msnbc | February 09, 2013
>>> has a busy week ahead. he'll give the first state of the union address and he has major initiatives to tackle, gun control, immigration reform and economic recovery just to name a few, but there's another big speech being given that night as well, the republican response. it's being delivered by florida senator marco rubio . we want to talk about it in the war room . joining me now, former aid to president clinton , and former assistant to george w. bush . good to see you.
>> keith, let me start with you. do we think there will be a main headline out of the president's speech? do we think there will be a singular focus?
>> think it will be focused mostly on the economy and jobs? the president ran on that issue last year and what's happened is that since november we've gotten sidetracked talking about deficit reduction. we talked about the fiscal cliff until the end of the year and we're talking about the debt deals and we're talking about sequestration and none of these terms came up during the debates or the election. what people are concerned about is the unemployment rate which is 7.9%. they're concerned about what the economy will do in the future and we saw with the gdp numbers just last quarter. when the gdp started to decline in the last quarter and it was because the government was pulling back and they needed to spend money and they wanted to reinvest in education and structure.
>> you don't expect the president to call for additional spending measures on tuesday.
>> he'll say we need to invest in making smart decisions and we need to make some cuts, too, but you have to do a balanced approach and republicans are proposing that we only cut spending and that's the recipe for economic disaster . that's the reason why sequestration according to economists will wreck and ruin our economy. we cannot afford to make that happen.
>> let's talk about sequestration and it's an inside the beltway term. s there massive cuts, $85 billion worth of cuts. the president told democrats on thursday that he was prepared, eager and anxious to reach deals on sequestration and the fiscal cliff soon. what does he need to say in the speech that will let republicans know that he's serious about working with them?
>> it would be great to hear some initiative where he really legitimately, beyond just the budget and spending, really wants to work across the aisle. i think that's the one thing, of course, i'm speaking here as a republican strategist, but that's the one thing president obama is lacking is this big, signature item where he really pulled over a significant number of leading republicans , and if, you know --
>> is that the president's fault or is --
>> craig, i don't want to blame him. we can blame the republicans , but in order for him to make his mark on history and to change the democratic party , he's got to do that.
>> i beg to differ .
>> this is a president who is the first president in history to pass a universal health care reform plan --
>> with no republican votes.
>> you talk about he won't go down in history and he passed the health care plan that democrats and republicans have been trying to do in four years. that was more right-leaning than richard nixon 's proposal. the republicans have moved so far in the right they don't even endorse their own proposals and this is a heritage foundation proposal and the republicans don't go along with their own side because barack obama is in favor of it. the idea that he needs to compromise to go down in history is baloney. i never said he needed to compromise. what i said is he ought to pick a signature issue.
>> think about health -- think about health care . there is something he could have done and he could have pulled olympia snow and some of these very, very centrist republicans with him and -- let me give you a --
>> let me give you a second --
>> let's talk about immigration or something like that.
>> i think immigration is absolutely one way he can work with republicans .
>> i think there is a significant number for republicans and the senator who will give our response on tuesday who is becoming the leader of our party and i think there is good will not by the majority of the party to get the signatures and i think it would be great for the president in terms of his accomplishments if we could get something that attempts to fix this problem.
>> how concerned are democrats that marco rubio might steal some thunder from the president come tuesday night. he's a freshman senator from florida. he's not going to steal the president's thunder any more than bobby jindal did or anyone wo gave responses to the president in the past. this is what republicans have done because they've adopted the politics of symbolism. they lost the latino vote by 74% so why don't we get a latino guy to come out and speak in spanish and english to show that we really care about latinos. but we just heard a moment ago they're still not onboard on immigration reform . the idea that you can put up a latin face and the latino is going to suddenly not be aware of the policies of the party just doesn't make sense.
>> matt, i want to play, and you probably already heard the sound bite for our viewers. this is president clinton issuing a warning of sorts to democrats. take a listen.
>> we should not give up on our ability particularly when these periods when we're not in the heat of the election to begin a conversation with people who are not as extreme as a lot of the candidates they voted for in the republican party that we could get to be for us.
>> that was president clinton essentially there warning democrats to not take white people for granted. what do you think is behind that warning.
>> from the context.
>> that's kind of what with i glean from it.
>> your interpretation on what president clinton was saying there, but i do think he was a master at reaching out to folks and although, i think a lot of us republicans always were worried that he would outflank us because he did it time after time after time, but he also did it by appearing to approach policy and trying to take moderate steps. so he was able to peel back people constantly from the center, and i think it's a lesson that he thinks that in the second term obama needs to understand. don't think you will get there just with your own base. if you will get approximately see achievements in america, you have to get the middle and the people on the other side. i think it's the wiley old master telling people involved in politics today, you ain't going to get there just with the people you're sitting there in that room.
>> what did you take from bill clinton 's message?
>> president clinton has always been a centrist, slightly left to the center, and he would support most of the ideas and proposals, president obama had his own stimulus and it didn't pass in his first term. he tried to repeal the ban and that didn't pass. so barack obama has actually fulfilled president clinton 's agenda. republicans love to, in hindsight go back and revise history and say bill clinton was a great president in some respects, but they hated him. they despised him. they tried to do everything they could to stop him including his wife and there's a lot of historical recidivism.
>> big difference between these two presidents and president clinton and president obama and i talked to people that worked with president clinton as you did and they said one thing president clinton understood was he had to have economic growth to put forward the social spending he wanted to put forward. the real box president obama is in is until he gets this economy rolling he won't do the domestic policy initiatives he wanted to do.
>> thanks to both of you. always a pleasure.