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STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY
Interview with Janet Napolitano; Winter Olympics Under Way in Russia
Aired February 9, 2014 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Safety, skiing, and politics.
CROWLEY (voice-over): Today, games on in Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Within the boundaries of Sochi, within the so-called ring of steel, there's a lot of security.
CROWLEY: On the ground in Sochi, the former secretary of homeland security and head of the U.S. delegation to the winter Olympics, Janet Napolitano, joins us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was very rushed is what you get the impression of, that everything, you know, isn't quite done. They could use a little bit more time.
CROWLEY: Is it safe enough? Is it nice enough? Is it spectacular enough? Vladimir Putin's moment. We talk to a troika of Russian experts, former director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, former NATO ambassador, Nick Burns, and Moscow-born foreign policy analyst, Dmitri Simes.
Plus, Rand Paul takes another swing at Bill Clinton for the Lewinsky affair and Hillary Clinton for the Benghazi disaster.
SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: We should never, ever have a commander in chief who won't send reinforcements.
CROWLEY: And Attorney General Eric Holder announces expansion of equal rights for married same-sex couples.
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Our nation has made great strides on the road to LGBT equality, a cause that I believe is a defining civil rights challenge of our time.
CROWLEY: Our political panel parses a busy Sunday.
This is STATE OF THE UNION.
(END VIDEOTAPE) CROWLEY (on-camera): Good morning from Washington. I'm Candy Crowley. The games are under way. Security is heavy, though, some of it is discreet in and around Sochi. CNN senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson, joins us live. Ivan, certainly back here lots of talk about security. Does it affect the atmosphere there?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a massive deployment. There's no question about it. You see police and uniformed officers everywhere, and let me just give you some numbers. Some of the Russian published estimates of the number of security forces deployed here goes into the tens of thousands, and according to the Russian organizing committee, there were 30,000 spectators in the Olympic venues on Saturday.
So, you might have nearly a one security officer for every spectator if we can trust some of these Russian figures that are coming out, but it is not overbearing. I've seen the less hospitable side of the Russian security forces in my past assignments in Russia, and here, I'm really surprised and impressed by how the Russian police are quite friendly and they smile and they really do not hassle you at the different venues.
However, security behind the scenes is undoubtedly a massive concern. I just spoke with the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Mike McFaul, and he said that this is a massive effort. The U.S. team here, the Olympic team, is the biggest of all of them, of course, and he described not only a Sochi-based operation, but a much bigger U.S. effort to ensure that no tragedy, nothing terrible can happen here, and to give a sense of how the anxiety is big here.
He did say that after the Olympics, after the final ceremony when it's all over, if nothing terrible happens, all of the security teams will breathe an incredible sigh of relief -- Candy.
CROWLEY: As well I'm sure all of the participants. Ivan, you talk about sort of the warmer, fuzzier face of Russian security forces, but they're still actively rooting out militants even while the games are ongoing.
WATSON: That's right. We've heard from a Russian security officer describing a deadly operation occurring hundreds of miles to the east of here in Russia's very restive Caucasus Republic of Dagestan where it has been battling an Islamist insurgency for years. A Russian security source telling CNN that five suspected insurgents who were holed up in a house were killed in Dagestan's capital -- provincial capital of Makhachkala in a shootout.
Another one captured. And just last Wednesday in that same republic, the suspected mastermind of those deadly twin suicide bombings in Volgograd at the end of the December, the Russians have reported that they killed that suspected militant. So, the operations are clearly ongoing, and they're clearly claiming lives even as the sports and the festivities and the athletic competitions are continuing to take place here in a very different atmosphere behind me here in Sochi.
CROWLEY: CNN's Ivan Watson. Thanks so much, Ivan.
Earlier, I spoke with Janet Napolitano. She's heading up the U.S. delegation in Sochi, and she's also, as you know, the former secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama.
CROWLEY: Janet, we appreciate your being here today. It has been noted, I'm sure it's been noted to you, that it's been 14 years since a president or a vice president or a member of their family has not gone and attended at least an event at the Olympics. Can you tell me as a practitioner of both policy and politics why Sochi is different for the U.S.?
NAPOLITANO: I think the president chose delegations that represent leaders from various walks of life, former Olympians, leaders in government service. I lead the nation's largest public research university. I am a former member of his cabinet, as you know, and was co-lead of our delegation in Vancouver.
CROWLEY: So, you think there was no snub of President Putin intended.
NAPOLITANO: No, I don't think so. I think he sent a delegation that represents the broad values of the United States. We're here to support our team. We're here to represent our country, and we're proud to be here.
CROWLEY: Will you or have you had any kind of conversation or greeting or any scenario in which you'll be able to talk to President Putin?
NAPOLITANO: No. I am not here as a diplomat. I'm here as the lead of the delegation to the Olympics, so no such conversations are contemplated.
CROWLEY: So, you've spent four years as a Homeland Security director here in the U.S. on the surface of it, as you have seen Sochi and the area that surrounds it, does anything concern you vis-a-vis the security there?
NAPOLITANO: Well, you know, I think a little context, anytime you have one of these big international events, and unfortunately, that includes Olympics, security is an issue. It was an issue leading up into the London games, for example, and here because of its geographic proximity to an area that's actually in a war, that creates some other special security concerns.
Within the boundaries of Sochi, within the so-called ring of steel, there's a lot of security, but, you know, once you have your credential, once you have your I.D.s and so forth, you can move around and get into the venues.
CROWLEY: Does from your perspective from what you see, from what you've heard, from what's been told you, does the city seem as prepared as it needs to be given that it is close to some war zones and that big events, as you know, tend to attract bad people?
NAPOLITANO: Yes, they do, unfortunately. And, again, anytime you have a big event, particularly a big sporting event where you have lots of different people, you know there's going to be a lot of media there, there has to be a lot of security, a lot of security preparation. There's a lot of preparation, for example, that goes into a Super Bowl and Super Bowl security planning.
With respect to Sochi, you know, we've been received well. We have a nice hotel. Our accommodations are just fine, but from what I hear from some of the athletes who are doing some of their training, they're quite satisfied.
CROWLEY: So, as you are eyeballing it, it seems -- they seem prepared. I know you can't know what's going on behind the scenes or any of that, but it seems just by eyeballing it that the city is prepared. NAPOLITANO: You know, it seems so. A lot of it's very new, and, you know -- and I've seen this in other events where the event itself becomes the reason for a lot of new construction, a lot of revitalization and the like, and we've certainly seen that here in Sochi where, you know, a number of the hotels are new, the sporting venues obviously are new. The press center is new. So, that's all had to be constructed in a fairly short period of time.
CROWLEY: We're hearing, of course, back here lots of scary, troublesome stories about explosive material in toothpaste tubes, black widows, et cetera. What is your personal level of concern about Sochi?
NAPOLITANO: About security at Sochi?
NAPOLITANO: Listen, as the leader of the U.S. delegation, all I can say is that what we've seen and what we've heard seems that the level of security is quite appropriate, is very good, and I hope that the attention of the media and the world turns now more to what the athletes are going to do instead of the threats that are being made.
CROWLEY: So, the general atmosphere right now in the city among the athletes that you may have seen, what does the atmosphere feel like?
NAPOLITANO: Well, I'm taking my guidance a lot from the former athletes who are part of our delegation or who are also in the hotel, and they tell me that as you get closer to the games and the games actually begin, the athletes enter a zone, and they are focused on their event, their training, their training schedule, making sure that they have, you know, their peak performance representing both themselves as an athlete but also representing their country.
And so, as we've seen athletes, and we saw a few at a reception they were at, it's clear where their focus is.
CROWLEY: So, I don't know whether you heard it or are aware of it, but the U.N. secretary-general addressed the International Olympic Committee. He addressed the issue of prejudice of any kind, said very clearly prejudice of any kind based on gender. Orientation is absolutely unacceptable by the Olympic charter, for the U.N. And there was no mention specifically of Russia, but it certainly seemed aimed at the whole gay propaganda law in Russia.
I wonder if you've seen anything that makes you believe that gays, in particular gay athletes, are not welcome. Is there any sign of that at all?
NAPOLITANO: I have not seen any such sign, but I think our president, President Obama, has been very clear over time about the United States and our position with respect to human values and human rights and freedom of expression and tolerance and diversity. These are things we hold dear in the United States, and this is an area where we have some disagreements with Russia. CROWLEY: And finally, I have to ask you, if you could be good at and participate in any sport that is an event at the Sochi Olympics, what would that be?
NAPOLITANO: Well, I jokingly told another reporter curling because I got into curling when I was at the games in Vancouver four years ago. But I have to say, when you see the figure skaters and the beauty of their performances, it does make one jealous.
CROWLEY: It absolutely does. It's hard to beat that for a real show. All of it will be great, I'm sure. Stay safe, and I imagine we'll start talking about the games themselves and those young people over there, and obviously, hope all of them stay safe and you all as well, the viewers. Thank you so much, Janet Napolitano, who is heading up the U.S. delegation to the Olympics. Thanks for your time today.
NAPOLITANO: Thank you so much.
CROWLEY: When we return, good or bad, these are Vladimir Putin's games, his reputation, his political fortunes may be on the line or at least altered. Our panel of experts is next.
CROWLEY: Joining me now, Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of state and NATO ambassador, John Negroponte, former director of National Intelligence and currently teaching a class on Russian studies at Yale University, and Dimitri Simes, president and CEO of the Center for the National Interest. Thank you all so much for coming.
Just a tossup question, everything that talks about Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, and these games says this was going to be his big re-entry to the world stage. This will make him a world power. And every time I read it, I think seriously? Like having a successful Olympic games suddenly makes him a major power player sort of the ilk of the old Soviet Union? Yes?
NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: No. I think what Putin is trying to do, obviously, he's trying to portray a Russia that's still great. And if you watch the opening ceremonies, it's a great culture, great history, literature, art, dance. But there's a glaring gap here, Candy, I think that Putin is not going to be able to close.
He wants to portray a kinder, gentler Russian government, but the reality is, when the opening ceremonies were being held, the Russian government did not stop it's Syrian allies from firing at A U.N. convoy trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the refugees there. It's a cynical government, in my judgment, under President Putin's leadership. It's a brutal government, and you really can't match those two goals. DIMITRI SIMES, PRESIDENT & CEO, CENTER FOR THE NATIONAL INTEREST: Well, I think that Putin is very sports, very athletic oriented. And he's constituency in Russia really loves sports. So, so far, Putin gives great entertainment during the opening ceremony, but what will be really important for Putin is what the Russian team will be able to do. So far, they were not able to win a single medal. So, I'm sure that Mr. Putin is a little worried.
CROWLEY: So, this is a national -- this is not so much about the world stage as about his own stage in Russia.
JOHN NEGROPONTE, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, it's probably a bit of both, but I don't think we should begrudge a successful Olympics. And I think we all hope that they are, indeed, very successful, but that doesn't speak to the issue of U.S./Russian relations which is a completely different matter.
CROWLEY: It is. And I want to just put up for our audience, you all know this full well, where the U.S. and Russia have escalating tensions as we like to say. Syria, Iran, China, Ukraine, certainly over Mr. Snowden who is now in residence in Russia.
CROWLEY: Human rights, and, of course, they've had over the past couple weeks some back and forth about security and intelligence exchanges.
And it struck me, the president purposely did not send any member of the first family or the second family to head the delegation. What was the message there? And was it the wrong message? Could you have sent a delegation that included gays to make the point for gay freedoms and gay rights and still put a higher level there to kind of gesture to Putin or was it the right thing to do?
BURNS: You know, I think United States is in a tricky position because we should want these games to succeed. We should want Russia to be portrayed culturally, historically, in a positive light. We shouldn't begrudge them, as John says. But on the other hand, this is politics. And the Olympic Games have become political.
And it was a real message from President Obama when he didn't send Michelle Obama or Vice President Biden or didn't go himself because he's gone to other sporting competitions, and the problem is that Washington is really frustrated with Moscow, because on all the issues you mentioned, these are critical issues, the Russians are locking. It's a government under Putin's leadership that doesn't propose very much that's positive.
It's a lonely government. It doesn't have many friends. You can't even find an ally outside of Belarus that it has. And so, they've been blocking the United States both in the last two administration, and I think you're seeing a reflection of how Washington really thinks about this government.
CROWLEY: But at some level -- the president does not send a high level delegation ahead. The next thing we know, the Russian woman who was lighting the cauldron with the Olympic torch is someone who sent out an insulting picture of the president and the first lady, and it just seems like sort of the school -- you know, high school kind of things and there's huge stakes here.
SIMES: I'm very disappointed that President Obama did not send somebody more senior to Moscow. This woman incidentally, (INAUDIBLE). She's a permanent resident of the United States. She has an American green card. She lives in the United States for years. I think that she was stupid.
I don't think it was intentionally racist. But more to the point, Ambassador Burns said quite correctly that the Russia has few friends. That's true. But Russia has few aspiring allies, and one most important ally (INAUDIBLE) is China's President Xing who was and who got the royal treatment, and now, Russia is supporting China for China to get next 2022 winter Olympics
We have to understand that there is not just American politics as Ambassador Burns said correctly. There are huge geopolitical stakes. And when you are trying to isolate Russia, you may feel well about that and Putin may deserve to be isolated, but there's a very considerable price to pay. There were never from what I understand more world leaders coming to any winter Olympics than came to Moscow, including actually quite a few European NATO governments.
CROWLEY: So, was it a mistake do you think not to -- for the U.S. not to send someone slightly higher level than Janet Napolitano?
NEGROPONTE: Well, I think that, you know, that's past and gone. I think, certainly, Janet Napolitano's Selection -- she's an excellent choice given the past positions she had, but I think the important point is, we don't want to let some of these frictions that we have with Russia obscure the rather long agenda of issues, nuclear non- proliferation, dealing with a legacy of nuclear weapons in the cold war, how we jointly might be able to deal with the turmoil created by the Arab spring.
I mean, the list is really quite long of important issues where if we can establish some kind of partnership with Russia, it would be a very desirable thing to do. Admittedly, it's been frustrating and difficult.
CROWLEY: But does the politics of the Olympics that have occurred, so far, help the U.S. and Russia get closer together?
BURNS: I think there's no alternative that the two countries, as John says. We have to deal with each other, and the complicated aspect of this is we're competitors with Russia, but we also have to be a partner. Counterterrorism, resupplying American troops into Afghanistan, Russia helps us with that. So, we can't afford to walk away from the relationship, but the president sent a big message, a lack of respect, because Russia has been so much in our face on Snowden, on Syria, Iran.
CROWLEY: So, where does this lead for Putin? Let's say that these are, as we all hope, safe and successful Olympics. The athletes go home, you know, feeling good about what took place. What does that do for Putin? Does it do anything?
SIMES: Well, I think that the gain, as I said, a lot of -- the performance of the Russian Olympic team. Otherwise, if everything goes OK at the games, I think he will increase his standing at home. He will increase his standing abroad. But as Ambassador Burns said, not by much, because other issues, other problems remain, and at the end of the day, it's a very impressive show, but it's still just a show.
CROWLEY: What do you think? NEGROPONTE: Well, if you think -- in terms of promoting the country, if they come off successfully without security incident, think of what happened in 2008 with China. They were a great success and I think people were commenting for quite a while afterwards. So, I think it's a positive in the area of promoting the country.
CROWLEY: I want to read you something from -- this came from "The Wall Street Journal." It was quoting the deputy prime minister in Russia who was in charge of the Olympics, and he was complaining that the west was building up these sort of petty issues around the Olympics. Western journalists were complaining about, you know, toilets that didn't work or bathtubs that came up out of the floor.
And he said we have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall, and leave the room for the whole day. Now, setting aside whether they're doing that, they have since said this was a mistranslation of what he actually said. But talk to me about the surveillance inside Sochi. Can everyone who's there just assume it is complete in the sense that in your hotel room, wherever you are on the street? What is the level?
BURNS: As a diplomat, when I used to go to the Soviet Union and then to Russia after 1991, you always assumed that you were being monitored. And given the authoritarian nature of that country under a strong authoritarian leader Putin, you have to assume that the Russians are looking at everything you do. I'm sure our athletes are aware of that.
SIMES: I think that the only safe assumption not only for diplomats but really for anyone in Russia and I don't know with any some fundamentally has changes since the (INAUDIBLE). I would say the techniques of the surveillance became more sophisticated.
CROWLEY: Got better. BURNS: Because we've learned.
CROWLEY: Yes, absolutely.
CROWLEY: I mean, one of the things we know is of the things the U.S. suspects is that a taped conversation between two U.S. diplomats that happened to be in the Ukraine at the time and were not complimentary to the EU somehow appeared on the web and were being pushed by the soviets. Is the Soviet Union capable kind of as a final question, are they capable -- I'm sorry, the Russians, you can tell, right?
Are the Russians capable of protecting these Olympics and keeping them safe? Do they have the intelligence capability and do they have the manpower capability that make these safe?
NEGROPONTE: I'm going to hazard the estimation that yes, they do. They've put an awful lot of effort into this. They've collaborated with our security people. I think you can assume they've done just everything they could possibly do to keep the Olympics safe. And that's not a guarantee.
SIMES: Sochi is a fairly small place. It is a contained place. So, I agree with Ambassador Negroponte. They probably can protect Sochi. Whether they can protect the whole country, whether something else can happen during the Olympics in another Russian city, it's a totally different question.
BURNS: I agree. The one thing Putin is good at, it's cracking down on his own country. I think Sochi will be safe.
CROWLEY: Nick Burns, John Negroponte, Dimitri Simes, thank you all so much for coming.
By the way, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, joins "Fareed Zakaria GPS" at the top of the hour.
But next, Attorney General Eric Holder announces a landmark change involving the country's same-sex married couples. Our panel on the policy and the politics when we come back.
CROWLEY: Joining me around the table on the outside, CNN commentators Cornell Belcher and Ana Navarro, and in the middle A.B. Stoddard, associate editor for "The Hill" newspaper. Happy Sunday. Thanks for coming.
Let me just shorthand what Eric Holder talked about last night and will implement tomorrow. And that is he is going to extend federal recognition and federal benefits to same-sex married couples when a federal court is involved, when a federal prison is involved, in bankruptcy courts, which are federal. Here is part of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: As now nothing less than our country's founding commitment to the notion of equal protection under the law was at stake, and so the justice department's role in confronting discrimination must be as aggressive today as it was in Robert Kennedy's time. As attorney general, I will never let this department be simply a bystander during this important moment in history. We will act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: So what he's done here is compare the civil rights movement to the gay rights movement.
CORNELL BELCHER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Which is a big deal.
CROWLEY: It's a huge deal, and one of the reasons I wanted to bring it up because this has not been popular in the African-American community.
BELCHER: Well, you know what? When the president started coming out on it, you saw some movement in the African-American community moving around this but let's be clear. You know, go back six or seven years ago civil rights leaders, the old school civil rights leaders, did not see this connection, did not want to make this connection. That has been softening. I think the president and his administration goes a long way in showing its (ph) softening. I think in the end this president is going to be will be looked at around gay rights how LBJ was looked at around civil rights for African-American rights. I think we are looking at (ph) really historic walls crumble around this administration.
CROWLEY: And what's at play here? (INAUDIBLE) When you look at it politically certainly this is a community that can be helpful in the midterm election. But -- talking to folks at the justice department that covered, our folks saying, this is also about a Holder legacy.
A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "THE HILL": I would agree. I would agree that Holder has stayed on after -- there are books about Eric Holder saying he was trying to leave years ago and actually having been convinced to stay by President Obama, he is building a legacy and becoming very active. President Obama though really needs to turn the base of the party out in this midterm election for Democrats where things look terrible for them right now if the election were held today. So the straddling though for him is if he oversteps and does too much by executive action, there's going to be a campaign against Democrats that the Congress and the courts are being left out by the administration -
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Candy, I think -- CROWLEY: One second before you go - I mean, before you start. I just want to read, this is a reaction from Brian Brown, president for the National Organization for Marriage. He does talk about states' rights, one of the issues, but he says in part, the changes being proposed here to a process as universally relevant as the criminal justice system serve as a potent reminder of why it is simply a lie to say that redefining marriage doesn't affect everyone in society. So there's the state's rights issue, there's the idea that this will be applied in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage -
NAVARRO: But only in federal court. So basically if you're gay, if you're married, but if you're in a state that doesn't recognize it and you marry a criminal, you better be sure that it's somebody that commits a federal crime, not a state crime because you're only covered under federal law. And frankly, I think what Holder is doing here is reflecting the reality of the country. This is the most rapidly social change that we have seen in our lifetimes certainly, and there's, frankly, two ways to look at this. Either you accept the reality, which is that gay marriage is here to stay. You're not taking that right away.
Gay families exist, and they deserve the same exact rights as everybody else. We are not Russia. This is not Putin. We don't discriminate. We don't harass gays. In America people have the same rights. Or you can keep your head in the sand. I'm with those that live in the real world.
BELCHER: Here is the problem, here is the problem. If the Republicans who are lining up to run for president in 2016 were on Ana's talking points, I think they would be a lot further ahead on winning a broad majority. But (INAUDIBLE) in the base of Ana's party, I (INAUDIBLE) base of her party that kind of talk is not necessarily open. It's not necessarily open.
NAVARRO: But, Cornell, let me tell you something, 18 months ago, 20 months ago, the president of the United States was in a different position. Black pastors were in a different position, and they have moved slowly. So this is -- again, I go back to saying the most rapidly changing social issue of our lifetime and it may be that by 2016 this is much less of a point than it is today. It's amazing how much gay rights and marriage equality has changed in the last 12 to 18 months.
BELCHER: I agree. But the Tea Party base Republican primary voters switch dramatically on this, I will be shocked.
NAVARRO: But there is a lot - let me tell you something. There's a lot more Republicans changing on this than meets the naked eye. They may not be out there because there's no reason to take the political hit if there's no legislation in front of them. But a lot of people are shifting (ph).
STODDARD: But there will be a question about '16, whether or not the nominee in the nominating process there will be a big question about whether or not the person who survives the primary process, which is, as you know, dictated mostly by activists conservatives, whether or not that person to win the primary can support anything beyond traditional marriage, whatever the definition that they use. And so that's actually around the corner, and I don't know that the party shifted that much. That they (ph) (INAUDIBLE).
CROWLEY: I got to break this off except for your going to stick with us because...
... and when we come back we'll talk about Rand Paul taking on the Clintons, both of them.
CROWLEY: Back with Cornell Belcher, A.B. Stoddard, and Ana Navarro. I recovered anyway. I want to move on to Rand Paul. He is on a roll lately. He has taken on -- he (ph) was asked a question and in response to a question about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, he basically said, look, the president was -- you know, this (ph) was predatory behavior. And now kind of doubled down on it and said this Sunday, listen, if you gave money to Bill Clinton, you should take it back because this guy is a predator. Then last night Rand Paul is in a Republican crowd in Houston, and he talks about Benghazi and Hillary Clinton. Here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The coup de grace and the thing I think should limit Hillary Clinton from ever holding high office, when she was asked for reinforcements, she turned down reinforcements, and we should never, ever have a commander in chief who won't send reinforcements.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY (ph): He's just --
BELCHER: As someone who has done -- you know, partisanship aside, someone who has worked in a lot of primaries. What he's doing is smart from a primary stand point. Look there's probably -- while Bill Clinton has high favorability numbers nationally, when you look at the base of the Republican Party, those (INAUDIBLE) in the primary, there's going to be very few things that endure Republican primary voters to them than someone taking on the Clintons and someone bringing down the Clintons, and the Monica Lewinsky stuff, while it's old news to them, I have got a feeling that in the Republican primary in the base them taking that -- him taking that on so frontally really helps him with those voters.
NAVARRO: And I think, look, frankly, what Bill Clinton did decades ago was wrong. I think even Bill Clinton would tell you that. Certainly Hillary would tell you that. But, you know, it's old. The statute of limitations is over, but I think he's sending an important message to Hillary Clinton both with the Benghazi issue and with this issue is, look, I don't care if you're the Clintons, I don't care who you are, if you're going into a primary know that everything is on the table, and we will go to the entire record of the public life of the Clintons. CROWLEY: You know, A.B., in the end --
BELCHER: It's been gone through a couple times.
NAVARRO: And we may be going through it again.
BELCHER: It's not new information for a general election.
NAVARRO: Yes. But, you know, people -- you know we have attention deficit disorder in this country. So you know we're going to go through it all over again if she's in.
CROWLEY: But A.B., this is smart politics it is seems to me. Here is Rand Paul kind of expanding what his dad had. He's got the libertarian side of him. He'll take on drones, he'll take on privacy, he'll do that. Then he's got the social conservative side of him. I think that's where this comes in. And then, you know, he has -- he has, you know, sort of traditional Republican views on other things. I think he's looking at his base.
STODDARD: He's actually more in tune with the needs and the demographic liabilities of the Republican Party than most wannabe 2016 contenders. As you said, he's taking care of all these disparate coalitions. He's actually speaking right to the Wall Street managerial wing of the party that's very worried that Chris Christie has collapsed. And what he's saying is, I have the guts to take on the Clintons. I know we need to. I know we don't have a candidate right now (INAUDIBLE) looks like they can.
And so in the middle of this panic he is saying, I can do this. And that actually is going to bring him more ears -- more people are going to start tuning in to what he says as he runs around the country saying -- speaking to black audiences, young audiences and saying the Republican Party needs to --
NAVARRO: And I thought it was fascinating that this week one of the things he did well in Texas was, first of all, be with John Cornyn at this dinner that he was last night which is even more than Ted Cruz has done. But even more so he met with George P. Bush, Jeb Bush's son, who's running for statewide office in Texas to talk about Hispanic outreach. And I have to say I don't agree with Rand Paul on a lot of things, but when I see the way he's trying to do outreach in the African-American community, in the Hispanic community, he makes my heart smile.
BELCHER: Well, he knows one thing, to talk the talk, it's another thing to walk the walk. These are real (INAUDIBLE) Rand Paul. He has issues with the civil rights act. He has issues -- he didn't vote for the violence against women's act. He didn't vote for the patriot fairness act. So when you move outside that primary to the general election, you know, he's got some real issues with a broader base of women as well as minorities that's going to be really problematic. Because guess what? You're probably not going to be president of the United States again if Democrats continue to run up the tab on the gender gap the way we have done the last couple years and you know this very well, Ana. You're not going to win Florida if you can't compete with Hispanic voters.
NAVARRO: I agree with you.
CROWLEY: I want to move you on to the other side of the ticket, as they say. And next up --
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REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Mother Teresa is a saint now, but, you know, if the Congress wanted to make her a saint and attached that to debt ceiling we probably couldn't get 218 Republican votes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Is John Boehner's (INAUDIBLE) caucus the reason for his about-face on immigration reform?
CROWLEY: Back with Cornell Belcher, A.B. Stoddard and Ana Navarro. Apparently the naive among us thought it might be possible for immigration reform to, you know, do something in the House this year. The speaker certainly was talking about it. And then this week it was like, yes, I really don't think it's going to happen. Here's a part of what he said.
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BOEHNER: I think the president is going to have to demonstrate to the American people and to my colleagues that he can be trusted to enforce the law as it is written.
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CROWLEY: What happened here?
STODDARD: Well legalization is dead. First it was a path to citizenship was dead and then legalization was possible that's gone, that's not happening in 2014. 2015 will be only more difficult for the party when they're trying to rally around a primary process and a nominee for president. You might get something in seasonal workers. You might get H-1B visa. You might get biometric data verification. You might get something extending the Dreamer provisions, that's it.
NAVARRO: Listen, if I, you know -- this is I think now maybe the third time in this congressional session that I have heard pundits and political journalists predict the death or, you know, write the eulogy for immigration. Let's give this thing some time. I think he left himself some wiggle room in this. He said, if the president regains the trust. What happened was he went to the congressional retreat and there was a lot of pushback. Immigration is about two things. Number one is the substance. Can he sell the substance? I think he can make some progress with the standards that he released last week. Number two is the timing. And the timing is very, very tricky right now because of the politics. There may be a window that opens up at some point. This is not the time.
BELCHER: This is -- this is politics and this is the problem, I never thought that immigration reform was actually going to pass this year because I understand that this is -- this is part of the cultural sort of warfare touchstones for the Republican Party.
I'm sorry but I'm going to say it like it is. Truth of the matter is, when you look at the Republican Party they're about shrinking the number of people in the electorate, not increasing them. And Anna, I'm sorry, but they don't want more people in the electorate who look like you and sound like you. It is true.
STODDARD: Cornell --
NAVARRO: No. But Cornell, let's (ph) -- no, no, no. Listen --
BELCHER: Because once upon a time Republicans were a party of ideals and now they're not putting ideals...
(CROSSTALK) ... the electorate more and more.
NAVARRO: OK. When you say they, who are you talking about? Because when I -- you know the Republicans I talk to are the Republicans like a Jeb Bush, like a John Boehner, like a Paul Ryan, these are people who are willing to take political risks and have the courage to...
... so don't say they. Because not every Republican stands -- let me just say this, not every Republican stands where you want them. You want to paint them (INAUDIBLE) they stand. And there are a lot of Republicans particularly some who are looking at 2016 that realize you will not get to the White House, Republicans, with old white male voters that are also straight (ph).
BELCHER: Well clearly the majority of the Republican caucus don't feel that way because they pushed back. Look, the truth of the matter if he put a vote on the floor right now up or down it would pass -- it would pass the House. It would not pass majority of Republicans in the caucus but it would pass and that's the fundamental problem because that's why (INAUDIBLE).
NAVARRO: Cornell, it would have passed the first two years of the Obama presidency when the Democrats had the Senate, the House and the White House and they didn't have the courage to put it up. Yes. Would it pass right now if John Boehner put it up on the floor? Probably. But he is the speaker of the House, he's the majority leader of the Republican Party. He needs to have a significant number of Republicans because he's not there (ph) --
BELCHER: Nowhere in the constitution says you're the speaker of the Republican -- of a party. You're speaker of the House.
NAVARRO: Of course it's not in the constitution but it's real politics.
BELCHER: So there's a majority who will pass this by the way. Look at CNN polling. The majority of Americans want this to happen --
STODDARD: Cornell --
The problem is right now --
NAVARRO: How many -- how many laws did Nancy Pelosi pass? How many bills did she pass with a Republican majority and very little Democrats? Like the health care act?
BELCHER: She passed a lot of bills.
NAVARRO: Like the health care act...
.. Republicans support?
BELCHER: One reason why immigration didn't pass because they were busy trying to pull us out of the Bush recession.
NAVARRO: Because it was --
CROWLEY: It is against my nature to try to stop a debate right in the middle of it but I wanted to give you the last word.
STODDARD: Well I would say, Cornell, one of the difficulties for Paul Ryan and John Boehner and "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page and Karl Rove and everyone who are proponents right now of moving the party forward, broadening the tent and passing comprehensive reform is the affordable care act, and that even proponents of reform are scared and this lack of trust issue is a real issue, that once something is passed in statutory language, and becomes law the administration will go in there and change it and won't be what the Congress passed.
A.B. Stoddard, Ana Navarro, Cornell Belcher, thank you for being here. And thank you all for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Head to CNN.com/SOTU for analysis and extras. If you missed any part of today's show just find us on iTunes. Fareed Zakaria, GPS, is next.