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Nigeria's Kidnapping Nightmare; Benghazi, Facts Or Politics; Interview with Michele Bachmann and Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Aired May 11, 2014 - 12:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: Benghazi, health care and Monica Lewinsky. A trio of headlines moving the (INAUDIBLE) in an election year.


CROWLEY (voice over): Today getting to the facts on Benghazi or exploiting it for politics.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: We will not take any shortcuts to the truth, accountability or justice.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: This is a stunt. This is a political stunt.

CROWLEY: House Democrats ponder a boycott of the new Benghazi committee and fresh CNN poll numbers show a healthy majority of Americans do not want to repeal Obamacare looking at it all through the prism of an election year with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Michele Bachmann.

Then who thinks the minimum wage should be raised that Republicans don't care as much about (INAUDIBLE) as Democrats and that Rand Paul doesn't stand a chance in the Republican Party.

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is a conservative party and we'll nominate a conservative not a libertarian.

CROWLEY: Rick Santorum joins us for party talk. Plus -

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We like voting during presidential years and during the midterms we don't vote.

CROWLEY: And his 43 percent approval rating isn't exactly inspirational. The 2014 challenge for Democrats. And a blast from the past, Monica Lewinsky at 40 and talking. Our panel takes it on.

And balancing it all, work, home, parenthood. What women want with moms Iris Krasnow, Claire Shipman and Jennifer Senior.



CROWLEY: I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. We begin in northern Nigeria where a small village is missing more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

CNN's Nima Elbagir is the first western journalist to visit the girls' hometown and in the first of the series of exclusive reports she spoke with one of the girls who managed to escape.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said go and enter this car.



ELBAGIR: Is it one or more?


ELBAGIR: Seven lorries.


ELBAGIR: And this was at 10:00 at night?


ELBAGIR: So did that make you feel they had come to get you, to get the girls?


ELBAGIR: That's when you knew they had come to kidnap you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they said, OK. We (ph) enter this lorry. We go. We go. I (ph) was (ph) saying (ph), I will drop down.

ELBAGIR: That was really brave of you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. We would rather die than go. We run in the bush.

ELBAGIR: You ran in the bush.


ELBAGIR: And what happened then?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We ran and ran and we were gone.

ELBAGIR: Can you describe the men that came and took you? What did they look like? Were they wearing civilian clothing or military uniforms? What were they wearing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't - I don't understand.

ELBAGIR: What was their dress? What were they wearing?


ELBAGIR: Did they look like soldiers?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes we are a (ph) little (ph) afraid.

ELBAGIR: You feel afraid.


ELBAGIR: You don't want to talk about what they looked like.


ELBAGIR: It's OK. I understand, I understand. I'm sorry.


CROWLEY: Nima joins us now from Abuja, Nigeria.

Nima, this village for the past week has been the epicenter of the world's attention. Do you get a sense when you're there that they feel the world is behind efforts to find their daughters?

ELBAGIR: Candy, the sense that we got was that they felt utterly, utterly alone. We spent a night with them. We were with them when they were going out on their patrols. These guys were caring makeshift bows and machetes. There wasn't a sense there was any kind of broader military operation. I mean you would think that there would be more protection there. You would think that there would be more of a buildup.

Given all these promises, all these commitments that are pouring in, when we finally got there to discover they were still sleeping as alone as they were the night of the attack was really heartbreaking. And you could hear the terror still in the voices of the girls we spoke to.

I can tell you, Candy, that terror that still grips all of that village. There are very few people that sleep through the night. There are very few people that have hope that they will see their daughters or even that help is on the way, Candy.

CROWLEY: So when you spoke with this young woman and other young women like her, did you get a sense that they are determined to go back to what they were doing, which was, you know, to be educated to become doctors and lawyers, et cetera, or is the fear so deep that, in fact, this terrorist group may have already won its main point, which is to be against western education for women?

ELBAGIR: I think it's an extraordinary choice to be faced with as a parent. And when we were speaking to the parents there, all of them kept saying pretty much the same thing to us. How do you make that choice? How do you choose between your child's future and safeguarding their life? How do you send them to a school hoping that they'll be able to emerge as doctors or lawyers or engineers and be able to lift the community and their families? At the same time knowing that you might never see them again. And many of those parents we spoke to, Candy, they have told us that they have decided that is too hard a choice to make, they're keeping their daughters at home.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. Too hard a choice. Thank you so much, Nima Elbagir, for that excellent interview. I know we'll be hearing more from you. Really appreciate it.

I want to now bring in Florida Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, she is also the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. And Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. She is a former Republican presidential candidate and founder of the Tea Party caucus on the House side.

First of all, you are both mothers, so our special thanks today for taking the time to be with us. And Congresswoman Bachmann, I know you just had eye surgery, too, so a double thank you to you for showing up this morning and helping us out.

Let me start with the two of you with the other piece of news that has been throughout the week, one of the things we've focused on, and that is these missing Nigerian schoolchildren. Are either of you satisfied with the extent, whatever extent that is, that the Obama administration has reacted to that? Let's start with you, Congresswoman Bachmann?

REP MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Well, this was something that didn't come out now. Boko Haram has been on the run and on the rise for years. I put a letter out several years ago calling out a crackdown on the Boko Haram. It is a foreign terrorist organization. It's important that the United States designates it as such as it is now which we're grateful. But again we root out terrorism wherever it is. And I think that the earlier we push against these radical organizations the better. I think more could have been done a couple years ago to help prevent this. But this is on the rise and it has to be quelled.

CROWLEY: But right now, it sounds like you are satisfied with the Obama administration's response thus far?

BACHMANN: We have to continue to push back. And this is something again, where this isn't partisan, we all have to work together. It's national security.

CROWLEY: Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: In 2012, it's important to note the Obama administration designated a number of the leaders of Boko Haram as terrorists and now have sent personnel and military advisory assistance. And the people who -- on the ground from the United States who are going to be able to provide technical and specific intelligence advisory commitments to make sure that we can do everything we can to help find those girls. That's the number one priority. And I agree with Michele, that we have to make sure it's a bipartisan focus. The United States needs to, as president Obama has committed, to provide that assistance to find those girls. CROWLEY: The other foreign policy issues that has resurfaced, at least in the headlines, has been in the headlines has been the probe of Benghazi. Now the House, which is majority Republicans, as I'm sure you both know, has decided to have a select committee to look into the circumstances before, during and after the attack on Benghazi when four Americans were killed.

First to you Congresswoman Bachmann. There seems to be some fear within the Republican Party, and you see some of it out loud and hear some of it privately, that there is a way you could push this too far and make it -- you meaning Republicans -- could push it too far and make it seem so political that it backfires.

BACHMANN: Well, I think when it comes to this issue of Benghazi, what happened was so appalling that people simply want to have answers. We don't take it lightly. Security threats are nothing to take likely. In Benghazi and Libya, when the events happened, this was a highly volatile time. There were over 4,000 threats that had come. And then when the event occurred, there was no military rescue that was ordered, there's questions about that.

And the big question in people's minds is where does this false narrative come from to blame a video rather than the terrorist actions of Ansar al Sharia which were evident on the ground? So I think what this committee is doing is taking a very careful look at a very deliberate pace to go through deposition...


...people on the ground to find out the truth of what happened. That's all people want is the truth.

CROWLEY: Let me show you a "USA Today" poll asking folks what the most important issue is right now in their lives, what they want, you know, politicians (INAUDIBLE) to address.

Jobs at 27 percent, health care, 21 percent. Federal budget deficit, 19 percent, on down the line. Security and terrorism is at 7 percent.

So my question to you was, is there a possibility that Republicans can look off-key with this? I know you say people are interested. But when you ask them what's your most important issue, they're looking for you all to do something about jobs and health care and the federal budget deficit.

BACHMANN: Well, I don't disagree at all with the numbers you gave. I think they're accurate. But people can walk and chew gum at the same time. It doesn't diminish the fact that we need to have answers about what happened on that fateful night when four Americans who lost their lives. We need to get answers. This cannot be politicized. It has to be done in a thoughtful and deliberate way which I trust and believe Trey Gowdy and the committee will do. I'm very impressed with their approach. And I think again we have to and answers.

CROWLEY: Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, there have been many probes into Benghazi, as I'm sure you would point out. But how can Democrats not participate in this probe? Do you think that there are no more questions about Benghazi? Are you satisfied? Do you know why a U.S. ambassador was in a place where there had been so many warnings, seemingly sort of under guarded? I mean, do you feel like you understand why the administration said what it said after Benghazi? Are all the questions answered to you?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Candy, I think what's important to note here that keeps getting either put aside or lacks focus is that there are families who have been through a really terrible tragedy, and the Republicans in the House of Representatives, after 13 hearings, 50 briefings, 25,000 pages of documents that have been released, and a commission that was put together by Secretary Clinton that has fully examined what happened and recommended -- put forward 29 recommendations, all of which are being implemented. Those things have all occurred.

This has been looked at so exhaustively that Buck McKeon, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, just last week criticized Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the government Oversight Committee, because the last witness, the brigadier general that he brought before the committee to yet again investigate Benghazi brought nothing new forward. This is (ph) in (ph) the (ph) word (ph) of...


...their Republican armed services chairman. So -- just a minute. So the bottom line here is that the Republicans have clearly lost the ability, because we've had such a precipitous drop among Republicans even in their fervor for repealing the Affordable Care Act, that they are clearly doing this to drive their turnout --

BACHMANN: You know, Candy, that is not true at all.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Michele, I didn't interrupt you. Excuse me. Michele, I didn't interrupt you. So I'd appreciate it if you not interrupt me.

CROWLEY: To the question first and then Congresswoman Bachmann I'll let you back in on this but just a question, you know, can you just not participate in this when there are so many things? I mean you know a new document came out -- what precipitated this was a document that the committee didn't know about came out this week that certainly made it look as though the administration certainly was shaping the message in a way that turned out not to be true. So you know, can you afford to just turn your back on this? Doesn't it then look like we don't want to know what went on?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, the Republicans are in the majority of the House of Representatives. So, they can essentially do whatever they want. In creating this select committee, they have to, in order to make sure that the process is credible, which the way they've set it up, it's clearly not going to be and has an outcome that's been predetermined, they have to treat the minority fairly.

BACHMANN: That's absolutely not true.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Right now - no it is. It is true. And let me tell you why it's not fair because...


BACHMANN: I think it's important -- I think it's important that this is a dialogue and not a monologue.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ...the ability to be assured that we're able to participate in the interviews of the witnesses...

CROWLEY: And the subpoenas.


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ...power on the subpoenas.

CROWLEY: Understood.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: If it's there then we'll participate.

BACHMANN: Candy, it's really clear - it's really clear that the Democrats have tried to sabotage this process from the very beginning. We shouldn't do that.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We don't have the ability to sabotage it.

BACHMANN: When we have unanswered questions about four people who died. We've got to get to the bottom of this. This is reality. We have to get to the bottom of this.


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You're right. The bottom that we have to get to is how this should never happen again and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

BACHMANN: They have been politicizing and that's wrong. That's wrong to do about people who died.

CROWLEY: Let me move the two of you off because....


...I've got one more subject I want to talk -

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It is the Republicans that have politicized Benghazi from beginning to end.

CROWLEY: I want to talk to you about one more subject before I have to let you go. And that is, we have new poll numbers out asking folks about the president's Affordable Care Act. The question was, what should congress do with the health care law? Keep it or make some changes? 61 percent keep it or make changes, repeal it, 38 percent.

Congresswoman Bachmann, just in brief, what does that do to the rallying election year cry of Republicans, which is repeal? BACHMANN: Well, I think clearly this is the issue that the Democrats have been running away from. It was the signature issue of President Obama, the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Only one party passed this bill. And people are very concerned because it's disrupting (ph) their (ph) lives (ph).

CROWLEY: But 61 percent of Americans say they want to keep it. And 61 percent say, keep it or make changes.

BACHMANN: But 55 percent of the American people in a pew study said that they're very unhappy with the Affordable Care Act, so they want it changed. That's really what the result is. They're not happy with it (ph) so (ph)...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: This now is why --

BACHMANN: ...they want it changed. And now just in the last day or so -- Debbie, you had your turn. Now it's mine. In the last two days we've found that there's another report that just came out...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Just don't want you to run out the clock.

BACHMANN: ... how this is hurting the bottom line of major businesses, from G.E. to UPS to dollar in general, this is hitting their earnings. Because the Affordable Care Act...


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Candy, the bottom line --

BACHMANN: ...not just for businesses...


...for individuals as well. It's very unpopular. And if the Democrats are running...


CROWLEY: Congresswoman Bachmann, thank you. Here - let me - OK. Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz...

BACHMANN: ...election.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: 8 million people signed up.

CROWLEY: ...let me bring you in here and your response to this -- now look, most people think it ought to be changed.


CROWLEY: But does this make you think more Democrats ought to embrace it.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, Democrats have embraced it. What we said all along, if there are problems with the Affordable Care Act... (CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ...we should -- excuse me. If there are problems that arise with the Affordable Care Act, we should work together in a bipartisan way to address those, but repealing the Affordable Care Act and going back to the bad old days when insurance companies could drop us or deny us coverage for pre-existing conditions, as a breast cancer survivor with a pre-existing condition I joined the 129 million Americans who also have pre-existing conditions and wanting to never go back to that time.

There are 8 million more people now that have health care. The Republicans have lost this as an issue that they can gin their base up. That's why they turned to the select committee on Benghazi -


CROWLEY: I'm afraid I have to cut it off there for both of you there.


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And getting the economy turned around as you said because those are the priorities of the American people.


CROWLEY: I thank you both so much --

BACHMANN: Proud to do it.

CROWLEY: Thank you both so much for your time. Next time I'm going to have you in studio, I might have better control here. But thanks. Listen Happy Mother's Day to both of you. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Michele Bachmann.

We did dig up beautiful pictures of your families. We hope all of you to have a great day.

BACHMANN (ph): Thank you.

CROWLEY: Up next. He wrote a populous (INAUDIBLE) second place on the 2013 Republican primary.


SANTORUM: That's what our campaign was about, about what made us Americans, how we built this country from the bottom up and how if we're going to be successful in the future, how we must believe in ourselves.

CROWLEY: Rick Santorum is back with a new book scolding fellow Republicans for failing to connect with working-class voters.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CROWLEY: I'm joined now by former U.S. senator Rick Santorum. He is out now with a book called, "Blue Collar Conservatives, Recommitting to an America that works." Thanks for being here this morning.

SANTORUM: Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: I appreciate it and Happy Mother's Day to those in your life.

SANTORUM: Thank you. I have a wife and a mom and that's terrific. Thank you. Happy Mother's Day.

CROWLEY: Time to celebrate.

I want to just revisit for a minute the new CNN/ORC Poll on the question of, what should Obamacare, with the health care law. 61 percent, keep it or make changes. 38 percent, repeal it. My question to you - and by the way the majority -- most people still felt like it's too early to tell whether it's a success or a failure. 38 percent said, I think it's a failure. But nonetheless, it's about repealing it or keeping it. The vast majority said, you know, change it. Is it time to drop/repeal Obamacare and work with what's there?

SANTORUM: I think it's important that we focus on developing a health care system that works. This one isn't working. You can say, well, we need to change it. You can say - I think you probably have a lot of partisans who are probably saying, fix it because they don't want to say repeal it because that goes into the Republican message.

CROWLEY: (INAUDIBLE) Democrats would say that.


CROWLEY: But what about Republicans whose message has been, as you know, repeal it, repeal it, repeal it?

SANTORUM: My guess is that 38 percent of almost all of them are Republicans. So there's probably a very popular thing still among Republicans and among Democrats. I think they probably are feeling a little bit of affinity toward their party as elections approach and say, well let's just change it. It's not working well. (INAUDIBLE) we've got four exchanges. Half a billion dollars wasted by the federal government on setting up four exchanges that have failed on the state level, more that are going to fail. This still is a big problem for our country and for working men and women.

And so what Republicans need to do is talk about what they would do. Whether you want to call it fixing it, whether you want to call replacing it, I don't think that's as important as saying, here is the vision for how we can create a better health care system. I know some Republicans have done it. I think we need to talk more about that.

CROWLEY: Let me move you on to the Benghazi hearings. And one of the things that you write about in your book is that the problem Republicans have had is they sort of look like a no party. Like we don't like this. And we don't like this and we don't like that. Where does Benghazi fit into that?

SANTORUM: I think it's important for the Benghazi committee to look at the information, try to do so as none partisan as possible. I know that sounds - well this is all partisan exercise. It doesn't have to be.

CROWLEY: And it's an election year.

SANTORUM: Yes. It doesn't have to be. I have a lot of faith in Trey Gowdy. I think he's a really solid guy and I think he's a serious prosecutor. If he does his job, does it in a professional way. He tries to tone down rhetoric and just get to the facts and if new facts are produced I think this -- no matter whether the Democrats are involved or not, if there's more credible evidence that comes out as a result of this, I think it will be a successful event for them.

CROWLEY: I'm smart enough to know that you're not going to announce whether you'll run or not run for the 2016 presidential election quite yet. So I want to set aside your deliberations and ask you when you look out there at those who are making noises about this with Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Walker and Jeb Bush.

SANTORUM: You can spend the rest of the show -

CROWLEY: Chris Christie. We can go to through that whole thing.


Who do you like? When you look and say, if I don't get in I like this guy.

SANTORUM: Well, I wrote this book "Blue Collar Conservatives" because I think we need to have a little image makeover, an opportunity to rebrand ourselves in this election and going forward. And so I'm looking for candidates who connect with average voters, someone who has a heart and understanding for the difficult times that those voters are going through. And whether it's Rick Santorum or someone else, it's someone who has that appeal and connection.

CROWLEY: Who is that right now?

SANTORUM: Well I mean, you know, I put this book out here because I'm...

CROWLEY: You want to (INAUDIBLE) that guy.

SANTORUM: ...looking at it.


SANTORUM: Whether other people join in -- I hope they do. I mean I've been talking to a lot of candidates across the country saying, you really need to take a look at this book and begin the opportunities that is present right now to create a new image for this party that doesn't have a very good one right now. CROWLEY: No -- for sure. Again your book "Blue Collar Conservatives, Recommitting to an America that Works." Happy Mother's Day to your wife Karen and to your mother. I think we have a great picture of your family here.

SANTORUM: My two boys at the Citadel. The middle one there, Daniel, his recognition day. So he got recognized as a knob first year at the Citadel.


SANTORUM: My mom and mother-in-law in the far right.

CROWLEY: Wow. There are a lot of moms there.

SANTORUM: Of 12 children on the right. So (ph) there (ph) you (ph) go (ph).

CROWLEY: Thank you for joining us on this day.

When we return, Democrats, they have trouble with a capital T and that stands for turnout.


CROWLEY: Joining me around the table, Ramesh Pannuru, senior editor from the "National Review," Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today," and Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist and CNN political commentator.

Lest we forget, Monica Lewinsky was out this week with an article in "Vanity Fair" magazine. I pulled this quote from it, "Hillary Clinton wanted it on record that she was lashing out at her husband's mistress, she may have faulted her husband for being inappropriate, but I find her impulse to blame the woman, not only me but herself troubling."

This often notes from Hillary's close friend, said she called Monica a narcissistic Looney Toon and said she was maybe a bit to blame because she had been emotionally unavailable, et cetera, et cetera. Here is my question, if you are advising Hillary Clinton as she takes off on this book tour or even if she decides to run, how do you prep her about question, Monica Lewinsky, had this or that to say?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hillary Clinton has faced the Monica Lewinsky question on the campaign trail before. She ran in -- you know, for the Senate, she ran in 2008 and she dealt with it the same way I think she is going to deal with it again and should deal with it, which is to ignore it.

You know, the country let out a collective groan last week when Monica was back, nobody was interested in it, other than for salacious reasons, but certainly now from a voting perspective. Her book tour has a different set of challenges, I think, which is -- her book is called "Hard Choices", right?

It's about her tenure at the State Department and talking about those issues related to her activities, but also that -- it's in some ways a stepping stone to whether or not there's a presidential announcement.

CROWLEY: Be able to reach.

ROSEN: And whether she chooses to talk about the future, her views on the issues, those sorts of things and starts to refine her message for the future is going to be the big challenge for Hillary Clinton over the next few months.

CROWLEY: Somewhere along the line, do you think she might get asked about it, what do you tell her to say? Do a cold stare and stare down the reporter? What happens here?

RAMESH PANNURU, SENIOR EDITOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Not in the business of offering advice to Hillary Clinton, she could try saying the question comes from the vast right-wing conspiracy, seems to have worked pretty well for her in 1998. But look, I think that she has got bigger challenges ahead of her. I think this book that Hillary just mentioned are Hillary -- not Hillary Clinton, is going to be an interesting one because she has struggled coming up with an answer to the basic question, what's your big accomplishment as secretary of state? And if she can't come up with a better answer for that, that's a bigger problem for then Monica Lewinsky.

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": Thinking about her presidential ambitions it's much more important that she has an answer to what did you do as secretary of state? That burnished her with not just Democrats but independents. She needs an answer to that question. I don't think she needs to have an answer to a question about Monica Lewinsky. That wasn't a critical issue in her race. It's not been critical in defining Bill Clinton's legacy. I think it's not --

CROWLEY: I don't even remember actually coming up in her presidential campaign. I don't think anybody asked her about it. So I can't imagine why --

PANNURU: Someone asked Chelsea at one of the appearances in the '08 cycle.

ROSEN: It's not about her, and I think the country is interested in Hillary Clinton and what she has to say.

CROWLEY: Let me turn you to 2014. We know in poll after poll after poll, Republicans are more motivated, Republicans are more excited. The president is out there going, we have a congenital defect in the Democratic Party. We don't vote in midterm. He's sitting on a 43 percent approval rating. What kicks Democrats out at this point? What motivates them for their base?

PAGE: One thing, Republicans, the biggest motivator Democrats have is that Republicans do something so outrageous that it gets people churned up because it's hard to see what they do themselves. PANNURU: And 43 percent approval rating understates the Democratic problem because in a lot of states where the Senate elections are taking place, he's below 43 percent because they tend to be redder states.

ROSEN: I'm not so sure about Republican confidence, though, because as you talked about in your earlier segment, this new emphasis, again, on Benghazi and Benghazi hearings can't just be about 2016. They had said -- Republicans had said repeatedly over the last several months it was going to be health care, health care, health care. But that issue isn't quite working for them the same way as it used to. And I think the Republicans themselves are sort of struggling with what is going to be their defining base turnout issue, and I'm not sure that they have it. They're searching a little bit. So Democrats I think --

CROWLEY: Are they as much of a need an issue as Democrats are?

ROSEN: Well, you know, Democrats are focusing on minimum wage, they're focusing on jobs, they're focusing on pay equity and issues women care about, and if Republicans overplay their hand in some of these other issues, that's going to bode well for Democrats being able to refocus on issues that people actually care about.

PAGE: But the sad truth about politics today is if Democrats are counting on Republicans turning out their voters, Republicans are counting on Democrats to turn out their voters. Republicans I think as you say at this moment, do not need an issue agenda of their own. They're counting on President Obama's unpopularity, the unpopularity of the affordable care act to turn out their voters.

ROSEN: But if you talk to those senators who are in those tough races that Ramesh just talked about, and you ask them what's going on at home, you know, Mary Landrieu in Louisiana says when I go home, people want to talk to me about energy, they want to talk about jobs. You know, Mark Begich in Alaska says the same thing, Mark Pryor in Arkansas. So we may not be talking about it in Washington, the national but those senators in those tough races really are focusing on those issues at home, and I think it's going to serve them well.

PANNURU: In Senator Landrieu's case, running away from the Obama administration on that very issue of energy, I think that's a sign of the --

CROWLEY: Local, local, local politics, I think, in the end is what in those tough races will do it. I'm going to cut it off here. Thanks, Ramesh. Because if I don't cut it off here, we won't get to see this great picture of you with your mom --

ROSEN: I have to say mother's day to my mom. Happy Mother's day, mom. Love you.

CROWLEY: And this is Susan Page with her family and her husband, Carl. Happy Mother's Day to her, and you with your children. So happy Mother's Day to all those moms, ours and ourselves. I don't know how to do that. Anyway, thank you all very much. Up next, overwhelmed and needing help with aging mothers, more time with children and equal paying jobs, a frank discussion about what women really want.


CROWLEY: Joining me around the table, Claire Shipman, co-author of "The Confidence Code," the mother of two kids and the wife of White House spokesman, Jay Carney. Iris Krasnow, author of "I Am My Mother's Daughter," wife of an architect, mother of four boys and Jennifer Senior, author of "All Fun And No Joy," I think you'll probably get the theme now, also a wife and mother.

So this is the 50,000-foot-view question, what do moms need, whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a part-time working mom or a full- time working mom, if you have to say wave my magic wand, you get this, what would it be?

CLAIRE SHIPMAN, CO-AUTHOR, "THE CONFIDENCE CODE": What we found that many moms want is more flexibility, especially working moms, the ability to just control our schedules and not have us -- not have arbitrary demands placed upon us. There are massages, and all that stuff.

IRIS KRASNOW, AUTHOR, "I AM MY MOTHER'S DAUGHTER": As a daughter and mother, what you need is communication. I wrote "I Am My Mother's Daughter," my new book, which I will talk about later, you really want them to trust you and to be able to talk to you and what I found in the research was so many women were unfortunately harboring anger and some kind of miscommunication and I always say you just can't say you're sorry at a funeral.

You have to push through your relationship with your mother around I really believe that the daughter/mother relationship is the most important relationship of your life. It certainly informs how you work, love, marry, play and mother your own children.

JENNIFER SENIOR, CONTRIBUTOR, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE: I would say, by the way, it's all joy and no fun.

CROWLEY: Did I do it wrong?

SENIOR: I wanted to make sure.

CROWLEY: Yes, joy, no fun. Right.

SENIOR: But anyway, I would most of the mothers I have spoken to and spoke to for this book, relieved of their guilt. Right? I think they don't want to quite feel so encumbered. What I would say to them is we work -- we spend more time with our children now than we did in the 1960s. And if women knew that, if mothers knew that, that they were actually, like, just kind of full saturation, immersion high that they are spending with their kids is wildly exceeding anything that their own mothers did or that women did even so much as a couple of decades ago, they would stop beating themselves up. SHIPMAN: And that isn't great for our kids. Not good for our guilt, but also what we really found with confidences that, Candy, just, you know, we are -- our kids need to have alone time, they need to fail and goof off and learn to --

SENIOR: And tolerate boredom.

SHIPMAN: Tolerate boredom. They tolerate failure.

CROWLEY: All of the things, I got -- I remember so well and kept it when my first son, one of his first or second grade reports come out, we need to teach Webster how to fail, right? I thought, wow. There's something I had to put on my list.

KRASNOW: Think about how our own, you know, mothers, my new book is on sexuality and intimacy and aging and, you know, what I found is that now that my children are grown, our four sons are college age, is that the time I got to spend with my mother before she died was richer and sweeter and better than those crazy, wild years when we felt like we were carpooling our children everywhere.

And the book, "Sex After," I talked really about that midlife mother and her aging mother. You know, women in their early 90s are the fastest growing segment of the aging population so whether you love her or loathe her, I mean, those of us who still -- those of you who still have your mothers, she could be showing up for Easter and Passover for the next 34 years.

CROWLEY: In fact, Hillary Clinton has this new book coming out "Hard Choices" and they put out an excerpt today dealing with her elderly mother who lived with her in the final years in her 90s, she said, this is Hillary Clinton, "I felt blessed to both have those extra years with an aging parent and very responsible for making sure she was comfortable and well cared for.

Mom gave me so much unconditional love and support when I was growing up in Park Ridge, Illinois, now it was my turn to support her. Of course, I never would have let her hear me describe it that way." Hi, mom, here is everything you need, but I'm not supporting you.

KRASNOW: It is an unprecedented passage in the female growth cycle. When Nancy Friday wrote "My Mother Myself" in 1979, the average age for women was 79. Now that women are living longer and better, we get to grow gray along with our mothers, although my mother never had a gray hair in her head until she died at 86 so --

SENIOR: Can I go back to something you said about how we have to let our kids fail, I think we also have to feel like we don't have to be perfect. I mean, I feel like every mother I speak to thinks that they have to -- that there's a right way, that they are doing it wrong. Parenting, you're doing it all wrong.

CROWLEY: One of the things when you caused quite the buzz with your book and I first learned about it from my daughter, who said, my goodness, you know? And so, you know, in one of the things I think you said, you think parenting has fundamentally changed? SENIOR: I do. Yes.

CROWLEY: We tend to think of parenting as this sort of age-old process.

SENIOR: No, no, no, there are three things that I think have really changed. The first is simply that we can space our kids apart so we have choices about these things and if you're a college-educated woman, you now have a kid at 30.3 years old, odds are. So I think becoming a mother is this huge, dramatic transition in a way that it didn't used to be. You know, you have a lot of kind of free-wheeling autonomy before that.

We also, you know, more women in the workplace now and we still don't have that kind of good scripts for how to divide up division of labor with our husbands. This is what we fight about the most. You'd think happy mother's day, if anybody wants to do anything for women, women still do twice as much child care as their husband do in the house so that's big deal.

And the third thing is that the kid's roll has changed. You know, kids used to work, which was not ethical, but it was what it was and we now work for them. We are essentially their boss -- their employee.

SHIPMAN: What my kids think.

SENIOR: Their valets, right?

CROWLEY: The economics have changed.

SENIOR: Contribute to the family and now they cost us an amazing amount of money.

KRASNOW: I'm thinking --

SENIOR: Go ahead.

KRASNOW: I'm thinking of what you wrote about Hillary Clinton and as our nest empties out, the joy and the appreciation of your own mom and, you know, one of the things that we shared is that you know, with women living longer than men and women in their 90s, the fastest growing segment of the aging population, in the book "Sex After" there was so many women at 81 and 82 starting new relationships.

And you said what's important as a mother, I think it's really important for us aging daughters to celebrate our mothers who are going on and having intimate relationships and, you know, some of the -- well, I mean --


KRASNOW: I know --

CROWLEY: It's too far for me to celebrate my mother's continuing relationships. SENIOR: I want to hear about maternal confidence.

CROWLEY: One of the things I felt was fascinating was there is a suggestion in your book that motherhood does change your confidence, it does play a role in the confidence women have, but not a good one.

SHIPMAN: Well, I think what it -- part of that is this perfection problem that we have. And we are already -- what we found most fascinating in researching confidence is that, you know, we as grown women know we struggle with perfection that is a problem for us and our confidence but our young girls, we are passing that on to them in ways we are not aware of. And we all need to kick that habit.

But when we, you know, everybody writes about girls in school. They are doing so well, doing all these wonderful things, but the problem is we are not letting them fail and we are celebrating the fact that they are quiet and nice and coloring within the lines and getting all as. Guess what that didn't help them in the real world and it doesn't help us. So, we all need to, as women, let go of that and try to get our girls to be dirty and screw ups.

CROWLEY: I do I mean, but boys as well as stepdaughter joined at a very young age, I do it is almost instinctual. In order to get -- I got to cut it off, Claire. The author of "The Confidence Code," yours is "I Am My Mother's Daughter" and "All Joy And No Fun." Thank you, Claire Shipman, Iris Krasnow and Jennifer Senior, and thank you for sharing pictures of your families. We are going to show them. Happy Mother's Day, everybody.

Up next, history made in the NFL.


CROWLEY: Thanks for watching. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Be sure to set your DVR for STATE OF THE UNION if you can't be here live. Happy Mother's Day to our moms and yours as well. "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" is next after a check of the headlines.