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Face the Nation Transcripts February 23, 2014: McCain, Jindal, O’Malley

McCain: Ukraine unrest should make Vladimir P... 06:00

(CBS News) --  Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" from February 23, 2014. Guests included Holly Williams, John McCain, Bobby Jindal, Martin O’Malley, Amy Walter, John Dickerson, Dan Balz, Jonathan Martin, Margaret Brennan and Bobby Ghosh.

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Well, it is fairly quiet on the streets of Ukraine this morning, but the situation is far from settled. For the latest, we're going to go to CBS news correspondent Holly Williams. Holly?

HOLLY WILLIAMS, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bob. There has been a week of bloodshed here in Kiev. We've seen deadly clashes between anti-government protesters and riot police, which has left scores of people dead. But yesterday the demonstrators woke up to discover that they were suddenly in control of Ukraine's capital. The riot police had simply melted away and the interior ministry, which controls the police, said it was now on the side of the protesters. Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovych, has fled the city. We believe he's now in his stronghold in eastern Ukraine. There is a big geographical divide in this country. In the east, they tend to favor close ties with Russia, as Yanukovych does, but here in the west, the protesters say Yanukovych is corrupt and dictatorial, and they aspire to join the European Union. Now, during these three months of demonstrations, Russia has traded insults with the E.U. and the U.S. They accuse each other of interfering in Ukraine's politics. The country's parliament voted yesterday to sack Yanukovych, and then there were extraordinary scenes, as the protesters took over the luxurious presidential residence just outside of Kiev. So the demonstrators do seem to have emerged victorious. The problem for them is that Viktor Yanukovych refuses to go. He appeared on television yesterday saying there had been a coup. He said he was still president, and he compared the protesters to Nazis. But with Ukraine security forces now apparently on the side of the demonstrators, it seems just matter of time until Viktor Yanukovych will have to acknowledge that he has been defeated.

SCHIEFFER: So, Holly, who is actually running things right now, or is anyone running things?

WILLIAMS: It's a very good question. The parliament voted yesterday to elect its speaker, Aleksandr Turchinov, as acting president. So if you ask the parliament, he's in charge. If you talk to some of the protesters on the square, they'll tell you that they're in charge. And Viktor Yanukovych clearly thinks that he is still the president. The reality probably is that Yanukovych will have to admit that he has been beaten fairly soon. But I think that the protesters will probably stay out on the square until those elections that are scheduled for May.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Holly Williams. Thank you so much, Holly. And joining us now from his home state of Arizona, Republican Senator John McCain. Senator, the last time you talked to us, you were actually in Kiev, met with the protesters. You even addressed the crowd there at one point. Yesterday the opposition leader and the former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, was released from jail and addressed the crowds in Kiev. So I understand you have talked to the former prime minister and some of the other officials. What -- what are they telling you?

MCCAIN: I've talked to them, including Vitaly Klitschko and Yulia Tymoshenko and Mr. Yatsenyuk (ph). They -- they are, of course, overjoyed, but there's a sobering reality here that they recognize. Remember, in 2004, I was there when they had their first opportunity and obviously it didn't succeed. They're aware of that. But their economic situation is so dire that literally the economy is on the verge of collapse. And they're going to need help immediately. The second issue, I think, that is not clear is what does Vladimir Putin do. The eastern part of Ukraine is, especially with older people, more pro-Russian. Crimea is very Russian. Putin's major naval installation, Sevastopol, is there. And so what does -- what does Putin do here? I think the message has to be sent to him to let the Ukrainian people determine their own future. And a partition of Ukraine is totally unacceptable. And we need to act immediately to give them the economic assistance that they need, based on reforms that are going to be required as well. It's going to be tough sledding.

SCHIEFFER: So we give them economic assistance. Is there anything else that the United States can do?

MCCAIN: I think to speak out, to make the message clear to Vladimir Putin that -- that partitioning the country would not be acceptable. The Ukrainian people will determine their own future. They want to be Western, Bob. That's what this whole hundreds of thousands in the square was all about. They don't want to be Eastern. And, by the way, if I were Vladimir Putin today, at the end of the Olympics, I'd be a little nervous, because the people of Russia have watched this transpire and they're tired of the crony capitalism and kleptocracy that governs Russia today. If I were him, I'd be a little bit nervous.

SCHIEFFER: I want to ask you about something else, Senator McCain. Susan Rice, the national security adviser, hasn't been on Sunday TV much...

(LAUGHTER)

... since that Sunday when she told us that the violence in Benghazi grew out of a spontaneous demonstration. That violence, of course, took the lives of four people, Americans. You came on after Susan Rice and suggested she really didn't know what she was talking about, to put it bluntly. Well, this morning she was on "Meet the Press," and here is what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: That information turned out, in some respects, not to be 100 percent correct. But the notion that somehow I or anybody else in the administration misled the American people is patently false, and I think that that's been amply demonstrated.

SCHIEFFER: So do you have any reaction this time, Senator?

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN: I'm almost speechless because it's patently obvious, first of all, that Susan Rice had no reason to be on the program. She had no involvement in it.

Second of all, she read talking points that we are now beginning to believe came from the White House, which were absolutely false. We now know that director -- that the CIA station chief on the ground sent a message immediately saying not -- slash -- "not spontaneous demonstration."

And of course, the information was totally misleading, totally false. And for Susan Rice to say such a thing, I think -- it's a little embarrassing, to tell you the truth.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, I want to ask you about something you said the other day. You said that President Obama was -- and I believe these are your words -- "the most naive president in history." Did you mean that literally, or how did you mean that?

MCCAIN: I meant it in my -- in my time in public life. When you look at the so-called Geneva farce that was just a terrible joke, where we expected for Bashar Assad to come to Geneva and arrange for his own transition from power when he was winning on the ground was ludicrous. We now find that, as far as the Iranian nuclear issue, they are maintaining they are not going to dismantle a single centrifuge. The Palestinian-Israeli peace talks are obviously going nowhere. And American influences is on the wane throughout the world.

I mean, the best example is yesterday, or the day before. The president said that this had nothing to do with the Cold War, the issue, the situation in Ukraine. In the eyes of Vladimir Putin, it does. He wants to restore the Russian empire.

Remember, Putin is the guy that said the worst thing to happen in the 20th century was the fall of the Soviet Union. And he continues to want to push that reset button and not realize what kind of people we are dealing with.

And, finally, the best example I can tell you, my friend, is that we lost 96 young Americans in the second battle of Fallujah, soldiers and Marines, 600 wounded. We now have the black flags of Al Qaida fly over the city of Fallujah.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Senator, it's always good to have you with us. Thank you so much for joining us.

We're going to turn now to the home front. The nation's governors have descended on Washington this week. We're pleased to welcome two of them, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and a governor who didn't have to travel quite as far as the rest of them, Maryland Democrat Martin O'Malley.

Governor Jindal, I want to start with you. And I'm going to get right to it. Right after the 2012 elections, you said -- well, I'll just play what you said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JINDAL: We've got to stop being the stupid party. And I'm serious, it's time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults. It's time for us to articulate our plans and our visions for America in real terms.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIEFFER: You said, we've got to stop being the stupid party. Well, how is that going?

JINDAL: And that's exactly right. That was an RNC audience. And you can tell there was some nervous laughter when I said that.

Look, I've got op ed coming out tomorrow. As party we can't just be the party of no. As a party, we've got good solutions.

We're going to be meeting with the president. One of the things I want to share with him is that this president, this administration has a chance to be laser focused on job creation. We're not doing that.

You know, this president feels like he can act unilaterally. He feels like with the pen and phone he can make decisions without congress. I don't necessarily agree with that, but if he's go to make those decisions, why doesn't he do things, for example, let's increase domestic production of energy creating hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs. Why not delay all of the mandates in Obamacare is has become such a job killer in our economy.

We're at an history -- a 36 year low in terms of our labor force participation rate. The Republican Party should be the party of growth and opportunity. Why not approve the Keystone Pipeline today? In five years of study, tens of thousands of jobs, the Obama administration's own folks have said, no, this is not going to do damage to the environment if we approve it versus rejecting it there are specific things the president can do to create jobs.

The Republican Party needs to be all about growth, opportunity, creating good paying private sector jobs.

We're now in the middle of the weak -- one of the weakest recoveries since World War II. My party needs to be the party that says we've got real solutions on education, let's be for school choice, let's be for tenure reform. Let's say to the Democratic Party stopping being captive to the teacher unions, let's give every child the chance to get a great education.

SCHIEFFER: What about immigration?

JINDAL: On immigration -- look, I've said all along that people that want to come into this country, work hard, get an education, that's good for them, that's good for us. There's nothing wrong with Republicans in congress saying let's secure the boarder first. If this president was serious about moving forward with comprehensive approach he would start by securing the boarder.

We don't need a thousand page bill. It's not complicated. Right now, we have low walls and a narrow gate. That is opposite of what we need, we need a high walls and wide gate, so that more people can come in to this country legally.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this, after -- since you said we have to stop being the stupid party, the government was shut down, people blamed the Republicans for doing that. We have had Republicans undercutting their own leadership in both the House and the Senate. Do you think there is some sort of a disconnect between people, Republicans outside Washington and Republicans at the national level those those in Washington?

JINDAL: Oh, look absolutely. I think there is disconnect between the American people outside of Washington and the folks in D.C., Republican or Democrat.

SCHIEFFER: Well, talk about your side of the street.

JINDAL: On the Republican side, I think if you want to see real conservative principles being applied, you see it at the state level. So you see governors, for example, in Florida, in Ohio, in South Carolina, in Michigan, state after state with Republican governors, you see the unemployment rate going down, you see private sector jobs being created, you see Republican governors taking on public pension reform to tackle long term debt. You see Republican governors embracing school choice and tenure reform. You see Republican governors cutting taxes, creating good jobs, balancing our budgets, doing fiscally responsible things.

If you want to see conservative principles being applied you see them outside of Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C. has been the one recession-proof economies the last several years. Unfortunately you do see type of crony capitalism in our national capital. The administration, the Obama administration continues to give favors, breaks to favored industries and companies. Out in the real world, out in the real world you see Republican governors balancing their budgets and growing their economies.

SCHIEFFER: What do you think about Ted Cruz and the impact he's had on your party?

JINDAL: Look, I think he's passionate. I'm not one that wants to engage in Republican fratricide, I don't think we need to beat each other up. I think that it's a good thing that there are Tea Party and other and other conservative members active in our party.

Think about what he's trying to bring to the attention of the president and the leadership of congress. Our debt was $9 trillion when the president took over. President Obama criticized President Bush. Now the debt is over $17 trillion. It's not projected, the budget is not projected to be balanced at any point over the next ten years.

Our children and grandchildren have to pay that get back at the state level. In Maryland and Louisiana and other states we have balanced budget requirements in our constitutions. In Louisiana, you can't raise taxes without a super majority. The budget can't grow faster than the private sector economy.

I think it's right that folks in D.C. need to stand up and say, we can't just keep spending more money than we're taking in.

SCHIEFFER: Are you going to run for president? Are you going to explore it? When are you are...

JINDAL: Look, the honest answer is, I don't know. We have got 36 governors' races this year. We have got the control of the senate, the control of the House. We're focused on that. I've started an organization focused on winning those war of ideas called America Next. We're developing detailed policy ideas. It's not a PAC, it's not a Super PAC, not one page policies, detailed policy ideas on how do you replace Obamacare? What is an energy plan for the country? What is education plan so every child gets a great education.

 

 SCHIEFFER: Governor, it's a pleasure to have you here today. Good luck while you're here. And I'll be interested to see what you do say to the president to how that comes out when you all meet with him.

JINDAL: Thank you, Bob. Thank you for having me.

SCHIEFFER: Let's go to the other side of the table, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley.

Governor, let me just start where he left off. Are you thinking about running for the Democratic nomination for president?

O'MALLEY: I'm looking at that. But the most immediate responsibility I have is to Govern Maryland well. And through difficult times, we've made our public schools the number one in the country and have achieved the best level of job creation of any state in the Mid-Atlantic.

And that's really what it's about. When every state succeeds then America succeeds. And democratic governors believe in doing the right thing, the things that work to strengthen our middle class so that we can grow our economy.

SCHIEFFER: One of the things that does not appear to run or had hard time even getting off the floor and getting started, was the president's health care plan. This -- there's no other way to look at it. This roll out was a disaster.

Where are are you on that and how much do you think that's going to hurt Democrats?

O'MALLEY: Well, as a state we were looking to sign up 260,000 people. Right now we're about 200,000 that have signed up. The kick off of the web sites was certainly rocky. We squibbed the kickoff

SCHIEFFER: But it was more than rocky.

O'MALLEY: Oh, absolutely. But the main goal here -- and Bob, I'm sure with any new program, whether you go back to the start of Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid, there are always problems. But the goal is to cover more people so that we can improve the wellness of our people and not have the constantly escalating costs of health care.

SCHIEFFER: Where do you think it is right now?

O'MALLEY: Where do I think, what, health care reform is?

SCHIEFFER: Yeah, I mean, this whole plan, is this thing going to work or are they going to have to start over?

O'MALLEY: Oh, I think it's going much better. And it will continue to improve.

Look, the main goal here and larger battle is to bring down the costs of health care which is keeping us from being a more productive job generating country. You can't put dollars in to job creation if every year you're cutting checks, small businesses, medium business, large for 17, 15, 18 percent increase in your health care. So that's the goal. And we'll achieve that goal by working together and making this work.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think that Democrats, very many Democrats will ask the president to come and campaign for them now? Because I hear a lot of them don't want him in their states now because this thing is so unpopular.

I'm not saying it's good or bad, I'm not saying we need it or don't need it, I'm just saying it is very unpopular among a lot of people across the country.

O'MALLEY: Well, I think the perceptions of the Affordable Care Act will greatly change once the enrollment period comes to close by the end of March. By the end of March, you will see most states hitting their goals, you'll see our country having extended health care with more people. And all of those that have been scared and frightened that somehow something is going to happen to their health care will realize that those scare tactics were not true, that those were just falsehoods pedaled by the ideological right.

SCHIEFFER: You said something that got a lot of people's attention not so long ago by Chris Christie, you said well, he's great entertainment value if he decides to run for president but you didn't think he had very good record besides that. That was before this bridge business came up.

Do you think he's still a viable candidate for the Republicans?

O'MALLEY: Oh, I don't know. I will leave the Republican choice to the Republicans.

I can tell you this, in our state we believe in doing things in Maryland that work to create jobs and strengthen our middle class, to build up our schools, to empower our teachers not to vilify them or bully them. My differences with Chris Christie are many on policy choices. And in terms much the current, excuse me, Justice Department probe and other investigations I'll leave that to the people of New Jersey and the Justice Department to figure out.

SCHIEFFER: Talk a little bit about what is going on in Washington now. Governor Jindal all said there is a disconnect between Washington and the rest of the country, do you see that?

O'MALLEY: Well, I think the greatest disconnect is really between the ideologues that have taken over the once proud party of Abraham Lincoln and made it impossible for our congress are that the vast majority of us, Democrats and Republicans throughout the country, agree make sense like pay the country's bills, pass comprehensive immigration reform, do the common sense things.

I mean, shutting our country down does not help job growth. Selling America short does not help us build a better future for our kids. And these are the things that the Tea Party Republicans have brought to our congress and made it very difficult for Mr. Boehner and other Republicans even to enact the sort of reasonable compromise that all of us took for granted in years past.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, governor, I'm sure you would concede that you have those on the left who would take the party as far as that way as some of the Tea Party folks want to take the Republican Party on the right.

I mean, when the president comes out and says he's not going to touch entitlement reform that's like waving a red flag in front of a bull to the Republicans? I mean a -- I -- have we given up on trying to get anything done and compromising on anything?

O'MALLEY: No, I think there are good things that we can still do. I mean recently, they were able to enact at least a budget deal for the four -- you know, for the next year. They were able to pass a farm bill.

But the fact of the matter is that President Obama has reduced average annual spending increases to their smallest levels of any president since Dwight Eisenhower.

The problem here is not that somehow seniors are getting too many benefits in terms of Social Security. The problem is our country's future is being choked by this ideological commitment to greater tax cuts for the very wealthiest of Americans. And that's hurting our country, it's hurting our ability to make progress and it's hurting middle class wages.

That's why so many Democratic governors are pushing for an increase in the minimum wage.

And yet, you see many Republican ideologues saying, oh, we can't do that, somehow if a person is actually able to lift their family through their hard work out of poverty with a -- a better minimum wage, that that somehow is an affront to their trickle down ideology. And -- and the fact is, prosperity is grown from the middle out and the middle up.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just go back to what we started with and that is the coming presidential campaign in 2016.

If Hillary Clinton is the nominee -- if Hillary Clinton runs, would you also -- would you still run?

O'MALLEY: I think the most important question for any of us who feel that we have something to offer for our country's future is to offer those ideas and to put those ideas out there and, most importantly, to ask the right questions, questions like what will it take to make sure that our middle class is growing again so we can grow our economy?

And that's what I'm going to be doing. And what the other candidates may or may not do is their choice.

SCHIEFFER: All right, Governor, thank you so much for being here.

O'MALLEY: Bob, thank you.

SCHIEFFER: And we'll be back in one minute with some personal thoughts.

SCHIEFFER: The thing about the news is you can never know where it's going. But lately, it's falling into an all too familiar pattern.

How many Sundays have we started this broadcast the way we did today, with some terrible story from overseas, while back home, there's an equally important story competing for attention?

The overseas stories change, but here is the worrisome part. The story here is always just more of the same old same old, yet another variation of how Washington doesn't work.

"The New York Times" columnist, Tom Friedman, remarked the other day that Silicon Valley is the place where ideas come to be launched. Washington is the place they come to die.

But it is worse than that. As we saw last week, Washington has now given up on even trying to make the old ideas work. It is only February, but the way I read it, the president's retreat from entitlement reform, coupled with the Republican retreat on immigration reform, all but makes it official -- Washington is done for the year. Expect nothing else of consequence to happen here.

As a rule, not much gets done anyway in an election year, but Washington is off to its earliest start ever.

Now, wait a minute, can you really get an early start on doing nothing?

Sure you can, in Washington.

Back in a minute.

SCHIEFFER: And stay with us for our political panel. Will have "The Washington Post's" Dan Balz, Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times," Amy Walter of "The Cook Political Report" and our own CBS News political director, John Dickerson, plus a lot more.

SCHIEFFER: And welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We have an all- star lineup of political reporters today: the chief correspondent for "The Washington Post", Dan Balz; we welcome jonathan Martin, who's the national political correspondent for "The Times" and we have Amy Walter, national editor of "The Cook Political Report" and it wouldn't be a political panel without our own John Dickerson. We have to pay him anyway.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHIEFFER: We're glad to have you, John.

Jon, welcome, your first appearance here on FACE THE NATION.

You were the one that Bobby Jindal first said to, the Republicans have got to stop being the stupid party.

JONATHAN MARTIN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Right.

SCHIEFFER: And it was interesting to hear what he had to say today when I asked him did he think they would stop.

MARTIN: Well, there are current examples of the fact that you still have those comments. Mike Huckabee a couple of weeks ago talking about women's libidos, for example.

And when that kind of thing happens, Democrats are gleeful. Because it's exactly the kind of fodder that they want and especially in a midterm year when turnout typically drops to elevate their own base, the African Americans, Hispanics, young voters, women.

And so that -- those are the kind of comments that you see party leaders like Jindal cringe when they hear because they want this election, Bob, to be entirely about ObamaCare implementation ,the state of the economy, President Obama's overall popularity.

And any time the Democrats have an opportunity to change the topic, it scares the Republicans.

Amy Walter, national editor of "The Cook Political Report": And yet makes it great for somebody like a governor, like Bobby Jindal, to have the focus on how dysfunctional Washington Republicans are. They get to make the case, well, this is why you need to elect a governor in 2016. Forget about all those guys who are trying to run from Washington, we're the people that are solving the problems and we aren't making the same mistakes.

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And that's one of the reasons you see so little happening in Congress. There are two ways to fix being what Governor Jindal called the stupid party.

One is to say smarter things. The other is to not get into the kinds of debates in which people have -- say stupid things. And so when you see Republican not deciding to take on immigration, in the same way Democrats are not taking on trade, they're not taking on the increase in the cost of living, on Social Security and other measures.

Both sides have decided we're not going to take any risks because we don't want to say anything that's going to get us shooting at each other when we want to all be shooting at the other side. But that leads to what you say, which is, achievements in becoming the most do- nothingest Congress.

SCHIEFFER: But, you know within they say we're not going to do any of these things, you have what happened in the Senate, where Ted Cruz goes in there and forces Republicans, who were going to be able to vote against raising the debt ceiling. He made them vote and they had to vote yes to break the filibuster.

So there is a disconnect, I think, Dan.

DAN BALZ, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, there's a disconnect and there's a division within the Republican Party, just as there are some divisions within the Democratic Party. But the Republicans are trying to sort out what kind of a party they want to be, not just philosophically but stylistically.

And I think that that's the big battle that we're seeing playing out.

And as Amy said, governors have got one version of this, which is don't look at Washington, look at what we're doing in the states. I mean what is going on in the states is really important right now because you have, at this point in history, more states than we've had in many, many years under unified control of either Republicans or Democrats.

And they're going in different directions. And so the country can look at Washington and say, we have no idea what they're doing because they're not doing anything. And you can look at the states and say, this is the Republican model and this is the Democratic model and that's what's going to be on display in these state races this year.

MARTIN: And the polarization that we see in Washington and often lamented (ph) in Washington is very -- and the state capitals, too. In fact, it's even on more vivid display in the state capitals, as Dan said, you've got these liberal states and conservative states which are pursuing some pretty remarkably different policy agendas. And it leads to the fact that we increasingly have two different countries.

SCHIEFFER: What about, we're going to have elections here, the off-year elections.

How is that shaking down, Amy?

WALTER: Well, this is not a great year to be a Democrat. It's usually not a great year to be the party in the White House in a second term, midterm, right?

But when you look at the playing field, the seats that Democrats have to defend in the Senate are very tough. They are in very, very deep red states. The economy is doing better than it was four years ago, but it's not great. The president's numbers are obviously much lower than they were, even going into the 2012 election.

So it's setting up not particularly well for Democrats. What they're hoping --

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIEFFER: And you haven't mentioned the health care.

WALTER: Right, I haven't -- you're right. I haven't even mentioned that the issue environment. This is why you're seeing, to Jonathan's point about changing the subject, this is why you're seeing Democrats talking incessantly about things like the minimum wage.

They want to make this debate about economic inequality: they want it to look a lot like 2012, where it was. Democrats were the people looking out for you; we're on your side. Republicans are the ones on the side of big business and big insurance. If they can make that debate --

 

 (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) issue

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

WALTER: Yes.

SCHIEFFER: So what happens on the health care thing? What are they going to do here? I mean, where is this thing?

DICKERSON: Well...

(LAUGHTER)

DICKERSON: -- well, I think that --

(CROSSTALK)

DICKERSON: -- yes, that's right. I think the Democrats hope that it will continue to sign people up; they'll be able to point to numbers of people signing up that's below targets that the White House officially set.

And then they just got to hope against hope that there isn't one of these surprises. The big political risk on the Affordable Care Act is that there is some surprise, either a delay or a report from the Congressional Budget Office that reminds voters -- who already had health care but who've always been worried that this big thing out there is going to crash into their existing health care, that every time they are reminded of the surprises inherent in this enormous program, they get nervous.

And so that is the thing that Democrats have to worry about is that there are just surprise, that then candidates will have to quickly come back.

One thing -- shift we have noticed, though, is Republicans are less and less running on the idea of repeal. And so that will be interesting to watch; they will talk about replacement but less ripping it out because of the hangover of --

SCHIEFFER: And they have now presented an alternative.

DICKERSON: Right, they have, which is another reminder in how we've shifted from repeal. In other words, now it's on trying to replace it with something.

MARTIN: What's so striking to me, Bob, is that you've got the health care implementation taking place in some states quite successfully. I was talking yesterday to Governor Steve Beshear from Kentucky, which has really been a model of implementation of the Affordable Care Act. He said they added coverage to 244,000 Kentuckians.

At the same time that that is happening in that state this year, in the Senate race, Mitch McConnell's entire campaign against his challenger is to hang the issue of ObamaCare around her neck, Alison Lundergan Grimes.

So there is this odd duality of this implementation of a law that is adding coverage to thousands of people in the state and the candidate for the Senate -- the Democrat can't even talk about it.

BALZ: Well, another duality that we're seeing in these races, which -- as you all mentioned, the Democrats want to talk about the degree to which the economy is improving. And yet they want to run against governors, they want to run against Republican governors for not doing enough on the economy.

So both sides are conflicted in the way they're delivering these messages on some of these (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

WALTER: Well, if you wonder when the other shoe is going to drop on health care is that in October -- September and October, people who are -- have employee-sponsored health care, they get their rates for 2015. So right before the election, you're going to get something in the mail that tells you --

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about this.

Do you think that Republicans can take the Senate, Dan?

BALZ: Well --

SCHIEFFER: Where do you think that is right now?

BALZ: It is -- I think that there is a distinct possibility that they can. I mean, I had thought earlier that they had even more of an uphill slog to do it. I think the map now is such that they could certainly do it. I mean, there are plenty of races available that we see that are well within play.

So, yes, it's very possible. If I were Democrats at this point, I would be quite nervous.

SCHIEFFER: And my sense is the House will stand Republican.

BALZ: Yes. I think everybody agrees on that.

SCHIEFFER: Let's talk a little presidential politics. We have two people at the table, both of whom would like to run; I don't think there's any question about that.

Can anybody get passed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination?

BALZ: Well, we should never say never because if we had been here eight years ago we would have said, can anybody get past Hillary Clinton in 2008. And it turned out somebody was able to do that.

On the other hand I think everybody agrees at this point that if she runs, she's in an even stronger position to win the nomination than she was the last time. There is no Barack Obama-like person lurking on the horizon in the Democratic race. So you would have to say she is a formidable frontrunner for the nomination. But we've got a long way to go.

SCHIEFFER: What do you think, Jon?

MARTIN: Oh, I think that if she does run, she will be historically formidable. But I don't think that's going to stop the fact that there will still be a primary in their party. Somebody else is going to run; Governor O'Malley I think, for example, still probably wants to run, even if she is in the race. The question to me is what is the nature of that primary? Is it a sort of a polite debate where somebody like Governor O'Malley makes an investment in his future?

Or does it get to be a little bit more of a traditional tough, sort of no-holds-barred debate? I think that is still an open question.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this, on the other side of the street. And I base this on nothing but watching television.

I am seeing Mitt Romney show up on television more and more and more.

Does anybody think he might be actually thinking about trying again?

DICKERSON: Well, I think he's doing some rehabilitation. There's a little -- so personally. But I think also it's funny in when he was running for president, there were a bunch of establishment money types who ran over to Chris Christie and said, would you please run?

Well, now that Chris Christie is having his prolonged indigestion because of this Washington Bridge problem, George Washington Bridge problem, there is a little bit of -- in the establishment looking around for a kind of similar candidate. I think that's what that may be a little bit about. It's not serious.

I think another interesting thing on the Republican side is you have three Republican senators, freshmen Republican senators thinking about maybe running.

I don't see -- I just don't know how the Republican Party, after spending so many years attacking a former freshman senator, saying he didn't have enough experience...

(CROSSTALK)

DICKERSON: -- is then going to turn to a Republican freshman senator. I think that's the real thing to watch in the Republican race.

SCHIEFFER: So what about something else to watch, and that is, of course, Chris Christie.

Is he done?

Will this hurt him?

Can he get past this whole bridge business now?

BALZ: Well, he may be able to get past this. He's certainly damaged at this point. He -- you know, he's been here this weekend for the National Governors Association meeting...

SCHIEFFER: (INAUDIBLE).

BALZ: -- and he's been not visible in public, for the most part.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

BALZ: And I think that tells you a little bit about his condition right now.

He's got to get through this. There's going to be more that we're going to learn about it. I think it's too early to say whether he's completely gone, but he's -- but he's hurt.

But can he come back?

He might be able to.

DICKERSON: A sign of his image makeover, they used to put out videos of him tussling with voters. After his most recent town hall, his office put out a picture of him giving a little high five to a little girl.

WALTER: Of course.

DICKERSON: You know, next time it's going to be puppies.

(LAUGHTER)

WALTER: Right. It's always -- you know who you don't want to be at this point in an election is the frontrunner. And so Chris Christie has gotten that. Marco Rubio got a taste of that. We're now seeing Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, who was seen as coming up in the ranks, he's having his own issues back home about e-mails being released in...

SCHIEFFER: Right.

WALTER: -- an investigation in his office.

So the person you really want to be is the one who's kind of there in the background, not getting a whole lot of attention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But there really is no...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIEFFER: Well, but except if you're...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIEFFER: -- if, in the case of Hillary Clinton, she's more than a frontrunner...

WALTER: Well...

SCHIEFFER: -- she's this giant looming figure now, it appears.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.

WALTER: Yes.

SCHIEFFER: And I mean every poll shows her at about 70 percent, doesn't it?

MARTIN: She's very, very formidable. And a sitting vice president is...

SCHIEFFER: And among Democrats.

MARTIN: -- is far behind her. You know, there really is no modern comparison. Maybe Eisenhower is the closest, you know, comparison.

But on the Republican side, there really is no frontrunner. And every four years, there's at least somebody that you think is going to be the guy for the Republicans in advance and it's just not clear at this point...

WALTER: Which is why...

MARTIN: -- at all.

WALTER: -- right. Which is, there is a real battle within the party...

SCHIEFFER: And that's...

WALTER: -- about who wants to be and there shouldn't be a frontrunner.

SCHIEFFER: That is a very good point, because Republicans, traditionally, it's been kind of wait your turn...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're coronations.

SCHIEFFER: You run...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

SCHIEFFER: -- a couple of times...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

SCHIEFFER: -- or -- or at least once. Nobody gets it the first time out.

(CROSSTALK)

WALTER: -- the Democrats are doing that now.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIEFFER: -- now you've got -- that's the Democrats. BALZ: As John suggests, though, I mean I think this does set up for a governor to emerge if -- if these governors who are looking at it aren't too damaged -- to emerge as a frontrunner at some point.

MARTIN: I mean I think you could see maybe six governors on the right side run. And, you know...

(CROSSTALK)

BALZ: You know, and we haven't mentioned Jeb Bush.

MARTIN: Or Rick Perry from Texas.

BALZ: Or Rick Perry.

 

 MARTIN: Speaking of having run before.

SCHIEFFER: Yes.

BALZ: Yes.

SCHIEFFER: My guess is he's trying to run.

BALZ: Well, he's certainly doing everything...

(CROSSTALK)

BALZ: -- to allow himself to run. Whether he will -- whether he will actually do it, I don't think we know at this point. But he's spending this year putting himself in a position to make the decision to do so.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think was his many debates this presidential election, this last time out (INAUDIBLE)...

DICKERSON: Well, you know, not if the Republican Party has anything to say about it. They are -- there seems to be -- there is a consensus. Now, what could break -- which is that there were too many last time. It created this circus atmosphere.

The only thing that breaks that consensus is the candidates who are in the second tier who want to get their moment in the sun. And also, by the way, networks that want to have good rock 'em sock 'em events on a stage.

(CROSSTALK)

DICKERSON: But that's also for Hillary Clinton to challenge, you know. I mean you mentioned Eisenhower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

DICKERSON: At least there was a Taft with Eisenhower, who was fighting within the Republican Party.

With Hillary Clinton on the stage, unless it's a nice we're all friends kind of thing, if it's not, a debate is a moment where she could...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- for an hour.

DICKERSON: Right. Exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

DICKERSON: An hour just to wallop on her and make her defend everything about the Obama administration that a lot of liberals are disappointed with.

(CROSSTALK)

WALTER: But part of the problem with the debates last time was that they were a lot of -- let's just put it nicely -- JV players on the field. There weren't a lot of varsity athletes.

If you put a varsity athlete on a debate stage, that's actually good for Republicans. Those debates were terrible because it brought out the very worst of what the Republicans were, you know, trying to be or trying to promote.

SCHIEFFER: All right, well, this has been a lot of fun.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIEFFER: I'm glad to have all of you.

We'll be back with some analysis on the international news next.

SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with "Time" international editor, Bobby Ghosh and CBS News State Department correspondent Margaret Brennan, both of whom have had a very busy week.

And, Bobby, the -- let me just start with you.

You know, we talk about we don't have much good news around here...

BOBBY GHOSH, INTERNATIONAL EDITOR, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Yes.

SCHIEFFER: -- but there was some pretty good news. This El Chapo Guzman...

GHOSH: Yes.

SCHIEFFER: -- AKA Shorty.

GHOSH: Yes. It's a big deal. In Mexico, one of the baddest of the bad cartel leaders. He was the leader of the Sinaloa cartel and one of the last men standing. The -- the government has systematically gotten to a lot of the other cartels. And this was a very, very big deal. They got Shorty. They -- and it's a -- it's a program that Pena Nieto, the Mexican president, had launched when he became president more than a year ago. And there was a very -- what we know of it so far, quite a lot of cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico.

There had been some fears that that cooperation was fraying. Clearly, that's not the case. This guy escaped once before 13 years ago, from prison. So, you know, it's not all over and done with yet.

SCHIEFFER: And, you know, this is just like something out of a movie or something. They catch him in bed. There's a woman here on one side and there's an AK-47 on the other side. I hope he, you know, in the middle of the night, I guess he has to be careful to make sure...

GHOSH: Well...

SCHIEFFER: -- which one he reaches for there.

GHOSH: -- fortunately, he didn't choose to shoot his way out. This was not...

MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

GHOSH: -- Scarface, which meant that there was -- there was much less bloodshed than there should have been.

They've gone after his lieutenants quite systemically over the last three or four months. One by one, they picked them off. They acted very quickly to get information from them about where he might be. They went to the one house where the -- where he actually was. He escaped from there, but they knew where he was going and they managed to nab him there.

So this is a -- this is a very intelligent operation. Intelligence, a heavy operation, and something to be celebrated today.

BRENNAN: And interesting that this year long operation came to a head the same week that President Obama was in Mexico.

GHOSH: Yes.

BRENNAN: And within the same week, they had a failed raid and then this successful operation over the weekend.

But this was the DEA in -- working hand in hand here with the Mexican marines. And law enforcement officials say that you can expect a conversation in the next few days about an extradition here to the U.S., because of exactly what you raised. He's escaped from prison before, some would say, with some help from the inside. So...

SCHIEFFER: I guess if this were a Tom Clancy movie, the president would have gone down there and led the raid.

(LAUGHTER) SCHIEFFER: That the way it is in fiction.

Let's talk about the serious -- the more serious stuff, and that is, what's going on in the Ukraine. It looks -- well, the president's left. They don't know quite where he is.

But nobody knows, was this a coup?

He says it was.

Is he going to leave?

Where are we on that, Margaret?

BRENNAN: Well, revolutions are easy to start and hard to finish. It's, right now, a question of who exactly is in a leadership position?

In name, the parliament is running the country, but no one in particular is at the head of that right now. So the U.S. and the EU are working hard behind the scenes to try to get the opposition to form some kind of unity government, because they're very concerned about these splits. You could draw a line right through the middle of Ukraine and see those who are still pro-Moscow and those who are wanting to be closer to Europe. And there is concern that there could be a real fracture here.

But most immediately, this country is about to implode financially. They need cash. They need it quick. And the U.S. and EU really want them to take that money from the IMF. It's going to be harder to take that medicine, because they're going to have to make budget cuts and do some hard work instead of relying on Russian financial aid...

SCHIEFFER: And we...

BRENNAN: -- because they're incredibly dependent.

SCHIEFFER: -- we saw this. One of the opposition leaders was led out of jail. She spoke to the protesters yesterday. She's in a wheelchair.

But yet, she's not the heroine of all the people that were out there in the street, bobby.

GHOSH: Not at all. Yulia -- Yulia Tymoshenko. And she's a very divisive figure. She's been prime minister twice, persuaded over very, very corrupt administrations, very inept. She's a good street fighter and we've seen that character in -- around the world, an extremely good street fighter, not good at governing.

And Margaret was right, no one is sure who's in charge of the opposition. They're a very fractured group.

The sense is that this is the end of round one. Now comes round two, Putin, after today, is not distracted by the Sochi Olympics, he's going to enter the ring. Who is going to be standing against him?

The question comes down to who wants to own the Ukraine problem. We don't. Europe, maybe. They're not 100 percent sure. They are not sure they want the most bankrupt and most corrupt country in Europe has part of the European Union.

The one person who wants to own the Ukraine problem is Putin. That gives him an advantage. The question is, who is going to go up against him?

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you both a question that I was once asked as a young reporter. I came back in with this story and the editor said to me, tell me why I should care about this? Why is this important to the United States, Margaret?

BRENNAN: Well, in name, the U.S. would say it's important for us to see that democracy is taking hold in the Ukraine. When it comes down to direct national security interests, hard to make that argument.

But for Russia, this is their back yard. They have a naval base in the Ukraine. They have tremendous trade. They have a shared border. It's in their direct interest. And when the TV cameras leave, they are going to have a lot of influence.

For the U.S., we have been sort of hamstrung here. You have those unanswered calls for a week from Secretary Hagel to his counterpart in the Ukraine, and that just shows this issue that the U.S. doesn't have a lot of leverage there.

We do through the E.U. They've got 28 countries who are threatening to really punish those leaders financially if they don't follow through with some of these reforms.

GHOSH: But even in Europe, not a lot of Europeans want Ukraine to be part of the European Union. They sympathize with the people in the street. But the European Union has plenty of problems of its own, economic problems. It does not want another basket case within the fold.

It really -- for Russia, you can't emphasize enough how big a deal it is. Every Russian diplomat learns this on day one in diplomacy school. Russia without Ukraine is a country. Russia with Ukraine is an empire.

This is sort of driven deep in to every Russian politician, every Russian diplomat. So you -- we can expect them to fight hard, and if we have learned anything about Putin, fight dirty.

SCHIEFFER: Let's shift to Syria. We haven't talked about that. Is there any good news from Syria lately, Margaret?

BRENNAN: Well, it depends on your perspective. Yesterday you did have at the U.N. this agreement, really one of the very first agreements that Russia signed on to, to force the Syrian regime to allow in humanitarian aid. Basically let us give food to your starving people.

That was viewed as a diplomatic breakthrough in many ways by Secretary Kerry. It was an agreement on paper, in 30 days we're going to see whether or not that actually happened.

But more broadly, it once again emphasizes, whether you're talking about Ukraine, you're talking about Syria, this face-to-face showdown with Russia right now. And in the context of Syria, oddly speaking, Russia seems to be the only point of leverage that the U.S. says it has there.

They say their entire strategy for Syria is to pressure the Russians to deliver Assad. And either the U.S. has totally over- calculated their degree of influence or their willingness to deliver him, or completely underestimated Assad's ability to hold on. Maybe both. The Russians would say we've miscalculated majorly.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, I want to thank both of you. That really helps me to understand it. And I'm sure it has helped others. Very nice to have both of you this morning and get your take on these things.

We'll be right back.

SCHIEFFER: Well, that's all the time we have today. We thank you for watching FACE THE NATION. And we'll see you here, same channel, same time, next week.

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