Nightly News   |  March 07, 2013

Can both sides of the aisle come together?

Wednesday was a rare day in Washington, D.C., where members of both parties discussed the country’s major problems together and a senator raised important issues by filibustering. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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

>>> good evening. it has been a wild 24 hours in our nation's capital. worse than normal. and, of course, the american people ultimately get to decide for themselves about what it is we have just witnessed. it seemed to a lot of people to be an example of our political great divide, but within the same party. the so-called old guard republicans and the new. the event that gathered the most coverage was a made for tv fill i buster by republican senator rand paul of kentucky. it was over the issue of drones and presidential power. and at the same time, across town, actual presidential power was being put to work at a restaurant with another group of republicans and the president. we have asked chuck todd to start us off tonight by sorting all of this out. chuck, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. you know, washington hasn't been very recognizable the last 48 hours . suddenly the president is having dinner with republican senators. suddenly, it's a place where a senator who has an objection channels his inner mr. smith from the old jimmy stewart movie and actually goes to the floor of the u.s. senate to filibuster, rather than hide behind some sort of congressional mumbo jumbo . is this a brief respite, or is there something happening here? close to 1:00 a.m ., it was still going on.

>> we all agree, if someone is outside the capitol with a rocket launcher , grenade launcher , lethal force can be used against them.

>> reporter: it started 13 hours earlier.

>> i rise today to begin to filibuster john brennan 's nomination for the cia. i will speak until i can no longer speak.

>> reporter: paul wanted a straight answer from the president on the use of drones.

>> the answer should be so easy. i can't imagine that he will not expressly come forward and say no. i will not kill americans on american soil.

>> reporter: and it kept going.

>> cafe in seattle. africa has great resources. on a kill list --

>> reporter: after a while, he got some help.

>> i will read a series of tweets. so proud of rand paul standing up for what's right. stand with rand.

>> that takes me back to another modern-day poet by the name of jay-z.

>> reporter: even democrats chimed in.

>> he's raising an important issue and i think it's a legitimate question.

>> reporter: paul couldn't leave the floor or even sit under senate rules . in the end, it was nature's calling that stopped the filibuster.

>> thank you very much for the forbearance and i yield the floor.

>> reporter: but today, success. the attorney general sent a terse but clear response this time to paul 's original question about whether the administration would use drones against americans on u.s. soil. the answer to that question is no. but while paul became a folk hero to some republicans, new high-profile colleagues took him to task.

>> i find the question offensive. this president is not going to use a drone against a noncombatant sitting in a cafe anywhere in the united states .

>> reporter: senator's lindsey graham and john mccain also happened to be among the dozen republican senators who broke bread with mr. obama last night.

>> how did the meeting go?

>> just fine.

>> reporter: the reviews by other senators also went very well. by the way, the president today had lunch with another republican, paul ryan . and john brennan , he has been confirmed. he is now the cia director , brian.

>> chuck todd , white house lawn tonight. chalk, thanks.