Return to Transcripts main page


Search for Flight 370; Interview with Steve Israel, Greg Walden

Aired April 13, 2014 - 12:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST: In Washington, hello midterms.

And from the depths of the Indian Ocean, five days of silence.



CROWLEY (voice-over): Today Australia's somber assessment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one should underestimate the difficulties of the task still ahead of us.

CROWLEY (voice-over): And Malaysia's mea culpa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are times when we're lost in translation. We're learning through this process. And basically I'm not saying that we were -- we must handled it perfectly.

CROWLEY (voice-over): Our reporters and experts with the latest on the search for Malaysia Flight 370 in waters three miles deep and the could have, should have, would haves in Kuala Lumpur.

And then --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our job is to elect Republicans to office and make sure that there's a check and balance on the Barack Obama administration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tough climate. No question about it. Won't sugarcoat it.

CROWLEY (voice-over): The chairman of the Republican and Democratic campaign committees, Greg Walden and Steve Israel, with the early line on the 2014 elections and whether races are holding up immigration reform.

Plus, JB squared, Jeb Bush and John Boehner, our panel takes on this week's political headliners.



CROWLEY: I'm Candy Crowley in Washington.

Today's search for Flight 370 is over. The hunt for the plane is entering a sixth week, and there are fears its black boxes, at least the batteries on the black boxes, may be dead. It has been five days since searchers detected what may have been pings from the flight data recorders.

Malaysia's transport minister says finding them is critical to clearing 370's crew and passengers in the plane's disappearance.

We have CNN reporters covering the story from several angles.

Will Ripley is in Perth.

Joe Johns is in Kuala Lumpur.

And Pauline Chiou in Hong Kong.

Thanks all for joining us. You're doing yeoman's work out there, I know, and are probably exhausted.

Will, you're in Perth. It is home base for this search. It is nighttime, so the planes have come back or are headed back.

Anything new?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What was new today, the search area size increased by about 6,000 square miles. As of our last update, still no debris recovered and no pings in five days as you mentioned.

So I guess the big headline here that could be coming up this week is, is the search going to transition from listening to deploying the submersible? We could get answers on that this week. But today, no major developments as far as what was found out on the Indian Ocean.

CROWLEY: So the fact that they broadened the search area, does that indicate that they do think they're now moving back to we've got to find some debris and, obviously, put in those underwater sonar detectors?

RIPLEY: For the 370 families, this debris is crucial. Even a photo you have to think might not be enough for some of these families who have now waited so long and have yet to see any physical evidence that this aircraft is where the search teams strongly believe that it is.

But this debris field, if there is even still debris floating, has been a moving target for 37 days. And so they keep poring over this data trying to figure out where this stuff might be. They just haven't found it. But somewhere out there, there is a plane, there are 239 people, and there's definite determination out here to find it for these families and find those people.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. And Joe Johns, you're in Kuala Lumpur, home base for, of course, Malaysia Airlines. It is hard to watch over the past now almost six weeks the Kuala Lumpur government dealing with this.

I mean, it's a small country. This is a global story. They were thrust into the headlines all over the world. They don't seem to have a lot of answers. Some of it, you can understand.

But what is your feel for the Malaysian government, how it sees its own role in what it's done?

And are they -- when they don't answer questions, is it about not knowing the answers or are they just not used to giving out all the information?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it's definitely a little bit of both. The most important thing, I think, Candy, is they don't know where the plane is and neither does anybody else. They've gotten a lot of heat, they've taken a lot of questions, hard questions from the international media, including CNN.

And there's been some pushback, too. Last week, they pushed back against "The Daily Mail" newspaper out of U.K., there's also pushback against CNN, the transport minister retweeting a humorous cartoon lampooning CNN.

I asked one of the lawyers in town, what is all this pushback about from the government?

And he said it's all about public consumption, making people understand here in Malaysia that this government is not intimidated. They may not do everything right, but they can still give as good as they can get, Candy.

CROWLEY: And Pauline, I want to bring you in from Hong Kong because it occurs to me that, at the very beginning, we heard a lot from the relatives that obviously were waiting at the airport for this Malaysian flight to come in to China, which was its destination.

And we haven't heard much since. What's happened there?

PAULINE CHIOU, CNN HOST: Well, I think you're not hearing as much public anger and criticism in front of the TV cameras because, for a couple of reasons. A, it's the 37th day. The families are just exhausted emotionally and they're frustrated.

And the other issue is the Chinese government has put a little bit of pressure on the families behind closed doors to step back a little bit and to dial back some of that criticism.

And we know this because I was in Beijing for 33 days and I saw some of the closed door briefings from the outside where government officials were inside. And after some of these briefings, the families did tell them the government officials had said to them, listen, it's probably better if you step back a little bit and let us, let the government deal with this, government to government.

That has happened probably in the past week and a half or so. But it's quite different from what we saw in the early days. Remember March 24th when Malaysia's prime minister made that announcement on television that the plane had probably gone down in the Indian Ocean and everyone had to presume there were no survivors.

Well, the very next day, Candy, you remember that big protest by the family members in Beijing as they walked to the Malaysian embassy. That kind of protest does not happen in Beijing very often, and the government could have stopped that if they wanted to.

But, in essence, it was really the government saying let the families put the pressure on the Malaysian government instead of the Chinese government. But this was early on. Now you're seeing a little bit of a shift now as we're heading into the fifth week.

CROWLEY: Will, sort of spinning off what Pauline just said and what Joe just said, like no other government involved in this, the Australian government has gotten a lot of shine. They have seemed competent. They've been out there every day, apparently giving as much information as they had.

It is interesting to me to see Prime Minister Tony Abbott take such a front seat in this whole thing and be out there in public. I was trying to think if there were a plane crash off the U.S., the president wouldn't be the guy probably to come out and talk about the investigation.

RIPLEY: You know, you've got to think, this is a relatively new prime minister, elected less than a year ago. And this is his first opportunity as prime minister to speak on this international stage.

You know, one thing I thought was interesting, Candy, you take a look at the local papers here, the national papers in Australia. On the front page here, you don't see any mention of Flight 370. It hasn't been front-page news here for days.

So the real attention more than domestically here in Australia is internationally. It's also -- Prime Minister Abbott was in Beijing trying to push through this free trade agreement, which is very important to Australia, given the trade relationship between the two countries.

And so to have this press conference to show the strength of Australia, to show the command that he has with his search chief, Angus Houston, it certainly was a deliberate move.

CROWLEY: Sure. Sure. I think there are always politics to a crisis, and this one is no different.

Joe Johns, how about in Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia at large, how is it viewed in that country? Is it as -- a front-page story?

How are they viewing their government and how are they viewing the story itself? JOHNS: It's not a front-page story every single day, but from time to time, it will pop up, sort of depends on the exclusive that one newspaper or another might get.

But we went over to a radio station here in town just to try to take the pulse, temperature of Kuala Lumpur. A lot of people on the radio talking about it, very concerned about the Malaysia public image. They're concerned about relations with China, which is very important to them obviously, for trade reasons.

And I think they're also concerned about tourism, they're concerned about people coming to this country, considering the fact that they've had this problem with this plane.

So people in Malaysia would like to see this thing, number one, over, and they want the government to give a clear and consistent message every time they speak, because they think it reflects poorly on the country if they don't.


And Pauline, Joe mentions the relationship between Malaysia and China.

What is the nature of it since it seems China is quite willing to let the Chinese families criticize the Malaysian government? But we haven't seen a lot of it directly government to government.

CHIOU: Generally, the relationship between China and Malaysia is good. There are trade and economic issues. For example, China is the third largest trading partner for Malaysia.

CROWLEY: That is important. Yes.

CHIOU: Joe was mentioning the tourism issue. The tourism minister of Malaysia just recently acknowledged in a conference that they have postponed promotional tourism ads for Chinese tourists out of sensitivity over this issue.

And Chinese tourists made a huge portion of the tourism industry in Malaysia. But from a geopolitical point of view, China has territorial spats in the region with Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam. So it needs allies in the region.

So that's one reason why China doesn't want to really shake up the relationship with Malaysia over this situation.

Sure, MH370 is a very personal issue for China with the 154 Chinese nationals on the plane, but there are other issues. There are trade issues. There are territorial disputes as well. So that's why China is being very careful in how it manages its relationship with Malaysia.

CROWLEY: Will, I want to do one more round with all of you. To you, I saw a quote earlier this week that said once this search goes to these underwater unmanned vehicles through sonar, it could take a couple weeks and it could take years.

How in is the Australian government? Can they afford to continue this search in any kind of meaningful manner for years?

RIPLEY: The prime minister touched on the cost of the search. It hasn't been broken down by country. We know it's in the millions here in Australia. CNN has estimated in our previous reporting that it's some $21 million a month for the international effort.

And Australia obviously footing a pretty big share of that bill, considering they have their ships out there deploying planes, they're dropping these sonar buoys. Not once has it been mentioned to me by anybody out on the street who I've talked to, any reporters who I've spoken to.

There's never been a question, are we spending too much money, are we spending too much time? It seems like at least for now, anecdotally on the ground here, Australians are behind this, they're happy to see their country taking the lead.

And I think that Australia is being seen, perceived as really handling this very well by many people. Now, let's talk again in two months, six months. If the search continues, will that be sustainable? That's the big question.

CROWLEY: Pauline Chiou, Joe Johns, Will Ripley, given your workloads, I doubly appreciate your taking this much time with us. Thank you, guys.

CROWLEY: Next up, the man who makes pingers for black boxes told me the batteries are more than likely dead at this point. The next phase of the search goes underwater. More on that when we return.


CROWLEY: Joining me now, aviation journalist Stephen Trimble; Steven Wallace, former director for FAA's Office of Accident investigation and Arnold Carr, president of American Underwater Search and Survey.

Mr. Carr, let me bring you in first, simply because it seems to me that for the purposes of this conversation, let's say that the pinger batteries are dead. Now we go to submersibles.

What is the primary mission right now?

ARNOLD CARR, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN UNDERWATER SEARCH AND SURVEY: The primary mission really is to find debris field on the seabed and hopefully, it will be somewhat recognizable. It could be really broken up, but usually, get something like the tail or wings or cockpit that might be recognizable, even by sonar.

So, once you find that, specifically in this case, the tail, then you really focus in on the tail with video and photographs to see if you can see anything of the recorders. The recorders are bright orange or red and can easily be discriminated with the light and separated from most other parts of the aircraft.

CROWLEY: And then, if one is lucky and looking for the tail, because that's where the black boxes, which are really red, are located.

What is the degree of difficulty of lifting anything out of the ocean that is three miles deep?

CARR: Well, when you're -- the grade of depth, really getting into an exponential increase in difficulty, it gets just huge, not just linear. And the difficulty sending a vehicle down there, like a remote operated vehicle that has articulating arms that can reach out and grasp the recorders and put them in a container where they would be sure that, on the ascent, they won't lose them, they will be protected.

CROWLEY: Isn't there a lot of weight on top of something that's down three miles?

CARR: Yes, it can be heavy, but the industrial grade ROVs, remote-operated vehicles, do have the capacity to take these things, pick them up and put them in a basket. A bigger problem would be if the tail is intact and the recorders are inside the tail, then they are going to have to cut into the tail and that, again, gets much more difficult.

CROWLEY: Steven Wallace, we haven't found one little thing, much less a big thing. There's no such thing as a debris field so far. Give me a plausible explanation for that.

STEVEN WALLACE, FORMER DIRECTOR, FAA'S OFFICE OF ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION: Right. Well, this is most unusual, because we have had pings, but no floating debris.

So, a plausible explanation? I -- we all recall when Captain Sullenberger set the Airbus 320 down in the Hudson River, intact.

So, if the airplane was set down in the Indian Ocean intact, either by a pilot or by an automatic pilot, that -- I'm not going to say that is the explanation, but that is an example.

CROWLEY: An explanation for how we would not have a bunch of stuff.

WALLACE: I think another explanation is it is just a huge, huge ocean out there full of junk and maybe the debris's out there, we just haven't found it.

CROWLEY: When you look at the salvaging or whatever you bring up, what's -- we know the black box is the priority, because hopefully that would tell us what the heck happened, what then? Do you leave it rest?

Either one of you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The black boxes? CROWLEY: No, no, no; the black boxes, I'm assuming you bring up. So put that aside.

Everything else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, certainly, a very top priority are human remains mean, I mean, these families have suffered immeasurably and so human remains and the respectful treatment and disposition of those will be a very high priority.

As to whether you cut this plane up or bring it up, I think that's up to the experts and it probably very much depends on what they end up finding, whether they end up finding the whole plane substantially intact or whether there's a huge debris field scattered all over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But if it answers questions that we haven't answered through the black box, they will want to look at particular debris, perhaps that may answer that -- especially is if there is a problem in the fuel tank or something like that.

CROWLEY: They didn't want to bring up the fuel tank or try to?


CROWLEY: So is that how decisions were made with Air France, because some of that wreckage was left, was it not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of it was left on the sea floor. Really what we wanted in Air France or what they wanted to bring up in Air France were the black boxes and that pretty much answered all the questions we had about what happened.

CROWLEY: Mr. Carr, when you are looking at terrain that we're told is extremely rough, I mean, mountainous on the bottom of the ocean -- and assuming it's down there -- how long would it take some of these submersibles to kind of look across the search area?

I know it depends on how big the search area is. I think the last we heard was like 15,000 square foot or something like that.

How long does that take?

CARR: It can take quite long. I have seen the Bluefin 21 has the capability of doing 12 square miles a day. A lot of this depends on really the size of your target you're looking for, like the aircraft, be it intact or otherwise.

And that depends on the range, the sonar range that is used, because you want the resolution to be perfect so that you can detect it.

It's all about detecting it with sonar. So, 12 square miles a day, I think, is probably a little optimistic, but also if the bottom is very smooth, maybe that isn't optimistic. Maybe that's real.

CROWLEY: So it -- but a span of things, give me a guess.

A week? Several months? Can you even make that guess?

CARR: I would say -- I was hoping that they would have really tightened up and made the area smaller with the pings that they have heard. I would really think that you're talking a minimum of several weeks once the Bluefin 21 gets operational.

And it could, if you're -- that area is large, it could be months, easily. And one other factor that might be important, if it gets to that stage, is to bring in another vehicle like the Remus 6000 that was used on Air France. So, you would have two operational underwater vehicles going at the same time.


Steven Wallace, how confident are you that we're -- that searchers are in the area where this plane is?

WALLACE, Well, I'm fairly confident because this investigation has been plagued by sketchy, unreliable evidence, but among the more reliable evidence that I have seen, the Inmarsat pings which formed those two arcs north and south, which we are all familiar with and now the pings off these sonars, which have been detected by really the best experts in the world and those align.

So, that gives me confidence that we are in the right area, but this is a huge, huge challenge. I think all I can say that makes me most optimistic, I have never seen this level of international determination and cooperation to get this solved.

CROWLEY: Steven Trimble, I have got 15 seconds literally, the biggest change that will come out of this setting aside what we find out about the plane?

STEPHEN TRIMBLE, AVIATION JOURNALIST: Connecting the aircraft, getting more information about the -- what is going on in the aircraft before it is lost or before it's at the bottom of the ocean, making the communication systems more robust on the aircraft, and then getting that information off.

CROWLEY: Stephen Trimble, Steven Wallace, Arnold Carr, thank you all so much.

When we return, race, immigration and firing up the base, the chairman of the Republican and Democratic congressional campaign committees talk midterm politics, next.



CROWLEY: Joining me now, two people personally responsible for getting members of their party elected to the House. Congressman Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Congressman Greg Walden, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Gentlemen, thank you for being here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for having me on.

CROWLEY: I want to start with prevailing winds.

And let me start with you, Congressman Israel. The president's health care law remains largely unpopular; his job approval rating is below or just at 50 percent. Your party is trying to retain seats in districts that Mitt Romney won.

What is your pep talk to Democrats these days?

ISRAEL: Well, look, tough climate, no question about it. Won't sugarcoat it. But climates change. Now I remember in October when the Republicans shut down the entire federal government, pundits and prognosticators and experts were predicting that we would win 50 seats. Three weeks later over the rollout of a website in the Affordable Care Act, the same pundits were saying that we were going to lose 50 seats. Climates change. I mean, if three weeks made a difference, who knows what the next seven months will bring?

CROWLEY: I want to put up -- this is a CBS News poll, are you excited about voting in November?

Republicans, 70 percent of Republicans said they're excited; 58 percent of Democrats said they were excited; independents, 47 percent.

ISRAEL: First, on that poll, the two most important words were in November. It's not November. We're the Democratic National Campaign Committee, not climate committee. We don't worry about the climate. We build out campaigns.

There's unquestionably going to be an issue of voter drop-off, there always is. And we're using every tool in our toolbox, accelerating our investments in field, putting people on the ground. We've got 33 districts covered with staff in order to deal with that drop-off.

And secondly, it is true that the president's numbers may not be where the president wants them to be, but we're running against a Republican Congress whose job approval is a fraction of that. There's a new history being written in this midterm, the least popular Republican Congress in history.

CROWLEY: Which is -- takes it right off of my statistics and to you, Congressman Walden and that is, the Republican brand is certainly at one of its lowest points ever, if not the lowest point. You have interparty warfare going on.

WALDEN: Yes, and our job is to elect Republicans to office and make sure that there's a check and balance on the Barack Obama administration in Washington. And we're focused on jobs and the economy, trying to grow both. We're focused on energy development and energy export. We're focused on the things that, really, when you get home, people care about, solving problems, trying to grow the economy, because the economy under President Obama has not been that stellar.

Certainly, we had one of the worst recessions, but one of the slowest recoveries out of it. And people are really concerned about the future of the country.

CROWLEY: Yes, but people don't much like Republicans these days.

What do you -- what is your overall imagery? We had that big -- after the election, the Republican National Committee was going to start changing things and reshaping the image. Hasn't seemed to help Congress at this point.

WALDEN: Well, remember, Congress is controlled also in the Senate by the Democrats. So when you talk about Congress approval ratings, remember, you have got Harry Reid and the Democrats running the Senate. And the bills that we've passed in the House, some of which, by the way, have been on pretty big bipartisan margins, to create jobs in America, develop energy in America, languish in the Senate.

And that's unfortunate because we should work together to solve these problems, to grow jobs in America and actually deal with the things that the people at home care about. They don't care much about one party's image or the another.

CROWLEY: By and large, it boils down to your election (INAUDIBLE) these people -- Republicans don't care about you and yours is we give you ObamaCare and where are the jobs?

That's kind of where we are --

WALDEN: Jobs and the economy really matter to people at home. That's what they care about --

ISRAEL: -- 200,000 jobs gained last month, 800,000 jobs lost in the last month. And --

WALDEN: Fewer people working in America since the 1970s, more people in poverty, more people suffering.


CROWLEY: I don't think you guys are going to agree on this.

WALDEN: Our job together should be how do we raise people out of poverty? How do we create better jobs in America?

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about a couple specific issues.

The first is that, as you may know, Attorney General Holder went off script at an event this week where he said that he believes that the treatment he has received in the House, particularly during a hearing this week, would not have happened if he were not African- American. He believes it's racism.

He believes the opposition to the president has been based on racism.

And I wanted to play you something that Nancy Pelosi said when she was asked about this.


NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I think race has something to do with the fact that they're not bringing up an immigration bill. I've heard them say to the Irish, if it were just you, this would be easy.


CROWLEY: Do you agree with that?

ISRAEL: The American people want solutions in Congress. They want people to oppose certain --

CROWLEY: This is about racism. Do you think your Republican colleagues are racist?

ISRAEL: -- not all of them, no, of course not. But to a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism and that's unfortunate.

CROWLEY: But you know, even the president has said, look, I think some people oppose me because of race but I think some people support me because of race.

ISRAEL: Well, that's true.

CROWLEY: And so this -- you know, between the war on women and the Republicans are racists, sort of blanketing all of them, oh, if this were Irish, they would have passed immigration by now, looked very much like election year strategy, trying to get your base out.

ISRAEL: Well, look, we don't need to get our base out, because frankly, we're ready to pass an immigration bill. And we'd rather pass an immigration bill than worry about the election.

We have got 190 Democrats ready to vote on a comprehensive immigration bill today. We can do it today. And we know that not every Republican is going to agree with us on that. It passed the Senate with 67 bipartisan votes. All we need is 20 Republicans, just 20 to vote for that bill and it will be law and we don't have to have this debate anymore.

CROWLEY: But you know how the House works. You're in the minority and the rules are the rules.

ISRAEL: You know, you don't even have to vote for it. Just -- the American people want us to at least vote.

CROWLEY: I wanted to get to your reaction to Nancy Pelosi's suggestion that she does think that race is holding --


WALDEN: It's both wrong and unfortunate. There have been a lot of executive overreaches by this administration. We see the latest with Lois Lerner and the whole IRS scandal; we're now finally getting to see the e-mail traffic back and forth.

The American people just want to know the truth. They want to know the truth about what happened and the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS. They want to know what happened in Benghazi. They want to know answers, and that's all we're trying to do.

Just give us -- just cooperate with the Congress, cooperate with the investigations and give us the information that we've requested so that our constituents can know the truth.

ISRAEL: Fewer witch hunts, more solutions would be good for America right now.

WALDEN: This is not a witch hunt when you're trying to find out why the IRS -- whether it's a Republican or a Democrat, I don't want the IRS targeting any group, whether it's liberal or conservative. And if they have, somebody should be held accountable. And that's what we're trying to do.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you in our final moments here, a video has surfaced of one of your members kissing a staffer, Congressman Vance McAllister, should he resign?

WALDEN: It's -- he needs to answer to his people and his family and need to be held to a very high standard in Congress and I don't think he's been to that standard.

CROWLEY: Do you think he should resign? I ask because we thought perhaps it was possible that the Senate would in fact go Republican in the last election, but there are a lot of missteps by some of the Republican senatorial candidates. So I'm wondering if you see this as an electoral problem?

WALDEN: It's bad. It's wrong. He needs to answer and be held accountable.

CROWLEY: So, you want him to resign or don't want him to resign?

WALDEN: I'm going to leave -- I have not talked to him. I have only seen the video. But we should be held to a higher standard than what I've seen in that video.

CROWLEY: And quickly, and I have something for you, Congressman, as well, but there are reports out that 40 to 50 of your members have already signed on to -- saying that they will vote against John Boehner. They want him to say he's not going to run for Speaker right after the election.

WALDEN: I have not seen anything that shows me that -- CROWLEY: But you know that part of your caucus is really unhappy with him.

WALDEN: Well, I would tell you this. Nobody works harder to maintain and grow our majority than Speaker Boehner has. He has the toughest job in Washington, D.C., when you think about it. And I think he has done a good job and I think he will get re-elected as Speaker.

CROWLEY: And Congressman, one of the things I think that poisons politics a lot is the idea of ascribing intent to someone else's vote or to someone else's words and it seemed to me that a lot of this week really was wrapped up in intent on the Democratic party, when you bring up the war on women and say we want women to get equal pay and have a vote on it.

But all Democrats know is not going to pass, that this is a way of painting Republicans anti-women. You have Eric Holder out there, talking about opposition to the president, being about race. So, it seems to me that what you're saying is these Republicans are racist, they don't like women and they're going to do things that will keep both of those groups down.

Do you think that of your Republican colleagues?

And is that a way to go about -- and they do it, too; I get that.

But is that a way to go about electing congressmen?

ISRAEL: Look, I was a member of Congress who helped form the center aisle caucus. I do not believe for a moment that Republicans get out of bed every morning trying to figure out how to make the country weaker and no Democrat gets out of bed every morning trying to figure out what they say that we are doing.

What's important is not intent. What's important is how you vote. We are here to earn a paycheck. People pay us to find solutions and to stand up for our beliefs which is why the American people are tired of the bickering and they're tired of the screaming. They want solutions. They want an immigration bill. They want a budget that is fair to the middle class and not balanced on the middle class.

They want us to earn our pay. Sometimes that means we have some disagreements. But fundamentally, we are both Americans, Greg is as American as I am. We may have different positions, but we have the same goal. And I wish that the American people -- I wish the Congress would be more focused on that goal.

CROWLEY: Maybe next year. Seems like a pretty political year up on Capitol Hill.

Absolutely. But do you, either of you, expect big things out of Congress this year? Given the atmospherics?

ISRAEL: Well, the Senate passed the important things and the House has not.

And this is no one --

CROWLEY: Uh, oh.

ISRAEL: -- infrastructure, a budget that hurts --

WALDEN: You know, I hope that the president will sign the Keystone pipeline, create family wage jobs right away, start moving North American energy. There are a lot of things we can do together to grow the economy and help people who are really hurting and suffering.

And so I think there's still an opportunity. We can't just throw away every other year because it's an election year. The American people expect more out of us. They deserve more out of us and we are prepared to deliver and are delivering in the House.

ISRAEL: Except the weeks when we shut down.

CROWLEY: We will plan that (ph).

On a note of agreement, Congressman Greg Walden, Congressman Steve Israel. Thanks for joining us.

WALDEN: Thank you. It's good to be with you.

CROWLEY: When we return, conservatives and people with the initials JB. Our panel is next with their take on John Boehner's future and Jeb Bush.



CROWLEY: Joining me around the table, Cornell Belcher, a CNN commentator; Ron Brownstein, editorial director at "The National Journal" and a CNN senior political analyst, and Liz Mair, a Republican political consultant.

Thanks for being here.

A little news made by your outfit. Big -- and it's been all over the Internet. And it is, to me, the nugget that was the most fascinating, that was 50 conservative House members have already signed on to the idea of trying to push Boehner aside right after the elections and maybe make a deal with Cantor, who knows.

But nonetheless, pushing Boehner aside. How realistic is that?

And before you answer, I want to play something from Greg Walden, who heads up the Republican campaign committee on the House side.


WALDEN: Nobody works harder to maintain and grow our majority than Speaker Boehner has. He has the toughest job in Washington, D.C., when you think about it. And I think he has done a good job and I think he will get reelected as Speaker.


RON BROWNSTEIN, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, "THE NATIONAL JOURNAL": Well, look, generally speaking, I think you would say he has -- Speaker Boehner is in a stronger position than he was, say, two years ago. The big change in the dynamic will be though if Republicans take the Senate in November, I think the voices that want a more confrontational -- even more confrontational approach will be -- will gain strength inside the Republican caucus and I think that would create a new lane of threat for him.

CORNELL BELCHER, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: I think for me, when you look at this, it's really part and parcel of what you are seeing playing out larger in the Republican Party and among conservatives.

And I think you do, in your party, have a revolt from the Right going on in a way that is playing out. And look, how much more -- I mean, he shut down the government, he's not going forward with immigration reform.

How much more can he do to placate the conservatives in the party? It's a real odd place for the party to be.

LIZ MAIR: Well, I think, first of all, I don't think John Boehner is going to be forced out by these people. I think that these guys tend to be very loud, very rabble-rousing, get a lot of attention in the media but when you actually look at what they are capable of producing in terms of outcomes, they are fairly ineffective.

I wouldn't be overly --


CROWLEY: -- deal with someone close to Boehner and maybe pick up some votes that way. I mean, it's not unknown to have someone --


MAIR: (INAUDIBLE) look at the Republican caucus and you're asking these people, who else -- ask them this question -- who else can you get on board with? They can't come one an answer. And that's the thing that's going to be telling here. I don't think that they will force Boehner out at this point. I don't know. I mean, anything can happen the next few months, and theoretically something could happen that would change that equation. But if you actually held a vote today, I mean, I don't --

BROWNSTEIN: I still think the big wild card here is what happens if they take the Senate, if the Republicans take the Senate with 51 votes do they pass the Ryan budget, converting Medicare into a premium support program on reconciliation, on a party line vote?

Do they repeal ObamaCare, again, through reconciliation on a party line vote?

If you're looking forward to a 2016, would a Republican Congress have a base-oriented kind of everything we have been waiting to do for six years strategy?

Or are they going to try to kind of broaden the issue agenda and broaden the base? I think that is very uncertain at this point. But I do think the dominant impulse will be toward confrontation. I think that will strengthen the hands of the --

MAIR: I don't think that is even the right question because I think frankly, there is a lot of using ObamaCare as a campaigning point, and something to say that they are against.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pass the Ryan budget? Would a Republican Senate pass the Ryan budget?

MAIR: I'm not convinced that they necessarily would.


MAIR: Candidly, I think, I mean, on a number of these things, we have seen a situation where, from my perspective, looking at this as a more libertarian Republican, I'm consistently frustrated with a lot of the people in the party because we go out and we say that we are for smaller government and say that we are for things like the Ryan budget but then we go out and we run ads attacking the Democrats for cutting Medicare.

So when I look at things like that, I mean, no, do I think that they are actually going to put their money where their mouth is? No, I don't. No, I don't.

BROWNSTEIN: -- the coalition will really come into focus if they win the Senate, because they are so dependent now on older, white voters who hate the idea of retrenching Medicare and the idea of having then to vote on that on a party line basis, to actually implement the agenda they are running on, would be much more problematic.

CROWLEY: Let me -- and I just want to move on, because I want to talk -- go from 2014 to 2015 and Jeb Bush, who, to me, repeated sort of a longstanding position of the Bush family, not just Jeb Bush, that family values don't end at the Rio Grande, is what his brother used to say.

Jeb Bush said, look, people crossing the border, are they breaking the law? They are. But they come here out of love. Now I want to take you to the New Hampshire Freedom Summit, a conservative arena, and Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR: I heard Jeb Bush the other day and he was talking about people that come into this country illegally, they do it for love. And I said, say it again. I didn't get -- that is one I have never heard of before. I have heard a lot -- I've heard money. I've heard this. I've heard sex. I have heard everything. The one thing I never heard of was love.


CROWLEY: And this is about writ large what we have been talking about, it's the same thing as the Boehner challenge, right? It's going to be do you want Jeb Bush or do you want --


CROWLEY: -- Scott Walker? You know --


CROWLEY: -- or Rand Paul, traditional versus conservative.

BROWNSTEIN: No, and many of the changes that George W. Bush brought to the party have been rejected.

BELCHER: That has been conservatives.

BROWNSTEIN: And the big government -- the big government concern. Look, at some point, we are just talking about math here. Mitt Romney won a higher share of the white vote in 2012 than Ronald Reagan did in 1980. He lost by 5 million votes.

Barack Obama lost white women by a bigger margin than any Democrat since Walter Mondale in 1984 and he won.

And the odds are if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, she will not lose white women by 14 points, which is the only way for Republicans to win will be to improve among minority voters. Leaving one last number, there was only one Republican nominee since 1976 who has held the Democratic nominee to less than 78 percent of the combined vote among minorities.

That was George W. Bush in 2004. So maybe -- maybe there is a little bit of a model here for a party that is looking at a demographic challenge in 2016, very different than 2014

MAIR: I think there are a couple of points that I would make on this. I mean, first of all, going bang to the point about booing of Jeb Bush, I don't think that's purely about his immigration comments. I think that is the Bush name.

CROWLEY: It's education.

MAIR: And the Bush name, it's the education, yes, there are a whole bunch of these things that tie into that. So I think that is a response to hearing the name Jeb Bush, not the actual comment that he made.

But I also think when we are looking at the point that you're making about demographics, I think that most of the potential prospective candidates in 2016 are actually quite attuned to that.

I think that's part of why you see the comments that you often see from Bobby Jindal, talking about school choice and talking about minority kids. I think that when you're looking at a lot of the comments that you do get from Rand Paul on immigration, Rand Paul is not taking a restrictionist, protectionist tone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he did vote against the Senate bill.


CROWLEY: (INAUDIBLE) real quick.

BELCHER: One quick point that -- and I'm going to throw the X factor in here, what the doors they have thrown open to outside money I think is going to impact that this primary season the way we have never seen it.

We did primary in '08. I can't imagine -- I don't think Barack Obama might not come out on top, if in fact if some guy in the desert could write a $5 million check and start putting on ads. As a campaign, you lose control of your voice as a campaign when outsiders can spent $5 million.

CROWLEY: Cornell Belcher, Ron Brownstein, Liz Mair. Come back and we'll talk about money and politics. See you soon.

Next, an update on the search for Flight 370.



CROWLEY: An update now on Malaysia Flight 370. The search for its missing plane is entering its sixth week amid fears the batteries in its black boxes may be dead. It has been five days since searchers detected what may be pings from the flight data recorders.

Malaysia's transport minister says finding them is critical to clearing 370's crew and passengers of any role in the plane's disappearance. Stay with CNN for updates on this story throughout the day.

Thank you so much for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts now.