Alex Witt   |  May 05, 2013

Israel and President Obama's contrasting 'red line'

Washington Post Reporter Emily Heil, and Chief Political Correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, Steve Thomma, join Richard Lui for today’s "Frist Take on Politics." Steve contrasts Israel’s and President Obama’s “red line.” Both Heil and Thomma speculate about Secretary of State John Kerry’s upcoming trip to Russia and what it means for Syria. Then they switch gears and talk about the NRA’s convention and its influence on the political process.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> you both for being with us on a sunday. steve , as peter alexander was mentioning that red line , there are two attacks within the last two days coming from israel . the red lines are different for israel than that of the president's. when you look at what has happened here, does this put more or less pressure on the president to take action now?

>> i think you have to look at it from two fronts. domestically here in the united states , the political pressure is mixed. american people are not eager to go into military action particularly after 10, 11 years in iraq and afghanistan. however, air strikes only as we did -- or air support only in libya was accepted pretty easily by the american people . right now it's mix the about 40 to 30 with about 25% of the american people saying they haven't made up their mind. it's possible the israeli air strikes would ease the pressure on the president. a lot of americans could say they're taking care of it. but internationally, i think it increases the pressure the on the president of the united states to follow through, to show solidarity with israel . on the president's recent trip to israel , there was a t-shirt i saw that said don't worry, america, israel 's got your back with a picture about of an f-15 fighter. i don't think that's the image of united states needs to send to the region or to iran that we'll outsource this to israel . they have to show there is no daylight between us and israel . very important right now.

>> emily, steve there making an important distinction there and that is the perception of any action in syria here from the united states and then the reaction abroad. has the president looking at those two areas worked at the right pace given some of the criticism that's been coming out right now?

>> well, there have been discussions. certainly you've seen secretary of state john kerry has been engaged on this. so it's not just a matter of what president obama is doing. you're seeing secretary of state kerry this week heading to russia and to that area where he'll hold talks. and try to work on this idea of an international coalition that leaves syrian president isolated against people who want to see him leave power and who are supporting the rebels. so there are conversations going on on a number of fronts. and it's not just a matter of what president obama is going to do.

>> complex calculus for doubt as you bring up. steve , tomorrow speaking of secretary of state john kerry , he's heading to russia . syria's most powerful ally at the moment. and it's been somewhat of a chilling relationship with russia and the united states in recent years. what can reverse this? what is it that russia would need to get?

>> there is nothing right now in russia 's self interests or at least? vladimir putin 's self interests that would lead him to change his position. the best the united states is hoping for is neutrality from russia . they won't actively support assad or actively oppose a u.s. led military action .

>> i want to switch gears a little bit here and move to the nra 's convention which is just finishing up this weekend. up to 90% of americans favored background checks , a number that we commonly had heard. but the nra still managed to pressure some members of congress to defeat the proposed legislation. here is the nra executive president speaking. take a listen.

>> apparently there is nothing the president will not do to get something, anything, through congress to advance his agenda to destroy our second amendment. nothing. so far thanks to you and millions of americans all over this country just like you, that's exactly what president obama has gotten, absolutely nothing.

>> when you listen to wayne lapierre , and as well some of the other statements that were made at the nra convention, what's your thought about the balance of power , if you will, when you look at the nra and those who would like gun control legislation?

>> well, the nra has a huge advantage. they have spent decades building up clout, building an organization that has that kind of power here in washington. and they have done it in so many different ways. they have done it on a grass roots level, they do it through political contributions, they do it through heavy lobbying. they have inroads at the atf. this is an organization that has for decades kind of had its finger everywhere. so these newer organizations that are promoting gun control have that to go up against. and i think that with the shifting of where you're seeing people now supporting like you said 90% supporting background checks , that might start to shift a little bit and you might see some of these gun control organizations that have a little bit of money behind them like the bloomberg organization and the new one by former congressman gabby giffords might be able to make inroads. but they have a huge, huge hill to climb and that's the nra 's entrenched power building machine.

>> steefve, post newtown, the nra did not have the best points being made in pr. we have new polls that show voters are more likely to support democrats because of their votes for background checks while republican snorkelsenator kel kelly and kelly e kelly ayotte 's poll dove.

>> perhaps they're changing a little bit on this one issue before the background check is the one where the numbers are lopsided. wasn't too long ago they were talking about assault weapons ban and those numbers were nowhere near as solid. first of all, this is just one democratic polling firm that did all three of these surveys in north carolina , louisiana, and then in new hampshire. i'd like to see another poll that shows it. in north carolina and louisiana, the movement in favor of the democrats was very slight. and it's a year and a half to the election. the movement is more pronounced against kelly ayotte in new hampshire.

>> thank you so much, steve and emily, for your time today. president obama scheduled to