Hardball | February 19, 2013
>>> obama's second term is under way, of course, and that means one thing, it's legacy building time, but pushing through a democratic agenda becomes much easier when the party controls both the house and the senate , of course. it's a tough challenge for 2014 when you look at the map. mark begich in alaska, mark pryer in ashe, mary landrieu , mack baucus, kay haguen and tim johnson are all looking at potentially tough races in states mitt romney won as will the democrat who runs for jay rockefeller 's seat in wsk. nor is it a cake walk in the few blue states either. for example in iowa, minnesota where you have democrats running for the senate . conservatives see a big opportunity. they took a look at this front page story as we did in the washington times today. quote, obama agenda is risky for red state democrats . guy cecil has good news for democrats . he pulled a rabbit, rather a donkey, out of his hat last year when the democrats gained seats. actually gained seats in a year that looked like a sure loser for democrats . that's his job to pull off another miracle and hang onto the senate . maggie has beenerman is at politi politico, a senior politico reporter. this is important although it's a year and a half off, people want to know how obama is going to make it. is he going to put points on the board, immigration reform , something on gun safety . he be likes to talk about himself being a center left version i think of a ronald reagan meaning he wants to get into the history books. the question is can he do it with a republican house? probably not. he's hoping to switch it. let's talk about the senate , however. a lot of people in the democratic party are lucky to be in the senate because they don't match up with the way those states vote in presidential elections. is this a danger?
>> well, it's always a danger. the question is how do you deal with it?
>> how do you beat the spread?
>> we have a road map from what happened in 2012 . we don't have to guess about what was going to happen. there was no one daying we passed the affordable care act , that's an easy vote so we can move on to something else. our incumbents last cycle voted for tough things time after time and they won. we had five senators win in states the president lost. heidi heitkamp upon in north dakota . the president lost by 21 points. the way do you it is you represent the people of your state. people in north dakota are the same as anywhere else. they don't want a xerox machine as their senator that looks at where the president votes and does the same thing. they want something that represents their state and the thing we have to learn is the lesson the republicans are trying to teach us. the fastest way to be a minority party is to have a long list of things that everyone has to check off in order to be a member of the party. if we're going to win in manhattan and in minot, we have to be able to actually talk to both sets of people at the same time and we got to have people that represent their states and we have to be a party that's willing to allow people to vote their conscience.
>> i'm looking at a couple of the senators who are women, kay haguen in north carolina , mag zbi, and, of course, mary landrieu , she escapes the vengeance of the right every six years. she manages to get re-elected down there by being careful and by being very respectful of the local attitudes about politics, especially like guns in louisiana and immigration, of course, down there. if you're the democratic leader, do you want to advise people to vote with the majority and help them pass bills or save themselves?
>> i think you're going to see a little bit of both not to step on guy's territory here. but i think that you will see some public boosterism and you will see people privately getting a pass. i think you have seen it in response to immigration in the last couple days with some of the senators you have discussed a minute ago who are not offering up huge stands in support of getting something done immediately. they're taking more of a wait and see attitude. i think you're going to see a lot of that. where i think you will see it more, however, is on guns. i think that's going to be much tougher sell.
>> well, we were talking about it before we went on and my concern watching politics, not being in it, is the gun people, the second amendment people who are really ferocious on that issue and fairly so. that's their position. it's democracy. they don't forget. so michael bloomberg can go into a state and he could potentially, he's not going to do it, drop $5 million or $10 million. he's doing in the south side in chicago but he's going to leave. he's going to go into other issues. wind energy or something he's interested in and that person is still there trying to get re-elected.
>> the fact of the matter is we're not going to get 100% of all democratic votes for every piece of gun control legislation that goes through the senate . we are going --
>> if you were harry reid and you work with him and the democrats , would you encourage him to expose people like mark pryor down in arkansas and max baucus out in montana? would you ask them to vote on an assault weapons ban ?
>> i think harry reid will give them the same advice i give them in private which is when you agree with the president, you should say so. and when you disagree with the president --
>> don't buckle from pressure from the white house .
>> we have seen mark pryor has come out in opposition. i suspect you will see a couple others, but i would just juxtapose that against what's happening on the other side. the reason we're starting in the senate first is because john boehner and the leaders on the house side can't get anything done. they can't get a majority of their own party to support the speaker's own --
>> do you realize how their strategy could work. you and the senate will be the first cut. you are the first guys going over the top in world war 1 blowing the whistles, cutting through the con ser tina wire. you guys could get mowed down. i'm thinking about pryor, begich, landrieu, haguen, tim johnson . they all have to vote up or down. what happens is the house which is run by republicans, they don't have to take on issues like that because they've already been beaten.
>> here is the difference. the republican party is running people like myrrh you can do and todd akin and christine o'donnell --
>> if you're lucky again.
>> er eschewing everybody he else. when lugar and cassell aren't conservative enough, what does the republican party do? they throw them out. we embrace folks from louisiana and arkansas and they're not going to vote with us all the time and we have to accept that fact. but the fact --
>> maggie , let me ask you this. what happens when they don't have these lucky jokers in the deck like akin and mourdock. they were really gifts to these people.
>> they were.
>> what happens if they don't show up in 2014 because people like rove and others have culled the herd?
>> i think there's no question that democrats got lucky last year. republicans had a pretty poor crop of candidates. you had some candidates, senate candidates, republicans, who lost in states mitt romney won. so you can't only blame mitt romney . however, i also think you have to give guy and his team credit in terms of recruitment. it's not just the other side. but i think that there's no question 2014 is probably going to be a much tougher year for democrats than last one was. i think a lot of things came, you know, were aligned well. some were proactive by the democrats , some were not. but i think that it's going to be different and it's playing out on a different legislative climate.
>> total congressional question, maggie , you start. does the president need to win the house next time and hold the senate to be a president of history? to get the kinds of bills passed that puts you up there at the top presidents ?
>> no. but it would help, and i don't think it's going to happen. i don't think they're going to win the house.
>> i certainly think it's going to be difficult for both those things to happen but i would agree with maggie . juke hold the senate though, can't you?
>> we intend to hold the senate . no one thought we could hold it last cycle. not only did we hold it, we picked up seats. nobody was saying tommy thompson was extreme. we won because we recruited candidates that best fit their state.
>> you know what i have to say, what i care about, you know what i respect in politics? people like the people on this list.
>> me, too.
>> anybody can come from a big city and vote 100% ada and be guaranteed a seat for life. when you're out there on the frontier as a moderate democrat and trying to get elected among moderate democrats in your state, maybe you have 50% of the states moderate democrats , you have to prove yourself every six years, prove yourself to the people out there. and that's really gutsy. great stuff. good luck. you got great ink today. don't think it's going to stay that way. it never stays that way. guy cecil. it's like baseball managers, they have one good world series season.
>> i'll take it. i'll take one.
>> thank you very much, guy cecil. good to have you back, maggie .
>>> up next, things you done want to hear from a guy dressed up like abraham lincoln . this is the best david letterman top ten i have heard in so long and it's coming up.
>> damn girl , you make mary todd look like ulysses s.