Chuck Todd joined me to discuss the launch of Hillary’s campaign:
HH: I begin this hour with Chuck Todd, host of Meet The Press, which on Sunday, I’ll be joining him on the Meet The Press panel. Chuck, thanks for the invite back. It’s going to be a big day. Looks like Hillary Clinton is announcing that day?
CT: It is, and she is in some form. Looks like she’ll flip the switch on social media. But you know, it’s fitting you play the Game of Thrones theme. We have the Clintons of Westchester County, the Bushes of Kennebunkport, the Pauls of Kentucky, and let the Game of Thrones for presidential politics begin, huh?
HH: Now I’m still saying there’s a chance that 9pm as the Game of Thrones returns that night that she’s announcing she’s not running, going to take the black and head for the wall, Chuck. What do you think?
CT: (laughing) Well, I hope you didn’t put a lot of money on that, because I’m just saying, you’ll be a poor man.
HH: (laughing) Who is going to be on to talk about this on Sunday? I know Brooks…
CT: Actually, it’s a unique, little… I think it’s, you know, I’m biased, it’s my show, but I think it’s the most unique booking anybody has, which is it’s the one person who’s managed her one successful race for office, a guy named Bill de Blasio.
HH: Oh, no kdding? The Mayor?
CT: People forget he managed the 2000 Senate campaign. He was the campaign manager for Hillary. And he’s now the mayor. He’s trying to push her to the left. But the point is what’s fascinating about her rollout is that her rollout is basically trying to relive, reignite what they believe was a successful rollout in New York, versus an unsuccessful rollout in ’07. So anyway, I think he’s sort of uniquely situated to talk about it.
HH: Very much so. I look forward to meeting His Honor. Now I am, I had Carly Fiorina in the studio on Monday. We talked about Hillary. Hillary is an exchange that I think will resonate through the entire Clinton campaign.
CF: There’s no doubt, there’s no doubt that nations like Russia, China, North Korea have been engaged in a long-standing plan to attack various systems and databases in this country beginning with, but not ending with, the federal government. There’s no doubt it’s been going on, which is why you see even in this White House alarm now about cyberwarfare. So of course, her emails were compromised.
HH: Chuck Todd, of course her emails were compromised. Carly Fiorina went on to say every day, the Republicans have to bring up the server. What do you think about that issue?
CT: Well, I look at it in terms of those three state polls that came out this week, and you saw Hillary Clinton bombing the trustworthy number. And you saw that it was underwater – Colorado, Iowa and Virginia. So arguably, three of the five, you know, if you were to say to me, throw in Florida and Ohio, and those are the five most important states in Electoral College politics these days. And that’s what the email story does. The email story brings back the honest and trustworthy issue with Hillary Clinton. The Clinton brand is like Velcro. Every time they seem to sort of rip it away and make progress sort of moving away from that negative stereotype, some new story brings it all back. And that’s what, the email story, that to me is what it brought back. If you already sort of had a seed of doubt as to sort of Clinton fatigue and all this, then this, that’s what the email story does. And that’s why as political strategy, what Carly Fiorina’s talking about, I get it, because if you can keep her honest and trustworthy number underwater, that’s how you beat her in a place like, particularly Colorado and Virginia, who just, they, I think they don’t like polarizing politics in those two states. There are a lot of independents in those two states.
HH: At the same time that I was talking about Hillary with Carly Fiorina, Vice President Cheney came on this show in an exchange that has become what we like to call Hughbiquitous. The Vice President spoke about the President. He said this.
HH: Is he naïve, Mr. Vice President? Or does he have a far-reaching vision that only he entertains of a realigned Middle East that somehow it all works out in the end?
DC: I don’t know, Hugh. I vacillate between the various theories I’ve heard. But you know, if you had somebody as president who wanted to take America down, who wanted to fundamentally weaken our position in the world, reduce our capacity to influence events, turn our back on our allies and encourage our adversaries, it would look exactly like what Barack Obama’s doing. I think his actions are constituted in my mind those of the worst president we’ve ever had.
HH: Now Chuck Todd, he’s not saying the President is a Manchurian candidate. He’s saying that it’s Chance the Gardener acting like the Manchurian Candidate. What do you think of the Vice President’s no-holes swing?
CT: Well look, I mean, it’s not new. I mean, he’s been tough on President Obama pretty much from the beginning on his foreign policy. And look, I think there, you put it in an interesting way. I think that Cheney and Obama have fundamentally two different worldviews about how you organize the Middle East and how the United States has to interact with it. And I think that, what I find fascinating about it is I actually think those worldviews are going to be a big part of the 2016 debate as these candidates try to find their footing on foreign policy, because what’s interesting is none of them are clearly articulating either what Cheney is saying, or nobody is clearly articulating the Obama perspective. And you find all of these guys running, struggling to sort of get to a tough on the Republican side, sound somewhat like Cheney, but not, but they don’t want to sound too much like Cheney, right? So I find, to me, you have set up the two bookends, and it’s going to be interesting to watch the candidates themselves try to find their place in between those bookends.
HH: Where they end up on the shelf…
HH: Now I have had Rand Paul on today and Jeb Bush, Carly, they’ve all been here. But the people that are most impacted by the Iran deal are Democrats, not just Secretary of State Clinton, but the 33 Democrats who are up in ’16 or ’18. And I’ve got every one of them listed over at Hughhewitt.com. The number is allegedly 64 are going to vote for Corker-Menendez, the bill that will oblige any arrangement with Iran to be sent to the Congress. Do they get to 67, in your opinion, Chuck Todd? You’ve been counting votes on the Hill for a long time.
CT: I think it really depends, I don’t think they get to 67 before June 30th. I do think that there’ll be enough Democrats that the President can persuade to do that. Now that said, we haven’t talked about, I talked to one Senate Democrat who is with Corker, who also acknowledges that there’s, the White House is suddenly showing some open mind to the Corker bill to the point of trying to find ways to amend it, trying to basically find ways to live with it. They kind of understand, and to me, that’s when you’ll know how their vote counting is going. When the White House starts publicly finding a way to accept Corker, that’ll tell you that they’ve got the 67 votes.
HH: Interesting. Interesting.
CT: Behind the scenes, it’s my sense they realize they’re trying to find a way to potentially live with the Corker bill if they can get some of it amended, and delay the vote. I think the other thing they’re trying to do is delay the vote until June. I don’t think they’re going to be able to do that, but the amend, that’s a part of this thing, I can’t answer your question fully, because I think there’s going to be an amendment game.
HH: Are they reeling, because yesterday, the Supreme Leader announced there’s no deal unless sanctions are lifted on day one. And yesterday, the defense minister of Iran said there will be no anytime anywhere access to military facilities. These are both deal breakers. They both happened on Thursday. Do they catch the White House by surprise that they’re not even close to a deal with their so-called Iranian partners in negotiation?
CT: Well, John Kerry is suddenly wanting to show up on Sunday shows this weekend, so what do you think? I have a feeling they feel as if that they are losing the PR battle here a little bit.
HH: Oh, they are, don’t you think?
CT: I think they are, and I think the more the Iranians talk, the more it’s hurting…put it this way. And I’ve heard Rand Paul do it in the Republican side, and I’ve heard people that might be supportive of the ideas of negotiating with the Iranians saying hey, well, I don’t know what to believe. Okay, there’s what the President outlined. If that’s what the President outlined, that’s one thing. But we don’t even know if that’s the deal. And the fact that that’s the place we’re at? I think they have a lot of work to do. So I don’t know if I would go to reeling, yet. I guess I will ask you that question, after you hear the John Kerry interview on Sunday on Meet The Press. How about that?
HH: Okay. Now I want to close by talking about Walter Scott. Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, these are all obscure, ambiguous, complicated situations. Walter Scott appears not to be. It’s not a gray situation. It’s black and white. Is that why there’s less news about it?
CT: I think a little bit. I’ll tell you, there’s two angles I’d like to see, and this is actually, I’m previewing a conversation I essentially want us to have on the panel. We’re going to have the mayor of Baltimore on, who’s on the front lines of this stuff, too, which is you know, is there a pattern here where suburban police forces, do they not have the same level of training as big city police forces? Do we need to start thinking about that? And what is the cost of doing cameras on cops? Is this the answer? Is this sort of now, do we know, you know what, the best way to protect the civil rights of American citizens when it comes to the police is make sure there’s a camera everywhere? What is the feasibility of that? I think there’s some 4th Amendment issues. I know you’re a lawyer. I’m curious if a camera’s on a cap, you know, is there a 4th Amendment issue there for somebody that gets pulled over? I’ll be curious to see what Counselor Hewitt thinks of that.
HH: Oh, forewarned is forearmed. I’d better find somebody who knows the answer to that, Chuck Todd.
HH: I will see you Sunday at the studios of NBC in Washington, D.C. for Meet The Press, Chuck Todd. Follow him on Twitter, @ChuckTodd, and @MeetThePress.
End of interview.