msnbc | January 26, 2013
>>> the hour now. welcome back to "weekends with alex witt ." she is off right now. i'm t.j. holmes . developing now tom harken's announcement he will not seek re-election in 2014 . iowa senator released a statement a short time ago saying he wants to spend more time with his family. said "when the current congress is over i will have served in the united states house of representatives and the u.s. senate for a total of 40 years. after 40 years i just feel it's somebody else's turn." now this comes a day after georgia republican senator saxby chambliss announced he won't seek re-election in 2014 as well. senator carton is a democrat from maryland. he also sits on the senate foreign relations committee . he joins me now. i want to get your reaction to both of those statements. it was chambliss who said the charged nature of d.c. these days, it's just so poe lliticized. he cited that for a reason not to seek re-election.
>> t.j. first it's good to be with you. in regards to senator hark in, he has been the champion for our children, champion for our seniors, champion with those with disabilities. he will be deeply mi you in the democratic caucus and deeply missed in the united states snas. senator chambliss has been one of those who's reached across party line to come up with ways that we can deal with our fiscal issues. i know both will still be in the senate for the next two years. but both valuable members of the united states senate . so i think the news was not surprising because we knew these days would be coming. but these are two individuals who have contributeded a great deal to the work of the senate.
>> i wish we could get a democrat to speak that kindly about a republican when he's not retiring from the senate. let's go, too, on that point he said that the nature of washington, d.c., he kind of cited that. let's go to what we saw with hillary clinton giving testimony up on capitol hill this week about benghazi . there were some heated exchanges. there is no doubt many republicans took this opportunity to really go at senator clinton -- excuse me secretary clinton the best they could and get their shots in. what was your reaction to some of the line of questioning from some of your republican colleagues? for you was it just to be expectsed or did any of is surprise you?
>> secretary clinton did such a great job explaining all the issues. it was a horrible tragedy. we all know that. i think secretary clinton really outlined the facts very clearly, showed where the responsibility, where changes need to be made. there were a couple senators who i thought went over the top as far as their questions were concerned. but senator clinton handed herself very, very well.
>> who went over the top in your opinion?
>> i mean, the accountability review board made it very clear who was responsible. those individuals were held accountable. a couple of the senators sort of implied that there was accountability beyond that. also there was the issue of what went on the week after the benghazi attack and the comments made or the weekly shows. i thought that just is missing the whole point. the whole point was that as secretary clinton pointed out, there was a tragedy, a loss of life. we want to make sure people are safe, that those who still were in harm's way, and to immediately take the steps necessary to protect our personnel around the world and to find out what happened and hold-to make the change necessary. and that's exactly what she did. what view do you take? you're talking about the probably got most play on media, online as well, when she clearly was agitated and said, what difference does it make? you're still going back and saying we didn't have the information right about exactly -- we didn't know who these guys were and what their motives were at the time. it's more important at that time to still figure out who was responsible. we got the investigation going on. that heated exchange. but when she said it, when you heard her say, what difference does it make? what is the point? did you not take any issue with that? or i should ask, how did you read it when she said it? did you agree with her 100%? isn't there a point to us needing to know who was behind this at that time and getting the right information out to the american people ?
>> well, we weren't going to find that information out in the first 48 hours or 72 hours . our immediate concern is the safety of americans. our immediate concern is to take steps to protect those who still could be in harm's way. it was not just benghazi . there were other missions in that region of the world where there were activities taking place that challenged the security. we had to take care of the immediate concerns. and it was important for the secretary of state to make sure that there was an independent evaluation done, and that some of the questions that were asked would have challenged whether the secretary should have gone the involved and started asking her own questions rather than letting the independent people interview the people who were on the ground. so i thought she did a great job in explaining all this. look, it was a tragedy, a loss of life. this is a hot spot of the world. there's inherent danger. we want to make sure that our people are protected. and i think that there's just been an overattention to the first 48 hours as far as the response. the president said initially that terrorists were involved. and we tried to be as open as he possibly could with the american people . but the information was evolving.
>> last thing here quickly for me, did you take issue -- one of your senator johnson, senator ron johnson of wisconsin actually suggested that she was faking emotion to get out of answering questions. what does something like that from one of your colleagues say to you, say to the rest of us? is this just par for the course in politics or did that go too far as well?
>> i think again secretary clinton has handled all this -- there's a reason why her approval rates are as high as they are. she has served our nation with great distinction. what i said during the hearing, t.j., is that she's made the world a little bit smaller. people around the world understand america better. and as a result this world is a little bit safer as a result of secretary clinton 's activities. and i think almost all the members of the united states senate agree with that.
>> senator ben cardin of maryland who i will be accompanying to the super bowl here in just a week.
>> go ravens.
>> senator cardin, thank you so much. good to see you. have a good weekend. going to have the representative of california on. i'll be saying go niners. what do you do? 38 minutes past the