Morning Joe | January 09, 2013
>>> welcome back to " morning joe ." a live look at the white house . joining us now from washington, nbc news chief white house correspondent and political director and host of "the daily rundown," chuck todd . and from the white house , nbc news white house correspondent, peter alexander . it looks like it's a little cold out there. peter, just real quickly, the reporting about this potential plan to withdraw completely by the end of 2014 , what do you know?
>> reporter: well, we know obviously that the white house is considering what they refer to as the zero option , where they would take out all the u.s. troops in afghanistan . i think it's about 15,000 there, that was the number that had been offered by general allen and another military commanders at the 2014 deadline. the white house now saying it could go down to zero completely as you look at that headline in "the washington post " today. of course, this comes against the backdrop of the afghan president , hamid karzai , being here in washington. he's scheduled to meet with the president on friday. so the question is whether or not this is just sort of the white house setting its strategy up to try to negotiate with karzai about what its plans will be going forward or not. and also against the backdrop of chuck hagel , you know, his name, he will face confirmation as part of the national security team. and the president and his advisors have said to us publicly and privately that they feel strongly that having someone that has military service on his resume will help the president as he tries to draw down troop levels. if he draws it down to zero, having someone like chuck hagel on their side, they believe, would be a significant asset.
>> chuck todd , vice president biden and the nra planning to meet. give us the background, if you can, on that. set up the dynamic in that meeting.
>> well, both of them have to do the meeting, right? pr wise, the white house has to -- had to invite the nra , and the nra couldn't say so. so this meeting's going to be had, but i have pretty low expectations. when you saw, based on what we saw with wayne lapierre when he came on "meet the press" and his own press conference, i think the two sides are going to be very far apart. there was only one item on what appears to be biden's agenda, when you look at what they think they can get done versus what they are going to push, there was really only one item there that they might have nra support in, and that is forcing states, governments, to participate more in the mental health check, in those mental health -- there's too many states. it's a voluntary thing. they don't always put all of this information into this federal database on mental health . and that was the one surprising thing i took away from lapierre's interview on "meet the press," was that there would be nra support for that which, of course, is not exactly the most states-rights-oriented position to take when you're forcing states, this mandate on mental health . you could see maybe there's common ground there, but on anything else, mika, this is going to be -- this is mostly for show. for both sides.
>> jon meacham .
>> i just wanted to ask peter on afghanistan , to what extent pakistan is playing a role in these conversations.
>> reporter: that's a good question. obviously pakistan will have to play a significant role. we're trying to get more information on that as we go forward. having been in pakistan just more than a year ago for the death of osama bin laden , the challenges that exist there are as great as any, especially given waziristan and the areas where the two countries border, but also those avenues for the u.s. to be able to receive all of the munitions that it needs and its supply lines so pakistan will clearly be critical in terms of the u.s. conversation going forward.
>> steve rattner?
>> so chuck, just back to guns for a second. any guesses yet on what the shape of an obama package would look like and when it would come?
>> well, it seems -- first of all, they said it's going to be in the state of the union . that's number one. the second is that it would -- you know, there seems to be that they're going around -- they want to push something on the magazines. push more on this mental health check aspect. i think they're going to throw the assault weapons thing in there, but, you know, i don't know how far -- even they're being realistic as to whether politically that's even possible with this congress to get that in there. but i think that they're sort of circulating around the mental health and improving that database and the magazines. and it seems to me the magazines politically might be their best shot at this.
>> dr. sachs.
>> peter, i wanted to come back to afghanistan . we're jumping back and forth. we've been hearing for four years that 2014 was the end date. now they're saying it may be the end. isn't this actually backing off from commitments? is this softening up to leave troops there? what do you make of that?
>> reporter: well, i mean, there are a variety of numbers that are being thrown around right now. at least on the conference call that we heard yesterday here at the white house with ben rhodes and some of the others, the numbers that have been discussed obviously privately are from 3,000 to 9,000 troops perhaps being held over. i think the number is at 66,000 right now. general allen, as we noted, has suggested closer to 15,000 as the number that they would prefer. but it appears obviously that this is part of the u.s. strategy in its conversations with hamid karzai as it tries to get greater support from the afghans that they need, as the white house says frequently, need to step up. as they indicate, their two goals were simple, to try to make sure that al qaeda didn't have a safe haven in that country and to also make sure that the afghan troops could defend and fight for themselves. and at this point, it's not all that clear that either one of those things has come to the fruition at least that the u.s. had desired or that's in the u.s. best interest to disappear altogether. seemingly that vacuum would be easily filled by america's enemies.
>> peter alexander , thank you. and chuck, we'll see you on "the daily rundown" right after " morning joe ." and dr. sachs, thank youville. good to have you on the show.
>> thanks a lot.
>>> coming up, he's enjoying a 73% approval rating in his stohome state, and he's gracing this week's cover of "time" magazine. governor chris christie will join us. he's standing by in the green room .
>> look at him.
>> what did we do? he's already mad? really? okay. we'll be right back. [ dad