Martin Bashir | February 01, 2013
>>> let me just show you the big financial news of the day. that's where the dow ended for the week. moments ago just over 14,000. that is territory that it has not seen since october of 2007 . and why not? today's monthly jobs report only confirmed that slowly but surely we're adding jobs to the economy. in fact, those jobs we added in november and december turns out the government underestimated how many there were, and as one cnbc contributor jokingly put it, the u.s. is threatened by job inflation. it's good news for the white house , right? yes, but between gun safety , immigration reform , the sequester, the budget, and a number of the international crises, there is no rest for the weary. in fact, there's a phrase the white house likes to repeat to describe this very fact.
>> certainly in my job but i think congress as well, they've got to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. so we can focus on jobs.
>> we have to both walk and chew gum at the same time.
>> walk and chew gum at the same time.
>> all right. joining us now, michelle cottle, d.c. correspondent for the daily beast and "newsweek" whose latest issue profiles hillary clinton , and julian epstein, a democratic strategist. welcome to you both.
>> good afternoon.
>> julian , how is the white house successfully managing each of these policy fronts and sort of making sure that they are putting out a consistent message both on the issue but then also making sure that supporters of each of those issues continue to be confident that they're going to stay at the top of the list?
>> well, i think they've done a brilliant job of doing that. if you look at all the major issues, budget, immigration, guns-down the list, the president is winning the public relations battle on all the issues. i think the president has to get away from the idea that he will be the national solve for our partisan divide and embrace the idea that he's really the usher for a new progressive era . while i think the president will never find the bipartisanship in the halls of congress, he is finding bipartisanship in the streets, and the question for the president and for the white house at this point is how do you begin to marshal that bipartisan support that you're getting in the streets. look at the numbers on guns. we're between 6 and 9 out of 10 americans are supporting the president's gun proposal. how do you marshal that support to make the republican obstructionists in the congress to pay a severe political price? i think the white house can do it if they do a few things right.
>> one of the ways the president will continue to marshal support and i think julian is right if you look at the polls, most of the american public seem to agree on the president on the things he's out there pushing. his last valuable asset is his time. on monday he's headed to minneapolis to talk with law enforcement . then speak about gun violence . how important is the president's actual time in terms of going to the events, getting out there, and selling his proposals to making sure these things -- he keeps the pressure on.
>> if you talk to pretty much anybody in the white house , they will tell you that the outside game needs to be played by him. you know, the lesson they learned in the first administration is that you can try to play nice and you can talk a good game and you can try to work around inside, but they think that getting public support and, you know, he has that lincoln quote he likes. if you have public opinion behind you, you can achieve almost anything. if you don't, you're not going to get anything done. i think that doing forward is the big message that they're just kind of pushing on everything.
>> you know, julian , talking about immigration, obviously one of the top priorities, we've seen kind of a bit of a fracturing within the republican party over immigration reform , specifically the path to zin, but obviously some other issues. is that going to create leverage for the president, an ability to pick off different members to get something done or is that going to make it harder to get legislation through.
>> this is what we call a wedge issue. the democrats know this and the smart republicans know this. the republicans cannot, will not win. they will continue to be a permanent minority party if they continue to do as poorly as they are with hispanics. look at the comments vitter made about rubio the other day. i think what the white house is doing intelligently is building this left, center right coalition and watching the republicans twist in the wind. same on guns to your question you asked michelle . what president clinton did in 1994 was to principally build out a coalition with law enforcement , with teachers, with parents, and they occupied the political center which is exactly what president obama is doing right now while the nra occupies the extreme political fringe opposing common sense things that 9 out of 10 americans support.
>> julian , let me follow up on that. i agree with you. at the same time at the same point we're going to need a cadre of republican votes to get these things done. the more they fracture, yes, we can stand back and kind of let it happen . at the same time, we've got to make sure we're able to get the republican votes that we need to make sure we actually deliver on the promise.
>> and i think that's exactly right, karen. and i think what you do to my earlier point is you begin to identify those 30 to 40 republicans that you think you can get, and you build out these coalitions in their districts. that can be done in a number of places as we have seen from some of the polling data, a number of republican districts. on guns you do exactly what you did, what mothers against drunk driving did in the 1980s when they flipped president reagan on drunk driving laws. this is old-fashioned retail political organizing in republican districts where their numbers are weak and where they should be according to all public opinion surveys, they should be bucking the republican leadership, which is still beholden, which is still being held hostage by this extreme tea party minority that has very little public support out there.
>> so, michelle , the president, he's doing well in the polls, they know they got to fight the outside game, they seem to be ready, the american people are with them. he's handling the fight over chuck hagel . it looks like hagel, despite the sort of abuse he got yesterday will be confirmed. but then it's also jack lew. we have heard that may be contentious, john brennan . steven chu announced he's stepping down. that's another opening to fill. not to mention susan rice 's. at some point how much of a distraction are these fights and how much political capital do they eat up that sort of takes away from some of these policy things we're talking about?
>> well, it's always a risk and it's become obviously a bigger deal in recent years and this is one of the reasons why i think rice stepped out of the running there because she didn't want to become a distraction. obviously any post that has to be filled up will eat up a little bit of your capital, but tames there are a lot of issue that is can't be ignored. the sequestration battles and unlike julian , i do kind of think that's a difference between the gun and the immigration battle in that republicans themselves really want this immigration issue off their plates, and i do think you're -- you already see in the house the talk about they're putting together a bill as well with bipartisan support that they want to kind of get this taken care of. so i think there are a couple big issues that even with the nominations that have to be dealt with are going to be front and center going for the next few months.
>> i think that's right. michelle cottle and julian epstein, thanks so much.