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State of the Union
Interview With Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers; Interview With California Senator Dianne Feinstein; Interview With California Congressman Tony Cardenas
Aired September 07, 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: September brings the president double trouble in an election season, handling ISIS and immigration.
Today: The president gets blowback for his immigration turnaround.
California Congressman Tony Cardenas, one of many unhappy Democrats, is with us.
Then, the strategy is still uncertain, but the endgame is defined: Destroy ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can't contain an organization that is running roughshod through that much territory. The goal has to be to dismantle them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Capitol Hill's go-to people on matters of security and intelligence, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Mike Rogers are here.
Plus, 13 years since 9/11, fear of al Qaeda turns to talk of ISIS and the threat to U.S. security -- a conversation where the rubber meets the road with the mayors of Boston, Philadelphia, and San Diego.
And whatever happened to the economy, stupid, or, for that matter, Obamacare? Our political panel weighs in on what's driving the elections that will shape the administration's twilight years.
This is STATE OF THE UNION.
Good morning from Washington. I'm Candy Crowley.
President Obama is back from Europe. He brought home a brand-new coalition of nine nations to help in the fight against ISIS. Just how, we will apparently find out later.
And then there's this weekend's big announcement. The president, who we thought would find some way to stop deporting otherwise law- abiding people who are undocumented, won't take any action until after the November elections. It gives us plenty to talk about with Senator Dianne Feinstein
and Congressman Mike Rogers.
First to you, Congressman Rogers.
Sir, the president has delayed this executive order that he indicated in June would happen at end of the summer. Why did he do that?
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIR, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I think he's being prudent about it.
When you look at, A, this is such an emotional issue all across America, I think that was wise. He needs to work with Congress on this. It's not just about the immigration problem of the illegals who are in the United States and what their status might be. That southern border has become a national security issue, a public health issue for the United States, and certainly a local security issue.
All of those things need to be, I think, addressed. The best way to do that is do it in a cooperative effort with Congress.
CROWLEY: Well, Congressman, let me...
ROGERS: I think you will get a much better product, a secure border, and we can move forward.
Let me just -- let me just intervene here and tell you that the president says he is going to do this executive action right after the midterms. So, you don't see this as a political action on the president's part? You think it means he's going to cooperate with Congress and come up with an immigration bill?
ROGERS: Well, I -- I clearly think that it's political, in the sense that he understands how unpopular that decision would be with Americans.
And it's probably not the right decision -- as a matter of fact, not probably -- it isn't and would not be the right decision for him to do that. I hope he doesn't do it after the election. I think at least he postponed it at this point. Again, people rushing to do this, there are lots of implications here for national security, local security, public health security, costs of education.
There are huge problems with this. The best way to do this is to bring people together and work with them in Congress. I think we can come up with a bill that secures the border and gets to -- you know, moves this issue along to a place where Americans can be comfortable with it.
It is -- I think it's very risky for the president -- he already has a bit of a credibility crisis -- to take this step. I think it would make a long two years' remainder in his presidency. CROWLEY: Let me -- let me pick up with the credibility crisis,
because where he has one now is with the Latino community, which you know has voted heavily Democratic in the past.
Is there long-term damage from the president, who has promised and promised and promised from his first, you know, campaign, actually, that he would deal with the immigration issue? It looks like there's some damage done here.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIR: Well, I have no knowledge of what he can do legally under an executive order.
I also believe it would be legally challenged. The Senate has spent, under the leadership of Pat Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, literally months on a bill, a comprehensive bill, 100 amendments, week after week after week. It is a good bill.
All the House would have to do is pass one part of that bill. We could conference it, work out the differences, and we would have an immigration bill which would be strong.
CROWLEY: But the president says, look, I'm going to do this after the election. Politics are at play here, yes? Can we state the obvious?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I'm of the opinion that the way this should be done is legislatively, because anything else will be challenged, and probably will not be nearly the bill that is actually needed to solve the problems.
CROWLEY: Let me -- I want to move you all now to ISIS and a number of the things that have been said.
Congressman Rogers, I want to pick up with an op-ed that you wrote in "TIME" magazine this week, and pull out a part of it where you said this, referring to ISIS, "is a terrorist organization that has an army, and we need to treat it that way. To defeat this enemy, we will have to risk Americans who will be operating in the fight."
OK, specifically, how will -- would they be operating in the fight?
ROGERS: Well, you need two things to defeat ISIS the way they're configured.
Remember, they have a governing council. They have an oil minister that -- appointed that we think generates about $1 million a day in revenue for this terrorist organization that funds its operations. And we hope it doesn't go external.
So, what you have to do, when you start acting like a government, you start acting in the control of that territory and an army, it presents targets of opportunity, so that you can continue to degrade and dismantle them. That would mean that we have that we have intelligence and
special-capability military forces that would have to operate with our allies, with the Arab -- our Arab League partners, with the Peshmerga. And we're not configured to do that today.
And, if we do that, we can add leverage to this fight in a way that can be very, very effective. But it does mean that we will have some forces who will be exposed. This doesn't mean big military, 101st Airborne. It does mean these intelligence service folks and our special-capability military.
CROWLEY: Special Operations, Special Forces stuff.
Senator Feinstein, the president has his coalition. He talked about it at NATO. But, in the past, we have had a coalition of the willing, and they weren't willing to do a number of things. We -- we had some nations in the war in Iraq who said, well, we will -- you know, we're fine, but, in Afghanistan, keep us out of the war zone. We don't want to be in the war zone. And, also, we don't want to carry guns.
So, really, how much help is it to have a coalition of the willing if they're not willing to go -- what both you and Congressman Rogers think should happen, which is to destroy ISIS, and now, of course, the president says?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I want to congratulate the president. He is now on the offense.
He has put together the coalition of nine nations. His people are in different regional countries as we speak consulting and trying to bring in other countries in the region. I think that this is a major change in how ISIS is approached.
CROWLEY: From the president's...
FEINSTEIN: I -- in my view, and I think in Mike's view, too, ISIS is a major threat to this country in the future and right now to the entirety of Syria and Iraq, and the expanding caliphate.
I think where they're going is to Baghdad. It is my belief they will try to attack our embassy. So we're going to protect our embassy, protect our consulate in Irbil, and, at the same time, begin to use Special Operations, more ISR, crack down on where they're getting their money, and taking aggressive action against this terrorist group.
It is overdue, but the president is now there. And I think it's the right thing for America, and, hopefully, our partners will be aggressive with us.
CROWLEY: Congressman, the senator says the president is now there. We certainly have heard his rhetoric change. We're not talking about managing ISIS. He's talking about dismantling and destroying.
We also know that he is going to meet with congressional leaders about ISIS this week, and he is going to have an address to the nation Wednesday.
So, tell me -- and we're told that he will have a plan. What do you want to be in that plan? What does he have to say to the American people?
ROGERS: Well, first of all, he needs to acknowledge the problem of ISIS. There's been some confusion coming out of the administration. This is the toughest talk that we have heard from the president. And I agree with Senator Feinstein. That's a good thing, because they are a threat.
The senator and I see all this intelligence, and that's very -- been very, very concerning for us. So this is important, that he lays out the case to the United States of why it is a threat. I know he's been reluctant to do that. He's been reluctant to posture America in a position that is willing and understanding of -- to, A, dismantle them, and, B, why we should dismantle them, why is it in U.S. interests.
And it's not just Iraq and Syria. It is both of those, but it's also everything in the Levant. They want Lebanon. They want Israel. They want Jordan. And so they're causing trouble in all of those places. The president needs to lay out a very certain case.
And, clearly, he's put together a coalition of the willing -- we have heard that before -- to tackle this problem. That's good. But we need to be aggressive in posturing ourselves to get ready for this. These are things the president can do. I think Senator Feinstein and I would both support those efforts.
And then I think he needs to engage Congress, the American people on what exactly we're going to do here. Now, we don't have to talk about targets and how many sorties we're flying or how many strikes that we do.
We need to have an endgame. The president ought to lay out that strategy and say, here's what we're going to do. We're going to invest ourselves in this with our partners, both our Arab League partners. And I know there's some repairing happening there with those relationships. That's important.
ROGERS: So, I think this can be a very positive thing for the United States, if we do this right.
CROWLEY: Senator Feinstein, what do you want to hear from the president, both in private in those congressional leadership meetings, and what do you want him to say to the public specifically in terms of strategy?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I spoke with Ben Rhodes yesterday, and I asked him, well, who is going to be in charge now? The devil is in the details of putting this together.
And he said very clearly Secretary Hagel and Secretary Kerry. So, what I want to hear is from both of those two, what is the military plan and what is the diplomatic plan? And time's a wasting, because we have now said that we're going to go on the offensive. And it's time for America to project power and strength.
CROWLEY: And, Senator, the one thing you want to hear the president say to the American people Wednesday?
FEINSTEIN: What -- the one thing is -- Wednesday, when he speaks, is that -- what the change is, what the coalition of the willing is willing to do, what the Saudis are going to do, if, in fact -- and there's a difference of opinion on this -- is Iran going to help? Iran has offered to help -- I, for one, think that's useful -- what other Middle Eastern countries are going to do, and what would be the prime role for America.
I hope we have Special Operations. We have made air attacks now 137 times.
CROWLEY: In Iraq.
FEINSTEIN: We should have Special Operations working.
We should use our ISR much more than has been. It's been difficult in Syria, but that is now ramping up. I believe we should go after their command-and-control, where there are caches of equipment, and use that ISR and take it out, as well as in Iraq, as -- the same thing.
CROWLEY: Going to be a busy, interesting week.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congressman Rogers, thanks for kicking it off for us. Appreciate it.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Candy.
CROWLEY: A recent pew poll say 67 percent of Americans see ISIS as a major threat to the U.S. -- up next, three mayors on the challenges of keeping their cities safe in the age of ISIS.
CROWLEY: Thursday is September 11. And that's disquieting enough, but, this year, there's lots of talk about Americans being radicalized and trained by ISIS and then coming home, which makes it something our next guests need to worry about.
With me now, Mayor Michael Nutter in Philadelphia, plus Mayor Marty Walsh in Boston, and with me here in Washington, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Thank you all so much for being here on a week where I know... MICHAEL NUTTER (D), MAYOR OF PHILADELPHIA: Thank you, Candy.
CROWLEY: ... mayors pay attention to things like security.
Let me talk first about this ISIS threat, and ask you -- let's go first to Mayor Nutter and ask you. We have heard so much high-pitched rhetoric about the threat of ISIS and these Americans being radicalized and coming home. Have -- has any of it filtered down to your city? Has -- have the feds said, hey, watch this, watch that? Has anything changed since this has taken over the headlines?
NUTTER: Well, Candy, I mean, we're engaged in security each and every day, not just in this week leading up to 9/11.
And, of course, everyone is that much more concerned. I mean, ISIS is a menace to the world. So, I mean, we recognize -- and people do recognize -- they watch TV, listen to their radio, read whatever they read -- they know that this threat of an organization is out there. They're doing some of the most insane things that we have seen in recent times.
And so we have regular security updates. I get an update every day from police Commissioner Ramsey. We have the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center. So we're in constant communication with our federal partners, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and a number of other agencies.
And so, I mean, security for the mayors on this -- on the show today, security is an everyday thing. It's what we do for our citizens and, of course, provide all the other services that people expect in cities. But, obviously, we're paying a lot more attention. There's always chatter out there. You can't ignore it.
But, at the same time, you know, we have to move on with our day- to-day lives.
CROWLEY: Mayor Walsh, let me share with our viewers a Pew poll that came out recently. The question is, ISIS, is it a major threat to the U.S.? Sixty-seven percent of Americans said, yes, it is.
So what I'm asking is, on the specifics of ISIS, of these Americans that go off and get trained and come back because they have passports -- or, for that matter, Westerners -- all they have to do is get to London, and they can get to the U.S. -- has that come up specifically in conversations about security in your city?
MARTY WALSH (D), MAYOR OF BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS: Yes, I certainly have spoke on it my police commissioner, Billy Evans. And we are working with the federal government every single day to track people that come into the United States or track people heading this way.
We have what's called the Boston Regional Intelligence Commission, BRIC. And they're looking at everything around the world as well, not just what's happening here in Boston or in Massachusetts or the United States. We're monitoring all of what is happening around the globe. So, our police department is very, very diligent in working together with the federal authorities, as Mayor Nutter mentioned.
We also have in Boston what's called the Office of Emergency Management, which we're constantly keeping information up front for any potential threats. As everyone knows, a year ago in Boston, we had the marathon bombing, something that was very concerning to all of us here in the city of Boston.
This year, we had the marathon, the one-year anniversary, and then the one year after the marathon, and we really put a lot of emphasis into protecting and security. But it's something we do every single day in the city of Boston. And I think this issue really is more and more every day on the hands of the mayors around the country to really make sure that their cities are safe.
CROWLEY: And, as I recall, actually, Mayor Faulconer, in Boston, when we had the Boston bombing, those were names that had not been passed along to local officials. They had sort of hit the radar and then disappeared at the federal level.
But I -- I think, when we look at your city, what we think about is the border.
KEVIN FAULCONER (R), MAYOR OF SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA: Yes.
CROWLEY: And we're getting these increasing numbers of, oh, my gosh, you know, ISIS can come across the border. Terrorists of any kind can come across the border because it's so free-flowing.
What, if anything, has happened amidst that concern?
FAULCONER: And, Candy, it's all about communication and collaboration.
And we have heard from the other mayors. Particularly in San Diego, we look at one of the largest land border crossings in the world, 50,000 vehicles a day that cross the border, about 25,000 pedestrians. So it's critically important. Not only are we sharing with our state, local, our federal partners here in the United States, but it's something that we do on literally a daily basis with our partners in Mexico, sharing that information.
We have something called a fusion center, which we have in other cities across the country, where, every single day, we are sharing that information, passing it along. And it's just part of a way of life now from law enforcement and policing.
CROWLEY: Let me ask you. As we are approaching 9/11, all three of you -- Mayor Nutter, maybe first to you -- my previous two guests have told me several times on air and otherwise, that is, the chairs of the Intelligence Committees, that we are not as safe as we were post-9/11 or pre-9/11.
I want to know from the street level, do you all feel safer now in your city, should your residents feel safer now in your cities than they did post-9/11, Mayor Nutter?
NUTTER: There's no question that we are safer, smarter, much more aware of world events, local events. Some of this insanity is homegrown, if you will, right here in the United States of America.
But, Candy, we have changed so many processes and procedures. Everyone experiences it every day. If you're flying, if you're on the railways, just the normal day-to-day thing, there is a new normal in America. Everything changed on September 11, 2001. And we're constantly building in new process, new procedure, new ways of getting information.
The collaboration certainly is at its highest level. And so it's not like we have forgotten. We're only trying to get better. And, on the ground, as, again, the other mayors have said, whether it's a fusion center, the fusion network, the offices of emergency management, we all talk, and we communicate and coordinate with each other on a regular basis.
It's just built in now. I mean, it's a part of the day-to-day activity in the United States of America. We know we have enemies. We know that there are threats out there. We still have to provide day-to-day service, but the level of coordination in the law enforcement agencies, the security agencies is certainly at its highest level in a post-9/11 environment.
CROWLEY: And, Mayor Walsh, let me put it to you this way. What keeps you up at night?
WALSH: Well -- well, what keeps me up at night is -- I start my morning every morning with a phone call from the police commissioner to talk about what happened in the city the night before.
And when I first got elected mayor, I thought about different circumstances when I get a phone call. And, certainly, a terrorist attack is one of those -- one of those -- one of those calls that I'm hoping I never receive.
But when you look back at the police department pre-9/11, the training, the technology is all different. The way that police officers are trained is different. I think we have to look at -- we look at -- there's a lot of attention on ISIS, but the police don't have the luxury of just worrying about one group.
We have to look and make sure that all the residents are safe. A potential terrorist attack could come from any -- any area of this country or any area of this world. But, also, I think the community, people in the neighborhoods are a lot more engaged.
And after 9/11, here in Boston, I know that a lot of the cells were here in the city. And a lot of the community groups were -- knew something was wrong with certain areas of the city, with some of these folks. And I think the community's even more aware.
What we -- what I have to do as the mayor of the city of Boston is really make sure that people stay engaged, they keep an eye out on their community. Pre-9/11, the neighborhood organizations were worried about crime in their neighborhood and maybe drug dealing or somebody acting out.
WALSH: Today, it's so different than that. And I think it's important for us to let the community know.
So, I think our city is safer. I feel it's safer. However, that doesn't mean that we can't every single day change something, that we can't -- the police can't talk to the federal government, can't talk to Homeland Security, can't talk to police departments in Philadelphia and San Diego.
It has to be constant communication, constant diligence here. And we're going to continue to do that in the city of Boston and in this country. Unfortunately, it's changed. After 9/11, you know, we had a period of relatively secure -- secure neighborhoods in the city and in the country.
WALSH: And then the marathon Monday happened. And so we can never put our guard down.
CROWLEY: And, Mayor Faulconer, I think, you know, that Mayor Walsh has hit on it, and that is that it's not just ISIS. It's lone wolves.
CROWLEY: It's someone coming across the border, someone coming in on a plane.
And so, when you say to your citizens, look, we have got this under control, do you reasonably feel that you are safer now?
FAULCONER: Well, the answer is, it's constantly changing and the threat is constantly evolving. And you have to be ahead of it.
And one of the things that I think is key -- and we talked a little bit about this -- it's getting that down to the neighborhood level, particularly in the cities. One of the things that we have in San Diego is, we have what we call terrorism liaison officers. These are police officers that have been cross-trained in terrorist prevention.
There's over 100 of them. They're out there every single day, every night, on every shift. We're really encouraging all of our neighbors and our citizens, as part of the homeland securities effort, if you see something, say something. And it's all about getting that information out, so it can be investigated, nothing too small or too big.
But it really comes down to that partnership and that local level, neighborhood by neighborhood. That's something that I think every city across the country, big city, has found. That's the best way that we share information, and to make sure we're communicating with our neighbors every single day.
CROWLEY: Mayor Kevin Faulconer out of...
NUTTER: Candy, I just want to make sure...
CROWLEY: Yes, sir, go ahead.
NUTTER: Just day to day, people are not necessarily only worried about ISIS.
If you heard gunshots last night, it probably wasn't ISIS in your neighborhood.
NUTTER: That's some local person doing something. And the mayors also have to focus on those issues on a day-to-day basis as well.
CROWLEY: Absolutely. I take your point.
That's Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia, Mayor Marty Walsh from Boston, and Mayor Kevin Faulconer, San Diego.
Thank you, all three of you. Have a safe 9/11.
NUTTER: Thank you, Candy.
CROWLEY: Next up: President Obama's about-face on immigration, Democratic-leaning Latinos call it a betrayal. Will they stay away from the polls? Will all be forgiven after Election Day?
I will ask a congressman whose district is along the border.
CROWLEY: You will remember this like it was two months ago. The president promising executive action on immigration reform ASAP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I expect the recommendations before the end of the summer. And I intend to adopt those recommendations without further delay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: The president said he had to act because congressional Republicans refused to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It's just politics. Plain and simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: That was so June 30th. This weekend the White House let it be known the president would delay any action on immigration until after the midterm elections. Is that politics plain and simple? Joining me now from along the border in Brownsville, Texas, is Democrat Tony Cardenas whose district by the way is near Los Angeles.
Congressman, has the president betrayed the Latino community?
REP. TONY CARDENAS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, we all are frustrated with him right now because he's taken way too long to take his executive actions but unfortunately, Candy, it's really been the disgusting do nothing Congress that has actually forced his hand to have to contemplate taking executive action so I think the first blame is with Congress, not doing its job and now the president is forced to have to take a measure like executive actions.
CROWLEY: Well, except for that he has, I mean, he has a free hand into when he plans to do the executive actions so the question really is, was this a political move?
We know there have been some of your colleagues most Democrats mostly on the Senate side saying, do not take this action, which, as far as we understand it, would be to allow some undocumented workers who are here with no criminal record to stay without fear of deportation. That's what we thought he was going to do. He said he would do it June 30th, ASAP, end of summer is what he mentioned. Now he's not doing it. Why is that?
CARDENAS: Well the president, when the Hispanic caucus, and I was there at the meeting in the White House with the president and vice president. The president said he was going to do it. He said he would take some time to analyze it and do it right. We were hoping he'd do it this summer since Congress hasn't taken action but again, Candy, it's Congress isn't doing its job, in a work environment a work environment or a home if somebody isn't do their chores, if somebody isn't doing their part we shouldn't be too upset with the person having to pick up after the other person and do their job as well.
CROWLEY: I understand you're a Democrat and the president is the party leader, as well as the president, but we have heard nothing but criticism and pretty harsh criticism from advocacy groups for Latinos and for undocumented workers saying, this is a betrayal, the president playing politics. Do you share any of that outrage?
CARDENAS: Well, I believe that when we met with the president, he meant what he said. I think the president eventually is going to take executive action. Because I don't see Speaker Boehner or the Republicans coming to do their job and actually put something on the floor so we can all vote for it like the Senate passed by 68 out of 100 votes. But at the same time, Candy, I'd tell you honestly the bottom line is of course there's some politics going on. I don't like what the president's advisers may be telling him. I can only speculate that they've encouraged them to wait. I
would prefer he do it now. There are 11 million people here in the shadows in the United States and by and large, Candy, they're here to work and they're a boon to our economy. For example, if the president would just to do parole in place that would affect a few million people and allow them to work, have a work visa while they're here, while they're getting their documentation in order.
CARDENAS: And that would put a lot of businesses around the country on better footing.
CROWLEY: Bottom line, Congressman, when and if the president acts after the midterm elections, do you think the Latino community which as you know largely votes Democratic will forgive him for what right now they are really outraged about?
CARDENAS: Well, the fact of the matter doesn't look like President Obama is going to be on the ballot ever again. He's president. He's serving his second term.
When it comes to the Latino community they're frustrated with the president but I think they're really pissed off with the Republican Party and what they represent and the fact that there were some Republicans who united with Democrats and passed by 68 votes comprehensive immigration reform, and yet it sits in the House that's controlled by Republicans and we have not had an opportunity to debate it. We have not had an opportunity to vote on it so Republicans and Democrats in our House have not had the opportunity to show the leadership and put our vote to our name and show the public where we stand.
CROWLEY: Democrat Tony Cardenas, Congressman, thank you so much for your time this morning.
CARDENAS: Thank you very much, Candy.
CROWLEY: Next up, how President Obama's double headaches of immigration and ISIS will affect his fellow Democrats and perhaps determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.
CROWLEY: President Obama may have put off executive orders on immigration until after the election, but ISIS won't wait.
This Wednesday he addresses the nation about the ISIS threat and what he calls his game plan going forward.
Joining me around this table "CROSSFIRE" host Newt Gingrich and S.E. Cupp along with political commentators Maria Cardona and L.Z. Granderson. Thanks all.
Let me start with immigration. It is my theory that when you look at this election in the states that begin to matter for control of the Senate, that the polls are close enough that anything can -- any win can move it one way or the other.
Tell me whether the president's decision to postpone immigration, any immigration executive order, will move this race and enhance or detract from Republican efforts to control the Senate.
S.E. CUPP, CNN CROSSFIRE HOST: Well, I think the folks that are disappointed with President Obama are still going to be with President Obama, and so I think he made a calculated risk. It was clearly a political decision to pretend that this was over Republican politics and not Democratic politics is really silly, and pretty transparent, but it was a political decision. And look, the president floated this trial balloon of de facto amnesty. It sunk. If it were really popular, he would have no problem going are it, but both the American people are skeptical of it, and Democrats in vulnerable states don't want it.
CROWLEY: Can we just either one of you just admit that this really was about midterm politics? Because look, we all know -- OK.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
CARDONA: White House because they're still blaming Republicans.
CROWLEY: OK, so continue.
CARDONA: Absolutely. This absolutely was of course about midterm politics and I think what the president did was he is -- he is implementing the political version of a Hippocratic oath which is first do no harm.
Now I do think that in the long-term, it was about the political situation about immigration reform. Look, you know, I agree with Congressman Cardenas, absolutely there is disappointment, myself included as a Latina and activist but the president didn't do this right now. But let's remember why he was in this position to begin with and it's because Republicans have completely abdicated the responsibility on this issue.
Moving forward the president and the White House believe that trying to keep a Democratic Senate in the long-term will help pass what is the real solution, which is comprehensive immigration reform.
LZ GRANDERSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: I've seen this as an activist in the LGBT community. You know, if you go back 2008-2009 we're waiting for him to take executive action, we're waiting for "don't ask, don't tell" to be overturned. They waited until after midterm elections results to the pat themselves in the back overturning "don't ask, don't tell."
It's politics as usual. It's politics over policy. It's very, very frustrating but at the end of the day there's no different than what any other president or any other Congress has done (INAUDIBLE) to maintain power. And that's the true lesson (INAUDIBLE). CROWLEY: And Newt wasn't the calculation, listen, I am more
worried about doing harm to Democrats by arousing the tea party which was really what he was worried about.
NEWT GINGRICH, CNN CROSSFIRE HOST: First of all I think he was honest today in saying in an interview that the flood of children coming in this summer changed all the equations and all the emotions, that it suddenly became much harder to do something. And in the red states where he has Democrats who are in trouble in the Senate virtually all of them were saying please, don't do this, but I think there's a bigger narrative here.
This is one more example of Obama being incapable of figuring out how to do whatever he promises he's going to do, and you go to Ukraine, you go to Iraq, you go to Estonia this week, you go to all sorts of things and you get the Maureen Dowd kind of columns that are so scathing that it's a little hard to believe she'd write it about a Democrat. This is going to pile on more because his language in the summer was so decisive and his behavior now is so cowardly that the gap between those two is just astonishing.
GRANDERSON: I wouldn't say cowardly, I would say more calculative.
CARDONA: Yes. And I will say this, I really -- I really don't think, and he's made this mistake before, to put on himself a false deadline. He could have very easily gone out in the summer and said I will do this before the year is over and would not have put himself in this position.
CUPP: Errors there.
CROWLEY: Yes. Let me turn to you ISIS because the president's having a speech to the nation on Wednesday, he's talking to congressional leaders, we're told he's going to outline his plan, so what are with he expecting from him?
GINGRICH: Let me say up front, the problem with ISIS is very parallel to the problem with Ebola. It is a problem in epidemiology.
You had two people killed from Minnesota recently, one of them for 10 years had clearance on the Minneapolis airport to work on the airplanes. We're just lucky he decided to be a terrorist in Syria, not a terrorist at the airport. Nobody understands the spread of this stuff. It's not about Syria. If he makes a speech about Syria and Iraq, by definition, it is wrong. Because this is not a problem of Syria and Iraq.
There are over 500 British terrorists over there, between 100 and 200 American terrorists, 10,000 potential terrorists from over 50 countries. If we don't understand this is an epidemiology problem. This is a problem of tracking down a worldwide movement that is spreading very rapidly.
CUPP: The president's put himself in a tough position and he's damned if he does, damned if he doesn't and that's his own fault.
His foreign policy is largely based on the mantra of, don't be Bush. And that's a very incomplete foreign policy. And so when he's forced inevitably to be a little like Bush, whether it's on Gitmo or drones or going into Libya or going back into Iraq he's now in a very terrible, dangerous political position that he never had to be in if he had carved out his own foreign policy.
GRANDERSON: I don't think it's simply, don't be Bush. I thinks it is, don't be rash. It's don't be not smart. It is -
CROWLEY: Like weak (INAUDIBLE) and that is a question, when does don't be rash look like weak? Because we now have polls with people, the latest pew poll I think said that more Americans think he's too weak than think he's doing just fine.
GRANDERSON: Just because we don't have an appreciation of nuance. We don't have an appreciation of actually having a thoughtful conversation about something.
CUPP: -- he hasn't been able to communicate this effectively.
CARDONA: This president -- this president has always been very methodical about this. We've known this about him for the last six years. And his focus is on the long game and it's not just, don't be Bush. Clearly that's a part of it. He is actually where the American people are on this. The American people don't want to move forward in a rash way guns a-blazing the way that Bush did. Going into a situation where we really don't understand -
CUPP: We are tea talking about moving in a rash way with guns blazing (ph)?
CARDONA: A lot of Republicans have actually done that.
GRANDERSON: I think if you knew him you actually take --
CROWLEY: He's not calling for boots on the ground.
CROWLEY: Go ahead.
GINGRICH: I would say -- I just say if you watch -- if you watch the last two years, you two are doing a very artful job of trying to pretend that chaos, confusion and misunderstanding make sense.
Look at the number of red lines in Syria, none of which matters. Look at the number of red lines in Ukraine, none of which mattered. Look at their current effort to say, we're going to be decisive, we're kind of going to manage it, we might defeat it, we're not going to use American troops unless of course the American troops they're special forces because special forces aren't boots on the ground because apparently they wear sneakers or something. I mean, give me a break, this is chaos.
CARDONA: No, that is methodical and American people, I think, appreciate that thoughtfulness.
CROWLEY: I have to sneak in a break but we'll be back with this right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0.
These are the stakes, to make a --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Yes, just getting you in the mood here. That was the famous Daisy ad. L.B.J. put it out. Scaring people about (INAUDIBLE) you don't want his, you know, you don't want his hand near the button. Kind of ushered in the era of negative ads. Also about foreign policy, and the question is when you look around today, whatever happened to is the economy, stupid? Whatever happened to Obamacare? Because now we're talking about ISIS and immigration. What's driving these elections particularly in some of these very close Senate races?
CARDONA: I think a lot of this and you said it at the very beginning, in such close races anything can affect. So, I think right now ISIS is on people's minds. That is what people are going to be thinking about. Immigration is clearly an issue. But I do think as things recede, as Congress goes home and starts focusing on the races, there are a lot of local issues that are going to come up.
I can guarantee you that Republicans will try to hang Obamacare on the necks of the candidates that they're running against. It's not going to be as easy now as it probably would have been a year ago. But I think the economy will also come up as things start to recede on the foreign policy front. Anything can be an issue. CUPP: I think foreign policy is not making the White House look
particularly competent right now. However, if Republicans take the Senate, it will be because of two domestic issues, that's Obamacare and energy.
If you look at Obamacare, it's still not very popular, especially in these red states. And in coal producing states, this is -- this is part of the platform of Republicans running against Democrats and part of the reason these vulnerable Democrats are running away from President Obama. So I think in the end foreign policy has captured all of our attentions, but these two domestic issues are what are still going to drive people to the polls in November.
CROWLEY: People in the polls in November pull the lever because?
GINGRICH: There's something deeper that's happening. If you look at Gallup coming out this week and said, for the first time in recent memory, Iowa now is a net Republican state. That the number of people identifying as Democrats has dropped precipitously in the last six months and the number of people identifying as Republicans has grown slightly to the margin. We begin to see this happen everywhere. And this is when you start to get the underlying pattern towards a tidal wave which doesn't show up until about October 1st. But it's altogether. You can't take them apart. People sitting on a table going, my cousin can't get a job. People are seeing a local story, I think it was in Alaska yesterday that Obamacare prices are going up. It's people looking at the energy issue and saying, how come we can't get the pipeline agreed to.
GINGRICH: You go place by place.
CROWLEY: Sounds like L.A.'s campaign.
GRANDERSON: The fact of the matter is that it's people looking at whether or not they like Obama and not noticing that some of the policies that they do like are because of Obama. You talk about how unpopular Obamacare is. Sure, if you say, Obamacare. But if you say, do you like the fact that you won't get kicked off of your insurance because of x? Do you like the fact that you won't get kicked off of your insurance because of x? People say, yes and yes and yes. Do you want boots on the ground? No. All of these are Obama's policies. But because people don't like Obama they think they don't like his policies.
CARDONA: And let's remember -- let's remember this, Candy. Right now we're talking about Democrats perhaps keeping the Senate. Five months ago Republicans were swearing up and down that they were going to take over the Senate.
So, let's also keep in mind that in all of these districts and states the Republican Party has the worst reputation in American polling of any political party in history.
CUPP: Yes, but now you'll -- CARDONA: That is also going to be an issue.
CROWLEY: The Republican Party they're voting for individuals.
CUPP: Well, right. And even your safe states, even Mark Begich was looking good until this huge unforced error in Alaska with the negative political attack ad that's basically exploiting the victims of sexual abuse. I mean, you're right, nothing's over. You might lose more than you think.
GRANDERSON: But then he goes back --
CARDONA: The fact that it's over is huge, S.E., because again six months ago Republicans were going to take over the senate ever --
CUPP: Three months ago is a lifetime -
CARDONA: That is very true. And so we'll see.
CROWLEY: When you look at Arkansas and when you look at Kentucky and we looked inside the polls, he, meaning the president, is wildly unpopular in both states. In Arkansas 60 percent disapprove of the president's handling of things. 64 percent in Kentucky. That's a big win.
GINGRICH: Yes. It's going to be very hard in the end. I mean, what you have is an enormous amount of money has gone in to prop up people like (INAUDIBLE) who's a very competent person, who (ph) comes from a political family and they stay up for a while. I lived through in '86 when a number of my friends got slaughtered and they looked OK, they looked OK, and they looked OK. Then all of the sudden boom they collapsed.
CROWLEY: (INAUDIBLE). Still looking for the big wave. (INAUDIBLE) to answer that because I've got to run.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not fair.
CROWLEY: Newt Gingrich, L.Z. Granderson, S.E. Cupp, thank you so much. We'll be right back.
CROWLEY: Thank you for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Be sure to watch us each week at this time or you can set your DVRs so you won't miss a moment.
Fareed Zakaria, "GPS," starts now.