NOW with Alex Wagner | February 08, 2013
>>> bottom line is this, people, we have a lot of work to do. what we've learned over the last four years, at least what i have learned over the last four years, is that it won't be smooth, it won't be simple, there will be frustrations, there will be times where you guys are mad at me, and i'll occasionally read about it, and as a byproduct of doing that good work and keeping that focus i would expect that nancy pelosi is going to be speaker again pretty soon.
>> speaking at the house democratic policy retreat in virginia yesterday president obama looked into his crystal ball predicting the democrats will take back control of the house "pretty soon." the reality of democrats seizing the lower chamber is a bit more sober. house democrats need to pick up 17 seats to retake the majority, and according to politico, just four republican encome bents represent districts that lean democratic while 15 democrats will be defending their seats in areas that tilt republican. redistricting has not helped. the redrawn districts in 2010 left 109 republican seats more secure compared with just 67 democratic seats that were made safer. the 2012 election bore the fruit of those changes. the cook political report found that while house republicans won just 49% of the popular vote , they took 54% of house seats. the political reality, however, may matter more than the actual numbers. jeremy peters writes in "the "new york times"" house democrats are starting to appreciate a new political reality that few of them expected. they matter. with democrats now in control of 200 seats and republicans often sharply split on big issues like spending and taxes, democrats -- democratic votes have been decisive in getting major legislation through the house . given this republican elders have to wonder. how strong is a majority if it is fractured? carrie, it is a very interesting byproduct of the intra-party skism that is happening. jerry peters talks about arguments missed the parties over the fiscal debate, but surely those same arguments will come to the fore as the house tackles immigration or gun control , presume it gets to the house . the democrats and the house now matter. nancy pelosi has some amount. she's not wielding the speaker's gavel, but she is not someone to be marginalized.
>> i covered the health care law in 2009 and 2010 , and she was sort of masterful in terms of eating her conference together on extraordinarily divisive issue, but the message is that, you know, vice president biden, that obama delivered yesterday at the retreat was a political message. it was -- this is going to be tough, but you gee have to stick together. the politics on gun control , in particular, is not what it was in 1994 , and you need to sort of rethink the way these politics are and really buck up and i think it was speaking directly to the fact that there are a lot of regional differences in the democratic caucus , but if they stick together, they may be able to do something.
>> let's be clear. the president is saying pretty soon. that wasn't a prediction. that was a punt. pretty soon in political years doesn't mean anything. that means actually that he doesn't think they're going to win it in two years. the president wants to say we're going to take back the house and do it in two years. that's a prediction. the president didn't say that. i was out there with the president. the best thing about that was seeing the different lawmakers and what they were wearing. nancy pelosi , of course, in her peach jacket. jim mcdermott clearly crush it in a soccer jersey , one of the sweaty ones. it was well done. mcdermott on the back.
>> i'm glad you threw in --
>> it was a white jersey . i don't know if it was a seattle team. i don't know what their colors are. i should know that.
>> it looked like a bayern munich engineers where i.
>> let me talk about the differences. he is relying. the president got landmark legislation through in the first term, but there was very little half dolphing to nancy pelosi . there is something to be said for being many the mud of congress and making it work, making it -- push it across the threshold. i wonder if you think, hans, this relationship based upon, you know, the recent outreach is going to be changed for the second term.
>> so it's not real outreach, right? he just went to the retreat. when he starts playing golf with them on the regular basis, which is the consistent thing you hear from house democrats on why they're not brought in, and when they're brought into the conversation earlier, not just at the end when they're forced take a tough vote, that's when we'll know it changed. you don't want to ding the president too much for not having too many ice cream socials, but there hasn't been a great deal of -- most of the terms have not been quite dictated on missouri, but the president has told them what they're going to do.
>> it hasn't mattered with the house democrats . the house democrats have assumed the old mantle of the house republicans . they are well organized. there's very little disent. they're a well-oiled machine even without obama p, you know, playing the back nine with them.
>> does he have a better or worse relationship with senate democrats ? we look at it as fallen in life with the proposals that the president hadz laid out on gun control . harry reid is in charge of that in the senate and has not fall news 10 lock step with the white house priorities, howard .
>> it's easier when are you in the minority to sort of just go along. when you are in the majority, it's a little bit of a greater responsibility. harry reid has to make the decision whether or not to bring these bills to the floor. there are marginal members in his caucus that might not want to take these issues up. he is responsible for them in some sense. i do believe the mayor is very much involved in this issue. we've been spending a lot of time lobbying members of congress , members of the senate on both republicans and democrats . i do believe that the senate is going to take these issues up. i do believe harry reid is going to bring comprehensive gun bill to the floor. maybe in different pieces. it may be one package. that will be his decision. i do believe something is going to pass in a bipartisan way out of the senate. you saw politico reporting there was a bipartisan group, republicans and democrats from rural and urban states who are working on a comprehensive package on a background checks. i thinkure going to see something get through the senate, and then i think you will have house republicans -- not the majority of them. some number. 20, 30, 40. who will be feeling intense pressure from their districts on this issue. they are going to go to their speaker and their leadership and say, look, if we don't get a volt on this issue, i will not be back, and if i'm not back, you will not be speaker. so we may not need 150 or 170 republicans to vote for this. where he we may not even need 100, but i need you, mr. speaker, to at least allow a vote on the bipartisan bill that has come out of the senate, or i won't be here and you won't be here.
>> does that mean, carrie, we are going to see a final nail in the coffin on the hastert rule? it seems like john boehner did it on -- he did it on the debt ceiling. he did it on sandy aid. could it be -- could his days be numbered?
>> after the fiscal cliff. he promised he wouldn't do it again. he told his members. he has said that he won't do it again, but there's going to be pressure on a ton of issues, and, you know, for him it's going to be a personal decision. in some ways that's how it's framed in washington whether it comes down to whether or not there will be a continuation of the hastert rule. it's about speakership.
>> in terms of let's say it's a rosier picture than we thought it would be on gun safety laws. i guess how much of that rosyness carries through on immigration. it could really go either way , i think. there is still a debate over the path to sit sflenship.
>> as well as on immigration frankly. i'm not down there counting votes, and howard might be -- you put a number 30 , 40 house republicans that would be for some sort of gun control . on immigration it almost seems like the numbers are closer to 100. especially in some of the conservative districts. that's really what's changed. yes, you know, conservatives -- the republicans probably are to the right side in terms of public polling on gun control . you look at immigration. it's miserable for them. that's where you can see the potential just demographically where they really feel like they need to move. immigration i would suspect and i think this is the view of the speaker's office and essential the view in the white house , you have a better prospect of an immigration bill than comprehensive gun bill. the gun bill will be piecemeal, as howard was mentioning.