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updated 11/10/2013 11:49:41 AM ET 2013-11-10T16:49:41

“MEET THE PRESS WITH DAVID GREGORY”

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November 10, 2013

DAVID GREGORY:

Good Sunday morning. No deal, despite hopes of a breakthrough. Three days of negotiations in Geneva failed to produce an agreement to freeze Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling international sanctions. And although all sides pointed to progress, Iranian President Rouhani, this morning, insisted his country will not give up the right to enrich uranium. That is the critical step in the production of nuclear weapons. Prior to Rouhani's comments, I spoke exclusive to Secretary of State John Kerry just moments after the talks had ended.

DAVID GREGORY:

Secretary Kerry, welcome back to Meet The Press.

JOHN KERRY:

Thank you. It's good to be with you, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

The bottom line goal here is to prevent Iran from producing or acquiring a nuclear bomb. You have said that in the interim, you want a complete halt on their weapons program. Clearly there's not a deal yet. They are not in a position to give in to that demand. Is that a fair statement?

JOHN KERRY:

No. I think it's a question, David, of working out the modalities by which it will be done, by which it can be verified, the ways in which you have a set of guarantees that make absolutely certain that the goal of the President, to make certain that Iran never has a nuclear weapon can be achieved. The first effort is to try to achieve it, obviously, peacefully. And you try to use and exhaust diplomacy to do that. But the President has taken no option off the table--

DAVID GREGORY:

But it sounds like something broke down here, because there was such anticipation that you were very close to a deal. The reporting is that the French thought it wasn't tough enough on the Iranians. And you know the history. As the Israeli Prime Minister called Rouhani a wolf in sheep's clothing, that this is what they do. They double play. They play for time while they keep producing. They try to win the confidence of the West. And they can play games. Is there fear around the table that they're doing now?

JOHN KERRY:

No. That is not the fear around the table. And I'd say a number of nations, not just the French, but ourselves and others wanted to make sure that we had the tough language necessary, the clarity in the language necessary to be absolutely certain that we were doing the job and not granting more or doing something sloppily that could wind up a mistake.

This is serious business. And I think every country came there. This is the first time that the P5 had come together with this kind of a serious set of possible options in front of it with a new Iranian government. Remember that this has changed since the election. This is a new overture. And it has to be put to the test very, very carefully.

DAVID GREGORY:

So but here's my--

JOHN KERRY:

So I think there was unity there, David, with respect to getting it right. And we all have said, President Obama has been crystal clear. Don't rush. We're not in a rush. We need to get the right deal. No deal is better than a bad deal. And we are certainly adhering to that concept.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me play you a comment that I think gets to the ultimate question of what does it mean to get it right? What is the bottom-line demand of the United States? The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been outspoken about this this week. He was on this program late last month. And this is what he said about the prospect of a deal with Iran. I want you to listen, and I'll get your reaction on the other side.

JOHN KERRY:

Sure.

(BEGIN TAPE)

ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: I think the pressure has to be maintained on Iran, even increased on Iran, until it actually stops the nuclear program, that is, dismantles it. I think that any partial deal could end up in dissolving the sanctions. There are a lot of countries that are waiting for a signal, just waiting for a signal, to get rid of their sanctions regime.

(END TAPE)

DAVID GREGORY:

So a couple of points there. You want them to stop their weapons program. Others, like the Israeli Prime Minister is saying, "No, they've got to dismantle their infrastructure before they get the kind of economic relief that is part of this deal."

JOHN KERRY:

Well, I'm not sure that the Prime Minister, who I have great respect for, knows exactly what the amount, or the terms are going to be, because we haven't arrived at them all yet. That's what we're negotiating. And it is not a partial deal. Let me make that crystal clear as I have to the Prime Minister directly.

It is a first step in an effort that will lock the program in where it is today, in fact set it back, while one negotiates the full deal. And there will not be a relaxation of the pressure. Nobody has talked about the current architecture of sanctions. The pressure will remain. There will be, hopefully if this is arrived at, a means of absolutely guaranteeing that while the negotiation on the real end-game takes place, Iran's program is not going to continue, is not going to grow.

It seems to me that Israel is far safer if you make certain that Iran cannot continue the program. Now, every day that we don't have it, they're continuing it. So I think the American people, and most people in the world, want the President of the United States, with the awesome power that we have, to exhaust all the diplomatic remedies before we resort to the use of military force if we have to.

DAVID GREGORY:

And nothing is--

(OVERTALK)

JOHN KERRY:

That option is not off the table. Nothing is off the table, David--

DAVID GREGORY:

But here's the question. If the only reason they're coming to the table now is because they feel the economic pain of sanctions, it's not just the Israelis, it's the Saudis, it's Republicans in Congress who have said, "If that's the only reason they're coming to the table, what's the rush? Why not increase that economic pressure so you get not just a halt, but actually a dismantlement of the architecture, which is the goal of the presidency?"

JOHN KERRY:

Because the President believes, as I do, that the pressure exists today, which is why they're willing to negotiate. I mean, look. I was there, and I voted for these sanctions. We voted for these sanctions in order to bring Iran to the negotiating table.

Now that they're there, you have to act in some good faith, and an effort to be able to move towards the goal you want to achieve. If, as their act of good faith, they freeze their program and allow us absolutely unprecedented access to inspection and do other things. Now, I'm not going to into the list. But if they do the things that we believe is necessary so that we can guarantee we know what is happening, and we can move it back while we negotiate the end game, it seems to me you've got to do something that indicates your good faith.

The president has made it clear, he will not reduce or change the overall core architecture of the oil sanctions, banking sections. Iran will still be under enormous pressure precisely to complete the task. So I think there's a lot of hype and an awful lot of speculation about what is going on here, when all that is happening is an effort through the sanctions Congress put in place to get negotiations, when those negotiations hopefully produce an actual result. And that's what we want to have to happen--

DAVID GREGORY:

But as America's Chief Diplomat, are you being skeptical enough about a man who has been called a wolf in sheep's clothing, who wrote a book in which he talked about how they can continue work on their nuclear program while they gain confidence of the West, basically play games with the West? Are you being skeptical enough?

JOHN KERRY:

David, some of the most serious and capable expert people in our government who have spent a lifetime dealing both with Iran, as well as with nuclear weapons and nuclear armament and proliferation are engaged in our negotiation. We are not blind, and I don't think we're stupid.

I think we have a pretty strong sense of how to measure whether or not we are acting in the interests in our country, and of the globe, and particularly of our allies, like Israel, and Gulf states, and others in the region. We are absolutely determined that this would be a good deal, or there'll be no deal.

Now, that's why it's hard. That's why we didn't close the deal here in the last couple of days, because we are together, unified, pushing for things that we believe provide the guarantees that Israel and the rest of the world demand here. But one thing is clear, is that we're not going into a full deal and giving away something. We're talking about stopping their program where it is with enough guarantees to know that it is, in fact, stopped where it is, while we then negotiate the full measure of the deal with our allies, with our friends, with all of the interested parties advising at the table, consulting, and their interests well represented.

DAVID GREGORY:

There is a broader criticism that goes beyond this, that no doubt you've confronted in your extensive travels throughout that region. And let me sum it up this way. It amounts to this criticism that the President appears reluctant to exercise power on the world stage. It's not just Israel. It's Egypt. It's Saudi Arabia.

There's a feeling that that the U.S. has abandoned critical friends in that region in part because you're moving toward a deal with Iran which could provide them tremendous economic relief, when at the same critics would say their major client, Syria, has gotten a pass to murder their own people as long as they don't use chemical weapons. So then all of this is amounting to this reluctance to really exercise U.S. power. That is my description of that criticism, and please respond to it.

JOHN KERRY:

Let me respond very directly to that, David. I couldn't disagree with it more. The President of the United States made his decision. He decided to use military force in Syria. He also made a decision to respect the requests of many members of Congress to come to them.

And guess what? When he did, it was the members of Congress, as you know it better than anybody, who balked very significantly, with the exception of the foreign relations committee and the United States Senate, which took a lead. But the House clearly indicated a very, very strong reluctance to be engaged. The President, before he had to make the decision of whether or not he would use force anyway, succeeded in getting an arrangement with Russia to remove the chemical weapons altogether.

That would never have happened, that deal would never have come about if the President had not made his decision to use force. The President used force in Libya. The President has been willing, and made it clear that he is prepared to use force with respect to Iran's weapon. And he has deployed the forces and the weapons necessary to achieve that goal if it has to--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

And yet there's an--

(OVERTALK)

JOHN KERRY:

Let me just finish. The President has continued in Afghanistan. He has sought a security agreement in Afghanistan that is in the throes of being agreed on that will continue American presence to complete the task in Afghanistan. I just think that, you know, we can't mythology of politics start to cloud reality here. This President has made it clear. He's also the President who has prosecuted Al Qaeda with an intensity, and terrorists generally with an intensity unprecedented, and way beyond the last administration.

DAVID GREGORY:

Mr. Secretary, final question before you go. You gave some comments in light of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy to NBC News that have now been widely broadcast and reported on. And in those comments you said this, "To this day I have serious doubts that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone." That certainly would be surprising to a lot of people that those are your views. Would you care to elaborate?

JOHN KERRY:

No. (LAUGH) I just have a point of view. And I'm not going to get into that. It's not something that I think needs to be commented on, and certainly not at this time.

DAVID GREGORY:

Do you think the conspiracy theory, his involvement with Russia, motivation from the Soviet Union or Cuba, are valid at some level--

JOHN KERRY:

David, I'm not going to go into it. It's just inappropriate, and I'm not going to do more than say that it's a point of view that I have. But it's not right, or worthy, or appropriate for me to comment further.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. Mr. Secretary, we thank you for your time very much.

JOHN KERRY:

Thanks.

DAVID GREGORY:

Joining me now, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker of Tennessee. And Senator, it's good to have you here, because the subject is Iran. And the president of Iran--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

--saying this morning-- we'll work on, we might have some audio difficulty. Senator, can you hear me okay? Senator, are you able to hear me? We'll work on that, as I set up the premise here, which is the question of what the Senate is ultimately going to do on sanctions. Senator, are you with me, one last time?

SEN. BOB CORKER:

I'm not hearing David for some--

DAVID GREGORY:

Okay, we're going to take a break, get these ironed out, be back, we hope, with Senator Corker right after this.

(***Commercial Break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

We've figured out our technical problems. Joining me now is the ranking member of The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker of Tennessee. Senator, welcome.

SEN. BOB CORKER:

David, good to be with you, thank you.

DAVID GREGORY:

Big story this morning for the broadcast is Iran. The Iranian president saying that Iran refuses to stop enriching uranium, a critical step to making a nuclear weapon. So is this all part of negotiation, or is this actual a dead end?

SEN. BOB CORKER:

Well, we'll see. Obviously, the Security Council resolutions call for a complete stoppage of enrichment. So we'll see. Today the concerns that we have, David, many of us, is that, look, on these partial kinds of arrangements, exactly the kind that we have with North Korea, you begin this dance that we're seeing right now. And so unless you do the whole deal on the front end, you, in essence, begin the series of steps that may lead, may well lead, to Iran getting to exactly the place they wish to get to while we relieve sanctions.

So there are a lot of concerns. Some of the same people that were involved in the negotiations with North Korea are involved in these. And so you can imagine that Congress, that put these sanctions in place, with the administration kicking and screaming all the way, pushing back against these sanctions, are very concerned that we're going to deal away the levers that we have, where we finally have Iran willing to sit down and talk about these issues.

DAVID GREGORY:

So Senator, in the interim, there's going to be another meeting. These negotiations will continue on a freeze, just a temporary step before you get to the real negotiation. What are you and your colleagues going to do? Do you think it's important to actually impose more sanctions, to impose more economic pain on Iran before thinking about relieving those sanctions?

SEN. BOB CORKER:

Well, you know, there was going to be a banking markup this week where sanctions were going to be looked at. That meeting has been called off by the Democratic leadership. And Senator Kerry is going to be coming up this week and briefing. But I do want to say, David, when you use semantics like "freezing," Iran is still going to be enriching uranium, based on what we see.

So when they say, "Freeze," that means they're not going to be gaining, but they're still going to be enriching. So there are a lot of concerns. Are they going to continue to be building the facility in Arak, which produces plutonium? Are they going to continue that construction or not? What are we going to do with the 20% enriched uranium that's on the ground there?

So there are a lot of details that many of us will be looking to very sternly before we decide whether we're going to move ahead. But I do know that, on both sides of the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle right now, people are really looking at what the next steps ought to be. All of us want to see diplomacy. We do. And we thank the Secretary for the efforts that he's putting forth. That is the best way to resolve this issue.

But we're also concerned about an administration that seems really ready, always, to jump into the arms of folks and potentially deal away some of the leverage we have. So we'll be watching this. We want to see a good outcome.

DAVID GREGORY:

Do you predict more sanctions before there's any kind of deal with Iran?

SEN. BOB CORKER:

I don't know. You know, new sanctions, David, would not kick in for several months. And I think you've already seen that the administration has dialed back the rheostat since Rouhani's election on the existing sanctions that we have. They have a lot of ability to wave and turn down and conduct these operations in lesser or stronger ways.

So we'll see. I think this week, sitting down, talking with Secretary Kerry is going to be an important element of what we do. But I do think, again, there are concerns, especially again, David, think about it, a partial agreement leads us down the same path we went down with North Korea, where just to get people to act right as you move through these things, you continue to reduce sanctions. So again, lot of concerns about the approach. All of us want to see it resolved diplomatically. We know the sanctions have gotten us here. And we're worried we're dealing away with our leverage.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, Senator Corker, we will--

SEN. BOB CORKER:

Thank you.

DAVID GREGORY:

--we will be watching. We will leave it there. Thank you very much.

SEN. BOB CORKER:

Thank you.

DAVID GREGORY:

Joining me now, Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. Governor, welcome back to Meet the Press. Congratulations on your reelection.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE:

Thank you David, very much. Happy to be back.

DAVID GREGORY:

Lots of speculation this week, and a lot of excitement throughout the country with your reelection in terms of what it means. Here's the cover of Time Magazine: "The Elephant in the Room" is what's on the cover. Even The Trentonian, the front of it, "Four More Years, or Two More Years," as it's crossed out, and there's a speculation that, in fact, you're getting ready to run for the White House. Unless you want to announce on the show this morning, and I suspect you don't, let me ask this question, which is how do you think, even as governor of New Jersey, that you can effect, that you can impact the Republican Party with this reelection?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE:

I think the best way to impact my party is just to do my job in the same way that I've impacted my state. And I think, David, what you saw from the election results on Tuesday is pretty simple. People want the folks they elect to get the job done, to do their job, get it done for the people who elect you. And that's why, you know, when you look at what happened on Tuesday, it's about what's happened over the last four years.

143,000 new private sector jobs. Cutting business taxes. Controlling property taxes. Reforming teacher tenure for the first time in 100 times, and reforming a pension and benefits system to save $120 billion over the next 30 years for taxpayers. It's that kind of record that people were supporting on Tuesday night. And I'm thrilled to get their support. And I'm ready to get back to work.

DAVID GREGORY:

But whether you like it or not, you've been thrust into a position where you're sort of the face of the established wing of the party. Ted Cruz is the face of the conservative wing of the party. And the question is who wins this argument? Mitt Romney told me here last week that you could save the Republican Party. Does it need saving? And are you the guy to save it?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE:

Well, it was very nice of Governor Romney. I watched him on your program last week. And I appreciate his kind words. And I was a proud, proud supporter of Governor Romney. And Mary Pat and I still consider Mitt and Ann very good friends. But listen, I'm not focused on that, David.

What I'm focused on is doing my job in the state of New Jersey. That's what I ran for. That's what I want to do. And I think what the election showed was that, if you want to attract a majority of the Hispanic vote, if you want to nearly triple your African-American vote as a Republican, what you need to do is show up.

You need to show up in those places where-- you know David, I did a Town Hall in the city of Irvington in my state about a year and a half ago. I got 4.7% of the vote in Irvington in 2009. I went there, and there were more people in the church where I did the Town Hall than voted for me in 2009.

You go and you show up and you listen. And you start to make your argument about your policies. And I think the results of the election show that that's the kind of engagement that we need as Republicans all across the country, to listen and to show up in places where we haven't gotten a great amount of vote before.

DAVID GREGORY:

Some of the skeptics would say you ran up a huge margin of victory, so therefore, your margin among Latinos and African-Americans is going to be higher. And then the head against the likely candidate, if it comes to this, in Hillary Clinton. In New Jersey, according to the exit poll there, shows that you would trail Hillary Clinton even in your own state. Do you view that and say that she is formidable, that you'd be an underdog if it were to come to that?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE:

You know how I view that, David? That I got 61% of the vote in the state of New Jersey, in a blue state, that had just re-elected Barack Obama a year ago by 17 points. That was nearly a 40 point turnaround between voting for a Democrat at the top of the ticket and voting for a Republican.

And, you know, getting 51% of the Hispanic vote, I'm very proud of that. Because I've worked hard with the Hispanic community to let them see how our policies can help their families. I've worked hard with the African-American community. I've worked hard with seniors and students.

And all those people came out and voted in large numbers for us on Tuesday. So people can say whatever they want, but the numbers speak for themselves. I'm proud of it. And it's going to give me a mandate to go back to work for the people of New Jersey and finish the job.

DAVID GREGORY:

Here's the question. Are you a moderate or are you a conservative? This is how our blog First Read described some of that criticism already coming from the likes of Rand Paul or Marco Rubio. They write this: "If Christie does run for president, this is exactly the line of attack his Republican rivals will pursue." "This guy is not one of us. He's from New Jersey. His state has legalized gay marriage. He's expanded Medicaid. And he's expressed some gun control and pro-immigrant reform views."

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE:

What's the question?

DAVID GREGORY:

Are you a moderate or a conservative?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE:

David, listen. I don't get into these labels. That's the Washington D.C. game and what all those men and women down there play. Look at my record. We're spending less today in 2014, fiscal year, than we did in 2008 in real dollars. We've cut business taxes by $2.3 billion. 143,000 new private sector jobs. Reformed teacher tenure to put accountability in the classroom for the first time in 100 years. And reformed and health benefits system and entitlement system in New Jersey to save $120 billion for the taxpayers over the next 30 years.

Judge me by my record. And that I'm very, very comfortable with. All the labels, that's for the folks down in Washington D.C.. And obviously, they love playing that game. But the people of America aren't interested in that game. And I think, given the approval ratings in Washington, they've shown that.

DAVID GREGORY:

And yet, The Wall Street Journal, about your economic record, concluded this is an editorial Wednesday as the biggest area of disappointment, failing to improve the state's economy. The state jobless rate is still 8.5%, among the ten highest in the country. "It's true," they write, "that he inherited a mess. But Mr. Christie will need a new reform agenda in 2014 to impress national GOP primary voters going into 2016."

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE:

Well, we're going to continue to do the job that we've done already, David. We've brought unemployment down a point and a half. We've created 143,000 new private sector jobs. In a state that The Wall Street Journal did admit was an absolutely mess, the highest taxed state in America when I got there. And we've improved that situation.

But I never said during my reelection campaign that the job was done. If the job was done, I wouldn't run for a second term. Why bother? Just ride off into the sunset. We've got a lot of work still to do. We're going to continue to do it. But that's why I asked for a second term and four more years, to go and keep at it and lower taxes, continue to control spending, and continue to improve economic opportunity in our state. That's exactly what I'm going to do.

DAVID GREGORY:

Governor, two quick ones on Obamacare. The president apologized about this bad rollout, about making a promise that wasn't kept about the individual markets. Do you think Obamacare is doomed? Do you think the Republican Party has an obligation to make it work at this point?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE:

Listen, I think Obamacare was a mistake. And I've said that right from the beginning. I think it's a failed policy. That's why we did not institute state-based exchanges. And you could see exactly why when you see the disaster that's happening right now.

The fact of the matter is the president didn't tell folks the truth about what was going to happen with their own private insurance policies. And what I urged them to do for the last two weeks, when I've been on the campaign trail, is tell people the truth. That's the thing they expect. And I think that's why we've gotten the support we've gotten in New Jersey.

Because whether it's good news or bad news, I tell folks in New Jersey the hard truth they need to hear. And even when they disagree with me, David, they've come around to support me. Because they say at least this guy is looking us in the eye and telling us the truth. I think the president failed that test, unfortunately, on Obamacare. Because that's unfortunate for the country. But I never have favored Obamacare. It's a failed policy. We all know that. And the fact is that the president needs to own up to it and tell folks the truth.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, Governor Chris Christie. A lot more to come from you, I'm sure. As we move forward, we'll be watching you closely there in New Jersey and beyond. Thank you for your time this morning, I appreciate it.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE:

David, thanks for having me on, I appreciate it.

DAVID GREGORY:

And coming up here, President Obama's apology over his Obamacare promise. Is it enough? Our roundtable joins me: Joe Scarborough, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Mark Halperin and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. Plus, NBC News Correspondent Harry Smith with a Meet the Press video essay as we approach of the anniversary of a special moment in American history. We’re back in just a short break.

(***Commercial Break***)

ANNOUNCER:

Meet the Press is back with our political roundtable. Here this morning: Mark Halperin, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Donna Edwards and Joe Scarborough. Now, David Gregory.

DAVID GREGORY:

And welcome all. A lot to get to, including Chris Christie and the future of the Republican Party. Joe, your book is coming out at an ideal time, because the Republican Party is looking at the future. Do they see Chris Christie in the center of it?

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Well, I don't know if they do or not. But, you know, this past week it's been fascinating. People have been saying, "Well, are we Chris Christie Republicans or are we Cuccinelli Republicans?" really--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

--ran unsuccessfully for governor in Virginia.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Yeah. We have to have both sides together. It's not an either or. And the day after the election everybody was saying, "Well, who has the best path forward?" We have to have the Ted Cruz wing of the party and the Colin Powell wing of the party back if we want to win elections, like Ike, Nixon and Reagan won it. There's a reason why those guys won for 49 states. There's a reason why, even in 1988, where H.W. Bush won in the landslide over Michael Dukakis. And that's because people like Ted Cruz and people like Colin Powell were all under the same big tent.

We've had this ideological witch hunt for the past three, four years, where you're either insufficiently conservative or else you're a member of the Tea Party and you're too ideologically driven. And so this divide has to-- and this is not kumbaya talk. This is about winning.

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

This is about winning elections like Nick Saban wins football games.

(LAUGHTER)

(OVERTALK)

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

No, I'm dead serious.

DAVID GREGORY:

And why--

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Why are we here if we want to change America, if we want to change the world--

DAVID GREGORY:

And we're going to talk--

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

--we have to start winning elections again.

DAVID GREGORY:

And this is really the thesis of your book, which we're going to talk to when we have a chance to just focus on the book in a little bit. Let's broaden this out, though. Mark Halperin, this is, as Joe says, the fight in the two wings of the Republican Party.

MARK HALPERIN:

It's a huge fight. And the party's going to have to sort it out. And it's got to be done by leaders. It can't be done by people on cable T.V., with all due respect to cable, or the internet or Twitter. Leaders are going to have to play a huge part of this.

And Chris Christie is someone who is magical in the way politicians can be magical, like our last three presidents. People like having them on T.V.. He's a good talker. He won. Joe said winning is really what matters. He wants to win. He's going to take over the Republican Governors Association and see if he can win there.

And the last thing is he wants to change the party. He wants to be a leader to change it. You can't say that about everybody else who people are talking about for '16.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Well, the man I've been just living with, Theodore Roosevelt, was in a similar position. I mean he was more progressive. It may be a different kind of ideology than his party at the time. And through the force of his personality, he dragged the Republican Party to deal with the issues that we're created by the industrial age.

Similar, in a certain way, to some of the traits that Chris Christie has. He was a fighter. He was blunt. He had energy. He had a sense of knowing how to address complex issues and make them very simple, speak softly and carry a big stick, you know, special interests, square deal. That's the kind of way you've got to do it.

But you've got to tell your own party. He would say to the Republican Party, "If you don't come with me on these issues, and you don't begin to deal with child exploitations and maximum hours and minimum wage and labor issues, the Republican Party's going to be dead."

DAVID GREGORY:

Meanwhile, Congresswoman, as much as you might like some of these fissures in the Republican Party, Democrats are dealing with the president in the White House and health care. And The New York Times headline, which really struck me over the weekend, "A White House in Crisis Mode, But Some Allies Prod For More Action.”

Dan Balz in The Washington Post in his column this morning writes the following: "A president famous for his unflappability, he is now struggling to square assurances that he is on top of the problems confronting his administration with assertions that he was unaware of the problems as they were developing." How bad is it all?

REP. DONNA EDWARDS:

Well first of all, I want to throw a little cold water on the Chris Christie thing. He won with 38% of the vote, record low turnout in that election. So I'm not really sure how much it says about what needs to happen nationally. And then with health care, you know, the president has admitted we've got to get it right, got to get the website going, got to get people signed up and deliver health care. But you know what? Republicans in Congress and Republican governors have to stop standing in the way. And that's what they've been doing.

DAVID GREGORY:

In what way? I mean it's--

REP. DONNA EDWARDS:

Not implementing Medicaid--

(OVERTALK)

REP. DONNA EDWARDS:

--Medicaid expansion.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Republican governors, I know that Barack Obama said it wasn't Kathleen Sebelius’ job to make sure the websites ran right, because they weren't I.T. experts. You can't blame Chris Christie. You can't blame John Kasich. You can't blame Republican governors. You can't blame Ted Cruz for this botched launch.

This botched launch is a self inflicted wound by the president. It shows just how disconnected he's been. And he's undercut his best arguments for having the progressive, engaged federal government. And I think we're going to see not only is he going to continue to have I.T. problems on the website, he's also going to continue to have problems as we roll this out and we find out that there are winners and losers in Obamacare. That's not a shock to us. But the President's been promising for four years that we are going to get 30, 31, 32 million new people on the rolls. And everybody is going to be--

(OVERTALK)

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

And everybody was going to be happy.

REP. DONNA EDWARDS:

We're not even 30 days into the implementation yet.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

But--

REP. DONNA EDWARDS:

I know that Republicans want to deep six this thing. But it's not going to happen--

(OVERTALK)

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

--LA Times article that talks about sticker shock. I don't think Republicans are running the editorial page of the LA Times. And you're also talking about the fact that the president made promises that ended up just not being true. That wasn't Ted Cruz's fault.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

But here's what's sad, Joe. I mean what's sad to me is, for two weeks, on the one hand, the Democrats are saying, "Hooray!" 'cause the Republicans screwed up the government shutdown, right? And they're feeling, "This is good for us." Now the Republicans are saying, "Hooray! Obama screwed up the rollout of Obamacare."

MARK HALPERIN:

It's nice to know--

(OVERTALK)

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

But no, the problem-- (LAUGHTER) I think. But the problem is people were hurt in both instances.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Right.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

People were hurt by the government shutdown. They're being hurt by the rollout being screwed up. What's happening to our country when that's what we're feeling, the cheering for the failing of the other side?

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

Here is the president--

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

But the fact is the president did not tell the truth. And it was a calculated mistake.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. Well, here's what he told Chuck Todd about that broken promise, his first real apology for it.

(BEGIN TAPE)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on or finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me, we've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.

(END TAPE)

DAVID GREGORY:

Mark Halperin, is that enough?

MARK HALPERIN:

I try not to be hyperbolic, and try not to judge things so after 30 days. I think the President's second term is in the balance here, not just fixing the web-sites, and not just restoring people's understanding, or giving people an understanding, of what this program is supposed to do: lower costs, expand coverage, make our health care system more rational than it was.

I think the credibility of his entire presidency's on the line, and the ability to work with Republicans. It seems to me the President's going to be dealing with the Republican House for the balance of his term. And if he cannot lower the temperature on health care, if he cannot find a way to work together with the other party in places on health care, I think this term is going to be very--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

Here's the question that I have. And we're focused on the politics of it, the liability. We know there's going to be a big issue in 2014. People I talk to, you know, my viewers out there, I think, are also asking this. What happens if they don't meet the goals? What happens if the website does not, you know, get operational at some point? What happens to the ultimate goal of helping people that are supposed to be helped?

REP. DONNA EDWARDS:

Well, I think--

DAVID GREGORY:

Is that question being asked?

REP. DONNA EDWARDS:

You know, I think that's a legitimate question. And I think what you heard from the president is him saying, you know, "Number one, it was my fault, and people relied on it. And number two, we have an obligation to get this right not just because of the politics but precisely because, otherwise, people fall through the cracks and they don't have health care."

And I think that he's expressed that as a legitimate concern. I think he's said to us and to the American people that he wants to get this right. And you know what? In my state, I know that we have to for 450,000 people who don't have health care.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

And, you know, the positive news coming out of this is the fact that we are going to have to get this right. The President's going to have to go to Congress and he's going to have to work with Republicans and Democrats alike. The fact is, and David Ignatius was on our show a week or two ago. And he really put it well, where he said this was an overreach. The president overreached not just politically, but he also overreached on substance as well. He tried to do too much with just Democrats. You know, we didn't even get--

(OVERTALK)

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Hold it a second. We didn't even get to 60--

(OVERTALK)

REP. DONNA EDWARDS:

--an opportunity to work with the president.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Yes. They certainly did.

REP. DONNA EDWARDS:

And they haven't been doing--

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Well, listen. I try not to be partisan. I really try not to. And as Republicans, (CHUCKLE) they will tell you, a long list of Republicans on Capitol Hill will tell you I succeed in not being partisan. The fact of the matter is the president made a decision back in 2009 he was going to ram this down the Republicans' throat. He was going to do it in a way where he didn't get a single Republican vote.

Remember, Harry Reid decided to go from 60 to 51 votes. He couldn't even get conservative Democrats. If you're talking about Social Security, and Doris will tell you this, if you're talking about Medicare, if you're talking about any sweeping new plan that's going to--

DAVID GREGORY:

All right.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

I want to get your--

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

--both parties involved.

DAVID GREGORY:

I just, with the remaining time, I want to get to something else that has come up this morning. And you heard it from the Secretary of State. This is news, this is developing, but a little bit of history here as we approach the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. You heard Secretary Kerry say he does not think that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

This was the headline in The New York Times after The Warren Report was issued. And the real focus here is that he acted alone. That was the conclusion. It was an interview, initially, that Secretary Kerry gave with my colleague, Tom Brokaw for a documentary about the JFK assassination. We'll play a portion of that.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY:

To this day, I have serious doubts that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

I certainly have doubts that he was motivated by himself. I'm not sure if anybody else was involved I don't go down that road with respect to the grassy knoll theory and all of that. But I have serious questions about whether they got to the bottom of Lee Harvey Oswald's time and influence from Cuba and Russia.

(END TAPE)

DAVID GREGORY:

Doris? Striking? (CHUCKLE)

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

It is stunning, actually. You know, the interesting thing is I think it's hard for some people to think he acted along because you want to believe there was some more meaning to the act. When something's random like that, I think that's why so many people search for something must have been bigger.

I remember my husband was talking to Bobby Kennedy in 1966, and hardly ever said anything, my husband being Richard Goodwin. But all of a sudden, he brought it out, much like Senator Kerry said, "You know, if he didn't act alone, it probably was the mafia." And that was the last thing he said.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

But Bobby said that.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Bobby Kennedy.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Yeah.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Yeah. I mean I think there's a need. But that's where the conspiracy stuff comes in. But it's fun to have him say, "Without evidence," (LAUGHTER). I like that he can speak. There's so girdled up, all these people, right now.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

You're right, 'cause they speak their mind.

(OVERTALK)

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

We like them to speak their mind.

DAVID GREGORY:

We particularly like them to speak their mind.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

We're going to come up, more with Joe Scarborough with the first preview of his new book, The Right Path, and why he believes the phrase, "I Like Ike" has special meaning for 2016. We'll get a little bit deeper into the future of the Republican Party with Joe right after this.

(***Commercial Break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

We're back. And I'm here once again with the host of Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough. He's out with a new book called The Right Path, a look at how the Republican Party of today can learn from its past success. And I'm thrilled to be able to do the first preview on this, Joe, because the book is compelling. And it's so on-topic. It's great timing to be so--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

I know. Because you--

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

--shot down-- (LAUGHTER)--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

You had it all.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Yeah.

DAVID GREGORY:

But you had a big idea in this book. And it is a path to winning that's based on pragmatism over ideology. That's how I would synthesize it. And here's something that you wrote in the book.

You write, "We have to stop electing amateurs in primaries who serve as little more than ideological indulgences, who exploit resentments that play well enough among the base, but whose positions make them non-viable in general elections." And you heard Chris Christie say this morning this has got to be a strategy that's about winning.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

It's got to be about winning. And when you say--

DAVID GREGORY:

More than arguments. More than just the arguments.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

More than argument. And it can't be about just ideological indulgences. We can go through so many Senate races over the past two elections. And we, time and time again, have selected people that were amateurs, that weren't ready for prime time, that everybody knew was going to lose a general elections.

And it can't be about petty resentments anymore. We have to think bigger. We have to come up with our own agenda, a bigger agenda, a bigger plan, like we did, you know, like Reagan did, like Ike did, like we did in '94 when we got elected. And so back the majority for the first time in a generation.

But there also has to be this understanding that Americans are conservative with a small C. They want somebody who's ideologically conservative but also moderate temperamentally. Ike was that way. Reagan was that way. You know, Nixon was that way. There's a reason why we used to win 49 state landslides. And now we've lost five out of the last six elections in--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

But is the argument just about compromise? Is it just about moderation?

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

No.

DAVID GREGORY:

Or is it about--

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

No.

DAVID GREGORY:

--seeing the political reality that Americans, at some level, want government to play a large enough role to solve big problems?

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Yeah, right. And it's not about compromise. It's not even about ideological moderation. It is, though, about political moderation, understanding that you've got to be relevant to the center of America. Republicans, and people forget this, we used to be the party to beat. Every four years, Democrats would pull their hair out, because they knew we were going to figure out how to reach the middle of America.

Now, during the Cold War, we did that because people thought we were the strongest party to do that. During George W. Bush's, you know, reelection in 2004, when Democrats were sure they had him defeated, Americans trusted George Bush. More thought that he was at the middle of America more.

We've lost that. We lost it in 2008, we lost it in 2012. And I say this to my very conservative friends, we've got to figure out a way to move forward together, or else you're going to have Hillary Clinton for two terms, and you’re going to have Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton picking Supreme Court justices for six years and shaping the way that our federal government's run.

DAVID GREGORY:

But it's well known--

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

That would transform government for 50 years, who got the--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

The nominating wing of the party, which is the Tea Party face right now, it is Ted Cruz right now. He gets huge, you know--

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

But that's not the nominating wing of the party. Those are people that-- those sort of candidates that we had in 2012, you see it all the time, they come out early on. The media loves to talk about them for a year and a half. They got out, they do pretty well in Iowa, they do pretty well in New Hampshire. And then, when the snow starts to fade away in Iowa, these candidates start fading away, they turn south, and they go back to the Midwest. And they never win.

But that is the focus. Our brand's been battered over the past year and a half, and they've been battered by a lot of these people. Again, I go back to it. Forget their ideology. They're political amateurs. I had some good friends, good friends, who were at the center of this shutdown strategy. I disagreed with them not because of ideology, just because of dumb tactics.

As I said to a good friend from Texas, I said, "It's like running up the middle on fourth and 31 because you think it makes you look like more of a man. No. You're going to lose." (LAUGHTER) Punt the ball.

DAVID GREGORY:

The book is The Right Path by Joe Scarborough. Joe, thanks so much for--

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Thanks so much.

DAVID GREGORY:

--sticking with us. Coming up here, the anniversary of a sacred moment in American history. NBC News correspondent Harry Smith with the meaning of Lincoln's speech at Gettysburg, coming up now on 150 years later, after this.

(***Commercial Break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

We're back. It was a short speech, 272 words, to be exact. But it shaped a nation at a perilous time. NBC News Correspondent Harry Smith on assignment for Meet the Press has a special report as we approach the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

(BEGIN TAPE)

HARRY SMITH:

WE'RE AT THE EVERGREEN CEMETERY IN GETTYSBURG PENNSYLVANIA. PRESIDENT LINCOLN DELIVERED THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS SOMEWHERE AROUND HERE…PROBABLY RIGHT OVER THERE. OF LINCOLN AND THE SPEECH, THE DAILY CLEVELAND HERALD SAID…..'HE SHOULD NOT HAVE SAID LESS. WE DO NOT BELIEVE ANY OTHER MAN IN THE SAME NUMBER OF WORDS COULD HAVE SAID MORE.”

(SOUND OF DRUMS)

GETTYSBURG: A BRUTAL THREE DAY BATTLE OF INCOMPREHENSIBLE CARNAGE. UNTIL GETTYSBURG ROBERT E LEE THOUGHT HIS ARMY WAS INVINCIBLE.

WHEN PRESIDENT LINCOLN SPOKE HERE 5 MONTHS LATER …THE WAR’S OUTCOME WAS ANYTHING BUT CERTAIN.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS IS NOT SO MUCH A SPEECH BUT A PRAYER. A RE AFFIRMATION OF FAITH

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

Lincoln was speaking to all americans but his remarks had even greater meaning for African Americans. Scott Hancock is an historian at Gettysburg College.

SCOTT HANCOCK:

I think for African Americans, the Gettysburg Address becomes more important over time. African Americans then and since, they understood equality and freedom to be linked and to not just be legal freedom, but that it meant the whole ball of wax.

HARRY SMITH:

THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION HAD JUST BEEN SIGNED THAT JANUARY. LINCOLN HAD DOUBLED DOWN ON THE MORAL PROMISE OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. THE WAR WAS A FIGHT FOR AMERICA'S SOUL.

LINCOLN SAID, THE WORLD WILL LITTLE NOTE NOR LONG REMEMBER WHAT WE SAY HERE BUT, IT CAN NEVER FORGET WHAT THEY DID HERE

PRESIDENT LINCOLN PROMISES THERE IS SANCTITY IN THE SACRIFICE OF THOSE WHO DIED.

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.

AND LINCOLN DECLARES QUITE PLAINLY THAT THE DEAD HAVE LEFT THE LIVING WITH A GREAT RESPONSIBILITY.

… that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom

SCOTT HANCOCK:

You know, Lincoln's using rhetoric. But he's living the reality of it, as are Americans then. What the cost is of not having freedom and equality. And I think we can use things like the Gettysburg address and the Civil War and what happens here in the battle to understand-- what's involved, you know, what we-- we may be called to do at some point. And if -- and ask the question, "Are we willing to do that? What are we willing to do to achieve freedom and equality?"

A NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM. LINCOLN IS INVOKING A KIND OF RESURRECTION. HE IS PRAYING THAT THE WAR THAT HAS BROKEN THE COUNTRY IN TWO, A WAR THAT WILL LEAVE MORE THAN A HALF MILLION AMERICANS DEAD, IS NOT THE END OF US BUT A NEW BEGINNING.

That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

IT IS A PRAYER WE STILL PRAY.

FOR MEET THE PRESS, I'M HARRY SMITH.

(END TAPE)

DAVID GREGORY:

And Doris, you are still struck about how meaningful the speech was at the time when you really sit back and think about it.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN

Well, there's two things about it. One is that he gave a story of our country and a meaning to that war that was understood by the people at the time. But more importantly, even, he set a maxim for what a free society should be. Think of it, at that time, there were still slaves in the south, blacks in the north had many other problems. They couldn't be on juries. They couldn't intermarry. Women couldn't vote. And property owners couldn't vote.

He's saying, when you have a government of the people, by the people, for the people, "This is your standard. You're never going to reach it, but you have to keep journeying." And we're still on that journey today.

DAVID GREGORY:

Thank you all for a great discussion. The Bully Pulpit is your book. It's out in stores now. So is Double Down, The Right Path. Thanks to all of you here. That is all for today. We'll be back next week. If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

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