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STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY
Interview with Sen. Murray; Interview With Sen. Paul; Interview with former Secretary of State Rice
Aired November 20, 2011 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: If Congress doesn't come up with a way to reduce the U.S. debt, it will trigger cuts in programs for the poor and elderly, dig deep into Pentagon spending, shake world markets, undermine confidence in the U.S. economy, or -- none of the above.
Today, the price and the politics of failure with the Democratic co-chair of the super committee, Senator Patty Murray, and Tea Party Republican Senator Rand Paul.
Then, the world according to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Looking forward and looking back at the ten-year war in Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICE: It's not surprising that people are trying to find an end in sight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: And as he bubbles to the top of the 2012 pool, what makes Newt tick? With Gingrich campaign adviser Bob Walker and former Gingrich staffer, political analyst Rich Galen.
I'm Candy Crowley, and this is State of the Union.
For more than two months, debt committee members have struggled with the complications of public policy and the reality of party politics. By way of good news, they're still talking to each other.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JEB HENSARLING, (R) TEXAS: We have 12 good people who have worked hard since this committee has been created to try to find sufficient common ground.
SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: I think all 12 members of this committee have really committed to doing that. We're working hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Still, it's hard to figure how they can in the hours left agree on a deal that has eluded them for months.
Joining me now for her first Sunday interview as the Democratic co-chair of the super committee, Senator Patty Murray of Washington.
Thanks for being here in a tough time. There are multiple stories out there that it is over.
MURRAY: Look, I took on this task of co-chair with a real sense of the urgency of this country, the challenge that was in front of us, and so many people saying to me, please, find a solution, find a way out of this. I'm worried about my country.
You know all Americans, all sides, no matter who they are, share some real common ground. They care about our country. They're worried about our future. They want us to find a shared sacrifice way of solving this. But there are some real divides, too. And I came into this really trying to find that common ground and that bridge that could bring us together. And in some ways, we found some of that ground.
You know, I have put things on the table and learned a lot about what we can and need to do in ways I never thought before.
CROWLEY: And are you going to come up with a deal?
MURRAY: I'm sure my Republican counterparts did the same, but there is one sticking divide, and that is the issue of what I call shared sacrifice, where everybody contributes in a very challenging time for our country.
CROWLEY: Tax increases.
MURRAY: And that's the Bush tax cuts and making sure that any kind of package includes everybody coming to the table. And the wealthiest of Americans, those who earn over $1 million every year, have to share, too. And that line in the sand, we haven't seen any Republicans willing to cross yet.
CROWLEY: And so that says to me that, yes, the debt committee is not going to be able to come to an agreement to put to an up or down vote.
MURRAY: Well, look. I'm going to be waiting all day. I'll be at the table, as I've been, willing to talk to any Republican who says, look, my country is more important, this pile of bills is not going to go away, the challenges that we have is not going to disappear, we need to cross that divide. I'm ready. I'm waiting.
Today I'll be at the table, all night long. We have a few hours left.
CROWLEY: Is any talking going on?
MURRAY: And if anybody's willing to be there--
CROWLEY: Doesn't sound like anything is scheduled? Just kind of a "call me if you have got an idea"?
MURRAY: Well, I know people talk about whether we're all in a room. Well, look, a lot of discussions go on. We've had many, many discussions. A few people, the whole group, all of us, all trying to find that common ground. I mean, that's how I approach a problem. What is the best way to bring different kinds of people together to find that.
But the truth is at this point today, Democrats have made some really tough decisions and come to some pretty tough choices that we're willing to put on the line on entitlements, on spending cuts, but only if the Republicans are willing to cross the line on the Bush tax cuts and be willing to say revenues have to be a part of this solution. CROWLEY: So how does this end? Does it end at midnight? Do you put out a press release? Do you vote on the separate plans? Do you have a final meeting and go, we can't do it? How are you going to end this?
MURRAY: If there is a Republican who gets up today and says I can't let the country see a failure out of this committee and comes to us and says, I'm willing to say that there is revenue on the table, I will work all night long to get that put together and we can have a committee vote on it.
CROWLEY: Now they will tell you that they have put revenue on the table. So I don't want -- and I know--
MURRAY: Well, let's talk about that. I think that's important to talk about.
CROWLEY: Well let me -- I want to play -- we had your fellow co- chair Jeb Hensarling, a Republican, on last week. And I want to play you a little bit of what he said and ask you about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HENSARLING: We will fail unless we fundamentally do structural reform to what President Obama himself has called the main drivers of our debt -- Medicare, Medicaid, and health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: So the Republicans say, as you know, for the problem here isn't about making people pay more, it's about tax reform, Medicare reform, Social Security reform, that you all are totally unwilling to do that.
MURRAY: Well that, everybody knows -- everybody in the country knows there's three main things we need to put on the table -- revenue, entitlements and spending cuts. Part of this deal that everybody's forgotten about is we enacted a little over $1 trillion in spending cuts already as part of this deal. The committee has to look at spending cuts, if we do more, entitlements, and revenue. Democrats have come to the table to meet dollar for dollar what the Republicans are asking for in terms of spending cuts and entitlements. Not policy for policy but dollar for dollar.
CROWLEY: So not the structural reform they are talking about.
CROWLEY: Change the way these--
MURRAY: We have said we are willing to put on the table changes to the entitlement programs that reduce the deficit in the long run. But what we will not put on the table is the end to the guarantee to those entitlements.
I don't want to say to my granddaughter, you're not going to be able to have health care when you retire. I want that guarantee there. And you can do that, but it is long term, and we've been willing to do that. And it is a big sacrifice to put that on the table.
But we can't do it alone. We can't say this whole problem is going to be solved by taking something away from people in terms of Social Security and entitlements. We have to have on the table the revenue, and again, that is the sticking point today as we sit here.
CROWLEY: You don't think you're going to get that call from a Republican, do you?
MURRAY: Well, you know--
CROWLEY: I know hope springs eternal. And you don't want to drive a stake into this, but--
MURRAY: Well, let's be clear. This is a challenge that is still going to be on the table at the end of the day, and the question will be not if we are going to solve this, but how we are going to solve it. Is it going to be fair? Is it going to be shared sacrifice or just working men and women going to carry the ball on this? I just can't support that.
CROWLEY: Let me -- I want to play you -- for you something that you said on the 1st of November about these triggers. In other words, if you all don't come to a deal -- looks very much like you're not going to -- $1.2 trillion in cuts in discretionary spending and at the Pentagon will take place in 2013.
I want to play something you said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: The consequences of failure are unacceptable. The triggers that have been put in place would be devastating for our national defense and for middle-class families and the most vulnerable Americans that depend on this country for things like education and housing and even nutrition assistance for women and infants. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: And among other things, Leon Panetta, the Defense secretary, said you do these cuts in the Pentagon, it will cripple the military. So it is impossible for me to believe that 12 people looking at what you just said will happen are going to allow this -- allow the debt committee to fail.
MURRAY: And I have told you, I'm at the table. I am ready to work with anybody who can say that last divide is that they're willing to cross that. Democrats have said shared sacrifice. The country understands shared sacrifice. The people I talk to say, you know, I know I'm going to have to bear some of this burden. I know that this is -- that our country's in trouble.
But look, any family understands this. If a family's in trouble and somebody is seriously injured or sick and the family has to come around the table and say how are we going to deal with this? Everybody says what can I do. They don't say, well, we're going to let our older brother off who's done really well. He's not going to contribute. The rest of us who are working really hard and have had a tougher time, we're going to contribute?
Our country gets that philosophy. That big brother has to be at the table, too. That's what's missing today. That's what America wants.
CROWLEY: But we are still at the place where all of these cuts may happen if the committee fails, where people are talking about shaking the world markets if you fail, they're talking about perhaps again undercutting U.S. creditworthiness because people have no faith in Congress.
Why not take what the Republicans have offered and said, look, there's some spending cuts we can agree to, $640 billion -- I think $640 billion or something that was put on the table by Republicans recently.
MURRAY: You are talking about a couple days ago.
MURRAY: That was cuts that fell right on the working class families.
CROWLEY: But the cuts themselves were not mutually agreed to?
MURRAY: No, they were not mutually agreed to. No.
CROWLEY: So where does the country go from here? Because what you're going to see at the end of the year -- extension of unemployment benefits may expire, so people who are -- have been unemployed for 99 weeks or more will lose their benefits That payroll tax cut that people are getting out of paying about 2 percent of their Social Security taxes, some relief they got, that's going to go off the table. What happens now?
MURRAY: Well, look, I believe strongly that we still have the capability to come together to solve this problem. If the supercommittee can't do it, then I hope that Congress will. In fact, I'm committed to solving this. You can't just ignore this crisis. It's been building for years. And Congress hasn't stepped up to the plate and faced it, and the country's demanding that, and we have to keep working on it, and I'm going to keep working on it.
But I'll tell you one of the problems has been a pledge that too many Republicans took to a Republican wealthy lobbyist by the name of Grover Norquist, whose name has come up in meetings time and time again, and as long as we have some Republican lawmakers who feel more enthralled with a pledge they took to a Republican lobbyist than they do to a pledge to the country to solve the problems, this is going to be hard to do.
CROWLEY: I need kind of a one-word answer because I'm told I'm running over here. And that is, when do you decide we're done? At midnight?
MURRAY: Well, we have until the day before Thanksgiving. We have to file a bill by tomorrow. And so again, I'm at the table. I want to solve this. I care about my country. I know Americans want us to solve this. We have an opportunity. I remain hopeful that someone on the other side will say, this is too important to fail.
CROWLEY: Pretty optimistic, Senator Patty Murray, thanks for joining us today.
MURRAY: You bet.
CROWLEY: Coming up, Republican Senator Rand Paul's solution for reducing the debt.
CROWLEY: Joining me now, Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul, who launched the Senate's Tea Party Caucus earlier this fall. Senator Paul, thanks for being here.
Let's talk right now. I don't see -- I don't think many people see any chance that a Republican -- I think you heard Senator Murray, a Democrat say -- is going to come forward and say we're going to put as much in tax revenue on the table as spending cuts. Therefore, this whole thing implodes. Is that your impression?
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Yes, but I think you need to listen between the lines here. We are offering to close loopholes. We're offering to close loopholes on those who are the wealthiest taxpayers. This is what the president has been saying he wants. We are willing to close those loopholes, but we want it to be part of tax reform, which lowers tax rates. The only thing that's ever helped unemployment in this country was when Kennedy lowered tax rates and when Reagan lowered tax rates, and unemployment was cut in half each time. CROWLEY: The problem is that between now and tomorrow when the supercommittee has to come up with something, you can't have tax reform. I mean, people have been trying to reform the tax structure for I don't know how long. And to then say -- which it seems to the world the Congress is saying -- you know what? Yes, it is going to shake the world markets; sure, it might undermine the U.S. economy; yes, there are going to be painful cuts across the board, but we just can't agree on how to go forward in an adult way. Is that the picture of Congress that people are going to get?
PAUL: Well, you know, sequestration is automatic cuts. And it's kind of like when your kids are misbehaving -- yes, sequestration are automatic cuts. And the thing is that you -- I would have automatic cuts. It's sort of like telling your children that, you know, if you don't clean up your mess, or else, really maybe we need the or else because Congress isn't behaving the way they should be behaving. Maybe sequestration is our only way we will get any kind of cuts.
CROWLEY: OK. So you are willing to have cuts in the Pentagon budget that the defense secretary has said will be devastating.
PAUL: I think we need to be honest about it. The interesting thing is, there will be no cuts in military spending. This may surprise some people, but there will be no cuts in military spending, because we're only cutting proposed increases. If we do nothing, military spending goes up 23 percent over 10 years. If we sequester the money, it will still go up 16 percent. So spending is still rising under any of these plans.
CROWLEY: So you don't--
PAUL: In fact, if you look at both alternatives, spending is still going up. We're only cutting proposed increases in spending.
CROWLEY: So you don't believe the defense secretary, who says this is really going to be harmful to the military and the Pentagon?
PAUL: That's an interpretation. But what I can tell you are the facts is that defense spending will go up $100 billion over 10 years even if we sequester $600 billion. Because the curve of spending in our country is going up at about 7.5 percent a year. All spending goes up. That's why if you were to freeze spending for 10 years, no cuts, but just simply freeze spending for 10 years, they would call that a $9 trillion cut, because they are planning on spending going up $9 trillion.
CROWLEY: Listen, you have put out -- had a go-big alternative that you put out that you said would save about $6 trillion over that same 10-year period. It included things like reductions in the Department of Education, in K through 12 spending, slowing down foreign aid, reducing defense spending, capping welfare programs at 2007 levels. I know that you know, when you put this together, that the Democrats will not go for this, and I know that the Democrats put together programs that they know Republicans won't go for. Why shouldn't the public look at this and say, this is one giant re- election bid by both sides? PAUL: Well, what I would say is there's one program in that $6 trillion. If you take Medicaid, block-grant it and send it back to the states, that gives you $1.7 trillion in cuts. It exceeds the targets that the committee was designated to do. So you could cut just one program and do a pretty good job.
Now on their side, they say we're unreasonable. They want to raise taxes $1 trillion in the middle of a recession. Most of us think we're taxed enough already. Spending has gone up 25 percent. Taxes and rates have been stable since 2003. Revenue has fallen because we're in a recession. We need to grow the economy, get out of a recession. It's the only way we're going to balance our budget. CROWLEY: In fact, the polling shows that most Americans do think that what we call the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy should be allowed to expire, and that's one of the things you all won't give up, saying, no, we want a total tax reform.
My point here is that I know that you have said the president clearly didn't want to deal because it is a better campaign issue for him if there's no deal.
CROWLEY: Why shouldn't people look at Republicans for putting stuff on the table they know full well will not pass and why isn't that the Republican agenda?
PAUL: Well, we have to start with the facts on who does -- are the rich paying their fair share? Because we hear that over and over again, the rich are not paying their fair share, the top 1 percent, the millionaires in our country, pay on average 29 percent of their income. That's what they pay on average. If the average carpenter who makes $50,000 to $75,000 a year pays between 15 percent and 18 percent.
The top 50 percent of wage earners pay 96 percent of the income tax. The rich and the middle class are paying their fair share.
CROWLEY: If they pay.
PAUL: Yeah, the vast majority are, though.
CROWLEY: But there are--
PAUL: There are anomalies, there are aberrations.
CROWLEY: Sure. Go ahead.
PAUL: The people -- the people who are not paying, we're all for making them pay. If you are a millionaire or you are a corporation that's not paying, we're all for eliminating those loopholes and deductions. But on average, the vast majority of millionaires and billionaires are paying all of the taxes. That's who pays the income tax.
CROWLEY: A couple things I want to ask you about quickly. If by the end of the year Congress doesn't act, long-term unemployment benefits will expire, that is benefits for people who have been unemployed 99 weeks or longer. Are you willing to vote for an extension of long-term unemployment benefits?
PAUL: If you want to extend unemployment benefits, they have to be paid for. We have an unemployment program. We have a tax for it. And it's paid for, for 26 weeks. So the question is, do we want to borrow money from China to pay people not to work?
I think we need to figure out how to get people back to work. So I don't want to concentrate on extending how long people can be paid not to work. I want to get millions of people back to work. And the only thing historically that has ever worked in our country is to lower tax rates on the upper-income folks. We don't want to raise their taxes. You need to lower their taxes if you want to put people back to work.
CROWLEY: OK. So, I'm going to take that as a no, that you are opposed to it because of finding ways to pay for it.
Let me ask you about the payroll tax, that is Social Security taxes, which were cut by about 2 percent for most people, and that will also expire, so their Social Security, their payroll tax will go up.
Are you willing to extend that?
PAUL: The hard part here is that Social Security is $6 trillion short because we have less workers and more retired people and we're living longer. So if you're $6 trillion short, should you cut the revenue stream into Social Security?
I want lower taxes for everybody. I don't care--
CROWLEY: Right. And that's a tax cut.
PAUL: -- where you come from on the economic ladder. I know, but yes, I have a difficult time with saying it's a good thing for Social Security to lower the amount of money coming into it right now, because it is a system that's $6 trillion short. So I don't know, we'll have to cross that bridge when we get there, but I have a tough time with figuring out how that helps Social Security.
CROWLEY: All right. You are almost at that bridge. December 31st will be here, sooner or later. That's for sure.
Thanks so much, Senator Rand Paul. We appreciate it.
Up next, the tense situation in Syria. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gives her perspective.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Syria is no friend of the United States. So Syria is the handmaiden of the Iranians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Joining me here in Washington, Condoleezza Rice, secretary of State under President Gorge W. Bush and author of "No Higher Honor: a Memoir of My Years in Washington."
Secretary, nice to see you.
RICE: Nice to see you.
CROWLEY: On your 12-hour fly by Washington.
RICE: My fly by Washington, right. CROWLEY: I want to start with some news of the day, because it seems to me in watching what's come out of Penn State, you are a huge sports fan.
RICE: I am, yes.
CROWLEY: I know you know Joe Paterno, at least who he is. You may even know him personally. And you were also served as provost at Stanford so you look at this from so many sides.
And I just wonder your reaction to what you've seen going on.
RICE: Well, my reaction is that this is first of all a very sad affair for the victims, that this could happen -- or allegedly happen to children at this age is just a tremendous tragedy.
And Penn State has got to get to the bottom of it. And any university that finds itself in this circumstance has got to get to the bottom of it, find out why the reporting wasn't as it should be, and it's a crime if indeed it is proven.
It's not a sport story. It is a crime.
CROWLEY: Absolutely. And yet I wonder if in some ways it is a sports story in this way. Do you think football on college campuses has become too much of a kingdom unto itself to the extent that the kingdom is just warped in how they view things?
RICE: Well, that's always a danger, particularly given the high profile of football programs. But I'll have to tell you that when I was provost at Stanford we tried very hard never to let any sport become a kingdom unto itself. It goes to keeping it all in perspective, remembering that these are first and foremost student athletes that they are there to get an education, that yes, they play in glory on Saturdays, but they are part of the student body and that the athletic department is but a department of the university and has to be treated like any other department of the university.
So clearly something went wrong here. I don't know enough about the circumstances to blame insularity or not. But feel for the people at Penn State who were not a part of this tragedy who are implicated because it is a great university.
CROWLEY: I'm going to do a wild 180 here and take you to Myanmar, formerly Burma. We are now learning the secretary of state is going to make a trip there.
RICE: Yes, I saw that this morning. CROWLEY: So do you see this as premature? There is still a lot wrong with how Myanmar's running the place. They have let some dissidents go in recent weeks and months and years. Do you think it is premature or is this right time, right place? RICE: Well, I can't judge, because when you're inside, you know what may have been said to the members of the junta about the conditions for this trip, what will be said.
I know Secretary Clinton.
RICE: And I'm sure that she will make a very strong case for human rights there.
But it is a very repressive regime and it has not made I think a strategic decision to change. And until you have that strategic decision, the United States has to keep advocating.
I have no quarrel, though, with taking the trip in order to advocate for exactly those positions and to use the platform to make sure that the Burmese are put on notice.
CROWLEY: Other country in the news a lot is Syria. The Arab Spring did not arrive yet in Syria, at least insofar as the end of it. You have Syrian President Bashar al Assad who has been told by the Arab League, who has been suspended from the Arab League and told, look, you've got to stop this repression, you've got to let some of these prisoners go. And yet I can't find anybody at the State Department that thinks that's actually going to happen.
What moves al Assad out?
RICE: Well, he is driving his country to the brink of civil war. That's very clear. And it is a very dangerous circumstance. And Syria's no friend of the United States. Syria is the handmaiden of the Iranians throughout the region and so the fall of Bashar al Assad would be a great thing not just for the Syrian people, that's first and foremost, but also for the policies of the United States and those who want a more peaceful middle east.
And so the toughest possible isolation and sanctions that we, the Europeans and others can manage, if the Russians and the Chinese won't go along, then we have to do it on our own.
It is the -- the good thing is that you have Turkey and other states in the Middle East calling Assad to account. I would hope that there would be efforts to help the opposition in ways that are appropriate.
Again, when you're not inside, it is a little difficult to judge exactly what you can do for the opposition, but it's time for Bashar al Assad to go.
CROWLEY: I want to ask you about Afghanistan and Hamid Karzai. And he said something in an October 23rd interview to a TV network that I wanted to kind of get your reaction to. He said, "god forbid if any war took place between Pakistan and the United States, we will stand by Pakistan. If Pakistan is attacked and if the people of Pakistan need Afghanistan's help, Afghanistan will be there with you."
Now, I don't think the U.S. is going to go to war with Pakistan. And I don't think Pakistan's going to ask Afghanistan for help. But nonetheless, we have poured money and blood and ten years of U.S. soul in Afghanistan and this is what we get for it?
RICE: Well, President Karzai said what he very often said when these statements -- that he was taken out of context. A little hard to take that out of context, I have to admit. But we have to -- we have no option, but to work with him as the elected president of Afghanistan. We have no option but to try and work with the elected government of Pakistan.
But the thing that really is the problem here is the extremism in Pakistan. And I think a rather head in the sand approach by the Pakistani government to what's going on around them.
CROWLEY: I want to just finally end this substance style talk about this movie you to China. Because the president was in Australia, revealed that he is going to put about 200 troops, maybe over time rotate 2,500 troops in and out of northern Australia, which happens to be fairly near waters that China would like to dominate. And we looked up defense spending in 2011 and saw that China is up about 12.7 percent defense spending. The U.S. is up about 3.4 percent.
Just to give you an idea where the two countries are going and we may take another hit with the Defense Department depending on what happens on Capitol Hill.
But the question is, what do we fear about China?
RICE: Well, I don't think that we should be at a posture of fear. But we should be in a posture of carefully watching this military build-up that is taking place in China, which does, frankly, seem a little bit outsized for even regional ambitions. But we have to make sure that it wields influence not through the old 19th Century way of throwing military weight around.
And really our best strategy is not to try to -- the Chinese I think will not catch up with us militarily unless we ourselves don't take care of our own military forces, exploiting our significant technological advantage, and these alliances that we have.
CROWLEY: Madam Secretary, I want to ask you to stick with me a minute. We're going to take a quick break. But coming up, politics and policy with Secretary Rice. We'll be right back.
CROWLEY: We are back with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Madam Secretary, let me talk to you a little bit about -- as you may know there is a presidential race coming up. And there is a lot of Republicans running for it. RICE: Yes, I am aware of it. CROWLEY: We are coming up to a foreign policy debate. And I wanted to -- there have been a lot of gaffes along the way whether it comes to foreign policy on the part of most of these candidates. I just want to play just a quick bite of a couple of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELE BACHMANN, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now with the president, he put us in Libya. He is now putting us in Africa. We already were stretched too thin and he put our special operations forces in Africa.
HERMAN CAIN, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: OK. Libya. President Obama supported the uprising, correct?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Herman Cain even said at some point I'm not supposed to know anything about foreign policy. I watched you a lot. We traveled around with George W. Bush who knew a lot about perhaps Mexican and border issues being the governor of Texas, but not a lot about the world.
My question is, when Condoleezza Rice goes to the voting booth and votes, what do you look for in just in terms of foreign policy? What does a potential president have to know as far as you are concerned?
RICE: Well, first of all, potential president has to know the role of the United States of America and that it's an exceptional role that we have in fact been willing to bear a lot of burdens over the last 60-plus years in order to promote a balance of power that favors freedom.
I would say that the candidates, yes, you don't have to know the ins and outs of foreign policy, because nobody would expect that kind of exposure. But the basics of foreign policy, you can master those during the campaign and it is important for the American people to know that you care enough about these issues to do that.
CROWLEY: Let me -- I want to play you another clip of our presidential candidates when they were asked specifically about when should the U.S. get out of Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I take a different approach on Afghanistan. I say it's time to come home.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The timetable by the end of 2014 is the right timetable for us to be completely withdrawn from Afghanistan other than a small footprint of support forces.
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: We need to have a significant change in foreign policy, which means that all the troops come home, and turn that country back over to the Afghans. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Now you have others who say, look, it should be up to conditions on the ground, et cetera. But we have the leading Republican talking about a timetable which used to be like, you can't have a timetable, it just signals the enemy, et cetera. And then you have other candidates going now, now, come home now.
John McCain took a look at this and said he is a little worried about an isolationist trend in the Republican Party. Do you worry about that?
RICE: Well, of course, you always have to worry when there are difficult times at home that people will say, we really don't have the time and energy for what we must do abroad. That's always a danger. I don't think that debating though how long we're going to be in Afghanistan really is a signal toward isolationism.
We've been in Afghanistan a long time. People want to know...
CROWLEY: (INAUDIBLE) thought we'd be there?
RICE: Yes, well, I knew it would be hard, because, you know, it is the fifth-poorest country in the world. It is next to Pakistan. I think we didn't -- I didn't see the effect that the bad decisions in Pakistan in 2006 to create -- to make a deal really with the tribal leaders. That led to a kind of safe haven in Pakistan.
So we've been there a long time. It's not surprising that people are trying to find an end in sight. But I don't listen al that closely on the campaign trail to "I will do this" and "I will do that," because the day you arrive in the Oval Office...
CROWLEY: It looks different.
RICE: ... it looks different and you find that you can't really turn this aircraft carrier of American foreign policy around on a dime anyway.
CROWLEY: So a lot like domestic policy, can't turn that around on a dime either. And lastly, if a Republican should be elected next year, and say, I'd like you to come into my administration in whatever capacity, because frankly, presidents always go back to the last administration that's of their party. Is that something you would consider?
RICE: I am a happy university professor. I'm going to remain one. I will be very happy to give somebody my email and my phone number and California is not that far away for a phone call.
CROWLEY: But you'd rather stay in...
RICE: I really want to stay. That's where I'm staying.
CROWLEY: Private life Condoleezza Rice. RICE: Private life is wonderful and there's no better private life than opening up worlds to young people that they might otherwise not have seen.
CROWLEY: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, thank you so much for your time.
RICE: Thank you. Pleasure to be with you.
CROWLEY: You'll see more of my interview with Secretary Rice next week, but up next, call him the phoenix. The rise of Newt Gingrich.
CROWLEY: He has been many things: congressman, speaker, author, lecturer, consultant, presidential candidate, and now this election season, phoenix, rising from the ashes of his campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Newt Gingrich and I'm announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Less than a month after Newt Gingrich opened his presidential run in May, his underfunded, overspending campaign imploded. More than a dozen key aides and state operatives quit in a dispute over strategy and concern that Gingrich wasn't serious about his bid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: The two hardest months of my career were June and July.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: With a skeleton staff and without much movement in the summer and early fall polls, Gingrich journeyed on and now, after a series of fiery debate performances, and the rise and fall of Bachmann, Perry, and Cain, Gingrich is up, way up. Polling at 8 percent a month ago, he now runs second behind Mitt Romney in the latest CNN/ORC poll.
But with success comes scrutiny. In addition to previously aired baggage, Gingrich faces new questions about lucrative consulting jobs with the federal home loan mortgage company Freddie Mac, and his ties to health care companies.
Up next, two men who know him well assess Newt Gingrich's chances.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CROWLEY: Here to talk about the recent rise of Newt Gingrich, Bob Walker, who served in the House of Representatives with Gingrich and is now advising his campaign; and Rich Galen, a Republican strategist who was communications director for Gingrich while he was house speaker. Thank you both so much for joining us. This is an endlessly fascinating candidate. Not the least of which his rise from single digits to double digits. I was talking about -- with Paul Begala the other day who said on the record, so I'm not telling anything out of school, that everybody knows how this will end, that Gingrich will push the self-destruct button and that will be it.
Is there a new Newt Gingrich we ought to know about?
BOB WALKER, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I think there is. I mean, I think that he is somebody who came through four years of experience of governing. He has now been in the private sector, been a successful private sector businessman, has learned what it takes to make a payroll and do all of those kinds of things.
And he has also gone through a religious conversion, accepted Catholicism, and I think that was a moment of great importance in his life. He has a very happy marriage with Callista these days.
I mean, I think is he a vastly more mature, much calmer individual at this point, that he really is of a temperament these days to become president of the United States.
CROWLEY: Rich, I guess the question then is, and I want to while I'm asking this question, show our audience something on Gingrich's Web site now, which is a lengthy discussion of many of the attacks that have come out against him. Some of them dealing with very personal things such as, "did you leave your first wife while she was dying, telling her you wanted a divorce?" Et cetera, et cetera.
RICH GALEN, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR HOUSE SPEAKER GINGRICH: But she's still alive, so that didn't happen.
CROWLEY: Right, exactly.
So, you know, the fact of the matter is, is there too much baggage already?
GALEN: Well, here's the thing that's -- this may be inside baseball, inside-the-Beltway baseball, but the interesting thing is that one of the reasons I think that Bachmann, sort of, ran into the buzzsaw, then Perry, then Cain is because this was all new information to the Washington-based press corps.
I was Dan Quayle's press secretary when he was congressman and senator. And when he ran for vice president, all this new stuff came out. Well, Hoosiers knew it. It's just the Washington press corps didn't. In Gingrich's case, it's quite the opposite. They've been covering Newt for 30 years. They know all this stuff. You know, the Freddie Mac -- you know, that's -- it's a $20,000, whatever it is, $20,000 a month contract, which does not make you stop in your tracks on K street in Washington, D.C., I can tell you. It's good money, but it's not -- it's not breathtakingly out of line. So I think that one of the advantages that Newt has is that the Washington-based press corps, from whence all, you know, political wisdom flows, already knows all this about Newt. And I think they're willing to see what -- you know, how he handles it, how he handles himself on the -- on the stump. And I'm not sure they're ever going to give him the benefit of the doubt. But he gets an even shot here.
CROWLEY: I think I should be insulted by all that. But, nonetheless...
... let me...
... let me move on and say that Gingrich was asked the other day, "Are there any skeletons in your closet that we don't know about," and he said, "Who knows," which, you know, isn't exactly a "Hey, I'm an open book here."
He did, and CNN has confirmed that Gingrich's group, at least, got over $1 million from Freddie Mac. Well, Freddie Mac is, you know, the federally backed home loan corporation that is seen as one of the culprits in this horrible economy that we're still experiencing.
WALKER: But it was -- but it was -- that money came in over a nine-year period.
CROWLEY: A million bucks.
WALKER: OK, absolutely. But, I mean -- but it is the group. It is a group that employed 30 people and so on. I mean, it's the kind of thing where you are in fact running a business and you have to pay salaries and you have to do a number of things. He was creating jobs during that period of time.
But the fact is what he was doing was giving Freddie Mac contrarian advice. I mean, some consultants are not brought in because they support what the agency or what the company is doing...
CROWLEY: How do we know that? I mean, how do we -- I mean...
WALKER: Well, because...
CROWLEY: Clearly they hired him because he's got contacts on the Hill. Now, he may not have been lobbying, but they hired him for his knowledge of how to get to Capitol Hill. WALKER: Well -- well, I think -- I think they hired him for his knowledge of how the process works, in part, but they also hired him because he had a long history of dealing in the issue of homeownership.
He had done this with Jack Kemp going back years ago. And they wanted some advice about how conservatives would approach that particular issue. Now they decided not to take some of his advice along the way. But consultants don't always get their advice taken. GALEN: You're paid to give advice, not make them take it.
CROWLEY: Rich, let me ask you about -- this is a guy who goes into December -- now we are talking about caucuses in early January -- who does not have an infrastructure -- even he says that -- in Iowa to deliver a caucus victory, who says, well, you know, in the near future we're going to open up five to seven offices.
Well, it's December. Does he have the infrastructure to make this stick in a way the other candidates have not been able to stay near the top?
GALEN: No. Clearly, he doesn't at this -- at this exact moment. But let's go back four years ago and the polling exactly this week. Nationally, on the Republican side, Giuliani had a 15 percentage point lead over Fred Thompson, who I was working for. You see how well I did there.
... and John McCain and -- and Mitt Romney.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton was plus-21 over Edwards and -- Edwards and -- who came in -- oh, Barack Obama. How soon we forget.
But -- but the important thing is that this is exactly the time, from this point forward, to your question, is when the -- the polls begin to solidify. This is when Mike Huckabee began making his move. This is when Barack Obama began making his move. So I think we're going to be able to answer that question over the next two, two and a half weeks, Candy. We'll see whether or not this begins to solidify in Iowa.
WALKER: And I -- and I don't think that you should ignore the fact that a virtual network has been created. I mean, virtual campaigning at this point is a big part of whether or not you're going to be successful. CROWLEY: OK. So we'll -- we'll wait like we did and watch it unfold. Thank you so...
GALEN: And be -- and be freezing on Grand Avenue on New Year's Eve.
CROWLEY: That's right. Rich Galen, Bob Walker, thank you so much.
GALEN: Sure, nice to be with you.
CROWLEY: Up next, top stories, and then, on "Fareed Zakaria: GPS," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the threat of war with Iran.
CROWLEY: Time for a check of today's top stories. Clashes have broken out in Egypt's Tahrir Square for a second straight day ahead of the country's elections later this month. The protesters are calling for a faster transition from a military to a civilian government.
President Obama's back at the White House after a nine-day trip to the Asia-Pacific region. The president visited Hawaii, Australia and Indonesia. During his trip, he promoted trade agreements that he says will increase U.S. exports and save thousands of jobs.
The president's former White House chief of staff, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, calls the Republican presidential field "a bunch of turkeys." Emanuel spoke about the GOP candidates last night at a Democratic gathering in Des Moines, Iowa. He was hardest on Mitt Romney for what he called Romney's inconsistencies in his record.
Thank you so much for watching "State of the Union." I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. And for analysis, newsmaker interviews and more, you can go to our website, CNN.com/sotu. And you can see our "Getting to Know" interview with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.