Roundtable II: This Week in Politics

George Will, Rep. Joaquín Castro, Newt Gingrich, Ruth Marcus, and Stuart Stevens.
17:21 | 02/17/13

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Transcript for Roundtable II: This Week in Politics
Numberooth. It would have been less awkward had he been wearing one of these on his head during the speech. Oh, my god, I asked for sparkling water. You tweeted out the water bottle yourself. You've gotten there again. You know the thing that you've shown is your ability to laugh at yourself. Do you have anything to add to that tweet from last night? No, I needed water. What am I going to do? You know, it happens. All right. Back again with the roundtable. We'll get to the watergate in a second, but the serious news with marco rubio was this white house immigration plan that leaked overnight and his, you know, pretty strong attack against it. I've got to ask you, congressman castro, even your democratic colleague from texas, said it would be better if the president would let congress take the lead on this. Is the white house botching the effort to get a bipartisan deal here? Well, remember, this was leaked so it's not something that the white house rolled out and it's also clear that it's incomplete. So I think, no, I think, look, it's important that every branch of government, the executive and legislative branch both work on this and I also think there's a silver lining in this which is that there are a lot of commonalities between the two plans including a path to citizenship so there's a lot to work with there. But let me ask you what i ASKED denis McDonough, which is why hasn't he talked to rubio about this? The only people that have gone down to the white house is all democrats. Sure, I think because all of that is still in the process. It hasn't happened yet. It will happen before something attacks and before something is passed certainly. Stuart? Well, I hope that they speak to the senator about it because to have success here, you have to have a plan that passes and that has not only the votes to get it but has the consensus support among and that's the great, the great missing element here is a consensus of what needs to be done. You have a moment here that's been created. It's a tremendous opportunity for the president to show leadership here. You have a senator in marco rubio who is showing I think true courage here in trying to solve a problem. They should go forward and not just stall here. And, george, I have to say the white house seems genuinely irritated that this leaked, as I could imagine. Yeah, as I can imagine. Look, there's a great consensus on the two really contentious issues that have bedeviled us for a generation. First, 11 million people who are here are not going to be deported and are not going to self-deport. The american people would not tolerate the police measures necessary to extract from our community these people, a majority of whom have been here five, six, seven, eight or more years. Secondly, we need immigrants. We need them for seasonal labor. We need them for construction industries. There are all kinds of industries dependent on this so we have the consensus on this. The problem is not stopping the flood from mexico. It stopped two years ago, the mexican economy furthermore is doing better than ours is and as it grows it's going to solve the immigration problem largely that way. More than any fence can. More than any fence can, exactly. You brought up the phrase self-deport so I want to flash back since we have a republican primary reunion to that moment in the republican primary when mitt romney brought this issue up. Look, if you don't deport them, how do you send them home? Well, the answer is self-deportation which is people decide that they can do better by going home because they can't find work here because they don't have legal documentation to allow them to work here and so we're not going to round people up. Oer gingrich, how much damage did mitt romney do not just to his own election prospects there but to the republican brand with how he handled that issue? Oh, I think that and the 47% comment were fatal. If you look at the polling data from univision and others, the minute he got into self-deportation, both asian-americans and latino-americans said, don't talk to me about jobs, deportment, you expect that my grandmother is going to go home? Don't talk to me, and you couldn't break through, and look at the last ad that the obama campaign ran in spanish for the last few weeks of the campaign, it was just mitt romney. And, jon, I think the republican party understands that and that's why I think there is going to be immigration reform. The president wants it. It's really his top legislative priority. The republican party wants it for the reason that it would like to retain, regain the presidency at some point but congressman ryan in his interview with you used the phrase "delicate balance," and there were two delicate balances here. The first is the balance of whether the degree to which the president inserts himself into the process, the legislative process, or whether he holds back. For the white house there's a little bit of a rerun of health care here where they held back too long and let the process slip away. But they've been urged to stay out a little bit so you have that back and forth. The other delicate balance is the degree to which the republican party can bring itself to do what it knows it needs to do in terms of comprehensive immigration reform and so I think the unhappiness that senator rubio expressed also reflected the delicate nature of how far republicans can go in creating that pathway to citizenship. Let me say something, the republican party had a problem with hispanic voters before this primary. I don't think it got better during the primary certainly and I think that -- I mean, it got worse. -- That's regrettable, but if you look at the numbers, it didn't get significantly worse. The greatest appeal that the obama campaign had for hispanic voters turned out to be obama care and they ran a tremendous amount of their advertising appealing to hispanic voters. It was the only place in their advertising where they talked about obama care, it was to the hispanic community because an extraordinary percentage of hispanic voters are uninsured and that was smart politics. They did it well. The party was also known as the party that was against obama care, and that hurt us. There's not one solution here for the problems that republicans have with hispanic voters, and I think -- well, immigration suddenly solves it. And I hope and pray we can get through this stage and we come to some sort of consensus here and go forward. Immigration is a big part of this. Were you struck by how kind of over the top marco rubio's response was to this? I mean it was a draft. It wasn't -- the white house wasn't putting it out and he, you know, came out blazing on this. I'd like to see the details of what he finds in it that is offensive or left out that is important to add to it. In that sense it strikes me as this may tell us something about the many pressures, conflicting pressures on marco rubio. He's been on the cover of "time" magazine, anointed the savior of republican party. That's a big lot ofressure and I'm sure he has heard from members of the republican party, some of whom do not want to be saved with the kind of immigration reform he has in mind. Jonathan, and I would point out I think that's right. I think his response was very eager. I think within 30 minutes after "usa today" broke that story, they had put something out. I think it would be better to be constructive, to actually get with the white house, get with the democratic folks in congress and figure out what we can do to work together on this. But -- go ahead. And I would also say that as far as immigration goes, I think health care, education, other issues for the latino community are very important just like all americans, but they do use, i think, that immigration issue to sort out who the good guys and bad guys are in politics. So it's not just tone, but it's also the policies that were passed in arizona, in alabama, in georgia, and those aren't going away for awhile. I think there's a very important part of this, the obama administration probably can't bring itself to deal with. An obama immigration plan is not I'm just saying just from a bush social security plan after '04 was dped because it was the bush social security plan, so if you want to actually get legislation -- will a rubio immigration plan pass the house? No, but I think a rubio -- the house republicans and house democrats have been meeting on immigration. I mean I think there will be a house immigration bill that has a very substantial support that boehner and kantor and others will be supporting and I think that negotiated with a senate immigration bill that has to have bipartisan support could actually get to the president's desk. But an obama plan led and driven by obama in this atmosphere with the level of hostility towards the president and the way he goads the hostility I think is very hard to imagine that bill -- that his bill will pass the house. Newt brings up the really interesting leadership conundrum of obama. Because on the one hand you have republicans demanding that the president lead and demanding the president plan and then you have the reality on the ground that when the president does lead, the answer is, no way. It becomes radioactive. Yes, and so -- go ahead. That's become a litmus test of the president. Is this about politics or is this about passing a bill? Because you have in senator rubio someone who really is doing something here extraordinary, trying to and he could be a partner in this process to help get it through. But one thing, stu -- and they're going to use that person and try to help and work with him and lower the temperature of all of this and not be leaking plans and not be calling bluffs and try to get something done. If you get -- this is a moment. Well, we don't know who leaked, and the question -- I'm a big believer in working together, and I'm a big believer in reaching out. I also think newt is exactly right, if you reach out too publicly, if you embrace too much, you're going to doom your plan, and so it's very complicated and especially because of the cross pressures on rubio and the republican party that george mentioned. If the president wants any substantial legislative achievement in the next four years and every hour that passes it's got to be this. It's as distant as the peloponnesian wars now. Go back to tuesday night. He said he's going to redesign high schools. No, he isn't. He said we'll have manufacturing hubs and scores of solyndras along the way and more croneyism, capitalism and double down on head start. 47 years of experience with head start and know all the good has dissipated by the third grade. None of that is going to happen. This could happen. So, this is -- the stakes are extremely high for the republicans, not just the president in terms of a legislative achievement. We have as much talked about republican reboot. "The new york times" magazine has a cover story today on the republicans and their problem with technology, and, stuart, this quote caught my eye, "romney's senior strategist stuart stevens, may well be remembered by historians as the last guy to run a presidential campaign who never tweeted." Really made -- I had tweeted in this campaign, this whole discussion we've been having about the second amendment would probably be replaced about the first amendment and whether or not it should apply to tweeting. Listen, I don't think that it would be a great mistake if we felt that technology in itself is going to save the republican party. Technology is something to a large degree you can go out and purchase, and if we think there's an off-the-shelf solution that you can purchase with the republican party, it's wrong. You know, we've had a lot of chance since the campaign to spend time with the obama folks and sometimes they had better technology. Some cases we have better technology. We don't have a 140-character problem in the republican party. We have a larger problem that we have to look at and be patient about it. And trying to think that there's one solution like this, I just don't think -- are we ever going to get you on twitter, though? We can discuss that. So you disagree with this and think there's a big technology -- I think the way stuart just said it is exactly right. The technology problem is a culture problem. I mean the democrats had 54 data ANALYSTS AND WERE HIRING Ph.D.s In advanced math because they were using the most advanced decision processes in the country. They were bringing in behavioral scientists. They were trying to figure out how you talk to 311 million people and do so in a way that you can survive 8% unemployment and get re-elected and it worked. Now, I think it's actually -- he's right in a sense it's a cultural problem. None of our consultants would have imagined hiring 54 people in the decision area. None of them would have imagined having 24 people who did nothing full time except e-mails and blind tested the best e-mails to see which ones worked. I mean, this -- they are a super bowl team that we ought to respect deeply, and we are currently a midlevel college team floundering around, and i agree. It's not just -- you cust go out and buy this. This is a fundamental rethinking of how you relate to the american people. And, frankly, most of them -- I mean, I'm embarrassed to say i felt election day we'd win. I couldn't imagine this economy and obama getting re-elected and that made me think if an airplane hits the mountain, maybe you better buy new radar. Yeah, it's definitely a radar issue there. Quickly because I want to move on. The republican party's technology problem is a little like its immigration problem. It's necessary but not sufficient for it to get up to speed on those things. It won't help it win. I think about the republican party like the old joke how many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb. The lightbulb has to change. The republican party has to decide it wants to change. So I want to move on to this dustup over chuck hagel. And, george, the republicans delayed this. on. A lot who voted against having the vote said, no, no, I'll let it happen in two weeks. Are the republicans playing a dangerous game by blocking hagel and brennan, defense and cia, when they know that both of them are ultimately going to be confirmed? Because they do know that and because most sensible republicans believe that a president is owed vasteference in picking his cabinet because the cabinet leaves when he leaves and the cabinet exists to implement his policies, neither is true of judicial appointments, for example, now, chuck hagel took that principle and made it really hard to subscribe to with this appalling performance in his hearing. Nevertheless, if the president wants a terrible secretary of defense, he's got a right to him, and I think he'll get him. A big endorsement. Why are the republicans playing this game? There's a secondary part which I think george would subscribe to. The constitution divides power. This is one of the first occasions where you see the republicans in the senate say we want to remind the executive branch that you have to have some deference to us. Lindsey graham's point is tell us the rest of the benghazi story. Other folks would like to know more about where did hagel's money came from. I don't find it unseemly to say to a potential secretary of defense or secretary of the treasury, tell me what you've been doing while you were out of public office. Let me point out also you had north korea doing its nuclear test. We've got a drawdown on afghanistan, all of these very significant issues and chuck hagel is being asked about sneaking fees that he may have received three or four or five years ago. May or may not have received. And I want to show you the one guy more than any other that blocked this is the new senator, ted cruz. Barely in office a month and listen to this exchange he had WITH john McCain. It is at a minimum relevant to know if that $200,000 that he deposited in his bank account came directly from saudi arabia, came directly from north korea. Senator hagel is an honorable man. He has served his country, and no one on this committee at any time should impugn his character or his integrity. Now, cruz went on to say, i don't have any evidence that moneys come from north korea but I mean this is a fellow member of the texas delegation. Sure, and I met ted, and he's always been nice to me, but that was, quite frankly, shameful to suggest that somebody that was a decorated veteran in vietnam, who was wounded and hurt for his country was not loyal to his country i think really is quite harsh and had no place there. You know what, he's not running for senator congeniality and he doesn't much care. There was no predicate for suggesting that that money came from north korea or any other very horrible country, and as the former solicitor general of texas, he ought to know better than that. If you look at this cruz story, the hagel story more broadly, if washington wanted to come up with a way to look worse, i can't imagine one. You know, first of all, I'm with george. The president is entitled to his nominee, but his performance, i was going to go with execrable but I'll settle for appalling. It was an appalling performance. Okay. And now the republicans just want to make themselves look even more obstructionist with a country frustrated with that. Come on. If you don't like him, vote against him. This is just such washington nonsense. Look at what democrats did to clarence thomas, you look at what democrats did to judge bork. You look at the three months that john tower was hung out to dry by the senate, this is -- but you're not endorsing that behavior. No, I'm saying to this brand-new standard, no matter how stupid chuck hagel is, no matter how bad his performance, we all know he is an honorable man. How do we know that. We are unfortunately out of table. Great roundtable. Thank you very much for joining us. Joaquin castro, stuart stevens, george will, ruth marcus and

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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