'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, February 21st, 2015
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Show: UP with STEVE KORNACKI
Date: February 21, 2015
Guest: Michael Kay, John Stanton, Jonathan Capehart, Ben Domenech, Robert
Costa, Howard Dean, Ben Domenech, James Glassman, Rocco Dispirito, Reynolds
Wolf, Janice Hahn
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Ground troops to fight ISIS?
All right. And thanks for getting UP with us on a busy and very cold
Saturday morning. The big headline at this hour, President Obama`s new
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, landing in Afghanistan early this morning.
This, a surprise trip after only a few days on the job for Carter. We`re
going to get into what he`s doing there and why this is important in just a
Also ahead this morning on the show, though, Rudy Giuliani proving to be
the energizer bunny of controversy. He hasn`t stopped talking about
President Obama, what he is saying now. That is ahead.
Also, pressure is on this weekend for Chris Christie to decide whether he`s
going to go ahead and run for president. If it`s not too late for him to
do that now. New reporting suggests he may already be missing out.
Details on that coming up as well.
And also, President Obama weighing in on how he thinks democrats can win in
2016. A message he believes democratic candidates should use if they`re
going to keep the White House after he leaves the White House. All of
that, much more, again, a very busy Saturday morning in just this hour of
But we begin this morning with that breaking news, the surprise visit to
Afghanistan by the new Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Carter just
wrapping up a joint press conference with the Afghan president in Kabul.
And the headline out of that gathering is that Carter`s saying that he and
President Obama are weighing an extension of the U.S. troop presence in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEC. ASH CARTER, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: President Obama is
considering a number of options to reinforce our support for the
President`s security strategy including possible changes to the time line
for our drawdown of U.S. troops.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: It`s not just the U.S. presence in Afghanistan that`s getting a
second look right now. On Thursday, Pentagon announcing a battle plan to
retake Mosul from ISIS. The second largest city in Iraq. A plan to retake
that. That would involve potentially U.S. ground forces. Here`s what
Secretary Carter had to say about that in Afghanistan just a little while
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER: Of course I`m open. I`m always open to advice from our military
commanders about what the best way to achieve success is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: As all of this plays out around the world, there are also very
real concerns here in the United States this morning about fighting the
threat of terrorism on our shores. Another shutdown is looming. This one
that would eliminate homeland security funding. Funding for that cabinet
department. The deadline to keep the Department of Homeland Security open
is this coming Friday. That means six days for Congress to act before that
clock and that money that comes with it runs out. Many moving parts to get
to on these stories this morning.
Let`s go first to NBC`s Kristen Welker who joins us live from the White
House. So Kristen, this surprise visit by the new defense secretary to
Afghanistan. What is the goal the administration`s hoping to get out of
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Look, it`s
significant. I think the fact that the newly minted Defense Secretary Ash
Carter, made Afghanistan his first trip underscores a couple things.
Steve, first of all, the fact that the United States support on is not only
feeling more optimistic about the future of Afghanistan but also the fact
that the U.S. has a much closer partnership with the new Afghan government
than it did with the former government of President Hamid Karzai. Now,
Secretary Carter said today that this more hopeful outlook is one of the
key reasons that the Obama administration and the President is considering
slowing down its troop withdrawal. The President is in discussions,
discussing a range of options with top officials, and he`s going to make
that a focus of his meeting with the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani who`s
scheduled to visit the White House next month.
Now, the Obama administration believes the new unity government, which is
led by Ghani, has opened new possibilities not only on the political front
but also in terms of security on the ground. Now, just as a reminder,
Steve, about where we stand in terms of troop levels, the current plan is
to cut troop levels in half by the end of this year and then to get that
number to zero by 2016, and there are currently about 10,000 U.S. troops
serving in Afghanistan. Now, President Ghani, as you heard Secretary
Carter say, is advocating for a slower troop withdrawal to help train and
assist Afghan forces who are still struggling to combat the Taliban there.
Now, the President is having discussions about everything from the pace of
the troop withdrawal to also the pace of base closures there. It`s been 30
years since U.S. forces first invaded Afghanistan. But of course, it
remains a critical foreign policy problem, particularly given the fact that
you still have remnants of al Qaeda there. Also, Steve, there`s concern
that ISIS could be thinking about expanding there. Currently they`re sort
of focused in Iraq and Syria, but there`s some deep concerns that they
could be looking at Afghanistan as its next front. So a lot to unpack but
certainly significant that Secretary Carter made Afghanistan his first stop
KORNACKI: All right. Some very interesting reporting there Kristen
especially about the potential for Afghanistan with ISIS. Thank you for
that report from the White House. Appreciate that.
U.S. troops have been out of Iraq even longer than they`ve been out of
Afghanistan now. But as we mentioned, according to Pentagon officials,
they could soon be heading back. On Thursday, the U.S. Central Command
official revealing to reporters a new plan for a massive assault against
ISIS in Iraq. A battle to retake that country`s second largest city this
spring, as soon as six weeks from now. ISIS has controlled the city of
Mosul since its rapid expansion across Iraq last summer. American forces
are now training Iraqi troops for battle. U.S. forces will lead the air
campaign that`s being telegraphed this week. Officials are leaving open
the possibility that U.S. ground forces might also take part.
Yesterday Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham sent a letter to o the
White House blasting the administration for unveiling their battle plans.
If not the substance of what they`re planning to do. Quoting from their
letter, these disclosures not only risk the success of our mission but
could also cost the lives of U.S., Iraqi and coalition forces. That from
senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
Here to discuss the newest effort to beat back ISIS, we have Michael Kay,
he`s a retired Royal Air force officer. So Michael, thanks for being here.
You can take us through this better than anybody I think but here`s the
map. You see the city of Mosul here, second largest city. What is it that
we`re talking about doing right now to take back that city?
MICHAEL KAY, RETIRED ROYAL AIR FORCE OFFICER: Yes, I think it`s absolutely
key. When we first look at Steve, we have to just look at sort of the
geopolitical environment really. Because we`re talking about these 25,000
Iraqi forces, but it`s not just Iraqi forces on the ground in this region.
Who have we got? We`ve got, this is the Kurdish region of Iraq. Hundred
and ten thousand Peshmerga forces occupy this area. They will be
absolutely key in the fight to retake Mosul. Who else have we got? We`ve
got these populist mobilization forces. They`re Shia-backed forces all
coming in from Iran. I know again, up to 100,000 expected to be in this
KORNACKI: These are militia forces?
KAY: Right. And these basically came about during Saddam Hussein`s reign.
Exiled Iraqi Shia formed the Bader organization, existed in Iran to begin
with, but during the fall in 2003, that`s when they merged and came into
Iraq. And then we`ve got in Baghdad, we`ve got the Iraqi forces. Forty
five thousand at the moment. And then you`ve got the ministry of interior
forces, around 35,000. And then there`s a $1.6 billion U.S. train and
equip program that`s going on at the moment which will add another 45,000
Iraqi forces. So that`s the geopolitical environment at the moment. And
obviously we`ve got the Islamic State in Syria and it`s the Islamic State
last June, 2,000 fighters that came into Mosul, took the Iraqi forces by
surprise. The Iraqi forces capitulated, and now we see Mosul under siege
KORNACKI: Right. And that raises a couple questions here. The first as
you say, so last summer this Iraqi army was not up to the job. It was not
ready to face ISIS. There`s been more training from the U.S. since then.
They`re telegraphing this now. Is there reason to believe the Iraqi army
is better positioned now to do what it couldn`t do a year ago?
KAY: Well, I think it`s a great question. I think the new government al-
Abadi is absolutely key to this. But what is really key to this is making
sure that the governance aspects of what happens once Mosul is taken back
are sorted out. There needs to be conversations between the Peshmerga,
between the Iraqi forces. There needs to be acquiescence of some form of
existence in Mosul once ISIS is eradicated from there. And then there`s a
question of this forces as well. If we go to the next slide Steve and have
a look at actually Mosul itself.
KORNACKI: We can do that. This is the city of Mosul.
KAY: Right, this is the city of Mosul. I think what`s really important
here is you`ve got Baghdad 260 miles to the South, Iran, 150 miles to the
east, and then Raqqa, which is the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic
State in Syria. That`s about 300 miles away. What`s absolutely key here,
Steve is if we can just press on that is, we`ve got Syria over here. And
there`s a main supply route which comes something like that. From al
Raqqa. And this has been used to supply the fighters, the I.S. fighters in
Mosul. Now, earlier on this week, the Kurdish fighters actually cut off
that main supply route. And what we`re starting to see here is, do you
remember Petraeus` doctrine, the shape, clear, hold, build. What`s going
on here is they`re shaping the environment for this attack. The absolute
important key thing about attacking Mosul from Iraqis` perspective and the
western perspective is counterinsurgency warfare in an urban environment is
probably one of the hardest things that a soldier actually can do.
I mean, we`ve seen it in Fallujah, we`ve seen it in Afghanistan. Once in
an Urban environment, it`s really, really difficult. And then we`ve got to
look at the clash rule. So, what happens when these airstrikes are going
in? So, let`s rewind back to the AUMF, President Obama mentioned. And he
spoke about some specific aspects to what the AUMF included. Two, which
kill be key to this operation. Special Forces. Special Forces will be
used to isolate Mosul on the key lines of communication coming out. You`ll
have snipers, you`ll have people positioned around the area that will be
taking off. Those Islamic State militants that are actually isolating
Mosul. And then there`s the KTACs, the Joint Terminal Air Controllers, the
forward air controllers. These will be absolutely key. And they`ll embed
those potentially with the Peshmerga and the Iraqi forces. And that will
allow people on the ground to talk to these superior Air Forces of the
coalition and actually get the precision munitions in on various aspects
because there are pockets. This warfare is all about pockets in an urban
sprawl. And it`s incredibly hard to know who`s where and when.
KORNACKI: Very quickly, though, just on this issue of telegraphing this
ahead of time, announcing hey, we`re going to do this maybe in six week, is
that a good idea?
KAY: Look, there`s two ways of looking at it. You can look at it in the
stance of, you`re telegraphing to the ISIS militants in there, this is what
we`re about to do. This is -- we`re coming to get you. So it`s kind of
like a propaganda campaign if you like. There isn`t going to be anything
like any serious data, any intelligence. They`re not going to let any of
that go, timings, who the forces are, where the forces are going, the size
of the forces. That`s the keep it that we need to keep wraps on and I
think the Pentagon will keep very close wraps on that. It will probably be
a night raid because of the use of night-vision goggles and so on and so
forth. And then we`ve got the predators up ahead as well, I`ve got the
night imagery intelligence also. So, you know, I think telegraphing it
isn`t necessarily giving the game away because you haven`t got the
specifics involved but it could be a good propaganda campaign to sort of
let ISIS know that we`re not messing around here. There`s two ways you can
KORNACKI: They`ve certainly delivered some kind of a message this week.
But thank you to Michael Kay, we really appreciate the time and the insight
KAY: Thank you.
KORNACKI: Here in the U.S., there is concern about whether we will be able
to keep our domestic security operations going for even another week. We
are now officially just six days away from the Department of Homeland
Security running out of money. That is unless Congress acts and Congress
returning from another recess in just a couple of days. With the hours
ticking down, we have yet to see any real indication that they are going to
act in the coming week to avoid the DHS shutdown. Not that its operations
would fully shut down. We should be clear here. The essential functions
of DHS would actually continue. That means agents have borders. Agents at
airports, emergency response for things like natural disasters. That`s
about 200,000 people. They would be working without pay in the event of
At the same time, about 30,000 administrative employees would be
furloughed. They would be told to stay home. They would not be paid.
State and local law enforcement would also be hit, too, losing access to
federal funding for staffing and for equipment. So what can we expect
Congress to do in the coming week? Will they do anything, and who will be
blamed if there is a shutdown in next week?
Joining me now to answer those questions, we have BuzzFeed`s Capitol Hill
of Washington Bureau Chief John Stanton. John, bottom-line, we`re a week
away right now from this February 27 deadline. What are the odds we are
going to see a shutdown at the end of this week?
JOHN STANTON, BUZZFEED: Oh, pretty good. There`s a chance that they might
be able to fund some way forward with a short-term extension on funding
before Friday, but I kind of doubt it at this point. It seems like both
sides are pretty comfortable where they`re going towards except for maybe a
set of republicans who are sort of looking at this entire train wreck
trying to figure out how they got themselves into this situation. But you
know, House republicans certainly don`t seem to be in any kind of mood to
make any sort of deals. And democrats, you know, are looking at the polls.
They`re looking at sort of who`s been blamed for the shutdowns in the past
and they`re feeling like they don`t have to do a whole lot.
KORNACKI: All right. Well, that`s it. You mentioned the last government
shutdown everyone remembers in 2013. The polling on that was clear.
Republicans being blamed for that. There was some new polling we can show
you came out this week. This was a CNN/ORC poll. Who would you blame if
there`s going to be a DHS shutdown? And by a 53 to 30 margin, you see
people saying, republicans in Congress. So, what is the logic, John? When
you talk to republicans, particularly in the House, what is the logic in
the face of polls like that for why it would be different this time?
STANTON: Well, I think part of what they`re looking at is the fact that,
you know, DHS is not, you know, the parks service, for instance, right?
Like, if there`s a shutdown involving DHS, it`s not going to really affect
your average American all that much. All of the things to keep us safe and
secure, they`re going to continue to get done. DHS doesn`t have a lot of,
you know, sort of reach into your everyday life. And so, I think they`re
thinking that a lot of people probably won`t even notice that there`s a
shutdown of DHS going on. And, you know, they also realize, I think that
particularly for their base voters and in these House districts where they
have now been redrawn to the point where most of the voters and a lot of
them are just base voters. They want them to do this because they view
what the President has done on immigration and on health care and other
issues as executive overreach, and they want them to pick this fight with
the White House. And so for members of the House, in particular, this is
not a bad situation for them to be in politically.
KORNACKI: All right. Well, as we say, the countdown is now on. Congress
coming back in a few days, and we will see what happens. As John Stanton
is telling us this morning, in the likely event of a shutdown occurs.
Thank you to BuzzFeed`s John Stanton for joining us this morning, really
And still ahead in the show this morning, President Obama delivers a fiery
speech to leaders of his party. This just as they start to focus on who
should replace him in 2016. Details on that drama.
Plus, how did Rudy Giuliani go from being a unifying national figure in the
days after the 9/11 attacks to challenging the President`s love of country?
That story is next. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: Today is the third day since Rudy Giuliani openly questioned
whether President Obama loves America. At an event for Wisconsin Governor
Scott Walker. And this morning the fallout shows no signs of abating any
time soon. This morning`s "New York Times" looks behind the scenes at what
preceded Giuliani`s remarks this week including the detail that the former
New York City mayor wasn`t actually scheduled to speak at that event or
even to attend it. Also that Giuliani wasn`t aware there were reporters in
the room when he began speaking. But since those comments came to light,
Giuliani has been unapologetic, even defiant, telling the same "Times"
reporters on Thursday that his remarks weren`t racist because President
Obama`s mother was white. And then saying this in an interview with FOX
News` Megyn Kelly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS HOST: Mr. Mayor, do you want to apologize for your
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Not at all. I want to repeat
it. The reality is I -- from all that I can see of this president, all
that I`ve heard of him, he apologizes for America. He criticizes America.
KELLY: But to say that he doesn`t love America, I mean, that he could view
foreign policy as a democrat might view it and through a difference lens
than you a republican might see it, you can understand the differences
between you, but to condemn his patriotism, to question his love of
GIULIANI: I`m not condemning his patriotism. Patriots can criticize.
They`re allowed to criticize. I believe his initial approach is to
criticize this country and then afterwards to say a few nice things about
us. I think that is a perfectly reasonable opinion. But the President, in
his comment, if we look at all of his rhetoric, has not displayed the kind
of love of America, the kind of love of American exceptionalism, that other
American presidents have displayed. I`m right about this. I have no doubt
about it. I do not withdraw my words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Giuliani then invoking the controversy over Obama`s former
Chicago Pastor Jeremiah Wright, as another reason why he believes the
President doesn`t love America. The White House entering the fray late
Friday with some crocodile tears.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Many of you have been in the
room when the President`s delivered speeches where he`s talked about his
love for this country or how the United States is a force for good in the
world. In fact, it`s the greatest force for good that the world has ever
seen. And so I can -- you know, we continue those examples. Many of you
have been in the room when these delivered remarks like that, both in this
country and around the world. More generally, I can tell you that it`s sad
to see when somebody who has attained a certain level of public stature and
even admiration tarnishes that legacy so thoroughly. And the truth is I
don`t take any joy or vindication or satisfaction from that. I think
really the only thing that I feel is I feel sorry for Rudy Giuliani today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And last night on Sean Hannity, Giuliani inferring that Obama is
acting presidential more than being presidential.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: He may love America. I don`t know. In his own way. When I
listen to his language, I hear language of a man who is never talking about
the greatness of America. So he`s not a cheerleader for America. He`s a
critic. It`s as if he were a movie critic as opposed to the guy acted in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right. And here now to talk about this, we have MSNBC
contributor Jonathan Capehart, he`s a columnist with "The Washington Post."
Also, our panel for today, Ben Domenech, he`s publisher of The Federalist
and senior fellow at The Heartland Institute. MSNBC political analyst Joan
Walsh, editor-at-large for Salon. Victoria DeFrancesco-Soto, MSNBC
contributor and professor at the University of Texas` Center for Mexican-
So, Jonathan, let me start with you. Look, obviously, extremely
inflammatory, the way that Rudy Giuliani brought this up this week, and
that is sort of from a political standpoint, that`s the beginning and the
end of this. You know, it`s tough to win an argument when you start with,
does the President love the country or not. But when he starts defending
himself and he starts trying to explain what he`s saying, he`s saying
basically it seems at the heart of this, that he thinks President Obama
thinks about, looks at and talks about America in a way that is different
than past presidents, Reagan, Clinton, Carter he names there. Do you think
there`s anything to that, the idea that he talks and thinks about America
differently than previous presidents have?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No. Rudy Giuliani is lying. And
anyone who`s been paying attention to Barack Obama since he wowed the
democratic convention in 2004 knows how much the President loves this
country. From the moment he ripped into our consciousness during that
speech, he made it clear that only in America could his story be possible.
He`s been saying that since he`s been president. So Rudy Giuliani is
trying to run in quicksand in this. And the thing that I find most
disturbing is that no republican of any stature whatsoever has come forth
and condemned him or at least pushed Rudy Giuliani to either get off the
airwaves with this line of argument or force him to apologize. You know,
Rudy Giuliani is mentioning Reverend Jeremiah Wright. President Obama,
when he was a candidate, had to give an entire speech on race because of
something his former pastor said in a sermon where he wasn`t even present.
So for Rudy Giuliani to continue to go down this road I think tarnishes
him. I think Josh Earnest was absolutely right. It`s rather sad and
pathetic, but it also tarnishes the Republican Party even further.
KORNACKI: Well, let me ask you, Ben, about that. What`s your reaction to
what he said, to how republicans have handled it?
BEN DOMENECH, THE HEARTLAND INSTITUTE: No, no, no.
KORNACKI: Speak for all of that.
DOMENECH: So the other day, Steve, as I was watching one of the better
musicals about the 1888 election, the one and only genuine original family
KORNACKI: There`s more than one?
DOMENECH: Yes. And you have the Grover Cleveland backers on one side and
the Benjamin Harrison backers on the other side and they`re basically
spouting the same or it`s very similar agendas. But when one side says it,
it`s dismissed as A, that`s politics. And when the other side says it,
it`s oh, no, that`s statesmanship. I think that when you see both parties
come to this sort of issue, they`re just espousing the things about America
that they view as most conforming to their vision of what America ought to
be. President Obama ran explicitly on transforming the way the country was
viewed in the world because of those aspects of America that he wanted to
be appreciated. Rudy Giuliani has his vision of America that I think is
very different from the president`s.
KORNACKI: But when you`re crossing the same that the other one doesn`t
love the --
DOMENECH: I heard that Mitt Romney didn`t love the country because of his
investments last time around and Mitt Romney loves America. Look at that
kid loves cake. I mean, come on!
JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don`t think anybody said that about
Mitt Romney. I think it`s different when Rudy Giuliani goes around and
says, this President doesn`t love America. First of all, he`s uttering the
president. We`ve seen this since he became president. And second of all,
I find it amazing, as Jonathan does, that no one has stepped up -- this guy
is becoming -- he`s a Donald Trump --
Can I just finish? I didn`t jump in on you. He`s the Donald Trump of this
cycle. And now Scott Walker has taken a page from Mitt Romney, and he
won`t -- his language is almost identical. I don`t condemn, I don`t
condone. They can defend themselves.
KORNACKI: Yes. We should say, Scott Walker wouldn`t really weigh in on
this anyway. We did hear Marco Rubio did come out and say, he does think
President Obama as no doubt, President Obama loves the country. So,
there`s been some, you know, nuance here, I can tell the republicans are
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Rudy Giuliani is digging his
own grave. He has cast himself in the Palin, Trump wing of the Republican
Party. There`s that one moment when we thought hey, maybe he`s a different
type of republican. He`s progressive on social issues. But you know what?
He has become irrelevant. No one has to come out in his defense because he
is putting himself away.
KORNACKI: Has he changed, Ben? Rudy Giuliani who was mayor of New York, I
remember he was sort of the liberal Rudy Giuliani, the national republicans
didn`t like him. And this seems more like -- it seems he`s farther to the
right than we`ve ever really seen.
DOMENECH: You know, I don`t really think of it is something that`s on an
ideological spectrum. I think he has an opinion about the way the
President views the country, that`s different than a lot of other people.
But the way I would put it to you Joan is, I do think there`s ways that
politicians love the country in different ways. I think Hillary Clinton
maybe thinks about America in different ways than the President does. Now,
that doesn`t mean that he doesn`t necessarily love it any less than she
does. I just think that they think about its history in different ways.
KORNACKI: Right. Certainly if you`re going to talk about it as a
politician, though, saying that the other one doesn`t love it, boy, that
gets you into trouble. But Jonathan, I`ll give you the last word on this
CAPEHART: Well, you know, look. I hope at some point someone other than
Marco Rubio will come forward and say that can we all just start at the
baseline that everyone who`s sitting in the -- the person sitting in the
Oval Office and all the people who are going to run to replace him in 2016,
2017 all love the country. And then let`s take the discussion and the
argument from there. To say that the President doesn`t love the country
and then to defend yourself saying that what I said wasn`t racist because
he was raised by white grandparents and had a white mother only compounds
the offense that Rudy Giuliani has made.
KORNACKI: All right. "The Washington Post`s" Jonathan Capehart,
appreciate you getting up and joining us this morning.
CAPEHART: Thanks, Steve.
KORNACKI: Still to come today, want to know how cold it`s been without
having to actually go outside? Well, that`s NBC News meteorologist Dylan
Dreyer in Upstate, New York. She`s standing next to a geyser that turned
into a frozen skyscraper. We`ll also go live to Ohio as where snow is
adding to people`s misery this weekend.
And next, your former first lady and you`re heading to prison, why you may
be better off getting a longer sentence. We`ll explain. That`s next.
KORNACKI: All right. A lot going on in the world this morning. And to
get caught up on some of the other headlines people are talking about with
today`s panel, and we`ve got our big index card friends here to go through
some headlines. Let`s start with this one. This is from "The Washington
Post" this morning. If you`re picking up that paper, you are reading about
the ex-Virginia first lady who gets a prison term of one year and one day,
that`s Maureen McDonnell. The wife of former Governor Bob McDonnell
sentenced Friday to a year and a day in prison. Now, the significance of
this, instead of just getting a year, getting that extra day put on there,
with the extra day, if the sentence is over a year, you`re eligible to get
out early on good behavior. If it`s just a year, you`re there for a year,
if it`s a year and a day, you might be there for a lot less. So actually,
this is a good -- this is a good development, I guess, for Maureen
DOMENECH: Well, as a Virginian, you know, it`s been amazing to just sort
of see this whole story play out. You know, Bob McDonnell is obviously
someone who was, you know, close to having some maybe presidential
aspirations, was viewed as maybe one of the future leaders of his party.
And it`s been just insane to watch this case play out up close and all of
the craziness with the gifts and everything.
KORNACKI: And you`re right, 2012, he was on the VP list. People were
saying, hey, if Romney doesn`t win in 2012, here`s your guy for 2016.
WALSH: He was walking around that convention like, you know, he was going
to be there --
DOMENECH: Gave probably one of the better State of the Union response
KORNACKI: Yes. One of the only ones that wasn`t a disaster, I guess.
Here`s another headline. This from NBC News. Does the cold stop crime?
It says the country -- it says yes, apparently it looks that way. Police
calls are down in Memphis. Major crimes have plunged in Boston. Boston
with about 20 feet of snow right now. New York City just celebrated 12
days in a row without a murder, that is the longest stretch since 1994.
And they started collecting data. Research from 30 years of data shows
that crime decreases as everything goes down when the temperature drops.
Right? Nobody wants to leave, nobody want to do anything.
SOTO: I don`t know how you guys function. You know, in Texas this week,
there was a cold snap. The high was 40 degrees. And I didn`t want to get
out of bed. How do people function?
KORNACKI: And yet you came to New York.
SOTO: And yet I came to New York. That`s how much I love you, Steve,
KORNACKI: That is very nice of you. We turned the heat up a little bit
for you. Let`s get to one more headline this morning. This is from FOX
Sports. This is Joan Walsh, the baseball thing here might be interesting.
This MLB and union announce a pace of play rules change for next year. So
hitters have to keep a foot in the batter`s box between pitches. Pitching
changes are timed. Managers have to make instant replay challenges from
the dugout. Joan, the goal here is to cut the average length of a game
from three hours and eight minutes to what, three hours and two minutes?
WALSH: Exactly. I mean, they tried this -- I`m agnostic about it. I
don`t think it`s a terrible idea, but they tried this in the Arizona fall
league. It cut an average of ten minutes from games. So they go from, you
know, a little over three to a little under three. That`s still really
long. I like that -- I like the replay. I think we saw a lot of bad calls
overturned. But there is that element of stalling and waiting for your
guy, you know, and we had Shawon Dunston, San Francisco Giants were very
successful. We knew who the guy was, we knew what he was doing. And the
Manager Bruce Bochy is out there killing time with the umps, talking to his
coaches, waiting for that guy to watch it maybe the tenth time and say
okay, make the challenge, or don`t. That did burn up the time.
KORNACKI: And this is why I could never -- of all the major sports,
baseball is at the bottom of my list. You go through a three-and-a-half
hour game, and guess what? There`s 161 more.
If you want me do a three-and-a-half hour game, give me the NFL. You get
16 games a year, they all matter, I`ll sit through that, you know,
baseball, 161 more of these, folks. Let`s do sit there and watch them --
WALSH: You need to be alone with your thoughts and take in the big picture
more, Steve. We`re going to a game.
KORNACKI: Yes. Well, okay. We`ll go to one game. Shrink the season to
one month. That`s my goal.
Still ahead this morning, why one congresswoman says she is giving up on
Washington. See if that`s the start of a trend. We will talk to her later
And next, blinded by the light. Why Chris Christie`s confidence is
reportedly getting him in trouble for a presidential bid. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: This could end up being remembered as the weekend Chris
Christie`s dream of winning the White House in 2016 unofficially died.
Some of the best political reporters in the country now writing that
Christie appears to be losing the all-important battle for early money.
"New York Times" detailing many complaints of republican donors and
strategist, they tell them Christie doesn`t return their phone calls, he
arrives late for meetings and ask if he has all the time in the world.
Christie, they report, quote, is convinced that his raw talent and charisma
can overcome the political obstacles in his way. Meanwhile, NBC`s Perry
Bacon Jr. getting word of the governor`s donor troubles in the northeast
last week. The "Washington Post" Robert Costa reporting another defection
of a prominent New Jersey republican to Jeb Bush.
That`s Nicholas Brady, he`s a former treasury secretary, also an interim
U.S. senator from New Jersey, he`s a longtime ally of the Bush family.
Amid all of this came word this week that New York Jets` owner Woody
Johnson, his team plays in Christie, he`s viewed as a kingmaker for
potential republican nominees, that he is also going to be backing Jeb
Bush. And he attended a fund-raiser, in fact, for Bush on Wednesday night.
When Jeb Bush appeared to make the first move toward a White House bid last
month. The clock started ticking for everyone else to get busy and to
cultivate the same pool of top donors. But is Christie getting squeezed
out before this race even officially starts?
Robert Costa, national political reporter with "The Washington Post" joins
the panel this morning from Washington. Robert, you had some very
interesting reporting this week on the struggles Christie is facing now.
So, here we are, we are in the middle of the invisible primary. These
defections from his home state, donors having questions about him. How
serious trouble is Chris Christie in right now in this process?
ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s early in the process, so I think
Governor Christie could certainly come back. But you`re a political junkie
for New Jersey. You know when Tom Keane Sr., the former governor, when Joe
Kerlow, she was state senator, Christie`s 2009 campaign chairman, when
their reluctance to sign up for a 2016 campaign, that spells trouble if
you`re Chris Christie.
KORNACKI: And so, what is, the reporting this week -- and this gets to
something I have noticed about Chris Christie is, you know, this is a guy
who is supreme confidence in his own skills to basically walk into any
situation and change that situation to his favor. And I have seen him. In
his defense, I`ve seen him go into hostile crowds in New Jersey, college
students during the Iraq war and 45 minutes later these students loved him,
a republican. So, I can see how he starts to believe that. But is there
more of a plan than just hey, the power of my personality is going to
ultimately, you know, get me through this?
COSTA: Well, he really believes his skills as a retail politician will
enable him to eventually rise in the polls and with republican primary
voters. But he also believes he has this RGA, Republican Governance
Association Network that he capitalized on last year raised millions and
millions of dollars. Not all of those donors will be with him. He thinks
he`s established enough of a national donor network. And you add that to
his personality. He thinks Bush may stumble. His people think Bush may
stumble, and they`re not so sure Scott Walker is going to continue to
KORNACKI: So, we should say this was a response to all this reporting from
Christie`s -- one of his top advisers Mike DuHaime telling "The New York
Times," the fact is there is not a finite pool of donors as some seems
suggest this on the word of New Jersey donors may be defecting. Also there
was this, an interesting tweet from "New York Times" columnist Ross
Douthat, conservative columnist of that paper saying, "The best time to run
for President is almost always when lots of people are urging you to run
for president, not the cycle after that." Basically making the case there
that Christie had his moment.
WALSH: He missed his moment.
KORNACKI: In 2011. And this wasn`t it.
WALSH: Yes. I mean, this seems so delusional, this seems like delusional
Christie to think, of course, there`s not a finite pool of donors. That is
true. There`s lots of rich people. He needs one big rich person to get
behind him and he could go far. But the fact you have Tom Keane, I know
they have falling out, sounding very much like he`s going to go with Bush.
I know he said he`s neutral right now. You know I think that his strength
was that he was going to -- he was going to walk away with the Wall Street
donors, that he was right here, he was a candidate of Wall Street, he was
the moderate. And when you have Jeb Bush rolling these people up so early,
it really leaves very little room for him.
SOTO: But the republican primary voters, I`ve never bought the story that
they`re going to fall in love with Chris Christie. You bring that New
Jersey/Tony Soprano character down to Texas, down to Arkansas, down to
Tennessee, and it doesn`t stick. I believe that he never had a shot in the
first place regardless of how much money he would have gotten.
DOMENECH: The path I think for Christie was always very narrow. And the
real challenge for him I think is that unlike Rudy Giuliani who had sort of
a similar experience, I think that the problem for him was always that he
is so much about personality, it`s the real thing that he has going for him
as opposed to a record that he can point to, as opposed to being able to
ensure that he`s going to appoint conservative judges or something like
that to, you know, help on some of his other weak points. He really only
had that Wall Street money in terms of his backing, and I think that that
really creates a problem.
KORNACKI: So, Robert, what happens now? You know, Jeb Bush has this huge
behind-the-scenes push for money. When do we see a public move from
Christie? Does he have an announcement of candidacy? Is anything like
that coming on the horizon?
COSTA: They make a great point, that for a lot of time Christie`s
personality has been at the core of his political persona. But watch what
Christie does on Tuesday. He has a major budget address in Trenton. He`s
going to return to pension reform. I remember when you were covering this
Steve back in 2010, this is what made Chris Christie, all these battles
with the teachers over the pensions and for public employees. He`s going
to try to come back to that issue, make it his policy focus ahead of 2016.
KORNACKI: Interesting you mention that because that`s the other bit of
news this morning we should squeeze in here. "The Wall Street Journal"
reporting, Christie suddenly stepping up, ramping up his activity back in
New Jersey. This is a governor who spent a lot of time out of the state.
You say he has that speech coming out Tuesday. Now suddenly planning a
bunch of town halls in New Jersey. So, interesting potential sort of
strategic shift there. Anyway, "The Washington Post`s" Robert Costa,
appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you for that.
And still ahead on the show, the one word President Obama isn`t saying
about our fight against ISIS and that is drawing criticism from the right
and a little bit on the left, too. And next, another weekend, another
major winter storm. We`re going to go live to Ohio, just bearing the brunt
of the storm as we speak.
KORNACKI: All right. If you`re in the Midwest or the northeast this
morning, there`s a good chance you`re waking up to bitter cold temperatures
yet again. And you probably won`t be surprised to learn it looks like the
cold`s going to be sticking around for a while longer. Forecasters say
another arctic blast early next week is going to keep temperatures 15 to 30
degrees below normal. And that could last -- get ready for this -- all of
next week. And in Ohio, parts of that state could also get up to eight
inches of snow by the end of today.
NBC`s Kerry Sanders joins us live now from Perrysburg, Ohio, near Toledo.
So, Kerry, snow, freezing temperatures, no end in sight. Good morning to
KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It`s miserable. It`s snowing but
not that heavily. It`s about 18 degrees which is, of course, cold, but
think about this. Yesterday morning, it was negative 12. So this is
actually pretty good. The only down side, of course, is that we`re not
going to get above 32 in this area, according to forecasters, until next
month. So it`s going to be freezing. So the only thing that they can do
is make lemonade when you get lemons. And so there`s the international ice
carving association competition taking place here. And here we see -- I`ll
step out of the way -- here we see Neptune, or I should say frozen Neptune
from the frozen sea. Really normally a lot of people would come out and
enjoy watching these guys make these sculptures. This began as a 300-block
piece of ice, and boom, there it is. And there`s going to be some more
carving today. But at this temperatures really very few spectators. But I
can tell you one thing. The guys who are doing the carving say these cold
temperatures make their artwork that much better.
KORNACKI: I was going to say, I know nothing about the world of ice
sculpting, but if you are an ice sculptor and temperatures are going to be
freezing for the next month, your work`s going to be preserved. You must
be pretty happy. That`s got to be a sad job when you`re the ice sculptor -
SANDERS: Think about it. These things will eventually melt, but they`ll
be there for a while, absolutely. You know, the one thing -- one upside
there is their artwork is not going to melt away that quickly.
KORNACKI: Nothing sadder than melting artwork. Anyway, thanks to you,
Kerry Sanders, for that report. And try to stay warm out there today. As
warm as you can.
Anyway, still ahead in the show, is Jeb Bush really his own man when it
comes to foreign policy? We`ll going to take a closer look at that
Also, what President Obama said to get the Democratic Party fired up as it
prepares for its first election in eight years without him. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: So America`s coming back. We have
risen from recession. We have the capacity to write our own future. We`re
better positioned than any other nation on earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Safe to say that President Obama was in a pretty good mood when
he spoke at yesterday`s DNC winter meeting in Washington. Easy to be in a
good mood when your approval rating is on the rise, the economy has created
more than million jobs in the past three months. The President accusing
republicans of jumping on his populous message now that things are looking
up a little bit. For more on that and the other things that President
Obama had to say in yesterday`s speech, I`m joined now by MSNBC contributor
and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, a former chairman of the DNC.
So, Governor Dean, thanks for taking a few minutes this morning. So, it`s
interesting to listen to the President`s speech yesterday in the context of
this is the start of a presidential campaign to pick his successor, seems
to be in a way sort of laying out the terms that he wants the 2016 debate
to be contested over.
FMR. GOV. HOWARD DEAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I think he`s also
protecting a legacy which is going to turn out not to be too bad at all.
But the truth is, he`s going to be eclipsed as soon as the campaign really
gets going in earnest. And that`s probably just as well. Not because his
numbers are going to be bad, because I think they`re going to continue to
get better, but because this is really about the new president, not about
the President we`ve had. So I think this is sort of a booster speech. I
think it`s a good thing that he gave that speech. But I`m hoping that this
election is not going to be about the past. It`s going to be about the
future. And I think that`s what -- my suspicion is that`s what Hillary
Clinton is hoping, too.
KORNACKI: I wonder from your standpoint, too, the democratic side looking
at 2016, the republican line against the Obama administration for most of
his presidency has been about the economy, for understandable reasons. But
now that there are signs that the economy is improving a little bit and at
the same time there are more concerns, I think, now about the President`s
leadership on foreign policy, at least if you look at the polls on this.
Is there`s a concern among democrats that maybe this becomes a foreign
policy election in a way that hurts them?
DEAN: It hope it does become a foreign policy election. There`s nobody
more capable in this country than Hillary Clinton in terms of foreign
policy. So if it`s a foreign policy election, we win. Now, it`s not going
to be a foreign policy election. The truth is elections are almost never
foreign policies. The Iraq war did have a big effect on George W. Bush`s
presidency. Vietnam obviously had an enormous effect both on Nixon and
Johnson. But generally speaking, wars and foreign policy do not play very
significant role in American elections at all. And, you know, if the
republicans want to make this about foreign policy, bring it on. Because
they don`t have a single candidate that knows very much about foreign
policy. And we have the person who probably knows more about foreign
policy than anybody else in America who is qualified to run for president.
KORNACKI: Well, let me bring the panel in on this. You know, alluding
maybe to Hillary Clinton. I think that might be who he`s talking about
right there. That`s the interesting subtext of this meeting. The
democrats gathering and traditionally this would be the part where the
future of potential candidates for 2016 and all their talking, this does
seem like a party that`s decided on Hillary Clinton. I mean, the big
debate that emerged from the stories that I`m reading is, Hillary
supporters who say, we don`t want her to have an opponent in the primaries
and the Hillary supporters who say, we do want her to have an opponent.
They`ll be saying, we want the opponent though.
WALSH: Right, very few people, the draft Warren people, to be fair. But
no, and Elizabeth Warren is not running, as we discussed many times before.
So, it looks like it will be Hillary. Whether people want her to have an
opponent or not.
KORNACKI: So what kind of message do you think -- is it going to be a
continuity message, is it going to be, you know, we improve this country,
this administration that I was part of improve this country over eight
years and I want to continue it? Or is it separating herself from that?
WALSH: I think she`s got to do both. I mean, I think she can`t separate
herself too much and he shouldn`t be separating herself in, you know, a
Rudy Giuliani way or in any kind of coded way because then that pushes away
the democratic base and the African-American base which still has some hurt
feelings over some of her behavior in 2008. So she`s got to be careful.
There`s not much to run away from. Nonetheless, it`s got to be about the
future. It`s got to be about a vision of the future. And figuring out
what is going on with income inequality. The growth is not leading to
rising incomes, and it hasn`t for a long time.
KORNACKI: Quick thought.
SOTO: It`s not so much about running away from a legacy but running to
this populous message because I think many democrats are nervous that she
isn`t left of center enough. And that`s why I think this speech was so
important. It set up the context for her to be seen in that light. And
you add in the recent meeting with Elizabeth Warren.
DOMENECH: I would actually agree with Governor Dean that it would be good
for Hillary Clinton to have this be a foreign policy election. I think
that the real problem is her ability to connect on issues of wage
stagnation and the problems that people have had under this economy for so
many years. There are worries about the future related to that. And I
think that that`s really the disconnect that may be a problem for her
KORNACKI: All right. My thanks, as always, former DNC chairman, former
Governor Howard Dean. Another full hour of news and politics straight
ahead. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: Bush 45?
KORNACKI: All right. And thanks for staying with us this Saturday morning
with lots still to get to in the hour ahead.
President Obama coming under attack this week for not calling the terror
threat an Islamic terror threat. We`re going to take a closer look at the
terminology in the fight against terrorism. Is what we say just as
important as what we do? What is that whole debate all about anyway?
Also with that shutdown threat looming that we told you about last hour,
one member of Congress has announced her plans to resign in favor of
running for what is usually a pretty low-level office back home in
California. She says it`s just too hard to get anything done in the
gridlock of Washington. She`s here to discuss her plans, maybe the start
of a trend there with other members of Congress. We`ll talk about that.
Also, some candidates for president are preparing for the physical rigor of
running for the highest office in the land by watching what they eat. Chef
Rocco Dispirito is going to be here to talk about what you do when you`re
running for president and you want to eat healthy. How can you actually
pull that off?
We want to begin with Jeb Bush`s -- not with his protein-packed diet,
excuse me, but with the meat of what he is now saying about foreign policy.
A speech in Chicago on Wednesday that gave us our first look at what Bush
would hope to accomplish diplomatically as president. A speech in which
the former Florida governor tried to play up his foreign policy chops by
playing down his family ties.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I love my brother. I love my dad.
I actually love my mother as well. I hope that`s OK. And I admire their
service to the nation and the difficult decisions that they had to make.
But I`m my own man, and my views are shaped by my own thinking and my own
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Jeb Bush`s platform also likely to be shaped by the thinking and
experiences of his growing team of foreign policy advisers. For that the
governor appears to be in line with his father and his brother.
Aides telling NBC News this week that Jeb Bush is consulting with 20
veterans of past Bush administrations. Among them, his father`s secretary
of state, James Baker, also Paul Wolfowitz, the major architect of his
brother`s Iraq policy. "Politico" naming his brother`s secretary of state,
Condoleezza Rice, as another adviser. This team put together by advisers
that served both his father and his brother.
Of course, common for any top tier candidates to draw heavily from previous
administrations of the same party. In this case, the administrations just
happen to be all Bush administrations.
From the speech itself, it seems that Bush is prepared to have the United
States play a greater role in current conflicts in places like Ukraine and
Syria than it already is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I have doubts whether this administration believes American power is
such a force. Under this administration, we are inconsistent and
indecisive. We have lost the trust and confidence of our friends. We
definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies. The great irony of the
Obama presidency is this: someone who came to office promising greater
engagement with the world has left America less influential in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And MSNBC political correspondent Kasie Hunt was in Chicago with
Governor Bush for that speech. She joins us now from Washington.
Kasie, thanks for taking a few minutes.
So, let me ask you in terms of the goal here, we heard in the run-up to the
speech, a lot of emphasis was on that line he was going to use that "I am
my own man", trying to separate himself from his brother, from his father,
especially his brother, though, given his brother`s poll numbers. When you
look at the content of this speech, a very sort of hawkish foreign policy
approach, in a lot of ways mirrors what his brother would have said ten
years ago. Did he succeed in separating himself?
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, Steve, I think that
while those headlines were, as you say, "I am my own man" and all about how
Bush is trying to differentiate himself, it was very difficult to tell on
the merits where it was that he would break with his brother`s foreign
policy or with his father. I think that you`re right, that the larger
concern is, you know, back in 2008, President Obama essentially came to
office because of the deep opposition to this policy.
And that list of advisers, I will say that the Bush camp points out that
there are no former Romney or former McCain advisers available to consult
with on matters of foreign policy. But I think it will be a question of
who he listens to ultimately. I mean, that list really runs the gamut from
Paul Wolfowitz on the one hand, to former Secretary of State James baker on
the other. And that`s a pretty wide range. And he isn`t likely to be
listening to all of those people at the same time.
But this list also, in many ways, it lines up with that sort of shock and
awe policy that the whole of the Bush campaign is running at the moment. I
mean, they are trying to really push back, head off these potentially a
dozen other candidates. And this list is sort of a comprehensive one of
the current foreign policy establishment. And many of the other camps
viewed the release of this list that way.
KORNACKI: Yes, I mean, if you want to find a foreign policy veteran from a
Republican administration not headed by a Bush, you`ve got to go back more
than a quarter century at this point. Maybe cut him a little slack there.
But, Kasie, let me also ask you about some of the thinking -- we were
talking about this a little last hour -- the thinking of people around Bush
and the Republicans in general when it comes to the role of foreign policy
in the 2016 campaign, in their attempts to say we`ve got to change parties
in the White House, what are they thinking on that right now?
HUNT: Steve, I think that this is becoming a central place to be in
opposition to President Obama. And I think it highlights two things.
First, this idea that the base is still very much opposed to the president,
very much energized by opposing the president. But also think about who
they`re likely going to face in 2016. And that`s Hillary Clinton. And so
this is really the place where if they can go after and define the
president`s foreign policy as something that just the base is completely
opposed to, they can tie her in with that. It`s sort of -- it becomes a
one, two punch, if you will.
And I think you`re starting to hear this very hawkish line from almost
every candidate on the Republican side. The exception, of course, being
Senator Rand Paul who may draw the sort of libertarian, anti-war, anti-
boots on the ground, sort of more isolationist corner of the Republican
Party. But he`s sort of out there by himself right now. You have Marco
Rubio focusing on foreign policy, talking a lot about this. Obviously Jeb
So, I think that they`re all sort of in the same line here on this issue at
KORNACKI: All right. MSNBC`s Kasie Hunt, joining us from D.C. this
morning. I appreciate that. Thank you very much.
HUNT: Nice to see you, Steve.
KORNACKI: All right. For more on Governor Bush`s speech this week, the
panel is back with us. Ben Domenech with "The Federalist" and the
Heartland Institute, MSNBC political analyst John Walsh with "Salon", and
MSNBC contributor Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, a professor at the University
So, I want to start with you guys on this attempt to be his own man, to be
different from his brother, and at the same time, dealing with the question
of Iraq. And that came up specifically in a question and answer after the
speech. I want to play that clip and then talk to you guys about it.\
Let`s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: There were mistakes made in Iraq for sure. Using the intelligence
capability that everybody embraced about weapons of mass destruction was
not -- it turns out not to be accurate. Not creating an environment of
security after the successful taking out of Hussein was a mistake, because
Iraqis wanted security most -- you know, more than anything else.
But my brother`s administration, through the surge, which was one of the
most heroic acts of courage politically that any president`s done because
there was no support for this. And it was hugely successful. And it
created a stability that when the new president came in, he could have
built on to create fragile but more stable situation that would have not
allowed for the void to be filled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So what I`m hearing there is an attempt to basically acknowledge
hey, look, my brother`s administration made mistakes on this. They
ultimately did a good thing, and then it was the Obama administration that
came in and really bungled it.
Is that -- is that a message that you can sell outside of the Republican
BEN DOMENECH, THE FEDERALIST: Jeb Bush has the unique challenge of running
not only on his own record, but on the records of two other people whose
name he shares. I think that the reality is he is his own man. He`s very
different from the other Bushes. He`s very much an introvert. He`s very
But I also think the American people are largely not going to consider him
as his own man when it comes to foreign policy. They will presume he
shares the same views as his brother even if he doesn`t.
And I think making arguments like this is fine, but I think ultimately it
may not matter as much if he ends up going up against Hillary where both of
them on foreign policy are sort of known quantities from the perspective of
the American people. It`s not like -- it`s not like there are going to be
assumptions that are going to benefit or hurt one person more than the
KORNACKI: I guess that makes me wonder, too, Joan, if it is a Hillary/Jeb
Bush thing, I mean, being judged by the memory of the husband in one case,
the brother in the other case --
WALSH: I think it`s really different for Hillary. She was our secretary
of state. So, she does have a record to run on, like it or not.
Now, I come from the progressive wing of the party, skeptical of military
might. She was a hawk on Libya and on Syria. We`ll see how much she talks
But I think it`s going to be very hard to run, more hawkish than Hillary,
and yet be palatable to the American people and not be a warmonger that`s
going to promise to put boots on the ground and scare people. So, I think
they have a tough challenge with her.
SOTO: He was very uncomfortable during those remarks. I don`t know if you
noticed that. It wasn`t until he got into the Q&A that he lightened up a
little bit. Even then he was still really nervous.
However, this is his first go nationally at a major foreign policy speech.
He is a very smart man, and he is going to get better. He is going to
figure out how to walk both sides of the street with this.
So, I wouldn`t dismiss Jeb Bush, and I think a lot of folks say, well, he`s
just tied to the anchor of his brother and his father. Keep your eye on
him. He is going to find a way to maneuver this.
KORNACKI: I do -- maybe, Ben, maybe you`ve heard some of this sort of in
the conservative side or whatever, but is there an instinct at all among
people who think hey, you know what, conservatives who might say hey, I
kind of like Jeb Bush. I think he`s his own man. I don`t have a problem.
But they also, you know what, what you`re saying, the country`s not going
to see it that way. Let`s not go down this road when we`ve got nine other
DOMENECH: I think the one thing that will be different and it will be
interesting to see how this plays out, is whether Bush actually comes
across as a bit more of a foreign policy realist than maybe some of the
other people who are running. Certainly, Marco Rubio this week was kind of
trolling Jeb Bush with comments that he`s smart enough to learn about
foreign policy. You know, as a senator, Rubio obviously thinks of this as
sort of an area that he owns.
I think there is some calculation going on like that among conservatives
and there`s skepticism about the way voters in the general election may
view Bush. But I also think that they think that because Obama has made so
many mistakes when it comes to the Middle East, you see the poll numbers of
un-approval when it comes to his approach to ISIS, that that may actually
benefit the Bushes.
KORNACKI: Well --
DOMENECH: It may sort of put that in the rearview in a more positive way.
KORNACKI: That`s the other thing I`m wondering about. You know, there was
this -- for really 10 years in this country, post-Iraq, I think there was
this very broad shared view of -- like you`re saying, skepticism -- the
idea of the U.S. intervening almost in any context.
And now the polling numbers that I`m seeing, first of all, confidence in
Obama`s strategy on ISIS, there`s a plurality who don`t have that. But
more to the point, you ask about boots on the ground against ISIS, we`re
now seeing over 60 percent of these people in these polls saying they want
some level of boots on the ground. And that to me sounds like, that`s a
pretty considerable shift from five, 10 years ago.
WALSH: Yes, it is. It is. And I don`t think it`s very realistic about
what kind of boots on the ground it would require. So, you know, that`s a
shaky number. If boots went in, if troops went in and things went bad,
you`d go back to those anti-Iraq --
KORNACKI: It suggests to me that maybe there is somebody like Bush
presenting him now in this context versus a couple years ago, people might
be less resistant to the Iraq --
WALSH: He`s not going to be prepared to do it right away, so they can
dream that it`s going to help.
DOMENECH: Remember the expression that his brother made. You know, his
brother was anti-nation building before he was for it, you know?
DOMENECH: And I think that that`s -- that`s really where Republicans are.
They`re fine with using the American military to kill people who they think
are bad guys. They`re not fine with nation building. And I think that`s
really going to be the concern within the primary that Jeb has to battle
SOTO: There are also economic concerns. So, we`re looking at foreign
policy right now, but the Tea Party base really rose up in opposition to
Bush`s spending. And as we were talking about earlier with Chairman Dean,
elections tend to be about domestic policy, about bread and butter issues.
And some of these Tea Party folks are going to say what about all that
spending? That`s going to be one of the bigger problem areas for Jeb Bush.
KORNACKI: I love the point you`re making. It completely dovetails with my
point. It`s true, the Tea Party didn`t exist back then, but the Republican
base in 2000 made a calculation, we`re going to go with George W. because
we want to win. That means if he`s going to move to the middle and
everything, that`s what we have to do to win. And then, eight years later,
they said, well, what did we get for all that? They say, we got more
spending, we got an economic collapse, we got record low approval --
SOTO: A bigger challenge.
KORNACKI: Yes. And so, now, that`s what a Tea Party is. It`s partly
against Obama. It`s also against the idea of having another George W.
Bush. That`s tough for Jeb.
Up next, is how we talk about terrorism just as important as we fight it?
And later, staying on message while staying in shape when you`re running
for office. We`ll get that done from chef Rocco Dispirito.
So, stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No religion is responsible
for terrorism. People are responsible for violence and terrorism.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Ours is a war not against a religion,
not against the Muslim faith, but ours is a war against individuals who
absolutely hate what America stands for.
OBAMA: And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who
have perverted Islam.
BUSH: Our war is not against Islam or against faith practiced by the
Muslim people. Our war is a war against evil.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KORNACKI: President Obama coming under some attack this week for his
failure to link Middle East terrorism directly to Islam and not just from
Rudy Giuliani. Like President Bush before him, President Obama making it
clear that the U.S. is not at war with Islam. Speaking before an
international gathering at the State Department on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Obviously, there is a complicated history between the Middle East,
the West and none of us, I think, should be immune from criticism in terms
of specific policies, but the notion that the West is at war with Islam is
an ugly lie. And all of us, regardless of our faith, have a responsibility
to reject it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But others contend that not talking about the extremists who can
now be found within Islam -- radicals who say they are fighting in the name
of Islam -- makes them all but impossible to fight.
Journalist Graeme Wood causing a stir this week when he wrote in "The
Atlantic" about the fundamental religious ideas driving ISIS.
So, how should we be talking about ISIS in the newest front in the fight
Joining the panel now is James Glassman, who served as undersecretary of
state for public affairs in the George W. Bush administration. He`s now
visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
James, thanks for taking a few minutes this morning.
So, let me get you to weigh in on this question because I`ve heard it so
many times this week, I think we all have, the idea that the president not
saying specifically Islamic terrorism, Islamic extremism, that he`s somehow
showing that he`s blind to the threat or unwilling to acknowledge the
threat -- do you think there`s anything to that criticism?
JAMES GLASSMAN, FORMER UNDER SECY. OF STATE: Not very much. I mean, you
know, one of my former State Department colleagues said this is all
Groundhog Day. I mean, we went through this in the Bush administration.
We had this debate many years ago. And we came down on the side of using
the term "countering violent extremism," CVE.
And I certainly understand what some people -- the objection of some people
to what President Obama is saying. But I think the most important thing is
a level of understanding. We`re not fighting Islam, as President Bush
said, as President Obama said. What we are fighting is an ideology that`s
based on certain precepts and certain interpretations of Islam. And
unfortunately the English language is not very good at expressing that in a
couple of words.
What`s really important, though, is fighting the ideology. And that`s what
I wrote about in "Politico" this week. And finally, I think after six
years, President Obama seems to be getting around to doing that. And
that`s what we need. We need a war of ideas.
KORNACKI: So, I`m curious, what is it that you see him doing now that you
haven`t seen him doing in the last six years?
GLASSMAN: Well, in substance, not a great deal, but he did -- he just had
a three-day conference focusing on CVE. Some of his language now points to
an understanding of the importance of ideology. David Cameron certainly
understands that and has talked about it for quite a while now. He seems
to be trying to invigorate a very small institution within the State
But really, is there the will? Is there the kind of drive from the
president toward fighting a war of ideas? There certainly was during the
Bush administration. I don`t see it now.
And I`m kind of baffled by it. I actually have to say, because this is an
administration which, in its campaigning and in its policy-making, has been
quite skilled at the arts of persuasion.
KORNACKI: Let me bring the panel into this. On this domestic political
debate we`ve been having about using the term "Islamic" or not using the
term -- the "New York Post" put a blindfold on him, is he blind to what`s
really going on here. Is there a case to be made for why he should be
WALSH: I don`t see it. And I have never heard anyone who`s criticizing
the president say what he`s doing wrong or what he should be doing and
would be doing if he used the term "Islamic." it`s not like he`s going over
there and oh, he`s bombing churches and synagogues because he can`t focus
on Islam. What would he -- what would this word get him? I know what it
would cost him.
KORNACKI: Where does it come from on the right?
DOMENECH: You know what? I disliked this when President Bush did it and I
dislike it when President Obama does it. I think people bend over
backwards as to how we`re supposed to be talking about crazy homicidal
lunatics who want to establish their own nation state and run everything
from the Middle East.
I really don`t care how we necessarily talk about them, just in the sense
that I understand the context of you don`t want to foment any anti-Islamic
action here domestically at home. I can understand that.
But I think what that "Atlantic" article was getting to and, you know, the
key line from my perspective is, you know, imagine it David Koresh had 8
million followers as opposed to, you know, the tiny groups of cults that
you see in other places. I -- from my perspective, this is just kind of a
side debate that doesn`t really have to do with the issues involved.
And like James was saying, I have yet to see kind of the concrete action.
I think this is why the plurality that you mentioned earlier is skeptical
about how his response is going to ISIS because they feel like he hasn`t
been forceful enough. I don`t know if that has anything to do with
SOTO: It is a tiny fraction. There are 1.6 million Muslims in this world
and only about 30,000 are members of ISIS. So, relatively speaking, it`s
inaccurate to say we`re going after Islam, we`re going after Muslims.
GLASSMAN: Can I jump in?
KORNACKI: Yes, go ahead, James. Yes.
GLASSMAN: You know, the president was absolutely right when he talked
about we are not at war with Islam, as President Bush did. And that was
not an idle statement. The fact is that the most pernicious idea that`s
abroad in the world today as far as I`m concerned is the idea that the West
is at war with Islam.
And it is quite widespread. It is -- it`s not just the terrorists who
believe that. So, we need to be conscious of that, although I don`t think
the best way to be -- to fight that is to say oh, no, no, we`re not at war
with Islam. There`s lots of other things we can do. And I related them in
my "Politico" piece. And I have to say I did some of them when I was at
the State Department.
So, I think we need a serious effort at fighting bad ideas and inspiring
the 99.999 percent of Muslims in the world who are -- who are not
terrorists, and many of whom are young people who are looking for meaning
in their lives. But I don`t think -- and I also don`t think we should shy
away from supporting and proselytizing even about our own values.
KORNACKI: All right. James Glassman, former executive director of the
George W. Bush Institute -- thanks for taking the time this morning.
GLASSMAN: My pleasure.
KORNACKI: All right. Still ahead, why one congresswoman is so sick of
Washington, she`s willing to give up her seat. She`ll be here just a
little bit to tell us why.
And next, could another "Indiana Jones" movie be on the way with a much
younger Indy? The details are next.
KORNACKI: All right. Back with our panel.
Got some more headlines from around the world, more things people are
talking about this morning.
Let`s look at "The New York Times," a story about Hillary Clinton beginning
the process of vetting herself. She has hired a firm called New Partners
that is going to perform self-opposition research for her possible
campaign. They`re going to look through Hillary`s history at the speeches,
donations, public record of the six years since she was last a candidate.
I guess that`s smart.
WALSH: I guess it`s smart. It seems like it`s a little late. Doing
something that they started, I don`t know, a year or two ago. So that
worried me a little bit.
KORNACKI: Yes. Certainly the media has been doing a little bit of
reporting about the Clinton Foundation.
KORNACKI: About some of the donations, some unpleasant stuff there. I
wonder if that`s triggered this or precipitated it.
SOTO: She`s the most vetted person. I mean, first, going back to her
husband and then her run in 2008. And now, again, I doubt there will be
anything major that comes up.
WALSH: I think this issue of the foundation is going to remain an issue
and is kind of relatively unexplored territory. And I think she -- I say
this as someone who admires her: she showed in her book tour a lack of
comfort, dexterity in talking about how she makes her money, how much
money, and those are things that are legitimate questions and are going to
be mined by her opponents for sure.
SOTO: I think it was stylistic, though, more than substantive. I think
foundation folks were aware that she was going to potentially run, and I
don`t think there`s anything murky there. But I think the way she was
presenting herself doesn`t --
KORNACKI: When you start talking about, you know, foreign governments and
the sort of financial arrangements and things that maybe if you`re
president, if you`re subject to different laws might look a little
different, you know? I think that stuff starts to look messy to people.
There might be a side of the Clintons that remind them of.
What else do we have here? We -- this is from "The New York Times" to
Deadline Hollywood. Steven Spielberg hopes to direct Chris Pratt in an
"Indiana Jones" reboot. They`re going to I guess Disney is going to make
this. Spielberg hoping to direct. Chris Pratt, "Parks & Recreation,"
"Guardians of the Galaxy." It`s a really good movie. I saw that one
New "Indiana Jones", no Harrison Ford, though. Can you have "Indiana
Jones" without Harrison Ford?
DOMENECH: Yes, you can. I think it says something good about America that
Andy Dwyer can go from like being on "Parks & Rec" and "The Lego Movie" and
"Guardians" and all these big things. I mean, talk about for Indiana
WALSH: It`s a great country.
KORNACKI: "Parks & Rec" character is the guy that fell into the pit. Now
he`s going to be strangling --
SOTO: No Harrison Ford cameo?
WALSH: There`s got to be a cameo.
KORANCKI: There`s got to be.
WALSH: Is it going to be his dad? There`s got to be something.
DOMENECH: Just as long as it isn`t another origin story. I`m tired of
KORNACKI: The last one in 2008 was the last "Indiana Jones" with Harrison
Ford. You`re starting to see the age there. I was, like, yeah, I guess
they`re not going to be able to do another one of those.
Let`s see what else we have here. This is from Victoria`s part of the
country, the Austin American-Statesman." Ken Paxton asks the Supreme Court
to void same-sex marriage. The attorney general filing to the State
Supreme Court yesterday an emergency motion trying to get the state`s first
gay marriages, they just started trying to get them avoided. What is going
on down there, Victoria?
SOTO: So, there`s a toe in the door for the same-sex marriage movement in
Texas. And the thing is that Texans are split half and half when it comes
to gay marriage. There`s a sense that Texans are overwhelming against gay
marriage because of the gay marriage amendment in 2005 where 75 percent of
the voters voted for Prop 2.
The thing is, there was only an 18 percent turnout rate. So, only 18
percent of registered voters in Texas, so translate that into 10 percent of
Texans voted for gay marriage.
KORNACKI: Well, plus, how much has changed in ten years since then, you
KORNACKI: States that were voting it down ten years ago have --
WALSH: And also, they really want to break up the marriage of a woman who
has ovarian cancer?
SOTO: They do.
DOMENECH: I mean, this is the attorney general in a state that does have -
- it`s a constitutional amendment, correct?
SOTO: It is.
DOMENECH: State constitution against this. And this is a judge and a
local clerk. From my perspective, as you say, there`s so much more
openness to this, I would be curious to have that vote again in Texas. And
I think -- one of the things that I think is sad, I think if you had waited
long enough, I think a lot of these states would have voted for it itself.
WALSH: A lot of people said that about segregation, too.
DOMENECH: Well, I think maybe in this case, I think that there`s something
that`s healthy that`s better about sort of going through the process of
convincing people to go along with this as opposed to just having a
situation where a local clerk makes a decision.
KORNACKI: The backdrop for all this, of course, is the Supreme Court`s
going to be weighing in on this fairly soon. There`s a school of thought
that the Supreme Court, you know, wouldn`t have -- if the Supreme Court
says this is illegal, they wouldn`t have done it ten years ago. They
waited for two-thirds of the states basically to come to this point.
DOMENECH: I think the Supreme Court is gong to end this.
KORNACKI: I think that`s the wide assumption right now. We`ll see what
happens. Thanks to my panel for today, Ben Domenech, Joan Walsh, Victoria
DeFrancesco Soto, I appreciate you all being here.
And still ahead, what do you do when working in Washington has become too
much of a mess? One congresswoman who`s taking a radical step will be here
to share her plan.
And next, chef Rocco Dispirito is here. He`s going to be weighing in on
the run for the White House. It will all make perfect sense in just a few
minutes. So, stay with us for that.
KORNACKI: If Jeb Bush seems a bit more svelt these days, he may be able to
credit his new diet. At a fundraiser in Florida last week, the former
governor mentioned that he started following the paleo diet late last year.
It`s a diet that encourages you to eat like cavemen did, no grains, no
beans, no dairy, no donuts like we have right here, but plenty of meat,
lean meat, as well as egg, fruits and vegetables.
Bush is following the diet so strictly that according to "Politico", he
turned down a piece of birthday cake at a fund-raiser, opting to just eat
the blueberry on top of it.
There are also new federal dietary guidelines out this week.
So, how do they jibe with Jeb Bush`s new dietary regime, and also what
about the corn dogs and the state fair staples and all those campaign trail
treats that seem to be a requirement on the road to the White House for any
presidential candidate out there? Nobody said winning the White House
would be easy, but Jeb`s comment at that fund-raiser left us wondering,
what is the best way to eat when you`re planning to run for president?
Renowned chef Rocco Dispirito says it`s possible to, quote, "Cook Your Butt
Off", and he`s not just speaking metaphorically. His new cookbook features
healthy recipes you can make at home. And he is here with us today.
ROCCO DISPIRITO, RENOWNED CHEF: What`s up? How are you?
KORNACKI: Perfect person to address this.
KORNACKI: I was talking to people on this our team this week, the paleo
diet, I`m still a little confuse by it. But they said everybody knows
about this now. What`s the cliff`s notes on what a paleo diet is?
DISPIRITO: It`s based on what cave man from the Paleolithic Era ate,
right? They were hunters and gatherers. There was no modern agriculture
at that time. They disappeared 10,000 years ago and modern humans emerged.
Then we started to plant things and process foods.
And before the advent of modern agriculture and processed foods, we hunted
and gathered and ate meat, berries.
KORNACKI: But they died at 21 years old, didn`t they?
DISPIRITO: They did but that was for other reasons. I wasn`t there. I
can`t give you the full stats.
There is some legitimacy to watching what you eat, first of all, 67 percent
of Americans are overweight or obese. You just spent two hours talking
about ISIS. And you should know that obesity killed 300,000 of Americans
last year. How many did ISIS kill?
Our own system -- food production system and our own diet is the greatest
threat to the American way, in my opinion.
KORNACKI: All right.
DISPIRITO: But I think you could draw an inference from how the candidates
conduct themselves in their diet to how they lead. I don`t think it`s
unfair to say that a candidate who`s actually thinking and conscious about
what he consumes is more likely to be more conscious about other things.
KORNACKI: So how do they do this, practically speaking? Because, I mean,
the rigors of running for president, you`re not sleeping the way you should
be sleeping. You`re sleeping in a different place every night.
DISPIRITO: It`s a marathon.
KORNACKI: Every event wants to feed you. This is the best chef in our
You`re being insulting if you don`t eat all this stuff. Remember there`s
that scene of Romney in 2012, they served him cookies and he said, what,
did you get these from 7-Eleven and insulted everybody there. You`ve got
to play along. How can you do one of these diets, and like Jeb, how can he
have the paleo diet and run for president?
DISPIRITO: There`s no question Jeb probably has someone preparing food for
him every day and sending him on his way or someone taking care of that for
him. It`s very difficult to run for office and also prepare all your
meals. So, that`s something I do for my clients.
And when my clients are out at state fairs and have, you know, temptations
like the corndog, I say, you know, pretend you`re a supermodel, push the
food around on the plate and say funny things, you know. And then go home
and eat the real food. They don`t really eat those things on a regular
KORNACKI: Is it OK to take a bite?
DISPIRITO: Of course, it`s OK to take a bite. You can`t throw the baby
out with the bathwater. Everything in moderation.
I love that Jeb is even thinking about his weight. Governor Christie, you
know, he`s a man who`s struggling with his weight. Do you think it will
have an impact on his chances for presidency?
KORNACKI: He`s lost a considerable amount of weight, too, actually.
DISPIRITO: He has. You know, I`d love to help him get to his weight-loss
goal at some point. But I think that how well you preserve yourself is an
indication of how you might try to preserve our nation.
KORNACKI: Let me ask you this. For a candidate or anybody who`s sort of
on the run and traveling around a lot, what`s a good basic -- what would
you give them as a good meal for the road?
DISPIRITO: You have to have a plan in place. You can`t just go in there
and wing it. It`s like government, right? You can`t show up in office and
wing it. You have to have a plan, a strong point of view, a set of core
values and principles that will help guide you. And you have to be making
conscious choices. Just like running the government.
And part of the plan might be bringing things, having things sent to you or
knowing what`s good to eat in the cities you go in. Also advocating for
yourself in a restaurant. When you walk in a restaurant, remember, you`re
in charge. You`re the customer. You`re paying for the service.
So, if you`re on paleo, you simply tell the chef, hey, I want protein, no
grain, no gluten and just make it happen.
KORNACKI: Gluten. What is gluten quickly? I still don`t know.
DISPIRITO: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. The
problem with gluten is two things. Number one, the genetically modified
gluten that we eat today is very different than the wheat we ate 50 years
ago. The other problem with gluten and wheat, it`s in such high
proportions now, is that it becomes toxic at high levels.
And what it does is causes leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that
tells us we`re full. When you eat foods that contain a lot of gluten, it
causes leptin resistance, meaning that hormone, that fullness meter is shut
off. So, we eat and overeat and overeat and overeat. And the more bread
we eat, the more foods containing gluten we eat, the more we crave them.
KORNACKI: Bread is delicious, though, on the other hand.
DISPIRITO: I see you`ve done a good job with the donuts today.
KORNACKI: These are good. They`re half gone already. Give us another 20
minutes, they`ll be all gone.
Anyway, my thanks to chef and book author Rocco Dispirito. Appreciate you
joining us this morning.
You can see his new book right there up on the screen.
Up next, we`ll go live to Boston where residents are not expecting more
snow at least for the time being. It doesn`t mean the forecast is an
Stay with us.
KORNACKI: It`s not even 10:00 a.m. yet on the East Coast, and the morning
is already off to a messy start for much of the country because of the
terrible winter weather we`ve been having everywhere. Northbound I-75 in
Georgia, that`s near the Tennessee state line, it is closed this morning
due to several accidents caused by icy roads.
For the first time in almost a month, New England is not, repeat, not
bracing for a weekend blizzard. The region has been hit by four major
storms in recent weeks. It doesn`t mean, however, that New England
shouldn`t be bracing for something else.
The Weather Channel`s Reynolds Wolf is live for us in Quincy,
Massachusetts. That`s just across the river from Boston.
A lot of snow behind you there, Reynolds. I don`t see any in the air
today. Are things looking up at all?
REYNOLDS WOLF, WEATHER CHANNEL: Dude, I`ll tell you, the only thing that`s
really looking up for the time being are the snow levels. You look behind
me and they`re really up high.
We are going to get a little precipitation in the forecast. Now, the deal
is we might see some snowfall later tonight and into tomorrow, then switch
over to rain. But we`re talking about the possibility of one to two, maybe
as much as three inches of precip. Nothing in comparison like you
mentioned with the snowstorms we`ve had over the last several weeks.
If you look behind me, though, you`ll also notice another feature. You see
these roofs, these houses, that`s one of the big problems that we have.
Keep in mind, we happen to be along Kent street here in Quincy. A couple
of these houses, especially the one over here behind me, that house -- we
spoke with the homeowner. The roof on the house was actually built by her
great-grandfather when he came home from the civil war.
So, yes, we`re talking about places that are really old and the roofs not
designed to handle the sheer weight. Can they handle snow? Absolutely.
Can they handle that much? I don`t think so.
The other issue on a lot of these houses, and, you know, this could be
Quincy, but they could be any other community that you have around Boston,
New England, and you`re dealing with much of the same thing. Heavy snow,
we`ve got the ice dams on the roofs. It`s a headache for so many people.
And let me tell you, my man, for these folks that call this region home,
spring cannot get here soon enough.
Let`s send it back to you.
KORNACKI: No kidding. Yes, a lot of history there, the city of
presidents. John Quincy Adams, John Adams from around there.
Anyway, thanks to Reynolds Wolf. Appreciate the report.
Not everyone seems to mind this miserable weather. A zookeeper in
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden shot this video of two red pandas
playing in the snow. Red pandas are native to the Himalayas. They also
love the cold and the snow. It`s a video not surprisingly that`s gone
It`s a perfect antidote to the winter blues, maybe. More than 900,000
people have shared it now on Facebook.
Coming up next, what do you do when you`ve had it with gridlock in
Washington? Well, Congresswoman Janice Hahn is doing something completely
unexpected. She joins us on the other side to tell us what that is.
Stay with us.
KORNACKI: California Democratic Congresswoman Janice Hahn announced this
week that she`s giving up her seat in the house in order to run for the Los
Angeles County board of supervisors. Very unusual move in politics.
She says she`s making that move because, quote, "There`s virtually zero
cooperation between the two parties. It`s not the kind of government I
grew up. I can do more for the Los Angeles region on the Board of
It may not be as quite as dramatic a step backward as it might sound as
"The L.A. Times" reports seats on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors are
among the most coveted, safe and powerful positions in the nation, so
powerful in fact the supervisors are actually sometimes called the five
kings. The job even pays better than Congress, too.
Congresswoman Hahn joins us now from Los Angeles.
So, Congresswoman, thanks for taking a few minutes.
Is this -- is this a commentary really a decision on what Washington has
REP. JANICE HAHN (D), CALIFORNIA: Hi, Steve.
Well, you know, it is. Washington, D.C. is mired in gridlock. There`s so
much partisan bickering. It`s not the government I grew up with. My
family has been in local government for about 70 years here in Los Angeles.
And while I thought I could do something in Congress to reach across the
aisle, to work on bipartisan issues, it`s more and more difficult to find
any cooperation, and I just think I can do a lot more coming home to Los
Angeles and working with my constituents with only four other people on the
county board of supervisors.
KORNACKI: So, you have been in Congress since 2011. Is there a particular
moment in that time where this just sort of gelled for you, where it was
like, look, I`m not going to get done when I wanted to get done here?
HAHN: Well, I think it hit me when it first came in 2011. That was the
summer, August of that summer was when we were fighting over whether or not
we should put this country into default by raising the debt ceiling and
paying our bills.
And then we went into that super committee with 12 people who couldn`t come
into a decision. So, then, we went into sequestration and I think that hit
me. I thought, you know what, I didn`t come to Congress to represent
700,000 people and have automatic triggers that would slash and burn
spending of really important departments in this country.
And, of course, now, we`re on the brink of defunding the Department of
Homeland Security if we won`t go along with the idea of agreeing to deport
about 5 million people.
So, it`s kind of this brinkmanship. We`re always on the edge of shutting
down the government, defaulting, defunding, and I actually believe
government has a role to play in people`s lives. It can be positive. I
think I can have that kind of experience back home in Los Angeles.
KORNACKI: What is -- what is the source of the breakdown you`re
describing? You have had these conversations with different members down
there. Where does it stem from?
HAHN: You know, I`m not exactly sure, but I do know that I hear about the
good old days in Congress, the days of Ronald Reagan and Tip O`Neill. The
days where there was disagreement between the two parties, but there was
more of an effort to find common ground, to work on the other side of the
aisle, to allow amendments from the minority party as you move forward in
agenda for the country.
But that`s just not happening. And clearly, the American people have told
us they are disappointed in us. We have about a 9 percent approval rating,
which I think used to be family and friends. I`m wondering if that
includes family anymore approving of what we`re doing.
So, I think the American people deserve more. I certainly think the
residents of Los Angeles will benefit from me coming home and working on
all the same issues, but actually getting something done.
KORNACKI: Giving up a seat in Congress, giving up a seat in the national
capital for local office. Interesting to see if this is a trend that
others start picking up on as well. We`re going to see what happens with
Congresswoman Janice Hahn, thank you for joining us. Appreciate it.
HAHN: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right. And thank you for getting UP with us today.
Join us again tomorrow morning starting at 8:00 a.m., when Senator Amy
Klobuchar from Minnesota will be here to discuss the president`s efforts to
combat homegrown terrorism in places like her state.
And don`t forget to join MSNBC on Wednesday. Jose Diaz Balart will be
hosting a town hall with President Obama in Miami. That is on Wednesday
night at 8:00 p.m., you are not going to want to miss that. Mark your
calendar right now.
Right now, you`re going to want to stick around for "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY".
So, have a great weekend.
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