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State of the Union

Interview with Rep. Michael McCaul; Interview with Sen. Kelly Ayotte

Aired November 03, 2013 - 09:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: The week in number, six. The number of Americans said to have signed up for Obamacare on day one. Forty- two, the president's approval rating.


CROWLEY (on-camera): Today, Barack Obama's downturn, the beginning of his lame duck era or a temporary slump.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: January 1st and thereafter when real people around the country regardless of their politics are getting better services and better benefits and more security. This is going to be a different story.

CROWLEY: Other numbers, 22, the percentage of Americans with the favorable view of Republicans after the government shutdown, after the Obamacare rollout, we assess the political landscape with Republican senator, Kelly Ayotte. 365, the number of days until the 2014 midterm elections. And --



CROWLEY: Romney versus Obama. Been there, done that or maybe not? Have you heard the one about Vice President Clinton or Vice President Christie? Our political panel gives us a first read on our new book revealing backstage intrigue in the 2012 campaign.



CROWLEY (on-camera): Good morning from Washington. I'm Candy Crowley. Authorities have charged the man who opened fire at LAX Airport with two felonies, including the murder of a federal officer. Witnesses say the gunman, 23-year-old Paul Ciancia, killed 39-year-old Gerardo Hernandez (ph), the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty in the agency's history. Two additional agents were wounded.

Joining me now from Austin, Texas is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Michael McCaul. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. I think in the aftermath of this, the question I hear most often is --

MCCAUL: Thank you.

CROWLEY: -- why did he do this? What do you know about that? I know you've been able to see some of the notes that he wrote. What do you think the motivation was here?

MCCAUL: I think mental illness, once again, kind of like the Navy Yard shooter that we saw. The suicide note that I read talks a lot about killing TSA agents, and he said if I just kill one, my mission is accomplished, and unfortunately, he did do that the other day and the other thing he wanted to talk about was how easy it is to bring a gun into an airport and do something just like he did. And my sympathies go out to the Hernandez Family and the other victims, this tragic day. As you mentioned, he's the first TSA agent officer to be killed in the line of duty.

CROWLEY: Congressman, it's our understanding that much of the literature he had on him was both anti-government, anti-TSA, but you're telling that there was also -- that his intent was suicide after he did damage?

MCCAUL: Well, it's clearly one of those notes that reads, you know, "I'm going to go kill people, and I don't want to kill civilians," with the idea that he's going to die at the end of this. And, you know, the other thing that I think was equally as tragic was that his family in New Jersey had notified New Jersey local authorities, who then in turn notified the local L.A. police who had actually visited the suspect's home the morning of the shooting and missed him by literally probably 45 minutes.

And so, this is how we typically stop a lot of these things is through good intelligence and if family members or friends see a loved one who is exhibiting signs of mental illness, that -- and suicidal tendencies, which he did describe in his e-mails to his family members, then I think it's incumbent upon the family members and friends to call this to local authorities. They actually did that in this case, and unfortunately, really missed the suspect by a matter of minutes.

CROWLEY: Right. When you look at what happened at least in so far as we know the logistics of it, we know that this suspect was able to take a lot of ammunition and his weapon down the corridor where there were no armed police officers at that point. The TSA, obviously, is unarmed.

We also know that Los Angeles had moved to kind of these roving patrols throughout the airport as opposed to having for sure one armed guard at a security check point. Do you see anything worth rethinking right now?

MCCAUL: I talked to the director of TSA, John Pistole, yesterday. We talked about a review of the policies at airports. Every airport is a little bit different, but the coordination with the local police is always key because, remember, TSA officers are not armed. It's the local police that provide the perimeter security, if you will, that's a little more of a soft target outside the check points.

And so, what we want to do is conduct and I want to work with the director of TSA to look at how are we coordinating with the locals at the airports of security, police officers to see if there's something we can do better or differently? I will commend the officers, though, for a very quick and effective response. As you point out, he had multiple rounds that could have killed so many more people. And we're fortunate that did not happen, but it was unfortunate that an officer was killed.

CROWLEY: I've seen reports recently that the suspect entered the exit at the security point, in other words, the guard that you kind of walk by as you're departing an airport and coming out of where the actual gates are. Is that your understanding, and that place has always struck me as kind of an open hole.

MCCAUL: Yes. It's confusing in the accounts that I've read, but he did -- he shot the TSA officer who was checking documents, went up an escalator, came back down, shot him again and went through the security point at that standpoint. So, I think it's important that we have the local law enforcement really at different points at the airport to protect not only the perimeter but also things that could happen through security check point.

The other thing that's important, Candy, there are teams out there, they're called Viper teams and what they are, the TSA runs are essentially detection and deterrent teams and I know in talking to Director Pistole, he wants to maybe further utilize these teams at airports to make sure that the American people are safe and the traveling public are safe when they go to our airports.

I think that with better coordination with local law enforcement should help tremendously, however, having said that, it's very difficult to stop these types of attacks. Anybody can show up as we saw in the navy yard with the shotgun, in this case with the semi- automatic, and you know, it's like a shopping mall outside the perimeter.

It's almost like an open shopping mall. So, it's very difficult to protect, but these Viper teams, I think, with local law enforcement can't provide that needed security. We are going to be reviewing this along with the director of TSA.

CROWLEY: Great. Congressman Michael McCaul thank you for joining us this morning. Appreciate, your input.

MCCAUL: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Now, onto the next subject, remember when the president said this.


OBAMA: This is the most transparent administration in history.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: Our next guest is going to disagree with that. She wrote a letter to the state department asking to interview survivors of the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi more than a year ago, but the administration has refused saying in part, "because these survivors are potential witnesses in a terrorism prosecution and that disclosure of their identities could put their lives at increased risk."

Also, HHS secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, is refusing to answer her questions, including, specifically, the number of people who have enrolled in New Hampshire's health care exchange so far. Joining me now from her home state of New Hampshire, Senator Kelly Ayotte. Thank you so much, senator, for joining us.

AYOTTE: Good morning, Candy. Thank you.

CROWLEY: There is a movement by Senator Lindsey Graham to block all of the president's nominees until survivors of the Benghazi attack are allowed to come and testify to various committees. Are you on board with that tactic?

AYOTTE: Well, Candy, we've written several times, not only Secretary Kerry, but also the president asking for the survivors to be made available to Congress to get to the bottom of this. So, I understand we've been brushed off many times. I understand that Senator Graham is actually going to be speaking to the administration about this, trying to come up cooperatively to address this issue.

But it's not acceptable that they've not been made available and to say that because there's an ongoing investigation in terrorism, that would preclude oversight by the Congress in any terrorism case.


AYOTTE: Including 9/11. So, I think there are ways we can work together and make sure that we're protecting the sensitive nature of this but to not get to the bottom of this isn't acceptable. We keep being brushed off and we need answers.

CROWLEY: But to the question, are you willing as Senator Graham is to block nominees until those witnesses are produced on Capitol Hill?

AYOTTE: Candy, I don't have a hold on any witnesses right now, but -- and I'm hoping we can work this out with the administration, but I assume that Republicans will come together because it's been so long, over a year without answers and being basic access to the survivors that were there, that by the way, it can't just be the executive branch gets this access.

Many of them were interviewed in conjunction with the ARB report, but they haven't been made available to Congress. So then, I will evaluate whatever means we need to do to get that information, but I hope we can work this out cooperatively and I think we should be able to, but it's been too long and we've been brushed off for too long.

CROWLEY: I'm going to take that as a maybe yes, maybe no and move on to something that Jay Carney said in response to this.


CARNEY: The fact is we have been enormously cooperative and gone to extraordinary efforts to work with seven different Congressional committees investigating what happened before, during, and after the Benghazi attacks, including testimony of 13 different Congressional hearings and participation in 40 staff briefings and the provision of over 25,000 pages of documents.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: Is the administration correct in --

AYOTTE: Candy --

CROWLEY: Go ahead.

Well, I'll tell you right now, I mean, Jay Carney, well over a week well after that had said that this was not preplanned or premeditated, still blamed this on the video, and so, we still don't have answers why that information came out the way it did and the misrepresentations were made to the American people.

AYOTTE: But there's much information that has been brought forward, including why were security requests denied, provided access to these survivors.

We've asked for months in trying to work cooperatively with the administration, so what he said is not the case. It can't be that the executive branch just hopes this goes away because the American people and the victims of this deserve to know the truth.

CROWLEY: Moving on to health care and the president's Affordable Care Act. It seems to me that Republicans at this point take one of two positions on this, either all right, let's -- this is going to go into effect January 1, let's see what we can do to fix it or let us continue to try to derail it. Where are you on that spectrum?

AYOTTE: Well, Candy, I can tell you, this is a mess. You've seen not only the problems with the website, but it's much deeper than the website including so many Americans that are getting cancellation notices right now including stories I've heard from people in New Hampshire, rising premium cost as a result of Obamacare. So, it's much deeper than the website.

Where I am on this is -- you know, I was one of the Republicans who said -- called out members of my own party on the shutdown strategy to defund Obamacare because I didn't think it was the effective. I didn't think it was good for the country. I'm calling on the president now to say, let's have a time out on this, Mr. President. You call a time out on this.

Convene a group of bipartisan leaders to address health care concerns in this country because this is not working. I'm hearing it from my constituents and let's do this right as opposed to way this was passed in the first instance. CROWLEY: I want to play for you something the president said Wednesday in Boston about the opposition to his Affordable Care Act.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Unfortunately, there are others that are so locked into the politics of this thing that they won't lift a finger to help their own people because if they put as much energy into making this law work as they do in attacking the law, Americans would be better off.

(APPLAUSE) CROWLEY: Now, he is saying in a sort of nuance way what other Democrats are saying right out there which is that you- all would rather defeat the president and Obamacare than help your constituents. Have you helped your constituents who called to your office looking for help? And do you think republicans are vulnerable on this that they have tried so hard and so many times to derail it, but now the criticism looks like nothing but politics?

AYOTTE: Well, Candy, my constituents are writing me, but how can I help them when it's the situation of their getting cancellation notices because of the way that Obamacare is drafted when they can't access the website because it's such a mess. So, absolutely, I want to help my constituents. But again, I would say to the president, why doesn't he call a timeout on this, understanding that it's not working right now?

This was passed on a party line basis. Why not convene a group to see how can we work together, issues like the 29-hour workweek, issues like if you -- people being denied their current plans, issues like rising health care costs, all of which are unfortunately I'm hearing the opposite from my constituents. I want to help them, but obviously, the administration in the way this is being rolled out is a mess. So, it's time to call a time out.

CROWLEY: Let me move you to some new polling we saw this week. We talked about the president's numbers in our open and I want to remind you the polling on the opinion of the Republican Party positive, 22 percent and negative 53 percent. What does that tell you about the midterm elections a year from today with the Republican Party at such a -- held in such low esteem by voters?

AYOTTE: Well, Candy, what I think it tells you is that the American people from the president, obviously, the president's poll numbers aren't doing well, either. They want leadership. They want people to get things done and they didn't appreciate the government shut down. I didn't support it. But now, here we are with Obamacare again that they want problems to be solved, and I think that they will reward the people who are trying to work to solve problems for this country.

It's a long way until the 2014 election, but I guarantee that Obamacare is going to be one of the primary issues on it and that's why I say now let's work together because there are real issues that need to be addressed with our health care system, but certainly, this is not the answer. CROWLEY: Nonetheless, going into an election year with a 22 percent approval rating for the party, and by the way, a very low approval rating for Congress in general, is not a great place to start and it's clear that what Democrats want to campaign on is that Republicans are blocking everything that we want to do and what Republicans want to campaign on is Obamacare is a disaster and it's not going to work. Is that an atmosphere in which you can get anything done?

AYOTTE: Well, I think we owe it to the American people to get things done. One thing that I took from the whole shutdown situation had a chance to work with bipartisan group of senators is that I think the American people are rightly frustrated with both sides of the aisle.

Congress has a low approval rating because, obviously, we're not getting basic things done like plan for funding the government. Right now, we're in the budget negotiations. We got to get the government funded for the year. We need to deal with basic issues of oversight of government and I think that's what it's all about, and it's frankly a problem for both parties.

CROWLEY: Senator Ayotte, little time left but I need to ask you. Recently, Senator Reid had said that he would, you know, selfishly like to see Ted Cruz run for president and be on the ticket, because he thought it would be the end of the Republican Party. Do you agree?

AYOTTE: Well, I think that, obviously, 2016 is a couple of years away. I think we'll have a number of candidates for president. And as you know, Candy, many of them will come to New Hampshire. I think that the Republican Party will carefully vet those candidates. My constituents in New Hampshire, I know, will and then they'll decide. But Harry Reid is not going to decide who our nominee and there's a number of excellent candidates out there including governors.

CROWLEY: Senator Kelly Ayotte, I'll take that as not quite a yes and not quite a no, but we really appreciate your time this morning. I hope you'll join us again.

AYOTTE: Thank you.

CROWLEY: When we return, HHS secretary, Kathleen Sebelius takes the blame for the botched Obamacare rollout as Republicans look to snare (ph) the president's failures, next.


CROWLEY: If you have doubts that a Congressional hearing about health care could be dramatic, you clearly missed this one,



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't do this to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd would like you to answer for the record --


CROWLEY: You clearly -- whatever.

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius lost her cool at times while taking fire from angry Republicans over the failing launch of health Now, Democrats are starting to get nervous about what will go wrong next. How much time does the president have to fix the problem before his legacy is in doubt?


CROWLEY: Joining me around the table, David Maraniss is an Obama biographer and associate editor of "Washington Post." Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress. She's also a former advisor to HHS secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, CNN "Crossfire" co-host, Newt Gingrich. Congrats on you new book, by the way, "Breakout" goes on sale tomorrow. Run, do not walk to your bookstore.

And Democrat Blanche Lincoln, former U.S senator from Arkansas. She lost her seat in 2010 partly because of her support for the president's health care legislation, which is why I wanted to start with you, senator, and that is that we are now seeing Democrats getting sort of increasingly worried. I want to take a look at a couple of headlines about a meeting that Democrats had where they sort of vented to Obama officials.

Senator Durbin said people are anxious and Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon said "I don't think there's confidence by anyone in the room." You've been there and done that. Is there a way for Democrats to back away from this at some point, to kind of insulate themselves from what might be or might not be backlash with the polls next year?

BLANCHE LINCOLN, (D) FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Oh, I think they've plenty of time and I don't think that it's necessary. You know, I got hit really hard when I came home to Arkansas having voting for President Bush's part D for (ph) Medicare. The Democrats hit me pretty hard, then I think I was one of 11 or 12 senators that voted with the president.

But I came home and I worked with the administration. We did our dog and pony shows with regional CMS and HHS folks and Arkansas ended up being the top ten states for enrollees for seniors into prescription drug plans. So, I think that just as it's hard to envision a health care plan for seniors without a prescription drug, it's hard for us to see being able to put our economy right if we continue to spend the kind of money we do on health care, the percentage of our GDP and getting the same results that we are.

So, we've got to start looking at how we're going to make this thing work and come together and figure that out and I think that that's what they're doing with the administration. They've certainly heard what there is to hear out there and you know, they're going to start ramping up as far as the websites are concern and other things. Those are technical things and they can get fixed and they will. So --

CROWLEY: You know, I want to see if something sounded familiar to you. This is a little bit of a National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee video that came out. It's an ad against prior -- actually where they hit him pretty hard on you're too close to Obama, you're really a liberal, and they focus on health care. That's got to be at some level worrisome for someone in Arkansas.

LINCOLN: Well, it is just certainly because Arkansas has become very red. And there's a problem there and that a lot of people, I think, they have -- have the other side, the Republicans have really prayed on the Arkansas people to create that distrust with Obama. But, you know, it's not anything he can't rise above and is not anything that as we move forward in the next six months of enrollment, we won't be able to see.

There was a man in Arkansas recently, a Republican, who said he was able to actually go to the marketplace and get his health care, better coverage from his same Blue Cross package for 13, $13,000 less. So, I mean, there -- there are people out there that are finding it. It just takes time.

CROWLEY: It does that. I want to bring in the rest of our group and turn this in general to where the president's poll numbers are now. Forty-two percent, it's not an all-time low, but it is getting down there. So, to our opening question, is this a slump or is this the beginning of that laying duck period

DAVID MARANISS, AUTHOR, "BARACK OBAMA: THE STORY": Well, of course, it's the beginning of the lame duck period, but he can recover from it. I mean, I think that it's a combination of the disaster of the rollout and also some feelings on the part of the left part of the support about this super-secret state, you know, with the NSA and all that. So, it sort of converges to make it difficult for him.

But the truth still is he's known forever that he was going to be defined by this health care plan. And he still has a chance to recover if it comes out OK in the next six months.

CROWLEY: There's the rub, right? I mean, it has --


CROWLEY: -- the rollout can't be what's reflected and when it actually happens.

MARANISS: Right. He's not there all (ph) along, and there's a very illuminating (ph) piece in the "Washington Post" this morning that where it quotes him to after every meeting, this is all well and good, but if doesn't work, then we're wasted. So, he knows that.

NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS PRESIDENT AND CEO: Look, everyone is frustrated that the website hasn't been working. Hopefully, it will work by the end of November. You know, we should recognize that there are people around the country and states who've already signed up. We're looking at 150,000 people around the country. States like Arkansas are leading on the Medicaid extension.

So, there are people who are actually benefiting from the law now. We have a problem with the website. It is inexcusable that the website has not worked. That will be, hopefully, fix by the end of November and then we can start -- we can look at new things --

CROWLEY: Newt, is it just about the website, because I know that's where Democrats are sort of putting their yes, the website was terrible. It's terrible.

NEWT GINGRICH, HOST, CNN'S "CROSSFIRE": I think there are pieces people did not know even existed. I mean, we did a "Crossfire" the other night and we talked about the fact that if you're 64 years old and there are two of you and you each earn $30,000 a year, if you decided to get married, you have a $10,000 hit in the drop in what happens to insurance --

CROWLEY: Because of combined income.

GINGRICH: $10,000 for a couple earning $60,000. And so, it's both an anti-marriage and pro-divorce provision. I don't think anybody even knew it was in there. I think the key question from the standpoint of President Obama is, if they can get the website fixed and sooner or later with enough money they will, do enough young people sign up or as what we're seeing happen, that the young people who are available are going into Medicaid expansion and the pool of potential young people is shrinking in which case the actuarial danger is the Obamacare pool becomes a high-risk pool with very --

TANDEN: There are plenty of young people who fit in above the Medicare and who would go into the insurance exchange. This is an important issue that Newt is raising. It is something that we obviously have to monitor, but it does look like young people are very interested in the exchanges. So --

CROWLEY: Go ahead.

LINCOLN: Well, I was just going to say what elected officials always heard and I'm sure you did, too, from your constituents was, we want what you've got. Well, that's basically what we're trying to do here. I mean, the eight million federal employees that are in the federal FEHB plan are the reason why members of Congress could get a private insurance package that was good coverage at a reasonable cost because we were pooled with the other eight million federal employees.

So, you know, creating these pools and when the young people get in there, yes, we got to get them in there and we've got to create that competitiveness that happens when you pull people like that.

CROWLEY: Still believer in hope and change that it will all play out next year. I want to thank you for coming, Sen. Lincoln. It's good to see you again.

LINCOLN: Thank you.

CROWLEY: When we come back, we want to talk about Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Chris Christie, all part of secrets revealed in the new book about the 2012 campaign next.


CROWLEY: Biden out, Hillary in on the 2012 Democratic ticket?


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I know for a fact that President Obama never considered this. Never thought about. Never entertained it.


CROWLEY: Talk of a potential vice presidential swap when we come back.


CROWLEY: We are back with David Maraniss, Neera Tanden and Newt Gingrich. So a new book out called, "Double Down." Backstage look what went on in 2012 and one of the big headlines out of it has been that the administration or the campaign focus grouped what it would be like to have Hillary Clinton on the ticket, sort of did some quiet polling and the president didn't know anything about it. Is there any doubt in your minds that right now Hillary Clinton reading that is thinking, whew, dodged a bullet here? In the sense of you look at the president's poll numbers right now, do you want to be Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton?

TANDEN: You know, I have to say just reading everything I've read about it, I feel a little bit badly for Joe Biden. He's done a great job. He has been extremely loyal to the president. He has been a great campaigner for the president. So I think it was disservice to even test the question but it seems to me that he was never taken seriously from everything they say.

GINGRICH: I want to reinforce and say there is, I believe, no possibility that Obama would have brought in Hillary Clinton because Bill would come with her.


I think --

CROWLEY: And the book by the way, is revealing about that.

GINGRICH: If you said you have to be reelected but bill Clinton is going to be next to you for four years, he would say it's not worth it. I don't need this level of pain.

MARANISS: I agree completely with that. I mean I think that Mark Halperin and Heilemann are great reporters, but this is just to get people talking about it on shows like this. I mean there is no chance of this happening at all.

CROWLEY: And in fact -- MARANISS: It's interesting that they polled, though, it is and maybe a little bit stupid of them to have done that.

CROWLEY: Sort of a sign of how nervous they were in 2011 as they look at those polling numbers saying what can we do because the economy was so not good.

TANDEN: But the president came back from those poll numbers, right?

CROWLEY: He did but at the time --


TANDEN: No (ph). Actually it's just a point that he came back from those poll numbers, he can come back from these poll numbers now.

CROWLEY: On the question of whether sources are trying to push one candidate or another, I want to read you something Chuck Schumer was in Iowa last night and one of the things he said was quote, "run, Hillary run. If you run you'll win and we'll all win. 2016 is Hillary's time. And our nation will be all the better for it." Again, back to Joe Biden. First we get this book about how, oh, you know, maybe they replaced him, maybe they didn't which I'm sure he understands he's a big boy and gets how this goes. But we have had a sort of a steady stream of people going hey, Hillary go, who have known Joe Biden forever. What is the message here to him?

MARANISS: Well the message is that if Hillary wants to run, he won't run and he knows that and that she has a better chance of winning than he does. But, you know, everything points to the direction of her running but history and life often gets in the way of what people think is going to happen.

CROWLEY: As in 2008?


CROWLEY: Right (ph). What do you think -


GINGRICH: First of all, I thought up until April of 2008 that she was going to be the nominee, so I'm probably the worst possible person to ask. I think that if she decides to run, she probably has the nomination almost without competition because it's going to be so hard to mount a campaign against her. I also think that depending on what the next few years are like, she could have a much harder general election than people think because she'll be the candidate of continuity (ph). I mean take the example of Christie who's going to win by 20 points or more on Tuesday (ph). Christie is not going to run for president in order to keep Washington as it is. The last poll showed 80 percent of the country thinks the whole system is broken. So the candidate who runs as the -- (INAUDIBLE) around since 1992 and now show up and say, by the way I'm the real candidate of change.

CROWLEY: Although, Ronald Reagan ran in the second term as an outsider so could you pull that off?

TANDEN: Look I work for Hillary so I'm a partisan for her, for sure. I do think that there's -- you're seeing a grounds level of support for her. On the Christie point the big challenge for Chris Christie and you see that in the polls his biggest opposition is from Republicans. Whether he can make it through a Republican primary is a big question. What we see from this book, "Double Down," is that Mitt Romney moved far right to win his party and that hurt him in the general. And that's the same question that will be there for Chris Christie.

CROWLEY: So stick around because we're going to talk a little bit more about Chris Christie in this book. More on the bad blood between Mitt Romney and Chris Christie during the 2012 campaign when we come back.


CROWLEY: Mitt Romney's campaign named its search for a running mate Project Goldfish, that explains the code names of the five men who made the list. Romney had the strongest feelings for and against the man some Republicans believe gives their party the best shot to win the White House in 2016. Why Romney shut the door on Chris Christie next.


CROWLEY: We're back with David Maraniss, Neera Tanden and Newt Gingrich. To the Republican side of the equation in this book "Double Down" which is basically the new game change from 2012, the relationship between Mitt Romney and Chris Christie is fascinating to me because there is once this kind of admiration of a guy who is out there and fighting on the part of Mitt Romney and sort of this disgust because he was late all the time and worried about some things in his background, ultimately, Mitt Romney obviously didn't decide for Chris Christie. The question is, why does this stuff get leaked right now, and whether you think it hurts Chris Christie at this point, should he be a 2016 candidate?

MARANISS: Why it gets leaked is pretty obvious. The Romney people hate Christie. I think what the book reveals is that -- and it goes back before Hurricane Sandy. But whatever feelings over that sort of eliminated them altogether. The feeling that Christie helped Obama get reelected. So I think it's nothing more than trying to undo Christie as a possible candidate out of revenge in a sense.

CROWLEY: When you look at it, it also reveals a sort of like not really very nice side of Mitt Romney and some of the little things anecdotes about how he felt about Chris Christie.

GINGRICH: Well I mean first of all, no presidential nominee picks somebody who will overshadow them. Chris Christie campaigning next to Mitt Romney, Romney would have shrunk and Christie would have blossomed. And as a freshman (ph) governor probably (INAUDIBLE) right time anyway. I always thought it was absurd to think that this very controlled disciplined person in the business community is going to pick this wild prosecutor with a huge body and a huge ego and huge expansive personality and I suspect -- I'd also say in defense of Christie if your state gets hit by something like Sandy. You'd love the person who comes in to help you. I mean the idea that Christie is calculating carefully, I think he was emotionally engaged in what happened to the Jersey Shore and genuinely grateful and to not have a spirit of understanding that is just petty.

TANDEN: You know what's surprising that someone decided to dump this vetting file, right?


CROWLEY: That connections --

TANDEN: It has all kinds of -- and he should defend himself. It has all kinds of allegations and it's really kind of a horrible thing and people put their trust in the vetters (ph) and then for someone a year later to leak it is kind of a horrible thing to do. But it will create (INAUDIBLE) for opponents for Chris Christie, future primary (INAUDIBLE) now has something to go to. So I do think it's damaging to Chris Christie that this happened and it's really unfortunate that someone hated him so much to do something --

MARANISS: What I read of it so far it really says more about Romney than Christie. That Romney had this very narrow perspective on what someone who's running with him should look like, what his world view is, what even -- it's almost like getting into the Detroit athletic club, you know, whether Christie could qualify. You know and this is the way Romney sort of looks at the world.

CROWLEY: There was a clubbing sort of feel to it in a way they approached Christie.

TANDEN: Yes. And the actual names that they gave the vice presidential candidates is ridiculous. I mean just the fact you give Marco Rubio --


CROWLEY: The campaign when it comes out that you --

GINGRICH: Let's divide the past and the future. If Christie does decides he wants to run for president. This is nothing. I mean this is -- running for president is the toughest thing to do -


CROWLEY: Right, it's nothing compared to what else will come. GINGRICH: I presume he will ignore it. Cruz to a huge victory on Tuesday and wave goodbye to the Romney team and just not worry about it. It does tell you there was a level of pettiness and a level of insularity of being hidden away from the real world that sort of permeated the Romney team.

CROWLEY: I've got to ask you because not all of this book has come out yet, Newt. Were you going to appear in this? I imagine you are.


Your relationship with Romney?

GINGRICH: We had lunch with one of the authors and talked (INAUDIBLE) at length and it's part of the process. If you are going to be in the game at that level, you've got to recognize this is how America now does these things.

CROWLEY: It is. We have to go back and go through the entrails of whatever happened. How is it going to describe the -- Newt Gingrich's relationship to Mitt Romney?

GINGRICH: Probably as close to non-existent. I mean we fought a very hard fight. I was very clear about what I thought about his tactics. And I think in the absence of an enormous financial advantage, he wouldn't have been nominee. And he ended up in the end about as we said (INAUDIBLE) he would. He didn't -- he didn't have the personality and he didn't have the ability to take on a guy of the caliber of Barack Obama and win the campaign.

CROWLEY: Yes. Not a fan.


CROWLEY: Exactly. President Obama campaigns with Terry McAuliffe later today in Virginia but President Clinton is already betting on the Democrat.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I make you a prediction. If you do what you should do he will win. And then a year from now he'll be so popular half the people who voted against him will wonder, what in the wide world they were thinking about.



CROWLEY: Here is what things look like behind the scenes in our control room today. Post your Instagram photos with #CNNSOTU and let us know how you watch the show. We would like these to be P.G. pictures, thank you very much. So now I'm going to take a photo so that you can see what goes on during the commercial break. You won't believe it. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: We are back with David Maraniss, Neera Tanden and Newt Gingrich. OK. We have Virginia could go all blue. All Democrat next Tuesday. We've had this race between Terry McAuliffe also known as friend of Bill against a conservative Republican Cuccinelli. Speaker Gingrich, from what we can tell, Cuccinelli, the Republican, has always been behind. We think it will be a blowout victory for Chris Christie. Let's start with Virginia. Is it an indictment of the Republican Party? How are we to read Cuccinelli's -- if Cuccinelli loses?

GINGRICH: Well it's not an indictment of the Republican Party. (INAUDIBLE) said Christie wins by 20 points plus.

CROWLEY: Is it an indictment on part of the Republican Party?

GINGRICH: I think that this is a question about the campaign that was run in Virginia and I think that if you don't run an aggressive campaign very early and you don't define yourself very early, and you let your opponent define you, and frankly if you have McAuliffe's ability to raise money. I mean this is the Clinton machine brought to bear (ph). I think they're out advertising this week something like 25 to one.


CROWLEY: A woman. Frankly I think they had played the female card on the Democratic side much like they did with Obama's victory in Virginia.

TANDEN: Yes, absolutely. And also Terry has run a race (INAUDIBLE) progressive issues. He's gone up against the NRA. He's been out for Medicaid expansion. He's actually campaigning a little bit on the affordable care act itself through Medicaid expansion and he's had -- but he's also been business friendly and pragmatic. He has gotten a lot of Republicans to endorse him. I think this is an indictment of the tea party and the people who shutdown the government have been behind Ken Cuccinelli and it's a failure in a state that should be purple is turning blue.

MARANISS: (INAUDIBLE) Terry McAuliffe, governor of Virginia. But -- I mean it's more than that. I mean it's Virginia's change, right (ph), you know that, Newt. And Cuccinelli has been, you know, giving McAuliffe a lot of issues. But Terry McAuliffe has actually learned and become a better candidate than anybody would thought he would be. Plus he has magic of Bill Clinton in this case. And that's still there.

TANDEN: And Hillary Clinton campaigned for him as well. Helping with the woman's vote -- helping with the woman's vote as well.


CROWLEY: Republicans don't have as deep (INAUDIBLE) right now. GINGRICH: There's no question. One of the great challenges for '16 is the two of the most popular politicians in America today are Bill and Hillary Clinton. It's a fact. And it's something Republicans have to think about strategically over the next two years.

TANDEN: And why she has so much support of the Democratic Party because her numbers are so high.

CROWLEY: But the fact that Chris Christie is going to win in New Jersey, is there any larger implications for Republican Party in that?

GINGRICH: People want change. They want effective implementable change. Most of the Republican governors are in pretty good shape. It's Washington that's a total mess.


MARANISS: The larger question is whether the Republican Party will accept someone like Christie (INAUDIBLE).


CROWLEY: To get through the primaries as you know. David Maraniss, Neera Tanden, Newt Gingrich. Thank you guys so much for coming today. And thank you all for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Head to for analysis and extras. Don't forget Instagram. And if you missed any part of today's show find us on iTunes, just search, STATE OF THE UNION.

Fareed Zakaria, GPS, is next.