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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  October 8, 2015 9:00am-10:01am PDT

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down on their long-standing relationship with assad. it remains our hope that russia will see that tethering itself to a sinking ship is a losing strategy. coming up, we'll speak to syria's ambassador to the united nations. and taking aim. senate democrats today unveiling a plan to curb gun violence after oregon but will their efforts miss the mark? >> this should be so easy. >> the time for action is now. >> i come from a gun culture state and there's not one gun law-abiding gun owner in the state of west virginia that believes a criminal should have a gun. good day. i'm andrea mitchell in washington, where as we speak, republicans are caucusing, meeting to choose the next speaker. but kevin mccarthy, john boehner's designated successor,
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is facing real challenge because of his damaging admission that the house benghazi committee was politically motivated. he has tried to take that become but inside the republican caucus, opponents are not letting him off the hook that easily. nbc's luke russert is live on capitol hill, just outside the republican conference. luke, how serious is this challenge? do we know? it's a secret ballot. >> reporter: well, andrea, i think it's safe to say kevin mccarthy is going to be okay within the confines of the house gop conference today. all he needs is 124 votes. he just walked into the room, he was smiling, he was holding hands with his wife, exuding a lot of confidence. his chief opponents, chaffetz and webster, i say opponents, they just walked in, chaffetz saying to reporters i was a placekicker in college, i'm never nervous. chaffetz faces long odds in there. the question i think that we have not gotten an answer yet to, when mccarthy wins this and becomes the nominee for the
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speakership, between now and october 29th he will have to make concessions to conservatives in order to get 218 votes on the house floor on october 29th and become speaker on the first ballot. what will those concessions be and what impact will they have on raising the debt limit on november 5th and funding the government on december 11th? it's unclear. if mccarthy cannot convince all those conservatives to go along with him, remember, it only takes 29 on october 29th to derail him from the first ballot, what happens then? do we go to second ballot and that's where the candidacy of chaffetz or some other consensus pick is going to be really floated then, and that's the point they will make now, sort of saying we know he can't win inside this room today because mccarthy has so much support but if he has problems the next few weeks, remember us. >> and luke, what about the whole question of going to democrats and getting them to help get the next speaker, the next republican candidate over the top, get mccarthy over the top? he will need 218 votes.
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will they turn, will mccarthy want to be that indebted to nancy pelosi? >> reporter: so far, democrats have not given any indication that they would in fact bail out the republican nominee. however, as we had this conversation when there was questions about whether or not boehner could retain his speakership on that motion to vacate the chair, one thing democrats could did come october 29th if mccarthy has real trouble after the first ballot is this idea of voting present. if they were to do that, they would vote present, then it would be republicans that would put him over the top. he would just need a majority of republicans and therefore, the idea is it wouldn't be as harmful to his speakership because republicans put him over the top, not democrats. it remains to be seen whether or not that will actually happen. mccarthy's people are confident that he can get 218 votes on the house floor come october 29th. but he's going to have to make the point in that conference meeting going on right now, he's going to have to make that point throughout the month of october and this isn't a joke. if kevin mccarthy becomes speaker on that thursday,
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october 29th, within a week, he will be tasked with how to raise the nation's debt limit, something that conservatives don't want to do, hate doing. we saw what happened in the summer of 2011. there's a chance boehner could clear the deck for him in this next month so he won't have to deal with that but how does a presumably weak mccarthy come in october 29th and tell conservatives who he promised all these things to that oh, we'll have to unilaterally raise the debt limit or make concessions to the white house. it's very tough sledding which is why one gop member told me i don't know why anyone who ever want this job, it is dealing with a bunch of people that are never satisfied. >> let's just not forget, luke, as you know, it's not that long ago that kevin mccarthy was one of the young guns, co-author of a book on that subject. he was considered one of the rebels. now he's considered one of the old guard. >> reporter: it's an amazing turn. he will be the least experienced speaker since 1891. he just got here in 2007.
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he's never been a committee chairman. he's had a meteoric rise and i think that is what has led some people to worry, especially after those benghazi comments and even stephen colbert poking fun at how he uses the english language last night that maybe he's not up to the task. however, mccarthy is somebody who doesn't go to bed until 2:00 a.m., he's constantly working the phones, he gets up at 5:00 a.m. for cage fighting workouts. he's someone who has a lot of vigor. he will need all of it because to convince these members that they need to do the basics of raising the debt limit and funding the government, it will take a lot. >> big issues indeed. it goes well beyond party politics. thanks, luke russert. i know you will let us know as soon as you hear any word, as soon as the white smoke goes up, you'll be back on. >> reporter: at house gop twitter, they promise they will get it before any reporters. let's see if they pull it off. >> i'm betting on you. thank you so much. for the bigger picture here,
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because there are a lot of big things at stake, chris matthews, long-time top congressional aide to former speaker tip o'neill, joins me now. >> i don't think i can top that report. that was top-notch. >> let me ask you one thing. let's not forget the debt ceiling. these are big issues. we have the worst jobs report last friday. there are all sorts of fundamentals wrong with the economy no matter when they say. there's a global issue. there's the china slowdown. you put america on the brink of default even with one negative vote, we have had some of those votes, one down, one up -- >> that's a very civilized view of reality. >> it's scary. >> it's real. i think it is the reality. but if you are a member of the freedom caucus, they have a -- >> so-called freedom caucus. >> they are worried about the loudest voice and the last row of their next town meeting. the guy who stands up or woman who stands up and said you sold us out, you voted for that guy mccarthy, who already betrayed
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us on the benghazi hearings even before we got the truth. so they are more afraid of that loudmouth in the back row than they are of anybody in washington. therefore, when they go to vote on the 29th of this month for speaker, it's a unique vote, speakership, luke knows this. you vote the name of the person. it's unique. you tie yourself to that person. if you vote mccarthy, everybody at home sees this on c-span, they see that you voted for mccarthy, everything mccarty does is your fault. you opened up the question with luke, the question about democrats. why would any democrat want to put their name, because when you say the name mccarthy, you are saying you're republican. that's historically what you're saying. which side of the aisle you going to sit on. so the idea of voting for the other party for speaker is treasonous, historically. maybe there's a new rule out there. but once you say mccarthy on television, everybody's got that clip back home. next primary you got a fight. >> we should remind everybody, the speaker is a constitutionally created office. it is speaker of the house. >> right. >> this is the person -- >> it's in the constitution.
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>> -- one step behind the vice president of the united states in line for the presidency. >> i have been watching madam secretary the last couple weeks. >> how good has that been? morgan freeman, the whole bit is so great. anyway, we will get to that in a second because the tpp was one of the issues in their -- >> afl-cio, it's a smaller union movement than it was when we were growing up. >> 11 million members. >> they are getting very tough on what people they consider renegades or traitors. if you vote for free trade right now, the tpp, whatever you want to call it, what color do you put on it. it's not just the manufacturing industry, steel workers, not just -- you got problems with the aft, afsme, they are all working together. it's really a political decision by hillary. i don't think she had to make it because she could have said i have been on public record,
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bills for it. i heard bill come out for it oth over japan this year. the clintons are free traders. she was a little bit off nafta. >> she endorsed it in her book. >> hard decision. >> hard decisions. >> i think she -- well, i'm not her political advisor by any means but i think people respect authenticity and you don't get authenticity by going on "snl" and reading scripts. you get authenticity from standing your ground. if you believe trade is good for america in the long run despite all the problems on the road, you think it's better to have a free trade regime, stick to your guns. bill clinton did it and got elected. he was tough on capital punishment. you don't always have to be with the liberal line to get the liberal voters which she apparently believes you have to do to beat bernie sanders. i think that's a mistake. >> in talking to some people close to the obama white house, they are not happy at all. >> they can't be happy. this jeopardizes the deal. >> they are also pointing out the real threat to her is not bernie sanders, they say.
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they believe, you know, traditional democratic position that bernie sanders is not going to be the nominee, that hillary clinton is most likely, most likely going to be the nominee despite the polling. but that her real threat would be a republican adversary on a debate stage next fall in the general election campaign saying you wrote about this in "hard decisions." you spoke out about it. you're on the record. your husband as you pointed out was on the record about it. and now you flip. >> i think people want -- they are tired of transactional politics. they want people to stick to their loyalties. they want people to say this is where i stand, this is where i have stood. it may bother you. on other positions we will be together but this one, we disagree. that's why bill clinton was popular because he wasn't just a lay down, do what you tell me politician.
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>> keystone pipeline, instead of waiting and yes, the administration has been delaying and delaying it and she was under pressure, i saw it in town meetings so she comes out against the keystone pipeline. that's again further left position, if you want to make it right/left. she comes out against the keystone pipeline. today she is unveiling all these wall street proposals, very tough proposals, but totally in the elizabeth warren/bernie sanders range, not in the barack obama or bill clinton, who repealed glass steagall, by the way, range. she can say different times, different circumstances. look what happened after '08. but again, on guns, her proposals are beyond what the white house has proposed. issue after issue, she is separating herself from the man who brought her in the cabinet. >> wind's blowing left right now. bernie's in the zeitgeist right now. the word socialist doesn't
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bother them anymore. think about the democratic party nominating someone for president who won't even say they're a democrat or join the party. he has never said he would become a democratic party member if he were to become the nominee. if joe biden does get in, odds against him going into it, if he gets into it and takes away 10% or 20% of her moderate support she is exposed because then what is she? moderate or liberal or someone playing the game between the two? she said two weeks ago i'm a moderate. >> well, that's the answer, then. >> maybe moderate on farm policy but left on domestic policy. >> boy, that debate stage -- >> it's going to be great. i wish she would debate bernie instead of agree with him. that would be refreshing. >> thank you so much. great to see you. join us tomorrow. we have a really big show. presidential candidate dr. ben carson will be my guest tomorrow right here on msnbc.
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breaking news from california. concerning spencer stone, one of the three americans credited with stopping that terror attack on a train in france in august for which he was given honor from the french president. the air force is confirming spencer stone was stabbed at about midnight last night local time in sacramento, california, his hometown. the 25-year-old is listed in stable condition. a sacramento police department spokeswoman tells nbc news they do not believe stone was specifically targeted. rather, he got involved in some sort of verbal argument, it escalated into a physical confrontation. police add on twitter alcohol is believed to be a factor. and some good news from oregon today. chris mintz is out of the hospital. he has been hailed as a hero for trying to save other students during the shooting rampage at umpqua community college one week ago today. he was shot several times. he tried to protect people. the gunman killed nine people before killing himself. that shooting in oregon has
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spawned more debate across the country about gun control. today in congress, new proposals. more ahead with west virginia senator joe manchin, our special guest. first, russia takes military action in syria. moscow says it's to beat back isis. the u.s. says it's trying to prop up syrian president bashar al assad. we will talk to syria's ambassador to the united nations. so what's your news? i got a job! i'll be programming at ge. oh i got a job too, at zazzies. (friends gasp) the app where you put fruit hats on animals? i love that! guys, i'll be writing code that helps machines communicate. (interrupting) i just zazzied you. (phone vibrates) look at it! (friends giggle) i can do dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs... you name it. i'm going to transform the way the world works.
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it was clear that russia said one thing and did another. now, that by itself unfortunately isn't new. they said they were going in to fight isil but that doesn't match up with the targets they're hitting. and they have professed over time to seek a political transition from bashar al assad to a more widely based syrian government that can preserve the
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structures of a decent society for the syrian people which they richly deserve. they i think in this case as in all cases, we have to watch behavior. >> defense secretary ash carter today at nato headquarters in brussels. syria's president assad has gotten a massive boost of support, military support, from russia in the last week of strikes. what will the impact be on the ground? i'm joined by syria's ambassador to the united nations. sir, thank you very much for being with us. >> thank you so much for having me. >> well, first of all i wanted to ask you about the impact of russia's initiative. they say they are going after isis or isil. all western military reports, including nato's, are that they are not, they are going after the anti-assad rebel groups instead to the most part, and that's certainly where they have been tracked. what do you say? >> i think that is a kind of misunderstanding with regard the
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russian moves in combatting terrorism in syria. there is a big problem between the western approach and the syrian/russian approach. it's with regard the definition of terrorism, who is terrorist and who is not terrorist. for us in syria, all those who are fighting the government are terrorists so of course, here we are excluding those who are not using arms against their own country and their own people. so for the russians when they say they are fighting isil and isis and all the affiliated groups of isis, which all derive from al qaeda, as you know, the label they call themselves is, they are all deriving from al qaeda, so we are here fighting the same enemy theoretically speaking with the americans, and the american -- the coalition, u.s.-led coalition to combat terrorism. so i think we should be specific
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when we say about what would be the targets of the russian/syrian joint move in combatting terrorism. >> there's not going to be an agreement between the u.s. and the syrian government or the russian government on that definition, for sure, but that said, what about the effect on the people, on your people? there is no dispute internationally that there has been barrel bombing by your regime and we have seen the evidence on the ground. how do you respond to the allegations about the horrific bombing of your own civilians? >> humbly speaking, we are not a regime. we are a legitimate government of a sovereign country member of the united nations, so we are a government equally to other governments, including the american administration. >> accepting your point, i take your point, do governments barrel bomb their own people? >> no. this is again, another wrong approach towards what the government is doing.
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when these two terrorists exploded their bomb at the marathon in boston, all the american police, all the american intelligence, all the police, all the american army participated at the chasing and hunting these two terrorists and we all called them terrorists because they were terrorists. >> we also arrested the surviving brother and put him on trial with full rights. we didn't drop a bomb on their house. >> no, no. >> and kill all the civilians living there. >> i'm not contradicting what you are saying. of course. but why would these two chechnyians be called in america terrorists and in syria called moderate syrian opposition? this is a wrong approach. it doesn't make sense. this is irrational. both are chechnyians. what we are fighting in syria are chechnyians and those two terrorists who bombed boston
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were chechnyians so both -- and in two cases, in syria as well as in u.s., we are talking about foreigners, about mercenaries trained by foreign intelligence. so when the syrian government attacked these terrorists in syria, wherever they are, we are not attacking the civilians. on the contrary, the problem we are facing is that we cannot liberate for instance a huge city such as roqqa which is the capital of isil. the reason is very simple. there are 800,000 civilians inside so isil is taking the civilians as human shields and we cannot attack this city in order to kill 3,000 terrorists from isil but the price would be highly costly. we are talking about almost one million syrian civilians living in roqqa. >> are there any circumstances under which president assad
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would in a negotiated solution with the united states, with russia, with others, an international group, in geneva, some place else, under any circumstances, would he step down and agree to a transitional government? >> the idea of stepping down for any president in the world, including the american president, is up to his people, is up to the american people, to the syrian people, to the french people, to the british people. no president should step down just because a foreign power is asking him to do so. this is wrong. this is illegal. we shouldn't speak this language politically speaking or diplomatically speaking. the president assad was elected by the syrian people and it's up to the syrian people to decide for his destiny. so any interference with this regard from any foreign power is an interference into our domestic affairs and this runs against the international law. now, we in syria, yes, we are
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open towards any political sentiment based on the following principles. first, respecting the sovereignty of syria, territorial integrity and the principles of not interfering into our domestic affairs. second, the sentiment should be done by syrians themselves, led by the syrians, which is in accordance with the geneva communique as you know. third, the priority of the priorities is to exert pressure on the neighboring countries of syria to stop -- to shut down their borders with us and stop the infiltration of thousands of terrorist foreigners gathered from all over the world and sent to syria through our joint border with the neighboring countries. all these strategies should stop in order to give the syrian people and the syrian leadership and the international community the possibility to go ahead with the political sentiment. >> mr. ambassador, thank you so much. to be continued. >> thank you so much.
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we have breaking news from the house republican caucus on who they want to become the next speaker. luke russert is live with break news. luke, the report we have confirmed, kevin mccarthy has taken himself out of the race? >> reporter: andrea, this is a hung sho huge shock, a bombshell nobody saw coming. a few members of congress just left the meeting. a scrum of reporters went over and said hey, guys, why you leaving so early, we thought this process was going to take over an hour, hour and a half. they said kevin mccarthy stood up, announced he would not be running for speaker and the current speaker of the house boehner said as a result of mr. mccarthy's announcement we will be postponing the election.
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we do not know why kevin mccarthy has decided to take himself out of the running. every indication this morning at a meeting about this race that mccarthy went to and the other candidates gave us an indication that he was still in it. his staff today gave us all the indications he was still in it. about a few minutes before this came out, i saw his chief of staff walk in and i said how you feeling. he sort of shrugged. i took that as maybe he was just playing with me as sort of saying we have this in the bag, but this is a wild development that is really i think a shocker. certainly the most shocking thing i have seen here in my six years on capitol hill. as to the cause of this, we don't know. it is so quick and so developing, it remains to be seen. there's a lot of speculation about what could cause it. there was a letter put forward by a member from north carolina named walter jones that said
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that if any candidate had something in their past that could prove damaging, that it should be known or taken -- or put forward to the public. we don't know if that's the case here by any means. that's just speculation. but that's what some murmurs. we are getting more information. our producer is here. >> luke, let me just say -- >> reporter: what was that? oh, now alex, our house producer, is just telling me mccarthy recognized that he had no path to 218 on the house floor. so that's what we talked about beginning of the show. perhaps that is why. obviously new information just coming in. we don't know if this is the specific reason. but mccarthy pulling out because he does not see himself getting 218 on the house floor on the first ballot, under that logic, it means mccarthy feels he would be so weak by not being able to get those 218 votes on the first ballot that perhaps he wanted to try and see if there's a consensus candidate and if that
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is in fact true, if that is the specific reason that mccarthy did pull out because he did not feel he would get 218 on the first ballot, i can tell you right now, the only person that i can think of who could do that is paul ryan. >> i was going to say. >> i don't think he wants that job. we have to see how this will develop. this is pretty crazy. >> we saw paul ryan with chuck yesterday. we know he doesn't want this job. you never know what could happen. anything could happen. john boehner could hang on longer. we are facing the debt limit, debt ceiling limit as you pointed out. the walter jones letter you pointed to, i first heard about it last night on rachel maddow's show. he put out a letter that was really shocking to everyone saying if anyone who is running for speaker has anything in their past and he himself cited the example of newt gingrich and bob livingston, both of whom stepped down under pressure. bob livingston after only a day or so when he was replacing newt gingrich, saying if anyone has a skeleton in their closet, even
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referring to card gyames or things that happen after 5:00. no one knew what he was alluding to but it certainly set off a lot of gossip. we don't know if that's the case here or if that was the case about someone else who was potentially in the race. who are the other candidates besides chaffetz who might have been going up? of course the majority leader candidates, that's the separate race that was to follow. that was pretty much a brawl. >> reporter: so the only declared candidates were chaffetz of utah and daniel webster of florida. daniel webster got the house freedom caucus, the conservatives' backing. the reason why there are so few candidates is because everybody assumed mccarthy had this all sewn up, that there was no chance for anybody else to emerge. we are getting more reports here, a colleague tells me mccarthy got up before the conference and announced that he was not the person to be the face of the party. so this is developing. this is ongoing.
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i can just tell you that if it is in fact the 218 argument that mccarthy felt so weak that he was not able to get elected on the first ballot, that just strikes me as a little odd or maybe he did some soul searching over the last week in light of that benghazi gaffe and realized that he did not want to face the scrutiny of the media of being front and center. we mentioned earlier, stephen colbert making fun of the way he spoke. maybe he was not up to the task. but all indications were just until this news came out 15 minutes ago, 10, 15 minutes ago, that he was going for the job. that he wanted it. i got to say one other thing. this throws the house gop conference into total disarray. if boehner still in fact will retire at some point, i think boehner's going to stay on if nothing else to provide some leadership throughout this process, but also constitutionally, line of secession and the big things coming up, the debt limit on
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november 5 as well as funding the government. boehner will have to be a steady hand i would presume for some time. now who emerges from this dumpster fire right now? i don't know. this is a fascinating development. >> i want to ask you who the congressman is behind you. let's hear what he has to say. just walking away. sorry about that. live television. >> reporter: guess he wasn't going to take the podium for this. >> chris matthews is back with us as well. >> that's what i said a half hour ago. the fact is they don't have the 218. then you have to ask yourself if they can't unite behind a leader and this is a big question, any leader, anybody, are they a political party? the definition of a political party is they can unite behind a leader. if they can't do that, why should the democrats bail them out? they have a real constitutional problem with their own party. the constitution of the republican party. is it a political party? if it can get united around a leader, is it one? this is very interesting right
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now. the republican party was built out of a merger of the abolitionists and the wiigs. i don't think this is working. >> someone who knows a lot about divisions in the party, joe manchin, senator manchin from west virginia is going to be joining us in just a moment. we have been talking to him, we were about to talk to him about the gun proposals today. chris, as you go forward with this party, they can't find someone who can get 218 votes? >> there's one person. paul ryan. he has said no, no, no, because he's wise about his own future. he still hopes to be president, i assume, and becoming speaker is not a road to the presidency. at least not lately. especially in a party where there's always going to be 40 people who get their bread and butter every day by saying no. >> darrell issa now with the camera. let's listen. >> what happened in there? >> okay.
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i think it's pretty obvious that all members of the delegation of the conference were shocked. kevin mccarthy had the vast majority of the conference's confidence and votes, but he's made a decision that i believe he couldn't get to 218, and as a result, he's taken himself out of the running in favor of a candidate who can get to 218, and i believe he's going to be the most influential voice as to who we can get to get to 218. kevin mccarthy remains our leader. he remains a steadfast part of our leadership and clearly, the man who had the most votes by far for speaker. >> will he stay on as majority leader? >> as far as we know, he is absolutely staying on as majority leader. as i said, kevin mccarthy will be the most important endorsement for whoever ultimately becomes the speaker.
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[ inaudible question ] -- walter jones letter about possible indiscretions? >> i believe the leader will have to speak for himself but he said he wasn't the right person. my understanding is he felt he could not get to 218 and he wants to make sure that whoever does become speaker obviously has the ability to get to 218 on the floor consistently and that's his reasoning. >> is that paul ryan? is that the only person who gets 218? >> i believe you have to ask the candidates that may emerge. i don't believe there was any candidate today who could get to 218 among those who had declared, and i believe that's the reason speaker boehner dismissed with the intention to have the field reconsidered for someone who can get to 218 within our conference. [ inaudible question ] >> speaker boehner remains the speaker until he formally steps down. obviously at this point, what we have is a candidate who very
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much mag msaid he couldn't unit conference sufficiently. he took himself out of the running. no other candidate came close to having the 200 plus votes kevin mccarthy had. thank you. >> what he indicated, what darrell issa indicated is kevin mccarthy had 200 plus votes and clearly, jason chaffetz, the other declared candidate, did not. chris? >> he was close but you have 40 to 50 members of the freedom caucus, you need 218, they are short 29. those people have to go home to their constituents. i said it's the loudest voice at the next town meeting has more influence on them than anybody else. they don't want to be known as traitors. their definition of traitor is compromiser. they do not want to compromise. they went for somebody who was less than a freedom caucus member, somebody on the hard right. having said that, i think paul ryan can be the savior here if he's willing to take this sacrificial decision and take the leadership. >> brian williams joins us from the breaking news desk in new
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york. brian, we have seen a lot together on the house and the rest of congress, but this one is one for the books. >> this was a stunner. we all knew this was caucus day, this was vote day. i've heard one republican member come out and say the sound system was bad and adding to the shock and surprise of this, a lot of members couldn't hear what mccarthy was announcing. it spread quickly to the back of the room by word of mouth. they came out of the room, a lot of them scrambled to avoid journalists. luke russert among the journalists outside where this meeting was taking place and luke, this leaves to say there's disarray with the gop caucus on the hill is an understatement. >> reporter: absolutely, brian. until this announcement came out from the house gop conference room, it was every indication given to us by staff and members that kevin mccarthy was going to be the guy. i have john fleming of
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louisiana. congressman, give us the lowdown. what happened in that room? how shocked were you? >> well, we came in the way we normally do things, there was some lunch provided, some barbecue, we ate that, we were sitting in the chairs. then we had a prayer and a pledge like we normally do. then kevin mccarthy was called up, we thought that this was going to be sort of his campaign speech. we heard him this morning giving his plea for the job at conference, and the first thing he basically said was that he didn't want to divide the american people, he didn't want to divide the congress and as a result of that, he says i'm not the guy. and we kind of sat in disbelief and then he went on to say that he recommends that we delay the vote. then he sat down and speaker boehner got up and said that he was delaying the vote but did not give a date, and then we
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adjourned. >> reporter: congressman, this morning at around 8:00 a.m., mccarthy told the conference he was running and then around 12:30, he pulled out. do you know why that could have occurred over a course of four hours? >> no. i have no idea. >> reporter: what happens now? in terms of where the conference goes, if mccarthy felt he was not able to get to 218 on the house floor, it's unclear if anybody can get 218 on the house floor. is the conference in disarray? >> no, because that's the beauty of a legislative body. we have a process to deal with this. now that kevin mccarthy, who was the odds-on winner in this, now that he stepped down, i think you will see a number of people step up with interest in running, and we'll begin this process over again and we'll eventually find the right person that we can all rally behind. >> reporter: to clarify, kevin mccarthy, he will stay on as the majority leader, is that correct? >> he made no comment about that and i can only assume that that's what he plans to do. >> reporter: what will you be looking for? do you think paul ryan is someone who could bridge the
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divide? because there's an awful lot of consternation between the establishment and the conservative members of this conference. >> well, i think it's much more fundamental than that. the real disagreement is do we have a power-based system where the decisions are made at the top and then they filter down to individual members like myself and we're given a decision to vote for or against a bill or a rule, or do we have one that's much more principle-based, much more grassroots-based. that's what conservatives like myself have been pushing for, much more of a grass-roots based prom. >> reporter: do you think you might have to agree on somebody that can get to 218 on the floor, that it's important for the growth of the conference, the better interests of the conference, to get to that 218 number so you're not in disarray? >> that's always part of the discussion. to be honest with you, it's not about 218. it's about 240 something,
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whatever our current number is. we want every republican to get behind one person to be our speaker. but it's a process. we'll start with someone and get those numbers growing but they'll have to begin to work and make this a more workable process. >> reporter: lastly, shocking, right? >> very shocking. we sat there in disbelief. >> reporter: you heard it from congressman fleming. shocking, sat there in disbelief, no one saw this coming. mccarthy saying at 8:00 a.m. at the conference he was going to run for speaker, expected to get the number that he needed. just a short while ago, pulled out of the race. there's going to be a lot of speculation as to why. this is wild stuff. this is wild stuff. >> luke russert, thanks. congressman, thanks. andrea mitchell, while that conversation was going on, paul ryan has issued a statement, really same language he was using last night and this morning, saying he has no interest in the job. presumably would not respond to a draft. >> that's what he's saying at
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that time. saying while he's gratified about the support he's receiving, he's grateful but remains determined he's not going to be a candidate and believes he can best serve the country as chairman of the house ways and means committee. that may be his motivation but is certainly the best job choice right now is not to be a leader of that conference, not to try to be speaker of the house and get caught between feuding elements within the republican party and the white house. as you know, there are big issues. luke russert has been pointing out this deadline, november 5th is the debt ceiling deadline. the treasury can do some things to work around that a bit, but there is a drop-dead deadline coming up, and that's the fact, the tax receipts are not coming in, the economy has slowed down, they got to do something and that comes before the continuing resolution runs out in december, and that is the funding of the government. neither side, john boehner
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certainly, doesn't want to have a shutdown of the government. they think that is political disaster. there are some within the republican conference clearly who would not mind that happening. >> this was the day that all those who were standing for election for speaker had their kind of three-minute presentations to the caucus. everything looked normal. kevin mccarthy went ahead and did that, made his own case in front of the gop membership, until it wasn't normal, until he rose as you heard at this lunch after they ate barbecue, said a prayer, said the pledge, apparently mccarthy got up and said this is not going to happen. >> there's been a lot of pressure on him, no question, the fact that jason chaffetz declared against him over the weekend, we broke that story here last friday with chuck todd, that he made the announcement on sunday and that was open warfare within the republican party. everyone had thought the majority leader's job was going
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to be the pitched battle but instead, clearly it's for the speakership. with neither of them being able to get to 218, they couldn't risk the possibility of going to the floor and not having a clean vote for speaker. as we have been pointing out, constitutionally, the speaker is the speaker of the entire house. that means that he is -- he or she is a constitutionally elected post and has the third in line to the presidency right behind the vice president. so this is not something to be taken lightly. this is not just a party caucus. this is a very big deal with a lot at stake. this white house got used to working with john boehner. there were obviously bumps along the road, big bumps along the road, but they at least thought he was someone who cared about the continuity of government, cared about funding the government and with whom they could sit down and bargain, and they don't know what's coming next. >> that's right. no one does. andrea mitchell, thanks.
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stay right there. steve, anything you can add to this turn of events? >> it's shocking, isn't it. i just heard from one republican who outlined three possible scenarios going forward. just take you through those. the first involves what you were just talking about, paul ryan. obviously paul ryan doesn't want the job. this is the hot potato he wants to pass along to somebody else. he has to deal with the grief from all the conservatives, john boehner had a lot of these impossible situations with debt ceilings. he don't want that. will there be some kind of draft movement that basically forces him to take it. that's number one. number two, is john boehner now, does he revisit his decision to retire? john boehner last year was ready to retire. this is what he has since told us. he said he changed his mind because eric cantor, who had been his number two, had that shocking loss in the primary in virginia, lost his seat, suddenly there was no heir apparent to john boehner and john boehner made a decision i'm not going to retire in 2014, i'm going to stick around through 2015. this is akin to that. what happened today with kevin
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mccarthy is on the same level in terms of shock with what happened to eric cantor. do we see a repeat? does john boehner say i have the job, i don't want to deal with another one of these elections, i will stay on through 2016. that's number two. possibility number three is the wild card. here you have to go back to what happened almost 20 years ago, the last time you had this kind of chaos in the house. what happened back then was that bob livingston at the end of 1998 was due to take over for newt gingrich as speaker of the house. this was playing out as the bill clinton impeachment drive was happening. it was revealed that bob livingston had had an affair, he went to the well of the house, announced he was stepping down as the speaker in waiting, announced he was leaving all together. i was a shocking development. what came out of that was somebody that nobody had ever heard of before, a very quiet back bencher who had allies in sort of the hardcore conservative side, allies in the moderate side. his name was dennis hastert. he emerged and became the consensus speaker, held the job for the next eight years.
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the possibility here is you hear all sorts of names thrown around right now that wouldn't mean anything to anybody, but does that, does something like that play out where this quiet back bencher type who nobody is talking about right now, who isn't outwardly ambitious right now but who could satisfy potentially the hardcore conservatives who are not necessarily happy with mccarthy but would be acceptable to mccarthy and boehner types, is there a type like that in the republican conference who can emerge in the next few weeks. >> chris matthews, grabbing another name from u.s. history, not contemporary u.s. history, but daniel webster. tell folks who he is and what role could he play here? >> well, he's the leader of at least in this fight, leader of the freedom caucus. he's from florida. he's an arch conservative. just want to go back to something you said. i think when this story plays out in the next couple days and the weekend in analysis pieces, this is another case, you were talking about the technology of the house and the audio system there in the caucus today. this is a case once again like the nixon tapes or the 47%
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comment by mitt romney in the last election which was decisive, many people believe, including he believes that, where a piece of videotape, he came out and said the whole strategy behind going after benghazi was to bring down hillary clinton, the presumed democratic nominee's poll numbers. once he said that, he is permanently vulnerable, permanently vulnerable to attack and fair attack by the people on the other side politically. he was vulnerable to the point that even if he was a very shrewd politician which i don't think he is, he couldn't have withstood there. we have a case where technology has basically decided the fact. i also think there's a constitutional question within the republican party, lower case c, if it's the party incapable of picking a leader, is it a party, is there something truly unifying about that body of republican members of congress that they can't find a leader. if they can't find a leader are they a party anymore. that's a tricky question given the fact we have heard talk today that maybe the democrats would have to abstain for them
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to be able to get a majority of the votes. the democrats shouldn't have to abstain. it should be a vote by the majority. when you say boehner, you say you're republican. when you said tip o'neill in the old days, you said you were democrat. that's how you picked your party, how you identified yourself. if they can't agree to a name as a party, you could argue whether they are a party or not. that's a serious question. if they can't pick a leader, it's not some incidental problem they are facing, some hurdle. are they a party or are they not a party. that's the question they have to answer between now and the 29th. >> long-time congressional correspondent kelly o'donnell joins us by telephone. kelly, unofficially, washington types have long referred to john boehner's day job as the most thankless in washington, certainly since the rise of the tea party and this fractured disparate gop caucus he's had. >> reporter: exactly. for a long time, moving up within membership of the house included supporting your leader,
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until 2010 and the victories of tea party candidates which lifted john boehner into the speakership to begin with, and that group who has presented him problem after problem, one of their core beliefs is not going along. but now i think with kevin mccarthy stepping aside, you will see sort of a reset because there were many in the house republican conference who believed he was a good choice, he was the right choice. now that he's taken himself out, you may see other names emerge who we have not heard about, who will be able to galvanize this group. the 20, 30, sometimes as many as 40 most resistant conservatives will continue to be a problem. that will always be a challenge. however, perhaps there is someone that they will find that they can at least to some degree unify behind. that will be a challenge for anyone stepping forward. but i think it inhibited others who might have put their names out when you had kevin mccarthy,
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who is well-liked by the conference and that goes a long way in politics, to have him step aside for whatever his reasons, i think this now opens a real time of testing for others who may want to put themselves forward. for john boehner, i think many of his skills have been underappreciated by the general public, because it's the back room dealing that is not exposed to the light until a day like today when you see how fractured this conference is, how difficult it is to lead under all the modern pressures of washington. i think chris was correct when kevin mccarthy spoke about hillary clinton and the benghazi committee in that cause and effect way that was very damaging and very difficult to get past. you will see perhaps there are some other names. paul ryan has been very clear that he does not want to be drafted for this position, does not want to seek that position, and i think we have to take him at his word. but now there may be an opportunity for others to raise their hand and step forward and get a new look.
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>> kelly, you throw down the notion of other names coming in. let's wildly speculate and name some other names. >> reporter: pete sessions of texas, jim jordan of ohio who is among those who has been a leader in that group of conservatives. but could he get wider spread appeal. i think those are some possibilities. trey gowdy, committee chairman of the benghazi select committee, is very popular within the conference. i don't think he wants to give up the chairmanship of the select committee but maybe times have changed. i think if you look at chairmen within the republican conference, that's a good start. then look for those who have been able to support others by raising money, able to be voices on difficult issues for the party. that's where to look. it's hard to know who will win that support within the conference but the race is on. >> kelly o'donnell, thanks.
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luke russert is standing by with another member of congress. luke? >> reporter: i'm here with congressman tim huelskamp of congress, leader of the house freedom caucus, one of the members who is very public in that group. how shocked are you by this event? you are somebody who i think it's fair to say was uncomfortable with speaker mccarthy. is this another win for conservatives here? >> i think the establishment lost again today. when you look across america, you look at the latest polls, even republicans wanted a change in leadership. kevin mccarthy was the assistant to john boehner for many months, perhaps for the last five years, he's very close to him. i don't think as he admitted there, he didn't think he could ever get 218. we have a long ways to go. but this leadership has lost. they essentially lost two speakers in two weeks. i think it's actually a victory for the american people that are demanding change in washington. look at the republican primary for president. look at the democrat primary for president. they are tired of washington insiders running this town. they want to get their government back. this is a play and a decision
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that that's the issue going forward. are you going to work with the american people and work with conservatives, are you going to try to continue to run washington the way it's been run for years? >> reporter: it seems no candidate can get 218 votes needed on the house floor. would you be willing to compromise to find somebody who could get the majority of the conference or are the differences too great at this time? >> we will find. we just want someone who is willing to work with conservatives. we asked kevin mccarthy, would you step out and talk to the groups that are planning on attacking conservatives in the primaries next year and he wouldn't do that. we were asking him hey, if you want to compromise, you got to come to the table. we are meeting shortly after this meeting as members of the house freedom caucus to determine what do we need to see. one thing i do believe is dan webster is now the front-runner for speaker. jason chaffetz still in the race as well. but the ideas and the issues raised by daniel webster, let's make the house work with conservatives, work with the
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members, work with our constituents rather than being controlled by a few insiders. those principles which is a principle based approach to leadership, the next speaker will have those. >> reporter: congressman, what does it say that the man who single-handedly recruited so many of the tea party members in 2010, who would stay up until 2:00 in the morning texting, calling, all these guys, helping them, their fund-raisers around the country, what does it say that he's not a viable candidate? he was very friendly with a lot of you guys. he was the one who got so many of you here. what does that say? >> well, i don't know how much of that is true. it certainly wasn't true in my race. it might have been elsewhere. again, when you have 78% of republicans demanding john boehner step down, by the way, 77% of them want to get rid of mitch mcconnell. i think he should be worried today. the american people are going to get their way. this house should reflect the american people, not the other way around. >> reporter: are you worried about the future of the party that americans will see this and say these guys can't be in control, they can't even run their own house? >> well, clearly, they can't run
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their own house. this is the establishment. it's time to make some changes. >> reporter: congressman huelskamp, thank you so much. kevin mccarthy is now walk right over here. he is going to appear at the podium behind me. there is obviously a huge press scrum right here. ec kevin mccarthy announced he was going to run at 8:00 a.m. this morning, pulled out at 12:15. here he is. >> come on over, guys. come on up. come on up. all right. i think i shocked some of you, huh?
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listen, we have been going through this campaign, talking to a lot of members, but the one thing i've always said to earn this majority, we're servants. we should put this conference first. i think there's something to be said for us to unite. we probably need a fresh face. i'll stay on as majority leader. but the one thing i found in talking to everybody, if we are going to unite and be strong, we need a new face to help do that. so nothing more than that. i feel good about the decision. i feel great to have my family here, my colleagues. i think we're only going to be stronger. we fought hard to win this majority and turn this country around, and this will be our best -- i messed that up. >> you said at 8:00 a.m. you were going to run for the speakership. why change at noon? what happened those four hours? >> you know, we had our conference and there's calls into the district. i don't want making voting for
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speaker a tough one. i don't want to go to the floor and win with 220 votes. i think the best thing for our party right now is to have 247 votes on the floor. if we are going to be strong, we got to be 100% united. i think you know what, let's put the conference first. look, i have been talking with a number of members. we have been thinking about this throughout the week, trying to see if we can get there. i just think it's best to have a new face. >> how much did your comments about benghazi last week play into your decision to step aside today? >> well, that wasn't helpful. yeah. i could have said it much better. but this benghazi committee was only created for one purpose, to find the truth on behalf of the