Morning Joe | January 31, 2013
>> mccaskill, great to have you on the show, for so many reasons. how are you doing?
>> i'm well, thanks.
>> a big day today. how do you think it's going to go for chuck hagel and what are your concerns, if any?
>> well, i think he's going to have an opportunity, finely, to speak strongly to how important our alliance with israel is. i think it's really important to note that none of the major organizations that advocate for israel on capitol hill are opposing chuck hagel . and it's only the extreme groups that have come out so strong ly against his nomination. and he has a lot to offer our country. i want to hear his testimony, i've had a chance to visit with him personally. i am certainly reassured that he understands the importance of our alliance with israel and i hope that most of the senate gives him a fair chance. because if they do, i think he'll be confirmed easily.
>> so when she talks about extreme groups, she's also talking about dan seymore --
>> and people for the seenor way.
>> i would just say, the american jewish committee have come out with deep concerns about senator hagel . the anti-defamation league, even the national democratic jewish council , back when chuck hagel was being talked about for positions in republican administrations came out, lashing out against him.
>> dan , you and i both know that if chuck hagel presented a threat to israel , aipac would be swarming over the hill. there would be many other organizations that would be swarming over the hill. you wouldn't have chuck schumer coming out as strongly as he has for chuck hagel . these are, in fact, extreme, the extreme group in this advocacy area.
>> let me ask you a question, senator. do you think when chuck hagel said that israel keeps palestinians caged up like animals, which i'm not taking out of context -- when chuck hagel is one of two senators, one of two, to vote against sanctions against iran , or fewer than a dozen to oppose labeling hezbollah a terrorist group . do you think that someone like me has concerns about that? you think that's an extreme position?
>> listen, i don't have a problem with concerns. but i don't think that they are putting those positions or votes in context of his entire record. let's look at his record. an enlisted man, who knows, really, what war is like, unlike many who have served in this enlisted man ever to hold this position at the department of defense . somebody who understands how congress works, which is a very important kill set for the secretary of defense. somebody who has served on the armed services committee and gets how this process should work in terms of checks and balances. he's got an awful lot to offer, and if you take his entire record in context, he was a conservative republican from nebraska, for god's sake. he was not some kind of left wing liberal from the west coast . so i just think if everyone gives him a chance to speak for himself about how strongly he feels about protecting israel , about holding iran in check when it comes to nuclear weapons , i think that people will be reassured. now, maybe today he won't reassure people. and that's why i've not said one way or another, because i want to wait and hear his testimony. but having visited with him, i think some of this criticism is taken out of context and is unfair.
>> senator, so we've got a lot of things going on in the middle east right now. obviously, yesterday, israel launched a raid in syria . this breaking from the associated press just a few minutes ago, syria and iran are now threatening to retaliate against israel for air raids , into syria . does -- what do we expect to hear, not only from chuck hagel , but what's your position about israel 's right to launch raids into syria , if they believe that it's to stop armed shipments to hezbollah?
>> well, first of all, i believe that israel has a sovereign right to protect its own nation. and i think that is their decision and we need to respect their decision. on the other hand, we also have to be prepared to do what we need to do to protect the united states of america and, ancillary to that, to protect israel . so i think it is a difficult situation. the internal politics in israel has shifted slightly with the latest election, where a more moderate party did very well in the elections and kind of weakened beating netanyahu to some extent, internally in israel , and that is even why it is more important that we remain absolutely staunch in our support of israel and their ability to protect themselves. they're in the most dangerous part of the world. they have a right to protect themselves.
>> so, claire, yesterday, dramatic testimony on the hill, gabby giffords coming to the senate, testifying. also, some arguments put forth that are still inexplicable to me. but i want to ask you about the real challenge for president obama right now. the house, obviously, poses a great challenge, but the first challenge is getting gun control legislation, actually, assault weapon regulation through the democratic senate. we think universal background checks are going to pass. that certainly is looking good. but what about these democrats from moderate districts? how are they going to vote on assault weapons and how are they going to vote on these-capacity magazines? and how are you going to vote? do you think we should be able to more strictly regulation high-capacity magazines and assault weapons ?
>> i think we have right to more strictly regulate high-capacity magazines and assault weapons . i think what we've got to do is find that place, which is tricky, with this issue, that we can get enough votes to get it across the finish line . you know, you say universal background checks is a foregone conclusion. did you hear wayne lapierre yesterday?
>> oh, my god!
>> you've got 91% of americans supporting this --
>> i know! i know!
>> wayne lapierre 's defeatest attitude -- i won't say it's un-american, but it certainly isn't george patton like. he's basically say we can do nothing, nothing.
>> we have to convince america, joe, that i'm a second amendment advocate. i was raised in a household where my family had to have cream of mushroom soup in the pantry all the time, because mom had to put it on what dad shot to make it edible. i was raised in a hunting culture in rural missouri. so it is very important in my state that we protect the second amendment. we've got to get to the point that people will believe that we can love the second amendment, but also that i don't need to buy my new grandson's parents a semi- automatic weapon to put in the stroller as they go around, strolling my new grandson through the park. you know, this notion that women need 30-round clips to protect their babies in their homes, i don't know have many mothers that want a 30-round clip in their home, around their babies.
>> it's a ridiculous concept.
>> it is really extreme. so we've got to find that moderate middle. and i want to be part of the group that helps us find that moderate middle, that allows us to actually get something done, rather than talking at each other from the opposite ends of the spectrum.
>> so, senator, you just referenced, you know, convincing the country. and you just talked about the moderate middle. so my question to you is, do you think it's possible to convince some members of the senate that common sense can take precedence over fear of losing an election?
>> i think it can. i think it can. and especially, you know, here's the bottom line . our country is a great nation. and can our country shrug in indifference after our children are massacred sitting in the classroom of a public school ? can we just say, "never mind, it doesn't matter"? we are a great nation and we ought to be strong enough to respond thouo this strategy, to this slaughter of innocent children in a way that makes sense, that protects the second amendment, but also that says to people out there, we've decided that this is a priority. and it should be.
>> why do not more public people stand up when wayne lapierre testifies, after he testifies, about the fear of the government coming and taking guns out of your home. why don't more public people --
>> which, by the way, can i just stop you -- the constitution does not allow that. the second amendment does not allow that. the united states supreme court does not allow that. scalia, thomas, alito, roberts, kennedy all together said, mike, that americans have a right to keep and bear arms, handguns, shotguns, hunting rifles to protect their families. but that the federal government can regulate these other things. wayne lapierre , if he says or ted cruz says that first they're going to take your assault weapons and then they're going to come for your handguns, they're lying. they can't do that. it's unconstitutional.
>> the second amendment, though, mentions nothing about ammunition. senators, there's something you can do on that side. we're talking about the gun side. can we make ammunition uneconomic?
>> well, i think what we have to do is look at the framework that has been put out there by senator feinstein and others and then see how much of it we can get enough votes for, to get it passed through the senate. and how much of it will actually succeed in getting to the president's desk. this is about the politically possible. now, having said that, more senators need to realize that the nra, giving you an "f," is not the end of your political clear. i'm from a very pro-gun state. i'm from a state that mitt romney won by almost ten points. my state rejected extremism. they said, we don't want the extreme view. there's no question todd akin would be voting against this. there's no question that todd akin would be voting against chuck hagel . you know, most states want someone who's willing to find that common ground . and we can find it on this as long as the nra is not the one driving the debate.
>> all right, senator claire mccaskill , my favorite senator, and now you see why. you make perfect sense and you're absolutely right, especially on guns.
>> what about dan seymore?
>> i don't agree with him at all. i like him. he drives me crazy.
>> he does remember the luggage.
>> he's a male.
>> when i leave the set, you say i'm your favorite --
>> senator mccaskill?
>> she says you're a senior citizen .
>> claire, thank you.
>> thank you.
>> i'm so glad you're there and you look great. you're looking fitter than ever and under extreme circumstances. i think that's an incredible feat.
>> thank you.