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Meet the Press Transcript - November 9, 2014

MEET THE PRESS -- SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2014

CHUCK TODD (V/O):

This Sunday.

PRESIDENT OBAMA (TAPE):

Obviously, Republicans had a good night.

CHUCK TODD (V/O):

A Democratic midterm meltdown. Republicans seized the Senate and leave Democrats tangled up in red.

RAND PAUL (TAPE):

This election was basically a repudiation of the president.

CHUCK TODD (V/O):

How did the GOP create an electoral tsunami almost no one saw coming? I'll be joined exclusively by a possible presidential candidate, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Democratic big hitter, Howard Dean. And President Obama and Republicans say they'll work together for the good of the country.

PRESIDENT OBAMA (TAPE):

I would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell.

CHUCK TODD (V/O):

But will they?

JOHN BOEHNER:

Finding common ground is going to be hard work.

CHUCK TODD (V/O):

Plus, the America the economic recovery left behind.

BILL MASSEE:

We may be in a recovery in some areas, but not in rural America.

CHUCK TODD (V/O):

Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, and how business can help lift up communities that are still asking, "What recovery?" And think the Republican party just expanded the map for 2016?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

We won in red states, we won in blue states, and we won in purple states.

CHUCK TODD (V/O):

Surprise, they may be seeing more blue than ever before.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm Chuck Todd. And joining me to provide insight and analysis are former Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Stephanie Cutter, the former deputy campaign manager for President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign. Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, as well as my colleague over at MSNBC and at Telemundo, Jose Diaz-Balart. 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. It's been happening every four years lately. The party in the White House suffers a drubbing in the midterms. It happened to George W. Bush's Republicans in 2006, to Barack Obama's Democrats in 2010, and history repeated itself on Tuesday. Democrats had hoped some combination of localizing elections, their vaunted turnout efforts, and perhaps even a bit of good luck might hold their losses down. Well, nothing worked.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD (V/O)

Pick your pugilistic adjective: beating, trouncing, shellacking. All fit what happened to the Democratic Party on Tuesday night. The other way to describe the election--it was all about President Barack Obama, even if he doesn’t see it that way.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

I think that every election is a moment for reflection, and I think that everybody in this White House is going to look and say, all right, what do we need to do differently.

CHUCK TODD (V/O):

And they’ll have a lot to reflect on. It was always projected to be a good night for the Senate Republicans. It ended up being a memorable one with the GOP picking up seven seats, and most likely Alaska and Louisiana will prove to be wins for them too, making it nine. But it was the gubernatorial races that made it a wave as Democrats watched reliably blue states: Maryland, Massachusetts, Illinois, pick Republican governors.

Add to that competitive states where the GOP incumbent was vulnerable like Maine, Wisconsin and Florida where the Democrats picked up nothing, it was a coast-to-coast drubbing. But Republicans also took control of 11 more legislative chambers, giving them an even bigger advantage over Democrats.

This has serious implications for the structure of government and elections. Not only redistricting in 2020, but also its the states that have control over things like Voter ID laws and the timing of elections and the early vote. This could change how politics is conducted in many of these places.

One of the few bright spots of the night for the losing team: voters in five states approved minimum wage increases. An acknowledgement that many agree with Democrats on some of those populist economic points.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Joining me now is the governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, after winning his blue state for the third time in four years on Tuesday. Many rocketed Governor Walker to the top of just about everyone's potential list of presidential contenders. Governor Walker joins me now. Good morning, congratulations.

SCOTT WALKER:

Chuck, good to be with you. Thanks for having me on.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let's start here. Let's see, 52.3%, 53% in the recall, 52.3% for you. Barack Obama in 2008, 56%, 2012, 53%. There's a pattern here. I think we know what your ceiling is, 53%. The president's ceiling might be a little bit higher than that. Is there an Obama/Walker voter? And if so, who are they?

SCOTT WALKER:

Well, in our case, we had double digits with independent. We can't win in our state. Our state's a blue state historically, it's been a blue state. We can't win without independents. We won, again, with double digit votes from independent voters. And probably one of the most exciting things for me was 18 to 24 year olds was statistically essentially a tie. So we reached out to young voters, not just traditional voters, who were voting our way.

CHUCK TODD:

You said something interesting. You thought that the reason why you had success in Wisconsin and that President Obama had success in Wisconsin is that you were both principled in your beliefs. Do you think that centrism doesn't work in Wisconsin? That they want to pick either something progressive or something conservative, but they don't want anything in the middle?

SCOTT WALKER:

I think in Wisconsin, we're very much like the rest of America. Independent voters, which decide elections in swing states like ours want people to lead. They want people to have big, bold ideas, and then act on them. Four years ago, my state, everything was blue. The Republicans were out of power in the Assembly, the Senate, and certainly the governorship.

Right after the November 2nd election of 2010, I told our new legislative Republican majorities, "It's put up or shut up time." Meaning, if we're just a little bit less bad than the Democrats were before us, the voters would have every reason to throw us out. Four years later, here we sit. Not only did I win for the third time, we added to our majorities in the Assembly and the Senate and I think that's a lesson for our friends in Washington.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you about the Wisconsin economic record. Do you think it's something that translates nationally?

SCOTT WALKER:

Well, I think in our case, certainly we had a little bit of a slow down early on with the protest. But in the last year, we saw the best from September to September, the best private-sector job growth we've seen in more than a decade. Our unemployment rate's down from 9.2% in 2010 down to 5.5%. And I think if you lower taxes, ease regulations, and put the power back in the hands of the people to create jobs, you can do just that. And you can do it all across the country.

CHUCK TODD:

But I've got to show you, compared to the national average, when it comes to wage growth, it's below the national average, Wisconsin is. When it comes to job growth, it's below the national average. And your tax cut policy has created a larger deficit, a $1.8 billion deficit hole that you're going to have to plug next year. And part of it is because state revenues didn't come in as expected. Is it possible that the idea of cutting taxes as a way to create jobs and assimilate the economy just isn't working in Wisconsin?

SCOTT WALKER:

No, that's just the opposite. The reason revenues are down is because we cut withholding. Withholding at the state and the federal level level is where the government takes more of your money than you actually owe them and holds onto them without getting you interest. We cut that in April.

So we anticipated that reduction of revenue because we gave the hardworking taxpayers more money back. And that $1.8 billion is based on a projection of no growth and no changes to the budget. That just doesn't happen. In our case, if we have the average of the last five years of revenue growth, we actually have the next budget starting with more than a half a billion dollars in surplus.

So the simple answer is, you compare us to Illinois where they raise taxes, we lower taxes by $2 billion in property and income, and we had a much, much lower unemployment rate and a much better economy than they do. Thank God they elected Bruce Rauner, because that'll help turn things around down there, just like we have in Wisconsin.

CHUCK TODD:

Now, one way you could potentially deal with your budget deficit is to accept Medicaid money, via the healthcare law. I can't tell if you were taking a veiled shot at Ohio Governor John Kasich in an interview yesterday with The Wall Street Journal. But it was about, you basically were critical of him taking the money, which is going to make it a lot easier for him to balance his budget and he's going to end up giving health insurance to a lot of people just above the poverty line. You don't want to do that. Do you have any second thoughts?

SCOTT WALKER:

No. From our standpoint, we did something unique, unlike just about any other state in the country. For the first time ever, not a person in our state is on a waiting list for people living in poverty. They all have access to healthcare through Medicaid, but those living above it are transitioned into the marketplace and we don't put our taxpayers at risk.

I mean, think about it. States that have taken the Medicaid expansion are betting on the fact that the Congress and the president, who can't deal with the $17 trillion are going to magically somehow come up with new money. They haven't paid that money for Medicaid even to the states as we speak.

CHUCK TODD:

So you think Governor Kasich made a mistake?

SCOTT WALKER:

Well, again, every state is different. I'm not going to criticize individual governors. I'll just tell you in our case, I'm not going to bet on the federal government delivering on a promise that they can't make even before this Medicaid expansion. They've already shorted states like Wisconsin, they shorted other states across the country. Relying on the federal government for your balancing a budget is really I think a fool's bet.

CHUCK TODD:

Now, you made your name having to do with the collective bargaining issue in Wisconsin. There has been sort of an agreement I guess over the years, that if you come into the public sector, teacher, firefighter, police officer, that in exchange for not getting a private-sector-like salary opportunity, that you will get a pension, you will have protected retirement in the form of a pension, which of course, many in the private sector don't get. Do you believe still in that basic agreement?

SCOTT WALKER:

Well, in the end, I think providing for good, decent, hardworking public servants is a good thing. And we still do. When I did all this, my brother David's a banquet manager, his wife sells appliances at Sears. They are classic, American working family. He said, "I'd love to have the deal you're offering public employees."

We match their pension requirement, we asked them to pay just over 12% for their health insurance. The average family in our state's paying 20% to 25%. So we still provide a pretty good deal. And the benefit is, they don't have to pay union dues anymore--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

So you still believe in pension?

SCOTT WALKER:

--tenure.

CHUCK TODD:

You still believe in the pension for government workers?

SCOTT WALKER:

We have the only fully-funded pension system in the country because of our reforms and because of the reforms that were put in even before I took office.

CHUCK TODD:

I've got to ask you about 2016. You made a pledge in October that you were going to serve all four years. Does that pledge still hold?

SCOTT WALKER:

I said my plan was for four years. I've got a plan to keep going for the next four years. But, you know, certainly I care deeply about not only my state, but my country. We'll see what the future holds.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you defer to Paul Ryan?

SCOTT WALKER:

I love Paul Ryan. I've said many times before I'd be the president of Paul Ryan fan club. But I do think if we're going to beat Hillary Clinton in this next election, we've got to have a message that says, "Hillary Clinton is all about Washington." I think in many ways, she was the big loser on Tuesday because she embodies everything that's wrong with Washington.

We offer a fresh approach. Any of us, now 31 governors across the country have the executive experience from outside of Washington to provide a much better alternative to the old, tired, top-down approach you see out of Washington D.C. We need something fresh, organic, from the bottom up. And that's what you get in the states.

CHUCK TODD:

You're not deferring to Paul Ryan, then? It sounds like you believe a governor, not a member of Congress should be the Republican nominee?

SCOTT WALKER:

Paul Ryan may be the only exception to that rule. But overall, I think governors make much better presidents than members of Congress.

CHUCK TODD:

Governor Scott Walker, again, third election in four years. We'll see if you run again in two. Thanks for coming on Meet the Press.

SCOTT WALKER:

Thanks Chuck. Go Packers.

CHUCK TODD:

There you go. President Obama called his party's 2010 midterm defeats a "shellacking." But perhaps mindful of serving up a juicy sound bite, he avoided using such colorful language in the wake of Tuesday's results. But no matter how you describe them, there are plenty of reasons for Democrats to worry as they lick their wounds and look to 2016.

(BEGIN TAPE)

MARK PRYOR:

I must confess that I have some sadness tonight.

CHUCK TODD (V/O):

Surveying the wreckage. Democrats blamed defeat on an unpopular president, an unfriendly map, and an off-year electorate.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

To everyone who voted, I want you to know that I hear you. To the two-thirds of voters who chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you too.

NANCY PELOSI:

I don't consider it a wave. I think it's an ebbing of Democratic voters rather than a wave of Republican voters.

CHUCK TODD (V/O):

There's been finger pointing. Senator Harry Reid's chief of staff blamed Obama, telling The Washington Post, "The president's approval rating is barely 40%. What else more is there to say?"

REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D-NY):

We have more work to do.

CHUCK TODD (V/O):

And other Democrats argue Tuesday's losses actually were not a disaster.

REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D-NY):

We've had better nights. We've also had worse nights. This is a wave election. In 2006, the Republicans lost 30 seats. We lost probably about 15.

CHUCK TODD (V/O):

There's a word for that: spin. Not only did Republicans win Senate control, they are poised to hold their largest majority in the House since Herbert Hoover was president. It's a firewall that could take Democrats a decade to break through. How did it happen? In early 2014, Democrats had a game plan to run on a populist economic message.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

An opportunity for all. Expand opportunity. Build new ladders of opportunity. Opportunity is who we are, so join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise.

CHUCK TODD (V/O):

Instead, while four red states approved minimum wage hikes by large margins on Tuesday, Democratic candidates largely abandoned the populist call to arms.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC):

They have successfully made this campaign a referendum on President Obama. Which I do not believe would be all that important if we as Democrats had done a good job of messaging exactly what the president had done.

CHUCK TODD (V/O):

Senate Democrats also insisted the president delay executive action on immigration to save their red state candidates particularly in the South. Not only didn't it work, it may have hurt some Democrats in states with large Hispanic populations. In Florida, where Democrat Charlie Crist narrowly lost the governor's race, the Latino electorate dipped from 17% in 2012 to 13% in 2014.

And in Colorado, Republican Cory Gardner improved on Republicans' 2010 showing in 20 out of 21 counties that had the largest Hispanic population. To win, Democrats believed they needed their base voters to come out. And they made the election a project of assembling those coalition groups. That didn't work either.

Instead, young voters, single women, African Americans, and Latinos posted numbers that looked more like the Democrats' 2010 shellacking than Obama's 2012 victory. Leading even Democrats to ask, "Does the Obama coalition exist without Obama on the ballot?" And Democrats have a growing problem with white working-class voters.

In 2008, John McCain won whites with incomes under $50,000 by just four points. But in the last three elections, white voters, and particularly white men, have broken for Republicans by huge margins. This year, the GOP won white, non-college graduates by 30 points. How does the party refresh itself? Don't expect new faces to lead the Democrats in Congress.

Both Reid and Nancy Pelosi are expected to keep their leadership position. Instead, the challenge of remaking the party for the next election will fall at the feet of another familiar face, Hillary Clinton.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

I'm joined now by Howard Dean, he's of course the former governor of Vermont, 2004 presidential candidate. And as DNC chair, he was tasked with rebuilding the party after its 2004 defeat. Governor Dean, it's amazing. Here we are ten years later, your infamous 50-state strategy.

HOWARD DEAN:

Infamous? What do you mean?

CHUCK TODD:

No, I'm saying it's been--

(OVERTALK)

HOWARD DEAN:

That's right.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you sit there and say, "Well, dust off the playbook guys," and here it is.

HOWARD DEAN:

You've got to do the 50-state strategy again. The president has been brilliant in the 50-state strategy, but not so, the DNC hasn't been able to pull that back together again for a variety of reasons, not all having to do with the DNC. The biggest problem, Jim Clyburn was the most right person in that lead-up.

It was message. Sure, it was an off year, and we can make all these excuses. But the fact is, we have never been able to, and even through the days of the 50-state strategy and, you know, taking over the House, the Senate, and the president in four years, when I was running the DNC, I could never get the Washington Democrats to stay on message. The Republican message was, "We're not Obama." No substance whatsoever. "We're not Obama." What was the Democrats' message? "Oh, well, we're really not either." You cannot win if you are afraid.

CHUCK TODD:

Did you use that voice too? I mean, is that--

HOWARD DEAN:

It felt like it. Where the hell is the Democratic party? You've got to stand for something if you want to win.

CHUCK TODD:

Dan Balz had, I thought, a rough piece about the Democratic party. But two things, the headline is, "Two midterm elections have hollowed out the Democratic party." And they said this about the state parties in particular, "Without prominent statewide-elected leaders, Democrats are in danger of seeing their state party structures atrophy."

HOWARD DEAN:

We've been there before. We know what the solution is now.

CHUCK TODD:

And what is it?

HOWARD DEAN:

It is to put money into the state parties. They get to pick their own people, we do the training, we do all the intel, we get them to weave together this incredible organization that the president has done in the last eight years for his campaigns, two of the best campaigns ever run in the history of American presidential politics. But you've got to strengthen the state parties. It requires discipline, accountability, but it also requires money to go to the state parties and we have to trust the state parties.

CHUCK TODD:

Democratic party's been focused on the gender gap for a long time. Are they too focused on the women portion of that gender gap? I want to show you some numbers among white men. In 2006, Democrats won 44% of white men. Nobody was saying that they were going to win white men. The Democrats were competitive with white men. It's down to 33%.

HOWARD DEAN:

I saw that, but run of the reasons it has--

CHUCK TODD:

What do you think?

HOWARD DEAN:

One of the reasons has to do that we're not on the lunch bucket issues. When we stick to lunch-bucket issues, and opportunity, as you showed the president's clip, we do fine. You know, white men have been tough for us since the Southern strategy and Richard Nixon. So 4% is great for us, if lose by--

CHUCK TODD:

44, yeah, right.

HOWARD DEAN:

If we lose by 4%, that's terrific for us. But the erosion among white men has mostly to do with the fact that the economy has not gotten better. These folks have been feeling under big-time stress. And we have got to have a message that has to do with basic economics. It helps us all across the board, but particularly with white men.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you about the Democratic party. There's a concern now among some that because there's going to be a coronation of Hillary Clinton, that actually, the Democratic party could use some refreshening, bring out new faces, still it could end up being Hillary Clinton as the nominee, and she's probably the strongest nominee. But are you concerned that suddenly there aren't going to be any other Democratic party leaders given a chance to sort of rise up here?

HOWARD DEAN:

There are definitely going to be some other Democratic party leaders, and some of them are going to come from the progressive end of the party, and I think that's a good thing.

CHUCK TODD:

Does she need a primary?

HOWARD DEAN:

From the point of view of a candidate, no candidate ever needs one.

CHUCK TODD:

No candidate wants one. Needs it. But does the Democratic party need one?

HOWARD DEAN:

I don't think we need one. But we're going to get one. Look, this is the most important office on the face of the earth. You're not going to have an uncontested march to an open seat. But the truth is, there's a lot of things we ought to debate. We ought to be debating income inequality.

We ought to be debating the fact that corporations are now controlling not only the Republican party, but the government of the United States. We ought to be debating the fact that the Supreme Court has deviated from the constitution on numerous occasions. I still have yet to find where the constitution says a corporation is a person. So there's a tremendous amount of debate here to be had. And those are the things our party needs to stand for.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you going to be part of that debate? Or are you done with presidential politics?

HOWARD DEAN:

Am I running for president?

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

HOWARD DEAN:

No. I'm supporting Hillary Clinton.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Governor Howard Dean, former DNC chair who had to pick up the pieces ten years ago, do we do it all over again for you?

HOWARD DEAN:

We can do it. We can do it.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Thanks for coming on Meet the Press. Coming up, one reason Democrats lost, we just talked about it with Governor Dean. This economic recovery that they're so proud of hasn't reached everyone. Up next, a man who knows something about creating jobs, Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The panel is here with lots to talk about. Eric Cantor, Stephanie Cutter, Amy Walter, and Jose Diaz-Balart, welcome to all of you. Mr. Cantor, since you're new to this punditry world, and you were formerly over there. Norm Ornstein and Tom Mann have an interesting op-ed today. And they basically say, "Which Republican party shows up to govern?" I pose the question to you. Which one will show up and which one should show up?

ERIC CANTOR:

Well, I think, Chuck, first of all, you ought to take a look at, you know, history over the last couple years. The House was extremely productive in passing legislation. And as we all know, bills just started to stack up in the Senate. And I do think that's part of the outcome that we saw on Tuesday is the inability for Congress to work, for the Senate to act.

CHUCK TODD:

You certainly won that argument. I think Democrats would say, you know, that Republicans held just as much responsibility for the gridlock.

ERIC CANTOR:

Significant frustration about the inability of Washington to work and you'd have to look at that process and say, "Hey, wait a minute." So now we're going to have a Senate that works. So the question will be, as a speaker, has said this work, "Is there going to be common ground?" And I think you're going to see very quickly within six weeks whether there's going to be common ground.

And on the one hand, we've heard a lot about the president saying he's going to unilaterally act on this question of an executive order for immigration. If he does that, that's incendiary. And I think we are going to be in store for a very, very difficult--

(OVERTALK)

ERIC CANTOR:

But isn't repealing health care just as incendiary?

ERIC CANTOR:

No, but listen. We--

CHUCK TODD:

Why isn't that incendiary?

ERIC CANTOR:

Well, I would say this. And there's probably something more incendiary, but that's not incendiary because we know that that's going to happen, just like after the 2006 election when the Democrats won, they went over and over again to pass bills condemning the position on Iraq. In the end, Congress ended up supporting President Bush's position.

CHUCK TODD:

Stephanie, is this sort of equal incendiary?

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you believe it is?

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

It is. I think the difference is that even though the House and the Senate, the new Republican majorities have already committed to attempt to repeal healthcare, the president has said, "I disagree with you. I vehemently disagree with you. But that's not going to stop me from working with you on other issues."

Now, contrast that to Republicans, who say, "If you move forward on immigration, Mr. President, even though we have not acted over multiple years, then we're just going to shut down and stop working with you." That is no way to start a new Republican majority. We have to find ways to work together, even if we disagree on some issues.

CHUCK TODD:

So Jose, what's the Hispanic community going to do if the president doesn't act? What if he tables for another six months? Is that incendiary?

JOSE DIAZ-BALART:

Yes, that would be very incendiary. And by the way, Stephanie, the Congress did act before going on the break. They did act and they voted to defund any future deferred actions that the president may take. So they did act and they did make a statement.

I think that the key here for immigration is that with a loss of Mr. Cantor, among other things, back then, it was a message that the House should not support immigration reform. If they had done it back then, we wouldn't be dealing about this now. The president made a promise. I think he's going to keep it.

CHUCK TODD:

Amy, this is two nuclear bombs it sounds like to me. Is that a fair way to put it? That each side has potentially and gridlock comes back like that?

AMY WALTER:

Well, gridlock could come back like that. Look, I think the biggest challenge right now is intraparty rather than, you know, the Democrats versus the Republicans.

CHUCK TODD:

Each side has to assert their own politics now?

AMY WALTER:

Well, and I think it's right now much more within the Republican party deciding who they want to be. I think that's exactly right. And knowing what they're up against in 2016, which is their own map problems in 2016. A lot of blue state Republicans up, can Mitch McConnell help protect them while also pushing an agenda?

CHUCK TODD:

All right. You guys are going to get to weigh in a little bit more. We've got a lot more for you guys to talk about. You can imagine how frustrated they are at the White House though, by the way. So many economic indicators have beegood. And still, voters threw Democrats out of office because of the economy.

Unemployment rate has fallen more than four points since the bottom of the recession to 5.8%. the stock market has risen from a recession low of 6,500 to an all-time high on Friday. The deficit, the issue that has inspired the tea party has shrunk to its lowest level compared to size of the economy since 2008. Though the debt accumulation, of course, is still growing. Gas prices are low, bankruptcies are down, and consumers are bullish about job prospects.

And yet, Americans disapprove of the job the president is doing on the economy. And there's a reason for that. The recovery is concentrated in more densely-populated areas. So we asked NBC's Luke Russert to visit the America that the recovery has left behind.

(BEGIN TAPE)

LUKE RUSSERT:

Far from cities and often too far from the campaign trail, rural America is not feeling the economic recovery. Unemployment in Georgia stands at roughly 8%, the highest in the nation, and in the small towns, jobs with a future are hard to come by.

BILL MASSEE:

We may be in recovery in some areas but not in rural America, not in Marshallville, Georgia. Tough times.

BRADLEY LANE:

If I don't work, I don't eat.

LUKE RUSSERT:

Marshallville and other Middle Georgia towns once thrived growing peaches, but jobs left and the work never came back. What's not working for them -- Washington.

BOBBY MCKENZIE:

If you can't control stuff up there, how can you control stuff down here?

LUKE RUSSERT:

At a lunchtime barbecue, barbers and clients say they have been left behind.

RON ROUMPH:

If the president’s voice can’t be heard, senator’s voice can’t be heard, how can my voice be heard?

LUKE RUSSERT:

Feeling ignored -- small business owners like Tony Bass, who owns a landscaping truck company nearby. He wants to create jobs, and pay his employees higher wages, but says taxes and government regulations stand in his way.

TONY BASS:

Only time I hear from the federal government is if we're in trouble."

LUKE RUSSERT:

And while business has returned to some degree, it's not booming.

TONY BASS:

Wall Street investors, they're all H-A-P-P-Y. But small business owners, I can’t say there is that much enthusiasm.

CHUCK TODD:

In fact, there is a helpless feeling here in rural America, that the political system is not set up for them.

BILL MASSEE:

They don’t seem to want to do anything. they are fighting each other.

LUKE RUSSERT (TO BILL MASSEE):

This was your father's business right here?

LUKE RUSSERT:

His father sold furniture but had to close down in the ’80s when jobs and customers left.

BILL MASSEE:

They need to get out of Washington and come to small towns.

LUKE RUSSERT:

And while the struggle continues, rural Americans voice an unending desire to be heard and not forgotten.

BOBBY MCKENZIE:

We all need to vote, and hope and pray.

LUKE RUSSERT:

For Meet The Press, Luke Russert

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Nothing says economic growth than when a Starbucks shows up in your community. So I thought it'd be a good idea to bring in the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, to talk about this issue of rural America and sort of this uneven economic recovery. Mr. Schultz, thanks for coming on Meet the Press.

HOWARD SCHULTZ:

Thanks, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

So in many ways, right, the symbol, the Starbucks symbol, when it shows up in a neighborhood, you know, there's this feeling, the neighborhood is on the move. If you're not in a neighborhood, then it's this feeling that that neighborhood isn't moving. So what do you look for in a rural or ex-urban community?

You know, we know where you go in urban communities, but what do you look for that tells you, "This is going to be a good place to put a Starbucks." What is it that needs to happen in these communities to make you feel as if the economy's growing there?

HOWARD SCHULTZ:

Well, I look at that video, and my heart goes out to those people. But the truth of the matter is, problems exist throughout the country not only in rural America. We have stores everywhere. I feel as if the economic situation that we are dealing with is directly linked to this situation in Washington in which there's been a fracturing of trust and confidence for over ten years now.

CHUCK TODD:

Really? You think this issue of sort of the bad economy is directly tied to Washington?

HOWARD SCHULTZ:

Absolutely. You know, and I--

CHUCK TODD:

Explain.

HOWARD SCHULTZ:

Well, here's an example. I was at West Point on Friday. I spent the entire day with an extraordinary group of young cadets. Everywhere I went, you saw three words, "Honor, country, and duty." Can you imagine if people in Washington, the new Congress, the administration, embraced those words and lived by that? We would be in a much better position than we are today. In addition to that, we have a million veterans now entering civilian life. Two and a half million have served in Iraq for the last 15 years.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, disproportionately from rural America, and ex-urban America, that they're coming home to and they're not finding jobs.

HOWARD SCHULTZ:

That's right. But it would be catalytic to the country if we hired these veterans who have extraordinary skills. But we're not. As a result of that, we've written a book. We have a big concert on Tuesday night, and we're encouraging businesses and business leaders to do one thing. Forget Washington for a while. Let's forget pointing fingers, stop blaming them. As business people and business leaders, we need to take the lead and do what we can to move the country forward. And that will help the economy.

CHUCK TODD:

So tell me this. What would be your recipe for the issue of rural economy? Because here's what's going on there. They were one-manufacturing towns. Right? That manufacturer leaves, the jobs have been replaced sometimes at the casino, sometimes it's just home healthcare workers is the only growing job opportunity. But then, anybody that decides they're looking for better work, they just leave. So what do you do?

HOWARD SCHULTZ:

Well, let me tell you an example. I was in East Liverpool, Ohio, right outside of Pittsburgh. We saw an old factory that has been out of work for over ten years. A pottery factory. We went to that factory. Starbucks gave them an order, and we started employing people and we started that factory. Businesses across the country need to recognize we need to bring manufacturing back to America. And these rural towns cannot be left behind.

CHUCK TODD:

And if so, do you think it should be a priority of companies like yours to say, "You know what, even if it's not the best decision from a bottom line, because maybe I ship something overseas, rebuilding rural America is a better long-term--"

(OVERTALK)

HOWARD SCHULTZ:

Well, here's the deal. The rules of engagement for a public company today have changed dramatically. We all have to recognize one thing. It's not only about the bottom line, it's not out stock price. There has to be a balance between profitability and doing everything we can to get the country moving again. And that goes back to Washington.

Washington has let the country down. The Congress now has a unique opportunity with the administration to stop the polarization dysfunction and demonstrate immediately a new set of rules. And that rule has to be civility and conversation and cooperation. If we don't get that in the next 30 days, the business community is going to do what they've done for the last ten years, dismiss Washington. But we can't have that. This is a unique opportunity.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you, you're doing this concert here on Veteran's Day on Tuesday. You wrote a book, For Love of Country. This is about these veterans that are coming home. There's been a lot of talk about trying to help them get back into civilian life. What is the one thing that you think the public needs to understand about helping these folks back into civilian life?

HOWARD SCHULTZ:

Two and a half million extraordinary young men and women have served for the last ten, 15 years in an all-volunteer service. As a result of that, most of America, 98% have not had real skin in the game. We need to have a conversation, be empathetic, be understanding, and do everything we possibly can across the country, in rural America and every town, to hire a veteran.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, thanks for coming on. Thanks for doing this concert. We'll be watching on Tuesday. It's an amazing lineup that you have there. Something for everybody.

HOWARD SCHULTZ:

Bruce Springsteen, Eminem, Carrie Underwood.

CHUCK TODD:

There you go. It doesn't matter your taste. You've got something there. Thank you very much. Tomorrow, NBC News is going to be putting a human face on the Ebola tragedy that's taking place in West Africa. Let's remember, that's where this I a true epidemic. We'll be telling 24 stories of people that are fighting this deadly disease. Check out Facebook/NBCNews to find out more. In a few minutes, why Democrats might actually have reasons to be optimistic about 2016, despite the 2014 drubbing.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

And welcome back. We've heard a lot so far about what the next Congress might or might not do. So it feels like a good moment to actually get some answers from two newcomers to the 114th Congress. I've got Republican Mike Rounds. He's the former governor of South Dakota. He handedly won a Senate seat on Tuesday. He's now a senator-elect. And Gwen Graham from Florida's panhandle is a rare breed from Tuesday, a Democrat, on Tuesday, who knocked off a Republican incumbent.

And we should note, she's the daughter of former Florida governor and senator, Bob Graham. Welcome to both of you. Mrs. Graham, welcome to Washington. Senator Mike Rounds, you'll be here soon enough, I imagine. Let me start with you, Senator-Elect Rounds. Why the message. What is your mandate that you believe the voters gave you when you come into Congress next year?

MIKE ROUNDS:

Washington's dysfunctional. It's got to be fixed. America is not broken, but Washington is. And part of it says is that South Dakota common sense can help. It means you work side by side with other people to get the job done. I think the Republican majority now has an opportunity to show that we can actually govern, we can put together an agenda, and we can execute on it.

That means getting results. It means you go back in and you take up on ObamaCare, or the Affordable Care Act section by section. You pass the Keystone XL Pipeline. Get energy production started again and get our drain back out of those railcars that right now can't get to market because of the incredible oil that's coming through on the rail lines.

CHUCK TODD:

So dismantling healthcare is a priority? You don't think that's going to add to the dysfunction of Congress, though?

MIKE ROUNDS:

I think there are bits and pieces of it. You start out with section by section and you do it in such a fashion that you pick those items which have to be fixed. You start out, look, there's a section in it, the independent payment advisory board, which needs to be eliminated in my opinion. I think most people out there would agree with that.

The medical devices tax that are there right now has to be taken apart. So I think there are pieces in there which Republicans and Democrats alike recognize have got to be fixed. And it's even more than that. It's the fact that Republicans have to set the agenda and we have to execute. We have to tell people what our overall plan is. Let's actually get a budget and let's pass a budget every single year. Let's do it on time.

Let's make government functional once again. That's what the American people are expecting. They want us to go in and to do our jobs. And the message that I think a lot of us have is we didn't come there to stay on our butts. We came there to get the job done.

CHUCK TODD:

Congresswomen-Elect Graham, you just laughed at that last one. You know, in many ways, some of this sounds very similar to what I heard from you also on Tuesday night. So what parts of what you heard do you agree with Senator-Elect Rounds and what parts do you disagree?

GWEN GRAHAM:

I completely agree with him that we need to find compromise and we need to find a way to break through the dysfunction. As I traveled around my district, all 14 counties, that's what I heard over and over and over again, is that people want a government that functions. They want a government in where people get along.

And that's what I ran on a platform of saying, "The North Florida way." And the North Florida way is finding a way to get along, find common-sense solutions. We may not always agree, but we've got to be able to find compromise in order to make the decisions that need to be made to move our country forward.

CHUCK TODD:

You won voters that voted for Rick Scott for governor, the Republican, and Gwen Graham for Congress. Why do you thank you were able to pull that off?

GWEN GRAHAM:

I, from day one of this race, I have just been reaching out to all 14 counties of the district. I wanted to make sure that everybody knew that I cared about earning their support. And I think that's what made the difference. I put 37,000 miles on my car since I entered the race, and met as many people as I could. And it was just a phenomenal experience. And I think it was that connection with folks that I had that made the difference.

CHUCK TODD:

Governor-Elect, Senator-Elect, I say this, and I meant governor, because many former governors that serve in the Senate don't like it. What have you heard from former governors about your tenure that you're about to begin?

MIKE ROUNDS:

They told me to be prepared to be frustrated. They said time and again, "Look, you've got to get in and you've got to go to work on it, because you've been measured on the results already. Washington has not been." And so there's no time frame there, there's nobody there that seems to understand that the people outside of Washington expect results.

And so part of the message has got to be that the bureaucracy, which has taken over, or the vacuum, because Congress has been dysfunctional, has not been doing their job. You've got a bureaucracy which is growing. We've got to get that bureaucracy back under control again.

CHUCK TODD:

And Congresswoman-Elect, advice your father gave you?

GWEN GRAHAM:

Well, he said, "First of all, be informed."

CHUCK TODD:

Nobody was more informed than him. That's for sure. Good luck keeping up to that.

GWEN GRAHAM:

I will. And to make sure that you're not partisan. Make sure that you're looking for good solutions and bring people together to make the right decisions. And that's what I'm committed to doing.

CHUCK TODD:

And we should also note that it's your father's birthday today.

GWEN GRAHAM:

It is. Happy birthday to my dad.

CHUCK TODD:

here it is. Senator-Elect Rounds, congratulations. Welcome to Washington soon enough. Congresswoman-Elect Graham, thanks for coming on Meet the Press. Thank you both.

GWEN GRAHAM:

Thank you, Chuck. I appreciate it very much.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, I should note, my step-father's having a birthday today.

MIKE ROUNDS:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

So we share today. So thank you to both.

GWEN GRAHAM:

Great day.

CHUCK TODD:

Happy birthday to him. Coming up, what the midterms mean for the big one. We'll read the tea leaves and look ahead to 2016.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

While there are still 730 days until a new president is elected, the results of the midterms this week can give us a hint of where the battle for the White House will be fought in 2016. So let's go to the map. These nine states in yellow, of course, made up the battleground in 2012 and probably will again in 2016.

Now let me explain the 242/191 that we start with. The states that are in blue that add up to 242, these are states that Democrats have won in six straight presidential elections. Now, with this cycle, they hope to add to their sort of permanent blue wall here. They were hoping with victories in Florida, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado, that in a midterm year, if they were to hold and win races there, that they would be able to say to the Republicans, "You can't win their in 2016."

But guess what happened? Republican wins in Colorado, Iowa. Put those two states back in the battleground. Florida governor, Rick Scott eked it out again, back in the battleground. Virginia, Mark Warner may have won, but it took us till Wednesday to find out. Back in the battleground. Speaking of the battleground, how about Wisconsin?

If Scott Walker keeps winning there, you've got to put that one back in the battleground. Minnesota and Michigan, by the way, Senate races that Republicans thought they could make competitive, they didn't. It's not making it into our battleground. Now, there is some good news here if you're Democrat.

Look at a few other states that may have been added to the battleground as well. Take Georgia. Yes, David Perdue won 53/45. But it was a wave year. He got 53% in a good Republican year in Georgia. Folks, Georgia's back on the battleground. Then take a look at Arizona. They have five Democratic members of Congress running for reelection, four of them are coming back. And the fifth, when all the votes are counted, may indeed come back.

Arizona, back in the battleground. So there you go. The Democratic blue wall may be down to 232 rather than 242, by throwing in Wisconsin. But the Republican wall is now down to 164. For now, look at this. It's a pretty impressive battleground map. It goes from coast to coast, multiple time zones. Who's to say there isn't going to be a decent amount of people actually feeling the presidential election.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

Panel is back. You guys have been having an interesting conversation about immigration, which I wish we could've put all back on camera and all this stuff. But I want to do a little bit here of sort of future of the Democratic party, Stephanie Cutter, is this a project, a reclamation project? Or is this a, "Eh, it's the midterms. Everything will be honky dory again in 2016." Where do you stand on it?

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

Well, I hope it's a serious project.

CHUCK TODD:

You think it should be?

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

You're talking about the project that--

CHUCK TODD:

DNC feels like they've got to look at this and there may be some problems.

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced over the weekend. Yeah, I think that if we don't take it seriously, it's to our own peril. We have a midterm problem. And that's serious. And we have a bench problem of how we are cultivating new Democrats to come into the fold of the party and to be willing to run for things. So we can't show up every four years and think we're going to win midterms unless we invest in it. And we saw Governor Dean make that point with you just a little bit earlier.

CHUCK TODD:

Amy, you look at the leadership of the Democratic party. And suddenly, you sit there and you say, "Do they have a staleness issue?" I mean, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, going to be same people, Hillary Clinton's a familiar face. There's no new faces. Look at what the Republicans, just elected a ton of new faces to the party. Now their leadership's the same, but that's a lot of new faces versus the Democrat's party of old faces, no?

AMY WALTER:

I mean, I agree that there's a bigger problem, which there's a messaging problem. And some of it is the messenger. But a lot of it is, look, this election was as much a referendum on the president as it was about the fact that people didn't feel like the economy was working for them. Even though as you pointed out, the statistics would tell you it is working for them.

And this is the challenge, I think, for Hillary Clinton going forward in 2016, which is you're going to be tagged with the Obama economy, you're going to be tagged as being a Democrat. How do you convince voters that they want another four years of a Democrat in charge of the economy? That's the bigger challenge I think than all the talk about what do we do about demographics and white men. It's how do we convince people that four more years of a Democrat is going to be good for them economically.

CHUCK TODD:

Now, Eric Cantor, do the Republicans, a good midterm year doesn't solve your presidential problem.

ERIC CANTOR:

Right. Well, first of all, let's look at the benches. You know, Stephanie talked about the lack of a bench on the Democratic side. And that's the striking difference, I think, right away, is, you know, this Hillary Clinton and I agree with Amy, she's going to have a very difficult time disconnecting herself from the Obama administration, whether it is from the being the secretary of State, the economy, or what have you. I also think though that if you look at at least what's going on in the Democratic party, they're looking like Elizabeth Warren is where the passion and intensity is.

CHUCK TODD:

But if she doesn't run, where does that passion go?

ERIC CANTOR:

And so you even see Hillary Clinton now, to Amy's point, trying to appeal to the base by saying, "Hey, businesses don't create jobs." Which everyone knows is counterintuitive. Now, look at our bench. We will have, I bet there's a dozen people out there looking to run.

CHUCK TODD:

There's no doubt. But have you solved the bigger demographic challenges?

ERIC CANTOR:

Well, I think if you look at the midterm elections and what's going on, people are looking for ideas and solutions to get them out of this funk, that they don't feel their life is working. They don't feel the country's working for them. So it is about ideas. And what you've seen though, look, take a look at Cory Gardner's race in Colorado.

You had Mark Udall practice the politics that the left has been trying to undertake for decades now, which is the war on women. And that fell flat on its face. So it proves that the Democrats, they're out of ideas. The Republicans will have to sift through all these different players to see which ideas are going to take our party forward.

CHUCK TODD:

Jose, back to the basic question, though. If the Republicans can't connect with Hispanics, they're not going to win the presidential election.

JOSE DIAZ-BALART:

That's correct. And if the Democrats can't get Hispanics to know that they're covering their back and that they're working for them, it's going to be tougher for them to come out and support them like they did President Obama. Let's not forget, President Obama got 71% of the Latino vote last time around, because Mitt Romney's official position on immigration was self-deportation.

So both parties have a lot of work to do. But the fact is, every single day in this country, 1,000 people are deported. And the vast majority of those people that are deported aren't criminals, they're not rapists. Those people are on the streets. The people that are being deported many times are family, fathers and mothers.

And those people, those people don't see anyone in Washington standing up and saying, "Let's deal with this problem." Because it's more than just discussions and dilettante discussions in offices. It's also about people whose lives are being affected every single day. And that, that they don't see as a concern in Washington.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let's talk quickly about this Washington dysfunction before we go. There was a lot of talk about bipartisan compromise this week. But of course, what are the chances of Washington politicians actually breaking the habit of a lifetime and hugging it out, finding these areas of common ground for the good of the country? According to the winners this week, it sounds like it'll be priority number one.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CORY GARDNER:

They are not red, they are not blue. But they are crystal clear. Crystal clear in their message to Washington D.C. Get your job done and get the heck out of the way.

JEANNE SHAHEEN:

I promise you I will work with anyone in the Senate, Democrat, Republican, Independent, to get things done.

THOM TILLIS:

I want to come back here next year and talk to people about the bipartisan things that we accomplish for the good of the nation.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, so far so good, right? But guess what? We've heard hopeful-like talk like this before from leaders.

(BEGIN TAPE)

JOHN BOEHNER:

We need to work together on behalf of the American people.

NANCY PELOSI:

We both expressed our wish to work in a bipartisan way for the benefit of the American people.

NEWT GINGRICH:

To have a serious discussion in the next few days about the places where we do agree.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Of course, I get chuckles from everybody here, because guess what usually follows after that happy talk? Gridlock. So this time, does it sound like there's a different path that might help stop the gridlock in Congress? Well, guess what? The president apparently has had a change of heart.

(BEGIN TAPE)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

Some folks still don't think I spend enough time with Congress. "Why don't you get a drink with Mitch McConnell," they ask. Really? Why don't you get a drink with Mitch McConnell. You know, actually I would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell. I don't know what his preferred drink is. But--

MITCH MCCONNELL:

And the best way to drink it, in my opinion, is to make a Manhattan.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

How about that? First of all, you're not going to hear Mitch McConnell say nice things about Manhattan very often. The voice of President Obama, soon to be majority leader. If you ever want to come right here in our studio, work through the gridlock, here's what we've got for you. We've got the bourbon, we've got it on ice here. I know he wants to have it as a Manhattan, have is there. Okay, Eric Cantor, you said six weeks will test bipartisanship. Why?

ERIC CANTOR:

Six weeks. One of two things. You've got the Republicans, the Congress needs to pass the spending package. Can't do another CR--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

So if they do it in a big way in this lame duck, their shows that's a Republican sort of--

ERIC CANTOR:

We're going to work.

CHUCK TODD:

We're going to work with the president?

ERIC CANTOR:

We're going to work together and the president cannot sign that executive order. He's going to light a fuse.

CHUCK TODD:

Stephanie? What's the test?

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

I think that I agree with Eric that over the next six weeks, we've got to see some progress. They've got to get some things done together. I think that what Mr. Schultz is talking about, in terms of veterans' employment would be a good opportunity. And so the speaker mentioned that.

CHUCK TODD:

Very fast.

AMY WALTER:

There's no one left to compromise with. That's the problem with wave elections.

CHUCK TODD:

I agree. Where are the centrists?

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

If you take out all the moderates on both sides, there's no one left to compromise with.

CHUCK TODD:

There are no centrists.

JOSE DIAZ-BALART:

The president has to act and he's got to follow through on his promises. He's going to do that. And if that poisons the well, then maybe it's time to change the water.

CHUCK TODD:

Oh boy. Here we go. By the way, this marks the 67th anniversary of Meet the Press. Thank you Martha Rountree. So happy birthday to everybody who's ever worked on this show. But I'd also like to congratulate our friends over at Face the Nation this morning. They're celebrating their big 6-0. Welcome to your 60s. We've been collecting our social security paycheck for a while now. You'll get yours soon enough. That's all for today. We'll be back next week because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

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