'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, October 10th, 2015
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Show: UP with STEVE KORNACKI
Date: October 10, 2015
Richard Engel, Kristen Welker, Bill Neely
Guest: Eliana Johnson, Joe Watkins, Michael Tobman, Chuck Schumer, Suzy
Khimm, Mark Kimmitt, Reid Ribble, Eliana Johnson, Karen Bass, Chris
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: Courting Speaker Ryan.
Good morning. Thanks for getting UP with us this Saturday. I`m Jonathan
Capehart. We`ll bring you the latest on the breaking news out of Turkey,
an explosion at a peace rally in its capital city has left at least 30
people dead. An update in just a minute.
An urgent push this weekend to convince Paul Ryan to take the most powerful
job in Washington no one seems to want.
And how about the job people seem to actually want. We`re watching and
waiting on Vice President Joe Biden. The decision on his presidential
ambitions is expected any day now.
We`re just three days away from the first democratic presidential debate.
Senator Bernie Sanders speaking to MSNBC about how he is setting himself
apart from Hillary Clinton without attacking her. We`ll bring you that
interview later in the show.
But we begin this morning with breaking news overseas, where at least 30
people have been killed in a pair of explosions in Turkey. More than 100
people were also hurt when the two bombs exploded near a peace rally in the
capital city of Ankara.
NBC`s John Yang joins us live from Washington with the latest. John.
JOHN YANG, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jonathan, just horrible
images coming out of Turkey. That death toll like to rise because so many
of the injured are very badly injured. These two blasts came just minutes
apart outside the central train station in Ankara. That`s where people
were gathering for that peace march calling for an end to clashes between
Turkish government forces and Kurdish independence fighters in the
southeastern part of Turkey. The dead and injured were carried away on
banners that you see there that the marchers brought with them. Banners
Now, the attack has the characteristics of an ISIS-inspired attacks. But
right now there have been no claims of responsibility. But that doesn`t
mean there`s any shortage of suspects. Both the Turkish government and the
Kurds have been fighting ISIS in the region. And Turkish opposition
parties are blaming the government ahead of elections at about three weeks.
Just a little bit ago, Jonathan, the Kurdish militant group called for a
cease-fire -- Jonathan.
CAPEHART: John Yang in London, thanks very much.
Turning now to the big bombshell political story here this week. Pressure
continues to mount on Congressman Paul Ryan this morning as calls for him
to jump into the race for House Speaker pour in. Mitt Romney made a phone
call to his former running mate late yesterday becoming the latest
republican leader to join the growing chorus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Paul Ryan I know is thinking very
much about this and he could certainly bring more folks together.
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: If Paul Ryan got into the race, of course I
would support him. He would be the kind of person that I could get excited
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has with what no one else has right now.
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: He has moderate support and he`d very
clearly had conservative support. Members of the Freedom Caucus have come
to me one after another saying, let Paul know we would be with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Now Paul Ryan has said repeatedly that he`s not running but many
Republicans say, he`s still considering it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know a lot of speculation about who should run and
others. Paul is looking at it. But it`s his decision. If he decides to
do it, he would be an amazing speaker, but he`s got to decide on his own.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: It`s a decision that was thrust upon Ryan just two days ago when
Kevin McCarthy blind-sided Washington by dropping out to replace John
Boehner in the face of conservative opposition. Ryan is seen as one of the
few people who could unite the -- republican caucus. As for yesterday, a
spokesperson for Ryan said, he is, quote, "Still not running for speaker."
But that statements leaves open the possibility that the popular republican
may change his mind in the future.
Joining me now is the reporter who broke the stunning news of McCarthy`s
decision to drop out of the speaker`s race this week, Eliana Johnson,
Washington editor of the National Review. Thank you very much Eliana for
ELIANA JOHNSON, WASHINGTON EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Thanks so much for
having me, Jonathan.
CAPEHART: So what are you hearing about what Congressman Paul Ryan may or
may not do? Is he going to get in this thing?
JOHNSON: You know, all our sources right now are saying that Ryan is
considering the position. And right now it is down to conversations
between Paul Ryan and his wife. All along he said, if you remember the
first comment he made was this is a job for an empty nester. He has got
three small kids at home. And it is really jobs he thinks because of the
enormous fund-raising responsibilities that take the speaker away on the
weekends. A job that he didn`t want to do because he has got a young
family at home at Helmand (ph). So, I think he is talking this over with
his wife. But he is certainly giving it thought. Which is an enormous
change which is what he said for the past couple of weeks.
CAPEHART: You know, one of the things that`s very important is Congressman
Ryan spending time with his young children, someone who lost his father at
a very young age. Let`s talk about the timetable. When does Paul Ryan
have to make a decision on whether he is going to put himself up for the
JOHNSON: You know, John Boehner told the conference yesterday that he
would serve as long as he needed to serve. And so he doesn`t have a clear
timetable. That being said, I do think he is going to have to decide
probably in the next couple of weeks, if not this coming week. Just
because of the enormous public pressure that he is under. And so I think
we`ll hear from him this coming week.
CAPEHART: So everyone keeps talk building Paul Ryan as basically this
miracle worker in the republican conference. Can he actually bring the
JOHNSON: Right. You know, Paul Ryan, he is the undisputed intellectual
leader of the Republican Party in Congress. And he`s been tested on the
national stage as Mitt Romney`s vice presidential nominee. And that was
something that Kevin McCarthy hadn`t been. And in his first public
appearance, he slipped off and made this comment about Benghazi being --
the Benghazi committee being essentially a Politico committee intended to
damage Hillary Clinton. But I think we will have to see if Paul Ryan does
take his job, if he can manage the enormous challenge of bridging the
divide between the middle of the republican conference and the House
Freedom Caucus. That`s something we don`t know whether he can do and we`ll
see if he does decides to step up for the job.
CAPEHART: Yes. It seems like an impossible tact. Eliana, you`re staying
Let`s bring in the panel this morning. Joe Watkins, a pastor and former
White House aide to President George H.W. Bush. Michael Tobman, political
consultant and former adviser to Senator Chuck Schumer. And Suzy Khimm,
senior editor at the New Republic.
So, as we were discussing just now, the House republican caucus is in utter
disarray. Now, how did we get to this point? Let`s take a look back,
let`s go back six months ago when this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, I`m hitting the road to
earn your vote because it`s your time. And I hope you`ll join me on this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Hillary Clinton announced her presidential campaign in April.
And by May, the House had set up a select committee to investigate the
attack on the American consulate in Benghazi when Clinton was secretary of
state. Now fast forward to last week when Congressman Kevin McCarthy said
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), CALIFORNIA: Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was
unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee, a
select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Those comments helped derail McCarthy`s bid to be the next
speaker of the House on Thursday. The plan was for John Boehner to step
down on October 30th, one day after the House elected his successor. So
now we face a House of Representatives, a House barreling towards two
can`t-miss deadlines. The first, less than a month away. Congress must
vote to raise the debt ceiling by November 5th. If not, Congress sends the
economy into a tailspin by shredding the full faith and credit of the
United States. And by December 11th Congress and the President need to
agree on a budget in order to keep the government open. It`s a high-stakes
race for a republican-led Congress who can`t seem to agree on a speaker.
Does that calendar make anyone nervous besides myself? I`ll bring that
open, raise that with the panel, Joe. I mean, these are your folks.
MICHAEL TOBMAN, FORMER ADVISER TO SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: Well, the hope is
that Paul Ryan will make a quick decision and a positive decision that is,
that is one that is in the best interests of the country and certainly of
the Republican Party. He is somebody who can unify the party. I know it`s
a tough thing to ask somebody who has got young kids. Who loves his kids
and who loves his spouse, to take away time from them and to do it for the
sake of the country. But I think Paul Ryan is that patriotic kind of guy
who will step up to the plate to do it.
CAPEHART: Suzy, patriotic kind of guy who`s going to step up to the plate
and do this?
SUZY KHIMM, THE NEW REPUBLIC: I think the bigger question is what Paul
Ryan can do if he does decide to jump in to the race, what he is willing to
do to apiece the House Freedom Caucus. Listen, the demands that they are
making. And they have circulated this questionnaire that they have made
Kevin McCarthy answer to. That they`re asking, they would ask Paul Ryan to
answer to that would use precisely things like the government shutdown and
debt ceiling, you know, in order to negotiate and get more of what they
want, which is entitlement cost which is defunding Planned Parenthood,
which is defunding ObamaCare. This are very big asks and these are
deadlines they are coming right around the corner. So, I think that is
sort of bigger question in my mind is to, how is he going to bring these
folks over while keeping the government open while keeping our credit in
CAPEHART: Yes. Very big asks that are seemingly impossible when you have
a democrat who is in the White House who will never in a million years sign
a bill with any of those things in it. I`m so wigged out about this
calendar that I misspoke. It wasn`t May of this year that that Benghazi
committee was formed. It was May of 2014. But that doesn`t change the
fact that I`m still wigged out. So, Michael let me ask you this. What are
the things that Congressman Charlie Dent has said, he explore (ph) the idea
that Democrats could help elect the next speaker? I mean, what`s the
chance of that?
TOBMAN: Zero to none. But if it wasn`t McCarthy`s comment on Benghazi,
the Freedom Caucus would have found something else to take issue with.
They are putting an ideological sugar coating veneer on what this
essentially a power play. And this morning`s coverage said, we need this
to be a principle-driven conference instead of a power-driven conference.
Well, they`re just putting principles as the tip of the spear in order to
make their own power play and they want their own person name. If it
wasn`t Benghazi and his slip up showing he wasn`t ready for primetime, it
would have been something else. And just calling it ideologically driven
instead of power play to shape the message and the conference (INAUDIBLE)
doesn`t make it so.
CAPEHART: So their own person. This is the thing that gets me. And so
the Freedom Caucus wields all of this power. How many are there? Forty.
Forty people. And they wield all this power. And yet, is there a member
of the Freedom Caucus who has, one, put his or her name up for election.
And, two, who could actually get the speakership? And Eliana, if you have
a response to that, jump in.
JOE WATKINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think there`s anybody that can do
that. I mean, I think at the end of the day what makes Paul Ryan so
attractive is the fact that so many folks likes him and respects him and
he`s not in anybody`s hip pocket as such. I mean, he is somebody who has
already been test on the national stage. He was Mitt Romney`s running mate
for the vice presidency back in the 2012 cycle. And so, he`s somebody that
has the confidence of conservatives as well as moderate Republicans. And
that is somebody we needed this time. We need somebody to talk to
TOBMAN: I`m unclear if the concern is that they haven`t been playing hard
enough baseball, they haven`t throwing enough elbows to the Obama
administration on issues that are their priorities. I`m wondering, what
have they been doing for the past two years? They haven`t been getting
along. They wanted to just get along less? So, I`m unclear as to what
success looks like at the end of this. Because it is not going to be
defunding Planned Parenthood, it`s going to be rolling back ObamaCare.
It`s not going to be anything under top five or top ten list.
CAPEHART: Suzy, I want to bring, you wrote into "The New Republic" this
week. You said, a democratic aide compared the speaker fight to "Game of
Thrones." You wrote, they`ve said, "Ned Stark didn`t want his job at first
because that guy always gets his head chopped off. They persuaded him to
take the job and guess what, he gets his head chopped off."
I mean, that`s what I kept thinking when people keeping pining for Paul
Ryan that they love him now. But the moment he gets into the job, he`s
KHIMM: No. Because this is exactly -- I mean, in terms of what they have
done or what -- where we have been is continual brinkmanship the fact that
the reason that John Boehner stepped down this time is that he wasn`t
willing to do that over Planned Parenthood. That after he decided he
announced that he would be resigning, that they pass a clean government
thing bill just to keep the government open for two months without
defunding Planned Parenthood. And that was really the thing that caused
folks and the House Freedom Caucus and the conservatives to say, no, this
is enough. We don`t support this guy anymore.
CAPEHART: At some point -- because we have to go. But at some point,
won`t the next speaker be forced to work with Democrats to just keep
government functioning? Leave aside ideology. But we`re getting to the
point where government doesn`t function.
WATKINS: Yes, yes, I know. Well, that`s the hope. I mean, that`s the
reason why the outsiders are doing so well in the presidential cycle. I
mean, the rest of the American public is so upset with the fact that
Congress can`t get anything done, that politicians can`t agree. And so,
the hope is that a guy like Paul Ryan, I mean, you`re right, the job is an
impossible one. I mean, it`s like being prison in the United States, it`s
like herding cats. And it`s really hard to do. And once you take the job,
you`re probably not going to be popular with everybody. There are going to
be folks mad at you all the time.
WATKINS: But at the end of the day, I mean, Paul Ryan is probably the best
guy -- moving the government forward.
CAPEHART: And Eliana, last question to you. What`s the timetable here?
JOHNSON: Well, I think we`ll hear from Ryan this coming week. But I do
think it`s a mistake to say, you know that it`s a completely thankless job
and then everybody is destined to fail. Because conservatives -- it`s not
just the Freedom Caucus that has frustrations with Boehner. I think there
is a pretty wide agreement that Boehner wasn`t a great speaker. And
there`s genuine conservative frustration for him for not proposing, for
simply saying no to the Obama administration and not proposing genuine
conservative policy alternatives to what the Obama administration has put
forward. That`s something Paul Ryan has done and that he`s been genuinely
praised for and something Boehner hasn`t done. And I think it`s important
to acknowledge that.
CAPEHART: All right. Eliana Johnson, thank you.
JOHNSON: Thank you, Jonathan.
CAPEHART: We`ll going to seeing you in our next hour.
Turning now to the other republican race. Donald Trump expanding his
political map this weekend making his first campaign visit to the state of
Georgia. Trump had been scheduled to visit the state back in August for a
gathering by the website red state until he was disinvited by host Erick
Erickson for that infamous blood comment about Megyn Kelly.
MSNBC`s Anthony Terrell joins us from Georgia this morning. Anthony, I
read Donald Trump may be getting a visit from one of the most memorable
figures from the 2012 election today?
ANTHONY TERRELL, MSNBC REPORTER: That`s right, Jonathan. Herman Cain will
be here today. You remember, he led the field this time four years ago.
During his outsider race for the Republican Party, excuse me, as you hear
the band playing behind me. That`s Bill Gentry. They will be entertaining
the crowd here 20 miles north of Atlanta. They`re expecting about 7,000
people here today. Now Georgia is an important state, part of the super
duper primary on March 1st. They are one of the early voting states after
the first four. Now, Mr. Trump is also expected to meet with a group of
black pastors here before. It will be a private meeting. And so Mr. Trump
is expanding the map a little bit with some early state hires including
here in Georgia.
CAPEHART: Anthony, you deserve combat pay. Do you know the name of that
band that`s playing behind you?
TERRELL: Yes. That`s Bill Gentry. There`s a six-piece band that`s going
to be entertaining this crowd. He`s a large country music artist here in
Georgia. So, you will going to have an important country music artist here
from Georgia as well as Herman Cain. So, Donald Trump is bringing some
influential figures here, along with some black pastors who will be seeing
a little bit later on.
CAPEHART: MSNBC`s Anthony Terrell, thank you very much.
Still ahead, North Korea celebrating 70 years of its communist party rule
complete with Goose-stepping troops, ballistic missiles and armored tanks.
We`ll go to Kyung Yang (ph) later on in the show.
And could we be just days away from finally finding out if Vice President
Biden will run for president?
But next, we`ll go to Washington live where hundreds of thousands of people
are gathering to mark a historic moment in our country`s recent history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re watching you right now on satellite in the
South Pacific. They`re watching you in the Caribbean. They`re watching
you in Europe. A black boy in Rome, Italy is turning on his television and
looking at you and you have to wave at your brothers all over the planet
and give them a big shout-out from Washington, D.C. at the site of the
Million Man March.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: That was the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. back in 1995.
People are already gathering on the National Mall this morning to
commemorate the march`s 20th anniversary. The man behind this rally is the
same man who put together the original event, Nation of Islam Leader Louis
Farrakhan. Organizers say, the march is a protests of the failing
education system, as well as the recent killings of unarmed black men by
police. And it is meant to include not just Blacks but Latinos, women,
soldiers, and groups of various racist and ethnicities.
MSNBC`s Trymaine Lee is at the rally. He joins us live. Trymaine, I hope
you can hear us. The theme for today`s event is "Justice Or Else." What
do you think today`s theme means to the organizers?
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Of course it is very loud out
here. There are already thousands of people gathered here on the National
Mall. Now, as you mentioned earlier, it`s been 20 years. Hard to imagine,
two decades since the original Million Man March brought hundreds of
thousands, if now a little over a million black men here to this mall.
Now, back then it was about atonement, about community responsibility, and
about reconciling all the issues that were going on in the black community
at the time. As you might remember, it was the height of the crack
epidemic. Violence in the inner cities was spilling blood all across the
streets. Twenty years later it`s different.
This march is about a call for Justice Or Else. As you know, we are
wrestling with this national conversation about what many consider a wide
system of police brutality and abuse in particular against black men,
unarmed black men especially. But already here as the sun was setting,
Jonathan you could see thousands of people, members of the Nation of Islam,
members of different church groups, families, men and women. And what`s
different also is last time it was specifically aimed at black men, a day
of atonement, a day of reconciliation. But now you have Native American
groups who have come from all across the country, Hispanic, disenfranchised
people across all demographics. Now, there has been -- the first time
around a bit of controversy.
Now, the idea of Justice Or Else. So many people are asking, what is that
"or else"? Now, the Minister Louis Farrakhan organized the march say, the
or else is, we are at a tipping point. How much longer can a black men
they say be abuse by a system of white supremacy? Be abused by the police
before something happens. Before there is a tipping point and something
will force some change. Now, for so many people here whether they are
followers of the Nation of Islam, followers of Louis Farrakhan, they are
here to fellowship with other African-Americans. And they say it`s a
source of strength.
I had the opportunity to talk to three generations of one family. A young
man who is only 13 at the time of the original march. He came with his
five siblings and his father. Now, he is returning 28 years later with his
father, but also his son. And they say more than anything it`s about
unity. It`s about strength. It`s about showing the world that black
people can come together and express themselves in love and peace, and
unity and power. But, again, it`s already early. And back behind me on
the capitol steps, thousands of people, there are already people streaming
from either direction.
So, it is shaping up to what many hope will be a beautiful day. The sun is
shining. And again, you look around. There are families and children, of
course members of the Nation of Islam in suits. They started off this
morning with a traditional prayer, and then a prayer for prisoners and
those who were returning home. Another time we message just last week the
Department of Justice announced they would be releasing 6,000 prisoners who
they say were disproportionately charged. So, again, this time around
Justice Or Else, thousands of people are descending upon the mall and
they`re hoping to shape up to be another historic day -- Jonathan.
CAPEHART: All right. MSNBC`s Trymaine Lee there on the National Mall,
thanks very much.
Still ahead, the United States ends its program to change Syrian rebels
while Russia intensifies its military campaign against them.
And next. Waiting for Biden. We`ll go live to Wilmington, Delaware where
the Vice President is mulling one very big decision. Stay with us.
CAPEHART: Now we set our sights in Wilmington, Delaware, where the Vice
President and his family are reportedly gathering possibly to discuss and
decide on a 2016 run. That amid some new clues this week from Biden
circle. And unnamed DNC source telling "The New Yorker`s" Ryan Lizza that
Biden representatives were briefed on the 2016 primary calendar and filing
deadlines. Those are the basic mechanics of running for president. And
then there`s the Draft Biden Super PAC releasing a controversial ad
centered on the tragic losses Mr. Biden and his family has experienced
throughout his political career.
After a few days a source close to the Vice Biden told the LA Times that
Biden hoped the new ad wouldn`t air. Draft Biden quickly releasing a
statement saying, quote, "Nobody has more respect for the Vice President
and his family than we do. Obviously we will honor his wishes." Putting
all of that aside, Biden has not raised a single campaign dollar. And his
support in the polls draws primarily from Hillary Clinton`s pool of voters.
NBC`s Ron Allen is live for us in Wilmington, Delaware. Ron.
RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I wish I could sort all of that
out for you, Jonathan. But, you know, there are clues. There are false
clues. The only person who knows what he is going to do is Joe Biden. And
maybe his wife and member of his family who are very close to him. And as
you know, this is a very emotional decision for him. He`s a guy who has
suppressed this very openly, very publicly that he is still very much grief
stricken by the loss of his son. And he is trying to determine whether he
has the fortitude, the emotional fortitude to do this. So there`s that
And you`re right. There are also a lot of practical considerations as
well. And a lot of essentially tea leaves to read, which can be read in
many different ways. For example, he is not participating into the
democratic debate this Tuesday. So, that could be a sign that he`s not.
But he is also someone who has run for president a couple times before. He
has been in this political game for many decades. So he may not need to
get in as soon. And those meetings that were supposedly had with his staff
and the DNC earlier this week, there are some people who are saying, well,
he knows how to run for president. So was that really that significant or
not? So, at this point, maybe we will learn something this weekend, maybe
we won`t. But again, obviously this is Joe Biden`s decision to make.
CAPEHART: And one thing we`ll do is we`ll keep our eye on the driveway.
They`re behind you. Ron Allen, thank you.
If Biden decides not to run, Clinton will likely hold her commanding lead
over her closest challenger Senator Bernie Sanders. But if Biden gets in,
Clinton`s support drops by 13 points according to an analysis of polls over
the last month. Clinton and Biden would fight for older, moderate
Democrats who have traditionally supported an establishment candidate as
well as people of color who Biden would need to attract for any hope of
winning in South Carolina, Nevada, and southern Super Tuesday states. So,
panel, throw this open to you. You heard in Ron`s report. I mean, it`s
sort of a tortured process here, the signs that it looks like Vice
President Biden will jump in, signs that Vice President Biden won`t jump
in. Let me take a temperature, do you think he`s going to get in, Suzy?
KHIMM: I think that --
I wouldn`t be surprised if he did. I wouldn`t be surprised if he didn`t.
I mean, listen, aside from the personal factors that he is weighing here,
which are obviously very heavy on his mind, there is a bigger question
which is, what kind of candidate is he going to be? His policy differences
with Hillary Clinton while they exist on things like foreign policy and so
forth, they are pretty small. He can`t distinguish himself ideologically
the same way that Bernie Sanders has been able to do. So, I was speaking
to a source from the Draft Biden effort and his pitch to me was that,
listen, Joe Biden is likable. He can pitch himself as a bipartisan kind of
dealmaker. He has friends in the Senate. But that doesn`t seem to be the
kind of moment that we`re in right now --
KHIMM: This idea that we`re going to have a consensus builders. So, that
leaves him with what, the option that he is more trustworthy than Hillary.
Is he going to go negative on her in terms of the e-mail scandal? You
know, the questions surrounding the use of her private e-mail, that can get
very messy very quickly.
CAPEHART: Well, you know, you mentioned the fact that there are very few
policy differences between the two of them. But in one area where there
are policy differences, that`s foreign policy. And Peter Baker in the "New
York Times" had a story where a Biden run would expose foreign policy
differences with Hillary Clinton. And he warned against -- well, Vice
President Biden warned against a Special Forces raid in Pakistan that
resulted in the killing of Osama Bin Laden. He urged that they wait for
more intelligence. Hillary Clinton was a prime advocate for arming and
training opposition forces in Syria, a push colleagues didn`t remember him
joining. And in recent days she came out against President Obama`s trade
pack, the Trans-Pacific partnership. So, those are huge differences there.
WATKINS: But I don`t think policies is everything that drives the decision
for Joe Biden. I mean, if I were him, I would say, why not? I mean, why
wouldn`t he run? I mean, given his age, given the fact that he has run
before. Given the fact that he just spent eight years as the vice
president to President Obama. Why would he not run for the presidency now?
Would it not be the wish of his late son? Obviously, he is still getting
over the untimely death of his son Beau Biden. But why would he not run?
What reason would there be for him to run?
TOBMAN: It`s much like we see the Freedom Caucus taking control of the
conversation over who is going to be the next speaker. Within the
Democratic Party, we also have the issue of the Elizabeth Warren, Bill De
Blasio, progressive wing, far left wing of the Democratic Party. How much
they are going to drive the conversation? And I think a Biden candidacy
would perhaps move things more to the middle of the road both on domestic
policy and on issues of trade. And we see Hillary opposing the recent
trade deal in order to sort of present herself better in the left wing.
CAPEHART: And Mike, do you think that that will -- given what you just
said, then who is more electable is that, does that argue for Biden or does
that argue for Clinton?
TOBMAN: I believe that you govern and you wing and you succeed by being in
the middle. And that you could be a little middle left, and a little
middle right. We have to be in the middle. There is also an issue of
gender. And we talk about who is more electable. You know, we are walking
in a minefield here. And I see moderate Democrats in the Midwest and I see
a lot of southern Democrats being more comfortable to Biden candidacy than
a Clinton candidacy.
CAPEHART: Well, it`s interesting you raise that because there is a town
hall in New Hampshire. Do we have that sound? Let`s play that and then
we`ll come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did she persuade you at all?
CLAIRE HELFMAN, NEW HAMPSHIRE DEMOCRAT: She did persuade me at all. I
have seen her more than once. And she`s great, there`s no doubt about it.
But again, I think that people are not very -- they are so emotional about
who they vote that they may not vote for her simply because of the baggage
that she carries. And Biden does not carry much baggage. He is very easy
to be with. He doesn`t have to try hard to be likable. And she -- I think
that when you`re one on one with her or a small group, she`s great. But I
think a lot of people have been turned off by her because of her persona.
She has to work at it. He doesn`t.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the fact that we will be denying the first
woman who had the real chance to being elected president, does that bother
HELFMAN: I think to me the main thing is to elect an electable democrat.
And I believe that he is a more electable democrat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: All right. So, that was the bite that we were trying to get to.
So, how do you respond to what she was saying?
TOBMAN: I think that the electorate is stressed out. And I think that
they are tired. And I think there is real fatigue about being stressed
out, and about being worried. Whether it`s about economic situations or
tackling another first. We just had the first African-American president.
Is the country ready to embrace the first female president, or do they need
a bit of a calming influence in someone they know, they can trust, and are
comfortable around. And I worry that that`s not fair. But I do worry
that`s a bit of these guys out there.
CAPEHART: I mean, I think Democrats are just spooked too easily. They
freaked out over any negative piece of news. But that`s just me. One of
the things in that first bite that we showed from the woman there being
interviewed by Andrea Mitchell at that town hall and that is when she said
that Joe Biden doesn`t have the baggage that Hillary Clinton has. And I
heard that and I was like, are you sure?
KHIMM: I mean, pieces of this are going to come out. But they would
definitely be way in the forefront if he actually jumped in the race. I
mean, just look at what Joe Biden did in terms of having a crackdown on
through the criminal justice system. That he in fact, played a big role in
terms of this sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine in the 1990s.
He does have all the -- in `90s baggage. He supported NAFTA, he supported
welfare reform. He hasn`t been, as some feminists are starting to point
out, he`s personally for life and he hasn`t been the strongest on women`s
rights and women`s issues. So, I think that there is a lot of policy
baggage there --
KHIMM: -- if you want to talk about where the Democrats were in the 1990s,
where they are now. And I think that will start to come out if he actually
became a candidate and actually was under that kind of scrutiny.
CAPEHART: And I think you`re right, Suzy. Still ahead, we`ll bring you
the latest news from Turkey about those deadly explosions at a peace rally
when we come back.
CAPEHART: If you`re just joining us, we want to update you on the breaking
news we`ve been following this morning. Two deadly explosions at a peace
rally in Turkey. The death toll has now climbed to 47. More than 100
people were also hurt when two bombs exploded during the rally in Ankara.
No one is claiming responsibility yet for the blasts. And Turkey`s prime
minister has called an emergency security meeting to discuss the attack.
We`ll keep you posted on any developments throughout the day.
But still ahead, changing course in Afghanistan. Why our troops might not
be leaving just yet. Stay with us.
CAPEHART: The Obama administration is now rethinking its military strategy
on two different fronts in the Middle East. First, Afghanistan where the
President is considering a proposal that would keep close to 5,000 troops
there beyond 2016. This coming as Afghan Security Forces struggle to
regain territory lost in Kunduz to the Taliban. And as Defense Secretary
Ash Carter said the rapid troop withdrawal in Afghanistan that began nearly
two and a half years ago will need to be readjusted. All of this coming
one week after a U.S. air strike destroyed a hospital run by doctors
without borders and killed 22 people in Kunduz Province.
Next, Syria. On Friday, the Pentagon announced it would end its $500
million program to train and equip Syrian rebels. The Defense Department
saying it will instead provide equipment packages and weapons to a select
group of vetted leaders and their units. This as Russia ramps up its
aggressive military campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar al
Assad. And as Islamic State militants make gains on the outskirts of
Aleppo Syria`s second largest city.
Joining us now is retired Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, former assistant
secretary of state for political military affairs. General, thank you very
much for being here this morning.
BRIGADIER GEN. MARK KIMMITT, U.S. ARMY (RET): Sure.
CAPEHART: You know, with regard to Afghanistan, the Pentagon program was
supposed to put thousands of fighters on the ground but they only trained
four or five people. Four or five people. What do you think went wrong
KIMMITT: Well, first of all, I think you`re referring to Syria, not to
KIMMITT: But in the case of Syria, I think it was very clear. The U.S.
government was half-hearted about the program to start with and put such
severe restrictions on the training program. They had to be vetted, they
had to pledge they wouldn`t fight Assad, they`d only fight ISIS. And we
wouldn`t put U.S. personnel on the ground either as advisers or ground
troops or spotters. That the policy was inconsistent to start from and a
failure in the long run.
CAPEHART: And sticking with Syria. I apologize for that mistake. You
know, Secretary Ash Carter has said this week that Russia will ultimately
pay a price for the air strikes that they are doing in Syria. And here`s a
bit of what he said. Let`s take a look now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEC. ASH CARTER, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: They have initiated a joint ground
offensive with the Syrian regime, shattering the facade that they are there
to fight ISIL. This will have consequences for Russia itself. And I also
expect that in coming days the Russians will begin to suffer casualties in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: General, what`s going on with that comment? What`s he talking
KIMMITT: Well, I think he is explaining the rationale for why we were
unwilling to do it. Look, the fact remains is that the Russians came in
because there was a vacuum inside the country. And to a great were extent
in our area, the eastern portion of Syria, there is a vacuum. The Russians
are very clear. They`re not necessarily about propping up Assad. They are
about maintaining a central government inside of Syria that doesn`t fall
and turn Syria inside a rebel-held 40-group organization that will resemble
Somalia and not a unified state. And so I believe what Secretary Carter is
really trying to do is rationalize why the U.S. is not doing more.
CAPEHART: Uh-hm. General, isn`t that the key here? That because Syrian
is one, an ally. But, two, it`s right there on their border, that the
Russians are afraid of having a failed state right there where you will
have militants who could stream across the border and cause trouble in
KIMMITT: Well, I think it`s a number of reasons. First, exactly as you
said. But second, they have got strategic interests, they`ve got the warm
water port and partos (ph) that they have operated out of for many, many
years. And it gives them a presence on the Mediterranean. And third, it
takes the pressure off the criticism going against Ukraine. President
Putin is taking advantage of the United States. He sees a vacillating
leadership inside the country. He wants to promote his own view of the
world and Russia has a super power. And his domestic audience loves his
CAPEHART: You know, that is a very, very good point there on Ukraine
there. Thank you very much former Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt.
CAPEHART: Still ahead. A former member of the House Freedom Caucus will
join me. I`ll ask him if he thinks there`s any way, any way Congressman
Paul Ryan will take on the role of speaker.
And next, it`s a big day for one of America`s most famous and beloved pets.
Details ahead. Stay with us. Oh, look at that.
CAPEHART: So, there`s a lot going on this morning. So, let`s get caught
up on some of the other headlines with today`s panel. So, Donald Trump,
who never fails to disappoint in terms of theatrics and performance had a
super fan show up at his campaign event in Las Vegas. I`m already laughing
because I have seen it. Can we just play -- just play the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m Hispanic and I will vote for Mr. Trump! We vote
for Mr. Trump! Yes! Mr. Trump, we love you! We love you all the way to
the White House!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Okay. I mean, it`s like she won the showcase on "The Price is
Right." This whole thing has rendered everybody speechless. And I thought
yesterday, I said this cannot be real. But it`s real. This is happening.
This is going down in Up --
-- as the one topic that has completely stumped the panel.
KHIMM: Yes. So, I was actually -- I was at a Latino Festival in Leesburg,
Virginia. An hour outside of Washington, D.C. And I`ll tell you that they
were not expressing the sentiment this morning. They weren`t following
politics very closely. They didn`t align themselves with either party.
But they are pretty united in their hatred and disdain for Mr. Trump. So -
CAPEHART: Hatred and disdain?
KHIMM: Yes. Ow. No, no, no, no, I really, the sentiment was so strong
and so clear across, you know, all sort of ages, all sort of political
affiliations. It was really universal in there. So anyway, that sort of
explains my own speechlessness at this clip. But you know, he has his
folks out there.
TOBMAN: We were talking on the break. I`m moving to Toronto if he is
elected president. It`s a lovely city. They have a booming downtown. A
lot of nice restaurants. Everything is in French. Great baseball team.
Lovely city. I have been at a loss for a couple months now on TV and
writing and just in conversations, friends and family. How to explain
this. How to explain him. And it`s a side show.
CAPEHART: It`s a side show. It is a car wreck. It is all those things.
And we all keep watching. We have two more things that we have to get to.
Pizza rat. Pizza rats back and pizza rats gets pizza jacked. In New York,
it`s so famous for his pizza. Even the rats are fighting over it. Check
out this video. Look at this. Watch. It`s my pizza. I`m taking the
WATKINS: I would do the same thing.
CAPEHART: Now, watch this. Here it comes, here it comes. No. I`m taking
my pizza back. No. No. Mine.
WATKINS: I feel the same way about it. And New York pizza is so
delicious. Yes. I wouldn`t go down on to the subway, under track.
CAPEHART: Yes. That`s right.
TOBMAN: Our -- are the best. Our rats are the best. Our news programs
are the best. So, why not? Our rats are hungry.
CAPEHART: And what`s clear is they are finding food. Not just bits of
WATKINS: Whole slices of pizza. Whole slices.
CAPEHART: Now people are just throwing slices on the tracks.
TOBMAN: They are looking to see who will challenge Bill de Blasio in the
next re-election, pizza rat. Pizza rat for mayor.
CAPEHART: And I don`t know if we have this graphic. But there is a pizza
rat costume for Halloween. Which I don`t know if everyone will look as
good in the pizza rat costume as the person who is pictured in the pizza
rat costume. But I just put it out there. There you have it.
The other story we have, Bo Obama, the beloved dog of the first family
turns seven. And it is a look inside the first dog`s bitching life.
There`s the dog going up. There`s Bo going up Air Force One. There`s Bo
pulling the person for a walk. There`s Bo there. Maybe that`s the Rose
Garden trying to get Bo to Martha`s Vineyard. Look at that. I mean, the
dog has got the life. Bo and a rainbow lei inside there doing the Hawaiian
thing or celebrating marriage equality. And there`s Bo and Sunny there
with me on a little visit there to the White House back in April having
lunch with a friend who has since left. And we heard some barking. Sure
enough, there they were.
KHIMM: Has they been polling on Bo in terms of -- you know, is he the most
popular Obama in the White House?
CAPEHART: Yes, he is. His popularity is at 100 percent. A full hour of
news and politics still ahead. Stay with us.
CAPEHART: Is the party over?
CAPEHART: Thanks for staying with us this Saturday morning.
Still ahead this hour, the latest on the breaking news out of Turkey. An
explosion at a peace rally in its capital city, leaving at least 47 dead.
An update in just a minute.
Also this hour, Republican lawmakers scramble to find a leader with some
major legislative challenges just around the corner. We`ll get the inside
scoop from a Republican congressman
The summer of Trump that never ends. Donald Trump maintaining his lead.
Even his friendliest competitors are preparing for battle. >
Plus, a massive military parade overnight in North Korea as that nation`s
leader declares that his country is fully ready to defend itself against
the United States.
And as the Supreme Court begins its new term, what awaits the nation`s high
All of that still ahead this hour.
But, first, we want to update you on breaking news out of Turkey, where two
explosions near a peace rally have killed at least 47 people. And the
death toll may climb even higher. More than 120 others were hurt in the
NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel has the latest from
Istanbul in western Turkey.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Jonathan, the people
at this peace rally were young people, student leaders, people from trade
unions, intellectuals. And they were gathering in Ankara. Many of them
had just come from the main train station in Ankara.
And the numbers were starting to grow when suddenly two massive explosions
went off. The death toll has been rising all day. The latest official
figures say is at least 30 killed. More than 120 injured. Some of the
injured were carried away in the same peace banners that they had brought
to the demonstration. The timing of this is very sensitive and very
suspicious in fact.
There were key elections in turkey in just three weeks. Most of the people
at this rally are not supporters of the government. They want the
government to stop the violence that has been going on here particularly
between government troops and Kurdish militant groups. That was why they
were attending this peace a rally. They say the government didn`t do
enough to protect them.
The government has -- because of the timing, the government has suspended
some of its election campaigning and convened emergency meetings. But this
is an important attack for Turkey. It comes at a sensitive time. And
there are many different suspects.
CAPEHART: Richard Engel, reporting from Istanbul, thank you.
Turning to our top story this hour: insurgency ripping apart the Republican
Party coming to a dramatic head this week. On Thursday, a faction of House
conservatives torpedoed Kevin McCarthy`s bid to replace House Speaker John
Boehner. The stunning turn of events leaves Republicans struggling to find
a consensus candidate who can take the range ahead of the upcoming high
stakes race to avert a government shutdown and to raise the debt ceiling.
NBC`s Kristen Welker joins us live from the White House.
Kristen, thanks for coming on. What is going on here?
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS: That is the question everyone has this morning,
Jonathan. Good morning.
Stunned members of Congress are trying to regroup away from Washington.
Most of them at home this holiday weekend. And the name emerging is the
most likely replacement for the current House speaker is former vice
presidential candidate, Congressman Paul Ryan. But it`s not clear that
Ryan wants the job.
WELKER (voice-over): With House Republicans leaving town without a leader,
all eyes are now on Congressman Paul Ryan, the consensus candidate who top
Republicans want to be the next speaker of the House.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Right now, I`m just going to get to place
so I can make it home for dinner.
WELKER: The 45-year-old father of three has consistently said he`s not
interested, content with his current position as chairman of the powerful
Ways and Means Committee that oversees tax law.
RYAN: What an absolute privilege and honor it is to chair this committee.
WELKER: But, Friday, it was clear, he would have a lot of support even
among potential opponents.
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: If Paul Ryan got into the race, of course,
I`d support him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul would be a great speaker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Paul Ryan is the right person to do this.
WELKER: But the more conservative branch isn`t totally on board.
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: I`m not committing to anything at this point.
WELKER: This all comes after Congressman Kevin McCarthy stunned his
colleagues and Washington Thursday, by announcing he was dropping out.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), CALIFORNIA: I think I shocked some of you, huh?
WELKER: He dismissed rumors that a whisper campaign led to his ousting.
This week, a conservative Republican warned any candidate for leadership
who has committed misdeeds should withdraw from the race, although he did
not named McCarthy. should drop from the race. McCarthy saying that had
nothing to do with his decision.
MCCARTHY: No. Come on
WELKER: The chaos comes as the House is facing a long to-do list,
including needing to pass a spending bill to keep the government open and
raising the debt limit or face default. A House divided but seeming to go
agree on one point.
CHAFFETZ: I think people want to get it right rather than do it too fast.
WELKER: Ryan even took a call from his former running mate Mitt Romney who
apparently urged him to run.
Now, the outgoing speaker, John Boehner, has said he will stay on until an
election for his replacement. We are watching very closely -- Jonathan.
CAPEHART: All right. Kristen Welker there at the White House, thank you.
Now amid all of this chaos, excuse me, conservative Republicans are saying
not to worry. Their party will only emerge stronger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kevin made a selfless sacrifice for the good of the
institution and for the good of the conservative movement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will see the party more unified than it`s ever been
BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it can not only survive,
but it can thrive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: But the establishment wing of the Republican Party is issuing
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: It was like chaos. And it is.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If we have a meltdown in the
house, we can`t govern the House, then it`s going to hurt our chances to
win in 2016.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: If this turmoil continues, I can surely
understand why people would wonder what`s going on in the Republican Party.
That`s just a little straight talk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Joining me now, Congressman Reid Ribble of Wisconsin, who
recently left the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which led the charge
against McCarthy`s bid for House speaker.
Congressman Ribble, thank you very much for being here.
REP. REID RIBBLE (R), WISCONSIN: Jonathan, I`m happy to be with you.
CAPEHART: So, Congressman, why did you leave the freedom caucus?
RIBBLE: Well, I was with the Freedom Caucus right from the beginning. And
our original ideas were to shape the process inside the House of
Representatives. How legislation advances to the floor. And then to help
move policy forward that represented our conservative values. When the
speaker left and they decided to pivot towards focusing on the leadership
race itself, for the leadership races, for me I didn`t want to vote on bloc
with the group on leadership, because I need to represent the voices here
in Wisconsin that sent me to Washington D.C. and I want them to hold my
card, not any particular disparate group within the conference.
CAPEHART: Another congressman, Congressman Tom McClintock of California,
also left the Freedom Caucus. You`ve left, he`s left, are others planning
on leaving the Freedom Caucus?
RIBBLE: No, I don`t think so, because I think everybody is taking a look
at this -- our entire conference and they`re looking at the Republican
House and making decisions on their own as to what would be best for them,
their constituents and ultimately the party.
And you try to leverage as much influence as you can. And, listen, it`s
not just the freedom caucus. There were 70 members of, 70 defense hawks
that wrote Speaker Boehner a letter saying that they won`t for any omnibus
that doesn`t break on the budget caps on defense. So, there are these
groups that are pooling votes together in the House all the time. And this
is not unusual.
CAPEHART: You know, one of the things the Freedom Caucus is trying to get
done is procedural changes, which they say -- well, a lot of people are
saying would weaken House leadership. And I`m just wondering won`t these
changes make it even harder for Republicans to governor in the House?
RIBBLE: Well, the changes that they`re asking for is simple. That they
want the rules to be set up equally and enforced equally to every single
member. So, if you`re working on a piece of legislation and you get 150 or
200 co-sponsors, right now, there is no guarantee that that legislation
will even get a markup in committee or even brought to the floor of the
House. While a bill with no co-sponsors can move right to the floor.
And all really members are asking for is an order or system of rules that
are applied fairly to every single member. And that`s really what they`re
CAPEHART: And, Congressman, one more question before I let you go. Kevin
McCarthy, when he dropped out of the speaker race, said he was staying on
as majority leader. Is that acceptable to you and is that acceptable to
the freedom caucus?
RIBBLE: It was certainly acceptable to me. I was supporting Kevin
McCarthy to move up to speaker. It is fine for him to stay as majority
leader. I think most of the members feel he has done a pretty good job.
He has been inclusive. And I even think many of the Freedom Caucus members
would say that he has been a good majority leader. They were uncomfortable
with him as speaker, two different job titles there and the roles are very
But I think that they`re going to be totally fine with Representative
McCarthy as a majority leader.
CAPEHART: OK. Congressman Ribble, thank you very much for spending your
morning with us and taking the time.
RIBBLE: Good to be with you, Jonathan.
CAPEHART: And the panel is back. I want to talk about this panel, former
Republican aide Joe Watkins, political consultant Michael Tobman, and Suzy
Khimm with "The New Republic".
So, what`s your reaction to what you just heard from Congressman Ribble?
What I thought was interesting is that Kevin McCarthy is wonderful as
majority leader. He`s inclusive. But not wonderful enough to be speaker.
WATKINS: Well, it`s got to be somebody that everybody can trust. That`s
why Paul Ryan seems to be everybody`s pick. I mean, I mean, he`s somebody
that everybody can work with, everybody can trust. It doesn`t mean that
he`s going to be successful in getting everything done that the different
factions want to see done. But he is somebody everybody feels they can
work with and they have tremendous confidence anymore. You remember,
though, when it comes to politics, all politics are local.
That`s why you heard this congressman say at the end of the day I`m going
to take a pass because I have to be concerned with my district and the best
interest of my district. Ultimately, that`s what it comes down to for
every member of Congress.
CAPEHART: Go ahead, Suzy.
KHIMM: Well, I think there is one thing that stood out in terms of what
the Congress was saying. He`s saying that he originally joined the House
freedom caucus because he and others wanted procedural reforms, to be able
to bring certain amendments, certain legislation to the floor.
And that was really what I heard from Congressman Huelskamp, who still is a
member of the House Freedom Conference. When I spoke with him on Thursday,
he called Boehner a dictator in terms of the way he was ruling over the
conference, saying that he would threaten committee seats and so forth if
members went out of line.
But these are exactly the kind of procedures that would also lead to
certain kinds of brinkmanship over the debt ceiling, over funding the
government on a basic level. So, I don`t think so you can separate out the
kind of more extreme demands of the Freedom Caucus to some of the
procedural changes that they want to see, although there are some things
that could be done, they say, just to make the process more Democratic
without leading to those kind of things.
CAPEHART: You know, they say they want to make the process more
democratic. When I hear them say that, what I hear is we want votes on
what we want. And we want it to go our way.
TOBMAN: That is exactly what I was going to say. Not to -- I`m glad I`m
not the only cynic.
CAPEHART: I`m just realistic here.
TOBMAN: Yes, exactly. What they want is what they want. The next speaker
will find a way, even implementing rules reform and process reform, to
advance their priorities and to keep the chaos to a simmer rather than a
rolling boil. Legislatures need strong leadership to negotiate
successfully with an executive and with the Senate that has a different
tradition and a different history.
What they are saying is we want what we want. And they are taking an
opportunity to make themselves more than they are collectively. That`s
fine. But like the Congressman Ribble said, the only person he wants
holding his card are the voters back home. Nobody is going home to their
district and hearing about rules reform. It doesn`t come up.
TOBMAN: It`s a sugar coating on something they want.
CAPEHART: Suzy, you said something to me you were talking to Huelskamp who
said John Boehner was acting like a dictator and taking away committee
assignments. That`s what a speaker does.
KHIMM: They will go out and say we want to change what the speaker does.
We want to reduce his power. We want to have more power. I do think that
they would actually admit to this, saying that, no, the members deserve
more power. We deserve to have our legislation -- if that means shutting
down the government over Planned Parenthood, then they are willing to own
WATKINS: That`s why style matters as much as substance here. That`s why a
choice of a guy like Congressman Ryan is so important, because of the style
as well as the substance.
TOBMAN: This is the lament of every legislature and every large legislator
that has a story of strong speakership.
In New York City, we recently had Speaker Sheldon Silver had to step down
amidst a criminal indictment, and then we have this clamor for rules reform
and committee chairs should be able to hire their own staff and they should
be able to have discharge petitions in order to get legislature. Wherever
you have a legislature with a strong speaker, you`re going to have this
It will be interesting to see in the Freedom Caucus, except there`s some
senior members. I think relatively new members.
WATKINS: That`s right.
TOBMAN: You know, they are just sitting there talk building when they get
CAPEHART: I`m just wondering about what point does the Republican
conference realize that it has a responsibility to govern versus it has a
responsibility to themselves to keep themselves happy.
TOBMAN: I really thought after the main line, be mainstream establishment
Republicans wanted a majority in the Senate as resoundingly as they did
showing acumen and style and political polish, that that would have turned
a corner and we have could put this far right thing behind us. But it
actually emboldened them to saying, we are not like them and we have to
contrast ourselves from these folks.
CAPEHART: Real fast, Suzy.
KHIMM: So, the one thing about Congressman Paul Ryan is that as much as
some conservatives are talking him up, he was also willing to be pragmatic.
He was also willing to strike a two-year budget a deal with Senator Patty
Murray in order to avoid the kinds of brinksmanship and the kinds of threat
of a government shutdown we are seeing right now.
The question is whether that that pragmatism is still acceptable to
conservatives in the party?
CAPEHART: I`m so glad you brought that up and reminded everybody that Paul
Ryan is a pragmatist, does concern himself with the functioning and, you
know, governing and if he were to become speaker, we will see if he is able
to do this.
TOBMAN: This segment just sunk his prospects for --
Still ahead, North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un saying that his country is
ready to fight a war of any kind. A report from inside North Korea still
And next, Trump maintains his lead in the polls while it appears one of his
friendliest competitors prepares to turn against him.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to just start by saying
Kevin McCarthy is out. You know that, right? I said you really need
someone very, very tough and very smart. You know, smart goes with tough.
Not just tough.
I know tough people. They`re not smart. That`s the worst, OK?
But it`s bedlam in Washington right now, bedlam. It`s a mess. I have
never seen anything like it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: With the drama inside the Republican Party up on Capitol Hill,
it`s easy to forget that tensions stretch over to the Republican race for
president where outsider Donald Trump still maintains his healthy lead over
his establishment counterparts. We are about three months from the Iowa
caucuses and the latest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll has Trump ahead
by five there, which about mirrors his standing nationally, an average of
polls has him leading Ben Carson by six.
Let`s bring back Eliana Johnson, with "National Review."
Now, Eliana, we are well beyond Trump being a summer fling, right? I mean,
it`s cold outside, but the party seems to be cuddling up with the guy.
JOHNSON: He is not a summer fling. And who knows how long his rise will
last. But I think we can say, certainly, his support has plateaued. He
was once over 30 percent in the polls. Since the Republican debate in
September, his support has declined. He`s leveled off at around 25
percent. And I think you can see that that`s about his ceiling of support.
And Ted Cruz, interesting enough, who has cozied up to him, has honed in on
this and said that Donald Trump is not going to be the nominee. And I
think Cruz has been a very savvy campaigner is realizing the Trump support
has leveled off. And he can perhaps now eat into some of that support.
And Cruz said Trump won`t be the nominee. And that a lot of his supporters
will hop over to Cruz.
CAPEHART: Eliana, you know, Ted Cruz will be on Rita Cosby`s radio show
tomorrow. But the show released some of the sound from that interview.
You and the panel -- take a listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In time, I don`t believe
Donald is going to be the nominee and I think in time, the lion share of
his supporters end up with us. And I think the reason is what I was just
saying, that if you look to the records of all the Republican candidates,
there`s a big difference between my record and that of everyone else. If
you ask who has stood up to Washington, who has taken on not just Democrats
but taken on leaders in their own party, Republican leadership.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Now, I mean, this is really interesting, because Ted Cruz has
had Donald Trump in a bear hug from moment one, hoping that Trump would
implode and all his supporters would come over to him. But that`s not
happening. And now, he is attacking Donald Trump.
And we have all seen what happened to people who attack Donald Trump.
WATKINS: Donald Trump attacks back. No doubt about it.
For anybody who thought he was just a fluke, I mean, he has been able to
retain his standing in the polls as a leader, even number one and number
two. Back in July he was number two. Then he surged into the leadership,
and managed to retain it.
I think that if he has serious enough ground game in Iowa and New
Hampshire, you have to consider that he`s somebody who has the chops to win
the party nomination.
CAPEHART: You`re talking Donald Trump here, yes?
WATKINS: Trump, absolutely. You can`t take it for granted. He spent less
money on media and campaign than all the other candidates, $2 million to
date, because he is taking advantage of earned media or free media because
of the statements he`s made. He is a very, very smart guy. If he has the
ground game to go with the publicity, he`s going to be very, very tough to
beat in Iowa and New Hampshire.
CAPEHART: Is this a sign that -- Ted Cruz attacking Donald Trump, is this
a sign that Ted Cruz is probably in trouble?
KHIMM: I actually think that Ted Cruz feels like he is now in a place
where he might not be able to get all of Trump supporters as he is claiming
now, but at least enough to put them together with some other portions of
the Republican base to gain some momentum.
I was at the Value Voters Summit a few weeks ago where you had religious
conservatives. This is a really key demographic and key constituency for
Ted Cruz. His supporters were all over the place there. That they`re
really -- really the question is who can get enough support behind enough
different little slices of the Republican base to gain momentum, to show
some sort of bump in the polls, which is what he is going for right now.
CAPEHART: Going for a bump in the polls. But it`s not hurting when it
comes to fund-raising. Ted Cruz -- do we have that chart? Ted Cruz, he`s
got $12 million raised in this third quarter and almost $30 million raised
overall. So, wherever he is in the polls, he`s got staying power in this
race, doesn`t he?
WATKINS: Money raised doesn`t necessarily mean that you`re going to do
well, perform well. I mean, Jeb Bush has raised a lot of money, over $100
WATKINS: Jeb Bush.
And he`s had some challenges in the race.
Donald Trump, as I said, has spent less. He has the ability to self-fund
because he`s a billionaire. But he spent less than the others. He has
performed extremely well in the polls.
So, I mean, raising money, it`s going to be hard for Ted Cruz to break out
of the single digits.
CAPEHART: Michael, real fast and then I got to go to Eliana.
TOBMAN: This has been a pageant up until now. But when the voters are
actually in the booth and they need to decide between a brash, successful
real estate developer in New York City whose family started off building
affordable houses in Parkway in Brooklyn, or a party stalwart who shares
their priorities and their policy ideas, we`ll have to see how that goes.
Right now, it is all fluff.
CAPEHART: And, Eliana, I`m going to end on you. And what Michael just
said, what do you think the Republicans are going to do? Are they going to
side with the billionaire or are they going to decide with the die-hard
conservative out here on Capitol Hill who is fighting the fight?
JOHNSON: I think eventually, you`re going to see Donald Trump decline, Ted
Cruz rise. And I would say, this is a very different campaign season for
Republicans where actually they don`t have a strong or presumptive
establishment nominee. Jeb Bush has been weaker than people anticipated.
And they have a wealth of choices among the insurgent candidates, which we
haven`t seen in years past. So, it should be very interesting.
CAPEHART: Yes, it will. Eliana Johnson with "National Review", thank you.
Still ahead, a Democrat fills us in on the state of the speaker`s race from
her side of the aisle.
And next, fanfare in North Korea, we`ll tell you why they are celebrating.
Stay with us.
CAPEHART: Huge celebrations in North Korea today as the country celebrates
the 70th anniversary of the ruling Communist Party. Thousands of troops
marching into Pyongyang`s main square with armored vehicles not far behind.
North Korea`s supreme leader Kim Jong-un presided over the ceremony saying
North Korea is ready to defend itself against threats from the United
NBC`s Bill Neely is Pyongyang for us -- Bill.
BILL NEELY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hello from a rainy Pyongyang,
where I have just seen the biggest military parade in North Korea`s
It was undeniably impressive in an uncomfortable kind of way because no one
does a military parade like North Korea. It is without question the goose-
stepping capital of the world.
But, look, this was first and foremost a show of strength, of troops, of
tanks, of planes, of missiles.
The Pentagon will be looking at these pictures trying to work out are there
any long-range missiles here that they haven`t seen before. Remember, this
is an army that regards the United States as enemy number one.
This was not just a display of mass loyalty. It was also a defiant message
to America. Don`t mess with us. Don`t try to stop us from developing the
nuclear missiles we believe are our sovereign right. And, of course, that
is exactly what the United States is trying to do, because North Korea has
a nuclear capability at the moment. But not, we believe, the means to
deliver a nuclear warhead to the American mainland.
They also heard from the podium up there, the supreme leader, Kim Jong-un
addressed the crowd. He had a message of defiance. He said our policies
are driving the United States into a dilemma and into a corner. And it is
my firm intention to continue strengthening the army.
You can possibly hear the army chanting behind me right now, because this
celebration of the 70th anniversary of the ruling communist party isn`t
over. Although it`s still raining here, the celebrations will go on.
There may be fireworks, although they might be slightly dampened.
But there`s no dampening of the enthusiasm here, not only of the army but
of the North Korean people. There was almost mass hysteria here, as the
people came close and saw their leader up on the platform. They were
crying, weeping, and almost dancing for joy. There`s no doubt their
So, the celebrations here will go on for some hours to come.
This is Bill Neely in Pyongyang, North Korea.
Back to you.
CAPEHART: Bill, thank you.
An update now on those deadly bombings in Turkey, bombings that have now
killed at least 86 people. Turkey`s health minister updated the death toll
minutes ago. Two bombs exploded during a peace rally in the capital of
Ankara. More than 180 people were also hurt. No one has claimed
responsibility yet for the attack. And we`ll continue to update this story
as we learn more.
But still ahead, some of the highly contentious cases the Supreme Court
will hear in the coming weeks.
And next, one of Kevin McCarthy`s Democratic colleagues in the House who
knows them from their days in the California essentially is here to give us
insight into the man who will not be speaker.
Stay with us.
CAPEHART: Long before he was House majority leader, before he was even a
member of congress, Kevin McCarthy was a California state assemblyman. He
was elected back in 2002 and chosen in his first term to be the Republican
leader there. One of his Democratic colleagues then, the state assembly
speaker, is now a colleague on Capitol Hill, Congresswoman Karen Bass.
And she joins us now to shine some light on Kevin McCarthy`s legislative
Congresswoman Bass, thank you very, very much for being up with us from Los
I have to ask you, from your experience, Kevin McCarthy, was he willing to
work with Democrats when you were together in the California assembly?
REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Yes. He was definitely willing to work
with Democrats. But remember, Democrats definitely had the majority. So,
he had to.
BASS: And I think what has happened is quite ironic because when Kevin was
in Congress, one of his first assignments was to recruit Republicans to
run. So I think it`s really sad. Because it seems like some of the ones
that have turned on him are the ones that he was also helpful in them
winning their elections to Congress.
CAPEHART: Now, how has he evolved from his time in the California assembly
to his time in the House of Representatives? Have you seen a change?
BASS: Well, no. I actually think he`s been pretty consistent. He was
very deliberate when he was in Sacramento about building relationships. He
was well thought of, very friendly guy, well liked. And he systematically
built relationships in Sacramento and he did the same in Washington, D.C.
So I think he has been consistent.
However, the politics in D.C. are so extreme. You know, I definitely see
him as more conservative than he was in California. But I think he had to
be that way, especially serving in the role as whip.
CAPEHART: You know, one of the things I find interesting is that in all
the conversations about Congressman Paul Ryan, they have been centered
around the fact that Paul Ryan is a policy guy. He was House Ways and
Means committee chairman. I believe he was budget chairman before that,
someone with big policy chops.
But when you hear the discussions about Kevin McCarthy, it all focuses on
personal style. As you were just talking about his ability to get along
with people. Has that been -- I mean, it is one thing to be able to get
along with people, but is that a detriment, something that`s bad for
someone like Kevin McCarthy?
BASS: Well, I think they are certainly using that against him. But if you
think about his role as whip, you know, the purpose and the job of a whip
is to collect votes and to make sure that legislation passes. So you are
not often working on your own legislation.
Now, I have worked with McCarthy on legislation. We worked together on
legislation related to foster care, as well as sex trafficking. And he was
instrumental in making sure that that legislation got through.
So I think one of the big differences is that he has not been a committee
chair. And given that your tenure in Congress is so long, I think Paul has
always been known as a policy wonk and Kevin has not chaired a committee.
So, you know, maybe he didn`t have the opportunity to develop policy in the
same way Paul did.
CAPEHART: And one more question, NBCBLK has a report out that says, this
is an analysis, could the Black Caucus leverage votes in race for the
speaker? And one of the things that is in here, it says that it could come
down to third or fourth ballot where the Congressional Black Caucus, you
can correct me on the number, I believe it`s 46 members, that they could be
a bloc that could determine who the next speaker is. How likely is that?
And who would the CBC be looking for?
BASS: Well, I will tell you I can say pretty comfortable the CBC is going
to be voting for Nancy Pelosi as speaker.
CAPEHART: Any of you have -- Suzy, did you have a question for Karen Bass?
I saw you --
KHIMM: Yes. I guess one thing I was wondering about is how successful you
think McCarthy actually had been as whip? I mean, one of the things that
kind of struck me was he was whip at points in which Boehner, in an attempt
to ease conservatives in the caucus, would try to push some last-minute
deal through, but would end up falling apart. And they would end up having
to go over and get Democrats to go over and get a fiscal cliff deal, to be
able to keep the government open and so on and so forth.
So, I`m just wondering how effective do you think he has been in this job
BASS: Well, frankly, you know, having served in the job as speaker and
listening to your earlier conversation, I think that Speaker Boehner was
relatively weak. I mean, I think he should have started from a premise of
we`re going the get legislation passed. And if we need Democratic votes to
do it, that`s what we`re going to do.
So, that whole premise of the Hastert rule, which he`s even distanced
himself from, I think was wrong to begin with and I think that they were
too soft to begin with. So, you know, I would think in the opposite way.
That they should have been much more hard lined. But that has to come from
the speaker, not the whip.
CAPEHART: And one more question, Congresswoman Bass, like I was saying
before, all the focus is on Paul Ryan. One, do you think he would jump in
and become speaker? And two, how well do you think he would do?
BASS: Well, I -- I mean, I think it`s a real interesting question. I
mean, my own opinion, and I don`t know this from talking to him, I think he
has presidential ambitions. And I think if you have presidential ambition,
you don`t want to settle yourself with being speaker, because I don`t care
who the speaker is, you have to make tough decisions and you make enemies.
And then, you know some of the real conservatives have said they`re unhappy
with him around his stance on immigration and his budget deal. So, I`m not
really sure that they wouldn`t eat him alive the way they have eaten Kevin
alive and Boehner.
CAPEHART: And on that note, Congresswoman Karen Bass, again, thank you
very much for being on this morning.
BASS: Thank you for having me on.
CAPEHART: Still ahead, Bernie Sanders tells his thoughts on Hillary
Clinton and how he plans to address her in the first big debate now just
three days away. A preview of that interview coming up.
But next, a new Supreme Court term coming up. What can we expect this
year? Details ahead.
CAPEHART: The Supreme Court began its new term just a few months after the
high court affirmed same sex marriage and upheld Obamacare. Those liberal
leaning decisions didn`t come quietly and we can anticipate more fireworks
from the nation`s highest court during this new term too. The court is
expected to tackle a number of hot topics, the ACA`s contraception mandate,
public employee union piece and affirmative admissions at universities.
And for a preview of what`s to come, we`re going to bring in Chris Geidner,
legal editor at "BuzzFeed". Chris, thanks very much for coming in.
CHRIS GEIDNER, BUZZFEED: Good morning, Jonathan.
CAPEHART: So, our Pete Williams says we could expect some big victories
for court conservatives this time around. Do you agree with that? What`s
on the docket?
GEIDNER: Well, we -- as we learned last term, as the year goes on, the
term gets more and more interesting. Like last year, when the term started
in October, we didn`t yet have the Obamacare case or the marriage case.
And this year, we have a similar situation where we expect that we are
going to get another Obamacare case relating to -- they already heard the
case about whether or not for-profit companies had to -- how they had to
handle the contraception mandate.
Now, there`s cases going up about how non-profit companies, who have is an
exception to the contraception mandate, whether the exception even is too
much of a burden on their religious interests. And then there`s also these
questions coming out of Texas and out of Mississippi about abortion
restrictions and sort of the vein of these abortion restrictions are
restrictions on abortion providers.
And so, both of those cases, the court hasn`t said which of several
different cases in both of those areas that they`re going to take. But
most of us expect they are going to take at least one case in both of those
WATKINS: Any idea as to what the court might do on the issue of
GEIDNER: Well, no. We don`t know.
GEIDNER: I mean, what happened, the case, it`s still Abigail Fisher`s case
out of the University of Texas-Austin that the court heard a few years ago
and what they said then was that the appeals court basically didn`t analyze
the issues closely enough and didn`t apply the standard properly when
examining what UT`s motives were and what their interest for the program.
Now, that case, the Fifth Circuit reviewed the case again and again upheld
UT`s affirmative action policy. And Abigail Fisher brought the case back
to the court. And the court this spring said, yes, we`re going to take it
So, that obviously has people in support of the affirmative action policy
pretty concerned about whether the court is going to either limit
affirmative action policies further in higher education or potentially get
rid of them altogether.
TOBMAN: And over the past several years, we have seen fewer and fewer
cases being heard by the Supreme Court are having the final say on a lot of
very serious issues. So, we are seeing a continuation of this. We are
only going to hear the broadest issues and the broadest cases and not get
into technical fixes that were just going to lead more and more different
circuits around the country?
GEIDNER: I think when you look through the docket you see there`s ERISA
cases about tax laws. There`s cases that have to do with how specific
statutes are going to be applied. There`s a case relating to Iran and
banking in Iran.
There are lots of cases that go into the nitty-gritty of specific details.
But overall, the court`s docket, as it gets smaller and smaller, there are
just fewer issues that are able to be resolved by the Supreme Court.
CAPEHART: And, Chris, we`re going to have to leave it there. But I have
to give you mad props on your tie. I like your tie.
GEIDNER: Thank you, sir.
CAPEHART: Chris Geidner of "BuzzFeed" -- thank you very much for being
Just ahead, what one college student experienced when New York Police
Commissioner Bill Bratton caught her smoking a joint on a New York City
street. Can`t wait for this. The details are next.
CAPEHART: Yes, there is still a lot going on this morning, so you have
even more headlines to get caught up on with today`s panel.
Bernie Sanders did an interview with MSNBC. Let`s play a clip of what he
had to say and then react to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a lot of
respect for Hillary Clinton and I have known her for 25 years as a friend,
but we have real differences of opinions.
I do not have a super PAC. I don`t want the billionaire class. I don`t
represent corporate America. I don`t want their money. We raise money
I have been firm in my opposition to disastrous trade agreements. So, I
know what I stand for. Hillary Clinton knows what she stands for. Let`s
have that debate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: As you can see, that`s from "POLITICS NATION WITH REVEREND AL
SHARPTON". It will be on tomorrow morning at 8:00 right here on MSNBC.
Your reactions to that? I mean, it`s all on policy, not personality here.
KHIMM: That`s definitely what Bernie -- from having talked to Bernie
supporters, that`s exactly why they`re supporting him for the reasons that
he is pointing out. His stand against money in politics, his ideological
opposition to Wall Street handouts, and that sort of thing.
I mean, you`ve seen Hillary move left. You saw her reject the trade
CAPEHART: Right, the TPP.
KHIMM: -- that she`s previously supported. You saw her reject the
Cadillac tax, which the labor unions have been opposed to.
CAPEHART: The Keystone pipeline.
KHIMM: These are differences that I think both Hillary and Bernie will be
willing to embrace. I don`t think Hillary is trying to get -- she`s
getting more to the left. I don`t think she is trying to get to the left
of Bernie. That`s not where she sees her fate in the general election.
TOBMAN: It`s just another proof point and symptomatic of people`s unease
with the Clinton candidacy, whether she prevails in getting the nomination
or not. In fact, this point is besides the point that people are talking
about issues that she just simply cannot embrace. Se cannot go as far left
as Sanders is insisting she go on these issues.
CAPEHART: I mean, the thing we have to remember, though, it`s not like
Bernie Sanders is a big D Democrat. She`s a socialist. So, there`s no
possible way Hillary Clinton could get to the left of Sanders.
WATKINS: That`s correct. And in New Hampshire, he`s still leading. I
mean, he`s close in Iowa and leading in New Hampshire. The first caucus,
the first primary. I mean, these -- this is a huge statement.
TOBMAN: What he is authentic. There is no artifices, there`s no
backtracking. He doesn`t need to triangulate and reposition himself. He
is sincere and holy, himself, I believe people, especially those that are
already predisposed to agreeing with him respond to that and take great
comfort. And they`re excited about his candidacy.
CAPEHART: Well, that`s for sure. He has thousands upon thousands of
people showing up.
TOBMAN: But aren`t getting as much coverage as Trump rallies.
CAPEHART: Right. Well, yes, that is true.
Let`s turn to "New York Magazine" because we tease this and talk about it.
New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton snatches a joint from a
woman in the street, throws it in the sewer. He recalled how as he was
leaving a meeting, he smelled marijuana nearby and spotted the perp, a
college student. He politely took the joint, which was being tossed by a
woman on her way to class and throwing it in the local sewer, and then
suggested to the student who recognized him, quote, "that she might have a
better academic day without being high."
WATKINS: Good for him. Good for him.
KHIMM: Let`s keep in mind this, that Bill Bratton also believes that
marijuana has led to an increase in the murder rate. That it is a huge
factor to spike up violent crime. I think that may be a littler bit far in
terms of the impact that it has.
I think for me, this seems like a throwback to the old days of broken
windows, zero tolerance policing -- that kind of sentiment, though. You
TOBMAN: I don`t know that I agree, it`s a nice New York City moment. And
I suppose in the early Giuliani years, the police commissioner would have
tackled the perpetrator and handcuffed her and that would have been news.
CAPEHART: Well, you know on that point -- I mean, he does say, though he
could have arrested her, he refrained from doing so.
CAPEHART: So we have less than a minute left, but I can`t let this go.
"Huffington Post", "Climate change, this year`s pumpkin crop." The canned
food industry expects pumpkin yields to be down as much as half due to high
rain quality in Illinois where 85 percent of pumpkins consumed in the U.S.
I would argue that there is a pumpkin shortage, because pumpkin everything,
pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin this, pumpkin that.
WATKINS: Sweet potato pie. That`s the answer. That`s the answer. Sweet
CAPEHART: Instead of pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie.
WATKINS: Sweet potato pie.
CAPEHART: I could never tell the difference between the two.
WATKINS: There`s a difference.
CAPEHART: There is a difference and sweet potato pie is good.
Thank you to the panel today on sweet potato pie. Joe Watkins, Michael
Tobman, and Suzy Khimm.
And thank you for getting up with us today, join us tomorrow morning Sunday
at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time.
Coming up next, "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY".
Have a great Saturday.
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