tv PBS News Hour PBS October 15, 2010 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. federal reserve chairman bernanke said today the fed may take new steps to prod the sluggish economy. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour tonight, economists alan blinder and john taylor parse the chairman's words and explore the fed's options. >> lehrer: then, margaret warner looks at the administration's afghan war strategy-- attacks on the taliban while assisting peace talks. >> brown: lindsey hilsum of independent television news hears the stories of rape victims in the democratic republic of congo. >> it's not that no one knows. there have been hundreds of reports about rape in the
congo. but the congolese authorities don't seem to do anything about it. this is a lawless place >> lehrer: from florida, gwen ifill reports on the race for the state's open senate seat. >> it's a three way race in the sunshine state between a republican, a democrat and a popular incumbent governor turned independent. >> brown: and mark shields and david brooks analyze the week's news. >> lehrer: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brown: the federal reserve stands ready to act further to pump up the economy. that was the signal from chairman ben bernanke today. but he stopped short of exact details, and said the risks of future moves are still being weighed. speaking at a conference in boston this morning, ben bernanke cited concerns the economy isn't improving fast enough. >> with growth in private final demand having so far proved relatively modest, overall economic growth has been proceeding at a pace that is less vigorous than we would like. given the committee's objectives, there would appear, all else being equal, to be a case for further action. >> brown: chairman bernanke suggested the fed could expand its purchases of government debt in order to lower long-term interest rates, a tool known as
quantitative easing. but he admitted the policy comes with some risks and uncertainies. >> we have much less experience in judging the economic effects of this policy instrument. >> brown: another concern cited by bernanke was inflation, but not the familiar problem. indeed, the labor department today announced the consumer price index had risen just .1% in september, and overall, only 1.1% in the past year. this morning, chairman bernanke said that is too low. >> in effect, inflation is running at rates that are too low, relative to the level that the committee judges to be most consistent with the federal reserve's dual mandate in the longer run. and the risk of deflation is higher than desirable. >> brown: fed policymakers are expected to announce their new actions at their next meeting in early november. two prominent economists who attended today's fed conference join us now. alan blinder of princeton-- he's a former vice-chair of the fed and economic advisor to president clinton.
and john taylor of stanford and the hoover institution. he served in the treasury department of president george w. bush. alan blinder i will start with you. by federal reserve standards, this was a pretty clear message, right? >> yeah, that's right. you put the right modifier on it. they are not usually that clear. it was a pretty clear message and it said more quantitative easing is coming soon which everybody presumes, including myself, to mean at the very next meeting of the federal open market committee. >> brown: explain a little bit more this idea of quantitateive easing. what is it intended to do? >> well, the idea is once you get the interest rate, the federal funds rate, they call it, as low as it can go, and they are about there, if you still want to expand the economy, there are a variety of things you can do. one of them is to create money and buy more assets. and that's what is called quantitative easing. and in particular, that's what chairman bernanke was, let's say, hinting very
strongly the fed is on the verge of doing. presumably in pretty large magnitude. >> brown: now john taylor at the same time bernanke also talked of the uncertainties and risk of doing that. what are those? >> well, he did emphasize the cost and the benefits and illustrated the cost. one is how you undo all this at the right time. remember, the fed already did a big dose of quantitative easing a year ago. and that's expanded their balance sheet in ways that people worry about. that means increase in money which has to be pulled out. and how that is going to be done is uncertain. that could cause another jolt to the economy. in the benefits of this, i think are also quite small in my view. we saw a big dose of quantitative easing already and i don't think it did much good and i don't think this one will do much good either. so i think it's important to look at both the cost and benefits. and in fact the chairman indicated that quite clearly in his speech today. >> brown: alan blinder, how,
as we sit here today, how prescribed is the fed right now? what options do they have? >> well, they don't have the option they would love to have which is to drive the interest rate down to negative territory. that is there conventional policy, go through zero and come out the other side. that is not an option. one thing they could do is buy other sorts of asset, private assets as opposed to treasury assets. another thing they could do is try to manipulate market expectations by their words. as you know, the fed has been saying we're going to hold the interest rate at zero, essentially, for quote an extended period. you could change that terminology to make it sound even longer. you know, like a hyperextended period or something. or my favorite idea, what you could do is the fed is now paying money to banks, about a quarter of a percent, on the accounts they hold at the fed. these are called their reserves.
it is like the checking account that each bank has at the federal research. it's earning a quarter of a percent. the fed could lower that to zero t could even go knowing difficult, that is to start charging banks in order to sort of sandblast that money out of the banks and in, in some sense, to the economy. >> brown: john taylor, what's your answer to this if how prescribed is the fed first and what options do you see? >> well, right now i think there's tremendous uncertainty about policy in general, fiscal and monetary policy. and for monetary policy the fed's responsibility, i think they could do a good job of outlining the strategy for the future. right now this idea is thrown out, alan just mentioned a couple of them that are being discussed but there is no strategy of where things are going. and i think that creates ununcertainty. i think a big stimulus to the economy would be to outline a strategy, ultimately when the economy gets moving, how will the exity take place, in the
meantime, a description of what their plans are for the reserves in the banks or will balance sheet. whether they are going to change the interest payments. but right now it's kind of a list of tools, a list of ideas. i think that kind of shakes up the market. you have seen lots of volatility. the dollar has fallen a lot since these discussions have taken place. that volatility concerns me. it's a reflection i think of the uncertainty. >> and what, alan blinder, what does chairman bernanke telling us when he says inflation is too low. we're not used to hearing that. we're used to worry about it on the upside. so what is he saying? >> the fed has a mandate from congress if you read the federal reserve act to pursue, quote, stable prices. there's no number put on that by congress. and the fed has shied away from putting on a number. but in recent years the fed has come close, sort of right up to the edge of putting on a number and that number is in the one and a half to 2% range. so you could think of it as
1 an 3 quarters percent plus or minus something. now inflation is running under one. and bernanke is pointing out that according to their working definition of price stability, what they need to achieve to follow the instructions congress gave them is about wherec inflation is. and that means you want to push inflation up. which as you say is an unusual thing to hear out of a central banker. >> brown: but i guess, john taylor, the other side is do people worry about pushing it up, still worry about pushing it up too much or too fast? >> ultimately, definitely. that is a concern. not not right now because we have this terrible unemployment situation. but absolutely. down the road there is a concern and it could come faster than you think. and as the chairman indicated today, he looked at a number, 1.1% i think is the number he gave for inflation. so that's really not too far away from their target. so i think their concern
about actually deflation at this point, and having to come down, i personally don't think that's a concern. but in the meantime the inflation rate is not normally low. it is something that i think is close to the range. so again that's one of the reasons i wouldn't use that as an argument for additional quantitative easing. also i might add the quantitative easing that they had earlier sometimes called qe 1, this would be qe 2, qe 1 was motivated for the emergency situation which we were in during the panic period of this crisis. so this is a completely different rational for quantitative easing. and it's an example, it not a strategy out there, outlining the problem and how they're going deem with it. >> brown: all right, we'll leave it there and watch. alan blinder, john taylor, thank you both very much. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> lehrer: still to come on the newshour: the war in afghanistan; the horrific rapes in congo; the three senate candidates in florida;
and shields and brooks. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. >> sreenivasan: retail sales in the u.s. picked up in september, even as inflation slowed. a commerce department report showed americans spent more money on cars, furniture and at hardware stores. on wall street, stocks were mixed on the retail news and the signal from the fed it would do more to stimulate the economy. the dow jones industrial average lost more than 31 points to close at 11,062. the nasdaq rose 33 points to close above 2,468. for the week, the dow gained half a percent; the nasdaq rose nearly 3%. the former co-founder of countrywide financial reached an agreement with federal regulators today to settle civil charges of fraud and insider trading. angelo mozilo and two other former executives were set to face trial next week for their roles in the high-risk sub-prime mortgage crisis. instead, mozilo will now pay more than $67 million in penalties. none of the three defendants
admitted any wrongdoing. in chile, more rescued miners were expected to head home from the hospital today. the first three were released last night, after spending 69 days trapped deep underground. we have a report from geraint vincent of independent television news. >> he was very, very late but he finally got back from work last night. and his neighbors had all come over to welcome him home. >> i thought i would never return, he said. thank you very much. thank you for believing that we were alive. the rest are all said to be in remarkably good health as they recover from the ordeal of their confinement, and from being hauled half a mile through the ground in a steel tube to be reunited with their families. in what was a stunningly successful rescue operation remembered today by the rescue team medic who checked on the miners as
they came out of the ground. >> the very first thing that they would say, they were absolutely happy to be out. some of them were saying, i-- i never thought that the sky could be so beautiful. >> reporter: they are still wearing sunglasses while their eyes reacquaint themselves with the brightness of that sky. and a few of them are suffering from tooth and skin infections. but the biggest problem facing these men t seems s the psychological damage wrought by their time underground. >> at least 20, 25 of them are going to need continuous psychological supervision and maybe medication or whatever, to treat the complications they have to develop anyway. >> reporter: after all of the fear and the dread, the miners will need time to get used to their triumph but in the challenge of the rest of their lives, they will have
the support of all chile. >> sreenivasan: the remaining miners are expected to be released from the hospital this weekend. there was a new setback today in the quest to restart middle east peace talks. the israeli government approved nearly 240 new building permits in east jerusalem. that ended an unofficial freeze on new settlement construction. the palestinians swiftly denounced today's move, setting off clashes with israeli soldiers in east jerusalem and the west bank. the chief palestinian negotiator said the action closes "all doors on attempts to revive the direct negotiations." the u.s. is launching an investigation into chinese trade practices in the clean energy sector. the united steelworkers union has complained china is illegally subsidizing those industries against world trade organization rules. u.s. trade representative ron kirk said the investigation would be vigorous. separately, the u.s. treasury department delayed the release of its semiannual report on currency practices of china and other trading partners. that defers a decision on
whether to brand china a currency manipulator. there will be no cost of living increase in social security benefits next year for 58 million retirees and disabled americans. social security administration officials announced that inflation has been too low to warrant any raise. it is the second year in a row there has been no increase. to make up for it, house speaker nancy pelosi said the house will vote in november on a bill to provide $250 payments to social security recipients. that move is supported by president obama, but faces opposition in the senate. swiss engineers smashed their way into the record books today, creating the world's longest tunnel. dozens watched as a giant drilling machine broke through the remaining wall of rock. the gotthard base tunnel stretches 35.4 miles underneath the alps. the process has taken 2,500 workers nearly 20 years to complete. the tunnel is expected to open for rail traffic in 2017 or earlier. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff.
>> brown: and we turn to the latest moves to speed the end of the afghan conflict. margaret warner has that story. >> warner: the tempo of u.s. ground and air combat is up, as american forces try to end the military stalemate against the taliban in afghanistan. there's been an especially sharp increase in drone strikes targeted at taliban leaders. in a speech in london yesterday, commanding general david petraeus said some 300 taliban leaders have been killed or captured in the last 90 days. at the same time, u.s. and nato officials this week acknowledged they're facilitating the ability of taliban officials to take part in peace talks with the afghan government of president hamid karzai. state department spokesman p.j. crowley confirmed that today.
>> obviously, to travel through afghanistan from point "a" to point "b", it is best to coordinate with the afghan government and isaf so everyone's aware of what is happening. but i'm not going to go into great detail. >> warner: yesterday, the head of the afghan council convening the talks said he senses new seriousness on the taliban's part. >> ( translated ): even i have had meetings and talks with some taliban representatives from time to time, and i can feel the interest among taliban. >> warner: today, at a nato conference in brussels, u.s. special envoy richard holbrooke said he thought the two were connected. >> there have been an increasing number of people associated with the taliban who have reached out and said, you know, "we want to talk about an alternative to war." and i think this, in very large part, a product of this
tremendously increased military pressure which isaf and our afghan partners have put on the taliban. >> warner: the stepped-up pressure includes a ground offensive in the taliban epicenter of kandahar. 387 americans have been killed in afghanistan so far this year. for more on this, we go to retired colonel david lamm, former chief of staff to the combined forces command in afghanistan in 2004 and 2005. he's now a professor at national defense university. and james dobbins, former special envoy to afghanistan in 2001. he's now at the rand corporation. welcome to you both. colonel lamm, is this a conscious strategy, to target taliban leadership at the same time are you making it easier for them to go to talks? >> it is. and to bring them to talks they have to be compelled to do so. and the only way you're going to compel them to come in is by force.
we, there are four red lines. they need to, number one, renounce violence, to lay down their arms, three renounce al qaeda and then abide by the laws and constitution of afghan tan. >> warner: but what is the thinking behind this. i mean are you targeting the very guys you want to come talk, couldn't that be counterproductive? >> no. because in simple terms, they have to be compelled to come talk. on the battlefield right now, without the military pressure, they would sense that they were winning. somebody who is sensing they are winning has no impetus at all to come and talk and bargain away anything. so force is one way to compel them to get to the table. >> warner: what explains this approach in your view? >> well, i think we would probably be targeting the taliban leadership even if we weren't prepared to talk to them. that says more about the availability of the targets and the drones. but i do think that it can
contribute to the possibility-of-a negotiation and a negotiated outcome. i think the administration's interest in pursuing that possibility comes from president karzai's desire to do so. the government of pakistan's new desire to try to help mediate a settlement. pressure from our allies. the british have been pushing this point for a long time. and a view that the military situation in afghanistan is not going to get a lot better. so that if there is a point at which you have an equilibrium in which both sides feel there a stalemate and neither side can win, you are as close to it as you are likely to get. >> warner: so you're trying to-- they're trying to make-- nato forces are trying to make this taliban leadership feel under threat? is that the idea? >> precisely. >> warner: if they don't come talk they might lose their lives. >> exactly. >> precisely. >> and the targeting is fairly sophisticated. they'll look at top leadership, some midlevel leadership.
probably leave the low fence-sitter as loan, people we would call folks on the white list that were just taliban because it was the thing to do in the neighborhood at the time. but the key leadership is specifically targeted. >> warner: now are these leaders that are being targeted in afghanistan, pakistan or both? >> well, both but largely what they're talking about are in afghanistan, i believe. and the leaders that are being target ready not actually the ones that will ultimately negotiate with. they are the intermediate leadership but the intermediate leadership is clearly critical. and to the extent they are being steadily eliminated it is putting pressure on the system as a wol. >> but that does raise the point. i mean the ultimate taliban leadership, is believed to be in pakistan, mullah omar and his top lieutenants. so what is the connection between taking out their commanders in afghanistan and them? >> well, you take away their
operational arm and their ability to affect anything inside afghanistan by going after the mid leff folks. at the same time, there is pressure in afghanistan. i mean there is continual pressure with the drones. i know they've moved further north into waz irstand. >> you are talking about in pakistan and north waziristan. and the last drone attack in the quron area killed some pakistani officers and precipitated some closedown. so there some difficult and-- give-and-take back and forth, good and bad with the drone attacks. but the pressure just in sanctuarys and for the operational arm on the battlefield in afghanistan. >> warner: now initially the obama administration was fairly cool on this idea of high level talks. i mean they were fine about reintegrateding the low level guys. reasons right. >> warner: what has turned that around and to what degree does the deadline that president obama set of july 2011 for at least u.s.
forces to begin drawing down in some fashion driving that? >> i think president obama's statement that he will begin drawing down in 2011 has caused everybody who is@ú concerned to begin thinking about the end game and positioning themselves for something beyond the war. that certainly applies to karzai who has embraced this and a large amount of afghan society has embraced it, although it is still controversy. our allies, the pakistanis have come forward. and there is a new interest on the part of the taliban. everybody, i think, tends toward the view that general petraeus repeatedly says, that is this is the only way it's going to end. it's going to take a long time to end it so we might as well get started. >> warner: has this gotten started, though, earlier than it might have, colonel lamm if it weren't for this july 20th -- july 2011 deadline. >> i think the deadline is an impetus to get things moving. the downside of the 2011 deadline is that while it
may be forcing some people to come and to talk and to get serious about what an end game is, the problem with a 2011 deadline is that they may also be planning an end game that is not in the interest of nato or the regional actors, ie, a rebeginning of a great game where they use afghanistan as strategic depth for india, and pakistan and a proxy war in iran and so on and so forth. >> warner: also why wouldn't the taliban leadership just hunker down? >> well w the july deadline, they, in fact, a strategy would be just, just to hunker down, maintain the status quo and then wait. wait the alliance out. >> warner: so bottom line what do you think are the prospects for success on this, on this particular two-prong strategy. >> i mean i think that if you look at the history of, you know, the ends of civil wars, you are likely to take a long time to get into negotiations it will take a year of talks about negotiations until are you
in negotiations. it will then take several years for the negotiations to reach a conclusion. during that time, violence is likely to increase as the sides maneuver for advantage. and the side that emerges best is going to be the side that demonstrates the greatest tenacity. >> warner: brief final thoughts from you on prospects for success? >> well, i tend to concur with ambassador dobbins and that is as this thing winds down, generally in these sorts of situations with these insurgencys you are talking 10, 15, 20 years before you decide finally one side finally wins and then you get to real reconciliation. >> warner: thank you both, david lamm, james dobbins. >> lehrer: next tonight, rape as a weapon of war. a top united nations official briefed the security council
yesterday on some particularly brutal attacks in eastern congo this summer. we have a report from lindsay hilsum of independent television news, who accompanied a u.n. mission and talked to some of the victims. a warning: this report contains disturbing testimony. >> reporter: we're traveling with parg receipt, the u.n. representative on sexual crime in conflict. she has come to investigate the mass rapes of more than 300 village women by militia men in and rwandan rebels. as we walked into the village there were no clues to what had happened here. no sign of the fear that drives the women to leave their houses at night and hide in the forest. the people celebrated the arrival of visitors. maybe this woman, at least,-- at last would be the one to do something. and then we went to meet them. men were told to go to the
back or outside. women at the front so they could tell their stories. each one more terrible than the last. >> 62 years old, raped by a man young enough to be her grandson. this is our cry for help, she said. we're in pain. in this village, houses were looted, children kidnapped, and 35 women raped. >> you are our fellow women and we believe our enemies wouldn't hesitate to rape you if they were given the opportunity. they are merciless. >> i think now is also time to wipe the tears. ness for us and to start to act. >> reporter: the women told me that the armed men came on the night of july 30th and started looting. >> i told them hi no money.
and they began to beat me and ordered me to lie on the floor. i don't think they expected me to resist because when i did, they had to tie me up. >> reporter: age was no protection. this 82-year-old neighbor was also raped. the rapists are hiding in the jungle. congolese troops are there too, supposedly fighting the rebels and militia men but they also loot and rape. it's not that no one knows. there have been hundreds of reports about rape in the congo. and it's not that no one cares. there are dozens of nongovernmental organizations here helping the victims. but the congolese authorities don't seem to do anything about it. this is a lawless place. and it seems that really in the east of the congo there's still no government at all. u.n. peacekeepers from the
indian armey are meant to protect civilians but they failed. an internal report says the nearest contingents had neither the right training nor the necessary translators. they didn't show up for nearly two weeks. >> what can you say to those women now. what can you promise or offer them? >> all that i can promise them is that we will try our best. >> reporter: another meeting at another village. the women say these rapes were more widespread, more brutal thanever before-- ever before. a confidential u.n. report says that congolese soldiers had abandoned to make money from nearbuy gold and mineral mines. the rapists were militiamen and rwandan rebels vying for control of the mine. rape was a way of subduing and cowing the local population. >> they came at night while we were sleeping in 9
forest. we saw men running towards us. they grabbed my arm. they took away my baby. and eight men raped me. i was screaming, i'm dying. >> reporter: rape carries a terrible stigma here. the women told me despair has made them speak out. >> i really think it's important to go after the perpetrators. they have leaders that issue immediate statements. they know very well, what happens. >> reporter: and on monday, the spokesman for the rwandan rebel group implicated was arrested in paris under a warrant from the international criminal court. last week u.n. peacekeeper as rested a militia commander many women identified as being present during the assaults. he and other militiamen have been handed over to the congolese authorities.
there is a question now is will they follow through and prosecute. a newer law in america requires companies to trace conflict minerals from the coverage congo in products such as mobile phones, a move which could help to protect the women. >> there has to be an international reaction from both the european union, from countries all over the world to support and follow through what the united states have already decided. >> reporter: the u.n. visit is over. no one expects a quick solution to the endemic sexual violence here. but the charitable organizations try to help the women, the government doesn't seem to care. but the it has generated such outrage, they are feeling some pressure. >> brown: now to campaign politics, and to florida, where a high-profile senate race has sparked some soul-searching
among democrats. gwen ifill has the story. it's part of our "vote 2010" coverage. >> how you doing? >> ifill: florida's three-way u.s. senate race is turning into a two-way shootout between democratic nominee kendrick meek... >> i'd appreciate your vote. >> ifill: ... and republican- turned-independent governor charlie crist. >> how are you, brother? >> ifill: the duel has divided democrats here by geography and race, but mostly, by political pragmatism. the question for both camps-- who can beat surging republican marco rubio? while meek and crist concentrate on forcing the other from the race, rubio, who's led in every published poll since august, has been embraced by his party. the democratic split is stark in populous palm beach county, where influential democrats like county commission chairman burt
aaronson abruptly abandoned their democratic nominee this week. >> the dilemma is this-- visualize us being on a boat. that boat is sinking, we have a chance to get into a lifeboat. we may not be going to the destination that we were supposed to go with the ship, but we'll get to some destination. and certainly, this is all about the democrats not having marco rubio as our senator. >> i love the purple. >> ifill: these democrats are betting on crist to become a sort of de facto democrat once he gets to washington, a political calculation that infuriates the actual democrat. >> i'm not going to let one or two local elected officials decide what hundreds of thousands of primary voters already decided. if i have to fight with a toothpick and back myself in a corner, i'm going to start poking people. if i was at 1%, i'd be in this race.
but i'm not at 1%; i'm not at 10%. there's only a few points between the governor and i. the way i look at it, i'm not running for second, i'm running to win. >> ifill: the latest poll has rubio at 44%, crist at 30%, and meek at 22%. florida congressmen alcee hastings, who remains loyal to meek, says lukewarm local and national democrats risk alienating black voters. >> you tell every democrat, including barack obama, if they cannot find reason to support kendrick meek, then when they run, i will find a reason not to support them. it's just that simple. ( applause ) charlie crist got run out-- or ran out-- of his party. now, he's over here destroying mine. and i'm hearing from democrats that kendrick can't win. well, if you say he can't and you won't vote for him, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
>> ifill: president obama has recorded an ad targeted to black radio. >> ... so please join me in supporting kendrick meek for senate. because if we work together, he will win. >> ifill: but the national party has largely decided to spend its money elsewhere. susan mcmanus, a political science professor at the university of south florida, says the democratic party is splitting itself in two as rubio coasts. >> it is interesting that, for all the talk of the schisms in the republican party, the biggest schism in florida is in the democratic party over this u.s. senate seat. >> ifill: there will be huge repercussions, no matter who wins. meek would be the state's first african-american senator. crist would become its first independent. and rubio is already being hailed, by mainstream and tea party supporters alike, as the republican party's fastest rising star. >> please welcome marco rubio. >> ifill: while the democrats
slug away at each other, rubio wears the frontrunner's mantle, appearing this week in tampa with louisiana governor bobby jindal in a room full of former crist voters. >> i did vote for him for governor. i am conservative. i am republican. when he walked away from the party, no, i'm no longer tempted to vote for him, particularly when he started flip-flopping on issues, as well. >> ifill: polls show the vast majority of republican likely voters lining up behind rubio. >> the campaigns that inspire people are always going to be the ones that win. the campaigns that have the wind at their back in terms of issues, and the motivation and enthusiasm are the ones that are going to win. clearly, the president benefited from that in 2008, and i think there are candidates who oppose the president's agenda who will benefit from it in 2010. >> ifill: some optimistic democrats still hope crist will sink and meek will rise. >> once those two lines cross, all the democrats who have been taking counsel of their fears are going to be able to come home and vote for the person who
really represents their views. >> ifill: but time, others say, is slipping away. >> i fought this thing for a few weeks and i paid attention to the polls, and meek can't win. >> where do you teach? >> ifill: crist, meanwhile, is now counting on crossover voters. >> i love teachers! i love you. >> ifill: running as an independent, he has sided with teachers unions, reversed his opposition to gay adoption, and vetoed anti-abortion legislation. >> i think it's very important to appeal to common sense republicans, common sense democrats, common sense independents. my two opponents are partisan party candidates, and they're sort of locked into those talking points of the party bosses. >> ifill: he joined palm beach democrats this week to break ground at a housing development paid for with $27 million of the obama administration's federal stimulus package. >> when you run as an independent, i'm really running against the system more than anybody in this race.
and when you do that, it is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. but there has been a parachute; it's the people. >> ifill: meek discounts polls that show him trailing, in part because many of those same polls predicted he would lose the democratic primary to billionaire businessman jeff greene. crist, he said, is the one who should be pressured to drop out. >> we're all over this state. we're winning votes every day. he needs to man up and be a leader and run his own race. don't try to come over and eat off my plate, because i'm six-foot-three and 250 pounds and a former state trooper. >> i have all the respect in the world for the congressman. but if people vote for kendrick meek, they're really giving the race to marco rubio. they are the "m and m" boys-- you vote for meek, marco wins. >> ifill: rubio, the 39-year-olñ son of cuban immigrants and a
former speaker of the florida house, watches calmly from the sidelines. crist, he says, is unreliable. >> people see it for what it is. it's political opportunism. if ever there was a year when people were not looking for that, it's this one. people are tired of being told one thing on the campaign trail, and then when people get washington, they become something else. >> ifill: meek, he says, is reliable, but wrong. >> i think he's a supporter of the direction washington has taken. his voting record is identical to nancy pelosi's. and i'm pretty confident that floridians don't want nancy pelosi to be their next u.s. senator. but i respect the fact that he knows what he believes in and he's campaigning on it. >> ifill: rubio finds a receptive audience among florida's most conservative voters. >> before, it used to be if you went into a group, you were afraid to say you were conservative, because the liberals might beat you over the head. but now we're finding our own and speaking out. >> ifill: marco rubio is your voice? >> absolutely. >> ifill: battles lines were drawn in a recent debate. crist versus rubio... >> you've been drinking too much
tea, and it's just wrong. >> ifill: ... rubio versus crist... >> governor crist was a republican six months ago. now, he's changed his position on virtually every issue because he's trying to take away those democratic votes from kendrick meek. >> ifill: ... meek versus crist... >> charlie crist stands on a wet paper box as relates to the issues he stands for. you don't know where he is. >> ifill: meek visited six black churches last sunday, trying to rouse obama democrats. >> i need you to stand up like you've never stood up before. i need you to prove the pundits wrong. >> ifill: but midterm elections don't move voters like presidential elections, especially in florida this year, when there are so many choices. >> lehrer: and finally tonight, the analysis of shields and brooks-- syndicated columnist mark shields, "new york times" columnist david brooks. david, how do you see the florida race? >> rubio is probably going to win. he's got a huge lead. because what's the election about. it's about people are concerned about american
decline. they're concerned about jobs and they're concerned about spending. and better have a clear message on those things. charlesie crist doesn't have a clear message. marco rubio has the, the tea party message and he's a very good candidate. if you have those two things this year are you probably going to wichbl you have a lot of people with the tea party message but who are bad candidates like o'donnell in delaware, pal tino in new york. but he has the two elements so he is sitting pretty. >> lehrer: mark? >> chargeee countries st running as the scott brown howard baker republican in a-- year. >> lehrer: that that one more time. >> in other words, he's running as a republican of a moderate stripe. not afraid to take a stand that might be offensive to some of the party's-- . >> lehrer: taking on social issues. >> social issues, even endorsing the president's stimulus package but this is a tea party year. basically mario-- marco rubio was the presage, the
predictor of the tea party movement, of its breadth, its energy and extent. >> lehrer: because he had very little going for him. >> except he is, as david says, he's obviously personable. he's articulate. he is kre denged. he was speaker of house so in that sense-- and he's very conservative. make no mistake about it. and that, those all resonate this year in florida. >> lehrer: what about the point that was really made dramatically in gwen's piece, what this is doing to democrats in florida. you look ahead, there could be some scars, right? >> right, and scars over the future of the party. i mean it's funny how the entire democratic party is getting their recriminations in early, even as the race is going on. and they've got to figure out if there is an election, they've got it figure out-- or if there is a defeat they have to figure out what this means and sort of the collapse of the democratic candidate in florida has launched this early. >> lehrer: this is tough
stuff. >> no question. democrats who privately a lot of leaders down there is a gee, is there a way we could support crist. he had robert kennedy, jr. and arnold schwarzenegger endorse crist this week. that is sort of reflective of the breadth of his support and his potential. but kendrick meek won the democratic prime aerx he is a democratic member of the house. >> lehrer: and he also came from very low in the polls, defeated a well financed-- opponent. >> jeff green, absolutely. i mean, extremely well financed. but it is not, jim, the biggest mistake you make, i think, the recriminations are right, david s to blame the customer. i mean you can already hear that. >> lehrer: those dumb voters. >> those damn voter necessary so insightful, inspired and thoughtful when they put us in office. now when they defeat us they are craven, vulgar and selfish. >> lehrer: what did you think of the debate in another senate race, much closer than this one, the
sharron angle harry reid race in nevada, the debate last night. your thoughts. >> i mention the two magic things to be a good candidate have a strong anti-government message and sharron angle has one of those two but so far it's pulling her even with harry reid. and it may pull her ahead. one of the things that has been noteworthy about this race in nevada is that reid has not been able to move. he's worked hard. he's got natural recents, he is a good candidate but he just hasn't been able to move. and she has been able to land some blows. i thought in the debate she proved herself not the crazy person or semi sew so at least that he was making her out to be and delivered some good blows to say i'm a middle class person in reno. he is living in the ritz carleton in washington that is a pretty good line. >> lehrer: what did you think about the debate. >> i thousand harry reid's best chance of this race was to make sharron angle the issue. he does have, obviously, a ceiling of how high his support is going to be. he has always run close race in this state. i don't think he is a good candidate. >> lehrer: you don't think harry reid say good
candidate. >> no he is a relentless candidate, he is well organized, well financed, he's determined. but he's not an naturally charismatic candidate. >> lehrer: how do you think he handled himself last night. >> i think he had to win the debate and i don't think he did. i think that he had to make-- he had to come out of that debate with the idea that look, harry reid, whatever else about him, is qualified. he's been there, he's fighting for us. and she's loony tunes. and she did not. she was not terrifying. she was, if anything, reassuring. and harry reid also had the problem of-- a woman referring to a woman t is always difficult how to debate a woman without being tough but elapsed into washington talk. he talked about cbo estimates and out years and if there is anything that voters don't want to hear in 2010 it's washington inside talk. >> lehrer: judy woodruff is in nevada as we speak and will have a major piece on the race on monday night on the newshour. more generally, david, the
president, president obama has really come down hard against the chamber of commerce and its fund-raising. that is that all about? >> my view is if you are going to accuse somebody of a felony which is spending foreign money on u.s. politics you should have some sin tilla of evidence to support your charge. and obama and people in the administration have made that charge without a sin till a of evidence so i thought it was relatively secure lose that they do that. there is a problem with independent expenditure in this country but there were 400 million dollars in independent expenditures for the democrats two years ago am now the passion is on the republican side so i'm not sure either party has any moreal authority to speak on this issue. but i thought to make that accusation of outside foreign money without evidence was just, you know, it's ridiculous. >> lehrer: is he getting any traction, ridiculous or not, mark? >> i think it gets a little traction, jim, in the sense it plays into the existing perception of republicans as being a party too close to business, especially big business. and too close to money.
i agree with david the charge was unfounded if you have no evidence. but i think the situation is not comparable to what it was two years ago or six years ago. what we're talking about now is floodgates of money and we're talking about anonymous contributions. >> lehrer: that because it is supreme court. >> because of the supreme court decision, of what you can have. and i predict this without any fear of being wrong, that on election night we'll find one incumbent we're surprised has been defeated. because one of these groups has gone if or a couple of these groups have spent 6, 7 figures against him on attack ads. attack ads which are totally you know -- there is no way he is going to-- and fat check which won a pulitzer prize for checking the accuracy of political statements, found out that 85% of these don't even qualify as true, used by these independent groups. the ads themselves are just exaggeration.
so what we will wake up on on november 3rd is a terror and paralysis of fear on the part of elected office holders that i will be next. >> lehrer: even the ones who win. >> the ones who win. and i will be next and what they will do, i will till, the first thing they will go out and double their campaign financing. they will raise it. it will lead to greater polarization and greater deadlock. >> lehrer: how. >> it a terrible development. >> i completely agree on the lack of transparency. but the fact is this is not exactly new it is just that two years ago the democrats had the huge advantages. they had independent expenditures they had negative ads. they had a huge mountain of money rolling against republicans. now the passion has changed and there is huge mountain of money rolling in for democrats but the idea that this is somehow some new phenomenon, just not true. >> lehrer: speaking of president obama there is this big piece in your newspaper sunday magazine, it's already been read by everybody, at least anybody who got an advanced company and is interested in politics about president obama watch. do you think of piece? >> well, i found it depressing.
i found it depressing on a number of levels because one of the things the administration has to do is think about what's happened, what has happened politically and why are they in political trouble. and my, from reading the numerous quotes in the piece from many administration officials, the lesson i got was that they have got, it's not their fault. they've done the right things. the country is not ready for us. washington is to the good enough for us. and you know after bill clinton suffered a political setback in '94 he did some real thinking and some real adjusting of how to adjust. i would say at least judging from that piece, this process of thought and rethinking has not started in this white house. >> i have one question. >> lehrer: yes, sir. >> why. why this piece now. the president has responsibilities until november 2 to get his own numbers up, his own favorable rating. when a president's rating drops below 50%, just for example, ronald reagan goes to 43%, loses 26 seats.
bill clinton goes to 46%, loses 52 seats. george bush goes to 39%, loses 30 seats. turns around f the president's over 50. all right. that's his first responsibility. second responsibility is to get the base of his party out and energized. young voters, democrats, african-americans, first time voters from 2008. college voters. and what does this do? i mean this does nothing. there is no reason for it. >> lehrer: he didn't have to do the long interview. >> what he is doing, a retrospective before the election. i mean we've gone from perhaps the least introspective president to the most introspective president. he talks about what it means to him and all this. for goodness sakes he's got the responsibility to his party. how would you like to be a democratic member of the house fighting for your life right now, getting hit over the head by having voted for the stimulus bill and have the president say to the "new york times" sunday magazine there's no such
thing as a shovel-ready project. >> lehrer: that's the piece, that particular quote is really been drawing the flees as it not. >> i shouldn't have confessed this. he said this to me off the record about a year ago. >> lehrer: off the record record. >> i couldn't get him to go on the record with that thing. >> lehrer: he said this to you a year ago. >> it was obvious. you are trying to build the stimulus package, but when they were trying to build it they would have loved to fill it with intrastructure jobs but the projects just didn't exist. they couldn't do it. they couldn't find them. so i like that aspect of the piece because it is obama being honest. and but i agree it's politically difficult. but the thing that you like about this administration is they can have debates and they can be honest about what the shortcomings they face. what i found aside from that one comment, they don't seem to be having an internal debate over what has happened. they seem to be having we did a great job. the people weren't quite ready for it. >> lehrer: what do you think of mark's point that this is really bad timing for democrats.
for the president even to agree with this. >> i completely agree with that i mean it is a campaign. you still have a chance to win. you don't give up in the middle of the third quarter. and it is overstating to say he gave up but it's the whole tone of all the quotations. not only from obama but i think he spoke to dozens of people in there. >> lehrer: some named, some unnamed. >> and the pretext among many of the comments is okay, we lost. >> get to cleveland. get to cincinnati. i mean get where you can help, chicago, you know, get to boston. >> lehrer: and quit talking to "the new york times" for a couple of days. >> yeah. >> let's not go too far. >> lehrer: let's not go too far. >> work the blue areas. >> lehrer: thank you both very much. >> brown: again, the major developments of the day: federal reserve chairman bernanke signaled the fed would do more to stimulate the economy, but he stopped short of giving exact details. the top u.s. commander in afghanistan, general david petraeus, confirmed nato has had
a role in helping the taliban talk with members of the afghan government. and the former co-founder of countrywide financial reached an agreement with federal regulators to settle civil charges of fraud and insider trading. and to hari sreenivasan in our newsroom for what's on the newshour online. hari. >> sreenivasan: gwen filed a dispatch from the florida campaign trail for "the rundown" news blog. also there, margaret's take on an interesting week in chinese politics, including a call by communist party veterans for more free speech. plus, jeff talks to the composer of a new opera that blends western music with balinese traditions. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. jeff. >> brown: and that's the newshour for tonight. on monday, judy woodruff reports from nevada on the closely watched senate race between majority leader harry reid and tea party candidate sharon angle. i'm jeffrey brown. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. "washington week" can be seen later this evening on most pbs stations. we'll see you online, and again here monday evening. have a nice weekend. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs
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