Sen. Chuck Schumer Among Guests on NBC's MEET THE PRESS
Yesterday's MEET THE PRESS WITH David Gregory featured interviews with NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell; Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and member of the “Gang of Six” during the debt ceiling debate, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK); CNBC’s Jim Cramer; and a roundtable conversation with Rep.-elect Joaquìn Castro (D-TX); Republican strategist Steve Schmidt; presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin; Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, and NBC News Political Director and Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd.
As the longest-running television program in the world, "Meet the Press" also celebrated its 65th birthday on today's show. The transcript which follows contains highlights from the program:
Woodward re: if Petraeus had to testify on Benghazi
BOB WOODWARD: I think it would essentially back up the White House. And there are still unanswered questions and so forth, but one of the things Petraeus always did was dig deep. And so apparently there are videos and there are tapes and pictures and things that can be shown, so it is not going away. And the question will be, I suspect, will he be asked to testify as a private citizen, either informally in closed door and so forth-- probably only Petraeus can, if he has the data, stop this Benghazi frenzy.
Mitchell: I am persuaded, as far as all of my reporting, that the White House did not know about this [Petraeus] until Wednesday
All this comes in on election night. Clapper into White House.
Which is why conspiracy theorists are running wild with it. I am persuaded, as far as all of my reporting, that the White House did not know about this until Wednesday; that Clapper didn't know about it until Tuesday night. And just a word: It's Veteran's Day. And we should say something about Holly Petraeus: She has been a hero among the military families for her work.
Sen. Schumer and Sen. Coburn on whether they wished Petraeus had not resigned:
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:
I think I'd leave that decision to General Petraeus. He's been such a hero in so many ways; I've known him, he's a New Yorker. I spent time in Iraq with him. And, you know, your heart breaks for him and his wife. If he thought it was appropriate to resign, I'll leave it with him.
Senator Coburn, your thoughts on that.
SEN. TOM COBURN:
Well, I think leadership matters and setting an example, and I don't think he had any choice, given the sensitive nature of everything that he does, that he could have any questions about his character or his integrity. And so I think he did the honorable thing.
Sen. Coburn re: allowing taxes to be raised on wealthier Americans:
SEN. TOM COBURN:
Well, I think they've already agreed to that. I think you heard John Boehner say that already. We've had votes in the Senate where we've actually gotten rid of tax credits. I think that's a given. And I think the vast majority of Americans agree with that.
The question is how do you do that, and how do you allow taxes to rise at the same time you fix the real problem? And the real problem is uncontrolled entitlement spending a government that has grown massively, not just under this administration, under Republican administrations.
Sen. Schumer on whether we'll get a comprehensive plan for immigration reform:
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:
Yes, I think so. Senator Graham and I have talked and we are resuming the talks that were broken off two years ago. We had put together a comprehensive, detailed blueprint on immigration reform. It had the real potential for bipartisan support, based on the theory that most Americans are for legal immigration but very much against illegal immigration.
Our plan, just to be quick, does four things. First of all, close the border. Make sure that's shut. Second, make sure that there is a non-forgeable document so that employers can tell who is legal and who is illegal. And once they hire someone illegally, throw the book at them. That will stop illegal immigration in its track.
Third, on legal immigration, let in the people we need, whether they be engineers from our universities, foreign, or people to pick the crops. And fourth, a path to citizenship that's fair, which says you have to learn English, you have to go to the back of the line, you've got to have a job, and you can't commit crimes. Graham and I are talking to our colleagues about this right now, and I think we have a darn good chance, using this blueprint, to get something done this year. The Republican Party has learned that being anti-immigrant doesn't work for them politically, and they know it.
Sen. Coburn on lessons from this election for his party:
SEN. TOM COBURN:
You have to demonstrate what you're for, not what you're against. I think that's the key ingredient. And sell a vision that's positive for America, not a negative vision about what's wrong with America. I think you have to have both, but we didn't sell a positive vision. We didn't explain to people what we're for. And I think that's the one thing that I took away from the election, and that's what was lacking.
Sen. Schumer on a role for Romney in figuring out the fiscal cliff:
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:
Well, I don't know about that, but I would like to see him speak up. I think you could see him struggling in the general election. The hard right had moved him so far over on issues like immigration, and I didn't think his heart was in it. So he could help.
You know, we need forces to help. When either party moves too far over, they lose. Democrats too far left; Republicans too far right. You need some mainstream Republican voices. You need the business community to speak up on the fiscal cliff and the need for revenues; you need people like Romney and Jeb Bush and others to talk about doing a comprehensive immigration reform so that the Republicans who have the courage to stand up, and Tom Coburn has had that courage, don't just hear from the shrill right. And Graham is willing to do it on immigration, he's going to say that this morning. We need other people to do the same.
Kearns Goodwin: We've got to figure out a way that we give a private sphere for our public leaders.
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:
I think in general I wish we could go back to the time when the private lives of our public figures were relevant only if they directly affected their public responsibilities. What would we have done if F.D.R. had not been our leader because he had had an affair with Lucy Mercer? Think of the productive years that Clinton could have had if Monica Lewinsky hadn't derailed them?
We've got to figure out a way that we give a private sphere for our public leaders. We're not going to get the best people in public office if we don't do that. This thing is really sad. This man was a great general, a great leader. And for his career to come to an end because of a private matter that affects his family and him, and evidently doesn't have national security concerns? I don't know how you unravel it, but I wish we could.
Schmidt: what the election has given the American people is divided government.
I think the president has capital in the election. His victory was decisive. But the mandate should be determined by the outcome of the election and what the election has given the American people is divided government. And the sides are going to have to work together.
The president came to national prominence promising to be a repairer of the breach in our politics. And if he is going to go down in history as a successful president, or even a great president or a near-great president, he's going to have to repair the breach in our politics. And it will take leadership from him, specifically.
Kearns Goodwin: The president has to do to build his mandate is to play both an inside game and an outside game.
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:
Oh, I think what the president has to do to build his mandate is to play both an inside game and an outside game. He should use that politicAl White House as an asset more than he's done before. I'd have a cocktail hour every night, have 40 Republicans there, 40 Democrats there, night after night after night. Do what L.B.J. did, do that more than he's done.
But the outside game means you have to mobilize that base. That base was energized on election night. He said to them, "Your job's not done." It's not just voting, it's there to bring pressure on obstructionists if they don't get a deal done, from the outside in. And I think he signaled that, as I say, that night because he said, "I've learned from you. I'm going to be a better president--"
Woodward explains a confidentiAl White House document from the grand bargain negotiation:
Well, this is a confidential document, last offer the president, the White House made last year to Speaker Boehner to try to reach this $4 trillion grand bargain. And it's long and it's tedious and it's got budget jargon in it. But what it shows is a willingness to cut all kinds of things, like TRICARE, which is the sacred health insurance program for the military, for military retirees; to cut Social Security; to cut Medicare.
And there are some lines in there about, "We want to get tax rates down, not only for individuals but for businesses." So Obama and the White House were willing to go quite far. In a sense, this is the starting point....
Schmidt re: the Hispanic vote: This is an important part of the future of the Republican Party.
The problem is that there are too many Republican leaders in Congress if you say the word "Latino" and you played a world association game with them, they would come back with "illegal immigrant." Not "silver star winner," not "doctor," not "lawyer," not "policeman," not "fireman."
This is an important part of our community. This is an important part of the future of the Republican Party. And the Republican Party needs to get it together on its outreach to Latinos. And it's good to hear that Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer are going to start advancing comprehensive immigration reform again because we have to get this off the table as a political issue for the party. And we also have to have a zero tolerance with the terrible term that's coming out of the talk radio universe and some of our leaders in Congress who are serially disrespectful to this fastest-growing demographic in the country.
Photo credit: William B. Plowman/NBC