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NBC’s Chuck Todd On The Start Of Campaign 2016

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NBC’s Chuck Todd joined me on Friday’s show:




HH: Beginning this hour with Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday. Chuck, with everything going on, including the consulate bombing in Irbil, I don’t even know what you’re going to start with. But it’s got to be, I assume, the Hillary-Rubio launch of the week and everything going on in Campaign ’16, right?

CT: Yeah, it’s a really, it’s hard to do anything other than ’16 this week. You know, it’s funny you say that. Yes, there’s a lot going on, but when you really think about it, and your show has reflected this. I think last week, we reflected this again. And you know, it’s very likely I have the newest candidate in the race also on the show this week, John Kasich.

HH: Oh.

CT: So, and I think within the, I think it’s possible he may use his New Hampshire speech tomorrow to formally announce, or at least the exploratory, or we’ll see what he says on Sunday. But you know, he now is clearly moving in that direction, too. So it’s ultra-busy now.

HH: You know, you can get under the Governor’s skin by pointing out that he only carried 86 out of 88 counties in Ohio, what went wrong in those two counties. I think that could get him going.

CT: You know what’s interesting with Kasich to me is actually, if you look at the two leading, you know, if you want to choose semi-establishment leaning guys, right, or at least in the polls, Walker and Bush, I can make an argument that Kasich, if you somehow took the best attributes that you liked about Walker and Bush, you’d get John Kasich.

HH: That’s a good argument. You know what’s going to be interesting as just a professional matter, I love the Governor. He’s a friend. You can’t get him to stop talking, so good luck. I mean, you can’t.

CT: It’s funny you say that. That was what was so much fun about covering him in ’99. This is one of the, he was a candidate that I would actually actively go seek and follow in Iowa, because he was a little looser, right? He was a little less formal. And he was, you know, it’ll be interesting to see how he handles being more of an establishment guy. You know, he was sort of a, he was an insurgent, and he had that insurgent feel about him on the trail, and I think it goes to the fact that he likes to answer a question. Let’s put it that way.

HH: He is easily the most ebullient of the candidates. Let me play for you a little audio from the show this week, my show this week, that made some news, cut number 10, Chris Christie:

HH: Let me ask you, then, about Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. Can you beat her, Chris Christie?

CC: If I run, I will beat her.

HH: And which blue states do you take away that Mitt Romney could not get, and why do you win there?

CC: Well, let’s start in Pennsylvania, where folks have seen me operate as governor of New Jersey over the course of the last five and a half years.

HH: Okay, stop right there. Chuck Todd, you were a Hot Line editor long before you became the host of Meet The Press. And you know that Pennsylvania is the football that Lucy holds for Republicans, for Charlie Brown Republicans, every four years. Do you think Chris Christie can win Pennsylvania?

CT: Look, if anybody can, you would say it’s him because of the what the argument he makes. I mean, the media market, if he somehow became the nominee, then you would make the media market argument. He would be more comfortable campaigning there. And frankly, you know, remember New Jersey used to be Lucy and the football for Republicans for about a decade and a half until Chris Christie won.

HH: Yup.

CT: So look, if he somehow miraculously became the nominee, he will have done something that will have surprised all of us, proven a talent, so that yeah, I would say he uniquely could campaign and make Pennsylvania competitive.

HH: Interesting. Now between Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, I have asked, and Rick Santorum, I asked all five of them about legalizing of marijuana in Washington and Colorado. Chris Christie and Marco Rubio would crack down on those states, the other three not so much. Here’s what Marco Rubio told me, cut number 35:

HH: If you’re the president, will you enforce the federal drug laws and shut down the marijuana trade?

MR: Yes, yes. I think, well, I think we need to enforce our federal laws. Now do states have the right to do what they want? They don’t agree with it, they have their rights, but that, they don’t have the right to write federal policy as well. It is, I don’t believe we should be in the business of legalizing additional intoxicants.

HH: All right, so Chuck Todd, is this going to be a major issue in the Republican Party, because Ted Cruz told me, Rand Paul said hey, states can go their own way. But Chris Christie’s a prosecutor, Marco Rubio’s coming down, Rick Santorum came down on it.

CT: Yeah.

HH: What do you think?

CT: I just didn’t think it was going to be an issue, but if you could make, turn it into an issue. And I’ll tell you, I don’t, look, in Colorado, the jury’s still out, but it’s legal. And I’ll tell you, I think that that would be the recipe for losing Colorado. And by the way, legalizing, some form of marijuana legalization is going to be on the ballot in Ohio, probably in Florida as well, a lot of swing states. I don’t know, I think that they, just politically, that’s a tricky, it’s to basically promise that you’re going to crack down? That is, I think that is going to make the sort of libertarian wing of the Republican Party a little uncomfortable. And in Colorado, that’s a big chunk of votes. That’s not a small chunk of votes.

HH: Wait, watch and see. Republicans will say look at the science. Bill Bennett’s argued in his new book, Going To Pot, that brain plasticity is so important in young people, and this new powerful dope so endangers it. It’s going to be, I think it’s going to be an issue.

CT: Look, I think it’s a fair debate, and I think we haven’t had enough medical research. I’ll tell you this. The problem is every argument against marijuana legalization, I can make, what’s the difference with alcohol?

HH: Bennett answers that. I’ll send you that book. Let’s go to Lindsey Graham on this show this week, because this kind of surprised a lot of people, cut number 34:

HH: 61 year old Florida mailman Doug Hughes landed a gyrocopter on your Capitol, your office front lawn this morning. Do you think he should have been shot out of the sky before he got that close to the Capitol?

LG: Yes. He should have been subject to being shot out of the sky. I don’t know why he wasn’t.

HH: And so Chuck Todd, are you folks just shrugging off the fact that a guy with a gyrocopter got past all your air defenses?

CT: You know, it’s interesting to me, it’s funny you bring this up, because I’ve had, I think it’s fascinating that here’s a guy that was trying to make a political purchase. He started a conversation, but it wasn’t the one he intended to start. But I’ve been jarred by some of the folks that have said oh, no, he should have been shot down. I guess what I’m surprised at, where were the helicopters? I mean, I think he should have had somebody, you know, he did this in plain sight. He told everybody how he was going to do it, what he was going to do. And maybe that’s why he didn’t get shot down. Maybe that’s why authorities knew exactly what he was going to do, so they chose not to go that route. But are we really going to start shooting these guys out of the air? Or would you have a helicopter that would warn them if you don’t land right now, you could get shot? I mean, I do think that we need to like talk about how we might do that.

HH: I’m telling you…

CT: I mean, it’s a little startling to hear. Yeah, just shoot him out of the sky.

HH: I don’t think you’ll let anyone get near the Capitol or the White House anymore. I’m with the shoot them out of the sky crowd, Chuck Todd. Now the other thing…

CT: No, I agree. I think that this was an interesting little, literally flew under the radar. Who knew they didn’t have, you know, that there wasn’t a way to do that? Well, you know, maybe we ought to thank this guy. Maybe he found a weakness in our defense that he realizes that we won’t, we will be able to fix.

HH: Now let’s talk about going to gay weddings. Jorge Ramos asked Marco Rubio if he’d go, and Marco said of course I’m going to go. Then I asked Ted Cruz, and Ted Cruz said this, cut number 26:

HH: Having put it into context, now I want to ask the question that was asked of Senator Rubio yesterday. If you had a loved one or a friend getting married in a same sex wedding, would you attend it?

TC: Well, I will tell you I haven’t faced that circumstance. I have not, not had a loved one go to a, have a gay wedding.

HH: And so I asked the same question of Rick Santorum. Ted Cruz didn’t give a yes or a no. But here’s what Rick Santorum said, 31:

HH: Now let me ask you the question that was asked of Senator Rubio yesterday. Would you, Rick Santorum, attend a same sex wedding of a loved one or a family friend or anyone you were close to?

RS: No, I would not.

HH: Oh, why not?

RS: No, I mean, because I don’t, I’ve just self, as a person of my faith, that that would be something that would be a violation of my faith.

HH: So Chuck Todd, Jorge Ramos started a question rolling. I picked it up and I put it in the context of ISIS throwing gay people off of towers and what was more important. Nevertheless, there are all sorts of answers. Is this all of a sudden an it question?

CT: Well, I have to say, Hugh, I think you might have made it an it question. It’s one thing that almost the permission slip to some other, you may see some other conservative journalists may do the same thing now more and more. I’ll tell you, I’ve been, I actually think the answers are kind of revealing, kind of interesting. I don’t think they’re going to decide any votes. And here’s the thing. It’s all going to be moot in June. You know, I think that’s what Ted Cruz was sort of thinking about that issue. I think Santorum wasn’t thinking about the fact that this may all be legal everywhere in the country come June 30th. And by June 30th, say, 2016, there are going to be a lot of shrugs going around in America.

HH: And the last question has to do with Carly Fiorina, was on the program, and this is what she said about Hillary’s email server, cut number 1:

HH: The former Secretary of State installed a homebrew server. What was your reaction upon learning of that, as a technology executive aware of the security challenges of maintaining privacy and security?

CF: Well, I had two reactions. One was that clearly, she had a plan to shield her communications.

HH: Chuck Todd, Trey Gowdy came on the show as well and said he’s going to subpoena her if she doesn’t show up. And then he’s going to subpoena Huma Abedin and Sidney Blumenthal and Cheryl Mills. How big of an issue, we’ve got 45 seconds, is this server going to be?

CT: Look, I think it’s a huge issue. I’m sorry. I think it’s why those trust, those honest and trustworthy numbers were the way they were. We talked about this last week. I used those numbers on the show on Sunday.

HH: Yeah.

CT: I think this is, it brought back all of the Clinton demons that swing voters are uncomfortable with.

HH: And she doesn’t, she didn’t take any questions this week to dispel those, did she?

CT: No, and all, and can I just say this week, she had a golden opportunity to come across unscripted and truly out of her bubble. She created opportunities for herself, and then didn’t take them. I just say this was a perplexing week.

HH: Very.

CT: …watching her. They did very well on day one, and then sort of swung and missed every other day.

HH: Every other day. Chuck Todd of NBC’s Meet The Press, we will be watching Sunday when the Ohio governor, John Kasich, joins you.

End of interview.


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