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STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY

Interview with Jerry Brown; Interview with Deval Patrick

Aired May 18, 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: The day when 20 boys and girls from Topeka, Kansas, changed the world through their classroom.

Today, after weeks of ugly words that opened racial divides, comes the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, Brown vs. Board of Education, words that mattered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Without Brown, would Deval Patrick be governor of Massachusetts?

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Who knows? I don't think so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Our conversation with Governor Patrick about why it's so hard to talk about race, how his friend Barack Obama is faring, and his worries about Hillary Clinton.

And then the Obama administration's twilight years, the growing distance between Democrats and the White House, and all things cloak and dagger with the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein.

Plus:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIAN CASTRO (D), MAYOR OF SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: No matter who you are or where you come from, the path is always forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Why would the rising star mayor of San Antonio move to Washington to become secretary of housing in an administration with more past than future? Our political panel adds to the latest buzz.

This is STATE OF THE UNION.

Good morning from Washington. I'm Candy Crowley.

We begin this Sunday with a short story about a long time ago. It's about a boy born in 1956, two years after a landmark Supreme Court decision declared as unconstitutional state laws segregating public schools by race.

The boy grew up in South Side Chicago in a complex known as the Robert Taylor Homes, once the largest housing project in the country. He was raised by a single mom, shared a bunk bed with her and his sister in his grandparents' two-bedroom apartment.

The golden-domed statehouse on Boston's Beacon Street is life times away from that tenement apartment, the distance between the South Side and the corner office paved with education.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Without Brown, would Deval Patrick be governor of Massachusetts?

PATRICK: Who knows? I don't think so. I don't think so.

The actual decision, as you know, was just about desegregating the classrooms, and just about desegregating elementary school classrooms.

But the import of Brown was to, as I say, enable people to imagine a different kind of country and a different kind of community. And I think that's been huge.

CROWLEY: In the arc of civil rights history, place Brown for me in terms of the importance for the advancement of life in the United States for African-Americans.

PATRICK: I mean, there are kind of conspicuous examples, like Barack Obama is our president, or me as the first African-American governor of Massachusetts.

I will say Governor Wilder, who -- as you know, Doug Wilder is the elected -- first African-American elected governor in the country, governor of Virginia -- introduced me once in a marvelous way. And he said being first -- he talked about the fuss that's always made about being the first. He said, being first doesn't mean a thing unless there's a second.

And there are so many seconds in so many quarters today because of -- because of Brown, and I think that's made us a better country.

CROWLEY: You talked about the promise of Brown and the hope of Brown. Has it failed in any way, do you think?

PATRICK: Well, I think that there's still work to do, and I think that one of -- one of the jobs we have to do as Americans is learn to talk about the journey toward justice around race and other ways of exclusion, because we have a hard time acknowledging at the same time the extraordinary progress we have made, much of it in my lifetime, and at the same time acknowledging how much work we have to do.

CROWLEY: In fact, sometimes, when you have seen the conversations of the past couple of weeks, when you have had the NBA owner and you had a rancher in Nevada...

PATRICK: Yes.

CROWLEY: ... out someplace in the West, that the conversation seems to go places where it does no good, and then it gets dropped.

What's the conversation that needs to happen?

PATRICK: I'm not sure it's just conversation, to tell you the truth, or even mainly conversation.

It's about how people live, who they choose as their friends, where they choose to live. I remember a friend of mine describing Brown vs. Board of Education as being the example of sending the kids in to do what the adults wouldn't do.

The adults wouldn't live together, wouldn't integrate the neighborhoods, so we sent the kids in to integrate the schools. And the power, the enrichment of leading an integrated life around people who are different, bringing them to your table, bringing them into your lives, into your friendships, into your love, which is how my wife and I have tried to raise our kids, and I think has made for a much richer life for us and I think, in many, many other quarters, a richer country.

CROWLEY: This is the second time you have mentioned something sort of -- in connection with race sort of outside the confines of a government solution. You talked about raised on the South Side, where everybody was your family and everybody was watching over you.

You know what's happened to the South Side of Chicago.

PATRICK: Right. I do.

CROWLEY: What's happened here, do you think, that that sense of family...

PATRICK: Yes.

CROWLEY: ... in all communities -- but we're talking about the African-American community because of Brown.

PATRICK: Right.

CROWLEY: But what -- what's happened?

PATRICK: Well, I think it's a critical question.

And I think, sometimes, I hear -- I hear people talk about Brown as responsible for the breakdown of that kind of -- that kind of sense of community. I don't think that's it at all.

I do think that there is a connectedness that in many, many quarters people no longer feel. You know, we used to have, not just the old ladies in church on the South Side of Chicago, but our public leaders encouraging us to turn to each other, rather than on each other, talking about the stake in a strong community that we see not just in our own dreams and struggles, but in our neighbors as well.

That's one of the reasons I was so attracted to President Obama's candidacy, because he talked in those terms. And I think an awful lot of people responded to that because we're hungry for that kind of connectedness.

CROWLEY: I want to talk to you about your friend President Barack Obama.

PATRICK: You mean our president?

CROWLEY: Yes, our president, Barack Obama. The recurring storyline I think that you're beginning to see is that he has been somewhat of a disappointment to liberals and to the African-American community.

PATRICK: I'm enormously proud of this president.

And I say that not as a friend, but -- not just as a friend, but as a citizen. I remember -- I remember a similar -- obviously much smaller scale, Candy, at home, when I ran for the first time and how much euphoria there was. And then we had a pretty rough few first months, when it felt like folks were really working real hard to -- well, I was making mistakes and folks were working real hard, I think, also to see -- to say, see, you shouldn't have -- you shouldn't have invested so much hope.

Eight years later, we have got terrific results across the board, and we have changed the paradigm in terms of focusing on governing for the next generation, and not just the next election cycle or news cycle. And I think that's going to be the president's legacy as well.

The president is better at speaking for himself than I am. He takes the long view. You know, he's -- he will acknowledge shortcomings and mistakes and frustrations with circumstances that are beyond his control, just like any human being would.

But he takes responsibility, and that's a sign of leadership. And he doesn't give up, which is another important sign of leadership. Remember, this is a president who came to office just as we were entering a global economic collapse. And there is no doubt but that the country is stronger today than it was then.

Have we reached the promised land? No. Eight years turns out to be pretty short. He's still got a couple more. And I know he's going to run right through the -- right through the tape.

CROWLEY: I want to read you something that appeared in "The Washington Post" about, can anyone run against Hillary; is there a non-Hillary candidate?

PATRICK: Uh-oh. What's in there?

CROWLEY: Well, it said Deval Patrick.

(LAUGHTER) CROWLEY: "The Massachusetts governor has grown quiet after opening the door to at least thinking about a 2016 race earlier this spring. Patrick is a gifted speaker who would likely play well among activists on the stump. And if he was the lone African-American candidate in a Hillary-less field, Patrick would have a major leg up."

PATRICK: Wow.

CROWLEY: Yes.

PATRICK: That's very nice. CROWLEY: What do you think?

PATRICK: I'm not a candidate.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: For sure for 2016?

PATRICK: I'm not a candidate, no.

You know, I'm -- this is the first elected job I have had. And I have given it everything. I have focused on it. We don't have term limits, so I could technically run again.

I was telling you beforehand I have a term limit named Diane. And she said, two terms and that's it, and then back into the private sector, at least for a time, because I owe her some time and some earnings. And she's right.

I respect -- I respect public office and politics. And I may yet -- I may yet run. I -- there was all this speculation because a whole lot of people said, you really ought to think about it. And I appreciated that. And I said publicly that I have been asked by a lot of people to think about it. And that turned into news. Who knew?

CROWLEY: And so you have thought about it; the answer is no?

PATRICK: No, no. I mean, this is not -- this is not the time that's right for me.

CROWLEY: When you look at 2016, is this Hillary all the way, do you think?

PATRICK: Well, I don't know.

I guess I'm -- I guess I worry a little bit. She's an enormously capable candidate and leader, but I do worry about the inevitability thing, because I think it's -- I think it's off-putting to the average -- the average voter. And I think that was an element of her campaign the last time.

And I would just -- you know, as an enthusiastic Democrat, I just hope that the people around her pay attention to that this time around.

CROWLEY: Do you consider yourself a Hillary Clinton Democrat? PATRICK: Is there such a thing? I considered myself....

CROWLEY: Well, or a Joe Biden Democrat?

(CROSSTALK)

PATRICK: Oh, you mean am I supporting somebody?

CROWLEY: Or a Martin O'Malley Democrat? Or -- I could go on. PATRICK: No, I haven't -- I haven't -- I haven't endorsed. I probably -- I probably won't.

I certainly haven't been asked. I will help the nominee if the nominee wants my help.

CROWLEY: So, pretty Switzerland right now?

(LAUGHTER)

PATRICK: Yes. I have got another job to focus on right now.

CROWLEY: David Plouffe, a man you know...

PATRICK: Yes. Yes, indeed.

CROWLEY: We're talking about future presidents.

And he said, it will be interesting to see if the coalition that President Obama was able to bring together, the young, single women, but women in general, minorities, if that coalition would stay together for any other Democrat, whether that is an Obama coalition, or is that a Democratic coalition? Weigh in on that.

PATRICK: I don't know the answer to that.

I think that the beauty of the president's campaigns and philosophy has a lot to do with governing at -- certainly campaigning at, but governing also at the grassroots. And the -- it's something I feel very strongly about.

And what -- what Democrats -- frankly, I think what a lot of sort of professional politicians do is, they perfect their argument about how to win, and everybody else wants to hear why. And the president talked about why, and it reached -- it reached people. That's what I try to do at home.

CROWLEY: Ten-year anniversary of same-sex marriages being legal in Massachusetts this weekend.

PATRICK: Yes, the first.

CROWLEY: Yes, the first -- you were the first state there. It was done by a court. Your highest court said, no, this is not -- the ban is illegal.

Do you give the same right of decision to other states? You know there's more than a couple of dozen states who have actively voted to ban same-sex marriages.

PATRICK: Well, I think that the decision at home affirmed an ancient principle that people come before their government as equals.

And that is a -- that is a fundamental American idea. That is a notion of civil rights which is not new. It has its roots right back in our founding. And we have been gradually and through fits and starts of struggle and pain extending that to more and more citizens as we have -- as the American experiment has continued.

I don't think that's the sort of thing you leave to a popular referendum. I think that that has -- that is a role that the courts have played, and I think our court did exactly the right -- the right thing. And I think the United States Supreme Court did the right thing in that same vein in the recent DOMA decision.

CROWLEY: Governor Deval Patrick, thank you for spending some time with us.

PATRICK: It's great to be with you.

CROWLEY: I appreciate it.

PATRICK: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Governor Patrick, who is opposed to capital punishment, also shared his thoughts on the Boston bomber, who faces the death penalty. For that, go to our Web site, CNN.com/SOTU.

But when we return: With more than two-and-a-half years to go in his term, is President Obama playing small ball?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On Thursday, I will be heading to Cooperstown, New York, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, to talk about tourism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: The president's seventh inning stretch. We will look at how it goes from here with Senator Dianne Feinstein after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me now, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein of California.

Thank you for being here. Appreciate it.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIR: Good morning.

CROWLEY: I want to talk first about that phenomenon known as a lame-duck presidency.

We're seeing on a number of issues Democrats beginning to back away a little from the president's position on a judge or on a specific issue. Have we entered that time, as we look ahead to the midterms -- and we already know that the 2016 presidential race is going -- that you are looking at a president with less power?

FEINSTEIN: I don't think it's backing away from him at all. I think one of the things that's happening is that it's so difficult to move anything through the Senate because of the use of cloture by Republicans, so that virtually -- virtually everything fails.

I mean, we did have some good things, the agriculture bill. The immigration bill passed the Senate. Those were two major bills. But everything else...

CROWLEY: But you needed...

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: ... and you needed the Republicans on those.

FEINSTEIN: Well, yes, that's true.

I don't see the backing away. I actually believe my colleagues desperately want him to succeed. They want him to leave a legacy. Health care will be that legacy. If we get immigration through, it will be that legacy.

I think he is concerned with getting out there, to some degree maybe too much, because he has to concentrate on getting bills through, or that's my view. But I think his legacy has yet to be written, and I think that's where he will concentrate.

CROWLEY: One of the things that some Democrats have objected to is a deal that the president made with Republicans that allowed them one of their judicial nominees that they wanted to see come through, as long as a group of them passed. The judicial nomination is for Michael Boggs.

Some Democrats have said, well, this -- on social issues in particular, they have real problems with him.

Would you block that nomination? Would you vote against Michael Boggs?

FEINSTEIN: Well, not at this stage. I want to meet with him. I want to talk with him. I wanted to go through the committee hearing first.

I did do that. I think the questions are very apparent. I know he has some very strong support, even in the African-American community in the state of Georgia. I have spoken to John Lewis about him in the House. And I have great respect for John Lewis, who felt that this was a good ticket. I have got to do my own due diligence. And when I'm ready, I will vote. CROWLEY: I want to move you on to -- lots of conversation this week about Hillary Clinton and her health brought up by Karl Rove, a Republican -- top Republican strategist, certainly to former President Bush.

He talked about her, her accident when she had a blood clot and she was hospitalized. And even President Clinton has said it took six months to get over this.

When you look at that argument, when you look at the Benghazi argument, when you look at a number of things that are coming up along the way, what does it tell you about the nature of the battle coming up in 2016, should Hillary Clinton become the Democratic nominee?

FEINSTEIN: Well, first of all, the Karl Rove effort was pathetic. And I think it's caused...

CROWLEY: But legitimate?

FEINSTEIN: No.

CROWLEY: The idea of a -- health of a candidate?

FEINSTEIN: No.

CROWLEY: No?

FEINSTEIN: Not legitimate.

CROWLEY: Well, the gist of it, that she has to be, that...

(CROSSTALK)

FEINSTEIN: That she has sustained brain damage, that's legitimate?

CROWLEY: Right. The quote "brain damage," he denies, but, nonetheless, yes -- no, what I'm asking you, is it legitimate to say that Hillary Clinton will have to be forthcoming about her health?

FEINSTEIN: In my view, she's in the prime of her political life.

She has got the energy. She's articulate. She's got the background. She's got the smarts. She has all of the elements of a good leader, plus the fact -- and this is not to be underestimated -- she is enormously attractive to people.

And she carries the torch for women, who are the majority of votes in this country, very strongly and holds it very high. And I think people respond to her.

CROWLEY: Do you worry that she is too early on this? We heard Governor Patrick say, I worry about this whole inevitability thing. We have got to -- I hope her people are watching that because it tends to turn voters off. FEINSTEIN: Well, yes, this is hard for me, because I did talk with her and thought it would be better that she not get out there early, because her favorability was so high, that all that could happen in this is go down, because somebody would do the stupid things that Karl Rove has just done.

So -- but I think this. I think her book is coming out. I think the book will likely carry a good bit of her thinking on various big issues, certainly foreign policy, certainly the secretary of state. And we would have someone in the White House who would have a real background in foreign policy.

And I think that's critical at this point in the world, with Russia expanding, with Africa becoming real problems from a terror point of view, and on and on and on.

CROWLEY: I want to talk to you about a couple of those things, using your expertise as chair of the Intelligence Committee.

The first is, as you know this, the House has now set up a select committee on Benghazi. It remains to be seen whether Democrats will join in that new probe. There are Republicans on the Senate saying, we either ought to join that probe or have our own select committee.

You did a study. Are you satisfied now? Do you -- would you go along with a Senate panel looking into this or joining up with the House?

FEINSTEIN: I think it's ridiculous.

I think it's a hunting mission for a lynch mob, actually. I think that's what's going on. There have been four major reports. We spent a year-and-a-half on a report. We held hearings. Thousands of pages were reviewed. The staff spent hours and weeks on it first. That's the first thing. Homeland Security in the Senate did an investigation, the accountability review that came up, the Pickering- Mullen review.

And I -- I just don't -- if you compare it to Ronald Reagan, who was a big Republican hero, and what happened in Beirut with three attacks, with 240...

CROWLEY: The barracks.

FEINSTEIN: ... servicemen, with seven CIA officers, with one chief of station being tortured to death, and Reagan admitted we weren't ready for it.

Well, since then, a lot of things have been done. There were faults. The intelligence was there. Action should have been taken.

CROWLEY: But is it a matter that is imperative?

Do you -- do you feel -- look, there were memos, as you now know, that didn't make their way to your committee or any of these other committees. They were revealed under Freedom of Information Act to an outside group. And it was a memo from a spokesman for the National Security Council saying -- or, rather, someone on the National Security Council saying, well, we want to put our best face forward in general, talking about the talking points.

Do you feel that you know what happened in Benghazi, why the ambassador and others were there on 9/11, despite CIA reports that it was kind of just a hotbed of terrorist activity in Benghazi at that point, and are you confident that you know what happened with those talking points and it was not a deliberate attempt to mislead the Republican -- or just mislead the American people? You think all those questions have been answered?

FEINSTEIN: I believe they have.

And they have certainly been -- our report was bipartisan. And they were certainly answered to the satisfaction of the Intelligence Committee.

CROWLEY: OK.

Let me ask you about the kidnapped girls in Nigeria. Is there anything new from an intelligence point of view that you can tell us about, about what happened there?

FEINSTEIN: Well, we're using all our technical means. We're working with other nations.

As you know, France has become very active. All of that is good. I don't think there's any precise information at this time. I think there are real problems with the Nigerian government and the Nigerian military, because there was notice that this was going to happen. The military did nothing.

Boko Haram has burned down 200 girls' schools. The government has done nothing. So, if you do nothing in the face of terror, it does one thing. It brings on more terror.

CROWLEY: It brings up more.

And, finally, I want to ask you -- Glenn Greenwald has a new book out. You know Glenn Greenwald. He was one of the folks who had Edward Snowden as a source and leaked a lot of information about the NSA.

Now, in this new book, he talks about the NSA leaving almost no stone unturned, to just collect massive amounts of information. And one of the things he talked about was a plan that intercepts computer equipment, and -- and retrofitting it with spyware at ports that are headed out of the U.S. to other countries.

FEINSTEIN: Well, I haven't read his book. I just saw it for the first time in the green room, as a matter of fact.

CROWLEY: Right.

FEINSTEIN: So I'm not going to comment. I am going to say that...

CROWLEY: Does that sound familiar at all, though, like taking computers off of...

FEINSTEIN: No. No, it does not.

CROWLEY: OK.

FEINSTEIN: I can look into it. It does not sound familiar.

But I can tell you this. We just went through the opening of the 9/11 Museum. I know they will come after us, if they can. I see the intelligence. Terror is not down in the world. It's up, both deaths, injuries, in many, many different places.

Al Qaeda has metastasized. And the question comes, how do we prevent an attack in this country? Now, the program that's been so criticized, the 215 program...

CROWLEY: Collecting the phone data.

FEINSTEIN: ... begins with a targeted terrorist who is abroad calling into this country.

I -- it's not a surveillance program.

CROWLEY: Right.

FEINSTEIN: What it is is a data collection program. And some of that is going to be changed. The House Intelligence -- the House Judiciary Committee has passed a bill. The House Intelligence Committee has passed a bill. We are looking at those bills. It may be that we can find a way to make some improvements that will solve everyone's problem with it to a great extent.

CROWLEY: I am over time at this point but I have to ask you, if you can in one word or a sentence. You have oversight over the CIA. You and the CIA have had significant differences, particularly over the handling of the report on torture at the CIA. What is your relationship now with the CIA?

FEINSTEIN: Well, my relationship is good. I mean I --

CROWLEY: Better?

FEINSTEIN: No. What's interesting -- what I have to do is oversight. I'm not there to be the most popular person in any building. It's to see that my committee is diligent, that we do the work of oversight, that when we're wrong, we do something about it. When there's something going on that shouldn't be we do something about it.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Thank you very much, Senator Dianne Feinstein. It's always great to talk to you. I appreciate it. FEINSTEIN: Thank you.

CROWLEY: And when we return San Antonio mayor, Julian Castro, took center stage at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIAN CASTRO, MAYOR OF SAN ANTONIO: To my generation and for all the generations to come, our choice is clear. Our choice is a man who has always chosen us, a man who already is our president, Barack Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Castro has mostly avoided the glare of Washington's spotlight until now. Our panel on why a rising star may have decided to come to Washington.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me around the table, former White House communications director Anita Dunn, Amy Walter, National Editor for "The Cook Political Report," and CNN "CROSSFIRE" co-host, Newt Gingrich. Thank you all.

So now we're hearing that one of the Castro brothers -- one of them is already a congressman. This one we're talking about is currently the mayor of San Antonio, is probably going to come to Washington and become housing secretary.

I, you know, bring you Henry Cisneros, once also thought of as an up-and-comer who said to CNN about Castro, "it's a lot more likely he can get oven that ticket," meaning as a vice presidential contender, "from a national office than the mayor's job. He will grow into a national caliber talent."

Now, we all thought that. I think it's really interesting to say, yes. He wants to take a job so he'll look pretty good as a number two on the ticket. What strikes you about this news?

AMY WALTER, NATIONAL EDITOR, "THE COOK POLITCAL REPORT": Well, I guess the fact that, you know, we're talking now about 2016, right, when we talk about the national ticket. And we're talking about the Democratic Party that has succeeded in part because of its ability to attract minority voters and women. And we know there's one woman who is potentially on the top of the ticket. Who could it be, if not her and who could a running mate be? There are not many despite all the -- all the facts that Democrats get Latino votes. There aren't many high profile Latino elected officials in big positions, in big jobs.

CROWLEY: Seems kind of funny to have on-the-job training at the housing department.

ANITA DUNN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well Candy, I have to jump in a bit of substance here. I mean he is the mayor of the seventh largest city in the United States. He successfully got the business community to back an initiative to raise the sales tax in 2012 to fund pre-k expanded pre-k for the education system down there which was a major deal and it passed comfortably. A tax increase in a year that wasn't seeing a lot of tax increases. And you know, if he were nominated, he'd be a very strong candidate for this job.

CROWLEY: It does look -- I mean here's the -- it's kind of the waning years of the administration, so is this a policy pick or is this a political pick?

NEWT GINGRICH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all there are always political picks. But it's a good political pick for the president. It is a smart pick. It also tells you something about their estimation of Texas, which is you're not going to go from being the mayor of San Antonio to be the governor of Texas any time in the near future.

Now, Cisneros almost pulled out, he might go by being secretary of HUD, becoming a national -- you'll just have a lot more media, you're going to be seeing a lot more in Houston and Dallas if you're the secretary of HUD than if you are the mayor of San Antonio. But I also think it says Texas is going to remain a very Republican state despite all the early hype for Wendy Davis. And that's likely to remain true for a long time.

CROWLEY: I want to look at the other side of this equation. We heard from Chris Christie this week who was talking to Bob Schieffer who asked him the question. Take a listen.

Sorry. We don't have it. But Schieffer said, hey, are you thinking about running for president and when will you decide? And Christie said, yes and later, so he also said this week that he didn't think bridge-gate, as it's come to be known, will affect at all his standing should he run for president? Are we at that place?

GINGRICH: What is he supposed to say? Yes, I've been mortally wounded. I don't even know --

CROWLEY: How about we'll let the voters decide?

GINGRICH: I don't even know why I'm here.

DUNN: There are plenty of us to say he's been mortally wounded. He doesn't have to say it himself.

GINGRICH: Yes, I think -- I think there are -- if you were to list everyone currently thinking about running for president.

WALTER: I think there are 116.

CROWLEY: Yes and later.

GINGRICH: And later this is the most open Republican nomination since 1940. And I think there are no front-runners, there are just a lot of runners. WALTER: And I think the bridge-gate thing in many respects is going to be a smaller road bump on his path if he wants to run than a host of other issues, especially the Sandy funding. That's really where conservatives get upset with Chris Christie is the way he demanded money from the government, the way he chastised Republicans who wanted to pare back some of that Sandy aid and how it's getting spent.

CROWLEY: Is the Republican field large enough to encompass a Jeb Bush, a Chris Christie, that kind of seen as sort of mainstream --

WALTER (ph): Sure.

CROWLEY: He talked about, yes, it would be hard to run against Jeb Bush because he's friends. But lots of friends -

(CROSSTALK)

DUNN: And because they share a lot of donors (INAUDIBLE).

CROWLEY: Because the money race comes first.

GINGRICH: More importantly, their friends are friends.

CROWLEY: Exactly.

GINGRICH: It seems -- first of all this is a party which nominated Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney, none of whom started from the right and one of whom in the Reagan traditional world (ph) (INAUDIBLE) on the right. And yet every four years we're asked the question, can somebody who is not hard right get the nomination. And it seems to me this is very wide open. I don't think we know yet what the mood of the country will be when people start to vote in early 2016.

CROWLEY: Quickly because I want to -- we've got to take a break and I still want to talk about Tuesday races. Should Shinseki resign, yes or no?

GINGRICH: Yes.

CROWLEY: You can't do that, right?

WALTER: I can't. Right.

CROWLEY: How did he do on Capitol Hill?

WALTER: Not good.

GINGRICH: There you go.

DUNN: He's going to make that decision with the president. What is true is that people need -- that this administration needs to deal with this and they need to not just send management over there. But they need to address the real problems of those backlogs and quickly. CROWLEY: Hang on for me a bit. When we return, a preview of Tuesday's hot primary races and what it means for the future of the Republican Party.

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CROWLEY: We are back with Anita Dunn, Amy Walter and Newt Gingrich. Primary season. Tuesday a couple more. I think everyone took a lesson away from the last one, that either the Tea Party has invaded the mainstream or it's dead. So do we continue this race Tuesday (ph)? What's important?

WALTER: There are six states, but really watching two or three of them, Kentucky and Georgia. And it is -- it's going to be a continuation of the theme, the establishment strikes back. Or that after two cycles of the Tea Party or insurgent candidates coming out of nowhere and defeating the preferred candidate of the Republican Party. Thinking Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, at least in the polls he's leading by a very significant amount against his Tea Party challenger.

In Georgia, a place where Democrats really saw an opportunity because it's a free-for-all primary and some very, very conservative candidates way out of the sort of mainstream looking like the possibility of getting into a runoff. Now, we're probably going to see two sort of semi establishment candidates make it into a runoff. And that could impact Democrats' chances of picking up the seat.

CROWLEY: So which is it?

GINGRICH: First of all, I think if you look at the Republican leader in the Senate will manage to survive a Republican primary. I'm not sure that that's -- I'm not sure that's a national -- and he's done it by moving to the right. And he loves Rand Paul and they are very close friends and they hang out a lot together. So if you want to see that as a repudiation of the Tea Party -- Ben Sasse, by the way, winning in Nebraska was a big defeat for the establishment. Ben Sasse is really smart, he is really conservative. And I would have to say that was -- if there's a Tea Party movement, Sasse would certainly be one -- he's going to join the Mike Lee, you know, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul wing of the party.

I say in Georgia we have is Perdue who has done a very good job and ran a very largely (INAUDIBLE) very good campaign. Jack Kingston who normally would have been considered an establishment conservative. Jack is not (INAUDIBLE). He's a very solid conservative. They'll get in the run off -- my hunch is Kingston will probably win the run off but both of them -- I think that's (INAUDIBLE) the run is going to be which I think means that Michelle Nunn's problem is enormous. I think -- just as, by the way, President Obama's unpopularity, I think, makes it very hard to beat McConnell in the general election in Kentucky. You know, Candy, one of the things that's really striking to me, at the end of a week that wasn't so great with women on some fronts, is that whatever happens on Tuesday, the Democratic Senate best pickup opportunities in the entire country will have been nominated in Kentucky and Georgia and they're both women. And if you had even said this 10 years ago that the Democratic Senate, you know, that their best pickup opportunities were in the south and that they were --

CROWLEY: Kentucky and Georgia. (INAUDIBLE)

DUNN: Kentucky and Georgia, Michelle Nunn and Alison Grimes are both very, very strong candidates and these are not easy races. And it's a tough year but these are two women who have a really good shot at being elected to the United States Senate if they run good campaigns, which they both have so far, and it's going to be tough but they're the frontrunners. And that is -- and they're the best pickup opportunities in the country and that is saying something. GINGRICH: By the way, the Republican pickup in West Virginia will also be a woman.

DUNN: Well, and the Democratic -- and the Democrat who holds that seat -

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DUNN: The Democrat who holds that seat will be a woman as well.

CROWLEY: No matter what in West Virginia, the reality between Democratic hopes in the south and a president with very low poll numbers in history that just tells you that a second term midterm election for president is generally disastrous. Who is closer to what you're seeing?

WALTER: I mean, the Republicans, it's not just the six-term and the president's low approval ratings, it's where these races are taking place, right? The map is just terrible for Democrats to have to win in seven states that Mitt Romney carried. So that is, at the very beginning, you got to go back to the map.

Then you put the approval ratings, then you put the economy, then you put the Obamacare, you put all those weights on it. The whole question -- we do this every election, which candidates can localize, individualize a race, and which candidates are not going to be able to do that and the national wave comes and takes over.

GINGRICH: Ideology is a big part of this. You've got the war on coal in Kentucky and West Virginia, you've got the whole problem over the pipeline in all of the Midwest, affecting a whole range of states you would not necessarily thought would have been in play. So the Democrats -- (INAUDIBLE) the Democrats have this continuous head wind of something new that comes out of Washington that slows down. You see this with Landrieu in Louisiana where she ought to be getting a boost (INAUDIBLE) chair of the energy committee and she can't move anything. And so I think a lot of these things are making this a tough year for Democrats across the country.

DUNN: And it's so true about the map, because you look at 2016 and we can already start writing the stories about how much trouble the Republicans will be in on the Senate level given the states. One thing -- one thing that's also true, and Amy has a column about this, is that it's different from 2010. The Republican Party is no longer just an easy alternative from the Democratic Party, that their brand has been quite damaged. As a matter of fact, they are a less popular political party. So a great deal of this comes down to turnout and enthusiasm, and that's what Democrats clearly are going to be focusing on, is trying to turn their voters out. It's not easy, I understand, but at the same time this is not 2010 in terms of the voter mood.

CROWLEY: To be continued. Newt Gingrich, Amy Walter, Anita Dunn, three of the most knowledgeable people on politics that I know. Thank you all so much.

DUNN: Thank you for having us. CROWLEY: When we return, an update on the fires in southern California and then former secretary Tim Geithner admits to Fareed that he used to be a Republican.

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CROWLEY: Thanks for watching. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Be sure to set your DVR to STATE OF THE UNION just in case you can't be here live. But if you missed any part of today's show, find us on iTunes just search STATE OF THE UNION.

Fareed Zakaria, "GPS," is next after a check of the headlines.