Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), center, and fellow GOP leaders talk to reporters on Tuesday. The Senate passed a defense authorization bill by a vote of 91-3, sending it back to President Obama with language that would make it hard for him to close the Guantanamo Bay prison before he leaves office in 2017.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), center, and fellow GOP leaders talk to reporters on Tuesday. The Senate passed a defense authorization bill by a vote of 91-3, sending it back to President Obama with language that would make it hard for him to close the Guantanamo Bay prison before he leaves office in 2017.

President Obama is expected to sign a $607 billion defense bill despite its ban on moving some prisoners from Guantanamo to U.S. prisons. The ban has prompted debate on whether the president will try to bypass Congress and close the military prison through executive action. The White House says it will ask the Supreme Court for a ruling on immigration reform. President Obama enlists former diplomats in his push to sell the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Republican presidential candidates spar over taxes, immigration, and wages in their latest debate. And the University of Missouri appoints a new interim president. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.


  • Jeanne Cummings Political and White House editor, The Wall Street Journal.
  • Gardiner Harris White House correspondent, The New York Times
  • Manu Raju Congressional correspondent, CNN

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  • 10:06:53

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. The White House will take its immigration fight to the Supreme Court. Policy difference emerge among Republican presidential candidates at this week's debate. And racial unrest at the University of Missouri spreads to other college campuses. Here for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Gardiner Harris of the New York Times, Jeanne Cummings of The Wall Street Journal and Manu Raju of CNN.

  • 10:07:29

    MS. DIANE REHMI do invite your participation, as always. Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Send an email to Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. And don't forget, we are live video steaming this hour of the Friday News Roundup. You can join us by going to our website,, and clicking on Watch Live. And thank you all for being here.

  • 10:08:05

    MR. GARDINER HARRISGood morning.

  • 10:08:05

    MS. JEANNE CUMMINGSGood morning.

  • 10:08:06

    MR. MANU RAJUGood morning.

  • 10:08:07

    REHMAnd to you, Manu Raju, congratulations of the birth of your twins, Sonja and Sanjay (sp?).

  • 10:08:16

    RAJUThank you, Diane.

  • 10:08:17

    REHMAre they identical twins?

  • 10:08:19

    RAJUNo, they're fraternal. They fraternal and they're very adorable.

  • 10:08:24

    REHMWho can think anything else? All right. Let's start with the TPP, the so-called Transpacific Partnership. I gather, Gardiner Harris, that the president is meeting with certain diplomats to try to get their help in pushing this forward.

  • 10:08:48

    HARRISRight. Well, today, in the White House, the president is expected to bring in former secretaries of state, Jim Baker and Madeleine Albright, to talk about it. He's been on an unusual push this past week. He's written, actually, three different opinion columns, one in The Financial Times, on in Jeanne's old workplace, Bloomberg View and one actually sent to small business owners on eBay, touting the benefits of TPP.

  • 10:09:18

    HARRISWhether this actually -- and then, of course, he flies this weekend to, first, to Turkey for the G20 summit and then onto actually places where this may have the TPP may come into effect, the Philippines, which isn't part of the TPP at this point, but wants to be and then, Malaysia. So it's part of his pivot to Asia, this trip, as well as the TPP. Now, his problem is that, of course, lefty Democrats don't particularly like the deal, as if often the case with labor unions.

  • 10:09:52

    HARRISBut even this week, a crucial problem arose when Senator Orrin Hatch, the chairman of the finance committee, came out and started talking about how he may not even bring this up. And if he can't persuade Orrin Hatch, this thing is dead.

  • 10:10:07

    REHMWhat do you think, Jeanne Cummings?

  • 10:10:09

    CUMMINGSWell, the Hatch -- Senator Hatch is a big problem. He wants the agreement renegotiated or tweaked in a way to help pharmaceutical companies and it cannot be changed. That's what the fast track authority legislation that was passed earlier made clear. No amendments, no changes, an up or down vote. And it has happened in the past where President Bush, late in his second term had the trade deal with Panama and Vietnam and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it in a drawer.

  • 10:10:48

    CUMMINGSShe just didn't bring it up. It eventually passed, but it passed under Barack Obama.

  • 10:10:53

    RAJUYeah, this is going to be a really tough lift to get this through Congress. Remember, that fast track authority that Jeanne was talking about that passed Congress earlier this year, passed by the narrowest of margins through the House and the Senate. The House got 218 votes, which was the bare minimum to pass legislation there. It got 62 votes in the Senate, barely over that 60 vote thresh hold and already, if they lose any support in either chamber, it will not go through.

  • 10:11:16

    RAJUAnd that was just a procedural argument to get to the vote on the TPP. Now, we're debating it on the merits and a lot of people don't like what's in the agreement, particularly, as Gardiner said, folks on the left who are concerned about the labor and environmental standards, but increasingly folks on the right, too, including some folks from southern states who don't like the way tobacco farmers are treated, as well as people who are so close to the drug companies that don't like the way the intellectual property rights were dealt with, like Orrin Hatch.

  • 10:11:45

    RAJUSo this is going to be a very tough lift for the White House to push through and it's going to be all done during an election year so who knows what will happen.

  • 10:11:51

    CUMMINGSAnd the White House, their chief Republican ally in trying to get these votes is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in institution that many Republicans on the Hill don't respond to anymore, as they look over their shoulder at the anti-Washington populist angst that is just roiling the Republican base.

  • 10:12:15

    HARRISFor the president, this is a big deal. This pretty much one of the last things that he might be able to get done.

  • 10:12:21

    REHMWhy is it such a big deal for him?

  • 10:12:24

    HARRISWell, I think the president believes strongly that trade deals actually do matter. The United States also believes strongly in the rise of Asia. You're talking about 40 percent of the global GDP. And I think what has happened in the United States is that there is basically a belief that the World Trade Organization, which had been the great sort of bastion of free trade, has really lost its mojo because everything -- any small country can stop anything going through the WTO.

  • 10:12:56

    HARRISSo what the Obama administration did was basically get 40 percent of the global GDP together in one trade deal. And it's also a trade deal that the United States feels is a great check on China. You know, China is explicitly not part of this agreement, although, of course, Trump talked about how China was going to take advantage of it. It's just the opposite of that. So, you know, this is a deal that extends all the way from, you know, Canada down to Chile on this side of the Pacific, from Japan down to Australia on that side of the Pacific.

  • 10:13:30

    HARRISSo it's a strongly held belief by mainstream business organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and by, you know, the new Democrats like Obama that this is a very important thing for the future of the United States.

  • 10:13:45

    RAJUAnd one of the businesses that you're going to have to look out for is Ford Motor Company, which came out and raised major concerns about this deal because of the concern of Japanese cars coming into American markets and the issue of undervaluing Japanese currency. Now this deal actually calls for joint declaration for all the countries who are involved in the TPP to say that they will not manipulate their currency, but the concerns that Ford and other people have is that it is not enforceable.

  • 10:14:17

    RAJUSo you're going to see some concerns from lawmakers, from auto producing states and those auto companies themselves when this debate really takes off.

  • 10:14:26

    REHMAll right. Manu, let's move on to the questions about closure of Gitmo and we have heard that the president may speak out on that very issue today. He wants to see it closed. He wants prisoners to move to other U.S. holding facilities. How likely is that to happen?

  • 10:14:52

    RAJUWell, we don't really know exactly yet. I mean, the White House has been waiting for a report from the Pentagon to lay out various options about what to do if Guantanamo is closed. Now, the challenge for the president is that Congress spoke very loudly this week when they passed a defense policy bill that would actually bar the transfer of prisoners onto U.S. soil, transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo to U.S. soil.

  • 10:15:17

    RAJUThat bill passed the Senate on a 91 to 3 vote. Now, that was a huge defense policy bill, a lot of items in there. But still, Congress rarely acts in such a unanimous -- almost unanimous. So this will be a -- if he does move forward on an executive action, it will be essentially poking the finger in the eye of Congress and he will lose a lot of support from even some Republican supporters like John McCain who does want to close Guantanamo, but does not believe the president has the executive authority to do so.

  • 10:15:50

    RAJUSo the president's trying to fulfill this 2008 campaign pledge, but if he does, it'll probably provoke a major fight with Capitol Hill.

  • 10:15:57


  • 10:15:58

    CUMMINGSI think if he is going to do something, it'll probably be much later in the year. I mean, timing is everything, right? He's got two big priorities. He's got this trade deal that is, you know, maybe going to get dragged over the finish line in Congress, but if so, it's going to take every bit of effort on the White House's part, every vote in Congress he can scratch out. He can't do Guantanamo before the trade deal.

  • 10:16:26

    CUMMINGSHe does Guantanamo, then all bets are off because, as Manu said, it is an affront to members of Congress if he acts unilaterally on Guantanamo and closes it down. And that said...

  • 10:16:38

    REHMAnd John McCain is saying that acting with an executive would actually be unconstitutional.

  • 10:16:47

    CUMMINGSThat is certainly the argument that they make. That said, I wouldn't put it past this White House not to do it. This has been -- this was a pledge he made a decade ago almost. He means it. It is not cost efficient to hold these prisoners in Guantanamo.

  • 10:17:05

    REHMHow many are there, Jeanne?

  • 10:17:07

    CUMMINGSThere are...

  • 10:17:08

    HARRISThere are 116.

  • 10:17:09

    CUMMINGSThere we go. He's perfect with the numbers.

  • 10:17:13

    HARRISSo there are 52 who essentially have been cleared for release. They're low level detainees and they just haven't been able to find a way to get rid of them. There are 64 who are seen as hardened criminals, 10 of whom have actually been convicted under this, you know, military commission. And the question is where do you put them? What do you do with them? And it's an ends -- do the ends justify the means. Obama's a constitutional scholar. He knows the constitutional issues, but he also believes strongly that this is crazy to keep this open sore.

  • 10:17:46

    REHMGardiner Harris, he's White House correspondent with the New York Times. Short break here. And when we come back, we'll talk about what's happened at the University of Missouri and other colleges, universities around the country.

  • 10:20:02

    REHMWelcome back, as Gardiner Harris of The New York Times, Manu Raju of CNN and Jeanne Cummings of The Wall Street Journal talk about the events of this week that have risen to the top for our domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup. Manu, the White House is appealing to the -- or has said it will appeal to the Supreme Court on the appeals ruling of the Fifth Circuit on immigration. How likely is it that the White House is going to do that? And how much of a chance do they have with this court?

  • 10:20:49

    RAJUWell, I think it's very likely that they'll appeal. I don't think we know yet exactly if the court will take it up and the prospects of that. We'll see how the arguments bear out. But really this all stems from the president's executive action that he took right after the November elections last year, in which he moved forward with deferring deportation that affected about 4.7 million people that are in this country illegally, essentially allowing a number of them to apply for work permits as well. Republicans believe that this was something that was unconstitutional, the president acted illegally in this manner. The White House says it does have the prosecutorial discretion to determine who can be deported and when.

  • 10:21:32

    RAJUBut 26 Republican states sued the White House's action over this and they won in the lower courts. And the Fifth Circuit affirmed that lower court ruling. So this is a major item of the Obama legacy that's going to be tested in court. Like a number of other items, it just shows how risky it is when the president moves on such a major action unilaterally.

  • 10:21:55

    CUMMINGSWell, and here again, time is of the essence. Because what the White House wants is a ruling from the Supreme Court in June, which would give them about a year and a half to try to get the program going. If they can get it going and they can get some of these roughly 5 million people signed up for a three-year deferral, assuming that they don't break laws and don't cause any trouble, then it'll make it harder for his predecessor to dismantle it.

  • 10:22:24

    REHMYou mean his successor.

  • 10:22:25

    CUMMINGSSuccessor, sorry, to dismantle it.

  • 10:22:26

    REHMYeah. Right.

  • 10:22:27

    CUMMINGSNow, that means that the White House has to get its appeal to the Supreme Court by the end of the year. They also have to make sure that Texas and some of the other states who protested the law don't get an extension on their response or their filing, because they wanted to...

  • 10:22:45

    REHMI thought they had to get it to the court even sooner than by the end of the year.

  • 10:22:50

    HARRISOh, yeah, yeah, yeah...

  • 10:22:51

    CUMMINGSWell, they need the court to accept it by the end of the year...

  • 10:22:53


  • 10:22:53 that then they have a ruling by June.

  • 10:22:55

    HARRISBecause they want it during this term.

  • 10:22:57


  • 10:22:57

    REHMOf course they do.

  • 10:22:58

    HARRISI'll tell you what, Diane, it doesn't really matter. In many ways, the Obama administration acted in a very political manner to increase the ties that Hispanics have to the Democratic Party. You know, this was clearly an effort by the Obama administration to pay back Hispanics for the support for the Democrats and in hopes of continuing to keep Hispanics in the Democratic fold.

  • 10:23:25

    HARRISYou know, what has happened during the Republican primary, in which Donald Trump has called Mexican immigrants criminals and, you know, what's going on in the Republican circle has so enraged Hispanics that I'm not really sure that Hispanics are going to hold the Obama administration and the Democratic Party, in general, to the technicalities as to whether they got this through the Supreme Court. It is a big priority of the Hispanic community, don't get me wrong. But events have so changed the political landscape here that -- it depends on who the nominee is, of course -- but if the nominee is anyone like Donald Trump or many of these others...

  • 10:24:07

    REHMWho says he wants to deport 11 million...

  • 10:24:10

    HARRISEleven million people...

  • 10:24:11

    CUMMINGSBut, yes, I mean...

  • 10:24:11

    HARRIS...then this tie that the Democratic Party has with Hispanics in this country is only going to be so much stronger, with this case playing almost zero role.

  • 10:24:22

    REHMSo Jeb Bush said they're clapping hands at Hillary's (word?)

  • 10:24:28

    CUMMINGSYeah, I mean, there is a huge political element to this, no doubt about it. But we have 11 million illegals in the country. If this brings 5 million -- almost half of them -- out of the shadows, puts them into the system where they aren't living in fear that they're going to be deported -- these are the parents of U.S. citizens -- that they can start living, you know, contributing to society straight up -- there are policy parts of this as well as political parts of it that the White House is pursuing.

  • 10:25:02

    RAJUYeah. And I think it also exposes the divide within the Republican Party right now, you know, as Gardiner alluded to, that, you know, you have folks like in the Jeb Bush camp who believe we need to have a more humanitarian approach, a more pragmatic approach, a more business-minded approach. And then you have the more nativist approach in the Republican Party, who wants to round these folks up and deport them.

  • 10:25:23

    RAJUAnd you've seen this play out this week at the Republican debate and on the campaign trail, with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz sort of going at it and trying to, you know, showcase who is tougher on immigration -- and Marco Rubio actually trying to make Ted Cruz look like he supports legalizing folks who are in the country illegally and then pushing back on it. It really just shows how difficult this issue is. You know, Republicans like to say they want to secure the border first.

  • 10:25:50

    RAJUBut the question of how do you deal with the 11 million? How do you deal with the folks who are parents of people who are here legally, but they're undocumented? Those are very sticky questions and there is no decision -- no real consensus within the Republican Party on how to deal with it.

  • 10:26:05

    HARRISAnd meanwhile, yesterday, the president gave the Congressional Medal of Honor to an Army captain, who came to this country as a kid and was a naturalized citizen, I think as a 17-year-old, and is only the 10th living recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor from the Afghanistan War. And, you know, it -- he's a demonstration, of course, of the extraordinary benefits that immigrants bring, although it was almost unmentioned yesterday in the ceremony and the aftermath.

  • 10:26:36

    REHMAll right. Let's talk about the racial unrest not only at the University of Missouri, it does seem to have spread even here at Howard University. But we have just learned the Los Angeles Times is reporting there is another resignation after a student protest over racial tensions now in Southern California. Let me get down here to the end of what this says, in...

  • 10:27:16

    HARRISClaremont College, it's right...

  • 10:27:17

    REHM...Claremont College, where a dean has resigned. So what's happening at the University of Missouri is really taking hold among students around the country who feel as though, because of racial issues, they're not only being treated unfairly and being just treated with such terrible outpourings of ugliness, but that nobody is there to protect them.

  • 10:27:56

    HARRISRight. My alma mater, Yale, is struggling with this right now. There's a bunch of students who got very angry about an email from the master -- the wife, actually, of the master of Silliman College about whether kids should be able to wear Disney costumes. Now, they -- in trying to create an atmosphere without offense and without inappropriate things, they have been extraordinarily and personally offensive toward this master and some of these administrators and I think also in Mizzou. You know, academic politics are the nastiest politics on the face of the planet.

  • 10:28:37

    REHMYep. Yep. C. P. Snow wrote about that.

  • 10:28:39

    HARRISYeah. In part, because there's so little at stake, right? I mean that's the old saying about academic politics. And what happened at Mizzou was a lot of things were in play. There was a corporate man who had been hired by the University to really do some cost-cutting. He had gotten the graduate students angry because he wanted to get rid of their health insurance. He had done a variety of things that had lost the support of a variety of stakeholders within the University. And then this protest started, in part around apparently a swastika written in human feces came up. Now, I don't know that there is going to be some sort of sensitivity training that is going to impact somebody who draws things in feces, even if it's swastikas.

  • 10:29:30

    HARRISSo there is a variety of things. And then the protestors themselves, you know, sort of stomped all over the First Amendment and right of free expression by not even allowing reporters into a public area where they were staying, including a communications professor who shouted, she needed some muscle over here, when a reporter was taking a videotape in this setting. So it's a very difficult issue, I think...

  • 10:29:56


  • 10:29:56

    HARRIS...for a lot of administrators. There's a lot at play. And it's really kind of difficult to sort of see who's right and who's wrong.

  • 10:30:04


  • 10:30:05

    RAJUYeah. It's really also an extension of the unrest we've seen in the inner cities between police forces and minority communities. And a lot of the people who were involved in those Ferguson, Mo., protests from last year were also involved in these Missouri protests. You've seen even one of the men, students, who initiated a hunger strike to demonstrate his concerns over the racial tensions in the University, was involved in that Ferguson protest as well. So you're seeing kind of that -- this unrest in these inner cities spread to college campuses. And that's something that the administrators will have to worry about.

  • 10:30:43

    CUMMINGSWell, the other problem, I believe, at the Missouri University was the response time was very slow. The students had concerns. The president had set up a study to investigate, you know, what are the problems? What are the solutions? And that, of course, was going to take months and months and months. And so, you know, for these other universities that are now seeing this wave -- which probably will now go to other campuses, simply because they are having an impact, it will encourage other students to speak up -- is the response time to any of these concerns needs to be very swift.

  • 10:31:24

    CUMMINGSWith the Black Lives Matter organization, I think you saw Hillary Clinton engage with them very quickly and you saw Bernie Sanders not do it so quickly. And Bernie got the worst of it because of that. Now, ultimately, both of them have engaged. But I think response time is something that's very important in terms of coping with these moments of unrest.

  • 10:31:53

    REHMWell, you raise an important issue, Jeanne, and that is, how does this unrest on college campuses affect what's going on in the presidential race? Are there -- I mean, you've got Donald Trump saying -- he says that it was disgraceful to have these protests at the University of Missouri and that he, himself, should have been the chancellor, that he could have done a better job. I mean, it's as though every issue somehow Trump puts himself in the center of.

  • 10:32:37

    RAJUYeah. Well, that's what Trump likes to do, you know, is -- Trump also, you know, last night said a lot of things that he put himself in the center of. In a really raucous rally in Iowa, you know, he called Iowa voters stupid for supporting Ben Carson. He, in an interview with Erin Burnett on CNN, he said that -- he compared Ben Carson's pathological temper to the pathology of a child molester. You know, he's been saying pretty outrageous things on the campaign trail. And so this is no surprise that he would say this about the college campuses because this is what Trump does. He says bombastic things. He gets the news. And it seems to have been working for him so far.

  • 10:33:20

    RAJUSo, you know, but on your other question on how does this affect the campaign trail, you've seen -- when you -- you've seen Republicans like Chris Christie side with police forces in general, when it comes to the dispute between the inner-city communities and the police departments, by saying, look, we need to show more support for the police. He criticizes the president for not doing more to show that support for law enforcement. And you're seeing, on the Democratic side, siding with folks in that Black Lives Matter movement. So it's clearly become a wedge issue in American politics.

  • 10:33:53

    REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Jeanne.

  • 10:33:58

    CUMMINGSWell, The Donald, what can you say about last night? I have a feeling this will be a moment in this primary. As not -- maybe not nationally, but in Iowa. Because the things he said about Ben Carson were personal. They were insulting. He said -- he has said them in his call-in interviews on cable networks. But last night, he put all the kind of whacky things he's been saying into one speech. And...

  • 10:34:32

    REHMHere's what Reuters is reporting on that. Carson's business manager, today, spoke about Trump's 95-minute speech last night in Iowa, quote, "When I spoke with Dr. Carson about this yesterday as to how we should respond, he was so sad about it, he said, pray for him."

  • 10:35:00

    HARRISRight. Well...

  • 10:35:01

    CUMMINGSAnd that's why I think it -- this matters in Iowa. Because Iowa, because of the fractured field, the evangelicals are vitally important, because they move as -- they can move as a block. They are already moving to Carson. And I think this will drive them to Carson.

  • 10:35:18

    HARRISObviously, the Republican establishment is pressing the panic button recently. Because these outsider candidates, like Trump and like Carson, have persisted well into the campaign, far longer than anybody...

  • 10:35:33

    REHMThan was expected, sure.

  • 10:35:35

    HARRIS...than anyone predicted. Right?

  • 10:35:36


  • 10:35:37

    HARRISAnd that Carson and Trump remain atop the polls is deeply problematic for the establishment. It's kept a lot of the establishment money on the sidelines. It has kept the race, you know, there continues to be a huge number of candidates, which normally now would have started to coalesce around a consensus establishment candidate. Because the race is so uncertain with these outsider candidates, most of these candidates are deciding that I'm going to sort of see it out.

  • 10:36:09

    CUMMINGSBut we've seen this before with the outside candidates. We've seen this with the Republican Party before. That's what's so destabilizing about this primary, is not that there's a Herman Cain character, that's not unusual. It's not unusual that someone who appeals to evangelicals rises in Iowa. Santorum and Huckabee have won Iowa in the past. Iowa hasn't picked a winner in the Republican primary for more than a decade. So that stuff is kind of normal. What's not normal is that there isn't a clear establishment pick.

  • 10:36:48

    RAJUAnd I would say...

  • 10:36:48

    CUMMINGSMitt Romney was number two all through the primary, always poised to move ahead as the people who leapfrogged him ran through their cycle. The failure of Jeb Bush -- his inability to secure that spot -- that is the destabilizing point.

  • 10:37:04

    RAJUYeah. I completely agree. And I think on the Trump front, you know, the speech last night really smacked of desperation in some ways, because you look at the speech and the debate in Milwaukee, he acted somewhat presidential. And yesterday, he started throwing bombs again, because that's what works for him.

  • 10:37:21

    REHMManu Raju of CNN. Short break here. And when we come back, we'll open the phones, take your comments, questions. Stay with us.

  • 10:40:01

    REHMAnd welcome back. We'll get our phones up in just a few moments. In the meantime, an email from Chris in Ontario. If the TPP is dead in America, do you think it will be dead for everyone?

  • 10:40:43

    HARRISSo, there's a provision within the TPP that 85 percent of the GDP represented in the deal has to approve it in order for it to go into effect. So, both the United States and Japan are obviously the two countries with more than 15 percent of the GDP of the deal. So, both of those countries must pass the deal in order for it to go into effect at all for anyone.

  • 10:40:43

    RAJUYeah, and that's why the vote in Congress is so huge. The United States can essentially kill it.

  • 10:40:48


  • 10:40:49

    RAJUAnd that's why the President needs to sell his own party, enough of his own party to keep this issue alive.

  • 10:40:55

    REHMAll right.

  • 10:40:55

    HARRISAnd by the way, Diane, in all of the President's fundraisers, you know, I followed him on these trips through California and all the rest, he always, at some point in the fundraiser, calls out a nearby member of Congress, usually a Democrat, and says, and he knows what good trade deals are all about. I mean, he is spending time and spending political capital to get this thing done.

  • 10:41:18

    REHMAll right, let's talk about the second Democratic debate tomorrow night with three people on the stage. Governor Martin O'Malley, Bernie Sanders, Senator Bernie Sanders, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We have John Dickerson among three other reporters on that stage asking questions. What should we look for? What do you think we might expect?

  • 10:42:09

    RAJUWell, this is a big moment for Bernie Sanders. You know, after Joe Biden announced that he would not run in this race, Hillary has really solidified her lead, particularly in the early states and nationally. So, Bernie Sanders really needs to eat back into that advantage. He has, he was scaring the Clinton campaign earlier on when Biden was still a possible threat of running, because he was going to eat away at some of her support. So, he needs to really go after her. It will be interesting to see how he does go after her. Because he has tried to avoid attacking her directly.

  • 10:42:28


  • 10:42:29

    RAJUBut at the same time, he needs to show some difference and to show -- and tell voters the message that he has been subtly saying, and sometimes directly, saying that she's a flip-flopper, she does not believe on a lot of these key core issues. And he's a guy who has passionately fought for a lot of these populist economic issues for so many years. So, it will be interesting to see how aggressively he goes after her and how aggressively she goes after him, because that was interesting in the first debate how she went after him from the left on gun control. And maybe she'll do that again.

  • 10:43:00

    CUMMINGSI think all the pressure's on Bernie Sanders. I don't think Hillary Clinton's under a lot of pressure, and Bernie's pressure points are varied. He has -- this is debate in Iowa is supposed to focus on the economy. When Bernie is asked about issues that relate to his stump speech about the income inequality and, you know, the rich getting richer, et cetera, he does fine. But when he, when we start to go into the weeds on policy, he doesn't do so great. This debate's probably going to go into the weeds, and that's where Hillary Clinton undoubtedly will drive it.

  • 10:43:41

    CUMMINGSBecause she is a policy wonk. So, he's got to really be able to articulate a broader vision for himself. Then, Manu's right. He's gonna probably take shots at her. He did, for the first time in an interview with us, with the Wall Street Journal, where he said she has character problems. And that was a reference to her flip-flopping. He's going to try to revive that on the stage before a bigger audience. So, he has that going on. And O'Malley, Martin O'Malley is going to be going after him for being, not being a real Democrat. Because he's registered as an independent and has a long history of being critical of the Democratic Party.

  • 10:44:23

    CUMMINGSHe's been invited several times to join the party, always declined. And now, he wants to lead it. So, Martin O'Malley's going to go after him on that particular question. So, Bernie's got it coming from all sides.

  • 10:44:34

    HARRISAnd Bernie has zero chance here, Diane. I'm sorry. He may have a chance in Iowa and in New Hampshire, because he does well among white liberals. He does disastrously among a huge core constituency of the Democratic Party, which is people of color. Hillary kills him on those things. So, he may, he may put a scare in the Clinton campaign in these first two primaries, but as soon as it moves to South Carolina, Hillary is going to rack up, according to every single prediction and every single poll, she will dominate from there on out.

  • 10:45:12

    REHMBut the polls have been wrong in the past. Let's face it.

  • 10:45:16

    HARRISNot this wrong, Diane. I'm sorry.

  • 10:45:18

    REHMNot this wrong.

  • 10:45:18


  • 10:45:19

    REHMNot this wrong. So, what are the issues that are really likely to come up? I understand Martin O'Malley wants to talk a lot about immigration.

  • 10:45:31

    RAJUYeah, immigration will certainly be one of them. But I think, you know, but they're mostly on the same side on that issue. I mean, Bernie Sanders actually did oppose the 2007 immigration bill because he sided with labor unions at the time. Some of the labor unions who are concerned about how the work visas would be doled out to foreign workers. But he did support that 2013 immigration bill. So, it will be interesting to see if that issue is brought up. But the Trans Pacific Partnership, the TPP, which we were just talking about, will undoubtedly come up.

  • 10:46:01

    RAJUParticularly when it comes to Hillary Clinton. When she was Secretary of State, she called this the gold standard of American, of international trade deals, she touted this on the world stage. But now she opposes the deal, and that goes to the central criticism from the left and the right that she does not have core convictions on some of these key issues. So watch for that to be a major issue that Bernie will push against her, that O'Malley will push against her and it will be interesting to see how she talks about this and what she says. And how critical she is of the TPP.

  • 10:46:34

    CUMMINGSThat's one of these character issues that Bernie Sanders says will dog Mrs. Clinton through the campaign and should disqualify her from winning the nomination. He also is critical of her on the Keystone Pipeline for remaining silent for as long as she did, and then finally coming out in opposition to it. I still don't think, though, that those either of those issues will destabilize the trajectory of her campaign.

  • 10:47:06

    HARRISOne of the questions is, will the email controversy come up? Obviously, you know, Bernie Sanders gave her an enormous pass on the email issue in the last debate. And he has expressed regret about doing that. It is one of the great vulnerabilities to Hillary Clinton in the general election. Will it come up in the debate? That's going to be an interesting thing to watch.

  • 10:47:27

    REHMAnd we don't know exactly, with four people asking questions of three people. I mean, I'm really concerned about how these debates can truly filter out the information that voters need to have in order to inform themselves.

  • 10:47:50

    RAJUI think the Republican -- it's particularly harder on the Republican side.

  • 10:47:52

    REHMYeah. Right.

  • 10:47:53

    RAJUYou know, three candidates, they should be able to have plenty of time to get through the issues, go back and forth. And it could get contentious. It's been incredibly difficult for the moderators to manage this huge field of Republican candidates. And you've seen that with how the CNBC debate just became such an unwieldy debate, turned into a fight between the moderators and the Republican candidates about the questions that were asked. People complained about not getting enough time. And then, the Fox Business debate earlier this week was more -- you know, the moderators were very, very cautious.

  • 10:48:25

    RAJUThey tried to avoid really offending them by asking very pointed, controversial questions. So, you know, you've seen the moderators really struggle dealing with such a huge amount of candidates on the Republican side. And that makes it harder for viewers, particularly if these guys don't start to mix it up and show how they are actually different from each other. That's, of course, the key things voters have to decide.

  • 10:48:49

    CUMMINGSWell, we were, the Wall Street Journal, of course, was partnered with Fox in the Republican debate this week. And there wasn't really an attempt to avoid pointed, you know, controversial questions. The mission that the Journal went in with was let's start eliciting some real information here. They have very distinct differences on immigration. They have very distinct differences on tax policy. And so, the questions that we billed it as an economic debate and we asked questions related to the economy.

  • 10:49:26

    CUMMINGSAnd we could see those differences, particularly on immigration, bear out on the stage.

  • 10:49:31

    HARRISDiane, this has been riveting TV. I'm sorry. I mean, lots of people complain about it. I understand that, but just record numbers of people have watched it, in part because anywhere the Donald goes, people watch because they're wondering whether he's going to set himself on fire, which he sort of did last night.

  • 10:49:49

    REHMOkay, one point. It is going to be broadcast on CBS, so everyone can see it. There are those who complain that everything heretofore has been on cable and if you didn't have cable, you were left out. Especially because in some cases, there was no streaming. So, everybody can watch this Saturday night, Eastern time, nine 'o clock. That means what time in Iowa?

  • 10:50:23


  • 10:50:23

    REHMEight. So, it's going on then.

  • 10:50:25

    CUMMINGSSo, and the other thing, for those of us who've had to cover every single one of these, it's nice that it's on a broadcast station that has a show, maybe, at 11 'o clock that they actually want you to see. So, they will end on time.

  • 10:50:40

    RAJUNo three hour debates.

  • 10:50:40

    CUMMINGSThat's right.

  • 10:50:41

    REHMYeah. But the question is how harshly anybody on that stage is going to go after the other candidates. And here's a question I have for each of you starting with you, Gardiner. What question would you want to put forward to each of those candidates?

  • 10:51:03

    HARRISWell, I think, you know, the Democratic Party, I think, bills itself as the party of the middle class, right? And what I think this goes to what happened last night, or two nights ago at the Fox debate. Which is just articulate how you are going to help people with housing, help people with jobs, help people get their kids educated. Those are sort of fundamental middle class concerns. And it sounds like (unintelligible) , but there are some differences among the candidates.

  • 10:51:34

    HARRISAnd those are the sort of concerns like, I think that there should be questions about reliability and trust, but at this point in the campaign, you sort of have to lay out what your plan is. And that's probably the most important thing that these debates do, as Jeanne's group did the other night with their Fox WSJ one.

  • 10:51:55

    REHMAll right. So Jeanne, what would you want to ask, specifically, of each of those candidates?

  • 10:52:01

    CUMMINGSWell, I definitely agree with all those, the questions outlined domestically. I think one question might be, what are you going to do about ISIS? What will be your policy on Syria and Iraq? The President has been very nuanced in what he's done. I don't know this, but when I watch what he does in Syria, it seems to me he got what he wanted. He got the weapons of mass destruction and as for the rest of it, you know, let's help them, but pretty much, that's their fight to have.

  • 10:52:32

    CUMMINGSSo, and I believe Mrs. Clinton would take a very different approach. So, I'd like to -- I think I might put Syria and Iraq and ISIS right at them.

  • 10:52:41

    REHMAnd you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. And to you, Manu.

  • 10:52:47

    RAJUYeah, I was going to agree on the foreign policy front, but I'd also ask something about how they would differentiate themselves from the current administration, from President Obama, because so many folks in the Democratic base believe that the President has not gone far enough, not delivered on enough of his promises. So what would they do differently? What would they do to try to enact some of the things that the President did not do? And how would they actually work with the Republican controlled Congress?

  • 10:53:15

    RAJUI mean, that's going to be the real challenge for anyone coming in. Republicans are likely going to keep the House. They may keep the Senate, and even if they don't, they'll be a narrowly divided Senate. So, they're going to have to get -- they're going to have to sacrifice on some of those principles. So, hearing how they have to deal with, kind of, the Republicans in Congress. And also, fulfill some of the things that the President didn't do and how different than they are would be interesting to hear.

  • 10:53:37

    REHMBut what are you saying? Are you saying that the question would be Madame Secretary, how are you going to deal with the divided Congress?

  • 10:53:47

    RAJUYeah, I think that's definitely a good question, especially since Hillary Clinton said in the last debate that her enemy, one of the enemies she's most proud of, are Republicans. So, you know, the Republicans are going to run Congress, the House at least, so how is she going to deal with people she views as an enemy. Of course, she was tongue in cheek in saying that, but that does expose sort of the tension that exists between her and he opponents.

  • 10:54:10

    REHMAnd you're saying, Jeanne, how would you, Bernie Sanders, deal with Syria?

  • 10:54:16

    CUMMINGSYeah. Yeah, I'd like to hear him answer that.

  • 10:54:20

    HARRISYou were talking about, also, Manu was talking about this, I mean, obviously President Obama is a huge factor in this race on the Democratic side. He is enormously popular among core constituencies in the Democratic Party. On the other hand, you always want to be an agent of change. So, how do you, as a Democrat, particularly Hillary Clinton, who was in the Obama administration, project herself as both a continuation of the Obama Administration on some policies and also as an agent of change? Right?

  • 10:54:50

    HARRISAnd it's a very difficult dance for, frankly, all of the candidates, but particularly for Hillary Clinton.

  • 10:54:56

    REHMAnd how could Bernie Sanders somehow differentiate himself on that stage?

  • 10:55:07

    CUMMINGSWell, he easily can, because he is different. He has policies that are very different. He has tuition free college. Hillary Clinton has debt free college. He has free health care for everyone. Hillary Clinton has, you know, some tweaks in expansion of Obamacare. So, they do have very striking differences on policy as well as, obviously, personality. I gotta say though, I thought, in the last couple weeks, Bernie Sanders has done a great job of rounding out his image with pictures of him with all of his children and grandchildren.

  • 10:55:47

    CUMMINGSI thought he did great on the Rachel Maddow MSNBC round table, in which he was funny.

  • 10:55:55

    RAJUDancing with Ellen.

  • 10:55:56

    CUMMINGSYeah. I mean, I just think he's done a really good job of showing that he's not just this sort of angry, ranting, you know, passionate speech maker. There's a whole person there.

  • 10:56:08

    MR. OLIVIER KNOXAnd surely, Hillary did herself proud in front of that Congressional committee.

  • 10:56:15

    HARRISOh, it was one long Hillary for President ad was what it was. For the Democrats, anyway. I mean, and once again, the Clintons have been blessed by their rivals, right? Because inevitably, the Republicans seem to overreach whenever they go after the Clintons. They did that during the Clinton administration when they impeached the President and led to a huge angry backlash. They've done it again on the Benghazi Committee, going after Mrs. Clinton. And what was remarkable was her control of the facts. And the fact that she was there for, what was it? 11 hours.

  • 10:56:52

    REHM11 hours. Gardiner Harris of the New York Times. You get the last word. Jeanne Cummings of the Wall Street Journal, and Manu Raju of CNN. I do apologize to our listeners. We had technical glitches today and were not able to take calls. Next time. Thank you all.

  • 10:57:20

    RAJUThanks, Diane.

  • 10:57:20

    HARRISThanks, Diane.

  • 10:57:20

    CUMMINGSThanks, Diane.

  • 10:57:21

    REHMHave a great weekend, everybody. Thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.

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