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Carson Ahead in Iowa; Talking GOP Candidates; Legal Marijuana: American's New Cash Crop; GOP's Gift to Hillary; Bill Clinton Back on Campaign Trail. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired October 24, 2015 - 18:00   ET


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish, glad you're here to recap an unbelievable week.

The doc, now ahead of the Donald in Iowa. Well, in Colorado, pot has pulled out ahead of alcohol in tax revenues. I'll talk to its governor about this windfall.

And with Benghazi seemingly in Hillary's rear view mirror, her campaign is about to unleash the big dog. Bill going back out on the campaign trail. And nobody knows his impact like Joe Klein who wrote "Primary Colors" and he'll join us.

But first, even though no American will cast a presidential vote in the next 100 days, a lot of candidates are already out, Rick Perry, out. Scott Walker, out. Jim Webb, out, at least for now. Linc Chafeee, out, Jeb Bush just slashed his campaign staff. And "Political" reported this week that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is encouraging his fellow Kentuckian Rand Paul to s spend more time on his senate re-election next year instead of his presidential bid. At the last GOP debate, Donald Trump said Paul didn't deserve to be on the stage. So I asked Rand Paul about that.


SMERCONISH: I was at the Reagan Library for that first GOP debate. I thought it was absolutely bizarre that the opening question is a question about whether Donald Trump is fit to handle the nuclear codes. Question goes to Carly Fiorina, she responds. Trump then gets a rebuttal. And he begins by talking about you.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, Rand Paul shouldn't even be on the stage. He's number 11, he's got one percent in the polls and how he got up here there's far too many people. Anyway. As far as temperament. And we all know that.

I never attacked him on his look, and believe me, there's plenty of subject matter right there.

SMERCONISH: Why is he obsessed with you?

RAND PAUL, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he was somewhat goaded into it. You know, for about a week before that debate, people kept asking me what are you going to say. And I kept kind of laughingly saying "you know I think I was a little easy on Donald Trump the first time, I guess I'll be harder this time."

So I think he kind of felt like there's going to be some big, you know, getup or dust up here. But I think it also goes that I don't think there's a lot of important ideas for the country coming out of him. He's sort of king of the one-line insult. I just don't think vulgarity equates with insight. I think eventually, it will be an important question. Who do you want to be in charge of the nuclear codes? Who do you want to be in charge of nuclear weapons? Because temperament is important. Who do you want to be able to negotiate with Putin? Who do you want to be able to negotiate with all the world leaders? Someone who is somewhat sane in their world view or someone who thinks no, just give me power because I'm all-knowing and if I just have so much power I could fix everything because I'm winning and I think that kind of ludicrous notion of power, I think, is (INAUDIBLE) for what we stand for. IN America, we always wanted to limit the power of the monarch, limit the power of the presidency because we were very concerned with individual liberty.

SMERCONISH: Ben Carson had said some out of the box things and seems to get rewarded for them. He's now leading the Des Moines Register poll in Iowa. What do you think when you see that?

PAUL: I think it's actually good news that we're having some rotation among leadership in the polls and it isn't so monolithic. I think ultimately when we come to January, when we're a week or two out to the primary, my prediction is you'll have five or six people that are within striking range of leading. That's where we want to be.

SMERCONISH: Jim Webb is out, Scott Walker is long out, Lincoln Chafee is now out. Some people are now talking about Rand Paul getting out. I know you don't like that. It comes from the media. It occurs to me we're a long way from anybody casting a ballot. Give me a general take on this notion that candidates get out before Americans vote?

PAUL: I'm a big believer that in democracy part of it is voting and so I'm all for letting people vote. We're not getting out until someone votes. In fact, we think our fortunes are actually improving. We think we have a better ground game in Iowa and New Hampshire than any other candidate.

We think we have a unique pitch. We think the government shouldn't collect your phone records. We think the government shouldn't put you in jail for marijuana. And we think the government shouldn't send you back to war in Iraq. That's a unique pitch in the Republican primary. I think there are enough Republicans that will be attracted to it.

SMERCONISH: Is it true that Mitch McConnell was saying to you, you ought to focus on the Senate and not on the White House?

PAUL: Now, that's a completely false story. And I think it's funny that people will write things that are completely false. I don't think he's even been asked that directly. (INAUDIBLE) someone asked him directly. People report these stories because they have a conclusion and a narrative. And they write it trying to get what they want, but it's not the truth.

SMERCONISH: OK. Where's dad? I've always admired your father? I haven't seen him on the stump. Where is he?

PAUL: I'm a great admirer of my dad's. I think he's one of the most honest people ever to serve in office. The race has to be about those those running though. I mean, Jeb's dad isn't going to be out there too much, I don't think his brother is either. It doesn't mean that he doesn't have a great deal of respect for him. I think he does and so do I. The race ultimately has to be about the individual running.


SMERCONISH: Senator Rand Paul has just published a book it's called "Our Presidents and Their Prayers: Proclamations of Faith by America's Leaders." Give me the thesis.

PAUL: We often talk about the separation of church and state. We haven't talked about how actually our religious belief and faith was a big part of our nation's founding. And really every president from the beginning to current times has talked about how their faith influences their philosophy and their beliefs on how government ought to be run.

SMERCONISH: Do you think they're telling the truth? I ask that question, senator, because Pew Research came out with a survey this past spring. It said that 22 percent of Americans are now nones, n-o- n-e-s. Why is there not one single member of Congress, 535, House and Senate, who says I'm in that camp?

PAUL: I think what you find even among the president from the beginning to now is that you find some of them weren't as always so orthodox as we would sort of define orthodox Christianity now. They likely believe in the divine providence but they did also believe in something that I think is really important, that the people should have virtue. That the people should have some self-restraint and that it's an important civilizing force to not just say, "oh, well, you have your liberty, do whatever you want." Now we say you have your liberty but we also want the people to have some sort of underlying virtue that gives stability and sense of purpose to a country.

SMERCONISH: Senator Rand Paul, thanks so much for being in the studio.

PAUL: Thank you.


SMERCONISH: So you heard Rand Paul say that he's not getting out before people vote. Hear on that and more, independent political analyst Michelle Bernard, columnist and author Matt Lewis and Bob Beckel, he managed Walter Mondale's presidential campaign and has a brand-new book out. "I Should be Dead, my Life Surviving Politics, TV and Addiction."

Matt Lewis, react to what you just heard from Rand Paul "I'm not getting out before people vote."

MATT LEWIS, CONTRIBUTOR "THE DAILY CALLER": Well, I think he's probably right. I mean, I think he's right about something else is that we're all sort of assuming that the polls that we've seen for the last 100 days with Donald Trump at or near the top, that that's the new normal. Things really change when you go into Iowa. I would not be surprised if we're not surprised. Somebody that's fifth place right now could end up winning Iowa.

SMERCONISH: As you know, we reference the "Des Moines Register" poll which shows that now Carson is in the lead ahead of Trump. Donald Trump had a very interesting reaction to it. Let's all watch.


TRUMP: We have a breaking story. Donald Trump has fallen to second place behind Ben Carson. We informed Ben, but he was sleeping.


SMERCONISH: Bob Beckel, it worked with regard to Jeb Bush. Is that going to work with regard to Ben Carson?

BOB BECKEL, MANAGED WALTER MONDALE'S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: No. And it's funny about Trump, Trump will talk about the polls. That's his justification for why he's the main man in the Republican Party. Because he's always ahead in the polls. He falls behind in a couple of very good good polls, all of a sudden, he's got to turn it into a negative attack on Carson.

I'll tell you one thing, he's very lucky, that these Benghazi hearings were taking place on Thursday. Because that tweet he sent out about Bob Sanfield in Iowa and this poll was just outrageous.

SMERCONISH: I'm going to show it. As a matter of fact, Michelle Bernard, take a look at this. This is the retweet from the Donald where he says "too much Monsanto in the corn creates issues in the brain." Then he quickly throws an intern under the bus when he realizes he's made a mistake. The young intern who accidentally did a retweet he or she, I guess apologize. Michelle Bernard, pretty stupid mistake to make for Iowa, right?

MICHELLE BERNARD, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think it's a hugely stupid mistake to make in Iowa, and as usual it is always the poor interns' fault. When it comes to the king of social media and politics, at least when we talk about 2016 presidential politics. Big mistake for Donald Trump. You know, if I were advising Mr. Trump, with regard to Iowa, I would really tell him that there's no surprise that Ben Carson is doing as well as he is in Iowa with Republican caucusgoers.

He is deeply evangelical. He's quiet, he's soft-spoken. He speaks to the people of Iowa in a way that the other Republican candidates has not been able to do so. But most importantly, if you're one of the other people running behind whether Mr. Carson in Iowa, you have to remember that Iowa caucusgoers also picked Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.

SMERCONISH: And Mike Huckabee, right.

Hey, I want to show you all three of you a montage of so-called gaffes by Dr. Carson. I have an observation that I'll share after we roll these 30 seconds.



BEN CARSON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.

A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight and when they come out they're gay.

I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed.

I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.


SMERCONISH: Matt Lewis, here's my theory. Ben Carson could pay for that commercial, roll it in Iowa and it would help him win the caucus. And then Hillary could run it in the general election and it would cost Ben Carson the general. Your thoughts?

LEWIS: I think you're exactly right. I'm writing a book right now called "Too Dumb to Fail" about the conservative movement. And that's what this is, right? It actually helps them in the primary. It's a perverse incentive but in the long run, in the general election, it's death. That is the fundamental problem right now that conservatives and Republicans have is that in order to win the primary, it helps to say things that will maybe cause you the general election.

SMERCONISH: Bob, you react as well. Go ahead.

BECKEL: Listen, that - those kind of comments, that's not just going to win your general election. It's New Hampshire. It's getting into Nevada, it's in these states that follow that find that kind of stuff crazy. One of the things about Carson, yes, he's soft-spoken and yes, he's evangelical. And they do vote in those caucuses.

By the way, I looked at the polls on Trump in Iowa, at the cross hairs, to see who the demographics who were supporting him and a lot of those people don't go to caucuses. But leaving that aside, I think Carson's, what he says now may be a good Iowa ground game, but in the best of these states, even among Republican, it's not that strong.

SMERCONISH: Michelle, before you react, I want you to hear a snippet from John Gibson's radio program where Ben Carson this week said something else that is controversial, listen.


JOHN GIBSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Do you think Biden will win?


GIBSON: Why do you think he can beat Hillary for the nomination?

CARSON: Because Hillary could well be in jail and it's hard to run from there.


SMERCONISH: Michele Bernard, you're an independent, you're the exact type of voter that I'm talking about when I say this is lethal in a general election. But I'm speaking for you. Go ahead and react.

BERNARD: Absolutely. Most independents, I would guess, are obviously going to think about every single candidate on an issue by issue basis. One of the things that I find most frightening about Ben Carson and what's happening in Iowa right now is that there's a reason - I think Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll that shows on these comments, like what Dr. Carson said about Hillary Clinton, what he said about Obamacare and slavery, et cetera, et cetera.

Iowans approve in large numbers, 70 percent, 80 percent, 88 percent agree with him. That's wonderful for him at the primary level. But I think it's also a way of handing the election over to Hillary Clinton, simply because Americans are going to hear those kind of statements. Independents in particular are sitting at home and they're saying "is this really who I want to be the next leader of what's supposed to be the greatest nation on earth."

SMERCONISH: Matt, I keep expecting a billowing of the so-called maverick field - that's the field of Trump and Carson and Carly and I keep expecting the emergence of someone from the establishment camp and yet Jeb financially is now struggling, got a lot of money in the back but cut 40 percent his campaign staff. Is he going to be around long enough to be the beneficiary if in fact the mavericks start to drop?

LEWIS: Well, look, I think if you compare and contrast the democrats, Joe Biden, Jim Webb, Linc Chafee, once they determine that they can't win the nomination, they sort of get out and clear the path for Hillary. Republicans are never going to do that because some of them think it's a wide open field they can win. I think others and what Fox News shows, whatever, a column somewhere, so they have an incentive to stay in the race.

Jeb Bush, I think is a man as Winston Churchill said, had a brilliant future behind him. I think he would have been a great candidate in 1998. I don't think he's the right candidate for the Republican Party today.

SMERCONISH: Well, here's what Governor Bush is saying, he sat down with Pat Robertson. Beckel, react to what he said in this clip.


JEB BUSH (R), PRESIENTIAL CANDIDATE: This means lean and mean and means that I have the ability to adapt.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: OK. BUSH: And the circumstances when we started the election were different. I have not met a person that thought Donald Trump would be the front running candidate at this point. God bless him for success in that regard. We'll see how long that lasts but you have to adapt.


SMERCONISH: You know, Bob, the most telling thing to me, is that if you're running as a Republican, you still have to sit down with Pat Robertson if you're seeking the nomination.

BECKEL: Well, the word adapt in presidential politics is (INAUDIBLE) dangerous one. I mean, the burn rate which we talked about, if you don't know what that is, is how much money you're going through everyday in a campaign. And Bush is going through an enormous amount of money. So he's decided to concentrate all his fire power in New Hampshire which makes sense.


He needs to come out of New Hampshire at least long enough to compete in Florida. My theory about this is, Fiorina is already starting to fall. We don't have to worry about talking about the good doctor. He's not going to be the Republican nominee, nor is Donald Trump. The question is who between Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush wins Florida. I think whoever does that is probably a very strong front-runner.

SMERCONISH: Well I know that you, Bob, are looking at a potential Rubio-Kasich ticket, as being the most formidable. Me, I've been thinking Kasich-Rubio. I guess there's a debate, Matt, as to which of the two would get top billing. Do you think Beckel is wrong to think that that's the most formidable for the GOP?

LEWIS: Well, look, I think that maybe in a general election it would be but I don't think John Kasich can win a Republican primary. I think it's implausible. I do think Marco Rubio would win, who knows where he would go to for a running mate.

BERNARD: Can I just add, Michael, I really think we make a mistake by counting Carly Fiorina out. 2012 was really the year of the Republican women. If you look in Iowa, if you look at South Carolina, you look all over the country, Republican voters liked Republican female candidates in 2012. People who were "true" to the Republican message, who were true conservatives. And I think Carly Fiorina should not be counted out. I would bet the Donald has to be out before her.

SMERCONISH: But, Michelle, what happened to her this week? She just took a hit in all of these surveys, what accounts for it?

BERNARD: Well, I think that what we see with her is a bump that every time there is a debate. I think the longer we get to see her in public, debating all of the men that she's running against, the higher her numbers will keep going.

LEWIS: She was really hurt by not having another debate. There's a month since that last debate, another one a week later. She had the momentum.


BECKEL: The problem is when you do really well in a debate like she presumably did, you usually sustain that momentum going into the following week. In this case, she fell of rather dramatically. Has anybody seen or heard from her in the last week?

BERNARD: I will tell you the mistake people make is when you do not, particularly with female candidates when you sort of write them off, and underestimate them. That's what the entire public has done with Carly Fiorina.

I'm not saying she's going to be the Republican nominee. But I think we have not seen the last of her. And I would not be surprised if towards the end of the primary season, we're very seriously talking about Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton running against each other.

SMERCONISH: Hey, gang, before we shut down. Wait, I want to give Beckel props. A couple of weeks ago, you were here I asked you about Vice President Biden. Here's our exchange.


SMERCONISH: One word answer from each of you. Bob Beckel, does Vice President Biden get into this thing?



SMERCONISH: You know, Bob, the speech that he delivered in the Rose Garden, if you wipe out the first three paragraphs and replace it with "I'm a candidate for president of the United States," you don't have to change another word. But it's remarkable to study that document. Quick reaction from you before we go?

BECKEL: Well, I think I'm glad he did what he did. I don't think he could have run and listen, if Hillary didn't get into trouble with the IRS, he could get into this race anyway, (INAUDIBLE) legally. So, you know, if the (INAUDIBLE) turn to somebody, they probably won't turn to Sanders, they probably turn to Biden.

SMERCONISH: The A-team, Bob Beckel, Michelle Bernard, Matt Lewis, thank you so much for being here.

BERNARD: Thank you.

BECKEL: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: So what do you think? Tweet me @smerconish. I'll read the best at the end of the program.

Coming up a new Gallup poll says nearly six in 10 Americans favor the legalization of marijuana. So why does Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper think other governors shouldn't rush to imitate his state's social experiment with pot. I'm about to ask him.



SMERCONISH: Where there's smoke, there's money, according to a new study from the American Medical Association, pot use in this country has doubled in the last decade. And for states where recreational use has been legalized, it's been quite a revenue high.

Last year, the state of Colorado collected almost $72 million in marijuana taxes. Nearly double what it got from alcohol taxes. This year, it will be $100 million in revenue on $1 billion in sales. And yet when legalization was first suggested, Governor John Hickenlooper was strongly against it.

How about now, Governor Hickenlooper joins me from Denver. Governor, you've called this the greatest social experiment of the 21st century. How's it working out?

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: Well, I think we've made a lot of progress. And I should point out that we collect and measure the sales tax for pot, that's where about 70 percent of that sales tax, of the tax revenue is from sales tax. So it's really not even close to what we collect from alcohol. I think the experiment is a great experiment, we've made a lot of progress. A long way to go.

SMERCONISH: I quoted the data from the American Medical Association, but I think your findings relative to adult use in Colorado is that pot consumption is really not up. It's that people who are smoking now are smoking and doing it legally, is that fair to say?

HICKENLOOPER: Right. I think that - I've heard it all, right, having a high old time in Colorado, it's my way or the highway. We hear all these stuff. But the truth is the people who weren't smoking pot before became legal still aren't. And the folks that were smoking pot, still are and they're just paying taxes now.

SMERCONISH: So what about high school students?

HICKENLOOPER: That's our biggest concern. That's why when governors ask me (INAUDIBLE) wild enthusiast behind this, you know, this high (INAUDIBLE) marijuana, every brain scientist that I've talked to is convinced that this is - if even just infrequent smoking, if your brain is still growing rapidly, like when you're a teenager, it has very high probability to permanently remove a sliver of your long-term memory. Diminish your long-term memory every time by a little bit every time you smoke.


I think that's very, very disconcerting for us. That we see kids are - there's no big spike yet, but there is a clear increase on a number of kids when they're asked the question, do you expect you'll smoke pot again in the next year. That number seems to be going up. SMERCONISH: You know the gateway debate always plays itself out when

you're talking about marijuana, the legalization of marijuana. Is it necessarily a gateway to bigger and worse things. Where do you come down in that?

HICKENLOPPER: Well, I try to avoid getting to the debate because there's not enough data to argue successfully one way or the other. What we have done, this tax revenue that we're getting, we're not putting it into anything else, you know, roads or early childhood education, nothing else that government does. We're really focusing on making sure we have enough money to regulate. To make sure our roads are safe. Also to make sure if we have programs, that if kids fall, you know start smoking pot, have an inclination of bipolar disorder, and they become severely bipolar, we have programs that can help them get back on track.

I think that's a big part of how this experiment is working. Do we have sufficient revenues to make sure we can handle all of the unintended consequences.

SMERCONISH: What has been the most unexpected finding from this so- called social experiment thus far. What caught Governor Hickenlooper by surprise?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think that the biggest surprise wasn't that there wasn't a big spike in usage. You know, people who were smoking it, still are. The people who didn't smoke it before, still don't. I think that says that, you know, when you're young, it seems kind of exciting to, you know, get stupid. I don't know how else to say it.

But as you get older, the attraction is as strong, I think it's more infrequent for most people. It is a recreational, occasional indulgence that they do.

SMERCONISH: Do you see this going the way of casino gambling in so far as other governors now take a look at your revenue stream, and they say, well, we want that as well. And then when it's legal everywhere, it dissipates the impact that it has on your state?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I don't think we're seeing a whole lot of tourism marijuana, tourists coming here just to use marijuana. I don't think whether other states take it up or not will make that much of a difference. I will say that we do see when tourists do come here, they are smoking marijuana more than other people. Because they're obviously on vacation and they're indulging themselves.

I tell the other governors, right now, we're not making any extra revenue from this, right? In terms of spending the money to regulate the industry, making sure we have money for the appropriate programs. And then money to educate kids. We need to make sure kids and their parents understand (INAUDIBLE) this high THC marijuana could permanently diminish your long-term memory.

We still have spent millions and millions of dollars and we still haven't gotten everyone to realize, you're taking some serious risks, certainly as a teenager where your brain is going rapidly. SMERCONISH: So what I'm hearing from you, the bottom line is the

jury's still out? You're still not sure whether it was a good move?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think we've got another year or two, two or three years to really be able to get enough facts to say for sure that we can do this. We have made a lot of progress. I said a couple times if I could - after the election if I could have reversed it, I would have reversed it immediately.

Now, if I had the power to reverse that vote, I'd probably wait a year or two and just see if could make headway. We've still got issues with edibles, how well we regulate them and make sure that everybody knows that this candy or this fruit bar is laced with -



Yes, brownie, exactly. All of those things that we got to make sure we get that stuff clearly depicted. Once, we get all these done, and if we can get rid of the black market, right? Drug dealers don't care who they sell pot to. Seven years ago in Colorado or anywhere, any teenager could buy marijuana in this country whenever they want it, it was cheap. If you dry out the marijuana black market it makes kids less likely to get pot.

SMERCONISH: All right. You're making my stage manager awfully hungry. Thank you, governor. Appreciate you being here.

HICKENLOOPER: You bet. It's a pleasure.

SMERCONISH: Do you want your state to follow Colorado, tweet me @smerconish. And I'll read the best at the end of the program.

Still to come, so how did she do? Perhaps the best barometers of Hillary's appearance before the Benghazi Committee was that Fox stopped its live coverage before it ended and all Matt Drudge could say was she coughed. More on that in a moment.


[18:34:04] SMERCONISH: It was supposed to be a game-changer. Hillary's downfall said some. The hearing investigating her actions as secretary of state during the deadly attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi.

The GOP and FOX News, they've been salivating with anticipation. Well, during 11 grueling, sometimes meandering hours, FOX News actually stopped covering the proceedings.

All that conservative gadfly Matt Drudge could find to attack was Hillary having a coughing fit.

"Rolling Stone" called it Republicans' 11-hour gift to Hillary Clinton and says conservatives practically picked Hillary Clinton up and carried her to the White House. So, was Benghazi a game-changer but in the opposite direction than her

opponents had hope?

Joining me now, former Clinton White House special counsel Lanny Davis, and Joseph DiGenova, former U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C.

Welcome, gentlemen.

Joe, you go first. Do you agree with the pundit class that it was a net gain for Hillary Clinton?



DIGENOVA: I thought that in the short term, it will be a gain for her. But I predict it will not wear well over the long haul for a number of reasons.

One point that the committee did not make which it should have, was that during her year as secretary of state, when Chris Stevens arrived in Libya, the security for him was at 38. The day he was killed, the security was at nine.

Also during the hearing, she said something very important that got missed, she said that the Sidney Blumenthal exchanges were not official business. She dominated name as personal, and that's why they were not turned over.

And finally, she said something that I think over the long haul will not wear well. She said that she was no under no obligation under the 1999 SICA law to sign a waiver for low security of Benghazi. In fact, that statement is false, the law is very clear. She is required.

In addition, the ARB, the Accountability Review Board, which she said that she praises, said that there was a waiver signed under that law, but it didn't say by whom it was signed. That will be the next stage to look into it.

But for the moment, she has a temporary but yet fleeting victory.

SMERCONISH: Joe, I sent out a tweet watching all of this. I said it's interesting, sometimes, the GOP likes to trash trial lawyers. But they really needed one because there seemed like no cogent consistent theme to the questioning and splitting it up the way that they did. I just think they scored no points. Respond to that.

DIGENOVA: I agree with you 100 percent. This is -- this is just like the rest of congressional hearings conducted by Republicans over the last several years. There has been incompetence awash -- they have been a wash in incompetence.

Some of the questioning yesterday was superb, especially from Gowdy and Jordan. But, by and large, opportunities were missed. And as I can tell you, no one knew in fact when the secretary said that Benghazi was not covered by the SICA Act that she had to determine that low security was OK, not a single member knew that that answer was false.

SMERCONISH: Lanny Davis, Joe says enjoy it while it lasts because in the long term, it's going to catch up with her.

LANNY DAVIS: I'm sorry to be a little bit lighthearted. But, you know, I love Joe DiGenova and it hurts --

DIGENOVA: And I love you, Lanny. Let's get married. That's a real Democratic --


SMERCONISH: It's allowed now. It's allowed.

DAVIS: The reason I love him is there's only maybe one man in America, maybe a couple or more that will say that. In November 2016, a voter is going to say, you know, she lied about the SICA Act. The what?

Let's at least look at the big picture. This was supposed to be another investigation about this terrible tragedy. Why did it happen? Who is at fault? And most importantly, how do we prevent it from happening in the future?

That was what this extra investigation and this special committee was supposed to be about. I was on last night, on this CNN great network with Mike Rogers who chaired the Republican, Mike Rogers, now retired, this House Intelligence Committee report which thoroughly examined all of the questions about Benghazi, was critical of Secretary Clinton, as was the ARB, about not having institutional capabilities of taking the request for more security and effectively implementing them. She accepted the words systemic failure when that report by Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen was published because she committed to publishing it.

And Mike Mullen said, absolutely, she should be criticized on that. But on everything else, Mike Mullen said there was no stand-down order that the State Department failed to appreciate. And most importantly no exploitation or politicization of those talking points. It had nothing to do with what happened with Benghazi and how do we prevent it in the future. That's the big victory.

SMERCONISH: Well, I want to show -- Lanny, I want to show you and Joe and everybody what Congressman Jordan said on another score. And that was an e-mail sent to Chelsea Clinton. Let's roll that.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: You're looking at an e-mail you sent to your family. Here's what you said, at 11:00 that night, approximately one hour you told the American people it was a video, you said to your family, "Two officers were killed today in Benghazi by an al Qaeda- like group."

You tell -- you tell the American people one thing, you tell your family an entire different story. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: So, Lanny, she's telling her family, she's telling the Egyptian prime minister one thing. And the one thing is it's terror- related, bt telling the public and Ambassador Rice something else. And the reason is because we're within 50, 55 days of the campaign where the Democrats have said we've got al Qaeda on the run.

The Obama administration running for re-election, cannot afford the American people to see, no, you don't have al Qaeda on the run, they're very active. And they just killed Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans.

[18:40:04] It all fits, no?

DAVIS: No. Let me quote the Republican Intelligence Committee. There were multiple theories at that time about what happen. The CIA wrote the sentence, wrote the sentence, a spontaneous protest triggered.

Congressman Jordan never said CIA in his sentence last night. There are others who believe, including Secretary Clinton, that there might have also been terrorist elements, in fact, at the time she wrote the e-mail. And I haven't talked to her. That's my theory. She may have actually believed that.

But what the CIA said and the chairman of the Republican Intelligence Committee says, those are multiple theories sorted out over a period of time. No political narrative by the CIA. No political narrative by a Republican chairman of the Intel Committee. There was confusion. There was the thought of war.

And ultimately, everybody knew it was not about a spontaneous demonstration. But it was about a terrorist attack, but that took a period of time.

SMERCONISH: Joe, didn't I just lay it out in 20 seconds more clearly than what Republicans were able to do in 11 hours?

DIGENOVA: Yes, absolutely. That was part of their problem. They have a great difficulty messaging. It's a blessing and a gift to the Democrats and certainly a gift to Hillary Clinton.

But one thing that really is amazing about all these investigations it wasn't until Trey Gowdy came along that the people knew that Hillary Clinton only had had everything done on a private server lodged in her house. What was another interesting piece of information yesterday, she said that when her lawyers went to visit the State Department, they did not tell the people at the State Department that her e-mail was on a private server.

And that's because, she didn't tell her lawyers that. It's a very interesting set of circumstances, which is going to plant a way out in the FBI investigation of the server, and whether or not espionage logs were violated in the mishandling of classified information. I think over the long haul, these hearings will have served some

useful purpose. But all in all, I would say she's the winner from yesterday, but it's going to be a short-lived victory.

SMERCONISH: Lanny Davis, Joe DiGenova, thank you so much for being here.

DIGENOVA: Thank you very much, Michael.

DAVIS: Thank you, Michael. Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Coming up, with Hillary Clinton on a roll, some people think it's safe to unleash the big dog? What will Bill's impact be?

I'll ask longtime Clinton observer and political analyst, Joe Klein.


[04:46:32] SMERCONISH: The guy who used to have the job is finally helping out his wife. Former President Bill Clinton now taking a visible role in Hillary's presidential bid. This week, he was spied in street clothes cheerfully sending the former first lady and secretary of state off to the Benghazi hearings.

But as with all things involving the Clinton, it's a bit complicate. Is his presence going to help?

Who better to ask than the author of the infamous Clinton satire, "Primary Colors", legendary journalist Joe Klein, columnist for "TIME" magazine, who, by the way, has a brand new book out that we'll talk about, "Charlie Mike", it's about wounded veterans finding hope when they return to America.

So, the big dog getting back out on the trial. Has he lost his gift? You know, in '08, he made stumbles.

JOE KLEIN, TIME MAGAZINE: Yes, I don't know. I don't know. I mean, I was amazed how awkward he was in 2008. And then, she also has a problem of him being so damn good, you know, when he --

SMERCONISH: Overshadowing.

KLEIN: Yes. There's nobody better, nobody have -- I've been doing this in 47 years, I've never seen anybody than Bill Clinton on the stump, although he wasn't always that way.

SMERCONISH: You know, she just concluded a terrific week, the combination of her debate, Biden getting out, the appearance of the Benghazi hearing, all going her way. And now, he comes out earlier than we expected to see him.

Did you think now they feel like the water is safe, and we can put him out without any repercussions?

KLEIN: I think they should put him back away until later. I think they made a miscalculation that they might need him after the last week or so. But they don't need him because she was so entirely spectacular yesterday.

SMERCONISH: It occurs to me that something that Bill Clinton used to discuss when he was running for office was the concept of responsibility. "Charlie Mike" is a book all about responsibility.

KLEIN: I think that we have a very quiet crisis in this country, about citizenship. Citizenship is not just a passive thing. It involves responsible action. It involves getting involved.

You know, we're dominated in this cycle by role information voters. The guys I write about in "Charlie Mike," are the exact opposite. They volunteered for the military. And 90 percent of our veterans say they want to continue to serve when they come home.

"Charlie Mike" is a book about two heroes who are linked by an awful tragedy, who come home, start public service organizations, that have become fabulously successful. They are representatives of the citizenship that the rest of us really need.

SMERCONISH: The beauty of those that you write about in "Charlie Mike" I think is the organic nature of what they do. The book opens with a guy who is on his sofa, I think, in California. And he's watching a hurricane, and he decides, I've got to get involved in this.

KLEIN: He's actually, his name is Jake Wood, and played tackle for the University of Michigan, was a marine grunt. And he's going to kill me -- University of Wisconsin -- sorry, Jake -- and he's watching the Haiti earthquake on CNN. And he calls up a bunch of his friends, said, let's go down there and help.

And within four days, they're running the largest emergency room in the biggest hospital in Port-au-Prince.

SMERCONISH: When I was reading the book and this is high praise, I was thinking Tom Brokaw. I was thinking the greatest generation.

[18:50:00] And I was thinking Joe Klein has just put on our radar screen what we are now live ago midst a great generation.

KLEIN: Well, these guys, and women, are putting themselves on the radar screen. They're doing something no other generation has done. They're taking care of each other, and they're working in our communities, and they're going to make their presence felt.

SMERCONISH: The book is called "Charlie Mike." Joe Klein, thank you so much for being here.

KLEIN: Thank you, Mike.

SMERCONISH: Coming up -- one political cartoon that best sums up the week and your tweets from @smerconish.


SMERCONISH: Hey, check that out. Sometimes a cartoon is worth a thousand words.

[18:55:02] This is my favorite of the week. Signe Wilkinson, a Pulitzer Prize winner from "The Philadelphia Daily News" really nailing it with regard to the Benghazi hearings, right?

There is also value in words. So let's get to your tweets. Thank you so much for tweeting me @smerconish.

Aaron says, "You strike me as the only person on earth who would actually vote for a No Labels candidate."

You know, I say that I think derisively. I think it's a compliment when you say that about me. I remind you that 43 percent of Americans are I's, independents, not R's or D's, and I'm one of them.

And then, Leon says this, "Smerconish, you have never had an intern mess something up before almighty Smerconish? Mr. Trump is infallible. And your petty attacks won't work."

Leon, if you really think it was an intern that sent out that ridiculous tweet, then I would like to sell you the Trump Tower.

Programming note: Wednesday night join me because I'll be with Anderson Cooper after the debate providing some analysis. And don't forget, you can also follow me on Twitter if you can smell Smerconish.

See you next week.