Morning Joe | November 15, 2012
>>> oh, look at that. the big tree outside 30 rock , new york city . they're getting ready to decorate it today.
>> the circus begins.
>> brian sullivan is here. he's going to put the star on top of the tree. thank you for doing that, brian. welcome back to " morning joe ." i'm mike barnicle in for joe and mika. peter alexander is here, donny deutsch , s.e. cupp is on her way and the aforementioned brian sullivan from cnbc, you're here from d.c.
>> i was in d.c. yesterday. i was at the white house . i was rappelling down the fiscal cliff , and i'm here to maybe help provide some answers. and i bring pins, the " rise above " movement at cnbc. barnicle, this is for you.
>> thank you very much.
>> happy holidays .
>> thank you. appreciate it.
>> that's all you're getting from me.
>> do you want to quickly explain the rise above concept?
>> i would love to as we welcome in s.e. cupp.
>> we need you. the smell of axe body spray is permeating. there's so much manliness here.
>> i'm wearing high karate, by the way.
>> of course you are. so the rise above thing is very cool. the election's over, right? we're in this now. so we need to basically rise above the partisan bickering. both sides come together. i think that was the goal of the ceo meeting at the white house yesterday. 12 ceos spiki speaking with the president, hearing each other out. it was a closed meeting. we got a chance to speak with a couple of them afterwards. basically get over the bickering. we're in it together, like it or not.
>> we are going to get to that. ordinarily fiscal cliff would be the big story of the day. unfortunately in terms of international stuff, it's not.
>> breaking news from israel we want to update you with at the top of the hour. this morning israeli tv is reporting that three israelis were killed in a series of rocket strikes in the southern region of that country. this, of course, comes as the israeli military has launched an aggressive new campaign to cripple hamas after repeated rocket attacks. as many as 850 this year. launched from gaza into southern israel . last night president obama spoke on the phone with israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu . he acknowledged israel 's right to defend itself following, but he also urged netanyahu to try to avoid civilian casualties there. hours earlier, the israeli government -- and look at this video, it's remarkable -- posted this video on youtube . it shows an air strike yesterday in gaza that killed ahmed al jabari, the top military commander of hamas . that strike was part of a widespread campaign against hamas targets that the israeli military says it will broaden in the coming days. this morning israeli defense forces dropped leaflets over gaza warning residents there to stay away from hamas operatives. and then listen to this. on twitter, a clear message from israeli defense forces . the idf writing, quote, we recommend that no hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead. we said the tensions were rising there. president obama last night also spoke with egypt 's president, mohamed morsi, about working together to try to preserve peace and security in that region. tensions between israel and egypt has increased since the attacks with egypt recalling its ambassador in protest. we want to go to nbc's martin fletcher in tel aviv with the latest. marten?
>> reporter: israel and palestinians are on the edge of a war, a war that neither side wants but looks increasingly possible. israeli warplanes are continuing their attacks inside gaza against militant leaders of hamas . they've been targeting just as significantly the weapons stockpiles, the rocket stockpiles that hamas has in gaza , in particular the long-range rockets that threaten israeli cities as far north as tel aviv . the israelis say they've managed to eliminate that threat, but there was a report earlier that hamas had, in fact, fired a rocket against tel aviv . the one rocket did get through. it hit the southern israeli town. three israelis were killed. about 150 rockets have been fired from gaza today alone. israeli's homemade antirocket defense system managed to knock out about 50 of those. as i say, one got through, killing three israelis . now, the israelis say they will continue their attacks in gaza as long as it takes. and the defense minister said israel will do anything -- and he repeated -- will do anything at all, he said. he was careful to repeat that, whatever it takes to stop the continued palestinian rocket threat against israel 's southern cities. and also the commander of israel 's army in the south said earlier this morning that the assassination yesterday of the hamas militant leader that started all this, ahmed jabari who had been on israel 's hit list for a decade, the israeli commander said, that's just the beginning. so there's every sign that this is an operation that could last a new days. it could get out of control. neither side wants that ground invasion, but israel is massing the army on the edge of gaza , poised to strike. they've been drafting reserves, elite forces , medical troops and in particular, they say troops who have experience of the invasion of gaza the last time in 2006 . israel would like to end this just by attacks from the air and from the sea, but there's every sign that if palestinians continue to rocket israeli cities, a ground invasion could become more and more real.
>> martin fletcher , we appreciate it. we'll check in with you later and let you finish up some of your reporting. mike.
>> you know what's amazing, at least to me, within a minute of that drone strike, the israeli government put it up on youtube and tweeted, used youtube and twitter, to announce, again, another step in an increasingly violent --
>> great observation.
>> -- and disturbing situation.
>> they're so hyper aware of the prop gan za against israel that when they do something they believe is precise in a situation like this. you remember the ships where the israeli raids took place on those ships and then the story was told to be quite different than the final story, israel recognizes those images are significant. and in a situation like this where they kill a hamas leader, it's important to them, and they demonstrate that as opposed to the civilian casualties that are often accused of being responsible for it.
>> it's interesting, we always attack social media to the people, to the uprising, it's in their hands and now governments are understanding --
>> china announced their new leadership via twitter overnight. china. right? a country where you really can't liberally use twitter. and by the way, on that story, watch iran here as well. the iranian economy is in complete shambles. the currency is absolutely collapsed. there are reports that they're hoarding gold and bringing it to tehran from turkey in some cases via horseback because they can't buy it on the open market . iran , in this situation, with israel and everything that's going on, watch out.
>> i think, peter, you also raised an interesting point that part of the point of putting that video out there is to show the lack of civilian casualties . and i think it's really interesting, and i wonder if this issue will be raised that when our government goes to netanyahu to say, please avoid civilian casualties , i wonder if that's going to raise any sort of eyebrows about our own drone program and our own lack of accountability on what we do with our drone strikes. i hope that issue comes up a little bit more.
>> well, i mean, when they say there are no civilian casualties , i mean, that's just not true. look at the shot there, the drone shot, okay? it's in a congested urban area .
>> there's a car right next to it, yeah.
>> there's a car right next to it. if you're standing within a quarter of a mile of that drone shot, you're concussed.
>> mike, it's the marketing of war.
>> yes, that's the point.
>> it's really, really fascinating.
>> absent civilian casualties , gaza having traveled to that area is devastated every time these strikes take place.
>> speak to the geography of it, party.
>> having spent probably been to that region six or seven times over the course of the last six or seven years, and it's just the proximity of things. you recognize from the mediterranean to the west bank is a matter of -- its closest point in the north is just eight miles, you can see at the top of that screen. gaza , there's a small wall that separates you from kiryat malachi you see in the suburban k kibbu kibbutzes. they could do the same thing with mortars, and it's just clearly such a volatile area. and despite the iron dome that was able to protect so many of the rockets coming over, it just takes one to kill the three israelis on this day.
>> you were talking before you came on that rattner was here and what's driving the market down is not the fiscal cliff , it's this.
>> i think in the short term it's going to be this. you look at the market yesterday around 10:00 in the morning, we started to get these images out, and stocks sold off. i mean, the fiscal cliff is huge. it is huge. but in the near term, i think this conflict and this growing conflict and tension with this and as i mentioned, iran , that's what the traders i'm talking about -- talking to are talking about right now.
>> and the fiscal cliff .
>> let's talk about the fiscal cliff . tomorrow president obama will sit down with congressional leaders, as we've been talking about, to kick off negotiations on how to try to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff . yesterday's news conference set the tone for these meetings. the president, as we witnessed, was confident. he was reminding house republicans that he earned political capital on election day to push his plan for tax hikes on the wealthy. take a listen.
>> if there's one thing that everybody understood was a big difference between myself and mr. romney , it was when it comes to how we reduce our deficit, i argued for a balanced, responsible approach, and part of that included making sure that the wealthiest americans pay a little bit more. i think every voter out there understood that that was an important debate. and the majority of voters agreed with me. by the way, more voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me. so we've got a clear majority of the american people who recognize if we're going to be serious about deficit reduction, we've got to do it in a balanced way. i've got one mandate. i've got a mandate to help middle-class families and families that are working hard to try to get into the middle class . that's my mandate. that's what the american people said. they said, work really hard to help us. don't worry about the politics of it. don't worry about the party interests, don't worry about the special interests . just work really hard to see if you can help us get ahead.
>> you know, you wonder, watching the president in that clip and watching the press conference yesterday, at least i wonder about the political/psychological impact of being re-elected. he's a free man, in a sense. he is not going to have to put his name on the ballot and run for re-election again. and he seemed so much more confident yesterday in that press conference in the way he addressed especially the fiscal cliff situation and certainly susan rice 's situation, that it was somewhat striking.
>> yeah. we talked about this in the earlier hour. i've never seen -- i keep using the word "testosterone," gravitas, in charge. and i think to me, one of the reasons i'm happy obama won beyond my politics is if romney had won, we would be seeing the guy assert -- you know, that kind of almost insecurity that comes with the new guy in there and having to prove. and to me there's a seasoning that happens. and from day one or day eight here, an in-charge attitude that to me i want from my president.
>> what strikes me, as we witness what's happening in the world right now, is that having covered the romney campaign for the course of the last year, every time there was a concern or there were problems, they went right back to the economy. they thought that is ultimately what would dictate this election, and in such a way that was so myopic that it ignored other things around the world. in the course of eight days, you've got two generals in scandal, a sex scandal , imagine mitt romney in that situation as he walks in the door. you've got attacks now in southern israel as well, frankly, in the golan heights . being president, there is a lot on this president's plate in just eight days as he returns to the office.
>> it would be interesting to watch a tape of 3 1/2 years ago, anything randomly, and just tonewise, body languagewise compared.
>> listen, i'm just the business guy, right? so i focus on the fiscal cliff and from an economics perspective, that's the big deal . but i was in the white house yesterday. you know --
>> as you often are.
>> first time. they never let me in before.
>> i was in the white house yesterday.
>> well, no, i was down there yesterday covering this. and i'll tell you what. the first question in the press conference was not about the fiscal cliff or the upcoming ceo. it was about petraeus . now you've got the palestinian situation. we've got 45 or 46 days left till the end of the year and only about 12 or 13 working days of congress. that's it. with breaks, et cetera . to get this fiscal cliff . now you've got petraeus , now you've got the increased tensions in the middle east . will that detract the president, distract congress from 100% attention on this issue?
>> we're going to find out because we've got, thankly, chuck todd with us, chief white house correspondent, political director, host of "the daily rundown." it's been a busy 24 hours at the white house with the press conference and then the youtube shot that we have been showing over and over again, which starts a whole new round of conflict in the middle east . the mood in the white house , what is it today given the fact that, you know, petraeus is gone, they've got to deal with that, they've got to deal with the fiscal cliff , and now a whole new ball game in the middle east .
>> reporter: what's interesting, you go and, you know, we talk about what is the press focused on? what are others focused on? internally, fiscal cliff is actually taking up, i would say, 80% of their bandwidth. the petraeus situation is an interesting difference between how the white house is being covered and the array of questions yesterday versus what they're focused on. they know that they've got all these deadlines. they also know politically they have the most leverage they're ever going to have in these negotiations in this six-week period. most of their bandwidth behind the scenes is focused on the fiscal cliff .
>> chuck, it's donny . i'm happy to hear that. let me give you a hypothesis/wishful thinking. i'm going to go back to the christie moment reaching across the aisle that i felt was a seminal moment and a road map for what a lot of ambitious republicans should be behaving. am i wishing, you know, hopeless hopelessly that during this negotiation that i'm going to see a lot more republicans than maybe we expect reaching across the aisle than we would have a year ago, two years, three years ago for their own personal benefit that will then translate to a greater good for all of us?
>> reporter: on the senate side, yes. the big question mark 's on the house side. it's a pure political issue. what do house republicans have to fear? a general election or a primary? and in the house side, most of these guys are more worried about a primary. you're seeing plenty of the rhetoric, donny , that you're looking for among senate republicans . i would say more than half of the senate republicans -- you know, i know the ones i've talked to whether it's on immigration, whether it is on fiscal cliff , all of them are saying, you know, let's make this work. but that's not new with senate republicans . they were ready. they played party politics , but a lot of them were uncomfortable playing the party politics that they played over the last two years. most of these senate republicans are what i call legislating conservatives. they want to be at the table. they want to be involved in solutions. the house republicans , it's a different story. and the fact of the matter is, if it was up to leadership to cut a deal, i think this keel would be done. they're not afar apart. i mean, they're really not that far apart. both sides don't want to go over the cliff . they're very close. you can see how this deal gets put together except you've got to find me 30 to 40 house republicans that will vote for even a temporary increase in taxes on the wealthy for now, which is what the president wants, which is some senate republicans are willing to let that happen. they have to raise the rates. and that could be a primary suicide mission for 30 to 40 republicans . and that's boehner's problem right now. he's got to find those guys, or the white house has got to help him with a way out.
>> chuck, it's s.e. you heard obama, president obama , yesterday at his press conference talk about the mandate to raise taxes. he basically said that this is what people voted for, and more pem wa people wanted this than voted for me. do you expect that to be the new party mantra, this sort of you asked for it, as opposed to, we're doing this because we think it's good economic policy? because honestly, i've got to say, you asked for it, well, the people also want a balanced budget . they want tax reform . they want a lot of things that aren't probably going to happen any time soon.
>> reporter: right. i think he thinks on this specific topic, it was something that was in the exit polls , so it's something tangible that he can latch on to. and the fact is, on the tax issue, raising taxes on those that make over $250,000 has had a majority support for a couple of years.
>> reporter: ever since this conversation has started. i think it's really on the specific topic. you know, s.e., if you really wanted to get in that exit poll , it also had more people say they'd like to see changes. i think you're going to see some picking and choosing when the president cites where the national electorate was, because it was stunning, right? you had on one hand a 60% saying they'd like to see taxes go up on at least some or all folks making $250,000 or more. but at the same time, you only had 44% who said hey, keep that health care law in place or expand it. you had 49% saying how about repealing it or making some major changes.
>> let's be clear, only 13% of people voted or came out in exit polls and said they wanted tax hikes for everybody.
>> reporter: that's right.
>> not tax hikes for the other guy.
>> reporter: you only had 35% taking the traditional more conservative line on taxes which said don't raise taxes anybody.
>> chuck, besides jeff loria, the owner of the marlins, who do you have on "the daily rundown"?
>> reporter: i think it's going to be hanging him in effigy over and over again. actually, no, i'll have the ceo of aetna. i've got roy blunt . we'll be going through a little bit more of the exit polls . you know, it's just busy. a lot busier than it should be. i want a vacation.
>> hey, chuck, it's donny . i've got nothing to do between 9:30 and 10:00 . i'm just going to swing by.
>> reporter: come on over. there you go.
>> chuck todd , thanks very much.
>>> coming up, senator-elect angus king who won olympia snowe 's vacated seat in maine. we'll talk to the independent senator next.
>>> also, nbc news chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell , on the developing situation in israel and also developments in the general petraeus scandal. she's here. you're watching " morning joe " brewed by starbucks. music is a