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Video: McDonough talks new role; McCain reviews Hagel, Benghazi; Mark Kelly talks gun reform

updated 2/17/2013 1:08:43 PM ET 2013-02-17T18:08:43

DAVID GREGORY:

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And a good Sunday morning, the White House and congressional Republicans are now at odds on two fronts, the battle over the nomination of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary, it's now been delayed for another week that vote. And the $85 billion of automatic spending cuts which are scheduled to take effect in two weeks' time if no agreement is reached.

We've got it all covered this morning and we want to start with the view from the White House. In Washington, the job of the White House chief of staff is known as the most powerful post in town. And there's a new man occupying that feat of power and he is here with us this morning on Meet the Press, his first appearance. But who is he? How did he get here?

Well, Denis McDonough grew up one of 11 kids, qualification enough, in a small town in Minnesota. He was a high school football star. He cut his teeth in politics working in the House for Congressman Lee Hamilton and in the Senate for Majority Leader Tom Daschle and later for Barack Obama. When the freshman senator decided to make a run for the White House in 2008, he tapped McDonough to be his foreign policy advisor for the campaign.

And once president, Obama appointed him to the National Security Council and later him his deputy national security advisor. As the president noted when he announced him as his pick to replace Jack Lew, McDonough has been involved in every major foreign policy decision including the call to get Osama bin Laden.

(Videotape)

BARACK OBAMA:

Actually, I've begun to think that Denis likes pulling all-nighters. (LAUGH) But the truth is, nobody outworks Denis McDonough.

(End videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:

And here he is. Mr.McDonough, welcome to Meet the Press.

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

Thanks so much for having me, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

This is a tough job. You're the fourth one to have it. What is the key? Part of your goal for this the president has a narrow window. How do you approach it?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

Well, my approach is-- I think to focus on something that Jim Baker told me just the other day, actually. I've reached out to several of the other-- chiefs of staff-- in the past. And he said, "As long as you're focused on the 'of staff,' and not on 'chief,' you're going to be okay." And I’ve got to tell you, I'm working with a staff-- that is excellent. And I'm really honored to be part of it. I'm really honored that the president-- laid this responsibility on me. And I just look forward to doing it.

DAVID GREGORY:

From the expected to the unexpected, I was just mentioning before we went on the air, this meteor that hit-- r-- near Russia, the asteroid that came near the United States, this is stuff you’ve got to talk about and deal with, don't you, in the job?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

It is stuff that we have to talk about and that we do talk about. And-- I've had a lot of back and forth-- with our science advisor-- John Holdren about this over the last several days. But you know what I mean, the fact is that we're going to keep working on this and everything else to make sure that we're on top of it.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, let's talk about some of these agenda items. First of all, Chuck Hagel's nomination, this is being held up. The expectation is he'll ultimately be confirmed. But Bill Cohen, the former defense secretary said something this week to Politico that caught my attention that really does underline the problems that Hagel could have as defense secretary.

It says, "It's going to put him in a difficult position once he gets there. Those resentments will lay around. I think it's tragic what's happening and I think it's shameful." If he's confirmed, is he a weaker defense secretary and is that something that weighs on the president's mind?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

No. He's not going to be a weaker s-- defense secretary. I think he'll be a great defense secretary. This is a guy who volunteered to go to Vietnam, heav-- heavily decorated when he was there, well performing when he was there, and everything since. He's-- the last four years as the president's-- chairman of the president's in-- Intelligence Advisory Board, in the Senate where he's a leading Republican senator. He's always done the hard stuff and made it look easy, frankly. And that's exactly what you should do here--

DAVID GREGORY:

But the hard stuff, like cutting the defense budget, how is he going to work with Republicans? John McCain will be coming up in a couple of minutes and look, frankly Republicans don't like him. It's personal.

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

You know, I-- I actually had an opportunity over the last several days to talk to Senator McCain about this. And I think you've seen this reflected in the press. Se-- several of the Republicans themselves are uncomfortable with-- with how-- how this has played out. And that's why I think Senator McCain and others have already said that they intend to vote to end this filibuster as soon as they get back from the recess.

So I think Senator McCain and others know that we all have to work together to get this thing done because when it comes to national defense, national security, that at least has to be above politics. I hate to say this being played politics with here in Washington.

DAVID GREGORY:

Is there anything else in some of the speeches that were not disclosed, that are now being--

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

No.

DAVID GREGORY:

--reviewed by some Republicans? Anything in there that hurts his reputation? His views about Israel? Anything?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

No.

DAVID GREGORY:

Nothing to worry about at all?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

No.

DAVID GREGORY:

What about Benghazi and the attack? One of the things as I talked to Republican senators, they wanted to get additional information about what the president did the night of the attack-- some of the advice that he was given, the talking points and what not. Has the president finished on the Benghazi matter? Is there anything else he's going to say or anything else he's concluded that should've been done that was not done?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

You know, just the other day our council sent a very extensive letter to Capitol Hill in responses to the questions on Benghazi. That's the latest in 20 briefings and hearings that we participated in, 10,000 pages of documents we've provided. But here's a question, David. The president is not done with Benghazi because-- here's why.

He demanded of us since that night to find out exactly what happened, and then to make every reform needed to ensure it does not happen again. President of the United States sends the-- sends these diplomats, our military overseas in these tough spots. He's not going to send them and have them be exposed. And he made darn certain that we're doing everything we can to ensure this doesn't happen again.

\DAVID GREGORY:

Let's talk about the spending fight. Because the reality is that the debt is a huge issue that the president faces. This is the fact about it. When he came into office, the debt was at $10.6 trillion. The debt today at $16.5 trillion. We need to separate the debt from when we talk about the deficit. Automatic spending cuts happen in a couple of weeks.

It was very interesting, Speaker Boehner said to a group of us before the president's State of the Union address. "The president simply doesn't have the guts to take on spending. Doesn't have the courage to take on liberals in his own party. It's gotten that bad."

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

You know, you talk about what the president found when he came to the office. What's-- what's happened since then? Thirty-five straight months of job growth, 6.1 million new private-sector jobs, we're seeing-- the housing market starting to heal, we're seeing the stock market come back, and we're seeing consumer confidence strengthen.

Those are exactly the kinds of things we should be focused on. So this isn't a spending fight for us. This is a fight about whether we're going to make the investments in middle class families in this country, in education, in science and technology, in food inspection, and those kinds of things--

DAVID GREGORY:

But there's still a question of what government is actually capable of doing. I mean, you talk about the economy and jobs. There's obviously debate about how many jobs have actually been created in the economy. I mean, look, you pointed out to-- Apple C.E.O. Tim Ca-- Cook was there in the audience in the State of the Union.

He's sitting on over $100 million-- in cash, $171 million in cash at Apple. Why? Because there's uncertainty in the marketplace. Tom Friedman, writing this morning-- something that caught my eye. He said, "You can feel the economy wants to launch, but Washington is sitting on the national mood button. What we-- the people feel like the children of permanently divorcing parents." How does this sequester business end? The president said during the campaign, "The sequester--" that's the word for automatic spending cuts, he said, "It would not happen." Is it going to happen?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

I always read Tom Friedman, he's got that good Minnesota sensibility. (LAUGH) The column today--

DAVID GREGORY:

You’ve got to stick together.

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

We do. The column today I think is a continuation of that. And frankly, I believe it's a continuation of exactly the plan the president laid out in detail in the State of the Union on Tuesday night. We've already made $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction, debt reduction efforts. We're going to make-- we're ready, as the president said, in a very detailed way, to make another trillion and a half, provided we can work with our friends in congress.

How are we going to do that? One, through the lens of m-- how we can invest in middle-class families, two, we're going to have to work together, and three, that's why the president in his plan he ra-- laid out, David, was very clear that he'll take on some things that are not popular with our party--

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, let me get to that in a second, de--

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

And we want to ask the Republicans to do the same.

DAVID GREGORY:

Is the sequester going to happen?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

Well-- I sure hope it doesn't. Because when you think about the--

DAVID GREGORY:

Wait, wait, wait, the president said during the campaign, "It's not going to happen."

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

And that's exactly--

DAVID GREGORY:

I mean, there was no uncertainty there.

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

And that's exactly why he laid out a very reasonable plan to ensure that it doesn't.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

The Republicans say, "We're done with revenue." And yet the president is saying, "We need more revenue." Senate Democrats had a plan this week where they're calling for new tax hikes and whatnot, as well as some spending cuts. How do we get from-- from there to here? Boehner says, "I'm not going to negotiate with the White House anymore. Let the White House and Senate Democrats come to us with a plan." So is the president going to have to get involved in the final hours like before?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

Well, the president is not only-- has been involved right from the beginning on this. And the question isn't whether-- we're going to insist on some position because that's n-- the ideologically right position. We're going to insist on doing this in a balanced way. Why does it have to be balanced? Because that's the way we're going to ensure that economic growth continues.

Job creation like that we've seen over these last 35 months continues. That's why it doesn't make sense for us to take a meat cleaver to the kind of investments that will happen if the sequester comes. Rather, we should do this in the very reasonable and balanced way we've done it over the course of the last year.

DAVID GREGORY:

Will he do something to stop this from happening? The automatic cuts from happening?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

He will continue to make very reasonable and balanced proposals, as he has time and time again, David. And we look forward to working with our Republican-- friends and colleagues in the House and Senate to ensure that it doesn't happen.

DAVID GREGORY:

So here's the reality about Medicare. You talked about some tough choices that have to be made. If you're an average earning couple, you make about $44,000 a year and say you retired in 2010. These are facts that I think a lotta people don't know about. You paid in $122,000 in Medicare taxes. But you're drawing almost $400,000 in benefits received.

This is why Medicare is going broke. And that ratio is only getting worse. And yet the president seems to be saying, "Well, let's make modest reforms when it comes to entitlement programs like Medicare." Simpson and Bowles say, "No, you’ve got to do a lot more than that." Republicans, Speaker Boehner saying, "We’ve got to raise the retirement age. We’ve got to means test this. We have to find a way to-- to change C.P.I., find a way to gradually decrease benefits." Why is the president not prepared to do those things today? To get-- deal away (?) the sequester and to take on Medicare's solvency?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

The president has laid out a plan that does exactly that. But the question that-- the issue that is driving long-term debt, no question about it, is rising healthcare costs. That's why the president did the affordable-- Affordable Care Act, and we're seeing impact of that now. And the president laid out in very, very-- concise detail on Tuesday night to the-- to the Senate and to the country exactly what he's going to do on Medicare.

The fact is, David, you just mentioned-- Simpson-Bowles. We get the same amount of savings early in the next decade from our Medicare reforms as Simpson and Bowles do in their plan. Do we do it exactly the same way? No. But we get the exact amount of savings in Medicare as they do. We've also made--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

The retirement age--

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

There's also--

DAVID GREGORY:

--should be raised. Does it have to be on the table?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

The question with the retirement age is, that's just-- that's not a cost reducer. That's a cost shifter. What it does is it takes the exploding health care costs and does not reduce them, but rather shifts them to our seniors. We're not going to do that. But what we are going to do is the kinds of common sense reforms the president laid out.

Reducing these kind of subsidy-- prescription drug companies, making sure that wealthier seniors-- do more for their part. And we'll continue to do those things. And that's exactly the plan the president laid out. And I hope-- that the speaker and others will come to the table the similar common sense approaches so we can do this in a way that helps middle class families in this country.

DAVID GREGORY:

There's news this morning about immigration. The president wants comprehensive immigration reform, there's a bipartisan group working on just that. The USA Today has a story, a lead story about a draft, and I'll put it up on the screen. "White House immigration bill offered to pass a residency, a draft of a White House immigration proposal obtained by USA Today would allow illegal immigrants to become legal, permanent residents within eight years.

The bill is being developed as members of both chambers of congress are drafting their own immigration bills." It goes on to say, "Senator Rubio is key on this. That Obama's bill repeats the failures of past legislation, would be dead on arrival in congress." Has the president concluded-- it's time for him to drive this reform? And would that not kill what's being already put together on Capitol Hill--

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

On-- on the contrary. The president, as you-- I think you saw-- Congressman Ryan and many others commented, even-- President Bush's former speechwriter commented very favorably about the president's speech on Tuesday night, the-- approach we're taking-- to-- to immigration reform, let's strengthen our borders, let's enforce this on companies who are-- are gaming the system, let's make sure there's an earned path to citizenship, provided people who earn it learn English, pay their back taxes, have-- a criminal background check.

And then let's make sure that the legal immigration system is reasonable-- is a reasonable opportunity for people so that they don't-- get-- kicked out of the system by-- others. We're going to continue to do that. The fact of-- this report-- David, I think all it says to me is that we are doing exactly what we said we would do. Which is we'll be prepared in the event that the bipartisan talks going on the hill, which by the way we're very-- aggressively supporting, if those do not work out, then we'll have an option that will be ready to-- to put out--

(OVERTALK)

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

--as the president said in Las Vegas.

DAVID GREGORY:

Would the president support something that is more conservative, more stringent than his principles? Would he support it with the overall goal of getting a comprehensive bill?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

Well, I'm not going to-- say what we will or won't support in the abstract. You heard our four principles. We want to continue building on the great strides we've made on border security. We want to make sure that we're cracking down on businesses that game the system. We want there to be an earned path to citizenship. And we also want the legal system, which frankly is too cumbersome and too broken, we want that to be reformed as well. And we're going to continue to push exactly that.

DAVID GREGORY:

We're going to talk to Captain Mark Kelly coming up, of course husband of-- Gabby Giffords, on gun control--

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

Remarkable guy.

DAVID GREGORY:

When the president said that Gabby Giffords deserves a vote, was that not a recognition that when it comes to an assault weapons ban or a magazine ban that politically that may be out of reach? But he'd at least like to see the vote?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

No. It's ga-- it's a recognition that the president has put out there with the vice president's help-- a very comprehensive and common sense agenda on gun reform. That includes things like the-- issues you addressed. It also includes-- universal background checks, investments to make our schools safer, and then investments in mental health.

So we're going to approach on all these things. But you're absolutely right. Congress should vote on each of these proposals. Where the votes are there is going to be something that we'll see. But we're not going to wait and see. We're out there working very aggressively across the country, the president and the vice president himself.

DAVID GREGORY:

Before you go, I know you've been a religious advisor of sorts to this president, you're a devout catholic. As the pope is preparing to abdicate, what's your analysis on what the church needs in-- in his successor?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

Well, I'm not going to kinda get into-- church-- politics here-- gaming that. But what-- what I do know is that the church has been-- universally but also here in the United States a critical part of this society, a critical part of our education system that has helped so many people-- it helped me, frankly. And so I think that as long as the church continues doing exactly what it's done over the course of these many years, by advocating the kinds of things, investments, and people and-- and-- opportunity in education for example, then I think we're going to be just fine.

DAVID GREGORY:

Big question for you, have you stopped biking to work now that you're chief of staff?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

I have stopped biking to work.

DAVID GREGORY:

That was the president's order?

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

That is.

DAVID GREGORY:

Gotta listen to the boss.

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

Absolutely.

DAVID GREGORY:

(UNINTEL) Denis McDonough, thanks very much.

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

Thanks so much--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

Glad to have you here.

DENIS MCDONOUGH:

I'm glad to be here. Thanks very much.

DAVID GREGORY:

Up next on this program, the man leading the charge against Hagel's confirmation as secretary of defense. Former friend and Republican colleague turned (UNINTEL) Senator John McCain try to get some straight talk on what's ahead for Hagel.

(UNINTEL) roundtable what's at-- what's at stake on the Hagel side, and the Obama agenda, as we've been discussing here as the president squares off against an internal-- ternally divided G.O.P. We hear from Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, the former head of HP Carly Fiorina, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, and the Lieutenant Governor of California turned newly published author Gavin Newsom. It's all coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL)

DAVID GREGORY:

President Obama issued an emotional plea during his State of the Union this week for congress to act on new gun control legislation.

(Videotape)

BARACK OBAMA:

Gabby Gifford deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek and Tucson and Blacksburg and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence, they deserve a simple vote.

(End videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:

Will they get that vote? For Mark Kelly, the husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, it's personal. He joins me live, coming up here.

(COMMERCIAL)

DAVID GREGORY:

We are back. Talk to Senator McCain in just a moment. I want to begin with our roundtable. Joining me here, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, Lieutenant Governor of California and the author of the new book Citizenville Gavin Newsom, former Chair and C.E.O. of Hewlett Packard Carly Fiorina, and our own MSNBC's Chris Matthews. Welcome to all of you. Chris, let me start with you. You heard from Denis McDonough on Hagel. He says he's not going to be a weaker security of defense when--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

--all of this is done. How does this play out and what is the lasting effect?

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

Well, he's going to have to prove himself. He's certainly starting with a lot of criticism. It looks like he'll start with most of the Republicans voting against him, maybe a few for him at the end. But, you know, he's going to have to prove himself. He has not been a strong-- nominee in his performance.

There are questions about him which are legitimate. But I think he may benefit from the fact that I think that Senator Cruz went overboard this past week with those-- innuendos and things like that, guilt by associations. I think the Senate will react to that. The Senate has a lot of pride in the institution. You heard it from Senator McCain, you heard it from Senator Graham.

But senators likely l-- looking back on advisement consent again. There are certain rules of decar-- corum. Tremendous pride in that institution. I think he will have to be-- he may benefit from that. That's, in other words, ir-- ironically tough treatment may help him.

DAVID GREGORY:

And Alex Castellanos, how do you see it?

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

I think a lot of Republicans who were initially only concerned that-- you know, Senator Hagel had such a change of heart-- over the years on policy and moved left even of President Obama on a lot of-- security things-- and also worried about his character. He turned on his own party, and I think quite intensely, now we're worried about confidence.

If he can't handle a room full of senators, folks are very worried how can this guy handle the defense department in such a trying time. He has unified the opposition (THROAT CLEAR) against him. And this plays in Washington, but it doesn't play much outside of Washington. I think Republicans feel they've got carte blanche to-- to obstruct here.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, we're going to get more from the roundtable in just a minute. Let me bring in Senator McCain. He's in Phoenix this morning. Senator, welcome back to the program. Always good to have you.

JOHN MCCAIN:

Thank you.

DAVID GREGORY:

So at a time when Congress is in such low esteem-- you seem to candidly offer the reason why Hagel's facing such trouble. You spoke to Fox News on Thursday and this is what you said.

(Videotape)

JOHN MCCAIN:

As far as secretary of defense is concerned, but-- to be honest with you, Neil, it goes back to there's a lot of ill will towards-- Senator Hagel because when he was a Republican, he attacked-- President Bush mercilessly. At one point said he was the worst president since Herbert Hoover-- said that-- the-- surge was the worst blunder since the Vietnam War, which is nonsense. And-- was very anti his own party and people. People don't forget that. You can disagree, but if you're disagreeable, then people don't forget that.

(End videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:

So is that to say, Senator, that it's payback time for Chuck Hagel? That's what this process has amounted to?

JOHN MCCAIN:

Of course not. That is-- fact-- in fact, most of those senators who will be voting weren't even in the Senate when Mr. Hagel-- did those things. He's a friend of mine-- and that is a part of it. The major part as The Washington Post editorialized, he's to the left of President Obama.

He has been taken-- and-- and by the way-- last week I believe it was Mr. Gibbs-- who I don't often agree with said, "He was the most unprepared-- and unimpressive-- nominee that he'd ever seen." Certainly the most-- unimpressive that I've ever seen. It really is-- 99% of it is to do with the positions that Senator Hagel has taken, whether it be votes against sanctions to-- against Iran, whether it be his belief that the surge would be the worst thing since the Vietnam War. And-- the positions that he has taken on various issues is frankly-- been out of-- not only out of mainstream, but far to the left.

DAVID GREGORY:

You asked-- reasked about his qualifications, which is now an issue. You said he's not qualified to be secretary of defense. You come a long way on this, Senator McCain. Back in 2000, you were running for president in your stomping grounds of New Hampshire, this is what you said.

JOHN MCCAIN (ON TAPE):

Secretary of defen-- there-- there's a lotta people that-- that could do that. One of 'em, I think, is Senator Chuck Hagel.

DAVID GREGORY:

What's changed?

JOHN MCCAIN:

That-- that was-- time and Chuck Hagel's positions, which has put him from the mainstream-- right of center Republican, which he was re-- representing the state of Nebraska to what The Washington Post has described in their editorial as to the left of President Obama. And the fact is-- that-- Chuck Hagel made statements and took votes in the United States Senate, particularly vis-à-vis Iran.

His comment about Israel were atrocious. And-- but he will be confirmed. And let me just point out-- that-- they-- we-- we delayed-- Bolton to the point where he never got a vote. The word was, "No nomination without information." They tried to-- filibuster Justice Alito. And the worst thing that I've ever seen in my life was the crucifixion of John Tower, where they delayed for three months and destroyed-- a good and decent man.

So what we are saying, it was reported out by Tuesday, they wanted a vote on Thursday. We had-- I thought we had an agreement do-- just to wait a week so the remaining questions would be answered. But I understand the White House wanted a vote, they got a vote, and we will have a vote when we get back.

And I'm confident that-- Senator Hagel will probably have the votes necessary to be confirmed as the secretary of defense. We have an obligation of advice and consent. I don't intend to give those up when other senators continue to have reasonable questions. And I mean reasonable.

DAVID GREGORY:

But you're not a yes vote for your old friend?

JOHN MCCAIN:

No. I don't believe he is qualified. But I don't believe that we should hold up his nomination any further, because I think it's a reasonable amount of time to have questions answered, not two days' worth.

DAVID GREGORY:

It's striking though, Senator, because-- some members are saying, "Look, we need more time to look at his speeches, to see if he really is anti-Israel." Others are saying, "No, we're going to use this moment of leverage to get more information about Benghazi, about what the president said, who he called the night of the attack."

Or getting some of the emails about who changed the talking point. The president said this week on the issue of Benghazi, "You guys are running out of things to ask about." So let me ask you, at the end of the day here on Benghazi, if the worst thing is true, what is that truth about how the president handled the-- this crisis?

JOHN MCCAIN:

Well, I don't know the answer to that question. I do know that there are so many answers we don't know. For example, what did the president do the night of the attack? We know that-- well the-- well, the secretary of defense and the cha-- chairman of joint chiefs of staff on-- another issue and then never talked to them again.

We know that the security of state, who said she was clear-eyed never saw the warnings about the fact that the consulate could not-- s-- withstand an attack. Why was that? We don't even still know who's-- we've had five different versions of who put together the talking points. We want to know why the president alleged to Mitt Romney in the debate that he had called it a terrorist attack when he hadn't, and an interview that very night of September 12th, he'd said he didn't know what it was.

And for two weeks later, kept saying he didn't know what kind of an attack it was. And in testimony with secretary of defense and chief of sta-- the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff both said they knew that night. There's-- so many questions about Benghazi. We've had two movies-- about getting bin Laden and we don't even know who the people were who were evacuated from-- the consulate the next day after the attack. So there are many, many questions. And we have had-- a massive cover-up on the part of--

DAVID GREGORY:

But a massive cover-up of what?

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

--I mean, Susan Ri-- wait a minute--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

Susan Rice said there was a lot of--

JOHN MCCAIN:

Do you care--

DAVID GREGORY:

--confusion.

JOHN MCCAIN:

Do you care--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

I'm asking you--

JOHN MCCAIN:

Do you care to--

DAVID GREGORY:

--what is the Republican way--

JOHN MCCAIN:

I'm asking you, do you care-- I-- I'm-- I'm asking you, do you care whether four Americans died? Or do you-- the reasons for that? And-- and shouldn't pe-- people be held accountable for the fact that four Americans died--

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, what you said was the cover-up--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

A cover-up of what?

JOHN MCCAIN:

Of the information-- concerning the deaths of four brave Americans. The information has not been forthcoming. You can obviously believe that it has. I know that it hasn't. And I'll be glad to send you a list of the questions that have not been answered, including what did the president do and who did he talk to the night of the attack on Benghazi?

And why was it? Why was it that we-- that the f-- the people who were evacuated from the-- from the consulate the next day were not interviewed the next day. And then they would've known that it was not a spontaneous demonstration. Why did the president for two weeks, for two weeks during the heat of the campaign continue to say he didn't know whether it was a terrorist attack or not?

Is it because it interfered with the line of Al Qaeda has decimated? And everything's fine in that-- in that part of the world? Maybe. We don't know. But we need the answers. Then we'll reach conclusions. But we have not received the answers. And that's a fact.

DAVID GREGORY:

Senator, just a couple of quick areas before I let you go. On the sequester, you had said last week that the Republicans should be open to additional tax revenues. Is that what it's going to take here to avoid these massive cuts?

JOHN MCCAIN:

I said that I would be glad to close some loopholes about these kinds of subsidies that are outrageous and disgraceful. And I have said that it's time for the president, who said, "Sequester won't happen," to maybe sit down with some Republicans and talk to them about this issue, so that maybe we can get it-- get it resolved. I didn't say, "Sequester won't happen."

I went around the country warning about what s-- would happen with sequester. Now we have the army chiefs-- of staff who's saying he can't send replacements to Afghanistan because he can't train 'em well enough to serve. Republicans deserve blame, I'll take some blame for it. But the President of the United States is supposed to lead. Why doesn't he call people over and we sit down and prevent the sequestration from happening rather than s-- and-- and-- and fulfill the comment that he made during the campaign that sequester, quote, "Won't happen."

DAVID GREGORY:

The-- the president-- obviously has some thoughts about immigration reform, which he's drafted and gotten his agencies to comment on. If the president proposes legislation, do you think it will fail?

JOHN MCCAIN:

Of course. Of course it will. And that's why we are working together. Republicans and Democrats. By the way, he's had no communications with Republicans on the issue, unlike the previous four presidents that I have dealt with. And-- I believe we are making progress on a bipartisan basis. I believe we can come up with-- with-- with a product.

Leaks don't happen in Washington by accident. This raises the question that many of us-- continue to wonder about. Do the-- does the president really want a result, or does he want another (UNINTEL) to beat up Republicans so that he can get political advantage in the next election?

DAVID GREGORY:

Finally-- Senator-- we're going to talk to Mark Kelly in just a moment, Gabby Gifford's hub-- husband, of course. Are you prepared at least to support universal background checks, if that's all that comes outta this, would you be support-- prepared to support that?

JOHN MCCAIN:

There's-- some Senators, bipartisan again-- Senator Coburn and Senator Manchin and some others who are working on a package that I think that most of us will be able to support. I applaud their efforts and obviously we want to do everything we can to prevent guns from falling into the hands of people who are mentally unbalanced or criminals.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. Senator, I know it was your mom's birthday, Roberta turned 101 years old. God bless her. You come from good and feisty genes. And we saw-- (LAUGH) we saw it here this morning. We thank you as always.

JOHN MCCAIN:

Thank you again, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

Okay. We are back now with our-- roundtable and Lieutenant Governor-- Newsom-- welcome, good to have you.

GAVIN NEWSOM:

Good to be here--

DAVID GREGORY:

So from Hagel to the Obama agenda-- reaction to what you heard--

GAVIN NEWSOM:

Well-- you know, I think Senator McCain, extraordinary respect for, summed up the dysfunction of Washington. He-- you asked the question about if he led the President of the United States on immigration, would that be acceptable concept (?) absolutely not. And the previous statement, he said, "He needs to lead in terms of dealing with the issue of sequestration."

You’ve got to have two parties in a negotiation and a willingness for both parties to reach agreement. And I think that's self evident that the president recognizes working with this congr-- congress is difficult. That said, look, the idea that Hagel is not qualified is rather offensive. You noted the 2000 speech of Senator McCain. But in 2006, the same Senator McCain said he was qualified to be secretary of state.

He disagrees with him. And it does seem to me more and more a personal grudge match. He did not get the support in his 2008 campaign of his friend Senator Hagel, he went on a trip during that campaign over Senator Obama-- and so it just-- it just reinforces the disconnect between what's happening here in Washington D.C. and the rest of the world.

DAVID GREGORY:

You know, you also got Carly-- Fiorina, the fact that the president is up against a Republican party with a lot of different divisions here. You know, Senator cre-- McCain took on Senator Cruz this week for something--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

--he went after Hagel. And here's what Harry Reid said, the majority leader in the Senate, about this whole filibuster process.

(Videotape)

HARRY REID:

I guess to be able to run for Senate as a Republican in most places in the country, you need to have a resume that says, "I have filibustered one of the previous nominees."

(End videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:

What about it?

CARLY FIORINA:

Look, first-- I have to respectfully disagree with the lieutenant governor because he left out a couple key facts. Key fact number one, the sequester was created by the Obama administration. So people are frustrated because you have a set of politicians who, on both sides, who are unwilling to deal with something that they created, because it was a way d-- for them to kick the can down the road.

Secondly, with regard to the Hagel nomination, unfortunately Chuck Hagel is dealing with his own poor performance as a nominee now. All the way back to your original question, there are many people in the Democratic party who don't agree either. There are many people in the Democrat party who are in disagreement right now on what to do about gun control legislation.

On the issue of immigration specifically, I think the reason John McCain answered the way he did is because eight senators, four Democrats and four Republicans have come together and put together a delicately-balanced compromise. That will pass. What will fail is if either the right in congress or President Obama in the White House try and push it too far one way or another to win points. Then it's going to come crashing down. So that's I think what John McCain meant.

DAVID GREGORY:

Chris, how does the president deal with the Republican party he's now dealing with?

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

You know, I don't know. Because I think-- a lot of it-- I m-- everything here makes sense what we're talking about, because we're being reasonable here. Because we wanna have an immigration bill. I think that's-- everybody wants one in this country. We know we've had 11 million people come in the country illegally, we know we'd like something to be done compassionately toward them.

We're not going to throw them out, that's ridiculous. And yet, we wanna stop illegal immigration. So is business really on board here to stop illegal immigration? Are the Democrats really on board to stop illegal immigra-- are the Republicans? I think you got together-- Republicans are very good at teeth. They're very good at being a tough guy.

And Democrats are very b-- good at being the good cop. They can work together. The Democrats can do the path to citizenship and the Republicans can do the enforcement. And they can agree, "We're going to put this together," because if we don't, they may pass a bill, a joke like Simpson-Mazzoli. But the ideal is to pass a good immigration law, not just a reform.

Something that actually works, where people actually come into border on a regular basis, either short term or long term, because they come here to work, and our government controls that. 'Cause everybody government should control its own border. And we don't have that today. And I don't hear either side saying, "This is comprehensive." I love that word "comprehensive." And I think it takes both parties to do it.

DAVID GREGORY:

Alex, the question of whether Democrats want the issue on immigration, the reality is Democrats do want the success, and as you look at what the president's doing, how he's appealing to various groups in his coalition, he wants to lock these folks in. This is the president thinking about the long-term prospects of the Democratic party. And he also knows Republicans need a deal on this.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

Well, I think he's maybe thinking about the long-term, but he's also thinking about two years from now and taking the House. And going back to the first two years of his administration when he could run the table and of course do anything he wants, this is his last shot at legacy. So keeping Republicans polarized on immigration-- is not bad political strategy for him.

What I think you're going to see Republicans do though, is look, federal government's job is to enforce the border. But we've got to move somewhere else. You know, talk radio has already given Republicans a little room to move on immigration. But if r-- right now, immigrants have no economic value in the American system.

They have political value to Democrats. If you had governors and states and municipalities compete for immigrants, if they had a larger voice and say, "Hey, we need some hard working people here in the state to grow our food, take care of our kids, we need some bright college graduates to stay."

And you let Arizona compete against Mississippi, business will go to Arizona. They'll go to where the workers are, where the brains are. So states, I think you're going to see a more bottom-up approach, I hope from both parties. And when s-- we get there, then I think we'll begin to address--

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me have Gavin-- Gavin and Carly both can address this. The broader agenda, beyond immigration, one of the things that I heard from the president on State of the Union night, and I wanna get the sound bite ready the-- where he talks about government, is essentially he's saying to Republicans, "Look, I not only won reelection, but I'm winning the debate on the economy. And when it comes to economic growth, we are not just going to obsess about the debt." This is what he said about what government outta be doing.

(Videotape)

BARACK OBAMA :

It is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth. That's what we should be looking for.

(End videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:

Because he said, Carly, "Just tackling the debt right now is not going to grow the economy."

CARLY FIORINA:

Well, first of all, it's a great sound bite you just played, and absolutely everyone can agree with it. The question is, so what? What do we do about it? Here's the problem--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

What is it, that government has a bigger role than Republicans acknowledge and actually sparking economic growth. That's the argument.

CARLY FIORINA:

Yes, that is the argument. It is also a fact that when debt and deficit continue to grow, government has less and less room to invest. That's why you're having so much trouble dealing with the sequester, which just factually is $110 billion a year which is .3% of our annual federal spending. And yet people are concerned with angst about where to cut, because so much of our--

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

But how can you say that government's crowding out when we have 2% interest rates right now? We could be doing really good infrastructure. When would people buy cars? When interest rates are down. When do you buy a house? When interest rates are down.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

It's a good time for public investment--

CARLY FIORINA:

And--

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

--and we should do it.

CARLY FIORINA:

I don't even disagree with that.

(OVERTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

--crowding.

CARLY FIORINA:

But-- but this economy is growing at 2% or less. In other words, the American economy is not performing to its full potential. We should be growing at 3% to 4%. We should be--

(OVERTALK)

CARLY FIORINA:

--creating more jobs. We shouldn't have--

(OVERTALK)

CARLY FIORINA:

--7.8% unemployment.

GAVIN NEWSOM:

All of this just-- strikes a chord with me because it comes down to the lack of leadership period. We have leaders that aren't leading, they're quarreling. Alex said something, I think, very profound and significant. And he's right, that it's a depressing point you made. This notion that somehow we have to get permission because talk show hosts are saying, "Well, now it's okay." It's suggestive of the world we're living in. Sequestration almost certain. We're going to go over this new cliff, this manmade cliff. In other words--

(OVERTALK)

CARLY FIORINA:

Politician-made cliff.

GAVIN NEWSOM:

And the-- but-- but-- and remember, this was not Obama coming up with sequestration, this was Obama being forced into a corner by Republicans on a completely fraudulent notion of the debt ceiling and this was his reaction to that in order to move onto--

CARLY FIORINA:

I'm willing to stipulate--

(OVERTALK)

CARLY FIORINA:

--both parties--

(OVERTALK)

GAVIN NEWSOM:

But it's-- it's time for us to lean in again and hold these guys up to a higher level of expectation. You wanna move the mouse, you gotta move the cheese. We've got to change incentives in this country for good behavior, and not the kinda behavior we're seeing.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

I think-- I was sh-- I think the Republicans have been shocked-- by the president's-- inaugural address and his State of the Union to an extent I have not seen before. The one thing I think-- in a two, we're looking for a bipartisan consensus, the left and the right agree this president gave two very left-of-center liberal speeches.

You know, we've all been wondering what Washington was going to do with all this extra money they have lying around. Well, the president explained (LAUGH) it, he's going to spend it on growing government. His contention in both those speeches was that, as you just said, government has not been doing enough. It needs to be more. That is not the Republican view. That's a declaration of war on the Republican view. That's not-- there is no middle ground where Republicans and Democrats can get together--

DAVID GREGORY:

But then--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

--on those two scenarios.

DAVID GREGORY:

So absolutely, Chris, look, the president said, "I'm not going to spend a dime that adds to the deficit." But what he's talking about does not make the deficit (LAUGH) go down either--

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

Of course. I-- I think there's-- I think we're all agreeing here. The president's-- priority now is growth, not debt reduction. He disagrees with the Republicans.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

I don't--

(OVERTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

I think he wants--

CARLY FIORINA:

I don't think it's job creation, economic--

(OVERTALK)

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

And-- and-- and-- and I don't think it's growth. I think this president's priority is social justice. I think he sees himself as an inheritor of Lincoln and Martin Luther King and he is going to-- this president wants to flatten the American economy. He wants those people at the top, he's going to bring--

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

That's-- that's-- no, you're calling him a socialist--

(OVERTALK)

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

No, I'm-- I'm social justice. And I'm saying--

(OVERTALK)

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

--that's who he is. And-- by the way, that's a noble cause.

(OVERTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

Where is he this weekend--

(OVERTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

playing golf with three business-- businessmen.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

But Gavin, there is a point--

(OVERTALK)

CARLY FIORINA:

Hoping they donate to something.

DAVID GREGORY:

But here-- but here-- here's a political question, which is, does the president, you know, Boehner this week before the State of the Union said, "Look, I'm not negotiating with him anymore. We're not going after any grand bargain here."

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

No.

DAVID GREGORY:

There's-- and-- and Friedman suggests this in The New York Times column this morning too, and I've heard it other places, that the president would like to just get through the next couple of years, try to get the House to flip again, and then he can really try to, you know, jam some of these things through, ra-- rather than deal with Republicans who-- who we don't-- he doesn't think are-- are on his (UNINTEL).

GAVIN NEWSOM:

He hasn't had the opportune-- I mean, look, I mean, the proof's in the pudding, right? I mean, he hasn't been able to work with this congress in the last few years. I don't have any great expectations, particularly with 2014 on the horizon. We've had already the agenda hijacked by the reality of 2014 and the sharp elbows of the tea party and folks like Cruz and others that are holding the line.

I mean, talk about this notion of cruise control and put (UNINTEL) in there, and number two, Republicans completely mesmerized by this inability or incapacity to move his own agenda because of this concern about being primary. So the president's right to go around. It's sad, but true. Where in congress, you do it on the payroll tax debate and won, he did it as it relates to student load rights, and won.

And he certainly did it with the Bush tax cuts. And to the extent he can, he has a populist agenda supported by the vast majority of the American people, and now he has something to go out and campaign on and ultimately principle policies to hopefully govern on.

DAVID GREGORY:

What is-- I-- I wanna go back Chris, you said-- you were very tough on Ted Cruz this week--

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

Yeah.

DAVID GREGORY:

--as were some Democrats who said, "This was McCarthyism."

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

And so--

DAVID GREGORY:

Is that echo McCarthy--

(OVERTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

--Lindsey Graham and so was John McCain. Not on this present, but this week. It's about tactics. Let's think about-- I don't know the man's personality, nobody-- he's got an interesting background, he's a brilliant guy in many ways. But the tactics, when I watched him in those hearings and I saw Joe McCarthy, I saw the way he was-- prosecuting the case, the way he was putting up evidence, innuendo-- guilt by association.

If some-- spokesperson, some flak (?) for the ministry of foreign affairs in Tehran says "He thinks he can do business with this guy more than somebody else-- some hawkish neocon," is that an indictment against him? But he turned it into an indictment--

(OVERTALK)

CARLY FIORINA:

You know, David, I-- I--

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

I think it's really being unfair. And I think the Senate is going to circle the wagons and say, "This guy's going--"

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, quick response, Carly, and then we have to--

CARLY FIORINA:

I have to just say, talking about leadership, this is a president who is not afraid to use his power. He is not afraid to issue executive orders when he sees fit. I find it stunning, truly, that this president and the Democratic party continues to lay all the blame for their failure to achieve anything at the feet of the tea party or Ted Cruz or whoever the latest villain is.

The truth is, this man is the President of the United States. He could get immigration reform, as one example, tomorrow. If he would step forward and say, "I applaud and salute the gang of eight's proposal. Let's move forward and go beyond that--

DAVID GREGORY:

He-- of course he did that in the State of the Union. I don't-- let me make the--

(OVERTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

That's not true by the way. Under our constitution, you can use now 60 votes to stop. You can require 60 votes to say, "Look--"

(OVERTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

--which is basically forcing the party--

CARLY FIORINA:

That bill would pass.

DAVID GREGORY:

Sorry.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

--to give up its--

(OVERTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

It's really become an undemocratic system with the-- with the way that Boehner's had to play this because of his right wing--

CARLY FIORINA:

It's all the Republicans' fault, in your view--

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

It is.

CARLY FIORINA:

--clearly.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, let me-- let me leave it there, 'cause I gotta get a break in.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

You nailed it.

DAVID GREGORY:

Citizenville, by the way, Gavin, your book talked a lot about how la-- local government can-- can-- be more effective, say, than it has--

GAVIN NEWSOM:

Yes.

DAVID GREGORY:

--and-- and-- it's a very interesting read. Thank you all very much. When we come back here as NBC News's week-long look at gun violence continues. We're calling it "Flashpoint Guns in America." I'm going to be back with a live and new interview with-- a leading voice in this debate, retired space shuttle commander and husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly. And of course we're going to take full advantage of the captain being here as well who's got experience as an astronaut. I wanna ask him about that unexpected cosmic moment captured on tape for the whole world to witness. What was that? And there's more coming on Meet the Press after this.

(COMMERCIAL)

DAVID GREGORY:

We are back. Joining me now, Mark Kelly, husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and now the cofounder of Americans for Responsible Solutions. Captain Kelly, it's good to finally-- finally have you here. We've been trying, and we finally got you on Meet the Press. Welcome.

MARK KELLY:

Thank you, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

This was an emotional moment this week during the State of the Union address, I've covered a bunch of 'em. And you don't often see the kind of energy and emotion around the issue of guns as we now see them. This was the moment, the president was talking about-- the-- the-- the violence in Chicago and other victims around the country as he called for a vote. This is what he said.

(Videotape)

BARACK OBAMA):

Hadiya's parents Nate and Cleo are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote. They deserve a vote. They deserve a vote. Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora--

(End videotape)

DAVID GREGORY:

Talk about that moment. Gabby obviously has been back in the chamber on numerous occasions. But this was emotional.

MARK KELLY:

It was. It was certainly the point in his speech where there was the most energy in the chamber. I mean, not only from the-- the gallery but the floor as well. And I-- you know, I think that-- resonates throughout the country. I think people are demanding that something be done about this gun violence. I mean, we can't continue and do nothing when we have 20 first graders die in their classrooms.

DAVID GREGORY:

You have an incredible amount of momentum. I mean, if-- Mike-- Bloomberg-- Mayor Bloomberg often says-- "If Gabby Giffords getting shot doesn't do it, if-- Aurora doesn't do it, then children being massacred in Newtown, then-- then nothing is going to cause the needle to move."

And yet you're getting well acquainted with the tough politics on this issue, even on the Democrat side. You've got Democrats up for reelection in red states next year who aren't about to vote for an assault weapons ban or a magazine ban. So what's possible at the end of the day?

MARK KELLY:

Well, it is a tough issue. But have you heard Senator McCain who was on earlier? I mean, he talked about universal background checks, and about how a bill, you know, that he could potentially support. So there is momentum. I mean, it's really clear that we need to do something and pass a universal background check.

You know, since 1999, 1.7 million criminals-- have failed the background check. Now the problem is, they can now go down the street and buy a gun from a gun show at a gun show. And that's what's called the gun show loophole. We need to close that loophole. And Americans are demanding that we do something.

DAVID GREGORY:

You've got a dynamic that is changing. With your group, you're raising private money and you're putting ads on the air like what debuted-- this week with you and Gabby talking about the issue, highlighting the emotional pain and the sacrifice. But also she says in the ad that it's, you know, "It's time for action. It's time to do something." You're up against groups like the National Rifle Association. What is your group and others prepared to do politically to tip the scale?

MARK KELLY:

Yeah, so you know, the N.R.A. has been the dominant force on this issue for over 30 years. You know, we're willing, you know, what we're going to do is we're going to support-- people running for office and we're going to oppose others that are unwilling to do something on this issue. I mean, we're going to spend money in these races. And-- you know-- you know, we are committed to making sure that we have safer schools and safer communities. And the first thing we can do, the thing we can do right now is to pass a universal criminal background check bill--

DAVID GREGORY:

But you've heard the N.R.A. say, "Look, this is going to be a lotta legal gun-- gun owners who are now on a registry that the federal government keeps track of." This is an anti-government issue. This is a fear of government overstepping its bounds. For a lotta people, it goes beyond guns.

MARK KELLY:

Well, that's a point that they try to make. But there is no gun registry. I mean, nobody is proposing a gun registry. What we're proposing that-- that happens is, you know, I just-- I-- I just bought a gun in October. And I went through a very simple, five-minute background check. I'm sure some time, you know, Mr. LaPierre went through a background check before him buying' a gun too.

Now shouldn't criminals and the mentally ill be subject to a background check? I mean, shouldn't they? I mean, it-- it is-- you know, it's-- it's hard for me to understand why there's an organization like the N.R.A. that is currently making it easier for criminals and the mentally ill to have access to a firearm. That doesn't make any sense.

DAVID GREGORY:

Vogue magazine has-- has a piece on you and Gabby and there's-- a poignant picture of-- that's-- that's-- part of that piece that we can put on the air. Is she up to this-- to be the face of gun control measures? How-- how is she able-- to function just in life, to say nothing of the rigors-- of being a political figure on this issue?

MARK KELLY:

You know, there's a lot of things, she struggles every single day. I mean, she suffered a horrific injury two years ago. You know, but she's-- she's got a lot of energy. Maybe not as much energy as before. She's in a good mood. But she is committed to doing something. I mean, like me, you know, Gabby sees that we can't go with the status quo when we have 20-- 20 first graders die in their classrooms.

So she is up to doing this. And, I mean-- and we realize that this isn't going to-- I mean, there are some things we can do immediately like passing universal background check-- other things might take a little bit longer. And she's committed to doing this.

DAVID GREGORY:

I told you I couldn't have you here without asking you about the big news this week, the-- the images over Russia of this meteor-- and all that energy being released and you had about a thousand-- people injured. As people looked at this-- this image of this streaking across the stry-- sky, to say nothing of the asteroid that came within 17,000-- miles of the United States-- or rather, of Earth-- this is scary stuff. But you've seen it before.

MARK KELLY:

Well, it's a big rock, obviously. I mean, I think that was the size of a school bus.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah.

MARK KELLY:

So that's a pretty big object. And fortunately it didn't land in the middle of a town in Russia. I mean, a lot of people were injured. But there certainly is a risk out there. I mean-- the-- the universe is a very crowded place. I mean, we have stuff entering the atmosphere all the time. It's interesting, when you're on the space station and you're looking at those shooting stars, meteorites entering the atmosphere, you know, you see those beneath you.

DAVID GREGORY:

Wow.

MARK KELLY:

It's a little bit disconcerting, because they're all flying by you.

DAVID GREGORY:

Mark Kelly, great to have you here.

MARK KELLY:

Thank you--

DAVID GREGORY:

Thank you very much. We'll obviously keep track of what you're up to. Thanks a lot--

MARK KELLY:

Thank you.

DAVID GREGORY:

We'll take another break here, be back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL)

DAVID GREGORY:

Before we go this morning, a programming note. You can watch this week's press packs with former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee on what she would like to see President Obama do to reform the country's school. That's at MeetThePressNBC.com. That's all for today. We'll be back next week. And a happy birthday, it falls and a Sunday, to our executive producer, Betsy Fischer. This is Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

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