Mitchell Reports | September 28, 2012
>> and just moments ago, i spoke with senator john kerry about his role playing mitt romney in president obama 's debate preparation for wednesday.
>> how do you get into the head of mitt romney and how do you prepare to play him with president obama ?
>> oh, andrea, i'm -- you know, i'm just going to listen to what he's saying but i'm not going to talk much about that process. i think it's better left to the candidates to resolve when they actually debate.
>> well, the romney team, beth myers put out a memo really lowering or trying to lower expectations saying that president obama is such a great communicator, such a great debater, that --
>> had all this experience one on one, that mitt romney has only had -- no experience debating one on one because he was only in the republican primary debates. do you buy that?
>> oh, please. please, please, please. give me 20 breaks. not just one. mitt romney debated against ted kennedy back in the '90s. he debated one on one when he ran for governor. he probably turned his campaign around when he ran for governor and won the governorship because of what happened in that debate. and listen to the republicans , don't listen to me because nobody's -- i'm, obviously, partisan. but just this morning on " morning joe ," newt gingrich , who debated him many, many times, said that he got clobbered by him, that mitt romney , when he had to down in florida, literally turned things around, everybody saw that and knows that. mitt romney debated -- tim pawlenty said he's as good as a debater as there is, i'm telling you that because i debated him all the time. these are guys that ran against him. the fact is that mitt romney is very good debater. he's done a very good job. he's practiced and practiced and practiced and he's been flying around with, you know, the person playing obama on his airplane every minute. he's gone away and done five debates in 48 hours up in new hampshire or vermont or somewhere. this is the biggest deal in the world to him. he's been really getting ready for it and as we know from my experience with president bush , that debate can mean a lot. i went up eight to ten points after that debate, so mitt romney has a lot more going for him here. the president on the other hand, has to be president every day. just gave two speeches i thought terrific speeches in new york. he has been at the white house in dealing with a whole series of issues, middle east and otherwise. and it's tougher, i think, for a president who hasn't had primaries, hasn't been out there, hasn't been debating in four years, and then he only had very few debates that weren't as consequential. we need to be real here and you guys -- you folks in the media need to not let all these pundits play games.
>> we wouldn't let any pundits play games.
>> i know you wouldn't. i trust you.
>> but the republicans , though, are really trying to hammer the president using the fact that you as chairman of the foreign relations committee with your republican colleagues, sent a letter asking a lot of very tough questions about what happened in benghazi, the fbi can't get within 400 miles there to examine the evidence which is already being destroyed, so it's going to be hard to make a case. what about this letter that you have sent asking for answers about what went wrong in benghazi?
>> well i have the letter here with me. i could show it to you. i wouldn't change anything. let me be crystal clear as chairman of that committee, and i hope this gets out to other people who are listening about this.
>> and i should point out i've got the letter here too. we've gone through it.
>> republicans are working overtime to try to exploit a very normal, run of the course, admin strative letter that we agreed to on a bipartisan basis in our committee, simply to get some additional questions put in front of the state department that are part of their already existing investigation. this is not a challenge. it is nothing new. it is not something out of the ordinary. and i agreed to do it as a matter of bipartisanship because we thought these were important questions that people ought to be examining.
>> but aren't you concerned, senator?
>> secretary of state --
>> aren't you concerned with the way they handled this?
>> i am concerned with the way the republicans are exploiting this now, yes. that's inappropriate.
>> aren't you concerned with the way the administration has handled it? first the explanation a video, now it's terrorism, and al qaeda connections? it did take them a while to understand what's happening there?
>> yes, it does. it takes everybody a while because it is a complicated place and nobody knows that better than you do. and in the craziness of that kind of an incident, you need to know what happened and you have to go back and do that in a very methodical way. but i know from firsthand experience both in war as well as? demonstrations that have gone awry or crises we've witnessed over the 28 years i've been in the senate, that the first things that are happening you've got to be careful. you've got to proceed very cautiously to understand exactly what went on. secretary clinton, to her credit, has immediately initiated what already exists under the law, a formal inquiry with one of our most respected independent diplomatic figures, ambassador tom pickering, former undersecretary. he is heading this up and they will get the answers. i'm absolutely confident about that. what the republicans ought to be doing is not turning the tragedy of chris stevens ' death -- this means something to us. chris stevens worked on our committee. he worked for dick lugar . he was a pearson fellow. he was a terrific ambassador representing our country. he cared about libya . he was committed to libya . and what are the republicans doing? all they can do is see the politics in this. they can't see how are we going to make sure that libya continues down the road to democracy and that those 30,000 libyans who stormed the militia headquarters and stole the weapons, are backed up over the next days in efforts that will help them make libya the libya we all want it to be. that's the question here. but all the republicans can do or see is politics.
>> speaking of --
>> all they can see is exploiting it.
>> i know you don't have much more time. i don't want to interrupt you. but speaking of politics, mitt romney has accused the president of throwing israel under the bus. now we've seen a very different timeline from israel and the united states from netanyahu . netanyahu says within months iran will have gone beyond the point of no return. american intelligence believes there's more time. where do we stand now with israel and is mitt romney --
>> we stand --
>> that the president has thrown israel under the bus?
>> well, first of all, the term throwing israel under the bus is really a remarkable -- you know, it's an unbelievably cynical explosivetive term that is also a lie. it is a fundamental lie. and mitt romney ought to be ashamed of himself for continuing to say it when he knows that prime minister netanyahu and defense minister ehud barak have both said this administration has the strongest security and military cooperation with israel it has ever had. ever. and the president has taken steps to put america in a position to deal with iran with whatever eventuality may be necessary, and i mean whatever eventuality may be necessary. the president made that crystal clear in his speech at the united nations . and, yesterday, prime minister netanyahu reinforced that by frankly praising the president for what he said at the u.n. and talking about how we are in sync. our intelligence and military communities are on the same it timeline with respect to iranian nuclear development. and i think yesterday the president -- prime minister netanyahu drew a line which frankly the president has already drawn not with a cartoon and with that kind of a fdisplay, but the president has said point blank american policy is not a matter of containment, it is a matter of prevention. they will not have the ability to make a bomb. and the president is prepared to back that up. so, there is no gap here. and once again, mitt romney just as he did when he stepped out early in his comments on libya , inappropriately and wrong, he is once again inappropriately and wrongly characterizing the president's policy.
>> john kerry , all fired up for debate preparation, have fun with that.
>> thank you.
>> have fun playing mitt romney and thank you so much. thanks for being with us today.
>> thank you.