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Will 2016 candidates enter the migrant crisis debate?

How will American politicians and presidential candidates address the migrant crisis going on in Europe? Judy Woodruff checks in with Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR about the state of the presidential race, including Sen. Bernie Sanders’ momentum in New Hampshire and Iowa and President Obama’s criticism of anti-union GOP candidates on Labor Day.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Next: While many Americans enjoyed a day off today, those eying the White House or already working there used the occasion to speak to voters.

    It's a holiday that historically kicked off the race for the White House in the year before the election. But this Labor Day, with almost two dozen candidates already running hard, it was another day on the trail.

    Republican Scott Walker, who gained national headlines a few years ago by taking on organized labor as governor of Wisconsin, took to Twitter to stand out from the pack, writing: "In Wisconsin, people have the freedom to choose if they want to be in a labor union or not. That's pro-worker"

    President Obama's not running, but he fired back, without naming them, at Walker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. At a Boston rally, the president took some of his most direct swipes yet at the Republican field.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    One candidate, he is bragging about how he destroyed collective bargaining rights in his state, and says that busting unions prepares him to fight ISIL.

    And then there was the guy — these guys are running for office — they're running for the presidency — who said a union deserves a punch in the face.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Vice President Biden, who's deciding whether to run, echoed the Democrats' rallying call to organized labor and the issue of income inequality.

  • VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN:

    Back in the '70s, when you were getting started in the steel mills, Leo, when the situation was that the CEO made on average 25, 26 times the average employee. Now they make 400 times as much. What happened? What happened?

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Other Republican candidates were out on the trail. But Donald Trump, who is leading all national GOP polls, didn't have any public events.

    As we enter this next phase of the 2016 campaign, it's a particularly good Monday for Politics Monday.

    Joining me are Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    Welcome, and thank you for being here on Labor Day.

  • AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report:

    Yes.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So we have been reporting — and I know you have seen it as well — on this refugee crisis in Europe. We have talked about how the European countries are — more of them are offering to take in the refugees.

    Just in the last hour or so, Tamara, we understand the White House is now telling reporters that they are looking seriously at what the United States can do. What are you hearing about that?

  • TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio:

    Yes, an administration official has confirmed to me that they are considering a wide range of options in responding to the refugee crisis, including possible refugee resettlement.

    And I e-mailed back and said, in the U.S.? And they said yes. So, that is a change. That is a response that is clearly not fully defined yet, but they're working on it and they want people to know that they're working on it.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And I was reading the U.S. already spends something like $4 billion a year in Syria, so they're looking I guess also at spending more money.

    Amy, do you see this becoming an issue? There is some talk about — well, more than talk — about whether Congress is going to look at this when they come back into town.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Well, and, certainly, if the administration now is saying we're looking at bringing Syrian refugees into the country, I think it absolutely will be an issue.

    And you're seeing the Republicans taking this up as a security issue, and the concern that is being raised by many of the 2016 candidates at least is that a Syrian refugee may be a terrorist. We may — by letting all these people in, we may be letting some elements in that are dangerous to the U.S. How can we screen them properly?

    So that, I think, will be brought up absolutely on the campaign trail and will be brought up in Congress.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Do we see a difference? We know a couple of the Republicans, Tamara, I guess even Donald Trump, even with his tough position on the border, on immigration, has said, you know, possibly the U.S. may have to take in…

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    And I think that is basically all he has said thus far. It hasn't been a detailed policy prescription or statement.

    John Kasich also said possibly more money could be sent to help with the crisis. And then otherwise, the candidates have largely — the Republican candidates have largely been saying this is a European problem and trying to push that off and make it a European problem.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But pretty much, generally, the Democrats are saying, we will do what we have to do.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Yes. And Martin O'Malley, who is running for president, a Democrat, former Maryland governor, has come out and said that he thinks that the U.S. needs to dramatically increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the country in the coming year.

  • AMY WALTER:

    But everybody has been very — to be clear, everyone's been very vague. No one wants to sort of step out on this, besides the Martin O'Malley number. Even Hillary Clinton wasn't being very specific about it.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Yes, I did notice that.

    So it is Labor Day. And, Amy, you have been — I notice you have said that this is the traditional jumping off point for the campaign.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Right.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    We have had these men and women running for months and months and months. But things are going to change.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Right. We have been doing Politics Monday now for a long time. And there has been a lot to talk about.

    But, believe it or not — and I'm sorry for you people who live in the early states for this — the money has not even begun to be spent yet. We're starting to see now the super PACs and the candidates tell us publicly that they're going to start advertising in these states.

    They're putting big, big media buys in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. So, we're going to hear more about candidates. We're going to see more issues being raised. We have another debate coming up on September 16 with the Republicans. Democrats, we don't see until October. But there's going to be a lot more in the mix now and a lot more money spent than we have seen up until now.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Is advertising going to be the main difference, do you think, Tamara?

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Well, Hillary Clinton's campaign has announced that they're going to putting in another $4.1 million for ads that will keep the ads on the air through September and October in New Hampshire and Iowa. So that is a change.

    I mean, they have been on the air since August. They will continue to be on the air. The ads are one thing. I think that we likely will see more of the candidates also. But it gets to be crunch time.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Yes. Hillary Clinton was on with Andrea Mitchell last week.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    She had her first long interview in a long time.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    She is going to be on the Ellen DeGeneres show this week, which her campaign says television is a way for her to reach a larger audience. Certainly, Ellen DeGeneres has a large audience and sort of a different audience than some other outlets.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Right.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But it may also reflect her feeling that she needs to get her message out there at a time when she's having difficulty.

    There was yet another poll today, Amy, a Marist, I guess, NBC poll showing she's not only behind Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire. She's farther behind. And now he's even starting to catch up with her in Iowa. What does this say? We're looking at some difficulties. Is this more about Hillary Clinton or is it about Bernie Sanders and maybe Joe Biden getting in?

  • AMY WALTER:

    I think it's a combination of all of these things.

    Now, if you talk to the Hillary Clinton campaign — and they said this from the very beginning — we expect this to be close. Nobody has ever won on the Democratic side Iowa or New Hampshire by a significant margin. It is usually by less than 50 percent of the votes, so we knew this race was going to get tight, they said.

    Now, they said this at the very beginning. But the one thing that we have to think about with Bernie Sanders, the question is not how well is he going to do in Iowa, New Hampshire, is, what happens next? Where Bernie Sanders does very well is with liberal voters and he has been doing really well in two states that have a lot of liberal voters and white voters.

    The question for Bernie Sanders is, can he do well among the minority voters that make up a very significant chunk of the Democratic base? And the next polling I would like to see is from South Carolina, a state that comes third in the map, but has an electorate on the Democratic side that's 50 percent or more African-American.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But, Tamara, is that really going to shake out? Are we going to under — are we going to see the contours of that before we get to the South Carolina primary?

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    I think that we will have a sense. Once some decent polling comes out, we will have a sense of how South Carolina is going.

    He's back in the state again. He definitely is not taking it for granted, but — or he wants to work for it. But he has admitted that he has a great organization in Iowa, he has an OK organization on the ground in New Hampshire, and he has a lot of work to do in South Carolina and Nevada.

    Meanwhile, Clinton's people are saying, well, we have got a 50-state strategy, which they sort of do. They had people organizing on the ground in all 50 states until July. So — but you can't account for momentum and Bern — or Bern-mentum or feeling the Bern.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    And I have say that Bernie Sanders supporters are not saying they don't like Hillary Clinton. They are saying they like Bernie Sanders, that he's saying something that speaks to them. And that can't be written off.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Let's talk quickly about the Republicans. There are lot of them to talk about.

    But, Amy, what do you make of the president taking a shot? He didn't name Scott Walker or Chris Christie, but it was very clear.

  • AMY WALTER:

    But he really did name them, right? There is only one candidate in the race who has made collective bargaining and taking on the unions the centerpiece of his campaign.

    Look, this is the same message that Barack Obama had going into the 2012 election, wanting to make it this choice between people — the Democrats looking out for the regular people, Republicans looking out for the special interests. He's going to keep driving that home.

    Two big changes, though, is, in 2016, he's not on the ballot, and, number two, his policies are on the ballot. This will be eight years of an Obama economy that the Democrats are going to have to defend. And, finally, I think this is actually a good thing for Scott Walker, an opportunity for Scott Walker, who has been having a very difficult summer.

    His numbers dropped dramatically, especially in a place like Iowa, a state he needs to win. Being able to be taken on by the president and using that as a badge of honor, that is particularly helpful for him.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So, just quickly, Amy, it raises his profile.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Yes.

    And he put out a statement saying: The fact that Barack Obama is coming after me means that the Democrats think that I am the biggest threat.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, the one man who wasn't out on the trail today, we know for a fact, was Donald Trump. So I guess we'll have to wait and talk about him next week.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Yes. That will be…

  • AMY WALTER:

    … to see what he is doing on the stump.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Thank you.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Thanks, Judy.

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