster in Japan as a massive earthquake rocks the country, leaving hundreds dead and thousands missing. All eyes are on two nuclear reactors there, crippled in the disaster, as fears grow over a possible nuclear meltdown. We'll get the very latest.
Meanwhile, back at home, President Obama weighs the use of force in Libya. And the clock ticks towards a government shutdown as both sides dig in.
PRES. BARACK OBAMA: Here's what we know: The Republicans in the House passed a budget that has been now rejected in the Senate. They are not going to get 100 percent of what they want.
MR. TODD: Democrats want the president to fight with them, but so far they say he's remained on the sidelines. With us, one of the lead budget negotiators for the Democrats in the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York.
Then, could this finally be the unofficial start of the 2012 campaign?
FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R-PA): We will reclaim this land, and we will make it greater and greater and greater.
FMR. REP. NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA): Nothing we have seen in our lifetime is comparable to the level of depth we have to go to get this country back on the right track.
MR. TODD: Our exclusive guest this morning, another potential 2012 candidate and a governor on the front lines of the budget battles happening across the country, Mitch Daniels of Indiana.
Plus, insights from this very busy political week. With us, political reporter for The Washington Post, Dan Balz, and host of NPR's "All Things Considered," Michele Norris.
And finally, we remember a very familiar face on this program for the last 45 years, The Washington Post's David Broder.
Announcer: From NBC News in Washington, MEET THE PRESS with David Gregory. Substituting today, Chuck Todd.
MR. TODD: Good morning.
MR. CHUCK TODD: It's been 48 hours since the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and massive tsunami rocked Japan. The death toll officially now is around 1,400, but officials fear at least 10,000 could be dead in flooded areas in the northeastern region of the country. Search and rescue
operations continue. Millions are without power, hundreds of thousands in temporary shelters.
And on top of all that horrible news, increasing fears of a growing nuclear crisis and the threat of nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, where yesterday an explosion occurred at the power plant's unit one reactor, and officials say that an explosion could occur at unit three, which may already be officially in partial meltdown. We have all aspects of this developing story covered this morning. We're going to get an official update from Japan's ambassador to the United States in a moment, as well as analysis about nuclear concerns on
the ground from the president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, Marvin Fertel.
But first we're going to go live to Tokyo, where NBC's Lester Holt joins us for the very latest.
Lester, tell us what's going on on the ground right now with rescue efforts.
LESTER HOLT reporting:
Well, Chuck, I can tell you, this is truly a three-pronged disaster. You noted it's a 9.0 earthquake. The U.S. Geological Survey had listed as 8.9; today the officials here, the Japanese, did their own analysis and determined it was 9.0.
On the ground, a very difficult search and rescue effort right now. There are areas still cut off by the floodwaters and the tsunami. There are reports of as many as--in one town, as many as 10,000 people missing. And that's why one official today said the death toll could go to
So while they deal with this massive cleanup and recovery and rescue operation, there is the nuclear disaster, the third prong of all this. Two of the reactors at this power plant have experienced what they believe are partial meltdowns, maybe in the process of that. Some
escaping of, of radioactivity, although the amount was less today, they said, in the measurements. A third reactor at that site still had risk of perhaps an explosion. How this all plays out in terms of the danger to the area, officials still have a 20-kilometer exclusion zone. That's about 12.4 miles, an area they've evacuated, involving over 200,000 people. Others nearby are being told to stay indoors, to keep wet cloths over their face, to seal their doors. We talked to someone who flew in here tonight on a Delta Airlines flight and say their pilot made an announcement that they were circling--or flying around that area en route to Tokyo, had been instructed to fly around the area where there might be this release of radioactivity. Scientists are all debating exactly what's going on. The main problem is these reactor cores, the system that was meant to cool them in a loss of power has failed. So, in that one reactor, they've actually been pumping seawater in a last-ditch effort to try and cool the temperature of the core before it begins to melt through the casing and suffer what is referred to as a meltdown.
There's plenty of relief getting into the country from the U.S. and other places. American warships off coast now are beginning to ferry supplies and relief into the area. American bases here are also supplying helicopters and personnel. This is going to be a very, very difficult
several days and weeks and obviously months to come, Chuck, as they try and get a handle exactly where the victims are, how to get to them and bring them to safety.
MR. TODD: All right. It's nightfall now in Tokyo, Japan. Lester Holt, thank you very much.
MR. CHUCK TODD: We turn now to the Japanese ambassador to the United States, Ichiro Fujisaki.
Ambassador, welcome to MEET THE PRESS. I want to start with the prime minister of Japan, just gave a speech to your nation, calling this the worst crisis since World War II. What else did the prime minister say?
AMB. ICHIRO FUJISAKI: Yes. First, thank you very much for having me. And yes, prime minister just spoke, and he said this is the worst challenge that Japanese people have to face, but we have to work together to cope with the situation so that we can overcome the situation. And he's on top of the situation for--since it started.
MR. TODD: What can you tell us about rescue efforts right now? I know there's been a lot of concern about the inability to get to some parts of the affected areas.
AMB. FUJISAKI: You're right. In this situation, there are three things most important. One, search and rescue, human lives is the most important thing. Second, we have to avoid that sort of secondary accidents, incidents. Third, we have to supply basic human needs--food,
water and housing, and other things--to those who have been suffering. And rescue search is most important, and we are mobilizing almost all the forces we have. What's, what's...
MR. TODD: Is that enough? Is that enough? Do you need more from the United States? Do you need more from the world?
AMB. FUJISAKI: We are very happy that United States is helping us. Your U.S. forces have been sending, for example, the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan up to the region and supplying food, emergency food to the region. As for rescue, our self-defense force--half of our self-defense force is mobilized in order to cope with the situation. Up till yesterday it was a quarter of, but now it's half.
MR. TODD: Let's talk about the situation with the nuclear reactor and this fear of a partial meltdown. First of all, what is the government saying at this point? Is it a partial meltdown?
AMB. FUJISAKI: No. There's two types of problem here. One is that within the container there's too much pressure, so we have to take out vapor through a filter.
MR. TODD: Mm-hmm.
AMB. FUJISAKI: The--that's one of the issue that some of the reactors are facing. The other is that because it's, it's heating up, we have to put in water. And we, we do not have enough clear water, so we're putting in seawater as well to cool down. So there are two types of
measures we are taking to different reactors. Now...
MR. TODD: Now, I want to talk, talk on the seawater...
AMB. FUJISAKI: Yes.
MR. TODD: ...because there's been some concern that that is, that is basically a desperate attempt here at this point. So is that a fair, fair way to describe it?
AMB. FUJISAKI: I do not know if you call it a desperate, but we have tried to take other measures. But now we think this is the right and--result to do that.
Now, as for what you call meltdown, it is true that part of fuel rod may have been deformed or melting. But it is not the situation where the core reactor, substantial part of reactor is melting down. And it is far from what you call a--the total symptom of melting down. We are trying to avoid that.
MR. TODD: Right.
AMB. FUJISAKI: And because--to do that, we are putting in water or trying to take out vapor.
MR. TODD: I understand that. How do you assess the risks right now to
the population in that area?
AMB. FUJISAKI: The--we're trying to make it a minimal. However, we have to be--take a--the precautions. So that is why government has ordered up to those people within the radius of 20 kilometers, 10 kilometers to move out.
MR. TODD: Right. About 13 miles, right?
AMB. FUJISAKI: Yes. And it's more than 200,000 people moving out of that region. It's a sizeable number. But in order to take the--at most precaution, that is the--we have to take quick action, we have to take a most cautious attitude, and also we have to mobilize all of our forces. These are the principles in meeting with these great challenge that we're
MR. TODD: Mr. Ambassador, how can folks watching help? What's the best
way to help?
AMB. FUJISAKI: This is the biggest challenge that we have faced, as prime minister said, but at the same time, we are so gratified that the international community is helping us. About 70 countries in the international organizations have said they would extending their help.
And United States is, as I said, is using their forces in Japan, sending air freight carrier and sending rescue teams, as well. And within the rescue team, there are experts of a nuclear reactor as well. And dogs and rescue teams are arising--arriving from many countries, regions. And I think we would be very gratified to accept these helping hands from the
MR. TODD: All right. Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, I know these are tough times for you and your family and your country, and we thank you for spending a few minutes with us this morning.
AMB. FUJISAKI: Thank you very much for having me, and I'd like to extend my gratitude on behalf of people and government of Japan to all the Americans who are with us and who are thinking of Japan and trying to extend help to us. Thank you very much.
MR. TODD: Thank you.
MR. CHUCK TODD: All right. For more on what a nuclear meltdown could mean for Japan and the rest of the world, we turn to the president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, Marvin Fertel. He's been responsible for heading up the organization's nuclear safety programs and has been in the industry for more than 35 years.
Mr. Fertel, welcome to MEET THE PRESS. I understand that you represent the industry's interests in this, but I want to start with what exactly happened with this reactor. We have a graphic of what happened. We know the reactor shut down, but the earthquake also cut off power and, therefore, made it so that there was no mechanism to cool the reactor. Explain some more.
MR. MARVIN FERTEL: OK. Well, good morning, Chuck, and I'm pleased to be here. And let me just take a second and tell the people of Japan that we--they have our sympathy and our support and also that we appreciate very much what the workers at Fukushima are doing to protect people off site. So your question, specifically--actually, after the earthquake, it appeared that everything worked like it should, and the diesels kicked on, and they were actually cooling the core, doing what they needed to do to keep the reactor under control and get to safe shutdown. We think that the tsunami then caused more damage and cut off their ability to continue to cool the core. So the reactor shut down safely. They did, they did get cooling going, and then they lost it about an hour later.
MR. TODD: Explain complete meltdown vs. partial meltdown and how much fear do you have watching this that we're going to see a complete meltdown.
MR. FERTEL: Well, what you're talking about is fuel damage. And as the fuel gets damaged, it gets hotter and hotter, and you begin to melt some of the fuel. To put it in some perspective, at Three Mile Island, which was the worst accident we ever had, about half of the core melted, so about 50 percent. It resulted in the machine never operating again. It
resulted in no releases off-site that threatened anybody. So you can have fuel melt, and if the rest of your safely systems, your containment works and your primary system works, and you manage to keep the reactor under control, the dangers for public health and safety are really minimal. And that's the thing the Japanese are trying to do right now.
MR. TODD: And we have a couple of nuclear power plants in earthquake zones, or at least in California. Is there a concern--should Americans be concerned about the fact that these power plants are sitting in earthquake zones? Are they safe?
MR. FERTEL: Yeah. All of our power plants, whether they're in California, which is a high earthquake area, or in the Midwest or other places, are required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to design to be able to withstand a maximum credible earthquake, and the NRC continues to update and upgrade what the requirements are.
MR. TODD: And you said post-9/11 that there were some extra upgrades put in to make sure that, that these nuclear plants could handle a total power shutdown, correct?
MR. FERTEL: Yeah. We, we've done things post-9/11 to make sure that if something happened to our plant, like happened in Japan, where you lost all power, that you could get water to the core and continue to cool it. That's correct.
MR. TODD: And before we go, how much--when will we know if they have the situation under control in Japan?
MR. FERTEL: I--it's going to probably still be days. They're doing everything in their power--I heard the ambassador. I'm sure our country is helping them. We, we stand ready to help in ny way we can as an ndustry in this country and I think in days, but I think they're doing verything remarkably well.
MR. TODD: Marvin Fertel of the Nuclear Energy Institute, thanks for coming in on short notice. Thanks for your expertise.
MR. FERTEL: Thank you, Chuck.
MR. TODD: All right.
MR. CHUCK TODD: Well, we're going to turn now to the senior senator from New York, Democrat Chuck Schumer.
Welcome back to MEET THE PRESS, Senator Schumer.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Good morning, Chuck.
MR. TODD: I want to ask, I want to ask you about nuclear power. Just in January, you had been inching toward being in support of expanding nuclear power in this country. You said quote, "It makes a great deal of sense. It's clean, and now it's pretty safe." Watching everything unfolding, do you still feel that way?
SEN. SCHUMER: Well, we're going to have to see what happens here. Obviously, it's still, still things are happening. But the bottom line is we do have to free ourselves of independence from foreign oil. In the other half of the globe, Libya, showed that. Prices are up, our
economy is being hurt by it or could be hurt by it. So I'm still willing to look at nuclear. As I've always said, it has to be done safely and carefully.
MR. TODD: Senator, I want to turn to the budget debate. We know that there is a new short-term continuing resolution to keep the government open. The current one expires this Friday. House Republicans have put one out. A lot of Democrats have signed on. I just want to confirm your--you approve of this new short-term three week budget resolutionthat the House Republicans have put out.
SEN. SCHUMER: Yes. And it gives me some cause for optimism that we can finish this CR, the remaining six months, pretty well. There were negotiations between the president, Senate Democrats, House Republicans. And the proposal that was made, I'm, I'm for it. It takes cuts that Democrats have proposed.
MR. TODD: Right.
SEN. SCHUMER: Cuts that get rid of fat, but don't hit into the muscle the way HR-1 did, and it leaves out all these extraneous riders on things like abortion, global warming, other things that would cause all kinds--make it far more difficult to get to a budget decision.
MR. TODD: Senator, there's been a lot of criticism of a lot of players in this budget debate. Let me play you a clip of Senator Claire McCaskill who was not happy about the Senate Democrat proposal that was put out earlier this week. Here's what she had to say.
SEN. CLAIRE McCASKILL (D-MO): I still think that there are way too many people in denial around here about the nature of the problem and how serious it is. And I don't think we're demonstrating to the American people that we understand the nature of the problem when we present an alternative proposal with such a small number of cuts.
MR. TODD: Who is she referring to when she says there are too many folks around here that are in denial? Is she referring to you, Harry Reid, the more liberal members of your caucus?
SEN. SCHUMER: Claire McCaskill has, God bless her, she has been out there long before this election talking about budget cuts. And House Democrats, Senate Democrats, have moved in her direction. The McCaskill-Sessions Bill we supported last year, late last year, it didn't get enacted. The bottom line is this, though: Claire McCaskill voted against HR-1, as did every other Democrat--that's the Republican proposal--because I think we're united in one thing: We should make significant cuts, absolutely, we need to, but we can't cut into our seed corn. We can't cut into the things that help America grow and create jobs like education or cancer research or food safety, things like that. And I think what you're finding, Chuck, is you're going to find a turning point here. Now that every Democrat has rejected HR-1 and it clearly doesn't have the votes to pass the Senate, the ball shifts to Speaker Boehner. We've put some cuts on the table. We're willing to put more. But they have not said a single place where they would move off HR-1, and now it can't pass. So, actually, the action in the next week or two will occur behind the scenes. Speaker Boehner will have to meet with these 87 freshman Republicans.
MR. TODD: Right.
SEN. SCHUMER: Some have said they won't budge. But if they don't, he may have to make a coalition with some Democrats in the House because it's clear HR-1 can't pass, we have to go somewhat further than what we've gone, and we are willing to be reasonable and meet in the middle as long as it doesn't cut the kinds of things that help America grow. Because the American people gave us two missions: Cut unnecessary programs, but grow the economy and create jobs. We think we can do both. We think HR-1 only focuses on one.
MR. TODD: We are in our third set of short-term budget expansion--extensions here. Are you OK if, if you can't get a deal by April 8th, which is when the next continuing resolution would end, the next time we can see a government shutdown. Are you OK with another short-term, or is that it? Because Harry Reid had said last week, no more short-terms, and then all of a sudden you guys are saying, "OK, we'll take one more short-term." Is this it? Last one?
SEN. SCHUMER: Well, as I said, this short-term CR does meet our basic criteria--the president and the Senate Democrats--which is: Cut the waste, cut inefficiency, but don't cut the seed corn. And by the way, just parenthetically, the tsunami shows that as well. We proposed
cutting some earmarks out of the funding of NOAA, which has the regulation and watching out for tsunamis. They cut so much out of NOAA, which funds the tsunami warning center, that there would have to be furloughs there.
MR. TODD: Right.
SEN. SCHUMER: So we are sticking to where we're at. This short-term CR moved us in that direction, but now we should negotiate one for the rest of the year. We only have six months left. The president, Senate Democrats, House Republicans are sitting down and negotiating, and we should get it done already. You can't fund a business two weeks at a time.
MR. TODD: Right.
SEN. SCHUMER: You can't fund a government two weeks at a time.
MR. TODD: Senator, has the president done enough? I know behind-the-scenes that the relationship between you and the White House has been somewhat rocky during the lame duck and it's up and down. Has the president been involved enough?
SEN. SCHUMER: Oh, yes. First, I talk to the White House every day. We are talking to one another. We're not always on the same page, but we usually are. And the overall goal, again, cutting waste, using a smart short scalpel but not a meat ax. Senate Democrats and the president are on the same page, and I think we're moving in that direction. I'm optimistic that we can get there, particularly based on the negotiations and what happened in the short-term CR, which is something that we could support.
MR. TODD: And very quickly, on Libya, the Arab League has called on the United Nations to call for a no-fly zone over Libya. Are you supportive of a no-fly zone and should the U.S. Senate be put on the record on this? Do you believe that before the president agrees to anything that Congress should have a say?
SEN. SCHUMER: Well, I certainly think the Arab League's decision makes a no-fly zone more likely. I think the president's handling it very well, not taking a military option off the table, but being careful. We've learned in the past when we go in militarily there are all kinds of other
types of consequences, and at the same time, it's much better to do it in a multilateral way, with all the nations of the world on board, rather than do it unilaterally. The Arab League, NATO will get on board, and I think it makes a no-fly zone much more like to happen shortly.
MR. TODD: Does Congress have to have a say?
SEN. SCHUMER: I don't--I believe on these we should defer to the commander in chief on short-term immediate situations like this.
MR. TODD: All right. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, Democrat from New York, thanks very much for being on MEET THE PRESS.
SEN. SCHUMER: Thank you, Chuck. Nice to be with you.
MR. TODD: All right. Up next, the 2012 presidential campaign unofficially gets off the ground, with potential Republican contenders making stops in the key states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina all this week, all against the backdrop of a heated budget battle in
Washington and in the state Houses across the country. We're going to talk to a man on the front lines of these battles, and he's a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate himself, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.
MR. TODD: Coming up, we'll speak to potential 2012 candidate and a man on the front lines of the budget battles in his home state of Indiana, Republican Governor Mitch Daniels, up next after this brief commercial break.
MR. CHUCK TODD: Joining me now, the Republican governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels.
Welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.
GOV. MITCH DANIELS (R-IN): Chuck.
MR. TODD: All right. Well, I saw welcome back because you've been here before as budget director. And, in fact, it is as budget director I want to ask you something. During your confirmation hearings--we were talking about these budget shutdowns--you had talked about that you wanted to see some way to sort of change the way so that, that, that there wasn't
politics being used--the government shutdowns weren't being used as political leverage. And you also referred to riders this way, you said, "so that there aren't things like extraneous measures that could otherwise upset the normal appropriations process." We're watching that
right now. Is this the type of things you were warning about? And on these riders, are epublicans in the wrong for attaching these things right now?
GOV. DANIELS: You probably think I'm paying more attention to this than I am, Chuck, and your memory is a little better than mine. But, yeah, I think probably, as a general rule, it, it is better practice to do the people's business, try to concentrate on making ends meet, which
Washington obviously has failed to do for a long time, and, and have other policy debates in other places if you can.
MR. TODD: So your advice to Speaker Boehner would be, "You know what, we've made some political points here, but take these riders out. Take these political--have--save it for another part of the discussion."
GOV. DANIELS: He doesn't need any advice but me, but I would, I would simply say this: The financial and fiscal problems facing this country are of a level that, I believe, threatens, not just our prosperity, but the survival of our republic. And really, I'm hoping and I--that the
Congress and the administration will engage very seriously. I mean, to see them arguing over nickels and dimes like this is--especially from the vantage point of people who are making big changes to make end meet--in state Houses seems a little--it's almost comic.
MR. TODD: I want to go to the debt ceiling because in, in, the first time you were on MEET THE PRESS, you were asked about the debt ceiling, the fact that it needed to be raised. This was in June of 2002. You said it's a responsible government--what a responsible government must do. And you said, "You know, what, it's really a housekeeping matter." That's about to come up in about six to eight weeks.
GOV. DANIELS: Yeah.
MR. TODD: We don't know the exact time when it's going to happen here. Do you still think it's a housekeeping matter?
GOV. DANIELS: Well, less, less so now that we've doubled and we're on our way to tripling the national debt. And so it's a heck of a lot more serious than it was back then. But it is certainly true that these debt ceilings are rearview mirror exercises in paying for the, as I would see it, excesses of, of recent years. And at some stage you have to do it and honor the country's obligations. But I definitely think, in the really critical fiscal corner we've painted ourselves into, it's entirely appropriate to use that moment to surface these issues. And I hope for some leverage to get some real change and not just cosmetic.
MR. TODD: Did your former boss, President Bush, make a mistake about not trying to pay for the wars in some form of another, asking for some temporary tax hikes, if necessary, to pay for the wars? Or to pay for the prescription drug benefit? Because, obviously, you were there when, when the debt also went up, when the deficit went up. And it was because, among other things, those two things were not paid for then.
GOV. DANIELS: Well, we'll never know. If you'd done that and you'd hurt the economy, you'd have had less revenue than, than you expected, maybe less than you had, anyway. You know, by 2007, the deficit was tiny compared to now. It was well under 2 percent of GDP. So we would love, wouldn't we, to be back to that level now. So...
MR. TODD: But you're an executive now. If you--you believe in paying for things. If you are going to offer something, you should pay for it.
GOV. DANIELS: Yeah, don't offer what you can't pay for. That'd be a good principle to return to in the federal government.
MR. TODD: So the prescription drug benefit probably shouldn't have been offered without being paid for.
GOV. DANIELS: Well, it's cost a whole lot less than anybody thought. But it is part--there's no question--it is part of the biggest problem we face, which isn't even these massive annual deficits we're running, it's the unaffordable promises we have made to--in what we call the
MR. TODD: All right, let's talk about your record as governor of Indiana. I want to put up a basic thing here on jobs. When you took office, the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent. Now it's 9.1 percent. When you took office, nearly three million Indianan--Hoosiers were
employed, now it's 2.8. I say this--so it's a loss of 144,000 jobs. I say this because you have made a huge effort to pay down the state's debt, to really pinch the budget down. But that has--job creation hasn't come with it. And we've heard arguments among Republicans here in
Washington and across these statehouses that you shrink government, it will create jobs. When did--we're not seeing evidence of that in Indiana.
GOV. DANIELS: You could put up that same graphic for probably 48 or 49 states in America. A national, catastrophic recession will do that to you. Before that recession started, we were at essentially full employment. It was well below what it had been when we got there. But,
listen, you do what you can do. On every measure--everybody's survey, everybody's rating--of a great place to invest and do business and create jobs, Indiana is now in the top tier. It's the only state anywhere in our neighborhood. It's basically us and a few Sunbelt western states. And that's what government can do, create the best conditions you can. But just as tsunamis overwhelm the best preparations, so do economic tidal waves like the one that we experienced and which we're still recovering from.
MR. TODD: All right, I want to talk about what we saw--look at these pictures yesterday in Wisconsin. There were massive protests about these--this battle in Wisconsin, Republican Governor Scott Walker. He has won the legislative battle. He got what he wanted, he passed this. You made a decision on similar legislation. It wasn't quite with collective bargaining with public employees. This had to do with a right-to-work legislation, and you said something interesting. You said you chose not to pick this fight because you didn't campaign on it. And
you believed if you hadn't made a case to voters about right-to-work legislation that you shouldn't be trying to do it once you've--in office and in the legislative session. Governor Walker, do you think, lose the political fight here?
GOV. DANIELS: I have no way of knowing. I think the taxpayers of Wisconsin won. Seems to me that he committed to do the sorts of things he's trying to do, and we ought to--agree or disagree with people--we ought to respect them when they do try to live up to their words. But...
MR. TODD: But he didn't campaign on the, on the collective bargaining aspect of this. He campaigned on asking public employees to contribute more, but he didn't campaign on that aspect. Do you think that was a mistake?
GOV. DANIELS: I don't know. But I would say that from our own experience that if you have a serious fiscal problem, which we did six years ago and don't today, that having the flexibility to manage government, not only to save money, but to serve people better--and I could illustrate this in a hundred ways--is pretty important. And before we discontinued government union collective bargaining in Indiana, you really couldn't make any of the changes.
MR. TODD: Do you not believe in collective bargaining?
GOV. DANIELS: I do believe in collective bargaining in the private sector. And--but only within very...
MR. TODD: You don't believe public employees should have it.
GOV. DANIELS: Don't take it from me. Some of the greatest defenders and champions of labor--Samuel Gompers, George Meade, Franklin Delano Roosevelt--said it had no place in government. Now, it's there now in a very big way. In a, I think a very cynical fashion, it tilts our politics, and so I think there are very serious problems with it. But, you know, I would just say, it's not just about saving money. The Indiana experience says it's also about serving the public better.
MR. TODD: All right. I want to move to presidential politics a little bit and the...
GOV. DANIELS: Do we have to?
MR. TODD: ...and the Republican Party--oh, do we have to?
GOV. DANIELS: Mm-hmm.
MR. TODD: We'll twist your arm, we'll talk about that in a minute.
GOV. DANIELS: Yeah. Yeah.
MR. TODD: Somebody's been twisting your arm, clearly, there.
GOV. DANIELS: Right.
MR. TODD: I want to go to your comments about calling a truce on social issues. One thing that's happened with your comments is that it's certainly made some folks pay attention. This week in Iowa you had a few critics about calling for a truce on social issues. Take a listen.
MR. RALPH REED: You know, some have suggested that we call a truce on the social and moral issues. I don't know about you, but I seem to remember Ronald Reagan fighting and winning the Cold War at the very time that he was restoring values and growing the economy.
SEN. SANTORUM: ...these moral issues that everyone says, "Oh, maybe we should set to the side and have a truce on." You can't. It is who we are. It is the purpose of our country.
MR. TODD: Look, you have a great political mind. You were in--you were one of the--in the political shop in Ronald Reagan's presidency. Let's be purely pragmatic here. Can a Republican running for president ignore social issues and succeed in Iowa, in South Carolina?
GOV. DANIELS: I don't know. I--you know, I don't sit around calculating the political pluses and minuses of every little word I utter. I've--just sort of tell people what I think makes sense, and I'm prepared to respect disagreements. I don't have any disagreements with these
folks. I happen to share their views, and I respect their passion. You know, some of it, however, Chuck, comes to this: Are you more committed to results or to rhetoric? And in pursuit of the results that matter, that I think are fully consistent with a commitment to limited government and individual liberty and freedom in this country, I think we're going to have to do some very, very big things. We're going to have to make changes, at least moving forward, that will permit us to maintain a growing economy and the American dream of upward mobility for folks at the bottom. And we're going to have to get together people who disagree on other things. That's all I've said. So I respect those who disagree. And it's ironic because, as the record will show, I've done the things that they say they'd like to do.
MR. TODD: Let's get to your own future. In fact, politically you had said you weren't going to have another future. Take a look.
(Videotape, Mitch Daniel's political ad)
GOV. DANIELS: Whatever your outlook on politics, here's some good news. This is the last time you'll have to watch me in an ad like this. See, governor's the only office I'd run for, or ever will.
MR. TODD: Is that ad going to be out of date and a lie by the time the Iowa caucuses come in January or February?
GOV. DANIELS: Well, I'm not sure. I, I wrote it, as I wrote, I guess, almost all my own stuff, and I meant it, every word of it. And others have said over the course of the last year and a half that I ought to consider something that never entered my mind. I've agreed to consider
MR. TODD: What's your time--what, what's the latest you think you can enter this race, in your mind, you know? I know you don't want other people setting deadlines, but what's your own deadline?
GOV. DANIELS: People have been asking me that question for over a year now, and they always thought the deadline was immediate. And here we are in the middle of March. I think it's a blissful occurrence that the darn thing hasn't started two years ahead of time. So I don't know. I will tell you...
MR. TODD: Can you wait all summer?
GOV. DANIELS: I have no idea. I will tell you this. I am completely committed to the job I'm in now.
MR. TODD: Sure.
GOV. DANIELS: We're trying to do some very exciting things in Indiana to make our state better, and that comes first. And if, if deadlines pass, they do.
MR. TODD: Quickly, you had said the field has--"the pickings are slim" when you were describing the field. Do you still feel right now, in what you've seen out there, that the pickings are slim in the Republican race?
GOV. DANIELS: Well, I said if people were talking about me, then the pickings must be slim. And, you know, I, I still think there's time. And there's some really good people running. I like them all.
MR. TODD: Mm-hmm.
GOV. DANIELS: And, you know, I'm hoping that our party will simply step up to the issues of the day. And it could be any one of those folks.
MR. TODD: Very quickly, Senator Lugar, your friend, Indiana senator, senior senator, running for a seventh term. I know you've said you were going to vote for him. Are you supporting him? Are you going to endorse him? Will you do whatever he asks you to do in his re-election effort? And he's facing a primary challenge from a state office holder and a tea
GOV. DANIELS: Yeah. Who's a good friend of mine, by the way, and been a good ally. But, no, I'm for Dick Lugar. He's the role model I've had in politics for a long time.
MR. TODD: You'll appear for him, if he asks?
GOV. DANIELS: Well, I've never intervened in primaries. I'm not sure what good it would do if I did. But folks in Indiana know that, that I am for him, and that I admire him, and think if he wants another term, he ought to have it.
MR. TODD: Well, we are packed this show. I wish we had more time. Governor Mitch Daniels, thank you for coming on MEET THE PRESS.
GOV. DANIELS: Good being with you.
MR. TODD: All right.
Well, it was a busy political week, as potential Republican candidates were all over the place, making the rounds in the key states. They were out testing their message, wooing activists, and already making some early mistakes. We're going to break it all down with our political roundtable: The Washington Post's Dan Balz and NPR's Michele Norris. And then, a special tribute to a dear friend here at MEET THE PRESS.
MR. CHUCK TODD: And we are back with our roundtable, host of NPR's "All Things Considered" Michele Norris and, of course, political reporter from Washington Post--grand poo-bah, I like to call him sometimes--Dan Balz.
Dan Balz, what did you hear from Mitch Daniels? Is that a candidate for president of the United States?
MR. DAN BALZ: Well, Governor Daniels is very interesting. This is a potential candidate who knows what he wants to say if he runs, he's just not sure if he wants to run. And I think you found, as others have who have talked with him, that he has a certain enthusiasm for delivering the message about the fiscal peril that he sees the country in. But he's got some other decisions he's got to make before he knows whether he's going to run. Some of those having to do with family, some of them having to do with just what you go through with the process, some of them I think with whether he has the driving ambition or the fire in the belly, as we say. And I think that those are questions that only he can answer.
MR. TODD: You know, Michele Norris, it's been interesting at the White House, they are shocked--David Plouffe, those guys, David Axelrod, and the ones that are going to run the president's re-election--they are shocked that some of these bigger candidates who are thinking about running haven't gotten in yet. Because they say if they hadn't gotten in
early, they never would've been the nominee, that they needed the work, frankly. At some point...
MS. MICHELE NORRIS: And they don't know who to position themselves with.
MR. TODD: Yeah. Well, forget that, but it's like they're surprised. Are these Republicans making a mistake by waiting too long?
MS. NORRIS: Well, time will tell. I mean, we, we frankly don't know if they're losing an opportunity to get their ground game together, to develop their message, to allow voters to get to know a candidate and, and really vet them. Because part of what Obama went through, it wasn't just the ground game that they put together, voters had a good long time
to vet a candidate who was unusual and historic...
MR. TODD: Sure.
MS. NORRIS: ...and someone that they weren't used to seeing in lots of ways. So, you know--and when you talk to Republican operatives, there are a lot of people that are sitting on the, on the sidelines right now trying to figure out who they're going to work for, who they're going to sign up for. I mean, we saw big news this, this week in Iowa with a candidate who helped launch Mike Huckabee's very successful Iowa campaign, you know, finally getting into the game and, and actually moving with another candidate.
MR. TODD: And going with somebody else.
MS. NORRIS: Yeah. But it, it, it is really interesting to see this, that, you know, that this--last time we thought it was too early.
MR. TODD: Right. And this time it feels too late.
MS. NORRIS: And now this, now, you know, it's...
MR. TODD: What--you know, but it's funny about the early subject, we do have some candidates who are trying to get their baggage out of the way. Newt Gingrich this week, Dan Balz, tried to explain--he went on a Christian Broadcasting Network to try to explain the infidelity, the three marriages a little bit, and tried to explain why it happened. And he blamed it partially on his drive at work, the drive that he had in Washington, how passionate he felt, and it made him ignore, I guess, his home life. Is that, is that going to work as a mea culpa?
MR. BALZ: I'm not sure that that's the last word we've heard from former Speaker Gingrich about his personal life. I think this will be something that will come up again and again and again.
MR. TODD: He's clearly trying to deal with it early.
MR. BALZ: Well, he clearly is and I, and I think all smart candidates try to take negatives off the table as early as they can. But voters begin to pay attention at different times. And so this, this that he said this week goes to a very small audience. There's a much larger and more important audience, and that's the voters who will begin to hear it at a much later time, and then we'll have to see, particularly in a state like Iowa where religious conservatives are an important part of the caucus process. We'll see whether that explanation works for them.
MR. TODD: Arguably, it didn't work for Rudy...
MS. NORRIS: You know, as you were saying that, I was thinking about those big mega churches in Iowa...
MR. BALZ: Right.
MS. NORRIS: ...and, you know, how he's going to sell himself. So...
MR. BALZ: Right.
MR. TODD: And Rudy Giuliani never really recovered from the issue of the same thing, the three marriages and the very public infidelity.
Michele Norris, I want to read you a quote--it's unbelievable--from Michele Bachmann this weekend in New Hampshire. It--clearly she seems to be leaning a little bit more into this idea of running for president. But she went up there and she says, "What I love about New Hampshire and what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty. You're the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord." Well, that's the state now where the historic gaffe on the Bachmann campaign was heard around the world. You know, how serious are Republicans...
MS. NORRIS: And not, not, not the first one at all.
MR. TODD: Yeah. She's had a series of these. Is she ready for prime time?
MS. NORRIS: The voters are the ones who have to decide that. And, you know, it's really interesting because, despite the gaffes, despite the fact that there are a lot of people who seem willing to dismiss her, there are a lot of people who also embrace her and her enthusiasm. She picked up a little bit of support in Iowa this week. She's from, you know, we're looking at Iowa first because it's, you know, it's where the starting gun goes off.
MR. TODD: Sure. Supposed to be first. We'll find out when.
MS. NORRIS: It's supposed to be first, you're right. But she comes from a neighboring state and among the growing but sort of loosely organized tea party federation in the state. They, they look at her and they see someone--they like her fighting spirit. But we live in difficult times. There are big budget issues, the economy is still stumbling, and people might like what they hear in terms of fighting spirit; but, in the end, you know, the measure that most voters are likely to reach for are who is going to right the economy, who's going to keep the country...
MR. TODD: Dan Balz, we know there isn't a front-runner in the same way that there's been front-runners in the past, but if there is a front-runner, it is Mitt Romney. And one way that I think you and I both notice that he's a front-runner was probably last night at the Gridiron, everybody took shots at Mitt Romney, whether it was Mitch Daniels, whether it was about--President Obama.
MR. BALZ: That's true.
MR. TODD: About the fact that, you know, Mitt Romney was debating Mitt Romney, or I think the president had the governor of Massachusetts and the former presidential candidate share the same host body. Mitt Romney really does have this perception problem that he's going to have to square at some point if he's going to stay the front-runner.
MR. BALZ: I, I sat down with two different groups of Republican activists in Iowa last month, and they see in Mitt Romney the ingredients that they're looking for somebody to take on the economy. They think he has the experience to do that. He fits that mold. But they are not sure that they trust him. And I think it is a hangover from the last campaign, and it's something that the minute he gets into this and voters begin to size him up, that's the question that they're going to be asking themselves: Do I trust this person?
MR. TODD: Michele, I want to ask you about another topic that came up this week at the organization you work at.
MS. NORRIS: Yes.
MR. TODD: Now, you have signed a letter basically denouncing what some of these executives did at NPR, the stuff that was caught on tape. Explain why or why not NPR should get federal funding at this point. And, frankly, are you expecting that you're going to be dealing in a
world where they're not going to have it?
MS. NORRIS: Well, it--let me take the first question first. You said explain why NPR should get federal funding. Many people want to make this about NPR, that it's just about NPR. We're talking about the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It's bigger than NPR. NPR is a, a series of member stations, but it's also about public television. And it's also about small stations in particular. And when--what was stated by Ron Schiller was an opinion, and it very quickly turned into something that is fact, that NPR could live without federal funding. It is not established fact. One in five of the member stations receive 25 percent of their revenue from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting. These are small stations where people don't necessarily have access to news because a lot of the news stations and radio have fallen away. Take the state of Indiana. We just heard from Governor Daniels. If public broadcasting
went away, there are people in small towns, small stations, that would not have access to news. Not just about international news, but news about the statehouse.
MR. TODD: Right.
MS. NORRIS: You know, we are strong, we are committed to providing excellent journalism. And, at the end of the day, that is how we will be judged.
MR. TODD: We've got to remember. All right. We're going to have to take a break. Leave it right there.
Up next, we're going to remember a dear friend to this program here at MEET THE PRESS, The Washington Post's David Broder. He passed away this week at the age of 81. He appeared on this program as a panelist and roundtable member a record 401 times.
MR. CHUCK TODD: And we're back. And we wanted to spend some time remembering a great friend to this program over the last 45 years, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and one of the most respected political reporters in our time, David Broder, who died this week at the age of 81. He was fixture here on MEET THE PRESS. He holds the record, by far, for the most show appearances, 401. That's eight years over his remarkable career. The first was on July 7th, 1963. And to mark the program's 60th anniversary in 2007, he spoke to the late Tim Russert about that first appearance.
(Videotape, July 15, 2007)
MR. TIM RUSSERT: Were you nervous?
MR. DAVID BRODER: I was terrified and nervous.
RUSSERT: You were 33 years old.
Mr. BRODER: And I had met Betty Dukert, who was the producer of the program, at a couple of press conferences. And I was astonished when she called and said we'd like you to be on the panel of questioners. And I thought, "What a break!"
MR. TODD: A break that turned into a remarkable run.
(Videotape, July 7, 1963)
Mr. BRODER: Senator, Barry Goldwater has been in the Senate now about 10 years, a little better than 10 years. Has he accomplished anything there that you think is particularly noteworthy?
MR. TODD: From that first appearance, what started out as terror quickly turned into tenacity as he earned a reputation for asking some of the toughest questions.
(Videotape, December 15, 1974)
Mr. BRODER: Why does the governor of Georgia, after two years in office, decide four years in advance that he's going run for president of the United States?
MR. TODD: But it was this exchange with presidential hopeful and Texas businessman Ross Perot in 1993 that Broder later said stood out as one of his most memorable here.
(Videotape, August 1, 1993)
MR. BRODER: Mr. Perot, when I was coming on this program, a friend of mine said, "Why bother? He never gives you a specific answer." I want you to prove him wrong and help me win a bet. In your budget, you have $141 billion of savings on Medicare and Medicaid programs.
MR. ROSS PEROT: Mm-hmm.
MR. BRODER: How do you get it?
MR. PEROT: Well, if you had told me that you wanted that, I would have had come in with a very detailed list and given it to you.
MR. BRODER: In two months you haven't felt like you need to take up that challenge?
MR. PEROT: Yes, I have. I have it all written down, and I didn't bring with it me. And if you wanted it, if you had asked me to bring it, I would have been glad to.
MR. BRODER: Mr. Perot, do you...
MR. PEROT: Now, let's go, wait just a minute...
MR. BRODER: Do you think I've won the bet or lost the bet at this point?
MR. PEROT: What was the bet?
MR. BRODER: Whether--that I could not get you to give me a specific answer.
MR. TODD: And sometimes the simplest questions were the hardest.
(Videotape, December 13, 1987)
MR. BRODER: What percentage of Americans do you think are without health insurance coverage?
VICE PRES. GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I don't know the percentage that are without it, but I strongly support the concept of categorical health insurance.
MR. BRODER: Do you have any horseback guess as to what percentage of Americans don't have health insurance?
VICE PRES. BUSH: Out of 250 million people?
MR. BRODER: Mm-hmm.
VICE PRES. BUSH: Well, I think some people don't have health insurance that can take care of their own needs. So I don't know the answer to it, no.
(End of videotape)
MR. TODD: Broder later said that exchange left a lasting impression on one member of the Bush family.
(Videotape, July 15, 2007)
MR. BRODER: The biggest backlash I ever got from questioning a candidate on, on MEET THE PRESS was with George H.W Bush. I never had a problem with him, but Barbara Bush never forgave me for embarrassing her husband that way.
MR. TODD: Known as dean of the Washington press corps and a newsman who covered every major political story for the last five decades, Broder's political analysis was always on the money, like this observation he offered just weeks before President Bush ordered the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
(Videotape, January 5, 2003)
Mr. BRODER: I think that's the beginning of his troubles and our nation's troubles, not the end. If we win the military victory, as everybody seems to assume that we can do quite readily, then we still find ourselves responsible for fine constructing a new government in a
nation in a vital part of the world that is the keystone to that part of the, of the globe.
MR. TODD: Although he was an institution in Washington and on this show, he never let himself get trapped in the Beltway. He loved traveling the country, precinct by precinct, knocking on doors and talking to voters. All told, 13 presidential campaigns over 50 years. But as he said on his 400th appearance right here in the spring of 2008, perhaps the best was
saved for last.
(Videotape August 10, 2008)
MR. BRODER: It's the best election I've ever covered. I always thought that 1960, which was my first, was the best campaign, but all of the good parts of that came after Labor Day. And we've had so many wonderful, unbelievable moments already in this one, and we're not even to the conventions yet.
MR. TODD: Anyway, we here at MEET THE PRESS also want to extend our sympathies to David's family and his colleagues at the The Washington Post.
TODD: We're going to spend some time with Dan Balz and Michele Norris, who both have worked with him for a long time, remembering David Broder in our Take Two Web extra up on our Web site this afternoon, mtp.msnbc.com.
MR. CHUCK TODD: That's all for today. David Gregory will be back next week. If it's Sunday, it's MEET THE PRESS.