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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  July 21, 2009 12:00am-1:00am EDT

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show. i've got some pictures to show you from africa and a great story of what some good people are doing there. we begin tonight with president obama's big sell on national health care. chuck todd is nbc's chief white house correspondent. and "the washington post's" dan balz is the author of the forthcoming book "the battle for america, 2008." dan is the top political reporter in the country right now. here is president obama today. let's listen. >> just the other day one republican senator said, and i'm quoting him now, "if we're able to stop obama on this, it will be his waterloo. it will break him." think about that. this isn't about me. this isn't about politics. this is about a health care system that's breaking america's
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families, breaking america's businesses, and breaking america's economy, and we can't afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care. not this time, not now. there are too many lives and livelihoods at stake. >> and here is the key senate republican with his thoughts, senator chuck grassley of iowa, reacting to what the president just said. he's saying it here on msnbc. let's listen. >> i listened to a good part of his speech while i was standing here, and the president didn't say anything i disagree with. there may be how you get there that there would be some differences of opinion, but the goals the president wants is a goal that almost everybody in this country wants.
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>> well, there you have it, chuck and dan. i want you both to give me your best wisdom. there you have it, how we get s there. the top republican, a man who is a moderate conservative republican who is the ranking member on the finance committee in this senate where all the action is tonight and the next couple days and the president of the united states. how does it get done for the people? chuck. >> well, first of all, what you saw with the president is something that he has done previously, which is when he found a political enemy, he needed -- the thing that had been hurting him a little bit i think on this health care fight is he didn't have somebody he was running against as he did during the campaign, and he's more comfortable when he's got a political bogeyman, and i think that's why they trotted out jim demint in this case is that they finally found their political bogeyman. you got a guy like chuck grassley, he does wanted to play. this gets at something else going on inside the republican party is you have about half the party that sees -- that smells political blood and they think, you know what, we can get obama on this. we can make him politically weaker if we beat him on this. and then you have the other half, the chuck grassleys of the world, who want to play, who want to be a part. they see the train is leaving the station, something is going to get signed, and they want some influence. >> dan, the big question, how does the president's busyness in the next couple days and weeks when he said he's going to be all over the country and all over the tube doing interviews everywhere, how does that make a couple senators, three or four republicans, maybe three or so
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moderate democrats cut a deal? >> well, there's two things that he's got to do, chris. the first is to continue to press to make this case publicly that if they don't get health care done this year, they've lost probably the best opportunity we've seen in two decades to get this done. it is enormously difficult, and i think that what you have seen through most of this year is a climate that has been more favorable toward getting a reform package through than we've seen in a long time. but the second thing he's got to do is he's got to monitor that senate finance committee very closely. that committee right now holds the key to getting a bill out that might become the basis for an agreement across both the house and senate. there is a lot of partisan division now, but there are a few republicans who are still playing on this, and senator grassley is obviously a -- very much a key, and the president and his legislative team have got to work the inside as well as the outside. >> let's go back to chuck on
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those questions. we have four republican senators led by chuck grassley. you have three democrats led by max baucus, who is chairman of the finance committee. what is the fight over? it seems to me they've got to jettison some of this stuff so it's light enough to carry for both parties. >> two things, two key things, how to pay for it. what are you going to do? this surcharge tax idea coming out of the house, grassley himself said it's dead, and if grassley says it's dead, baucus usually goes along. the two of them are like blood brothers in this on the way they run the finance committee. they both sort of take the long view because as one of them is the ranking member now, the other one is the chairman. they know those roles can get reversed quickly, so they very much listen to each other on that. so that millionaire surtax or whatever you want to call it at this point is probably dead. but they have to find a way to fund it that isn't this taxing health care benefits because the president drew a line on that, which is something baucus has expressed frustration. grassley himself in that interview, chris, said they're $200 billion short. that's what they're looking for, one, how to pay for it. the second thing, this public option. will there be a public insurance plan or will there be something that's called a co-op that probably a little harder to explain to the public exactly what it is? the finance committee wants to do a co-op because it's less
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scary to them politically. >> it sounds less socialist. sounds more like a credit union that everybody is involved with, but there's no secret paperwork -- >> a great way to describe it, credit union. >> it's a very transparent situation. the credit unions are all over capitol hill. i used to be a member of one. here is health care, the newest "washington post"/abc news poll found president obama's job approval slipped below 50%. it's 49%. but it's still okay. it's a little down. but it's below that magic 50% mark. here is an interesting one. take a look at how he's doing on his ability to handle health care. that's below 49%. but a majority of the people trust him more than they do the republicans, dan. what do these numbers -- the numbers are definitely coming
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down. they're eroding. does he have to act as long as he's got some substantial support out there? in other words, can we expect that a year from now those numbers will be lower? >> well, i think because we can't forecast the economy, we don't exactly know what those numbers are going to look like in a year. i think what they tell us is that he did some of the easy things first. everybody knew that. everyone knew that health care was going to be the most difficult fight and that the longer that this fight goes on and the more the details are aired out publicly, the more there is skepticism about whether he can get it done. so, i mean, the situation for him, as you suggest, overall he's still at 59% in our poll. those are pretty good numbers for a president. but on the health care issue, on the deficit issue, and on the economy, people's judgment of how he's handling those have begun to slip down. i think it's clearly why they've redoubled efforts to keep him out publicly to sell this
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program. it's clearly why the message coming from the white house to democrats on capitol hill is we cannot fail on health care. we have to in one way or another get this done and try to get it done this year because, as rahm emanuel, the chief of staff has continually told members on the hill, we failed to do this in 1993 and 1994 and look what happened. we can't afford to do that again. >> chuck, i have lived through politics for all these decades watching health care fail. it failed because ted kennedy didn't take the advantage he had with dick nixon back in the '70s. ironically, dick nixon a relatively conservative president was willing to do health care. a mandated employer program. we blew it with carter and kennedy not getting along. we blew it with the clintons not getting along with some people on capitol hill like jim cooper of tennessee. we keep blowing it. the inability to share the responsibility of dealing with health care. will the president going around the country and going on television the next couple weeks change that climate enough to get this thing through? >> look, i absolutely believe that -- i sometimes think we're getting played here a little bit. you know, we've created this drama that he's struggling to get this done, and there's no doubt, this is a tough -- the tough road ahead for members of congress, and they're struggling, and they don't want to vote for this thing, and they're nervous about it. they don't know what it's going to look like a year from now and they're worried about explaining how, guess what, that health
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care reform bill we passed, you won't feel it for three or four years. they're nervous about this whole thing. but, chris, 15 years ago we had industry spending millions. there was more money on tv spent to kill health care than to pass it. we have the exact opposite now. i was just checking in with our friends. evan tracy who runs that. he said there's been $40 million spent and more money has been spent advocating the president's health care proposal ban defeating it. that environment makes it like, look, they're going to get something. they're not going to do nothing. they're going to get something. now, what it looks like in the end, that's a whole other story. >> i think that's an important point. the question is perhaps in the end they will decide they can't get the kind of comprehensive universal coverage that everyone has talked about, and then the question is what does that fallback position look like? i think that's still in the offing if they continue to run
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into road blocks. but then as chuck said, the question is what does that package really do? and we will not know that for a long time. i have talked to people over the weekend who were sympathetic to the idea of getting this done but who worry about the way it's being done right now president i have talked to people over the weekend who were sympathetic to the idea of getting this done but who worry about the way it's being done right now president obama could be buying himself long-term problems in trying to get a short-term victory. >> as late stevens once said it's better to light a candle than curse the darkness. >> just implementing this is going to be as big a battle as we're seeing now. i don't think we quite get that now. the political battle seems tough. wait until they actually pass something and then they charge hhs with actually trying to, okay, now do it. coming up, as president
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obama steps up his push for health care reform, republicans are pushing back, some of them, not all of them, but they have plenty of issues themselves starting with record lows in the polls. when we return, we have the leader of the party, rnc chair michael steele to talk about how the republicans can rebound. coming up, remembering walter cronkite.
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coming up, remembering walter cronkite. i have clips from a cronkite interview i did here on another show, but it's great stuff. he talks about, well, his political philosophy. something he rarely did. we're bringing dan rather on this show live to talk about walter cronkite, the man he succeeded. oddick has the fastest serve in the history of professional tennis. so i've come to this court to challenge his speed. ...on the internet. i'll be using the 3g at&t laptopconnect card.
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welcome back to "hardball." with us now, the chairman of the
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republican national committee, michael steele. i want you, mr. steele, i have been trying to get you on this show. i want you to look at some of these maps. this is a map that ran in the "new york times." the red part shows the only part of the country that voted more for the republican ticket in 2008 than had the time before in 2004. it's sort of the appalachian area. now look at some of these numbers. i think these are the challenges you face in your leadership and it's a great historic challenge you face, leading the republican party back to victory. back in 2000 we had 105 million people vote. in 2008, 131 million. that's good for the republic. 25% more. and then african-american participation, it's gone from 11%, obviously with the first african real candidate with a chance to win, it's gone from 11% to 13%, but adversarial to your party it's gone from 88% democrat to 95% democrat. >> right. >> latino voters, again moving up in their percentage from 8% to 9%. but then again, a two-thirds vote for the democratic
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candidate, barack obama. 67%. under-30 voters who will be under-34 voters by the next time, there you have their percentage creeping up from 17% to 18%. but their vote again, 66% for barack obama. >> sure. >> in a country where there are going to be more hispanic voters every year we live and there's going to be a little more african-american voters, although probably pretty stable, and you're going to have definitely more young people voting because young people keep coming along, are you going to be in a position of having the republican party depend on getting something like 60% of the older white vote so you can win an election? isn't that the conundrum you're in right now. >> it is a conundrum coming off '06 and '08. no doubt about that. we lost sight of the principles and values to talk to those voters about. the governing coalition ronald reagan built in the '80s. and that george bush the first and partially the second built off of. we got away from it. there's no doubt about that, chris. i'm the first one to say that the party for political expedience and convenience,
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quite frankly, didn't do the hard, steady work of building a ground game and a relationship with the voters. so along comes barack obama. he sounds good, he looks great, it's a beautiful package, and then we had nothing -- we had no filler. we had nothing to fall back on. we couldn't even argue the basics of the economy in the last election effectively, and it took, you know, a happenstance conversation with a plumber before we could really begin to get that groove. i think right now, however, with the debate on health care, with the debate on spending, with the debate on the environment, all of these issues are beginning to put in focus for us and opportunity to go back to those voters and say, guess what, we get it. our bad. we were wrong in our approach to the government. we were wrong in our approach to spending. we acknowledge the kickoff of this whole stimulus craziness that we've unleashed, but we get it enough now to understand that at the end of the day the people of this country are still the most singular source for moving us from a depression, from a
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recession, to prosperity, and that is something that i think once the party gets back to trusting its instincts on this, the american people will be there with us. and i think we're beginning to see that a little bit. >> let's talk about the last week with all this discussion about the sonia sotomayor nomination hearings. you had newt gingrich saying a white man, racist nominee, would be forced to withdraw. a latina woman racist should also withdraw. he modified that. he took it back later. you have people like that. you had very tough questioning by people like jeff sessions who said tough things in the past about the naacp in terms of questioning this nominee. even lindsay graham who is a very likable guy was very tough on her. do you think that helped your party with latina voters? >> wait a minute. we shouldn't be as tough on a democrat nominee for the supreme court -- >> but politically you have to sell your party -- >> also we should cower away from principle because we don't want to offend somebody? i mean -- >> i'm asking, did you offend them?
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>> no, this is not governance and it's not leadership. you ask the questions the american people want to know. we don't know anything about -- quite frankly, we don't know more about her today than we did before this process started because as "the washington post" and other papers recognized, she was very well-briefed. she was very well-coached, and she answered the questions right up to the line and left it. >> do you think lindsey graham was right -- >> you look at -- >> let's look at lindsey graham. let's watch his questioning of her. you tell me if you think it helps you with the latino community. here it is. let's watch. >> these statements about you are striking. they're not about your colleagues, the ten-minute rule applies to everybody, and that, you know, obviously you've accomplished a lot in your life, but maybe these hearings are a time for self-reflection. this is pretty tough stuff that you don't see about other judges on the second circuit. >> what did you make of that? time basically to reflect on her anger management? >> it was something raised by her own colleagues. this isn't something republicans
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made up, chris, come on. >> do you think it helps to have this on television? i'm asking you a political question. you're getting into substance here. do you think president obama wasn't brilliant in picking this woman so your party would beat up on her. >> we did not beat up -- i mean, wow, come on. >> jeff sessions, lindsey graham, orrin hatch. that was a tough -- >> excuse me, what did roberts go through? what did clarence thomas go through? what did judge bork go through borking, his name is now a verb in the nomination process. >> borking an ethnic group. >> if you want to play ethnic politics -- >> i'm asking you if you're winning at ethnic politics. >> i'm asking you a question. if you want to play ethnics politics, have at it all day long. what we tried to do and what we said from the very beginning was we wanted a full examination of this judge's record. 17 years on the bench, 3,600 cases before her. she has a record. when her colleagues on the bench have an opinion about her, it's a valid question to ask.
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she had the opportunity to explain it. it's not ethnic politics here. we didn't go after sotomayor no more than anyone else did. the reality of it is they were legitimate questions that were out there in the public that they wanted answered. quite frankly in my view, did not get answered sufficiently, and i think everyone kind of concluded that. well-coached, well-briefed, we still don't know -- >> the wise latina comment was hit again and again for a whole week. do you think it helped your party? >> i mean -- >> constantly pounding her -- >> there's no helping and hurting here of the party. >> your bottom line is it didn't hurt your party? >> the bottom line is the principle of someone wants to be a supreme court justice, we ask the appropriate questions. >> let me ask you about african-americans. the president spoke to the naacp the other day. i thought he gave some pretty tough talk. like bill cosby talk. it was realistic and tough. as i said last week, a white guy like that can't talk to the naacp. he talked about kids in brutal neighborhoods where it's really dangerous. he said tief, have to be allowed to be fired -- that sounds like
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you talking. >> it does, but the difference is i followed up with action. i want to know -- i can compare my record as a lieutenant governor on those subjects. so the question now for a lot of african-americans and for the country, what are you going to do? how do you move those very kids that you're talking about in poverty to the next level of realizing prosperity when you cut their opportunity by cutting their scholarship grants here in the district of columbia? 1,700 poor african-american kids, many of whom go to -- >> you know what? you just found an area we agree on. these opportunity scholarships should be maintained. >> they should be maintained. this administration, this president, then senator, has been garnering to kill those scholarships -- >> who stood, the unions? >> i don't know, the unions, somebody got his -- >> these are called opportunity scholarships. they basically allow in many cases kids from tough neighborhoods to get a chance to go to good schools -- >> go to the same school his kids go to. >> yeah. >> and i suspect the reason they finally backed off of that is because they didn't want the bad publicity. >> did they back off it? >> yeah, they were like we'll
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just grandfather these kids through, but then the scholarship ends and no one else can go. >> that's not backing off enough. >> exactly. >> we agree on that. >> but then again, chris, if you want to talk about this, you can go to the naacp and say a lot, but it's what you do. so you cut opportunity scholarship for african-american kids in the city. what about all those scholarship opportunities and resources for historically black colleges and universities that your administration -- >> do you know what you have to do? i hate to tell you how to do your job, but cardinal spellman high school is one of the reasons this woman, sotomayor, got into princeton. she went to a good catholic high school. >> just like john carroll high school, where a lot of these kids go to in the city, is the reason i got into johns hopkins. >> i'm glad i voted for you for senator. >> i'm glad, too. >> somebody asked you if this program by barack obama is socialistic. i want to look at a number here, by the way. by the way, here you are saying it. i like the way this is a national press club.
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here you are on tape. >> does president obama's health care plan represent socialism? >> yes. next question. >> by the way, the american people like his health care plan when it's explained to them, 54% to 43%. >> well, it depends on a couple things. one, who's explaining it. >> look at all the details. they give all the details, including the public option -- >> this is the entire president's health care plan -- >> it explains all -- >> right there. it depends on two things. one, who is doing the explaining -- >> here it is. >> and what they're explaining. i can tell you that when you start talking about what this government is about to do or trying to do in the next two weeks, do you know -- you should appreciate this, chris. >> look, but, michael, this poll told people it would tax people who make more than $280,000 to pay for it. it would require employers to do it. it said it would have a government-run option. it has all the features in it. this is full information,
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michael, and there's still a majority of voters saying yes to the obama plan. >> no, they're not. >> you call it socialism. are most americans socialist? >> this plan is not in the best interests of this nation. >> that's a different statement. stick to your argument. >> absolutely. >> it's socialism. >> because what it is doing, it is taking over the means of production with respect to the health care and this economy, and it's taken out of people's hands the control that they have right now to go to the doctor of their choosing, to get the kind of services that they need, and to make the decisions that they have to make without the government's having you stand in a line, wait your turn, or not -- >> are you going to win the governorship in new jersey and in virginia this year? >> i'm going to work hard to help those candidates. christie in new jersey, and my friend mcdonald, as hard as we can. >> i think you'll be lucky to get a split. you might get both. >> i'll take whatever you give me, chris. >> i'm not giving you nothing, but i did vote for you. michael steele who may well run for elective office again, chairman of the republican national committee. up next, i have some incredible pictures to share with you from my trip to africa. it's hiv stuff and saving the wildlife.
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the number one treasure of africa. they have to save it, they have to. great pictures. welcome back to "hardball." earlier this month i took two
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welcome back to "hardball." earlier this month i took two weeks off from the show, and kathleen, my wife, and i traveled to south africa, mozambique and swaziland, where i had spent two years back in the 1960s helping develop small business enterprise as a volunteer in the u.s. peace corps. we got a fabulous chance to see the historic efforts some very good people are making to save the amazing wildlife of africa. i've got to give a shout out to greg card, an american who is working and investing so hard to rebuild the great game park in mozambique. he's working with the government
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there of that country to bring back that country's precious resource. i also want to pay tribute to ted riley, who spent his whole life in swaziland. his father fought in the boer war. he's now helping the king to build up that beautiful little country's wildlife. i have got to praise the king for having the strength and vision to mean it, and he bans poaching, zero tolerance, no bail, no breaks. you kill, you go to jail. we've had too many elephants and rhinos killed in that part of the world. i can't overlook, of course, the work of today's peace corps volunteers in swaziland to deal with the hiv/aids challenge. they're up against some of the real challenges in this world. i was happy to get a chance to meet with those people. three cheers to the king for inviting the peace corps into his country. and backing them up in their volunteer efforts. it makes me proud to have those young americans over there working to meet a horror that affects africa so greatly. it was an incredible two weeks.
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i came very close to some very amazing animals in the midst of the most beautiful scenery in the world. i was lucky to be in africa as a young man and lucky to return there many times since with my family. i hope to spend the rest of my life, by the way, keeping in touch with the beauty and challenges of that wondrous continent. up next, remembering walter cronkite. we will take a look at the 1996 interview i did with the legendary interviewer with the man who succeeded him on the "cbs news evening news," dan rather. he's joining us. ♪ [ female announcer ] looking for a stronger bath tissue that leaves fewer pieces behind? ♪ fortunately, there's charmin ultra strong. with its diamondweave texture, charmin ultra strong is soft and more durable. more durable so when compared to the ultra rippled brand, it holds up better. fewer pieces left behind. and soft for sure. charmin ultra strong. look for it in the red package. for those who prefer moist wipes, try charmin freshmates for a cleaner clean.
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a roadside bomb killed four u.s. troops in afghanistan today. at least 30 american soldiers have been killed this month alone, making it the deadliest month of this war so far.
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secretary of defense robert gate said military commanders are sparing no effort to find an american soldier captured by the taliban. gates announced the army will be adding about 22,000 new soldiers to help fight the wars in iraq and afghanistan. california lawmakers reached a basic agreement on closing the state's budget gap. stocks extended last week's rally on earnings optimism and a $3 billion rescue for commercial lender cit. the dow jones industrials finished up 104 points. the s&p added 10 points and the nasdaq gained 22 points. that is the latest. now let's go back to "hardball." it's a perfectly honorable
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profession, being a news presenter, but let's not demean this great profession of journalism by calling these idiots, you know, journalists. >> welcome back to "hardball." this was walter cronkite advocating for the british term "presenter." in other words, don't use "anchorperson" when the person doesn't know the news business. i interviewed him in 1996 when my show was called "politics with chris matthews" and aired on cnbc. praise for cronkite poured in of course after the news of his death friday night. and today we learned his memorial service will be held this thursday. joining me now is dan rather, who succeeded cronkite as anchor of the "cbs news evening news" and is now host of hd net's "dan rather reports." dan, i mean, dan, it's great to have you on. i couldn't think of a better person. what do you think of him knocking the airheads that sometimes masquerade as news people? >> that was classic walter cronkite. i want to emphasize his point was that so many people trying to play a reporter on tv.
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the very essence of walter cronkite was he didn't just play a reporter on television, he was a reporter, had been a reporter for a very long time, and i think his point was that so many people now are just -- are presenters and should be called presenters. i don't like the chances of that happening. >> not good. anyway, let's look at walter cronkite on the issues of politics. here he was in a 1996 interview, which would be 13 years ago for all of us. here it is. >> my older brother is a bit more conservative than me, a bit. he once said the big controversy about you in the old days from the conservatives who didn't like you, he said, you know, i'm a conservative. and cronkite's a liberal. but he does the best broadcast on television, the best, i'm going to watch him every night. what is your reaction to that? >> richard nixon called me the best of a bad lot. i don't know whether that was good or bad. i don't know. i was very much offended that i didn't get on nixon's hate list, but, well, you know, i don't know.
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i suppose in all honesty i'm a liberal. >> right. >> i think so, but i would like to define liberal. i think the great problem with this label is that it has been seriously misused for political purposes. >> dan, what do you make of that little conversation? that's hid no one hidden in the eaves all these years. but there he is saying, i'm a liberal. >> that was, again, classic walter. keep in mind that he wanted to redefine liberal as it's used in today's political context. he meant that he was liberal in the sense that he was in favor of preserving those things worth preserving but changing those things that needed changing. look, after he left the anchor chair, walter was much more inclined to talk in those terms. i think it's important to remember, particularly for those who were not of memory age or were not alive when he was in his prime, this is a guy who was a straight news reporter. walter's instructions to us in
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the field were always, tell it straight without fear or favoritism. pull no punches, say it like it is. insofar as humanly possible, keep your own prejudices and biases and feelings and emotions out of it. to a very large degree, he did that. yes, there were some exceptions. the time he spoke about the vietnam war just after the tet offensive being the best known example. but walter was -- what he stood for, the beacon he sent out was, straight news reporting. whatever your political persuasions are, however anybody wants to label you, get to the story, tell the story as straight as you can, and the american public will understand. at the same time, you have to understand that politicians of various persuasions will be taking their shots at you. >> yeah, we're looking at these file footage pictures of him interviewing ike on the bluffs of normandy back in 1964. that was one of my favorite interviews ever, watching those two guys go at it because he covered, of course, the second world war.
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here's cronkite on world leaders he's covered. i want your reviews of these as well. did he this back in '96, 13 years ago, looking at the presidents he's covered and giving a sense of their caliber when he met and worked with them. here he is. >> who of all the men you covered, ike, harry truman before him, jack kennedy, nixon, johnson, jimmy carter, reagan, who when you were with them like this, three feet away from them, did you really feel the majesty of their superior mind and leadership ability? sort of order them in terms of the guys who felt like a president when you were with them. >> well, if that's the criterion. >> i'm just asking that one criterion. >> i would have to say probably eisenhower. he had that kind of dignity about him. you felt the strength of johnson very strong, that he could crush or elevate at will practically. you thought tremendous power there. respect for general
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intelligence, i like carter. >> what do you make of that? i love you when you guys do this because you do get the one-on-ones with these guys. you get close in and personal. >> well, first of all, partly because they shared the memories of world war ii, cronkite had tremendous admiration for president dwight d. eisenhower. after all, had been commander of all allied forces in the european theater. keep in mind, this is a walter cronkite who said openly after he left the anchor chair that he was a stevensonian democrat. walter believes when it comes to the presidency, character is most important, and he admired eisenhower for his leadership skill, for his character. i'd heard him say myself several times that he thought jimmy carter, if you gave the s.a.t. tests or an iq test, that carter might well score the highest of any president he had known, but i think it's very important to note here, chris, that walter cronkite dominated television news. he helped invent television news
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as we know it to a very large degree. that he was of that generation of americans who always pulled for the president, whoever the president was, and he was always honored to sit with any president. he felt that it was a privilege to talk with a president or interview a president. he always found himself pulling for a president. a lot of that changed in the '60s when as a people and as a society we began to question more and question more carefully. but walter cronkite never walked into the white house gates a single day he wasn't proud to be there and feel it was important in his role as a journalist in our system of freedom and democracy. >> love to hear you say that, dan. so well said. thank you, sir, for coming here tonight on this big night for us. >> always good to be with you, chris. >> in this reflective time on the career and the contribution to our country of walter cronkite. up next, can president obama pressure congress on health care reform with this week's -- well, it's going to be a couple weeks of media blitz.
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we will see a lot of our president. the next couple of weeks. can this wholesale salesmanship pick up the republicans and democrats he needs to actually pass this bill? i
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we're back in time for "the politics fix" with the "washington post" pulitzer prize winning columnist eugene robinson and michelle bernard of "the independent women's voice."
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both nbc political analysts. michelle, you first. are the republicans smart to have people like jim demint out there saying let's kill this thing in its bed? lets kill health care because it's a way to kill obama? >> no, it's not smart at all. not smart politics. it would appear that's the only thing some republicans feel they can talk about, but there are a lot of problems with the bill itself. if republicans were smart, they would be talking about patient centered health care, what the real problems are with the bill, and what republicans stand for in terms of health care reform rather than killing barack obama. >> gene? >> i agree with michelle. it's not smart at all. i think the question now is how does the president take control of this issue? how does he get out in front of it and how does he tell congress rather than let congress work it out themselves? i saw him on friday. he says, well, we got 70% of the way through my method. >> you were with him? >> yeah. >> is he willing to detail what he wants? >> i don't -- i didn't get the sense -- he didn't detail everything that he wants to me.
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but one certainly gets the sense from what we've seen friday, again today, and what we're going to see again during the week, he's willing to step out in front. i think that necessarily entails saying, look, here are some definite lines. here's what we definitely need to have. with he need to go this way, not that way. he needs to take the political heat for some of this because people -- because the democrats in congress are getting nervous about having to take -- >> this is down to seven people, four republicans, grassley and hatch, a couple other people. olympia snowe. >> he's got to rein in the troops. you saw in today's "washington post", they quoted david axelrod as saying he's taken the baton. if you think about like that track and field -- >> you think that's wrong. >> no, no, i think it's right, but he's risking a lot. if you think about it during -- we're almost looking forward to
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the midterm elections, and if he loses health care, it's almost as if he is risking whatever the legacy of his presidency is going to be. if he loses health care and he's the person who is the fourth leg of that relay race and he loses, what happens during the midterm elections? >> let's turn the pillow over to the cold side. suppose the republicans get blamed for killing health care. isn't there a down side? >> yes. people want americans to have health insurance and this is a tremendous problem for a lot of american families. one thing to keep in mind through the next several months is if it does pass at some point nobody is going to remember whether it passes in august or october or november. >> you know you've got one window. >> true. >> the first year. >> the first year. >> exactly. >> if it doesn't get through the first year it may not get through. >> you think if they slip on this, this is a key question. if they don't get it done, get it to conference committee between the house and the senate, by august, will they have a chance to get it done by christmas? >> yeah, i think they'll have a chance but it makes it harder. >> they have a chance but i disagree with gene on one point. if the republicans -- >> dream team?
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>> no. no, my buddy gene. >> i'm going to check the tape. >> if the republicans, you know, basically kill a bad bill, i don't think they're losing anything. i don't think that anyone's getting to the heart of the real argument yet. we keep saying, if they pass it. what is it? are we talking about patients' rights? what is it? >> we need to have something you can go to, like a credit union, where if you don't get a good deal from a private insurance company, you can get some other option that's maybe cheaper and a better deal. does the government have to offer something and put something out there as an option? >> my opinion, yes. my opinion, to keep the insurance companies honest. to provide that sort of option for pre-existing conditions. >> gene robinson, michelle bernard, both analysts, thanks for joining us. this is getting close. this health care thing could die. it could win in the next couple weeks. when we return lou a suspected terror leader can live freely in europe until now.
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i'm sorry. i can't hear you very well. announcer: does someone you know have trouble hearing on the phone?
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dad. dad, let me help you with that, okay? announcer: now, a free phone service shows captions of everything a caller says. i'd like to make an appointment to see the doctor. announcer: to learn more about captioned telephone, call 1-800-552-7724 or go to our website. i'll see you at 3:00! announcer: captioned telephone - enjoy the phone again! speak to me. i'm moving into the target area. good luck. all right. >> relative leaving the target building. >> on target, they leave the house, they go to work. this guy is unemployed and apparently he doesn't like to go out very often. maintain focus on a target, you're trying to make sure no one is eyeballing your vehicle. >> i have eyes on from the back.
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let's go. >> he knows we are on him. >> 500 meters. i got him right up ahead. >> copy that. >> that was a clip from the ground-breaking television news program "the wanted." which premieres tonight on nbc at 10:00. the new series sends an elite team of investigative journalists in counterterrorism and unconventional warfare experts on international manhunts for accused terrorists. tonight's target is mullah krekar, the founder and leader of an sar al islam, an organization accused of killing hundreds of americans. the co-creator and executive producer of "the wanted," charlie, congratulations. looks like your show's getting results. we hear norway may extradite mullah krekar to iraq where he might stand trial for terrorism. >> yeah, this show has been a catalyst for change in governments in a lot of cases. we just found out in the last hour and a half, the minister of
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foreign affairs has announced after 18 years of being in norway and evading justice, the norwegians are now working directly with the iraqis and they've vowed to deport him back to iraq where he can face justice for crimes including killing hundreds if not thousands of americans and europeans and targeting american civilians. >> well, how do you explain that? you've done the research. why would the norwegian government, which is certainly not a terrorist government, harbor such a fugitive? >> to a certain extent it comes down to justice getting in the way of justice. they're the front runner on human rights but at a certain point, the human rights almost go too far. and they've taken into consideration the safety of this one man over the safety of the entire country. the government up to and including the supreme court has said that this guy is a threat to national security and international security. and yet, they've stood in the way of his deportation because they fear that there is a chance, albeit minute, that the iraqis will torture or kill him. and we were very fortunate and
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through a lot of hard work by our team that we got the iraqis to go as far as writing a letter and signing a number of affidavits saying that they would not torture him and they would not kill him. and i think to a certain extent -- >> we kill people. we have capital punishment in our country. would they not extradite somebody to our country? >> no, if bin laden moved to oslo, norway, today according to norwegian law they would not be able to extradite him to the united states to face justice. >> have you looked down the road to the programs you're going to envision now on this show called "the wanted"? i've heard about this show, there's a lot of excitement about it. how many people do you have as targets, people living safely or undercover, dangerous people to the world that you'd like to catch and put on the show? >> the list is in the hundreds. it's scary. the thing is we've produced six episodes. we have episodes that take place with individuals in the united states or doctors and teachers who live in small-town america, and also in europe, who target american civilians. the truth of the matter is they hide in the shadows.
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terrorism and war crimes are crimes that happen in the shadows. our thesis of this show is, if you shine a light and put them in primetime, they're no longer faceless, you take away the greatest weapon they have. our hope is it will lead to things like this mullah facing justice. >> what's your security? how do you handle that in the tough part of this job? i'm serious. you're up against customers that don't want to be exposed, you're expoing them. >> we screened the show on capitol hill last wednesday for about 500 people from the department of justice, state, homeland, cia. after the screening they were offering us targets, saying, look, this is important. one guy, the head of an intel group pulled me aside and said, what's your security detail? he said, they're going to come after you and they're going to kill you, you need to be aware of this. the truth is we spend a lot of time not only looking at our targets and who we're looking at, but what is it we're doing to protect ourselves. >> on that note, protect yourself, buddy. thank you. join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 eastern for more "hardball." "countdown" starts right now
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with david shuster in for keith olbermann. which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? scare tactics, stall tactics? rnc chair's michael steele's strategy for attack on the president's health care reform effort. >> he is conducting a dangerous experiment with our health care and the quality of our lives. all of us should be scared to death. so slow down, mr. president. >> the president's reply? seek immediate professional help. >> we can't afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care. not this time. not now. there are too many lives and livelihoods at stake. >> explain yourselves. ask senator russ feingold and dennis blaire who last week stated the cia did not break the law during the national security brief to members of congress. now new charges of wrongdoing at the cia. >> i'm scared i won't be able to go home. >> chilling footage, the latest reminder of why the way we treat
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detainees matters when the other side captures our guys. rumors abound that the american idol judge paula abdul will not return for the show's ninth season. 40 years ago today images and words that piqued the wonder of millions. >> it's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. and a similar scene broadcast from mars in the future. good evening from new york. keith olbermann has the night off. six mont