MR. TIM RUSSERT: Our issues this Sunday: the Bush White House refuses to answer congressional subpoenas about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ stewardship of the Justice Department and the president’s electronic surveillance program. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee calls this Nixonian stonewalling. Are we headed for a constitutional crisis? Our guests, the senior Democratic senator from Vermont, Chairman Patrick Leahy.
Then, the president admits defeat on immigration reform.
PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn’t find common ground, and it didn’t work.
MR. RUSSERT: The Democrats focus on race and poverty and some very interesting data about the political attitudes of evangelical Christians, Hispanic-Americans and young Americans.
With us, David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Tavis Smiley of PBS, Chuck Todd of NBC News, and Judy Woodruff of PBS’ “News Hour.”
And in our MEET THE PRESS Minute, CIA Director William Colby, from 1975, confronts the Family Jewels scandal of wrongful spying in an earlier era.
(Videotape, June 29, 1975)
MR. WILLIAM E. COLBY (Director, Central Intelligence ): A number of our activities were unlawful in the past.
MR. RUSSERT: But first, on Friday, two automobiles filled with explosives found on the street in London. And this was the scene yesterday in Scotland’s Glasgow Airport after an SUV drove into the airport’s main terminal. Five men are now in custody. With us, the Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff.
Mr. Secretary, good morning. Do we have any information linking these five men to an international terrorist organization?
SEC’Y MICHAEL CHERTOFF: Well, let me begin, Tim, by reminding everybody that these events are literally unfolding minute by minute, so I can only give you the information we have now. Right now I don’t think we can say definitively that there’s an international link and as far as the homeland is concerned, we do not see any specific connection to the homeland at this point in time.
MR. RUSSERT: Will we increase the number of air marshals on flights to Britain and Scotland as a precautionary measure?
SEC’Y CHERTOFF: Well, we have been doing that, actually, for some period of time, dating back to last August, and we’ve continued to increase and to some extent mix up the flow of air marshals to Europe in general. In the wake of what we’ve seen, of course, over the last couple of days, we will do some additional surging of our air marshal capabilities and some other personnel to the United Kingdom.
MR. RUSSERT: Is there any chatter that you can detect regarding terrorism in the United States during this holiday period?
SEC’Y CHERTOFF: Well, I want to remind everybody that over the last few months, we have seen a number of public statements by al-Qaeda readers who are reminding us, if we needed to be reminded, that they are still intent on carrying out attacks against the West. So that’s certainly something we’re mindful of. As—at this moment, we don’t have a specific credible threat against the United States, but I think we’re going into this summer period with a heightened sense of awareness because there has been an increase in some of the public statements that have been made.
MR. RUSSERT: Will we be taking some precautionary security measures because of some of the large crowds gathering in parts of our country for the Fourth of July?
SEC’Y CHERTOFF: We have put in place, Tim, some plans for this holiday week to have additional visible and some not visible security measures at our airports, at our mass transit, at our train stations. We’ll be working with local authorities who’ll be taking their own steps. This is partly a response to what’s unfolding in Britain and partly a recognition that we’re in a period when there’s a lot of travel and, therefore, we want to be sure that we’re taking every precaution necessary.
MR. RUSSERT: Will we raise our threat level?
SEC’Y CHERTOFF: Well, our threat level for aviation is already at orange and for the rest of the country it’s at yellow. We don’t see a reason to raise it now. As I say, we have some pre-planned, additional security measures we have put into place and we’ll have in place this week. But I think, given what we know now, we’re comfortable that we’re at the right posture.
MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary, considering the simplicity of putting together a suicide bomb by using an automobile, are you surprised that the United States has not been hit harder by this kind of device?
SEC’Y CHERTOFF: I want to remind you, Tim, we have been hit by this kind of device. In 1996--in 1993, there was the World Trade Center bombing involving a car bomb. There was, of course, the attack on the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. That was a vehicle-borne explosive device. Unfortunately, this country does have experience with it, and one of the reasons we’ve worked with communities to help them elevate their security with barriers and other kinds of detection equipment is because of precisely this kind of threat.
MR. RUSSERT: How serious do you think this kind of threat will be in the years to come?
SEC’Y CHERTOFF: Unfortunately, I believe we’re going to see more vehicle bombs and more backpack bombs, as we’ve seen in Europe, and it’s something we have to be mindful of in this country. But one of the great lessons, Tim, is, and it was borne out again a couple—in the last couple of days, vigilance by ordinary citizens and calling into the authorities when you see something suspicious is one of the best defenses we have.
MR. RUSSERT: Michael Chertoff, the secretary of Homeland Security, we thank you very much for joining us this morning.
SEC’Y CHERTOFF: Happy to be on the show, Tim.
MR. RUSSERT: And joining us now is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
Good morning and welcome.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): Good morning, Tim.
MR. RUSSERT: As you well know, you have issued subpoenas on the Bush White House regarding the eavesdropping, wiretapping put in place by the president after September 11th. Critics this morning will say, senator, that this plan is so essential to monitoring contacts between international terrorists and people here in the United States that subpoenas now is very, very counterproductive and could affect our anti-terrorism situation.
SEN. LEAHY: Well, of course, that’s the kind of talking point that the White House has tried to put out, and they, the White House has chosen confrontation over cooperation. I think that’s unfortunate. Nobody on my committee, Republican or, or Democrat, is trying to subpoena the operations of what’s been done in wiretapping terrorists. And I was a prosecutor for eight years. I believe in going after criminals, terrorists or anything else. Use wiretaps, use search warrants, whatever. What we’re asking is, what was the legal justification they tried to follow, when, for years, they were wiretapping ordinary Americans and everybody else without a warrant. We have a FISA court. We can, we can redesign the FISA law, if need be, if they need help to go after terrorists.
MR. RUSSERT: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance ACT, FISA.
SEN. LEAHY: Yes. And, and, and moot to that, I mean, everybody wants us to get somebody who wants to strike at the United States.
MR. RUSSERT: So you have no problem with the plan of eavesdropping as such?
SEN. LEAHY: Provided it follows the law. What I don’t want is this open-ended idea that they had at the White House, until the press found out about it, which would allow, for example, if they didn’t like some comment that you made on NBC, they could then go without any warrant, wiretap your phone, check out your bank account, surveil you. Well, we don’t want that in America.
MR. RUSSERT: Even if I had no contact with someone overseas?
SEN. LEAHY: Even if you had no contact with someone overseas under the broad way that they were talking about. So what, what we’ve asked is, what was their legal justification for it? Their answers, as we’ve asked these questions, as the press has asked these questions, has changed so many times, some of it in testimony under oath, we’d kind of like to find out what is the basic reason for it. And we will work with them. I’ve talked to Senator Rockefeller, who’s a chairman of the Intelligence Committee. We will work with whatever changes are needed in the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act, so there’d be no question you can go after potential terrorists with wiretaps and all. But we’ll do it with a check and balance. I don’t want us to ever go back to the situation that we had 30 years ago when we put into place this FISA court, as you called it, where they were wiretapping somebody who disagreed with the government on the Vietnam war. In this case, somebody disagrees with the administration on the Iraq war, under their broad views, you could just go in and wiretap them. This, this is America. This is not a, this is not a dictatorship.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me ask you about two words that you used on a statement you put out on Thursday. I’m “even more disappointed now by this Nixonian stonewalling.” What is Nixonian stonewalling?
SEN. LEAHY: They have taken the attitude at the, at the White House that somehow they’re above the law. They—if they make a decision that there’s something they want to do, nobody should question them on it. The vice president’s even been quoted as saying, “The courts can’t question it. The Congress can’t question it.” That’s a Nixonian attitude, and it’s wrong.
In America, no one is above the law. The president and the vice president are not above the law any more than you and I are. And it is unfortunate they’ve taken this attitude because what it does it taints everything else. Look at the Department of Justice, look what has happened here. You have as an attorney general somebody—nobody has confidence in him. Republicans don’t; Democrats don’t. Most of the key members of the Department of Justice are resigning. In fact, just about a week ago one resigned rather than come and have to testify under oath. And I begin to wonder is it going to be a case of last person out of the building turn the lights off?
MR. RUSSERT: You have asked the White House and others to respond to your subpoenas. They are now invoking executive privilege, and you said this: “We will take the necessary steps to enforce our subpoenas backed by the full force of law so that Congress and the public can get to the truth behind this matter.” What does that mean, full force of the law? Is—are we headed to a constitutional crisis?
SEN. LEAHY: I would hope not. That’s why I say, they—they’ve chosen confrontation rather than compromise or cooperation. The other administration—in fact, I’ve been here with six administrations, Democratic and Republican, they’ve always found a way to, to work out and get the information Congress is entitled to. They say executive privilege. That means something that the president has said. The president has already said publicly he’s not involved in this, the things that we’re looking at. So I don’t know where the executive privilege claim comes in. Does it come in for Monica Goodling, a political operative in Karl Rove’s office? Does it come in for those people who decided to send a U.S. attorney into—an acting U.S. attorney into Missouri to try to influence the outcome of a federal election? I don’t think there’s any executive privilege...
MR. RUSSERT: Are you...
SEN. LEAHY: ...for that sort of thing.
MR. RUSSERT: Are you prepared to hold the Bush White House, the vice president, the attorney general and his office under contempt of Congress?
SEN. LEAHY: That is something that the whole Congress has to vote on. In our case, in the Senate, we’d have to vote on it; in the House, they would have to vote on it. I can’t...
MR. RUSSERT: Would you go that far?
SEN. LEAHY: If they don’t cooperate, yes, I’d go that far. I mean, this is very important to the American people. If you’re going to have—for example, the, the bottom line on this, the U.S. attorneys investigation, is that we had people manipulation law enforcement. You—law enforcement has, can’t be partisan. Law enforcement can’t decide, “Well, we’ll arrest this person because they’re a Democrat but not this person because they’re Republican” or the other way around. And that is why I think you’ve found so many Republicans and Democrats who have been so critical and, and many of those, the most critical, are, like myself, former prosecutors.
MR. RUSSERT: Fred Fielding, the White House counsel, has written you a letter, and he says the following: “At the president’s direction, we proposed and offered to provide you with documents containing communications between the White House and Department of Justice regarding the request for the resignation of the U.S. attorneys in question, as well as documents containing communications on the same subject between the White House staff and third parties, including Congress. We also offered to make available for interviews the President’s former counsel, current deputy chief of staff and senior advisor, deputy counsel, former director of political affairs, and a special assistant to the president in the Office of Political Affairs.
“The president’s offer reflected his desire to cooperate and accommodate.” Why not take him up on their offer?
SEN. LEAHY: Well this is a, Mr. Fielding is a very competent, very clever lawyer. He spent time in the Nixon White House. He knows how to say these things. But the fact is, the fact is, let’s—this is what the offer was. He said he could have some members of the president’s staff meet with a limited number of members of Congress behind closed doors on their agenda with a guarantee that there would be no oath, there would be no transcripts, and nobody would know definitively what was said, and we would have to agree never to issue a subpoena for a follow-up. Well, I said to him, I said, “Mr. Fielding. I would be guilty of legislative malpractice if I accepted it.” And nobody is accepting that. No Republican has said that’s a good idea; no Democrats said that.
MR. RUSSERT: How about if they went in this meeting, agreed to a transcript and to go under oath. Would that be acceptable?
SEN. LEAHY: That would be a very good start, and—but I, but I want to be able to do the follow-up if necessary. I think—I’m not doing this as chairman just for myself. I want to make sure the Republicans on my committee and the Democrats on my committee have a chance to hear what is said, but, more importantly, that the American people know what happened. This can be done.
MR. RUSSERT: But Orrin, Orrin Hatch...
SEN. LEAHY: The—what the—let me...
MR. RUSSERT: Orrin, Orrin Hatch, the Republican on your committee said, “We would be much farther ahead in finding out whether there’s any real impropriety here or not if we would sit down and talk to these people.”
SEN. LEAHY: Well, and I have talked with Mr. Fielding several times, but they still say, “We have a take it or leave it offer.” And it’s not an offer if you have no way of telling anybody exactly what was said. Let me tell you the sort of things that go on at the White House. We, we told them that we understand that the—some of their key members there were using a Republican National Committee e-mail account, and, and that had a lot of e-mails about how we’re going to manipulate these prosecutors around the country. They came back and said, “Well, we’ve, we’ve erased those. Sorry.” I said, “No, no. You can’t erase e-mails. They’re, they’re in a server somewhere.” The—one of the assistant White House press secretaries said, “What’s he talking about? Is he pretending to be a, you know, an IT specialist?” The fact is now they’ve found them. Of course, they were there. And they have these. So I said, “OK, where are they?” “Well, we’re looking at them.” The White House hasn’t given us anything. Now, what we have been able to get has been some things, a lot of it erased or, or blanked out from the Department of Justice. I’m not playing to play gotcha. In fact, I’ll give you an example of what I’m willing to do. The attorney general is coming to testify this month before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Now, the last time he came there, he said 60 or 70 times, “I don’t remember. I don’t know. I can’t answer.” So this time what I’m, what I’m proposing to do that we send them a number of key questions from both the Democrats and the Republicans at least a week in advance. We’re giving them the questions. We’re not trying to play gotcha. Here are the questions so there’ll be no excuse to come in and say...
MR. RUSSERT: An open book exam.
SEN. LEAHY: An open book exam so you won’t—we won’t have 70 times, it won’t be on the—all the—you know, on Comedy Central the next night saying, “I don’t remember. I don’t remember. I don’t remember” with the little clock going click, click, click.
MR. RUSSERT: What happens if the White House just does not respond to these subpoenas? They invoke executive privilege, it’s take it or leave it. What do you do?
SEN. LEAHY: Well, then, then, of course, you have to go to the next step, determine whether they have a legitimate claim of executive privilege. Based on the court cases, it appears they do not. We’ve asked them further questions what they base it on in case there’s something that’s been overlooked. I’m trying to be totally fair to them. But if they do not have a basis for it, then you have a vote on a, on a contempt citation, and it goes to the U.S. attorney for prosecution. I would hope that’s not necessary. I would hope they would do what President Clinton...
MR. RUSSERT: Are you sure...
SEN. LEAHY: ...President Reagan...
MR. RUSSERT: Are you sure...
SEN. LEAHY: ...President Bush...
MR. RUSSERT: Are you sure the U.S. attorney would prosecute?
SEN. LEAHY: Well, I think it’d be very difficult for him not to, and—but every single—since Richard Nixon, since the debacle of the Nixon time and even in President’s Nixon’s presidency, every single president, rather than do that, Republican or Democratic, has worked out a way to get this information. Again, I’m not trying to play gotcha. I’m just trying to get the facts out so that whoever the next president is, Republican or Democratic, they will never be tempted to try to play with law enforcement this way, will never try to make law enforcement partisan because that, that hurts everybody all the way down to the cop on the beat.
MR. RUSSERT: Before you go, you voted to confirm John Roberts as chief justice of the United States Supreme Court.
SEN. LEAHY: I did.
MR. RUSSERT: Are you still pleased with that vote?
SEN. LEAHY: I voted for him because I did not want the chief justice of the United States to be confirmed on a party line vote. I was hoping that this—he would understand that many of us wanted to see him make the Supreme Court less divisive, have more unanimous opinion. I am extraordinarily disappointed when I find that, in, in almost a cavalier way, they’ve thrown aside Brown vs. Board of Education. What does that say to minorities in our country? I think it’s a slap in their face. I am, I am concerned about things like, for example, a person on death row, they say, “Well, we can’t hear your appeal. You didn’t get it in on time,” even though the judge below it told you he was in on time.’
MR. RUSSERT: Do you regret, do you regret your vote?
SEN. LEAHY: To that extent, no, I regret the nomination. I, I think that I have a great deal of admiration for the chief justice’s legal ability. I do wish he could reflect more the plurality of our, of our country. Because if he doesn’t, we’re all hurt.
MR. RUSSERT: Chairman Patrick Leahy of the Senate Judiciary Committee, we thank you for joining us and sharing your views.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you. Good to be with you.
MR. RUSSERT: We’ll see you in the “Batman” movie, right?
SEN. LEAHY: Well, yeah. My, my part of that is going to be so short. But it does help out a small children’s library in Montpelier, Vermont, and that’s why I was willing to do it.
MR. RUSSERT: That’s a confirmation.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you.
MR. RUSSERT: Coming next, our political roundtable with David Brody and the Christian Broadcasting Network, Tavis Smiley of PBS, Chuck Todd of NBC, Judy Woodruff of PBS. They are all here next, coming up only on MEET THE PRESS.
MR. RUSSERT: The race for the White House 2008, our political roundtable after this station break.
MR. RUSSERT: And we’re back.
Welcome, all. Good to be here. Immigration—George W. Bush admitted defeat, saying it didn’t happen. Only three weeks ago, different tune. Let’s listen.
(Videotape, June 11, 2007)
PRES. BUSH: I’m going to work with those who are focused on getting an immigration bill done, start taking some steps forward again. I believe we can get it done. I’ll see you at the bill signing.
MR. RUSSERT: No bill signing, Judy.
MS. JUDY WOODRUFF: No bill signing, Tim. And it’s a devastating defeat for this president. And on top—a year on top of Iraq, other domestic defeats in Social Security, tax reform. And the president, ironically, Tim, did everything right. He, he had a position, he stuck to his principle, he worked with the Democrats. He worked with Teddy Kennedy. He, he, he delegated authority to his Cabinet. He lobbied. The problem is he is a weak president, a lame duck, unpopular, and it didn’t happen. And, you know, you look at the polls, Tim, most Americans support most parts of this immigration bill. But the people who don’t like it are very active, very vocal, and that’s what killed it.
MR. TAVIS SMILEY: I’m not, I’m not so sure it’s as much a defeat—I think Judy’s right about the fact it clearly is a defeat for the president, Tim. But I’m not so sure it’s, it’s as much a defeat for him as it is for his party. After all, he isn’t on the ballot anymore. But those Republicans who have to run, come a couple years, come, come next year, how they run and pick up votes in the Hispanic community, which they picked up votes, as you know, last time in that community, how they run now and say to the Hispanic community, “We have your best interest at heart, that we’re pushing an agenda that considers your interests,” how the party does that with the Hispanic vote, I don’t know. So the president certainly lost, but the larger question, I think, for me, is how much did the party lose here.
MR. DAVID BRODY: And I, and I think there’s a trust factor, too. I mean, if you go back, Dubai ports deal, I mean, Harriet Miers, I mean, you go down the list, Social Security, I mean, the reality is there was not good will between the GOP and the president in terms of him coming to visit Capitol Hill, and his aides, as well. And so really, this was a problem from the onset.
MR. RUSSERT: Democrats control Congress, Chuck Todd, as you well know. But Tavis Smiley and David Brody are right. Look at these numbers. How are Hispanics lining up? Here’s the poll from USA Today/Gallup. Fifty-eight percent said they like the Democrats, 22 percent say independents, 20 percent Republican. Our poll, NBC, 51, 26, 21. That’s a three-to-one gap, Democrat over Republican, for Hispanic voters. That’s not good long term for the Republican Party.
MR. CHUCK TODD: That’s not. If you look at California 1994, all right? They used the Prop 187 at the time, that targeted immigrants, targeted Hispanics, and Pete Wilson won it, won his re-election, and the Republican Party paid a heavy price in California. Now, the Bush brand was always able to sort of elevate, inflate Hispanic numbers for Republicans. No Bushes are going to be on the ballot in 2008. That’s probably going to flip New Mexico back to the Democrats, and then you’ve got Florida. And if—and that’s where this thing could really, really hurt the Republicans. Because if they lose Florida, there is no path, there is no electoral college path to win the White House.
MR. RUSSERT: Even though the Democrats control Congress, they will not be punished for lack of accomplishment on immigration?
MR. TODD: You know, I think that, that one of the things about congressional job approval right now is, is you have to look—the, the country views—sees things as way off the wrong track, President Bush is very unpopular, so why would they think Congress was doing a good job? So I think right now Congress is getting hurt a little bit by the unpopularity of the president and the, the unhappiness with the country.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to black Americans. And, Tavis Smiley, this was the scene at Howard University on Thursday night when you hosted your debate with the Democratic candidates. Senator Barack Obama was there, as well as other Democrats, and I want to talk—show what he said and come back and talk about it. Here’s Barack Obama.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL, PBS/All-American Presidential Forum with Tavis Smiley): The problems are poverty, lack of health care, these are—lack of educational opportunity—are all interconnected. And to, to some degree, the African-American community is, is weakened. It has a disease to its immune system. When we are impoverished, when people don’t have jobs, they are more likely to be afflicted, not just with AIDS but with substance abuse problems, with guns in the streets, and so it is important for us to look at the whole body here and make absolutely certain that we are providing the kinds of economic development opportunities and jobs that will create healthy communities.
MR. RUSSERT: Now I want to contrast that style to Senator Hillary Clinton, who was also part of the debate. Here’s Senator Clinton.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY, PBS/All-American Presidential Forum with Tavis Smiley): Let me just put this in perspective. If HIV/AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34 there would be an outraged outcry in this country.
MR. RUSSERT: Now, after the debate, Tavis Smiley, you gathered some viewers and voters together in a so-called focus group—there you are with Frank Luntz—asking them questions about what they observed, what they saw, what they felt. You then reported the results Friday night on your program. What did you find?
MR. SMILEY: Essentially, this multiracial group that you saw, about 30 people were assembled, came in overwhelmingly prepared to support Barack Obama. They left feeling that Hillary Clinton, as evidenced by the line you just heard her deliver so well, they left feeling that she had hands down won the debate. That’s the bad news for Senator Obama. The good news for Senator Obama is that most of those persons had not yet decided, based upon her winning that one critical debate, in their minds, that they were prepared to vote for her as yet. What that raises, though, is this question, though, Tim, as to why Senator Obama is polling even as high as he is. Most polls indicate that Hillary Clinton is out front 47-42, 45-42 inside the black community. Marginally, though, she is leading him inside of the black community. The question, though, is how does he move beyond that and can he win the nomination without his base, African-American voters? And the problem is that he’s holding on—how might I put this?--he’s holding on to the margin of hope in black America. People, out of a hope for what he represents, recognizing the symbolism of this, but they’re longing for some substance, and they apparently got that from Mrs. Clinton the other night and did not get it from him, so he’s still got some work to do to pick up in the African-American community.
MR. BRODY: Well, speaking about substance, I mean, she’s very concise and to the point, and she has some policy initiatives that she’s already gone forward with in Congress. And so, in essence, she has as record to run on a little bit, not to mention you have the former president of the United States, the first so-called “black president,” as well, in her corner. And you put those two together, and, and you have a pretty strong making there for Hillary Clinton.
MS. WOODRUFF: Hillary Clinton, there’s no doubt about it, is not making mistakes. I mean, she has this campaign—when it comes to the process of the campaign, relating to voters, these debates—she’s got it down. But when you look at how she’s doing, and, and this is what her campaign continues to be concerned about, among moderates, moderate Republicans and among independents—and by the way there was a really good piece this morning in The Washington Post breaking out independents—Tim, she still has work to do there. She—somebody said to me yesterday, it’s almost as if she has a ceiling. She can get to the high 40s, mid 40s, high 40s, but there are still people who have questions about her.
MR. SMILEY: What makes, what makes, what makes this—I’m sorry, Tim—what makes this conversation the other night, though, so critical is because I believe, and I think most folks—most person—most persons, that is, who were watching this agree that the black vote this time around is going to be the most sought after and the most thought over Democratic demographic in the 2008 elections. And so, as goes the African-American vote on the Democratic side, certainly may go the nomination. And I must say honestly, having nothing to doing with being in the media, just as an African-American voter, it does feel good for a change to be fought over, to know that there are two people really going after your vote, but that’s going to be a critical fight between now and next year.
MR. RUSSERT: Particularly in South Carolina, one of the early primaries.
MR. SMILEY: Absolutely.
MR. RUSSERT: Chuck Todd, if Hillary Clinton is doing well in the numbers and in the polls and in the base, and yet, when it comes to money...
MR. TODD: Money.
MR. RUSSERT: ...the mother’s milk of politics...
MR. TODD: Right.
MR. RUSSERT: ...what can you tell us about Barack Obama’s ability to raise money?
MR. TODD: Well, according to some sources I talked to last night, he’s going to report later today that he has got over 30--he’s going to have raised over $30 million in primary money.
MR. RUSSERT: Whew.
MR. TODD: What’s interesting...
MR. RUSSERT: In this quarter.
MR. TODD: In this quarter alone.
MR. RUSSERT: As opposed to Hillary Clinton.
MR. TODD: Hillary Clinton, they’re saying 27 million. That’s total. And, you know, we’re going to get through this primary general, all this stuff. Maybe it’s only 22 million in primary money. It’s possible he, he might outraise her somewhere $10 million in primary money. What’s fascinating is in this first half of the year, clearly, you talk to the Clinton folks, you talk to sort of unbiased observers, say—will say, “Mrs. Clinton won the first half politically of this election season.” But financially Obama’s won it. He has caught up to her. He has made up the $10 million transfer that she had from her Senate account. It is—it is stunning.
MR. RUSSERT: And 250,000 donors.
MR. TODD: Two hundred and fifty thousand donors, which means, you know, which means that, you know, he can continue to sort of apparently be a little lackluster. I mean, I’m always struck at these debates how cautious he is. He’s afraid to, he’s afraid to go for a knockout. He’s afraid—he’s, he’s trying not to, he’s trying not to lose. He’s not trying to win yet.
MR. SMILEY: It may not be—I’m sorry. It may not be his format. As, as we all know, every one of us has strengths and weaknesses, abilities and limitations. And it may very well be, in fairness to him, that this is not his format. He does better, I think, long form than he does short form. But, as we all know in the media, you got to get better at the short form.
MR. RUSSERT: But the money alone will keep him viable through those early races. We have a real race.
MR. TODD: Absolutely. I mean, the fall, I mean, the fall is—and I think that, that the Obama folks are- -they have their own pace. Clinton folks are going 70 miles an hour. The Obama folks seem to be going about 50.
MR. RUSSERT: David, let me pick up on the point that Judy raised. And here’s the latest poll with the two front-runners, Clinton vs. Giuliani. The Cook Report has it 42-42. Our—Newsweek has it 51-44. But Mason-Dixon did this in a question, “Assuming Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presidential nominee, would you consider voting for her,” 48 percent; “Would you not, would not vote for her under any circumstances,” 52 percent. She’s the only candidate of any party who has a majority of people who say now they would not vote for her under any circumstances, and that’s 60 percent of independents say that, 88 percent of Republicans.
MR. BRODY: I know.
MR. RUSSERT: How big of an obstacle is that for Hillary Clinton in a general election?
MR. BRODY: Well, it’s an obstacle, but if you look at her Web site and if you start to track her campaign daily, which is what I’m paid to do, they are really putting her in a different light. I mean, look at her Web site and look at some of the commercials that she’s putting out, these ad commercials, her laughing, her smiling. This idea that she’s pretty much trying to go outside of what her normal stereotype is. They are making a concerted effort to do that, and it seems to be helping her, at least early on. Whether or not...
MR. RUSSERT: Softening her with “The Sopranos” takeoff and some of those things.
MR. BRODY: No doubt about it. The, the, this whole idea of picking the song for her campaign. I mean, if you actually go in and look into the deep files of the Web site of where, where, where she’s at, I mean, they’re putting these major commercials on where she’s just laughing, rolling her eyes, being goofy. Hillary Clinton, goofy?
MR. RUSSERT: All right. But it is—and we did show in one poll her actually beating Rudy Giuliani.
MR. BRODY: Right.
MR. RUSSERT: So people may hold their nose, so to speak, at this stage. Or she may be successful at transforming her image.
Chuck Todd, there is a Web site called www.HillaryIs44.com. There it is on our screen right now. Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal said, “There’s another side of the Clinton campaign”—and the campaign says they have nothing to do with the Web site.
MR. TODD: Yeah.
MR. RUSSERT: “It is a new Web site called HillaryIs44.com.” “Rather mysterious. It does not divulge who’s running the site, who staffs it. It’s not interactive; it has one informative voice, and its” largest “target audience seems to be journalists and free-lance oppo artists. .... Encouraging readers to send in ‘confidential tips,’ its primary target” “obvious obsession is Barack Obama. ‘Senator Barack Obama (D- Rezko)’”—a man who gave money to Obama and Obama has returned it—“‘is busy lately lying about President Bill Clinton’” and “’attacking entire communities.’ ... The Obama campaign is ‘still posing as innocents incapable of doing anything unsavory even as evidence mounts unsavory is their favorite dish.’” So we have this anonymous Web site, pro-Hillary Clinton, anti-Obama. What do we know about it?
MR. TODD: Well, we’ve, we’ve done everything we legally can do to try to find something out about this, OK? Anything else and...
MS. WOODRUFF: (Unintelligible)
MR. TODD: ...I was just saying—anything else and Secretary Chertoff would be at my house this morning. And it is clearly—it’s somebody inside the Beltway. We, we do know that. We were able to track through IP addresses and stuff like that. It’s somebody inside the Beltway. It’s somebody with access to the hotline, an insider product which costs a lot of money because they post all the jokes every night, any joke that’s at the expense of, of Obama or Edwards. So, clearly, they have—it’s some sort of insider access. Look, we—we’ve not been able to find any connection to, to the Clinton campaign. I think you’re going to see more of these sites. I mean, this is, this is sort of the first of what many—everybody’s going to be looking for their own Drudge Report and that’s...
MR. RUSSERT: Stealth, stealth, negative attacks.
MR. TODD: What this is—that’s right. This is, this is, right now, Hillary’s Drudge Report.
MR. SMILEY: Can I just add, Tim, two seconds on this? I think it would be unfair of us to have this conversation, though, and to not to say where Mrs. Clinton is concerned, this is clearly not an endorsement, that’s not what I do. But you can’t talk about her just in terms of the political opposition to her, based upon her vote, based upon who she is, without mentioning that she does happen to be a woman who is attempting to do something historic. And to the extent that we live in a society that is patriarchal, she’s going to have to deal with that. To the extent that we live in a society that racism is still I think one of the most intractable issues, I think Mr. Obama will has to deal with that. So I’m not trying to, you know, trying to throw—trying to douse the fire. What I am suggesting though is that, when you talk about her and what those negative numbers mean, you have to read into those numbers that there are some people that are not prepared for any woman to be president...
MR. RUSSERT: And...
MR. SMILEY: ...and she’s got to—she’s got to deal with that. She can’t do much about being a woman, obviously.
MR. RUSSERT: And the converse of that, in the Democratic primary, with seven men as your opponents, it’s a real advantage...
MR. SMILEY: Absolutely.
MR. RUSSERT: ...and the campaign is targeting women voters.
Judy Woodruff, Generation X. You did an hour-long documentary...
MS. WOODRUFF: Right.
MR. RUSSERT: ...on them a few months ago. The New York Times has now come out with a poll which confirms what your report did. Here it is. The opinion of political parties amongst voters 17 to 19--look at those numbers—favorable for the Democrats, very unfavorable for the Republicans, which, as you build these blocs with blacks, Hispanics, young voters...
MS. WOODRUFF: Right.
MR. RUSSERT: ...is quite interesting. Also we asked—The New York Times asked about these young voters who were enthusiastic about presidential candidates, who are they enthusiastic about. Look at this, it’s Obama, 18; Clinton, 17; and then kind of everybody else. What is going on with young voters?
MS. WOODRUFF: Well, Tim, this is a dream come true for the Democratic Party if they can figure out how to get these young voters to the polls. You’re right, this confirms the work that the Pew Research Center did for this program, we did for PBS this year. And essentially, what you need to know about these young voters is they are more tolerant than the population as a whole. One in every—this is interesting--17 percent of the voters we looked at 18 to 25, 17 percent are Hispanic, 14 percent African- American, 4 percent Asian, one in every five of them have a parent born outside the United States. One in every eight of them was himself or herself born outside the United States. So they are a different America. They are a, they are a group more pro-immigration, more pro-gay rights, even gay marriage. Now, they may—but what you need to know, too, is that they don’t like to be labeled. They may say, “I agree with”—you know, “I disagree with George Bush on the war, but I agree with him on abortion.” And in fact they are no different than the older generation on abortion. They don’t like being pigeonholed.
MR. RUSSERT: And, actually, they’re more optimistic about the outcome of the war in Iraq than a lot of people in, in older generations.
MS. WOODRUFF: Which is fascinating. And just—and quickly, Tim, getting back to the point we were just making about the, the barriers that women and, and African-Americans have, 30--when you ask them, “Your generation, what do you think about—who would not support a woman running for president?” Thirty-eight percent of them said, “I—my—I think my generation would not support a woman.” Thirty-eight percent! Thirty percent, they said, wouldn’t support a black. So there’s some still some interesting things going on there.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to the Republicans because they have a way of winning presidential races, as we well know, in, in the last half of the century.
MR. SMILEY: That’s an understatement.
MR. RUSSERT: Here’s Florida. Chuck Todd, you’ve talked about the swing state of Florida.
MR. TODD: Right.
MR. RUSSERT: And here’s the latest numbers in Florida. Right now, we have Rudy Giuliani at 27; Fred Thompson, who hasn’t yet announced, 21; John McCain at 13; that’s—down 11 points from April for Giuliani; up 16 for Thompson; 2 for McCain.
David Brody, you interviewed Rudy Giuliani. You played this tape from—or or talked about this tape from 1993, an interview from MEET THE PRESS, where I asked him about some of his social, cultural positions. Let’s watch that first.
(Videotape, November 28, 1993)
MR. RUSSERT: Mayor-Elect Giuliani, will you press your party to change its platform to allow abortion rights and gay rights?
MR. RUDY GIULIANI: Sure. I have already.
MR. RUSSERT: Giuliani looks so much younger, doesn’t he?
MS. WOODRUFF: Who is that handsome guy?
MR. RUSSERT: In, in response to changing platforms about abortion rights, gay rights, “Sure, I am already.” This is what he told you about 2008. Let’s watch.
MR. GIULIANI: Right now, my view is the platform is the platform. A majority of the party gets to decide on that. I’m not going to interfere on that.
MR. RUSSERT: Much different answer.
MR. BRODY: Yeah, don’t cause waves. I mean, this has been the Giuliani, Giuliani mantra for forever, really, since this campaign started, which is talk about judges when it comes to social conservatives. Because for social conservatives, everybody talks about abortion and gay marriage, but the reality is, for social conservatives, it is about judges, judges, judges. And as long as he continues to talk about that on the campaign trail, he’s got a shot.
MR. RUSSERT: And this is what the Pew Research Center found. “Among evangelical, Republican registered voters, Giuliani currently generates the most enthusiasm, with nearly one-in-three--32 percent—saying there’s a ‘good chance’ they’d vote for him,” “an additional 35 percent saying there is ‘some chance.’” And the mayor himself, in this conversation with you, seemed to understand that if he can keep the focus on terrorism and the economy and off those social issues, he could be nominated. Let’s listen.
MR. GIULIANI: So I think, sure. Sure. There are people where one issue predominates. But for most people it’s a combination of a group of issues on what do they think is the most important. And I think, right now, social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, Republicans believe that the war on terror and our economy and the direction it goes in—does it go in the government direction that Hillary Clinton would take it, does it go in the direction of more emphasis on the private sector. I think those issues mean that I’m going to, I’m going to be the nominee.
MR. RUSSERT: I left out one thing. It’s terrorism and the economy and “I’m not Hillary.”
MR. BRODY: That’s right, and he’s not Hillary. And his record in New York. And see what happens is, with social conservatives or especially evangelicals, they look in—look at the world with biblical absolutes, you know, right and wrong. And Giuliani does that. I mean, he is very much a black and white type of guy. Evangelicals, for the most part, like that, and I think that plays well on the stump.
MR. RUSSERT: Tavis Smiley, if Rudy Giuliani could avoid having to deal with abortion, gay rights, gun control in Republican primaries, focus on terrorism, if he gets through a general election, can he compete in states like New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, that have been traditional Democratic strongholds?
MR. SMILEY: I’m not certain. I almost laughed when he—when David said he’s a black and white kind of guy. I was like, whoa, there’s a number of ways to take that. I’m not, I’m not sure. I think that, I think that he probably has the best chance of, obviously, the Republican candidates because of his record in New York, because he has tried to do some outreach in the city. But I’m not certain, the jury’s still out on that.
MR. RUSSERT: Chuck Todd, let me show a poll from Iowa, however.
MR. TODD: Mm-hmm.
MR. RUSSERT: Before we get to Florida, all roads start in Iowa. The withdrawal of U.S. military from Iraq in the next six months—these are Republicans, Republicans in Iowa; 56 percent say yes, 38 percent say no, which translates into this, in—amongst Iowa Republicans, Romney, 23; Thompson, 17; Giuliani, 14; McCain, 10. When the issue’s Iraq and not the war on terror...
MR. TODD: Mm-hmm.
MR. RUSSERT: ...it doesn’t seem to be a, a advantage for Rudy Giuliani.
MR. TODD: It’s not, because Romney, of all the candidates, has left himself the most wiggle room on, on Iraq. He is the most critical of the, of the four candidates right now. You know, Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani seem to be the, the two that almost—and, of course, Senator McCain, the three that are very close to the president’s position on Iraq. But Romney’s left himself more wiggle room and, you know, Iowa, you know, this is—Iowa, Wisconsin, this whole part of the country, this is, you know, Republican—these are isolationist Republicans. The Iowa caucusgoer’s an isolationist type of voter, and I think that, that that’s going to make Romney—give Romney that opening, if he starts—if he comes up with a plan to get out of Iraq.
MR. RUSSERT: So if you have Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, can Rudy Giuliani afford to wait until February in order to chalk up some victories?
MR. TODD: Not at all. He’s got to win something. I mean, look, the, the good news for Giuliani, he’s not the front-runner in Iowa. Romney is. Romney has to win Iowa. Romney has to win New Hampshire. Romney has to, you know, and he’s got—you know, Romney’s testing ground is South Carolina. They’ve got to see can a Mormon win in the evangelical South. That’s a question that they’ve got to figure out. Giuliani only has to win one of those three, but he’s got to win one before he gets to Florida and then February.
MS. WOODRUFF: And...
MR. RUSSERT: What’s your take on the Republicans?
MS. WOODRUFF: And not competing in Iowa, not competing in the straw poll, I—my—I come back to Giuliani, Tim, and, and, and yes, he’s doing well in the national polls. Yes, he’s got the endorsement of Pat Robertson, and he answered your interview, David, the way he did. But when, when people as prominent as Richard Land, the head of the—one of the, one of the parts of the Southern Baptist Convention, you have Reverend Dobson, James Dobson, saying they wouldn’t support Rudy Giuliani under any circumstances, it makes you wonder where he’s going to be when...
MR. BRODY: Well...
MS. WOODRUFF: ...you get into these Republican contests.
MR. RUSSERT: And yet Pat Robertson embraced him.
MR. BRODY: Well, and what, what you have here, exactly, is the conservative grassroots—there’s an underlying layer here and you have conservative grassroots activists who are ready to take him down. And they want to take him down. And then you translate that into some prominent national evangelical leaders, who will go unnamed at this point, but eventually will come out against Giuliani, mobilize the forces, and then we’ll have to see how he stands up to that.
MR. RUSSERT: In the primaries.
MR. BRODY: Oh, absolutely.
MR. RUSSERT: If Rudy Giuliani was the Republican nominee, would there be a third party conservative Republican candidate?
MR. BRODY: Hard to say. Hard to say. I mean, you know, it’s, it’s going to have—it’s very much an ebb and flow situation, and I don’t think that anybody knows at this point. I don’t, I don’t think political pundits that—who would answer that question would be able to determine. I don’t know.
MR. RUSSERT: Tavis Smiley, how do you see the issues in ‘08 evolving amongst African-Americans as they look at this race?
MR. SMILEY: I think the, the good news about this conversation we had earlier this week is that we had a chance, with all due respect to all the previous forums, to raise some different issues. I’ve always seen my role as a media person who happens to be of color to ask questions other folks won’t ask, to raise issues other folks won’t raise, and to profile people who otherwise wouldn’t get a chance to be profiled. Hence my bringing in three other journalists of color to join me in asking questions. So my mission this week, unapologetically, was to expand the conversation out to include a discussion of issues—health, crime, education. Four times by my count, the candidates themselves, live in the debate, said, “I’m glad, for the first time, we’re getting a chance to talk about this particular issue.” I think, to the extent that their issues are discussed, to the issues—to the extent that they are outreached to, they’re going to be very involved. In the last election, the black turnout last election went up 25 percent, went up significantly in the African-American community. And so we’re going to see—I mean, 25 percent turnout. So we’re going to see a huge turnout this time, to the extent that Barack Obama sticks around for a while, which obviously, with the money he has, he’ll be around for while. I think if you respond to their issues, they’re tuned in. It’s going to be a great race I think.
MR. RUSSERT: In a general election, black support still overwhelmingly for the Democratic candidate?
MR. SMILEY: Oh, without question. At the moment, absolutely. Although, as you know, September 27th, I should mention, we’re doing a Republican forum, I’m interested to see what the Republicans have to say about these issues that matter to black and brown America.
MR. RUSSERT: Chuck Todd and Judy Woodruff and David and Tavis, Congress, as we mentioned, not having a good time in terms of the ratings of the American people, and yet, this story on the Associated Press caught my attention on Wednesday night. “Despite record-low approval ratings, House” makers—“lawmakers voted to accept an approximately $4,400 pay raise that will increase their salaries” “almost $170,000.” I distinctly remember, Chuck Todd, the ads running in November of ‘06. Here’s one of them right here.
(Videotape, political ad)
AD ANNOUNCER: If he gets back to Congress, who will Brian Bilbray represent? Last time he was in Congress, Bilbray voted to give himself a pay raise.
MR. RUSSERT: What are the Democrats doing?
MR. TODD: You know, it’s funny. There’s a real split in the House—this is among House Democrats. I talked to one House Democrat, I would say, with the new guard who is just completely frustrated with the old guard. You know, you have a bunch of committee chairmen who were elected in the ‘60s and ‘70s who ended up getting back into power, and guess what, they want the—all the goodies back. They want everything that they got to do in the ‘70s and ‘80s when they saw their—you know, the guys they looked up to. And, and the new guard doesn’t want this. I think we’re getting to the point if Congress’ job rating gets lower in the next six months—not better—it gets lower, you’re going to see, I think, this internal spat between the new guard House Democrats and the old guard, old bulls—John Dingle, David Obey, those guys—and you’re going to see it blow up. And it, and it may be that the Democratic Party needs that to happen.
MS. WOODRUFF: Mm-hmm.
MR. RUSSERT: And in the ‘08 election, it’s going to be a change election, and if the Democratic candidate, Republican candidate don’t, doesn’t provide change, you could see an independent candidate.
MS. WOODRUFF: No question. And that’s, that’s pointed out by what we’ve been talking about—not only about the Hispanic vote, but you’re also seeing, Tim, this division among Democrats in the Senate on immigration. The new Democrats were the ones who didn’t want to go along with the leadership. So, so, in one sense, you could say all bets are off down the road for this party.
MR. TODD: To be continued. Tavis Smiley, David Brody, Chuck Todd, Judy Woodruff, thank you all.
Coming next, portions of the CIA Family Jewels are released this week. In 1975, then CIA director William Colby talked about the spying scandal and agency wrongdoings of the past right here on MEET THE PRESS.
MR. RUSSERT: And we are back. On Tuesday the CIA released documents outlining some of their dirty spy secrets of a past era known as the Family Jewels. The documents were drawn up and compiled in 1973 by CIA officers themselves. The result? A domestic spying scandal that prompted reform and three separate investigations in the mid-1970s.
CIA director William Colby appeared on MEET THE PRESS in 1975 and tried to walk a very fine line.
(Videotape, June 29, 1975)
MR. LESLIE H. GELB (New York Times): In the wake of the disclosures about CIA collection of 10,000 or more dossiers of bugging and surveillance and whatnot, you did not refer to these activities as illegal. In fact, you said they were not illegal, they were merely missteps.
MR. WILLIAM E. COLBY (Director, Central Intelligence ): I have said that they were wrong. I think wrong is a word that covers the, those few missteps and misdeeds that CIA has conducted over 28 years.
MR. GELB: Does wrong mean illegal? Does wrong mean illegal?
MR. COLBY: Sometimes it does, sometimes it merely means that we were outside our charter, although, although there’s nothing otherwise illegal about the activity.
MR. GELB: Does outside the charter mean that it was illegal?
MR. COLBY: That—it means that it is wrong for CIA to do it.
MR. GELB: Well, was it illegal for the...
MR. COLBY: It was not necessarily a crime that it be done, but it was wrong for CIA to do it.
MR. LAWRENCE E. SPIVAK: Mr. Colby, as one who knows the CIA from long association with it and who I assume is dedicated to the security of this nation, will you give us your appraisal of whether the investigations have, on the whole, been good or bad for the country?
MR. COLBY: Well, I think they’re both goods and bads, Mr. Spivak. I think that the, the good is that we are in the process of updating the old image of intelligence that is carried by many Americans to the new reality of intelligence, that intelligence today is more than the old spy story or the TV spectacular on Saturday night.
On the bad side, I think are the sensational and irresponsible leaks and, and, and discussions that go on so that the characterization of our intelligence apparatus still does suffer that old image. I am interested really in trying to focus on the ‘70s and ‘80s and forget about the ‘50s and ‘60s, but I’m having a hard time doing it.
MR. RUSSERT: And in a message to CIA employees this week, the current CIA director, Michael Hayden, said, “It’s important to remember that the CIA itself launched this process of recollection and self-examination. [The documents provide] reminders of some things the” CA—“CIA should not have done [and] a glimpse of a very different era and a very different Agency.”
That’s all for today. We’ll be back next week at a special early time, 8 AM Eastern right here before the Wimbledon finals. Check our Web site for air times in your area, mtp.msnbc.com. If it’s Sunday, it’s MEET THE PRESS. Have a safe Fourth.