Morning Joe | December 14, 2012
>>> i made the decision that it was the best thing for our country for the american people that i not continue to be considered by the president for nomination of secretary of state because i didn't want to see a confirmation process that was very prolonged, very politicized, very distracting and very disruptive because there are so many things we need to get done as a country.
>> okay. we'll talk about what really happened there. we also should tell -- who tells bill karins about paisley? donny.
>> more of a blue-on-blue thing.
>> more of a regis fell bin philbin 1997 .
>> bill --
>> bill's weeping.
>> your viewer was correct. just take it off.
>> i'll take it off.
>> yeah, take it off.
>> you want me to take it all off?
>> no, just the tie.
>> what's wrong with you?
>> just the tie. yeah.
>> he's hiding.
>> give a guy moving consecutively, that's what happens.
>> good morning, it's friday, december 14th . welcome to " morning joe ." with us on set, we have msnbc political analyst and vice president and executive editor of msnbc.com, richard wolffe .
>> how did we get him?
>> so elegant. here's the chairman of deutsche incorporated, donny deutsch .
>> exactly. and in washington , nbc chief foreign affairs correspondent and host of " andrea mitchell reports," andrea mitchell . she is a huge fan in jane heller.
>> jane heller said she looked extraordinarily elegant last night.
>> you were remarkable last night on television.
>> when andrea mitchell is involved in anything, it upgrades the elegance.
>> made me feel better.
>> we had to counter you somehow.
>> that's why we brought her on. so under fire, rice ends her bid to succeed hillary at state . and this is the lead. president obama knew before he picked up the phone on thursday afternoon what susan rice , his ambassador to the united nations , was calling about. she wanted to take herself out of the running for secretary of state and spare him a fight. and that's exactly, mika, what she did.
>> so brian williams asked her about this, and here's a little bit more of her explanation of how this happened. oh, we're standing by because -- what? you guys don't have the sound bite ? okay.
>> i guess so.
>> so let's roll it.
>> i've done sunday shows many times in the past. secretary clinton had originally been asked by most of the networks to go on. she had had an incredibly grueling week dealing with the protests around the middle east and north africa that had enveloped our embassy. she had to deal with the loss of our four colleagues in benghazi and the state department , greet the families and the bodies, and she declined to do it. it wasn't what i had planned for that weekend originally, but i don't regret doing that, brian. i think when you're a diplomat and a public official and a tragedy happens and it is related to the work that you do, it's our obligation to try to explain it as best we can to the american people , and that's what i did.
>> did you want the job?
>> i would have been very honored to serve in that job, just as i'm delighted to do what i'm doing. but yes, sure. how can you not want to -- in my field -- serve at the highest possible level?
>> i tell you what, hillary clinton , i'm sure she was tired. we all get tired. she works around the clock. but you know what she was doing.
>> hillary , that's the political experience. you see it in the corporate world, the political world , the pros that have been around the block a few times.
>> they know when to step aside . and this is -- i've seen this happen in washington time and time again. i saw it on the house level. i saw it at the white house , you know. friends that worked at the white house where the white house wants you to do them a favor. go out. and it's the eager ones that jump out front and the smart ones that slowly just go into the background, donny. she wanted to help the president. she wanted to help the white house .
>> i don't think she could say no.
>> yes, actually, that's what hillary knows.
>> no, no, no, i was talking about susan rice .
>> no, but i'm saying, though, susan rice could have said no. i'm not criticizing her because she did what the intel community told her to do. but hillary dodged a bullet on that one.
>> financial impropriety at a big bank, you rarely see the ceo or the chairman front and center. i think the good news for rice, i think her brand is stronger than ever. i loved her answer, yes, i wanted this job. you want to serve at the highest level . we all know, we've talked about this ad nauseam . all she did was deliver the information, and they shot the messenger. this is not the last we've heard of susan rice . and i think choosing the next secretary of state , it puts the republicans back on their heels. it obviously gives obama a lot of room on the offensive end to make the moves he wants.
>> richard , did it bother you by how this went down?
>> oh, it's disgusting, the whole thing. i know you were making another comparison, but the impropriety, she was -- she has been measured for sticking rigidly to the talking points .
>> delivered by the cia about what was a cia operation . one of the reasons people don't want to talk about this is because not only do you have an ambassador who was taking risks, who, sadly, passed away, you had cia operatives in the middle of this. one of t no wonder the cia was all over this. you had a witch hunt not measuring a potential secretary of state on her diplomatic credentials, on her service, on whether she could serve. it's been, let's face it, part of a witch hunt that has been driven by the conservative echo chamber . it's been effective. there is a lot of personal animosity --
>> but richard , can i just --
>> i'm just saying, this has denied the president what was clearly his top pick.
>> a president who just won re-election, and nobody has been able to say, susan rice would have been a bad secretary of state . it's come down to talking points on a sunday show. that's not a measure.
>> you don't think she was maybe given a bit of disservice by hillary herself by being hung out to dry on the sunday talk shows ? you don't think this was at all self-inflicted?
>> by the administration? i think when you have a major national security event that has really serious questions -- i'm not saying there weren't serious questions in the middle of all of this, but you have a major national security event, you've got to talk about it on the sunday shows.
>> i don't disagree with you. i'm just saying bring some balance to this. you think this was a solely disgusting takedown by the republicans , nothing else?
>> i don't think anything about this has been proportionate. if you want to go and investigate the security lapses in benghazi or look at what the ambassador or his security detail were doing in benghazi , you don't go after someone for that performance on the sunday talk shows .
>> mika's point is the culpability of the democrats as far as putting her forward in the first place versus hillary .
>> i think, richard , you use a word that i've been thinking about a good bit as it relates to susan rice , and that's proportionality. she could be criticized.
>> of course.
>> for going out and blindly following talking points which i would just say were approved by the intel community. i would be far more disturbed, and most republicans would be far more disturbed, if she was a cowboy and went out there and said a lot of things that the intel community had told her not to say. but she isn't blameless, but the proportionality is absolutely ridiculous. to judge a woman -- and you can judge her -- there's a "new york times" article saying that she is a controversial figure in washington . you can judge her for many things. you can say maybe after the 17th day on the road, maybe she would bristle a little bit more than you'd want your secretary -- we don't know. if you wanted to make that argument, you could. but to disqualify a woman on her work when she was following the talking points not of the obama white house but of the intel community, there's no proportionality.
>> and by the way, if you're john mccain and you're hawkish about intervention on foreign policy , you want a susan rice , not a john kerry . you may feel like john kerry 's my friend and who knows if i'm going to get access to susan rice , but john kerry is not your interventionist like susan rice is.
>> if you want to harm rebels in libya or syria, susan rice .
>> since you've been covering this so closely, take us through the evolution because president obama and the white house were so defiant. and remember that one press conference where he came out very sternly talking about how much he admired ambassador rice. how did we get to yesterday? was this all from susan rice , or was there a little nudge from the white house as well?
>> well, it's unclear as to whether there was a nudge, but certainly she was reading the tea leaves . and it was pretty clear for the last two weeks that the president was not as forceful as he was on that day, november 14th . when john mccain had said very bluntly on the hill, she is not going to get confirmed, and the president then had his first news conference after being re-elected and just came out so strongly, dramatically and emphatically, he was angry, and they're still angry in the white house about the way mccain and company, they think ganged up on her. i was also told that he might not have stuck with her as long as he did but for mccain. he did not want to appear to be backing down in the face of a challenge from john mccain . this was a really messy episode. whether or not she was the best nominee, i mean, joe, your point is exactly right, i think. that the benghazi issue, first of all, was not front and center. it's not her portfolio. so she was put out as the highest ranking diplomat to speak that sunday. and i think it was a job audition. i think they welcomed the opportunity to have her go out on five shows and, you know, show her stuff. and she stuck to those talking points . i was in the green room that day because i was on the same show, and we were listening and watching. and it did seem immediately to those of us watching that it was not adequately conveying the full complexity but, you know, you understand when someone is going out nervously and sticking to those intelligence points. she would have been criticized more if she hadn't. as you said.
>> again, listen. her argument wasn't credible. i understand why republicans were upset with that performance. four days, five days after we found out from general petraeus . they knew that al qaeda was involved. it was a terror attack . but let's just strip this down, richard , and talk about what it was really about. politics.
>> they were upset. and you could -- you take it to the debate. and candy crowley getting it wrong on what the president said and what he said it. the white house was trying to say, in the middle of a campaign, we've got al qaeda on the run. this wasn't terrorism. and they were juggling and trying to have it both ways. hey, did the bush administration ever play politics with intel ?
>> in 2004 ?
>> it's a rhetorical question .
>> i'm sorry.
>> calm down. can we get the oxygen out? because when richard wolffe is taking everything literally, we're in trouble. but i will say, what about colin powell ? let's say it again. i've got deep, abiding respect for colin powell .
>> i do. he is my type of republican on foreign affairs . he's a realist. he urges restraint. he, more than anybody else, over the past quarter century, delivered a speech in the most critical of moments in american history and botched it every way he could. we went to war in part because of what he said at the united nations that day. and not one republican stood up and said, colin powell is unfit to be secretary of state .
>> and what colin powell would say today is that you should have seen the stuff that he took out of his speech that people in the cia and the broader intelligence community wanted him to say. so there are always defenses. when you are the front person and you have to deliver that, for him, that's still the blemish on his career.
>> there are countless republicans , by the way, that have gone on sunday talk shows and blatantly screwed up or said things that didn't work out the right way. that's not even the issue. andrea , on something you said earlier, was susan rice the most appropriate person to be talking about benghazi ? i'm just wondering.
>> it was not even on her -- she's not responsible for this, and i think you're going to see next week, when hillary clinton is at least now scheduled to appear before the senate and the house, to explain the benghazi investigation, that independent vesks led by mike mullen , i think you'll see the focus revert to the state department which is going to have to answer some tough questions about why there wasn't better security. part of this goes to the point that it was a cia annex apart from the mission. that second building was a cia outpost, and they most likely didn't want to draw a lot of attention locally among the militias putt-putting huge amounts of security there. one other point. there is some blowback from this. the white house seems to think that because the republicans took down a woman and a woman of color that this will, you know, continue the narrative during the election campaign and hurt them in their attempts to reach out and rebrand. but i think there's another effect. i even ran into some very high-ranking women from the obama administration at the cabinet level last night. and people are upset. and this was family. susan rice was one of those loyalists. she had worked during the campaign. and the women in this administration, at least some of them, are very upset that he didn't fight harder for her and that some of the republicans might feel that he can be rolled now because he showed weakness in withdrawing the nomination before it was even made.
>> go ahead.
>> i was just going to say, president obama , i actually spoke about this last night, said rice would remain a close member of his cabinet. we don't know what yet. maybe something on national security adviser that doesn't require senate confirmation . here's the president.
>> susan's going to continue to be an outstanding u.s. ambassador to the united nations . i hadn't made a decision about who would be my next secretary of state . there's no doubt that susan was qualified. there are other people who are qualified as well. her interest is in serving me but most importantly serving the country. and she's done an outstanding job. i could not be prouder with her. she will continue to be one of the top members of my national security team.
>> we talked about the next choice. it's interesting to watch the dominos fall. a lot of people saying john kerry now is the choice. all these same senate republicans who were challenging susan rice said john kerry will breeze through. it will be an easy confirmation. then that opens up a senate seat in massachusetts. could scott brown come back? this opens up a whole new series of conversations.
>> to andrea 's last point, you kind of wonder if it's only six weeks after a very, very resounding win in the election and obama was not pounding his fist standing strong, you wonder what the next four years will be.
>> he was angry.
>> he could wen a fight and not have to back down and say this is a moral imperative on my end, it's strange.
>> the white house was terrible defending nominees the first time around. here you had someone who wasn't yet a nominee. they had no defense -- there are a lot of people around susan rice who are very unhappy that there was no concerted communications effort to push back against this until very, very late last week. number one. and by the way, sources tell me there's no wink and a nod about anything. i know there's a lot of speculation, well, rice will get something else, that's not how this played out. she took herself out. there was no hint that there's going to be another job down the road. i'm sure there probably will be. she can continue in her current job, but there's not a promise she'll be national security adviser. tom donelan who has that job right now has a good, strong hold on that job.
>> andrea ?
>> they do have to figure out, this team -- i think chuck hagel is going to be nominated for defense secretary . so now you've got john kerry and chuck hagel . there's going to be a woman there somewhere. maybe it's treasury, maybe it's janet napolitano moving over to attorney general. but among those four top cap net po cabinet posts, you've got to have more women, more diversity to meet the commitment that this president has made and that he wants to make. i think there were people -- there were advisers very clo president, this was not a fight with republicans that he could have won it. but this is not a fight he needed right now when he's got to focus on working with them to come up with agreements, obvious agreements, on budget, taxes and cuts.
>> andrea , what can you tell us about the dynamic between hillary clinton and susan rice ? because we'll be reading about this in the future at some point.
>> there's no doubt, first of all, hillary stepped aside, let susan rice go out, get blindsided. and then she sat on the sidelines and said nothing in her defense. the silence was deafening. was this payback for 2008 ? what was it?
>> i actually don't think so. hillary clinton does not do sunday talk shows . i can't recall the last one she did. if you want an interview with hillary clinton , it's either " barbara walters 10 most fascinating people" or on the road. but she does not do that round. yes, i think it was very smart politically not to go out that weekend.
>> smart politically, but we lost an ambassador and three other people. and i was surprised to see susan rice sitting there, i've got to tell you.
>> it was not the most logical choice at all. but i think that she did it willingly because she wanted to, as i say, it was a job audition to see how she would do because she knew she was the front-runner. she was his first choice at that point for secretary of state . i think that dynamic is complicated. they have worked very well together. susan rice will tell you that she had plenty of defense from hillary clinton both privately and publicly. i can recall four or five occasions because she was on the road so much, a lot of what she said was overseas so you didn't see it here, but she was saying it anytime she was asked, praising susan rice . you know, there's never going to be that close personal connection between samantha powers and susan rice who were with obama in '08 and hillary clinton , the person who ran against him. this is a team of rivals which has come together at the top between hillary clinton and the president. but the people in the national security team and a lot of those others who worked in that campaign are not that close with clinton.
>> and susan rice will remember and probably can tell you how many days, hours and minutes it was, before hillary clinton would come out and actually offer a word of defense. i think the scars of 2008 are still there. why else would you --
>> something else.
>> -- let somebody twist in the wind like that?
>> how long did it take for john kerry to say anything?
>> well, i mean, that's obvious. come on, that's obvious.
>> it's ironic, too, you know.
>> what's that?
>> it is irony, too.
>> that's not irony. that's pretty basic, straightforward, i want the job of secretary of state .
>> now he feels for her.
>> does he? he's shocked and stunned and deeply saddened.
>> it's painful for everyone.
>> it is painful.
>> all right. we have a lot of other news to cover. coming up, former deputy campaign manager for the obama campaign , stephanie cutter . new orleans mayor mitch landrieu . "the washington post 's" eugene robinson . also "fortune" magazine dubbed her the new queen of wall street . we're going to talk to alexander lebenthal on how she quickly became one of the most powerful people in new york.
>>> up next, though, one of the most powerful men in washington , mike allen with the top stories in the "politico playbook."
>>> but first --
>> oh, no, dude! it's about contrast, okay? if you're going with a dark -- no.
>> the funeral director look? that's not what you wanted?
>> i think you've gone from ukrainian to bulgarian.
>> bill, i get the feeling on your time off you wear hawaiian shirts and shorts and flip-flops.
>> that's usually more than what i wear. yeah. that's good.
>> here we go again. he can't help himself. give this guy more than three consecutive minutes on the air, suddenly he's hef.
>> all right. let's just get the forecast for the weekend. shall we?
>> let's do that, why don't we. new tie. good morning, everyone. we have sunshine out there this morning. it's going to be a beautiful afternoon. just like yesterday throughout the east from new england all the way down through the mid-atlantic. and as we continue to watch the forecast progress, a heads up to new england and throughout the south. saturday is the better day . sunday we'll have a chance of more rain, possibly snow mixed in with northern new england . sunday afternoon especially, a little more gloomy. saturday looks really nice. the storm that we're going to be tracking this weekend currently raining. it actually poured in the deserts last night through arizona and heading into new mexico. then as we go through friday afternoon, maybe a shower or storm. dallas, san antonio to houston. west coast also a little damp. then the weekend forecast, as i mentioned, east coast , you look really nice on saturday. it's sunday that that storm that's up there for chicago and minneapolis saturday, that heads through the great lakes and then goes to the east coast . overall, though, doesn't look like any big snowstorms. even that storm i was talking about for tuesday on the east coast next week, just a big rain and windmaker for new england . it's tough to get snow this time of year. ski resorts are hurting. you're watching " morning joe " brewed by starbucks. honey... ya? you notice something different about these toys? the