Today on State of the Union, we released new polls showing the president is withstanding a trio of controversies. A CNN/ORC Poll shows his job approval rating is steady at 53%. White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer said the president is moving ahead with his second term agenda including improving the economy and immigration reform. Regarding the alarming number of military sexual assaults, Pfeiffer said the “lack of response and action …is completely unacceptable.” Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) pointed to an “error of judgment” by President Obama and then Secretary of State Clinton regarding security at the Benghazi consulate. He wondered why “no one's accepting responsibility and no one was fired” after the attacks that left four Americans dead last September.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) on Benghazi
“I think there was some misdirection and some political nature to the talking points, but I think that's always missed the point that what's most important is someone made a decision to put an embassy and consulate in a war-torn country with no host country to guard that embassy or consulate, leaving the guarding and security up to a militia. [extra space here?] That decision alone was a terrible and tragic error.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) on the IRS targeting conservative groups
“I can't believe that one agent sort of started this, one rogue agent started this, because it seems to be too widespread. And, we do need to get to the bottom of this, but I think what the American people want is just like on Benghazi. Why does Benghazi go on? No one was ever fired? So, people made tragic errors. No one's accepting responsibility and no one was fired.”
Dan Pfeiffer, White House Senior Adviser, on when the president learned about IRS targeting conservative groups
“When it came out in the news a week ago Friday, I think. And here's why. Because here's the cardinal rule when you know a situations like these, not for just for this White House but for all White Houses is you do not interfere in an independent investigation and you do not do anything to give off the appearance of interference in an independent investigation.”
Dan Pfeiffer, White House Senior Adviser, on American’s trust in government
“I think this is a long running tradition in sort of how Americans view government is they have great faith in our democracy as they should, because we have the greatest system in the world and it works. But government - there is a healthy skepticism of government in this country. And where there are problems like there were in the IRS this week, we have to address them in order to build that confidence up.”
ON STATE OF THE UNION
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) talked to Candy about the Benghazi hearings saying "clearly politics was at play" in the editing of the talking points after the attack and revelations that the IRS targeted some Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny: “It is absolutely chilling that the IRS was singling out conservative groups for extra review. And I think that it's very disappointing that the president hasn't personally condemned this and spoken out.”
On this Cinco de Mayo Sunday, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin joined Candy to discuss the Boston bombing investigation and implications of the attack for immigration reform, as well as future prospects for gun control legislation.
Rep. Peter King of New York also weighed in on Boston, as well as the latest developments in the ongoing conflict in Syria.
A panel of experts including Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, Jessica Stern, Suhail Khan and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross discussed the causes and process of terrorist radicalization and ways to identify someone who has become self-radicalized.
Finally, AB Stoddard of The Hill and Jeanne Cummings of Bloomberg News broke down the week’s big political news.
Today on State of the Union, the Boston bombing case turns the corner from the hot pursuit of suspects to the deliberative pursuit of answers. Sen. Mo Cowan (D-MA) on the rebound of Boston. Plus, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) on intelligence failures. And the impact of Boston on the immigration debate with Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
ON STATE OF THE UNION
Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy spoke about the sweeping gun legislation his state passed a few days ago, in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook. He responded to NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre's criticism of Connecticut's gun legislation:
"Wayne reminds me of the clowns at the circus. They get the most attention, and that's what he's paid to do. ... "Why should you be able to buy a gun or buy, you know, armor-piercing munitions? It doesn't make any sense. He doesn't make any sense, thus, my reference to the circus."
ON STATE OF THE UNION
Today... minimizing the political and economic fallout from Washington's latest so-called "manufactured crisis."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spoke about what's next now that the mandatory budget cuts are in effect and whether a bipartisan compromise is on the horizon. "We promised the American people we would do this a year and a half ago. And here we are, already walking away from the spending reductions that we promised to make without tax increases."
McConnell also weighed in on his reelection effort for 2014 and criticized a group in Kentucky that made reference to his wife's ethnicity in a tweet. "There's a left-wing group down here in Kentucky that's already issued racial slurs against my wife and already questioned my own patriotism."
The Obama administration’s use of drones took center stage on this morning’s State of the Union. First, Candy spoke with Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) who questioned whether using drones to kill American citizens abroad was constitutional. He also looked ahead to that other State of the Union; the address President Obama will give on Tuesday night. Paul will give the Tea Party response and told Candy he believes the Tea Party still has a role to play in shaping conservative policies. Maine’s new Independent senator, Angus King told Candy he had misgivings about the unchecked use of drones.
ON STATE OF THE UNION
Candy Crowley sat down with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey to discuss Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel's confirmation hearings, the U.S. troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, and the threat of al Qaeda in North Africa and lingering questions about the Benghazi attack. Panetta says his biggest concern is "if the sequester is allowed to go into effect, I think it could seriously impact on the readiness in the United States. And that's a serious issue." Dempsey echoed him "I couldn't agree more. We face a true readiness crisis."
Then our panel – The Hill's Associate Editor A.B. Stoddard, Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Former Obama Adviser Melody Barnes and Time Magazine's Executive Editor Mike Duffy – talked immigration, guns, and the economy's mixed signals.
Plus, 2006 Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward shares his take on the growing focus on head injuries in the NFL "I mean, as players, we know what we sign up for. The NFL is not for everybody."
And finally, on Super Bowl Sunday what can Washington learn from football? Fmr. VA Sen. George Allen tells us they aren't so different.
The day before the one month anniversary of the Newtown school shooting, Candy sat down with National Rifle Association President David Keene to discuss his organization’s involvement in Vice President Biden’s White House meetings on gun control and the NRA’s opposition to gun control legislation. Speaking to Candy from Newtown, Connecticut senator Chris Murphy made the case for an assault weapons ban.
Former Utah governor and Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) spoke with Candy about their No Labels movement and their hopes of forging greater bipartisanship in Congress in dealing with gun violence and other issues.
Finally, we broke down the week’s news on guns and President Obama’s Cabinet nominees with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R- Tennessee), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D- Maryland), Michael Scherer of Time Magazine and Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times.
Today on State of the Union with Candy Crowley, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), joined Candy to discuss the status of the fiscal cliff negotiations. Sen. Barrasso stated, “We're trying to line up Rubik's cube right now. We're not there yet. So we're going to be meeting later today. This is going to continue and then go on till tomorrow.” And Sen. Stabenow offered, “I'm willing to do more. I have $24 billion sitting on a farm bill in cuts we passed to the House. The House committee passed spending cuts that would stop big subsidies to farmers who shouldn't be receiving them. The House won't take it up. So I'm happy to do more reasonable spending cuts, but not if over and over the middle class gets hit.”
Candy also sat down with Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) during our noon hour to discuss the latest with the fiscal cliff negotiations and to respond to Pres. Obama’s comments. Sen. Corker told Candy “I think what's been missing here, Candy, is it appears to me that the president either lacks the courage or the will to lay out those specific things that need to happen. Because I assure you, if he would lay those out, the House would take it up, the Senate would take it up, and we could move this behind us, and we could start this next year with the wind at our back and this fiscal issue behind us, like most of us would like to do.”
Plus, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the farm bill, the cost of ignoring rural America, and how rural America sees the gun debate.
GETTING TO KNOW
Watch our online exclusive segment Getting to Know “Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack”
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming)
“What we're seeing here is a monumental failure of presidential leadership. The president is the only person with a pen who can sign this, and it's the president's responsibility to work on something that the House will pass, the senate will pass and that he will sign. But he is outsourcing this. He continues to campaign and lecture when he ought to be focusing on the number one problem that hurts us as a country, which is our debt. And the problem is a spending problem.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) on reaching a deal to avert to the fiscal cliff:
“I would bet my life that over the next very short period of time, 98 to 99 percent of the people in the country are going to be rescued.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) on reaching a debt deal with the president:
“It appears to me that the president either lacks the courage or the will to lay out those specific things that need to happen. Because I assure you, if he would lay those out, the House would take it up, the Senate would take it up, and we could move this behind us, and we could start this next year with the wind at our back and this fiscal issue behind us, like most of us would like to do.”
Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, on the farm bill:
“It is unconscionable that we don't have a farm bill. This is just historic. You have every single major commodity group and farm group in the country united in the message to get this work done if Congress doesn't get it done. You can’t point to a time when Congress has been this reluctant to pass farm legislation.”
Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, on rural America:
“We're losing our young people because we're not doing a particularly good job of sending the right proactive message from an economic perspective. And that then translates into a lack of support for programs that are important to rural America.”