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STATE OF THE UNION
Interview With Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan; Interview With California Senator Dianne Feinstein; Homeland Security Fight; Israel Controversy; Rick Perry Reboots
Aired March 1, 2015 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Drumbeats of a coup at the U.S. Capitol, as a political firestorm rages around the Israeli prime minister's speech to Congress.
This is STATE OF THE UNION.
House Speaker John Boehner's job could be in jeopardy.
Senator Dianne Feinstein and former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren on the prime minister's rift-causing speech to Congress.
And former Governor Rick Perry reboots for 2016.
Good morning from Washington. I'm Dana Bash. Chaos in Congress.
Now, most of you are unfortunately so used to hearing that, you're probably rolling your eyes right about now, but the drama I watched unfold in the Capitol Friday night was different. House Republican leaders were blindsided when their plan to prevent the Department of Homeland Security from shutting down was defeated. Fifty-two conservatives voted no because the funding bill didn't also stop the president's immigration plan.
But in the end, a bill did pass to fund the Homeland Security Department for one week, which means, once again, in just a few days, we're going to be facing another shutdown.
Now, I was reporting from the Capitol Friday night and had exasperated veteran Republican lawmakers say things to me like, how are we supposed to govern? They were at a loss with how to control their own right flank, at a time when American security couldn't be more important.
Joining me now is a conservative from that right flank at the heart of all of this, Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, who is the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, formed earlier this year to advocate for conservative legislation.
Congressman, thank you very much for joining me.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Good to be with you.
BASH: I just want to ask the first question that everybody out there is probably asking, probably in disgust, saying, really? What is wrong with Congress? Why can't you govern? And why can't you fund a government agency that keeps us safe?
JORDAN: Well, no, we do want be to fund that agency.
We understand how serious the terrorist threat is out there. We passed a bill at the levels that the Democrat wanted. What we did say was, we don't want to fund something that everyone knows is unconstitutional, legal scholars on the right and the left have said is unconstitutional, and a federal judge, a federal judge has said is unlawful.
That is -- that's the bill we sent there. Fund it at the levels the Democrats want, but don't do -- don't do something that's unconstitutional.
But you know basic civics, because you are a member of Congress. The Senate can't pass that. It can't get past the Senate.
BASH: So -- so...
JORDAN: ... basic civics, we sent a bill over there six weeks ago that did what I just described, fund it at the Democrats' levels, but said, we're not going to allow dollars to be used for something we all know is unconstitutional.
And the Democrats said and the Senate said, for six weeks, oh, we can't bring it up. We can't debate it. We can't amend it. We can't pass it.
And then guess what happened? The very last day, they brought up the bill. They debated it. They amended it. They passed it. And now that -- and now all we're saying is, let's go to conference committee. You passed government class in high school. I did, too. And we know how it works. We pass something, they pass something, you go sit around a table just like this, a nice, round table, and you work out the differences.
JORDAN: What's wrong with that process? That's how it's supposed to work.
BASH: It is how it's supposed to work. But in the reality that you are dealing with right now, there still are not enough votes in the Senate, filibuster-approved votes. OK? You know this. You have heard this from your leadership. I don't want to get too far in the weeds before we move on from this.
But there is no plan to get over that hump, that very important hump, which is why there is such a stalemate. This is why your fellow conservatives in the Senate, Ted Cruz, Jeff Sessions, they allowed a bill to pass, a clean bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, no strings, because they know the political reality. Why don't you?
JORDAN: Dana, you're making our point. That's why you have to let the process work and go to conference.
That's where you iron out these differences. Remember, Harry Reid said he wasn't going to pass anything except a DHS bill that funded it for the whole year. And what did they do? They accepted a one-week short-term spending bill. That gives us time to go to conference.
Let's go to conference. Let's work it out. Remember, this underlying action, what caused all this is when the president last November did something that 22 times before he said he wouldn't do. Then he turned around and did it. Legal scholars say it's unconstitutional. We know it's unconstitutional.
And the only court to rule on this, the federal court in Texas, said what he did was wrong. And for the Democrats to insist upon being able to still spend money for something everyone knows is unconstitutional, the president said he wouldn't do, and a federal judge has ruled is wrong, that's the problem.
BASH: OK. Let me...
JORDAN: So, OK, but we're even willing -- in spite of all of that, we're willing to sit down and try to work out the differences. That's all the House has asked for. That's all what we conservatives wanted when we went to our leadership and presented, let's -- let's go to conference. Make sure we go to conference. And we will be for it.
BASH: Let me read something that your fellow Republican in the House Congressman Devin Nunes of California said in a statement that they put out yesterday.
He said: "I prefer to be in an arena voting than trying to placate a small group of phony conservative members who have no credible policy proposals and no political strategy to stop Obama's lawlessness."
BASH: He's talking about you, calling you a phony conservative, and saying you have no policy to get around...
JORDAN: Look, I'm not going to -- I don't call my colleagues -- say things about my colleagues.
What I do is this. What I do know is this. Last November, there was an election. This was an important issue in that election. The voters spoke loud and clear. They gave us an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives. They gave the United States Senate to -- a majority to the Republican Party as well. And we know this is unconstitutional. And beyond that, it's not
just that it's unconstitutional. It's a bad idea, what the president did, because it's unfair. And this is important.
BASH: But a lot of people -- but let me just say, you're not saying anything that the House Republican leadership -- they agree with you on this. But they're also living in the reality of the process, in that they can't do anything about it because they don't have the votes ultimately to do it without shutting down the Department of Homeland Security.
JORDAN: We need to make the case. We haven't made the case strong enough.
We know that this is unconstitutional and we know it's unfair. Now, think about this. What the president did, how is it fair to citizens if you let noncitizens, illegals, go back and get tax refunds for the last three years, as Commissioner Koskinen has testified under oath?
How is it fair to seniors if you let noncitizens, illegals, participate in our Social Security system? How is it fair to voters? Our secretary of state under oath came and testified in Congress and said, noncitizen illegals are going to have a potential now to be involved in our election process, to actually vote.
And, most importantly, Dana, how is it fair, what the president did, how is it fair to those legal immigrants who did it the right way, who followed the law? How is it fair to them?
BASH: OK. You have made that point. And I understand that you obviously feel very passionately about this.
But this is also about passion and principle vs. governing. And it just -- from people looking in from the outside, and, even more importantly, your fellow Republican colleagues think that you are more interested in chaos...
JORDAN: Not at all.
BASH: ... in sticking to principle...
JORDAN: Not at all.
BASH: ... than your responsibility of governing.
JORDAN: We're most interested in adhering to the principles that are consistent with the Constitution.
We're most interested in doing what the voters elected us to do in November. You don't think this was a big issue in the election last November? Of course it was.
This was -- taking on the president's unconstitutional executive amnesty actions was a huge issue in the election. And the voters spoke overwhelmingly. And all we're asking now for Harry Reid to do...
BASH: Have you...
JORDAN: And all we're asking now for him to do is follow the process.
BASH: Have you -- have you been in any conversations about trying to get rid of House Speaker John Boehner?
JORDAN: No, that's not the point.
BASH: Have you?
JORDAN: And of course not. No, of course not. That's not...
BASH: Wait. Wait. Yes or no?
JORDAN: No. That's not the point.
The point is to do -- to do what we told the voters we were going to do, and to do it in a way that's consistent with the United States Constitution, consistent with fundamental fairness, and consistent with the only -- only court to rule on this, the only court to rule, do it in a way that's consistent with the federal judge's decisions.
BASH: If the House speaker ends up at the end of next week allowing a vote on the House floor to fully fund the Department of Homeland Security without addressing the president's immigration plan, will you challenge the House speaker?
JORDAN: No. No, of course not.
I don't think that's going to happen, though. I think we have to make the case, continue to make the case, Harry Reid, they -- we're not going the bill up. We can't debate it, we can't amend it, we can't vote on it.
And what did they do? They actually in the end brought up the bill, they amended it, they debated it, and they voted it. Now, they did it at the 11th hour. And that's the problem. So, we need time to get to conference and do the right thing for the American people.
BASH: If your colleagues, if your conservative colleagues come to you and say, we want to try to make a play, we're done with this leadership team, we want to try to make a play to get rid of them?
JORDAN: That's -- that's -- no, that's not going to happen.
BASH: It's not going to happen? You're saying affirmatively it's not going to happen?
JORDAN: That is not the issue.
The issue, as I keep coming back to, we had an election last November. We have a federal judge who said this is wrong. We have legal scholars, people like Jonathan Turley on the left, who say what the president did, the magnitude, five million people, is -- that is wrong, that is unconstitutional.
So for those reasons, we need to get to conference and make sure language that's close to what we pass in the House is the final product.
BASH: OK. Let me ask. You have talked so much about it being unconstitutional, what the president...
JORDAN: Because it is.
BASH: ... executive action.
So, given that, you also have another tool that the Constitution gives you. And that is to file articles of impeachment. If you think that what the president did was so unconstitutional, why not make moves to impeach him?
JORDAN: We're not going to do that either.
Look, we're focused on this legislation, funding the department at the levels the Democrats wanted, the levels they agreed to, and making sure -- why do the Democrats insist -- and this is amazing to me -- why do they insist on being able to fund something that we know is unconstitutional and a federal judge has ruled against?
That's the fundamental question. They insist upon having that ability, even though the only court to speak on it says, you can't do it and it's wrong? That makes so much sense -- that's why our bill makes so much common sense. I'm just frustrated that Harry Reid continues to take the position he does.
BASH: One last question.
Do you want the House Republican leadership to succeed or not?
JORDAN: Of course we want them to succeed, because that helps the country succeed. That's good for the families we represent.
BASH: The country certainly doesn't look like -- I mean, it just -- it's -- and I have covered Congress for a very long time.
BASH: And it feels more chaotic. And it is -- it is impossible at this point for the House speaker and the leadership team to govern.
BASH: And they feel like it is because you all just don't take yes for an answer. JORDAN: Oh, no, no, no. What's best -- what's best for the
country is to fund the Homeland Security Department -- to fund the Homeland Security Department, but do it in a way consistent with the Constitution.
That's what the country -- that's what the election was about. The last time I checked, Republicans did pretty well in the election last November. We're supposed to actually -- politicians, when they get elected, are actually supposed to do what they told the voters they were going to do when they got the job.
BASH: OK. Thank you very much for the spirited discussion. I appreciate it.
JORDAN: You bet.
BASH: We will be -- we will be watching all next week to see what happens.
Thank you very much.
And when we come back, I will talk to a Democratic senator, Dianne Feinstein, about what is going on in Congress and whether Americans can expect anything different from lawmakers any time soon.
And, later, former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren why he thinks Bibi Netanyahu's speech to Congress is a bad move.
BASH: And joining me now is Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.
Senator, thank you very much for joining me.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: You're welcome.
BASH: Let's just start with the chaotic situation when it comes to funding the Department of Homeland Security.
Can you understand the Republican perspective at all, that they believe that the president just defied the Constitution with his immigration plan and they want to hold him accountable?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I have no problem with them passing a bill that -- which they can do. We passed an immigration bill by a huge vote, two-thirds. It went over to the House. The House took no position.
And now what they have done is, they have put a president's executive order on top of a must-pass national security bill. And that's their strategy, to ram it through.
Well, our position is, it should be a clean bill, and it should fund the department through the fiscal year. You can't keep doing these things by continuing resolutions, because the department loses money, particularly for local law enforcement grants. BASH: And can you see -- can you see, at the end of next week,
Senate Democrats allowing anything other than a clean bill?
BASH: Are you going to compromise at all on that?
FEINSTEIN: I do not believe that will happen. We want a clean bill. We have passed, taken votes on a clean bill. It's well known. And I see nothing else happening, other than a clean bill.
BASH: You have been in -- you have been in Congress for a long time. Have you seen it this dysfunctional before?
FEINSTEIN: Well, what I have seen over the last few years is a growing need of a minority to impose their view, regardless of what the situation is.
I think most of us are accustomed to sitting down, we work out a compromise, which is not a dirty word, because, in a two-party system, you have to, if you're going to make progress. Otherwise, you have stasis or gridlock. And so we have had more gridlock.
And appropriation bills, when I first came, no one put major bills on appropriation bills. And the committee was sacrosanct. Nobody amended bills. The committee always supported their own committee's views.
BASH: And now it's obviously...
FEINSTEIN: And now it's different.
FEINSTEIN: So it's very hard to make that change and keep the regular order of government going, and, secondly, not risk a shutdown, which has happened in the past.
BASH: It sure has.
Let's turn to what's going to happen on Tuesday, which is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu coming and speaking before a joint meeting of Congress.
You and your fellow Democratic Senator Dick Durbin invited the prime minister to speak to a group of Democrats. And he declined that invitation.
What do you make of that?
FEINSTEIN: Well, what I -- I -- he obviously just didn't want to meet.
I mean, we will be meeting, because... BASH: And why do you think that is?
FEINSTEIN: ... the leadership of the committees is meeting with him. And so that will be an opportunity to meet with him.
But I hope, since he is coming, I intend to go. And I will listen respectively -- respectfully. I don't intend to jump up and down. And I hope he will speak about what happens if there isn't an agreement. I hope he will speak about it, what happens if the United States isn't part of the agreement...
BASH: On Iran?
FEINSTEIN: ... on Iran, but the agreement takes place, because this isn't just the United States. It's the big powers. It's Russia. It's China. It's the United Kingdom. It's France. It's Germany.
That's what the P5-plus-one is, and the United States. So, they could conceivably agree. We could conceivably, if he -- if Netanyahu's view prevails and the view of some of my colleagues present real problems.
The president, I believe, has -- this is not a treaty -- has the right to do an agreement.
BASH: Let me -- let me read to you a statement that Netanyahu made as he was about to board his plane, which, I should say, he's on now, making his way to Washington.
He said: "As the prime minister of Israel, it is my obligation to worry about the security of Israel. And, therefore, we are totally against the agreement that is coming together between Iran and the powers that can endanger our existence."
When you have the Israeli prime minister arguing that this is going to endanger his existence, hard to fight that.
FEINSTEIN: Well, he did that in 2011. I was present for that speech.
And he said they would never accept the '67 borders.
BASH: But you just disagree with this?
FEINSTEIN: I disagree with it, very strongly.
I happen to believe Israel is a lot safer with an agreement that's agreed to by all of the big powers, including ourselves, than it is if there is no agreement and if Iran decides to break out. Then Israel attacks Iran. Iran attacks back. What happens? What happens?
And -- and, you know, we have a Middle East that's coming apart now. We have got ISIL and ISIS. They occupy a third of the territory of Syria. They occupy about nine or 10 cities in Iraq. They are forming their own government. They are occupying land, which is a new thing for a terrorist group. And you have Yemen in trouble. You have Egypt in transition.
You have Libya close to a civil war. And you have Jordan and Lebanon in danger.
BASH: Let me just ask you one more question about the Israeli prime minister's speech.
You are a Jewish-American. You are -- and a Democratic senator, so you have a lot of different sort of personal constituencies, if you will. When Netanyahu says he's coming to speak, he says he speaks for all Jews. Does he speak for you?
FEINSTEIN: No, he doesn't speak for me on this. He doesn't at all speak for me on this.
BASH: So, does that bother you when he says he speaks for all Jews?
FEINSTEIN: Yes. I think it's a rather arrogant statement.
I think the Jewish community is like any other community. There are different points of view. So, I -- I think that arrogance does not befit Israel, candidly. I think Israel is a nation that needs to be protected, that needs to stand free, that hopefully can work constructively with Palestinians to have a side-by-side state, and to put an end to the bitterness that has plagued this whole area.
BASH: Do you think, by speaking to Congress two weeks before his election, that is a sign of arrogance?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I think it is certainly a sign of a political move.
Now, whether this political move can be effective or not, I don't know. But it's not helpful. And it's not helpful to attack our president. He is our president. And this brings the country together.
BASH: I have to ask you about what's going on in Russia.
Vladimir Putin -- I should say that there are protests going on, on the streets of Moscow right now because Vladimir Putin's chief rival, Boris Nemtsov, was shot in the back walking down the street.
Do you think that Vladimir Putin was behind this?
FEINSTEIN: Oh, I have no way of knowing.
It's hard for me to believe it. This is a man that has 80 percent favorability rating, has very strong support from his people, has his clandestine army invading the Ukraine. Right now, there is the Minsk settlement about to go in -- well, it's in effect. But the troops are beginning to pull back from both borders.
BASH: Are you worried that...
FEINSTEIN: So, this is a terrible time for this to happen.
BASH: I was going to say, do you worry that this could destabilize all of that, the talks with the Ukraine?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I don't think it will. It could.
BASH: And just kind of big picture, very quickly, I just want to quickly ask you about -- you mentioned ISIS.
The fact that we learned Jihadi John's identity this week, and the fact that he is an example of Westerners being radicalized -- you obviously know all the intelligence. What can you tell us about -- right now about your fear about Westerners and their involvement in what's going on in the Middle East with ISIS terrorists?
FEINSTEIN: Westerners and their involvement. You mean missionaries and others that are there?
BASH: Correct, radicalized risk...
FEINSTEIN: Well, my understanding...
BASH: ... Americans?
FEINSTEIN: ... is that ISIS has over 200 hostages now in various places.
I think people should be very careful. I think this is a group that has to be defeated. And I think we're on our way to doing it. The bombing runs have been successful. They have taken out a lot of military equipment, training camps, and I think are making a dent.
I think we will have an authorization to use military force before us. I'm one that will support it. The president's proposal is three years. It's not an enduring operation. I think that language needs to be looked at a little bit. But I think we need to participate in this effort.
I believe that ISIS and ISIL is really a world threat. And you either fight them there or we will fight them here one day.
BASH: Senator Dianne Feinstein, thank you for your time, as always.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Dana.
BASH: Appreciate it.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you.
BASH: Appreciate it.
And up next: Ambassador Michael Oren on why Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama just can't get along. And later, former Governor Rick Perry tells us why he's making a
second run for president.
BASH: As we speak, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on a plane heading right here to Washington to address America.
Calling his speech to Congress Tuesday fateful and historic, Netanyahu said he will be the messenger of all Israelis, including those who disagree with him.
Joining me now is Michael Oren, who is Israel's former ambassador to the United States and now a political opponent of the prime minister.
Mr. Ambassador, thank you for joining me.
The first question I have to ask is, you think that this is a bad idea for the Israeli prime minister to be addressing Congress. Why?
MICHAEL OREN, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Well, good morning, Dana. We're having a little technical difficulty here. And I can scarcely hear you at all.
I think you asked me whether I agreed or disagreed with the prime minister's decision to speak in Congress.
And I do want to put all my cards on the table and say that I am running an election in a party that's not Prime Minister Netanyahu's party. We have a lot of policy differences on issues of housing and the economy, even on the peace process.
And, yes, I did say publicly that the prime minister could speak somewhere else, and not -- perhaps not intercede between the White House and the Congress or between Democrats and Republicans.
But on the issue of Iran, I want to be very, very careful, very, very clear about this. On the issue of Iran, there is absolutely no daylight between Prime Minister Netanyahu and me, indeed, between Prime Minister Netanyahu and the overwhelming majority of Israelis. We all see Iran with nuclear arms as an existential threat against Israel.
This is Iran, which is the world's largest state sponsor of terror, Iran, which has taken over four Middle Eastern countries, has been (INAUDIBLE) the murder of 200,000 Syrians. And just last week the Iranian Navy practiced blowing up a U.S. air craft carrier. This is -- this is not a country that anybody wants to see have the ability, even in the future, to create a nuclear weapon.
BASH: Now, you were the Israeli ambassador for most of the Obama presidency so far.
OREN: Mm-hmm. BASH: And so you were right in the middle of the tense
relationship between Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama. You witnessed it like no one else has. So what happened? Why did it get so bad?
OREN: Well, I think it's clear that this is not the relationship that Yitzhak Rabin had with Bill Clinton nor that George Bush had with Ariel Sharon and there are many differences, many reasons, many of them ideological. I think at this point we should all take a deep breath and get beyond it. Stop playing a blame game and recognize that the U.S./Israel alliance is one of the most multi-faceted, deepest friendships in the world and it's more than a relationship between any president and any single prime minister. It's about intelligence centering and joint maneuvers, or weapons development, economy and, yes, even television show programs because you all enjoy watching "Homeland" and "The Affair," which are Israeli series.
BASH: OK. I know that you are -- still have those diplomatic tendencies deep in your roots, but let me try to get at that again. Obviously this is much bigger than two men, but this is also about two men. What is it about these two men? Again, you witnessed it. Can you give us an example of why they clash so much and have really from the beginning?
OREN: I think that very different ideological world views. I'll give you an example on the Iranian issue. President Obama has been quoted saying that Iran is not North Korea. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Iran is worse than 50 North Koreas. That's a very different world view. Most Israelis would side with the prime minister on this saying that, you know, North Korea is not out to destroy another country. Hasn't (ph) said (ph) publicly it's about destroying another country. North Korea is not supporting terror worldwide. So most Israelis going to fall much closer on the side of Iran looking much worse than North Korea than not being North Korea.
BASH: I want to play for you what the National Security adviser to the president said this week about the current relationship with Israel. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What has happened over the last several weeks by virtue of the invitation that was issued...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the speaker of the House.
RICE: By the speaker and the acceptance of (ph) it (ph) by (ph) Prime Minister Netanyahu on two weeks in advance of his election is that on both sides there has now been injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate...
UNIDTENFIED MALE: Yes.
RICE: ...I think it's destructive of the fabric of the relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Mr. Ambassador, the secretary of state, John Kerry, got even more personal going after in a hearing going after Netanyahu about his stance on Iraq. You were not only a former ambassador, now a politician, you're a historian. Have you ever seen relations this bad?
Well, as an historian I can point to many ups and downs in the U.S./Israel relations back to 1956, Dana, and the Suez Crisis when Eisenhower threatened to put sanctions on Israel when it joined Britain and France in invading Egypt but let's not go into ancient history.
Things have become very personal here. There have been things said about Prime Minister Netanyahu from White House sources that I can't even repeat on national television. And, again, I would reiterate let's take a deep breath and move beyond this. I mean, the fabric of our stronger than these remarks, it's stronger than the relationship between a president and prime minister. I mean, we can't not lose sight of that nor can we afford to ignore was has occurred. And that we have to work very, very energetically in the weeks and months ahead to repair whatever (ph) any (ph) damage begun (ph). And to work together whether a deal is signed or not signed with Iran. Either way they can't ignore what has happened and repair whatever damage has been done and work together whether a deal is signed or not signed. Either way, the United States and Israel are going to be allied very closely.
Now, before I let you go I want to tell our viewers that you are now a candidate for the Knesset which is the Israeli parliament. And you are running to appeal to about 300,000 Americans who live in Israel. And you have a new political ad out that sort of mirrors something that we're all watching this weekend, which is "House of cards." I want our viewers to see this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OREN: Tonight starts the new season of "House of Cards." It's a TV program about dirty politics. If you're tired of dirty politics in Israel, on March 17th you vote Kulanu.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: That's a mean Frank Underwood there.
See, now it's so much fun not being ambassador anymore. You get as a politician get to do that stuff. It's a hugely popular series here. Israelis watch it like Americans watch homeland which is an Israeli series. And frankly Israelis are some political change. I hope to be part of that change.
BASH: All right. Well is this political thing doesn't work out for you, we'll see you back here in Hollywood. Thank you very much for your time. Appreciate it and we'll be talking to you as the prime minister...
OREN: Thank you, Dana. Good day.
BASH: Actually speaks in the next couple of days. Thank you so much.
And up next, my interview with a former lone star state governor rebooting for his 2016 presidential run.
BASH: After his 2012 White House run didn't go so well, former Texas governor, Rick Perry, is back in the hunt for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. He was among several White House hopefuls who spoke at this week's conservative political action conference, CPAC. We sat down right after he addressed (INAUDIBLE).\
BASH: Governor, thank you very much for sitting down with me. I appreciate it.
I want to start with the big speech coming up this coming week, the Israeli prime minister speaking to Congress, very controversial. I know you support it, but it certainly has been a big part of a rift in relations with the White House, and this is America's biggest ally.
RICK PERRY (R), FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: Well, if this was the first issue with Israel it would be maybe we could have some questions about, but it's not. We've seen the secretary of state make the comparison between the apartheid South Africa regime and Israel. You've heard varying individuals in this administration criticize the prime minister, criticize Israel.
So, from my perspective the real issue here is our administration not working with and not sending a clear message that we respect our ally and we're going to be standing with them. So, Israel feels very vulnerable at this particular point in time because of the feckless foreign policy that we've seen out of this administration. Whether it was in Libya or whether it's in Egypt and Syria, obviously there are continuing negotiations with Iran. So, I totally understand why Prime Minister Netanyahu feels it's important for him to come and to express his concerns about what's going on in front of the United States Congress. I'm glad he is.
BASH: Let's talk about ISIS. Would you propose U.S. boots on the ground to try to stop the threat of ISIS?
PERRY: We need to look back and you see the opportunities that we missed, funding and giving weapons to the Syrian rebels could have stopped ISIS before they ever got out of Syria. Then as they moved into Iraq we had the opportunity with the Peshmerga to fund them and to give them heavy weaponry and we failed at that. So the options we have left are not the best ones, but having a coalition with the Jordanians, with the Saudis, with the other Middle Eastern countries --
BASH: Which is what the Obama administration is doing. PERRY: But they're the lesser of options. I'll also suggest to
you, we are going to have to have our military actively engaged with those special operators from those other countries to eliminate the ISIS threat and this administration --
BASH: Does that -- does that mean boots on the ground?
PERRY: That's exactly what it means. I mean, there's no -- m not trying to parse the words. That's exactly what we should have.
BASH: How many?
PERRY: I think the idea of sending a message to anybody, here's how many troops we're going to put on the ground, I've written too many letters to moms, dads, spouses, next of kin for almost a decade of people we've lost in Texas during this war on terror, and to be sending information to the enemy, whether it's through the media or any other source I will suggest to you is irresponsible.
BASH: There might be people watching this saying, OK, here is a Texas governor who wants to be in the White House who wants to send U.S. troops to the Middle East. We've seen this movie before. What would you say?
PERRY: I would suggest to them that I have the background and the ability to make decisions on my own. And I think if American and western values are in jeopardy and U.S. troops working with a coalition force is how you stop ISIS.
I think the bulk of the American people are going to say, thank you, Mr. President, for standing up for our values. Thank you for stopping this face of evil.
BASH: Let's talk about where we are at CPAC and about the 2016 race. Scott Walker seemed to -- when he spoke seemed to compare Americans protesting for collective bargaining to ISIS. terrorists.
REP. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: If I could take on 100,000 protesters I could do the same across the world.
BASH: You said it was inappropriate.
PERRY: I think the initial response when I heard that was I think that's not right. You don't -- you don't make that connection. The governor's gone back and clarified his remarks since then and clearly said that's not what he was talking about. I respect that clarification and support him on that.
BASH: Chris Christie also at CPAC. He had this famous moment where he told a constituent to sit down and shut up.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: But until that time sit down and shut up.
BASH: He was asked about that. He said, well, sometimes people need to be told to sit down and shut up. Do you agree with that? CHRISTIE: That's not how I would have handled it.
BASH: Do you think that he is appropriate? Is his language and his demeanor appropriate to be in the White House?
PERRY: Listen, we're all different people. We all have different styles and different demeanors. The voting public will sort all of that out.
BASH: Very diplomatic. You have talked about some questionable donations to the Clinton foundation. What exactly do you think is wrong with these donations? Why does it raise questions for you?
PERRY: I think most Americans realize that a phone call at 3:00 in the morning to the president of the United States about an issue that deals with a foreign country that is given maybe tens of millions of dollars to the foundation that she oversees is not right. And it's not only the appearance of impropriety, it's also the ethical side of this that I think most Americans really have a problem with. And I'm really concerned about not just going forward but what has been received at the Clinton foundation over the course of years and how that affects this individual's judgment.
BASH: She was secretary of state so you could argue that she sort of, you know -- that they're going from the pool that she's familiar with, if that makes sense.
PERRY: You can argue that, but I think it falls flat in the face of the American people when it comes to arguing are you going to trust an individual who has taken that much money from a foreign source where is their loyalty.
BASH: Why do you want to be president?
PERRY: I love this country. I've been involved in public service since I was a young man. Who put on the put in public of the United States air force by the grace of god I was elected to the statehouse in what I thought was going to be a short period of time, now 30 years later I'm still having the great privilege to get to serve and to give back to this country.
BASH: You just heard Rick Perry take a swipe at Hillary Clinton. He is hardly the only one. We're going to talk about that and Jeb Bush facing some of the same critics walking a fine line between conservative credentials and electability. Our panel is next.
PERRY: Had Hillary here but we couldn't find a foreign nation to foot the bill.
CARLY FIORINA, FORMER CEO, HEWLETT-PACKARD: Hillary may like hashtags, but she doesn't know what leadership means.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: It's time for Hillary Clinton to permanently retire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton yesterday foreign fundraising.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary.
DONALD TRUMP, ENTERPRENEUR: Hillary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Republicans, if you didn't get this, revving up the anti- Hillary machine at this week's CPAC conference. Joining me around the table now is CNN political commentator Donna Brazile, Peter Baker from "The New York Times" and Doug Heye former deputy chief of staff to House Majority leader, Eric Cantor.
Donna, are you quaking in your boots?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: No, indeed. The only thing that really keeps the Republican party together -- the only thing that unites them is that they are anti-Hillary. Surprise, surprise. If they could nominate an anti-Hillary, that would be the win.
The truth is that I watched the entire CPAC conference. I didn't have Netflix account back in order yet. And all I heard was they are opposed to this, they are opposed to that. But when it comes to real policy, when it comes to giving the country a recipe for what they would do different than Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, you didn't hear much of that.
BASH: Doug, what do you think? I mean, obviously there are very real political differences and more importantly for the country policy differences between these 10,000 Republicans running for president. Was there too much of a focus on Hillary Clinton do you think?
DOUG HEYE, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF TO ERIC CANTOR: I was happy to see Republicans unified on something. They probably talk about how Republicans have been divided this week and in previous months. I saw Republicans actually talking about a campaign and moving forward which given everything else that was going on this week was refreshing actually.
BASH: Jeb Bush, I want to play for you what he said. This was a big moment for him this week facing conservatives who fairly or not don't necessarily think he's one of them. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I would describe myself as practicing, reform minded conservative, that I've actually done it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: What do you think, Peter? Do you think that was enough to win them over?
PETER BAKER, NY TIMES CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, if he has to come to an audience like this, he has to say, "Look, I can play to different constituents within the Republican party . We know we're doing well right now with the (INAUDIBLE). And he to be able to serve up some red meat with the grassroots." She hasn't done in a long time. So, it's a good practice for him. He clearly came out of it doing OK. Didn't make any big issues. (INAUDIBLE) I think it's the beginning of the campaign, not the middle or the end.
BASH: The fact, Doug, that he sat there and took questions and didn't give a speech on teleprompter, which I was with him in Detroit, it's clearly not his comfort zone, that was a good thing. Do you think (INAUDIBLE) as a conservative yourself?
HEYE: Yes, I don't think you have to hit a home run every time. If you hit a single or double you move the ball forward. And this is a good format for Jeb Bush. I also think it was a good format for a lot of the candidates. A good move by (INAUDIBLE), the president of the ACU (ph) to try and have just not typical speeches and ra ra, to really get down in the policy, figure out where the differences are between these candidates as we move forward to November of, my goodness, next year.
BASH: You know, Donna, we were joking about them all being about Hillary. But you know about this because you've been through the process as a political operative yourself. The primary is tough but if it hardens you and gets your blood flowing.
Hillary Clinton isn't getting her blood flowing right now because she doesn't have anybody to spar with on her side. Is that a problem?
BRAZILE: You know, look, I think she's going to be well prepared when she makes this announcement at some point in the near future?
BASH: Near future? How near?
BRAZILE: I don't know. I don't have my datebook. You know what, she's been dealing with some of the toughest issues facing this country for the last 10 years. When you're secretary of state, United States senator, you don't have the opportunity to just go, sit around give speeches and attack one of your opponents. She's been laying out what the future will look like, whether it's with girls in education, whether it's with health care. I think she's going to be well versed and what I call the mean speak when she jumps into the ring.
BASH: Let's turn to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is on a plane right now coming to Washington. Peter, you've talked to White House sources. You understand the depth of their anger at this. How do you think it's going to play out? I mean, obviously the prime minister is trying, if he's coming here, to tamp town on the temperature a little bit..
BAKER: Right. The prime minister and secretary of state, John Kerry, had a telephone conversation the day before. The prime minister got on the phone. I think to kind of at least talk thing through a little bit before he comes here.
What's really interesting in the month that has been since John Boehner announced his invitation both sides have not tried in any way to really smooth it over.
BASH: Not at all.
BAKER: Usually when there's a rupture like this, is a big flare- up. And then a couple days later, "Well, guys, we're friends."
BASH: If anything throwing more --
BAKER: They're throwing more (INAUDIBLE). So, I think, you know, Prime Minister Netanyahu clearly give a speech that will not be disrespectful to the president. He understands he can't do that but the passion of his argument against Iran is real and that's a dividing point right now increasingly between the parties, something we haven't seen in politics here in the United States.
HEYE: From a communications perspective...
HEYE: ...this has really been a fumble by the White House. The more they attack Benjamin Netanyahu, the more they attack his speech, and the fact that he's giving a speech the more they amplify his message. That's something if you're the White House you don't want to do. We already know that relations are strained with Israel as can be. We know the threat that we face with Iran with whatever the deal may be. I'd recommend an Eric Cantor op-ed of "USA Today," by the way that everyone should read. But the more they attack, the more they criticize whether on the record, on the background, the more they amplify --
BASH: Can I say, the or thing what they are doing the White House is something that John Boehner is actually happy for when it comes to domestic politics they are rallying conservatives around John Boehner because he's the one that invited him.
BRAZILE: Dana, the last damage (INAUDIBLE) is this type of what I call partisan politics here in America. There's long and deep and lasting bonds between Israel and the United States. The president has spoken with the prime minister over 40 times over the course of his presidency. He's met with the prime minister 15 times. We don't need partisan politics injected into this conversation.
BASH: Stand by. Hang on. We're going to squeeze in a quick break and we're going to talk about how fiction morphed into real life this week in Washington. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BASH: "House of Cards return for a third season on Friday and this week's drama in Washington couldn't have been scripted any better.
Doug, what stranger fiction or reality?
HEYE: Absolutely reality. I was in the capital this week. And you could see it was "House of Cards." I've tweeted yesterday, I've never actually seen the show but now that you're going to be on the show, I will actually watch it (ph).
BASH: I did make a cameo which I have to say I'm proud of it (ph). Now, I know (INAUDIBLE) Washington has been watching because I got so many e-mails about it. What's your thought?
BRAZILE: I can't wait to see you on "House of Cards." And I'm also on "House of Cards" this year too.
BASH: Excellent. What do you think (INAUDIBLE)?
BAKER: Well, you know, we saw a Russian opposition leader, Vladimir Putin, murdered and then gunned down (INAUDIBLE) you, can't talk about what's stranger than that, I think. As grim and sinister as "House of cards" is unfortunately reality is as well.
BASH: It's true. That's going to be interesting to see what happens with that. You all are amazing. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
HEYE: Thank you.
BASH: Thank you for watching State of the Union. I'm Dana Bash in Washington.
Fareed Zakaria "GPS" starts right now.