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Meet the Press Transcript - November 30, 2014

MEET THE PRESS -- SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2014

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, a Meet the Press summit. Race in America. Protests across the country following a grand jury's decision not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA:

A deep mistrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color.

CHUCK TODD:

Are we just as divided under America's first black president? Plus, are Democrats turning on President Obama? This week, a surprising attack from one of the leaders of the party.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER:

Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them.

CHUCK TODD:

And the Republican revolution.

SEN.-ELECT JONI ERNST:

We are heading to Washington and we are going to make them squeal.

CHUCK TODD:

What impact will younger, more conservative GOP lawmakers have on the country? I'm Chuck Todd. And joining me to provide insight and analysis are Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post, my colleague at NBC, Andrea Mitchell, Helene Cooper of The New York Times, and Rich Lowry, editor of National Review. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, this is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

And good morning. One huge story has dominated the news this week. It's the aftermath of that grand jury decision in Ferguson. Last night, we learned that Police Officer Darren Wilson resigned from the Ferguson police force. Wilson submitted a resignation letter in which he wanted to stay on, but that quote, "the safety of other police officers and the community are of paramount importance to me. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal."

Well, there's a lot of healing that needs to be done. So this morning, we're going to focus on race relations in this country. Almost three-quarters of the way through Barack Obama's historic presidency. In a moment, I'll be joined by Deval Patrick, The first black governor of Massachusetts. And later, we'll have a special panel to discuss race in America. But let's start by looking at how President Obama has handled that most explosive of issues.

(BEGIN TAPE)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA:

There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America, there's the United States of America.

CHUCK TODD:

President Obama, who cast himself as a symbol of hope for a post-racial America a decade ago saw that vision splinter again this week, replaced by the split-screen reality.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA:

We are a nation built on the rule of law. And so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury's to make.

CHUCK TODD:

On one side, images of tear gas and protests. On the other, a cautious commander in chief who is running out of time in office. The president's reticent after a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown stands in stark contrast to the highly personal comments the president made after another teenager, Trayvon Martin, was shot by a civilian two years ago.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA:

You know, if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. Another way of saying that is that Trayvon Martin could've been me 35 years ago. There are very few African American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.

CHUCK TODD:

Barack Obama has had to shoulder the burdens and expectations of being the nation's first black president since before he was elected to the job. Six years ago, then Candidate Obama, gave what was then a risky speech about his experience as a black man in America. His hand forced by the controversy over former pastor Jeremiah Wright.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA:

I can no more disown him than I can disown my white grandmother, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who pass her by on the street.

CHUCK TODD:

That speech was praised. But a year later, he learned that launching a conversation on race could have pitfalls, when he criticized law enforcement for arresting Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA:

The Cambridge Police acted stupidly. There is a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. And that's just a fact.

CHUCK TODD:

Police union officials in Cambridge called for an apology. The president backed away from his criticism and diffused the controversy with a photo op, a beer summit. The president's supporters have sometimes been more willing to say the color of his skin may impact how some Americans perceive his presidency than Obama himself.

COLIN POWELL:

There's also a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party.

CHUCK TODD:

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell indicted the tea party on this show last year. This week, hesitant to criticize law enforcement, the president has argued that though there are still problems, the country has made enormous progress in race relations. But some disagree.

CORNEL WEST:

Ferguson signifies the end of the age of Obama. It's a very sad end.

CHUCK TODD:

Nearly six years into the Obama presidency, household income for African Americans is just $35,000 a year. That's $25,000 less than for whites. And no better than when the president took office. White unemployment was 4.8% last month. Black unemployment was 10.9%. Black men are more than six times as likely as white men to be incarcerated. And black men between the ages of 15 and 19 are 21 times as likely as whites to be killed by a police officer.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

I'm joined by the outgoing Democrat governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick. Governor Patrick, welcome back to Meet the Press.

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

Nice to see you, Chuck. Thanks for having me.

CHUCK TODD:

Before you made it into elected politics, you worked in the Clinton Justice Department back in the '90s. In fact, in the civil rights division. This is now with the grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, the civil rights division is investigating. Walk us through that process. What are they investigating? And what action could they end up taking?

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

Well, it's a higher bar, as we were talking about off camera, that the DOJ has to consider. It's a consideration about whether there's been a violation of civil or constitutional rights that is different from what the grand jury in a state prosecution has to consider. And it'll be a tough case to bring.

And I say that without knowing all the puts and takes of the case and what all the facts are. It'll be very difficult. It's very important I think that DOJ is investigating it. And I know that Attorney General Holder has been urging that investigation. And will drive it through to conclusion.

CHUCK TODD:

Did you want to see an indictment?

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

Look, without knowing all the facts, of course I wanted to see an indictment. And mostly because I think a trial and the transparency of a trial would be good for the community. And because so many of us have the supposition that police officers are not going to be held accountable and not going to have to answer for the shooting of unarmed, young, black teenagers.

But the facts and the process, as the president said, does have to be respected. That is separate and apart from the anxiety so many black people have about encounters with law enforcement. The anxiety that some in law enforcement have about their encounters with black people and the startling lack of understanding between the two.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's interesting. You were asked in an interview in August about Ferguson. And you were asked how you would've handled the situation if you were in President Obama's shoes. And you simply said, "I'm glad I don't have to."

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

But what would you be wanting President Obama to do? Anything more than he's done on Ferguson? Do you think he should go?

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

Well, I think he wants to go by the way. And that's not because I know that.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

I just sense that, knowing the man, I think he'd like to be there to comfort the family of Michael Brown who are having to relive this tragedy all over again and to reassure both the community at large and the community of law enforcement.

CHUCK TODD:

So why isn't he going? He wants to go, but he doesn't want to?

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

Well, my sense is, what I would suspect, you asked me what I would do, I think the reason it's a quandary is because the federal government is investigating right now. And you don't want to appear to influence that investigation.

CHUCK TODD:

But Holder went. And he's part of the investigation.

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

Well, you still don't want to appear, I think as president, to influence that investigation. I think also that the president is in a really tough place. Trying to be and having elected to serve as president of the whole country, and having higher expectations on issues related to race. And I've experienced that at home.

CHUCK TODD:

I was just going to say, how did you deal with an issue like that? Do you feel as if you were worried about looking like you were playing favor?

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

Yeah, I did. And I remember there was an early experience, relatively early experiences, it all seems early now. You know, almost eight years in. But when we had a terrible loss of a teenage boy, a black boy in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. And it appeared to have been a gang-related killing of a marvelous kid from a marvelous family.

And the mother in her anguish called me out in the media and said, you know, "Where is the governor?" Now, governors aren't normally expected to come to street crime scenes. She hadn't called out the mayor. But we had run a very grassroots campaign, so we had engaged a lot of people. And the expectations of me, by virtue of being a black elected official, were different. And I had to learn that. And ultimately, I did go out.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to shift gears here a little bit to the future of the Democratic party. I want to play for a you a bite from Senator Chuck Schumer, who almost comes across as indicting President Obama's first year in office, because he said healthcare was a mistake. Take a listen.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (ON TAPE):

Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them. We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem: healthcare reform. But it wasn't the change we were hired to make. Americans were crying out for the end to the recession. For better wages and more jobs. Not changes in healthcare.

CHUCK TODD:

You agree with that?

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

Well, I respect Senator Schumer, but no, I don't agree with him. I mean, I think Americans understand the interconnectedness of a whole host of solutions that government should pay attention to. Not that they think government should solve every problem in their lives. But that government should help them help themselves. And you ask somebody who is not insured and is sick, or someone who is getting buried by healthcare-related debt, whether healthcare reform makes a difference. And they will tell you that it does make a difference.

CHUCK TODD:

Where's the Democratic party go from here? Is it soul-searching time for the party?

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

Well, I think it ought to be. I mean, I think Election Day was a good day for Republicans, a great day for Citizens United. And a bad day for Democrats who don't stand for anything. And when Democrats stand for something, or as I have said in the past, grow a backbone, and standup for what it is we believe, we win. Because what we believe is what the American people are--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

So you think Democrats made a mistake by running away from President Obama?

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

I think it was a huge mistake. You know, this is a president who's presided over explosive growth in corporate profits, in stock market returns, employment that's come back strong after the worst economic collapse in a generation or two. Universal healthcare, bin Laden's removal and the end of two wars, and on and on and on.

And one problem I think that the president has is that he doesn't tell that story very well or very regularly. You know, the importance of repetition is something I had to learn. And it's not to say that everything has been solved. We've reached the promise land. But we're certainly better off than we were.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, on Hillary Clinton, you have praised her, talked about that you admired her from afar, you don't know her very well. But you say you're concerned about this air of inevitability, that it's bad for the party. Explain.

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

Well, I think first of all, Hillary Clinton, Secretary Clinton, excuse me, has been an extraordinary public servant and would be a terrific candidate for president. But I think that the narrative that it's inevitable is off-putting to regular voters.

CHUCK TODD:

So she should be challenged in the Democrat party?

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

I don't mean that as a criticism of her. I just think that people lead inevitability as entitlement. And the American people want and ought to want their candidates to sweat for the job. You know, to actually make a case for why they're the right person at the right time.

CHUCK TODD:

You were a 1% guy when you first decided to run for governor. And you ended up winning that Democratic primary. You might be a 1% or 2% guy if we did a poll right now nationally. Are you thinking about it in 2016?

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

I've thought about it, but no, I can't get ready for 2016. And by the way, you know, I ran for governor. This is the first elected office I've held. It's been two really challenging and fun terms where we've emerged at leadership nationally and education and healthcare and veteran services, energy efficiency, economic competitiveness, and so on. But I didn't run for the job to get another job, just to do this job.

CHUCK TODD:

Why didn't a Democrat replace you? Why did a Republican? Do you feel as if it was a rejection of your two years?

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

I wasn't on the ballot. I ran against the governor-elect four years ago when we had a different outcome then. We had a good candidate who got better as she came--

(OVERTALK)

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

Yes, indeed, to Election Day. Of course, she was outspent nine or ten to one. And the--

CHUCK TODD:

You don't feel any responsibility for her?

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

Well, look, I'm sorry. But the outcomes of elections depend on the candidates, not the folks on the sidelines.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Deval Patrick, outgoing governor of Massachusetts.

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

Good to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

Thanks for coming on Meet the Press.

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK:

Thank you, thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Good to see you. Let's turn now to the panel. Andrea Mitchell, I want to start with you. And we're going to go back to Ferguson here a minute and President Obama on his handling of it. It was interesting to hear Governor Patrick say that there is a higher level of expectation that's put on. He felt it as governor.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Really?

CHUCK TODD:

And President Obama in some ways feels it.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I think what the White House is trying to do, and you pointed out so adeptly in your setup piece, he's handling this very differently than Trayvon Martin. He clearly identifies, and many, many people identify with Michael Brown and with the Michael Brown family.

But because it's a case involving law enforcement, I think that the White House is a little bit more restrained in their ability to step into the middle of this, even though there's been a lot of outreach, a lot of outreach, privately Valerie Jarrett reaching out, talking to people in the community.

I think that the presence of the president of the United States, in a situation that volatile, involving the law enforcement community where facts are, they've been disputed, would be potentially a very difficult political--

CHUCK TODD:

Eugene, as he been too reticent?

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Well, you know, this is the ultimate no-win situation. Isn't it? I mean, I wrote once when he was running for president that in order to win, he had to be seen as the least-agreed black man in America. And I believe that's true. Because if he doesn't, he loses part of a white constituency that just goes away. I mean, let's be honest. And so he's damned if he goes, he's damned if he stays, he's damned if he says anything substantive. He's damned if he equivocates. And that's just the lot of the first black president of the United States.

CHUCK TODD:

Rich Lowry, you have been very skeptical of the entire Michael Brown story and in general. I'm curious what you think of how the president, his public statements, what do you make of them?

RICH LOWRY:

Well, I would have tweaked some things he said last week. But basically, I think he was right on. And I really appreciated the sincere and heartfelt denunciation of the random and pointless destruction in Ferguson. And I think he made a very important point, which is that poor communities need policing. Because drug dealing, gang activity, rampant criminality, relatively affluent people can buy their way out of that by moving someplace else. Poor people can't. They need the police to help protect them from that.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Helene, watching what the DOJ investigation does, is that just going to open up more wounds? Or is that raising too much expectations in the African American Community? I mean, what is going to be the end result, do you think, of the Justice Department? Particularly if they decide there's just not enough. I mean, you heard Governor Patrick say, it's a pretty high bar.

HELENE COOPER:

I think the DOJ investigation certainly has the potential to make things worse. It'd be nice if we could sort of move on from this. But the fundamental issue is still there. And what, you know, at the same time that you see President Obama--

CHUCK TODD:

What is that issue? When you say "fundamental issue," what is the fundamental issue?

HELENE COOPER:

The fundamental issue is not even necessarily Michael Brown. It's that this keeps happening to black men. It's that whole issue driving while black. This friend of mine, Gary Fields,wrote a fantastic article in The Wall Street Journal about what it feels like to be a 250-pound black guy, under suspicion, walking down the street, for absolutely nothing.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Just a quick word about poor communities--

HELENE COOPER:

And this is something as long as--

(OVERTALK)

HELENE COOPER:

I want to finish this. As long as black people continue to feel that you cannot walk down the street without coming under suspicion, this anger is going to continue.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

It's a familiar story. We've heard them many times. I just want to comment on one thing. Poor communities want policing. They need policing. You find the most law-and-order oriented people you could ever find in low-income communities that have a crime problem. They want policing that's done with the community instead of to the community.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

They want policing--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

And that's one of the issues. That in Ferguson, it went the wrong way.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And they want policing not with the majority white police force and a majority black community, Rich.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Rich, what's interesting when you look at whites, whites that live in urban communities believe that we still have a race problem in this country. Whites that live in more rural, basically whiter communities, they don't see the race issue. Do you think that's part of our divide? That maybe rural whites don't see this issue the way folks that live in urban America?

RICH LOWRY:

Perhaps. But, you know, you look at Ferguson specifically, this is an area where the governmental structures haven't caught up to the demographic change over the last two decades or so. And that's something you take care of simply by organizing and voting. But what I really object to is you can discuss all these problems, but let's not pretend that this particular incident was something it wasn't.

If you look at the most credible evidence, the lessons are really basic. Don't rob a convenience store. Don't fight a policeman when he stops you and try to take his gun. And when he yells at you to stop with his gun drawn, just stop, and none of this would've happened.

(OVERTALK)

EUGENE ROBINSON:

--the relitigation--

(OVERTALK)

EUGENE ROBINSON:

No, there were conflicting testimony on--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

So Michael Brown is not Trayvon Martin?

EUGENE ROBINSON:

No, no. He's not Trayvon Martin. And neither is Darren Wilson George Zimmerman.

CHUCK TODD:

George Zimmerman. Right.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Right. So there are clear differences. You know, we're not in the relitigation business. So we won't go into the whole thing. But there was conflicting testimony, there were witnesses who simply were not believed, who said otherwise. And there were witnesses who were believed who--

CHUCK TODD:

And I think that's going to be something--

(OVERTALK)

EUGENE ROBINSON:

--that was what happened.

RICH LOWRY:

The simple evidence backs up Officer Wilson's version.

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

One quick point about the polling place. Cities like Baltimore, Maryland, are doing things on diversity of police force that has nothing to do with elected. White officials can diversify their police forces.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. We're going to take a pause here. We're going to do more of this, our summit on race in America goes more in depth right after this break.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Let me show you the cover of this week's New Yorker. It shows the broken state of race relations in Saint Louis, which of course is basically the metro area that encompasses Ferguson, Missouri. The grand jury's decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown provoked protest and unrest around the country.

In Ferguson, Missouri, where Brown was killed, the clean-up effort is in progress after a number of businesses were wrecked and looted. Protests really focused on the long holiday weekend and a boycott. Black Friday campaign in response to the Ferguson decision, malls in Saint Louis, were forced to close their doors. Protesters in Seattle chained the doors of a shopping center and successfully closed that.

And in Oakland, a rail station was temporarily closed after activists chained themselves to trains. I'm joined now by Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP, Legal Defense and Education Fund, David Brooks of The New York Times, Ben Carson, professor emeritus of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, and by the way, a possible Republican presidential candidate.

And from Boston, Charles Ogletree, professor at Harvard Law School. Welcome to all of you. Thank you for doing this and happy holiday weekend. Professor Ogletree, I was trying to get your basic reaction to this. Last people that studied this question, only about one in four African Americans say the situation of black people in this country is better now than it was five years ago.

It's a double-digit drop from 2009 and sort of the euphoria of the election of the first black president. Are we really no better off today? Is the African American public right about this? We're no better off today in race relations than we were six years ago?

CHARLES OGLETREE:

I think we're right Chuck. And I hate to say this, but I think about what my father and grandfather told me about race relations way back when I was a young kid, how they were devastated with the idea of separation based on race. It is worse now. We think of people who don't have jobs, who can't go to school, people who can't get healthcare.

And we are in a situation right now that will create Fergusons over and over and over again. It's not just in Ferguson, Missouri. It's going to be around the country. And we see this racial divide, despite the fact that it's a black president, who I love dearly, there's a racial divide in America that's not going to end with Trayvon Martin being killed, with Michael Brown being killed, with the 12 year old being killed by police. It's not going to end at all.

CHUCK TODD:

Ben Carson, you agree?

DR. BEN CARSON:

I agree that things have definitely deteriorated. We look at a situation like Ferguson. And people say, "Well, that's causing more racial division." Fact of the matter is, Ferguson is a manifestation of the racial division as we see it right now. Obviously, there are a lot of people around this nation who feel things are unfair for them, who feel disenfranchised. And it makes them ripe for a tinderbox situation like this to occur.

CHUCK TODD:

Sherrilyn, I mean, it seems to be almost universal agreement on this.

SHERRILYN IFILL:

I actually have to disagree on this one.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

SHERRILYN IFILL:

You know, we are all looking at Mike Brown. But the issue of law enforcement and the killing of unarmed African Americans and the assault of unarmed African Americans has been going on for decades, and actually has nothing to do with Barack Obama. My first exposure to this issue occurred when I was ten years old, when a ten-year-old boy named Clifford Glover was killed by an officer named Thomas Shea in New York.

This is in the early 1970s, the difference now is that we have these photos. We have these cell phone pictures. This is something, an issue that civil rights organizations have been working on forever. And we haven't been listened to. People haven't believed us.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think social media, if we had it 30 years ago, would have expedited this conversation? Expedited this frankly uncomfortable moment that we're happening?

SHERRILYN IFILL:

Yeah, and it is an uncomfortable conversation. One of the reasons we don't make progress is because it's so uncomfortable, we can't sit with the conversation. So every time we bring up this issue, for example, we start talking about violence in the black community, or what some people call black-on-black crime.

Which is a really important conversation to have. We should have a whole show about it. But it doesn't have to do with the power of the state of law enforcement to follow you, to shoot you in public housing in a stairway, to kill a 12-year-old boy for carrying a toy gun, to kill a man in Wal-Mart for carrying a toy gun, to kill people who are unarmed, to taze someone in front of their children. We're not just talking about Mike Brown. We're talking about the way in which law enforcement engages the African American community.

CHUCK TODD:

And, you know, we sit here with crimes division, David Brooks, I want to play last week, and some might describe it a caricature sometimes of the debate between Rudy Giuliani and Michael Eric Dyson right on this show. I'm going to play a quick clip of it.

(BEGIN TAPE)

MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI:

What about the poor black child that is killed by another black child? Why aren't you protesting that?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

Those people go to jail. I do protest it. I'm a minister. They go to jail. Why don't you talk about the way in which white--

(OVERTALK)

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

--undercut the ability of Americans to live?

MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI:

So why don't you cut it down so so many white police officers don't have to be in black areas?

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

That was, speaking of uncomfortable conversations to witness, that was an uncomfortable conversation. But in many ways, it exposed the prism I think that white America and black America see this.

DAVID BROOKS:

Listen, we all have to have a new social compact on this. Whites especially have to acknowledge the legacy of racism and have to go the extra yard to show respect, understand how differently whites and blacks see some of these police issues. And whites can't just say, "Does this look right to me?" But, "Does this look trustworthy in the African American community?"

That has to be the standard. At the same time, we have to understand that we're no longer in the civil rights era. This is not a question of good versus evil, right versus wrong. Racial inequality has become entangled in all sorts of domestic problems of disappearing jobs, family structure, and this is mostly a question of good-intentioned people trying to do the best they can with very naughty social problems, which now overlap with racial problems.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Professor Ogletree, it was interesting, Pharrell Williams, who's got that song that we all love, Happy, he said something in a interview with Ebony when he said, he was talking about Michael Brown. And he said this, "It looked very bullyish. That in itself I had a problem with. Not with the kid, but with whatever happened in his life for him to arrive at a place where that behavior is okay."

Why aren't we talking about that? Are focusing on the wrong part of this conversation? We're talking law enforcement and the relationship between the black community and the law enforcement community, when we obviously had a breakdown somewhere in Michael Brown's life.

CHARLES OGLETREE:

We have to talk on both of them. Talk about Michael Brown and the police. There's no question about that. And I think that hearing this, I like the song Happy. It's in my phone at home. And you want to listen to it. It makes a lot of difference. But the reality is that Michael Brown did not have a gun.

He put his hands up. Michael Brown was trying to avoid confrontation. And I think that we need to understand why we have this data, the data is clear, that black boys are being killed by white police officers around the country, from north to south, from east to west, it doesn't end. And I think we have to make sure that we're responding to that. Making the people like Michael Brown understand it and deal with it. But also make sure that we don't have these things happen again.

CHUCK TODD:

We heard Helene Cooper brought up DWB. That black men experience this, "driving while black." I have black friends who tell me it's like, "Yes, I drive in a white neighborhood, and if I'm not doing the speed limit, I'm going to get pulled over like that."

DR. BEN CARSON:

That does happen.

CHUCK TODD:

Has that ever happened to you?

DR. BEN CARSON:

Yes. The attorney general of Missouri, last year, had a report that came out that said in the Ferguson area, blacks were seven times more likely to be stopped, and twice as more likely to be arrested.

CHUCK TODD:

Whose fault is that?

DR. BEN CARSON:

Well, the real question is, what can we do about this kind of situation? You know, everybody's going to be off in their little corners. And people are product of their life experiences. But can we actually solve this problem? And there are a lot of things that we can probably talk about. For instance, police being equipped with cameras. As you probably know, in situations--

CHUCK TODD:

There is a movement of having the cameras on this.

DR. BEN CARSON:

85% of these things would be stopped by that.

CHUCK TODD:

What do you think of that?

SHERRILYN IFILL:

Rialto, California equipped their police officers with body-worn cameras, and the crime rate dropped, and the also the complaints about abuse by police officers. That's one thing that can be done. But you know the other thing that has to be done? Is real training of police officers. If you look at some of these encounters that we're seeing on videotape, you're looking at the 12-year-old boy who was just killed the other day, it's within seconds.

You're watching these encounters in which the police arrive on the scene, and they're unable, it seems, to de-escalate. To assess the situation. To see when we're dealing with a child. And so police officers need real training. They need training and implicit bias. I know we like to say it's well-intentioned people. But there are biases in this country. We do have images in our head.

CHUCK TODD:

I would say we were born with original bias.

SHERRILYN IFILL:

That are racialized. And if you heard Darren Wilson's testimony, when he talked about Mike Brown, almost as an animal, "He was bulking up, he seemed like Hulk Hogan." We have these images in our head. And the only way we can deal with those images is to slow things down. Is to give police officers the training that they need to be able to manage their own biases so they can properly assess the situation.

CHUCK TODD:

David Brooks, how does this conversation continue next week? We always say we're going to have this hard conversation, and guess what? Next week we won't.

DAVID BROOKS:

Yeah, I really don't believe in the conversation about race. If we're going to be friends, we don't sit around saying, "Oh, we're such great friends, let's talk about our friendship." We don't need a conversation, we need a project. And a friendship is about something else. It's outward looking. So the project has to be about social mobility.

It's about early childhood education, all the things that failed Michael Brown. Family formation, jobs, if we have a common project about the Harlem Children's Zone, about KIPP schools, then we'll have something to do together. And that will unite us obliquely.

CHUCK TODD:

Sounds like broken windows. Thank you all for this conversation. I should quickly ask, are you running for president?

DR. BEN CARSON:

I should quickly tell you, maybe.

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough. We will be watching that. And by the way, to end this discussion on a more optimistic note, let's look at this very powerful image in a rally in Portland, Oregon. It's 12-year-old Devonte Hart and Police Sergeant Bret Barnum hugging it out. Devonte attended the rally eager to convey a message of peace. He held up a sign offering free hugs. Officer Barnum was more than happy to oblige.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

As we all spend time with our families around this holiday season, it's important to remember those who have served our country in the military. Our own Luke Russert spent some time at Heritage Brewing Company in Manassas, Virginia. It's a veteran-owned company that not only employs many veterans, but they give 1% of their profits to charity as well.

Which is not always an easy task for a startup company. This is a fantastic story and it's posted right now on our website, MeetThePressNBC.com. We'll be right back here with the place where the immigration debate may ultimately be decided. And it's nowhere near a border.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

Time now for our Meet the Press nerd screen. And by the way, since we made a graphic, nerd screen is official. President Obama's executive action on immigration set off a fight with Republicans. And we now know where in the country that fight might get settled with real implications for 2016. First, let's take a look at the numbers from our latest NBC News Wall Street Journal poll, taken before the president's announcement.

Overall, 38% approved of the idea of him taking executive action. 48% disapproved. Well, our friends over at the American Community's Project took a closer look at the numbers to see how different communities responded to the same question. First, a quick reminder, this is how they see the country.

This map breaks the U.S. down to 15 different types of counties. All of which has their own unique view of American politics. Now people in the big cities, the pink parts of our map, are pretty supportive of the president's move. 48% approved of the action before he took it. 31% disapproved. People who live between suburban and rural America, what we call the exurbs, the yellow parts of our map, well, they're strongly opposed, 56% of them disapproved of the president taking unilateral action, 36% approved.

The president is not likely to win these folks over. Now, that brings us to the suburbs, dark orange on our map. And that's where attitudes are pretty split right down the middle. 41% of those folks approved of the idea of the president doing unilateral moves on immigration, 44% disapproved. So why is this divide important? Because it's here in the urban suburbs.

Places like Nashua, New Hampshire, Aurora, Colorado, even Clearwater, Florida, where Democrats have the most to lose if people turn against the president. The Democrats need these places to win national elections. About 67 million people live in these areas. And President Obama won them by a whopping 16 points in 2012.

If these communities turn against the executive action that the president took, it's possible Democratic presidential candidates will be faced with a hard choice; publicly support the president's decision and risk turning off these potential swing voters, or run against the executive action and possibly turn off Hispanic voters.

That's a growing and increasingly important part of the Democratic base vote. But that decision point isn't two years away. It may very well be a few months away. The suburbs are already a swing vote that has to be acknowledged. These are the questions potential candidates have to consider now because of the issue of immigration not going away anytime soon.

And speaking of immigration, House Republicans have to figure out how they're going to react to the president's decision. So does the new Senate Republican majority. Well, Tom Cotton is one of both. He's still a House Republican, and he's about to become a senator in the majority. He's next.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

And welcome back. We all think change doesn't come fast to the Senate. But here's a statistic that surprised us when the new Congress is gaveled in next year. Three-quarters of the nation's senators will have started their Senate careers after 9/11. So in the last 14 years, there has been a lot of turnover in the world's most deliberative body.

And by the way, the Senate's getting a little younger. The average age of new senators will be 50. It's about ten years younger than the average age of the entire Senate. And one reason the average age is skewing downward is thanks to our next guest, Representative Tom Cotton of Arkansas. At 37, he will become the youngest member of the Senate. Cotton's victory over incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor helped give Republicans their new majority in the Senate. Senator-Elect Cotton, welcome back to Meet the Press.

REP. TOM COTTON:

Thank you, it's great to be on. I think I may have single-handedly brought that average down by six years.

CHUCK TODD:

Let's start with immigration, because you're still a sitting member of the House. There's been some speculation that House Republicans this week are going to decide on how to retaliate against the president on this decision. What's the decision going to be?

REP. TOM COTTON:

Well, we'll come back from this Thanksgiving holiday and make a decision about the best way to proceed on a tactical measure. But I think Congress has to stand up to protect our prerogatives. Which is to say, stand up to the American people. You know, the president just lost an election in no small measure because wages for working families are declining and unemployment is still too high in too many places. And the first big action he took after the election was to make it easier for illegal immigrants to get jobs, not for working families to get jobs.

CHUCK TODD:

One of the ideas that's been floating out there is to essentially all of the spending bills through September of next year and just isolate anything that has to do with immigration. Do you agree with that idea?

REP. TOM COTTON:

Well, that's one possible solution. That would seed our spending power on so many other measures that are like EPA overreach. So what we might also do is pass a short-term spending measure into the new year to let a new and accountable Congress, not a lame-duck Congress make a difference.

CHUCK TODD:

So you're against this idea that apparently some people see Republicans--

REP. TOM COTTON:

I'll consult with my colleagues in both the Senate and the House, to decide on an immediate path forward. But I'm reluctant to see the spending power that a Congress has under the Constitution for three-eighths of the remainder of the Obama presidency.

CHUCK TODD:

Would Republicans be on higher ground here if the House had passed an immigration bill? Any immigration bill?

REP. TOM COTTON:

Well, I think we should pass an immigration bill that addresses our problems, which is a lack of border security, a lack of internal enforcement.

CHUCK TODD:

Why didn't you?

REP. TOM COTTON:

Well, there weren't the votes in the House going forward to focus on the real problems that the people of Arkansas shared with me during the campaign. A bill that focused on building a border fence or enforcing our interior immigration laws, and getting a handle on legal immigration, that could actually drive down wages and increase unemployment. But I think the new Congress will focus on those priorities.

CHUCK TODD:

You had said immigration, you felt, was the number-one issue. The reason why you and so many Republicans one. Do you believe that?

REP. TOM COTTON:

Well, certainly, a central issue in the campaign, along with ObamaCare and national security. But too many Arkansans are worried about the impact that rampant illegal immigration is having on their communities and local services, on the impact it's having on jobs for working families all across the country. And that's why they want us to address those problems in the new Congress.

CHUCK TODD:

Now, you brought up one other issue during the campaign. I want to ask you about it. Let me play some audio from you about the immigration issue.

REP. TOM COTTON (ON TAPE):

First off, we have a lot at stake to collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico that have clearly shown their ready to expand outside the drug trade into human trafficking and potentially even terrorism. They could infiltrate our defenseless southern border and attack it right here in places like Arkansas.

CHUCK TODD:

You didn't bring up terrorism just now with me. You did in a campaign phone call. Is that just campaign rhetoric?

REP. TOM COTTON:

No. I mean, Hezbollah--

CHUCK TODD:

What's the evidence?

REP. TOM COTTON:

No, Hezbollah has tried to launch terrorist attacks right here in Washington D.C. They're under federal indictment collaborating with locals in Mexico to cross our borders, attack us here. As long as our border is open and it's defenseless, then it's not just an immigration issue, it's a national security issue.

And we know that these drug cartels in Mexico are focused primarily on power and profit. They'll branch out into any activity if it brings them more money and helps them consolidate control. That's yet another reason why we have to get control of our border.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you worry that rhetoric like that ends up making it even that much harder to actually get some sort of agreeable immigration bill?

REP. TOM COTTON:

No.

CHUCK TODD:

Because that plays to fear. That's, you know, some would argue that's fear mongering.

REP. TOM COTTON:

Well, the Islamic State is cutting the heads off of Americans right now. And their leader has said they want to strike us here in the United States. That's something that we should be fearful of and that we should take a strong stance against, whether it's in Iraq, in Syria, or whether it's securing our southern border.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to ask you one of the things you did as an Arkansas congressman. You were alone in voting against the farm bill. Some people thought that was going to be a political problem for you. It turned out not to be a political issue from you. Explain to me what your job as a senator is, how much do you represent Arkansas versus representing the interests outside of Arkansas?

REP. TOM COTTON:

Well, I voted against that farm bill because I thought it wasn't in the interest of Arkansans, that it was going to spend almost a trillion--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

In the minority of that opinion in Arkansas.

REP. TOM COTTON:

Well, everyone has disagreements. But I didn't think it was a good idea to spend a trillion new dollars at a time when we're almost $18 trillion in debt, when Arkansas was only getting half a percent of the benefit, and 80% of that was food stamp spending. Now, no Arkansan is going to agree with every word I speak, or every vote I cast. But I hope every Arkansan will know that I'm looking out for their interest every day in the Senate.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think too many senators are parochial? Because that was a non-parochial move. That is something, you know, that was, "No, I'm looking in my view, what's in the best national interest." Maybe it wasn't in the best financial interest of an Arkansas family.

REP. TOM COTTON:

No, I actually thought it was in the interest of Arkansas farmers and in our national interest when you look at deficit reduction. And if you look at the farm counties that I won all across Arkansas. You'll see that a lot of Arkansas farmers agreed with me. And they said so at the time when I cast that vote.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Senator-Elect Tom Cotton, you've got some cleanup work here in the House. We'll be watching to see what happens in immigration. Thanks for coming on Meet the Press.

REP. TOM COTTON:

Thank you, great to be on with you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Don't go anywhere. In just 45 seconds, we're going to hear from Janay Rice, on the reinstatement of her husband, Ray Rice, an exclusive interview she did with Matt Lauer and what she had to say about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The panel is here. And Helene Cooper, when I wanted you on the show, your big scoop had to do with an outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and the fact that he was essentially fired by the president. Number one, why do we think he was fired? Do we really think he was fired? And who do you think the president's going to replace him with?

HELENE COOPER:

Oh wow. You don't ask anything hard, do you?

CHUCK TODD:

No, not at all. Hey, you're the one who broke the story. You own the story now there, Cooper.

HELENE COOPER:

Hey, I own it. I think he was, the phrase we're using is resigned under pressure. And I think President Obama was very fine with seeing him leave because it's sort of, in many ways, Chuck Hagel was exactly the defense secretary that President Obama wanted. He wanted to take the temperature down a notch after Gates and after--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

He wanted a smaller personality.

HELENE COOPER:

He didn't want any more rock star military generals, he didn't want, you know, this constant fighting with the Pentagon over troop numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Chuck Hagel gave him everything that he wanted. I think at the end of the day though, Chuck Hagel was viewed by the White House as almost too passive.

But I think the real reason why he was let go-- is because the White House, after the midterms, felt like they needed to show that they were doing something, they were shaking up their national security team. The reality is, he didn't want to shake up his national security team.

CHUCK TODD:

He's not going to.

HELENE COOPER:

He's not going to. So he went for the lowest-hanging fruit.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Rich Lowry, it was interesting to see all those Republicans who voted against Chuck Hagel, in confirmation suddenly embrace him. It's a little hypocritical, isn't it?

RICH LOWRY:

I agree on the word "firing" is much too harsh. This is what Gwyneth Paltrow would call "conscious decoupling." But--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

Wow, Pharrell Williams and Gwyneth Paltrow all on the same show. Who says Meet the Press isn't hip anymore?

RICH LOWRY:

But I always thought Hagel was brought on basically to be a nonfactor and was admirably performing in that role. So I was a little surprised by this. But you now have three former defense secretaries that say the White House is too insular and is micromanaging too much on foreign policy. So you clearly have a policy-making process that is troubled, and a substantive policy that I believe is a disaster.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Well, the question is where is substantive policy goes, specifically Islamic State. And to me, the war seems to be in the sort of untenable middle ground, where it's kind of a war, but not really. And so which way does it go from here? And, I mean, Andrea--

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I mean, the fact is that he was hired to get out of Afghanistan and Iraq. And now we are in both.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, we just signed an agreement the we're in for sure long term.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And we are training and we are on the ground in Iraq. And they criticized him quietly for being too passive. They wanted someone who was passive.

CHUCK TODD:

Now of course. I want to shift gears a little bit here. Our own Matt Lauer got an exclusive with Janay Rice, Ray Rice's now wife. Of course during the domestic violence incident that took place in Atlantic City. Here's what's been interesting here is the focus now seems to be on the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. What did he know, when did he know it. Here is what Janay Rice said Roger Goodell knew or didn't know.

(BEGIN TAPE)

MATT LAUER:

So when the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell says Ray was ambiguous, and the NFL says that it was a starkly different sequence of events, is the commissioner lying?

JANAY RICE:

I can't say he's telling the truth. You know? I know for a fact that Ray told the honest truth that he's been telling from February.

MATT LAUER:

And you think the league and the commissioner covered their butts?

JANAY RICE:

I think they did what they had to do for themselves.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Mr. Lowry, I know you're an NFL fan. Bill Simmons got suspended by ESPN for speculating that Roger Goodell was a liar. Janay Rice basically said in her view, Roger Goodell lied.

RICH LOWRY:

Yeah, and the contemporaneous notes seemed to back her up from that crucial meeting. And this really seemed bizarre to me that you would punish him twice for the same offense. The first time, too lightly. The second time, too severely. So this process has been a mess. In the short term, it's a big threat to the future of Roger Goodell. In the long term, I still believe the biggest threat to the future to the NFL is the concussion issue.

CHUCK TODD:

Oh, there's absolutely--

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Goodell, it would be--

CHUCK TODD:

Oh, I'm sorry Andrea.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I was just saying Goodell's job would be on the line if he weren't hired by the owners, who are still backing him as of now.

CHUCK TODD:

I think it still may be on the line. I think it still may be on the line. You don't--

(OVERTALK)

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Well, he makes so much money for those owners though. And, you know, I don't know what's on the line.

CHUCK TODD:

But somebody else can do the same thing.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

You know, but the other thing from that interview though that really jumped out at me is that she remembers nothing of what happened in the elevator because he hit her so hard. And, you know, talk about concussion.

CHUCK TODD:

And that's a concussion, I mean, this is--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Exactly. And, you know, it was just appalling, it's an amazing thing to have seen. So I do think this is a big issue for the NFL. I understand why the NFL is trying to get out front and not be behind this curve. You know, when did Goodell know and when did he know it, I suspect we're going to learn more about that.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. This holiday season, all right, let's go a little lighter here. It's officially here. I think Cyber Monday is tomorrow. Many of you braved all the Black Friday crowds on Tuesday of last week. I happen to know Andrea rushed out to get her hands on a big-screen, 85-inch TV. She's also a big PlayStation 4 gal, a huge Grand Theft Auto fan.

Anyway, for those of you who haven't gotten ahead on your holiday gift shopping, we've come up with our top-five presents for the political junkie in your life in 2014. Number five for the justice and hip hop loving person in your life, it's the Notorious R.B.G. T-shirt in honor of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who by the way we might add, was released from the hospital this week, just a stint there put in and is expected to hear arguments at the court tomorrow. Good for her.

Number four, you want to dress like a president? Done. The R.N.C. is selling George H. W. socks complete with the GOP elephant and an embroidered signature from Bush 41. I know what I'm getting Helene. Number three, we're back at the court. Look how cool this is. Or should we say hot? This mug has landmark Supreme Court cases on it, that add hot coffee, and the losers vanish. I know what I'm getting Pete Williams!.

And the 2016 crowd takes the top two spots. There's the Ted Cruz coloring book. A Missouri company has that line and what they call "Special Event Coloring Books." And this one stars the Texas junior senator 2016 hopeful Ted Cruz. It's very nice. It's on a, here you go Gene, I know you want it.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Oh thanks.

(OVERTALK)

EUGENE ROBINSON:

I'll give it to my granddaughter.

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

What I'm getting you here--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Your dog or cat, you know, I know they don't stop talking about Hillary Clinton in 2016, who doesn't, right? Well, now they can show that they're ready for Hillary too. The lucky cat collar, or the lucky dog leash, being sold by the Ready for Hillary PAC. And the price, of course, for both is $20.16.

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Right. What else?

CHUCK TODD:

So there it is. So Rich, I know that's what you want, right?

RICH LOWRY:

Shopping's done. Thanks.

CHUCK TODD:

Shopping's done. Helene? What--

HELENE COOPER:

Yeah, yes, thank you.

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

You know, I've got a T-shirt for you.

(OVERTALK)

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Appreciate it.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, this is what we do here. You know, on a little heavier note here at the end, 2016, we talk about Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, what do we make of Ben Carson? Rich? He's incredibly popular with the conservative grassroots.

RICH LOWRY:

He's going to be a real factor in Iowa and a threat to someone like Ted Cruz who really needs to unite the right. And it's going to be hard to do, because that part of the field is going to be so crowded.

CHUCK TODD:

I was just going to say, they're both sort of the "Teavangelicals," I guess, is what David Brody over at CBN calls them. But Ted Cruz is hot to Ben Carson is cool. Like, you know, sort of they have two different temperaments.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Well, I think the other big difference though is that Ted Cruz has won an election in Texas, a huge state. The second most populous--

CHUCK TODD:

Carson's never run at all.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Ben Carson has not run for political office.

CHUCK TODD:

No, and that's a tough--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

He has no political background at all. But I was watching the--

CHUCK TODD:

That could be an asset.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I was just going to say, I was watching him on Maryland PBS last night. He taped this, I asked him today, about a year ago. His lecture from Hopkins, Johns Hopkins on the brain, fascinating stuff. With a live audience.

(OVERTALK)

RICH LOWRY:

The rest of us are watching football, Andrea's watching the PBS specials on a brain.

HELENE COOPER:

What are you watching on a Saturday night?

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I knew he was going to be on the show and I saw he was on the tube.

CHUCK TODD:

She wasn't watching the Iron Bowl. Clearly that is what was not happening. Anyway, you guys were terrific. Happy--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

--turkey day weekend. I really appreciate it. Before we go, quick note this week, if it's Tuesday, it'll be the ten-year anniversary, ready for this Andrea? Ten-year anniversary of Brian Williams anchoring and managing editor of the NBC Nightly News. Many congratulations to him, a decade, brother. Nice work. Hope to match you.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And if it's Thursday, Allison Williams is Pan live.

CHUCK TODD:

Oh that's right, live Peter Pan. And guess what? That's all for today because if it's Sunday, next week, it'll be Meet the Press.

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *