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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  June 10, 2015 9:00am-10:01am PDT

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if she was involved in anything you can rest assured there was a good reason. >> back to iraq the president considers sending hundreds of trainers to strengthen iraq's army but he's already getting pushback from capitol hill. >> how are you going to give them the will to fight? are we going to have to be there for eternity basically fighting their wars for them? >> and the graduates, michelle obama's advise for hometown high school graduates who have suffered a terrible loss. >> tonight i want you to understand that every scar that you have is a reminder not just that you got hurt but that you survived survived.
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good day, everyone. i'm andrea mitchell in washington. well, they have been on the run now for five days. the two escaped convicts there's no sign of the escaped killers after a potential citing tuesday launched an intense search in a rural area 50 miles southeast of the maximum security prison in upstate new york. authorities say the trail has gone cold for now, as state police conduct door-to-door searches there today. this as we're learning more about joyce mitchell. she's the prison employee considered a person of interest and questioned by police. nbc's john yang now outside the prison. john, what do we know today? >> reporter: well right now, andrea, i can tell you right now at the other end of this highway, this is the one highway leading in and out, they are conducting searches clearing, looking through abandoned houses. investigators in camouflage and tactical gear going into the woods, checking abandoned houses all along this highway leading away from the prison. we also are told that there are
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house-to-house searches going on in willsboro, new york which is where yesterday's search was based on a tip, an apparent sighting. someone said they saw two men walking down a road in the pouring rain and then ducking into the woods. the investigators took that tip seriously enough to divert a lot of resources down there to search that area all day long much of it during some rain came up empty-handed. it is five days now since they were last seen or noticed that they were missing. this could be turning from a hot pursuit, because the search here officials are quick to point out, is not based on any new information, not based on any new tip. they say they wanted to go back over their steps, see if there was anything missing, see if there was anything that they had missed, rather see if there was
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anything new they could pick up. this may be going from a hot pursuit to more of a standard fugitive case, looking at phone calls in and out of the prison, who they talked to who came to visit them that sort of thing, to try to figure out where they might be headed now. >> john our colleague, stephanie gosk, yesterday interviewed toby mitchell he is the son, an air force veteran who is the son of joyce mitchell, who works -- his father also works at the prison. this is the exclusive interview with stephanie gosk. >> she is not the kind of person that's going to risk her life or other people's lives to let these guys escape from prison. if she was involved in anything you can rest assured there was a good reason to it and there's more into it than a relationship with an inmate. >> do you think it's possible that she was taken advantage of? >> i don't know. they both are convicted murderers. i mean you have an inmate that's
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in prison for life they really don't have anything to lose. when you're put in a situation where a family member is threatened or oar family members might be threatened or at risk you do a lot of things that you wouldn't think to protect your family. >> so you worry there may have been some kind of threat. >> i'm constantly worried about what might be going on. >> and there are a lot of people worried, john yang. there was a convicted murderer who had testified against escaped prisoner richard matt. he also spoke by phone with nbc news and we agreed to disguise his voice. here's what he had to say. >> there's no telling what kind of revenge he may want to exact on people. there's no telling exactly what's in his mind. this is a very psychotic individual, and it's somebody that definitely has no regard for human life. >> so that's at least one former fellow convict with matt one of
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the two -- matt and sweat are the two men. john yang as you've been point out, this could be going cold. they don't know exactly -- they don't know at all where the next leads might take them if at all. thank you very much to john yang. and now here in washington, this could be a trial balloon, but word out of the white house is that president obama is considering ramping up u.s. forces in iraq as many as 400 more trainers to try to fix iraq's army which of course turned tail and ran in ramadi the most recent defeat. the final decision could come as early as this afternoon after president obama meets with defense secretary ashton carter who was on capitol hill on the house side this morning. independent senator angus king of maine joins me now, member of the intelligence and armed services committees. what would be your response to any decision to send as many as 400 more trainers to anbar province and basically reopen a base there? >> i think the key word is trainers and the key issue is can the iraqi security forces do the job.
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the strategy all long has been clear, it's been air support and intelligence from the americans, coalition forces but the fighting on the ground has to be iraqi troops. and so far they haven't met the test. but, you know there's a lot of temptation, a lot of talk about we should send in more troops and those kinds of things large numbers of combat troops and advanced spotters. the problem is once we do that isis has won. they want this to be a war between america and islam, and we just can't fall into that trap. so i think what's being discussed today at the white house is an important step. we need to have these trained troops. but it's not going to be easy. of course the other piece is that the government in baghdad has to gain the confidence of the sunni tribes in anbar province. as long as isis is swimming in a friendly sea, then we're just not going to be able to pull it off. they're going to have the support. so it really falls on the israeli -- i'm sorry, on the
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iraqi security forces and the government in baghdad to prove that they're a real government of all the people of iraq and not just the shia. so it's a very tricky moment. this is a great challenge. it's not easy but i think what they're talking about in the white house today is exactly the right move at this time. >> there are others of your colleagues who are more skeptical. let's just play a little bit of what joe manchin, democrat from west virginia had to say today on "morning joe." >> i think we just need to look at the past. we were there, what for 12 years or more. we've had upwards to 100,000 troops in those areas before in afghanistan and iraq and it still is in as bad or worse shape than it was. are they ever going to have the will to defend themselves. >> so do you think from talking to your colleagues and you're on two of the key committees, that there will be support for this? i know they don't need to come to you for an appropriation, but i think it would be unlikely to happen if there was strong opposition from the hill.
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>> well i don't think you're going to get strong opposition. i think the criticism -- there will be critics who say, you know, why are we doing this at all. i think the short answer to that is this isis crowd is very dangerous and it would be better to fight them over there than fight them here. but there are going to be people who say we're not doing enough that they want more embedded troops with the iraqi forces they want more forward artillery spotters and those kinds of things. i think that's where the debate is. it's a kind of tactical debate rather than a strategic debate. andrea, there's no easy answer to this. as i say, a lot of it deposegoes back to the confidence that the sunni tribes in anbar province have in baghdad. and if they feel that baghdad is more interested in the shia militias and wants to be a sectarian government, then nothing we do is going to make any difference. this is a real test for a body the new leader of the iraqi
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government, and it's really got to be up to them. as ashton carter said last week they have got to have the will to fight. if they don't, that's not something we can train into them. we can give them the tactics and help them with arms and those kinds of things but they have got to decide that their country is worth standing up for. we can't do it for them. >> senator angus king thank you so much sir. thanks for being with us today. for more on this and other related stories, i'm joined by "washington post" columnist david ignatius. there's a question as to what is the overall arching strategy here. this is a tactic 400 more trainers, but is this a strategy? and is this enough to get back ramadi to begin to retaking mosul? >> well it's not sufficient to accomplish those, but i think these are necessary steps on the way. i think president obama was right to look at what's been accomplished in the roughly year
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since isis broke out in mosul and the administration decided it posed a serious threat. and to see that what had been accomplished wasn't sufficient and needed to be rethought. the idea that 400 people of that incremental step is going to remedy the basic flaws in the strategy i think is wrong. and if the president is just trimming around the edges with numbers, i think he'll ending up being disappointed and the country will too. i think senator king put his finger on exactly the right issue. president obama's strategy was to harness the sunni tribes the sunni population in the area around mosul in anbar province in the west and get them to lead the fight. he understood from the beginning that there's deep mistrust among sunnis toward the shiite-led government of iraq even under the new prime minister abadi.
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i was talking with sunni tribal leaders this week here in washington. i talked yesterday with the sunni speaker of the iraqi parliament, and i'll tell you there is deep mistrust of working with the government. so somehow the president and his advisers have got to find a way to get weapons, to get training more directly to these sunnis who are going to have to carry the fight in mosul and ramadi and all the other sunni areas, or it's not going to work. >> and before we leave this i want to also ask you about iran because wendy sherman is now heading back to europe tonight. they're going to continue these iran talks. the deadline is june 30th. despite the broken leg of the secretary of state they're still going to try to stick to that deadline. i'm told that all eggs are in this basket and they really are propelling this decision-making towards a deal with iran. what are you hearing? >> andrea as usual, your sources are right. i think they really want a deal.
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i think the big remaining issue, which has to be resolved is whether the iaea will have the right to inspect iranian military facilities other facilities if during the life of this agreement that they're negotiating there's evidence of iranian violations of prohibited activities. the language on that was very murky in the interim deal that they got a few months ago. that needs to be pinned down and i hope wendy sherman, who's a tough negotiator, will be prepared to walk away from the table if the iranians don't provide language that makes clear that those inspectors quickly, you know within a matter of 24 48 hours, go into places where suspected activities are taking place, suspected violations otherwise it's hard to say that this agreement really is going to be a protection against iranian breakout. >> and we should point out that
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the ayatollah and other iranian officials have said they can't go to military sites, perhaps for domestic consumption, all sorts of pullback from the i lane -- iranian side. the white house has just announced that 450 trainers will be going to iraq, so it's made official. >> i hope more announcements are coming because 450 people by themselves are not going to do it. >> well, according to the statement from the press secretary just handed to me as we say just in up to 450 additional military personnel to train, advise and assist iraqi security forces at the military base in anbar province. the president made the decision after a request from the prime minister upon the recommendation of ash carter, the secretary of defense and chairman dempsey and with the unanimous support of the national security team so more on that to come. but thank you very much for your cautionary notes as well. good to speak to you again, david. >> thank you. >> you bet. and meanwhile, the amtrak
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investigation, ntsb investigators into last month's amtrak crash in philadelphia reported that the amtrak engineer was in fact not talking, texting or otherwise using his cell phone before or during the accident. the agency also says that brandon bostian, the engineer was not using the train's wi-fi system while at the controls. the train was traveling at 106 miles an hour when it came to the curve where the speed limit was only 50 miles an hour. eight people were killed in that may 12th crash. more than 200 were injured, many seriously. up next the fast track. how the debate on trade could impact 2016 with afl-cio president right here. this is "andrea mitchell reports" only on msnbc. can a business have a mind? a subconscious. a knack for predicting the future. reflexes faster than the speed of thought. can a business have a spirit?
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do you have any concerns
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about the trade deals and whether that will hurt the competitiveness here? >> any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security and we have to do our part in making sure we have the capabilities and the skills to be competitive. >> i have said i want to judge the final agreement. i have been for trade agreements, i have been against trade agreements. i've tried to make the evaluation depending upon what i thought they would produce, and that's what i'm waiting to see. >> hillary clinton on the campaign trail firmly planting herself on the sidelines of the big trade debate that's creating unique divisions, pitting the president and congressional republicans against a lot of democrats in a fight over legislation that the house could vote on friday. >> it is never an easy lift around here but republicans are continuing to work and we're seeing some positive momentum in the right direction. but frankly it's time for both
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parties to get engaged in this to try to make sure it's passed. >> afl-cio president richard trumka joins me now. this is your big fight. so where are the votes? >> well i think we're going to win on friday. i think we have the votes, but we'll see. it will be a very close vote. >> where is hillary clinton on this? >> i don't know but she doesn't get to vote on friday. this is going to be the most stark contrast that those 435 people ever had. either you vote for working people or for corporate entitlements. we'll see what happens. >> that's the way you're framing it. of course the counter argument from the white house is that this helps the overall economy, it helps job growth in manufacturing states they have seen the results. you've got strong support for it in silicon valley. what do you say to that? >> first of all, if this is good, then let's make it even better so it works for working people. i'm sure it has worked for silicon valley and i'm sure it's worked for wall street and it's worked for corporate america.
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what our trade policy hasn't done andrea is to work for working people. we worked for five years with this administration trying to get this tpp to work for working people and they haven't gotten it there yet. >> in fact in working for it -- working to stop it or to change it or improve it in your words in five years, one of the people advocating for it within the last five years was hillary clinton as secretary of state. this is hillary clinton in 2010 in australia. >> to continue this progress we are both pressing ahead on something called the transpacific partnership. it's an ambitious, multi-lateral free trade agreement that would bring together many more nations of the pacific rim. australia and the united states are helping to lead those negotiations. >> so she was one of the big advocates in the cabinet for it. how does she now back away from it at some point during the campaign? >> the same way that we were. for five years we weren't opposed to tpp. we worked with it gave a couple
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hundred suggestions with language and everything to the trade representative and he rejected them. he didn't put any of them in even to our offer. so you look at the final product and say is it good enough or isn't it good enough? our analysis has been that it falls way short when it comes to protecting workers and the environment and average everyday citizens. it's real good for corporate entitlement but it isn't there. if she makes the same decision like everybody else, she hasn't been privy to those negotiations. at some point she will have to say i'm either for it or against it because the american public will demand that. >> would that be enough if she continues to kwif kate on it or doesn't come out strongly against it would that be enough for labor to stand on the sidelines and not support her as traditionally they would if she becomes the democratic nominee? >> we have a whole process we go through to decide who gets endorsed. we have a number of issues. this will be one of the most important issues out there. and it's important because this issue, andrea comes from the
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bottom up. this issue didn't start with washington, d.c., it started with our members, people that have been hurt by trade. people that haven't been hurt by trade so far but fear they'll be hurt by trade. we've put together the pigbiggest coalition that we've ever seen of environmentalists, civil rights groups religious groups academics, economists, everybody saying this is a bad agreement. and so if you don't come down on it one way or another, i think what it does is dampen enthusiasm and dampens the willingness of people to volunteer. because what we're seeing right now is the most lively activity on the ground that we've seen in a lot, a lot of years. >> has the president reached out to you? >> oh we've talked. >> and? >> we disagree on the issue. the president is a good man. and i like him very very much. he's just wrong on this issue. >> what about nancy pelosi? >> i think you'll see where she's at and i think she'll be
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on the right side of this issue as far as working people are concerned. >> really? because she's been the president's chief ally on capitol hill on this. >> well she's been trying to get the yes just like we have. unfortunately, they make it impossible to get the yes because they rebuff all the suggestions we had to make this a bill that works for working people and not corporate america. >> to be continued. we'll talk on friday i hope. thank you very much, richard trumka. meanwhile, the mckinney, texas, police officer who was caught on camera taking down a 15-year-old girl in a bathing suit at a pool party has resigned. the 40-year-old was seen pushing the teenager to the ground holding her there and point his gun at several other teens. he turned in his badge late tuesday. mckinney's police chief called his former officer's actions indefensible. he could still face criminal charges. out of hiding what's next for former house speaker dennis hastert. after his first federal court appearance. nbc's justice correspondent, pete williams, joins us next.
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♪ nationwide is on your side ♪ well there you see it former has speaker denny hastert's first appearance at court in chicago turning into a media frenzy on tuesday. as the man who was once second in line for the presidency went in to plead not guilty to charges that he broke banking laws and lied to the fbi. nbc justice correspondent pete williams joins me now. this was just -- media frenzy is the only way to describe it. but the bottom line is that despite all of the underlying issues here with which he's not charged, which, you know if proved would be horrifying to say the least, he's basically charged with a very arcane violation of the banking law and with perjury. and how does that stack up in terms of the normal kind of you
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know fbi case and prosecution? >> normally in these cases where somebody is accused of violating the banking laws they're accused of trying to cover up something that was illegal. now, what he may have ultimately done may have possibly been illegal at the time but can't be prosecuted now. nonetheless, the government believes it has a good case here. it was all coming to light because of the bank rules that say the banks have to tell the government, the treasury department, when somebody is moving around a lot of money because that's often a trip wire to discover money laundering. so he was making these $50,000 withdrawals. the banks finally said after he had done this 15 times what goes on here. they said, you know we've got this rule that you have to report anything -- any transaction over $10,000, so he started taking out just less than $10,000. the government said that is violating a law called structuring to try to evade this trip wire on the reporting requirements. when the fbi came and said what are you doing with this money, he said i'm keeping it for myself, i don't trust the banks. they thought that doesn't pass
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the laugh test so he's charged with those two violations not what he may have done to individual "a" or others way back when. >> and to those who would say it's my money, i can move it around and why am i being dragged through this you know because the specific charge is lying about wanting to keep my own money and move it around. >> well that's true it is his own money. and that's a question, if it ever came before a jury would that be an appealing argument. the problem is if it came before the jury there's whatever he did, the misconduct with individual "a." most of the spokes who do white collar crime cases like this one say they would be surprised if this ever does go to trial. they think this is probably going to be some sort of guilty plea. some of them are surprised there hasn't been a plea already. but to have a plea you have to have the government agree to it and we don't know what the back and forth has been if any. >> fascinating case. thank you so much pete
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williams. >> you bet. and in colorado the theater shooting trial of james holmes is back under way this morning after the judge dismissed three jurors for ignoring his instructions by watching news coverage of the trial and telling two other jurors about it. holmes is charged with killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the 2012 shooting spree. three alternates will now become jurors. up next survivor story. joan lunden joins us to talk about her new effort to help patients and families fighting breast cancer. you're watching msnbc. defiance is in our bones. new citracal pearls. delicious berries and cream. soft, chewable, calcium plus vitamin d. only from citracal.
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news anchorwoman joan lunden was at the beginning of her journey, her treatment after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. now after surgery, nine months of chemotherapy six weeks of daily radiation treatments joan lunden is cancer-free. she's launched alive, an online network and community to help patients survivors and their families struggling with the disease. joan lunden joins me now from new york. joan looking great. how do you feel? >> i'm feeling great. i got my very first checkup this week and it was the all clear. it lets you exhale. so i'm officially part of the world of the survivors. >> and in that world, you're working now to help others all of us survivors, who are always going through that anxiety about what is this pain what is this lump, this bump you know what are you going through as you proceed, and you're trying to help us navigate. >> you know, going public with
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this one-year battle as i started hearing back from women all across the country, that response and hearing all the roadblocks and the frustrations and their inability to get access to care and just their everyday questions. what are the side effects? what should i expect from the chemo or the radiation? that was -- it changed the trajectory of my life quite frankly, and it led me to the conclusion that i should build this online community. and that's what i did. you know it's a new media platform as opposed to broadcast television. i could never do on broadcast television what i'm doing in this community, allowing women to upload videos and share their information about what's going on in their community and then giving them my all access pass because i can go into any expert, but they can't necessarily do that. so i'm kind of giving them that pass and taking them into all the research labs and telling them what's the best treatment
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available today for the kind of cancer they have. >> and what kind of feedback are you getting? >> incredible feedback. and you know what's funny, every night i get to look at the analytics. it's kind of like looking at the ratings if you're at the network. but i see exactly what they're watching and i see all of their questions come in. the thing that's gotten the most views is how my mammogram didn't catch my cancer. and so i think for a lot of women it's the first time that they're understanding that they can go for a mammogram every year. but if they have really dense breast tissue a mammogram, the more dense it is the less likely a mammogram is ever going to see their cancer. so i don't know if every woman was aware of that before and there was a study out that showed that 95% of american women do not know their breast density. you know that old -- they always tell us we should know our numbers. it's usually your cholesterol level and your blood pressure.
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well every woman as soon as she starts going for mammograms should know her breast density because if it's high she needs probably another test. >> joan lunden again, what a great service and thank you so much. you are helping to educate the vast public and thank you for that. >> come join me on alive with joan. >> i will, absolutely. catch this picture of a hospital-bound secretary of state tweeting out a picture. john kerry wrote feeling good a week after surgery, adding that he spoken with white house national security advisor susan rice and with her team. 71-year-old kerry is recovering from surgery after breaking his leg biking last week in the french alps. coming up euro trip. we catch up with jeb bush just days before his official campaign kickoff, coming up next.
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european country, and ultimately, i think, as the deal with putin, you need to deal from strength. he's a bully. and bullies don't -- you know you enable bad behavior when you're nuanced with a guy like that. >> you can call it the berlin primary, berlin germany, not berlin new hampshire. jeb bush continuing his noncampaign until he announces for real on monday in miami. joining me now for our daily fix, chris cillizza and ann geren. chris, the jeb bush campaign through europe. we've seen this before with romney, we saw it with obama actually when he was running in '08. what is the strategy, because he hasn't announced yet. >> i think it's -- all of these trips as you point out, andrea and basically everyone who's a serious contender winds up doing it particularly going to europe. well i may not have all that
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much on the ground foreign policy experience but look i'm over here and i can speak credibly on the world stage. i think that's the hardest hurdle for a lot of these men and women to clear because typically outside the president, maybe you're the head of the senate foreign relations committee. most governors and even a lot of senators, it's just not a realm that they have all that much experience in. jeb is one of those people without all that much experience, so i think it's hurdle-clearing, but you're right, i continue to be amazed at the extent to which he's still not in the race and we have a campaign shake-up. it's remarkable that that can happen. >> it's very interesting. meanwhile, marco rubio, one of his chief competitors, especially being hometown florida, is facing a whole challenge from "the new york times." ann, the whole series of reports about his finances working both ways. he's fund-raising off of it. he's basically saying to conservative republicans who
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hate the conventional media, look, "the new york times" is coming after me. is there an issue here for him with his finances? >> there are a couple of issues. that was a totally fascinating story the "times" did charting his history with money, going back to -- almost to his student days. and showing where he had made a series of bad or questionable decisions and some of the ways that he had tried to explain himself. i also thought it was really interesting that his backers are saying, yeah this is a self-made man. this is a guy whose family didn't have a dime. they didn't have money to manage. he's now in the position that a lot of americans are in of trying to figure that out and trying to make good decisions. but if he goes a whole lot more of the distance here it will definitely be an issue people ask him about. can he ballet budget. >> speaking of balancing a budget chris and anne anne's story today is about how rookie
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mook, the campaign manager for hillary clinton is trying to balance the budget by trying to get john podesta to ride the bus instead of taking the plane or the train to brooklyn where his family lives and you went along with him. >> yeah we had a nice bus ride with the clinton campaign chairman last week. he was a good sport and let me and a "washington post" photographer go with him and kind of document it. it was a way to show that this budget-minded, tight-fisted mentality that the campaign is putting forward is partly out of necessity because they are confining operating expenses to the primary money that they can raise themselves during the primary. no super pac and so forth. so there's a fairly limited pot of money, and it's also partly for show. she wants to be able to show that she's running a very disciplined campaign that's different in every way from the one she ran in 2008.
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and there's -- you know there's a certain element of everybody going to summer camp here right? it's a bunch of young kids in an office full of broken furniture and they all have to take the $30 bus. >> and chris, the other message is to contributors, to donors we're not going to be spending $12 million this time on mark penn and other rich consultants. >> right. i was going to say you're always in some ways fighting sort of the last battle entry and one of the last battles was i remember this in the spring of 2008 the story was she's sort of running out of money. she's maxed out all her big donors, they're spending all this money. the idea that the campaign was this profit venture that was doling out tons of money to people like mark penn this is an attempt to go the exact opposite route, though my guess is she's still going to spend lots and lots of money. >> chris and anne thank you both so much. meanwhile we have an update
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on the manhunt for the two convicted killers who escaped that maximum security prison in upstate new york five days ago. state police now are trying to generate new leads. they have placed new alerts for the two men on 50 digital billboards across the northeast, new york new jersey massachusetts and pennsylvania warning that both escapees are considered to be a danger to the public. if located, do not approach them, contact 911 immediately. in and around the town of dannemora this hour state troopers have set up checkpoints, talking to drivers looking for any new leads. they are also going door-to-door looking for leads. >> i've lived here my life and this is the first big one that has gotten out like this. these guys are bad. locking doors, staying close to home. i have a camp up in the backwoods, don't even dare to go there. they don't know where they are. they could be in canada who
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knows. but they could be in these woods. and you just -- you don't know. you don't know if they're separated, which would make it even harder for anybody to track them. i love making sunday dinners. but when my back hurt, cooking all day... forget about it. tylenol was ok, but it was 6 pills a day. but aleve is just 2 pills all day. and now, i'm back! aleve. put your hand over your heart. is it beating? good! then my nutrition heart health mix is for you. it's a wholesome blend of peanuts, pecans and other delicious nuts specially mixed for people with hearts. i said people with hearts. because hearts health is important. that's why i've researched optimized and packaged this mix just for you. not you.
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so maybe you've been tested a lot more and a lot earlier in life than many other young people. maybe you have more scars than they do. maybe you have days when you feel more tired than someone your age should ever really feel. but graduates, tonight i want you to understand that every scar that you have is a reminder not just that you got hurt but that you survived. >> michelle obama delivering a message of resilience in the face of tragedy during her commencement address yesterday at king college prep yesterday at chicago. it would have been graduation day for hadiya pendleton, who
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was shot and killed in january 2013 not far from the obama's chicago home and only days after she had marched with her band in the inaugural parade. violence is just one of the challenges facing young people trying to get an education. but a new report from america's promise alliance education advocates show that the country is making progress toward achieving the president's goal of 90% high school graduation rate by 2020. i'm joined now by the president and ceo of america's promise, reyawna thomas a student, and rishawn, a recent college graduate. welcome to all of you. john let's just talk about the big picture nationally. there's still holes in this picture. >> i think it's a mixed picture with lots of good news. the high school graduation rate has actually increased by 10 percentage points over the last decade. that's a pretty remarkable
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amount of progress. it means that over that decade an additional 1.8 million young people graduate fredd from high school on time and we're on track to that 90% high school graduation rate. the more troubling news the shadow side is that there's still big disparities that concern us greatly. disparities between middle and upper income students and low income students. a 15-point disparity between low income students and other students. kids of color are still graduating at much lower numbers. and special needs kids are still graduating at much lower numbers. so we know we can do it. the progress tells us that this can be done. we need to stay focused on this issue and this opportunity and focus those efforts on the kids who are still being left behind. >> and lesean and riyanna are the good news part of the
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picture. lesean, you had trouble along the way getting through high school and now you've graduated from college. tell me about the hurdles along the way and what turned it around for you. >> growing up in a single parent home there's a lot of trying times. i found myself not being -- in the school system i wasn't being challenged, i was dealing with issues at home and i didn't have the capacity to stay focused in class. but when i was introduced to a program called youthville i was introduced to many caring adults. the program director was my mentor. because i felt like they cared about me i was able to open up. in the meantime i also got to earn my g.e.d. i was able to get some job training and it also helped me develop my leadership skills which propelled me to a path of graduating high school -- i mean graduating u-mass and serving on my juvenile justice council for
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my state. >> which is remarkable. and influencing your younger sister, rihanna, you looked up to him and that to do motivating to you and you were such a good student. >> yes. >> so you're at long island university? >> yes. i'm going for diagnostic medical sonography. i don't want if i want to do nursing or sonography but i want to do both. >> what is your message to other people thinking about dropping out of high school, which is such a gateway to all opportunity, just getting through high school as a first step. >> yes it's not worth it. education, once you have your education, no one can take it from you. >> and the fact that you and your brother are now launched this way, and you're trying to mentor other young people as well. you know, how hard is it to keep focus? because there's so many distractions, so many challenges along the way, to say nothing of
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the financial impediments. >> it is a challenge, but i've learned to develop resiliency and keep my eye on the product. even when i went to college, i lost my father in the middle of that process and that was a very trying time for me. because he was one of my main mentors who wanted me to excel in education, i stuck on the path and completed it in his honor. but i think that the youth just have to realize that education is truly the key out of poverty. once you're able to get through that process, it's not easy. the benefits that you reap are just tremendous. that's why i'm here today. so just really having young people just really realize their own potential would be -- >> well you and your sister are the greatest examples. john, i could say that i've been involved with your organization started by colin powell but it's just to take each step at a time and to really get the
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community involved. >> well, i think the stories that rihanna and lesean tell tell us something really important. yes, it remains true that education is the path to opportunity, but so many things stand in the way of that. and we as a country, as communities, as families as individuals, have to be aware of those challenges that young people are facing and meet those challenges, whether it's caring adults or creating safety good positive health and the opportunity to give back which you hear from lesean as well. so all of those things as a package is what makes it possible for young people to move forward. >> to be continued. we'll keep our eye on this and thank you so much for both of you and john coming in. that does it for us. this edition of "andrea mitchell reports" ending on a hopeful report. follow us on facebook and twitter. thomas roberts joins me on what's coming up on msnbc live. >> hi and rea. up next breaking news as authorities pull out all the stops to try to find two escaped
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murderers. no less than 50 digital billboards now being posted featuring the photos of the men who pulled off this brazen prison break. will it encourage new leads? we'll dig into that. plus the lawyer of the mckinney, texas, police officer at the center of the pool party incident gone viral will be speaking out one day after that officer resigned from the force. and breaking news as the white house announces president obama's additional actions in the campaign against isis in iraq. live briefings from the white house and the state department in the next hour of msnbc live. stay with us.
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today on "msnbc live" breaking news on the search for two escaped prisoners. police searching door-to-door in the same town where there was a reported sighting less than 24 hours ago. this as the son of a prison worker questioned in their escape speaks with stephanie gosk and defends his mom. >> she is not the kind of person that's going to risk her