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Will security and stability concerns shape the 2016 race?

What issues will influence what voters want in a president in 2016? Gwen Ifill talks to Nia-Malika Henderson of The Washington Post and Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report about the current atmosphere of international insecurity, plus the significance of FBI chief James Comey’s recent speech on race and police.

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  • , The Cook Political Report:, The Washington Post:

    GWEN IFILL:

    The economy, education, foreign policy, issues already shaping the conversation about who should be our next president. But what else is driving the conversation?

    For that, we turn to politics Monday, our weekly check-in with Nia-Malika Henderson of The Washington Post and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    Welcome back again.

    AMY WALTER

    Thank you.

    NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON

    Great to be here.

  • Gwen Ifill:, FBI Director:

    I want to go back — kind of go back to those three issues, but also talk about, in general, what’s not on the ballot?  We have been spending a lot of time at this table talking about candidates and the people who are thinking about running, who are not thinking about running, but not about what else is driving this — shaping this race right now.

    AMY WALTER:

    Right.

    I think there is this sort of overarching theme right now that, whether it’s domestic or foreign policy, is this idea of security and stability, which we’re really lacking right now. And you could hear it in the 2014 campaign too. I have heard it from voters. I’m sure you guys did, too, when we were out talking to them, the sense that, like, the center isn’t holding. Nothing seems to be making sense, whether it’s beheading, whether it’s Ebola, Ferguson, school shootings.

    All of this is coming together for a lot of voters, in the sense that nothing seems to be going right. Domestically, again, there are some of the immediate problems, but still the big underlying problems about jobs not coming back, an economy that is well for some people, not everybody. So, I think that what voters are looking for is somebody to come in and say, I know we have an unstable world that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Let me tell you how I’m going to do that, both internationally, but here at home, to stabilize it and make you feel more secure.

    GWEN IFILL:

    One of the interesting things about this, part of the response to the unanswerable questions, if you’re Jeb Bush, for instance, is to say, I’m going to be completely transparent about who I am. And so we have seen a little bit of that from him.

    NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON:

    Yes, we have with. He released all these e-mails all last week in the form of an e-book. We will see him give a speech on foreign policy on Wednesday in Chicago.

    He’s been asked questions about how he differs from his brother. He has said he doesn’t want to relitigate the past in terms of Afghanistan and Iraq, so we will see him do that going forward. I do think both with him and Clinton, they have to figure out what their identity is vis-a-vis the status quo, the status quo for Clinton obviously being Obama, and the status quo for Bush being his brother.

    GWEN IFILL:

    Except, for Hillary Clinton, it seems that the real pressure on her is coming from within her own party and from kind of the Elizabeth Warren — once again, not a candidate.

    NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON:

    Not a candidate. That’s right. That’s right. That’s right.

    You see progressives — there was a poll out of Iowa. Warren wasn’t in the poll, but if you talk to folks on the ground in Iowa, they very much are dissatisfied with the choices they have. They want to see someone else run. It doesn’t look like they will. It looks like Hillary Clinton will have to deal with progressives in whatever way she can. And they won’t at least have Elizabeth Warren to channel some of that dissatisfaction.

    AMY WALTER:

    Except that every time I see any polling — and there’s more polling of course out today — and I try to stay away from the top-line number and just look at the bigger picture number about, are people dissatisfied with the choices that they have?

    And when you looked at these polls out of New Hampshire and Iowa and South Carolina, even among very liberal voters, they say, yes, we like Hillary. We’re not dissatisfied. Now, Iowa was the one place where they were the least satisfied liberals. But there is not a pining, at least at this point, from the liberal base to bring somebody different in who is not named Hillary Clinton.

    GWEN IFILL:

    But they’re all fighting it out on all these different fronts. We them fighting it out on education issues about Common Core, foreign policy, as you mentioned.

    And here’s another place where it’s interesting to see them fight it out kind of sort of. And that is we saw the FBI director give a speech last week in which he talked about race, something which I think I would have been surprised if I had seen either this president or this attorney general speak about. Instead, we had the big Irishman get up and speak.

    Let’s listen for a moment.

    JAMES COMEY

    The Irish had some tough times, but little compares to the experience on our soil of black Americans. That experience should be part of every American’s consciousness. And law enforcement’s role in that experience, including in recent times, must be remembered. It is our cultural inheritance.

    GWEN IFILL:

    Cultural inheritance, now, that — I can imagine what would have happened on social media if those words had come out of the president’s mouth. And I wonder if that’s part of this as well, part of just our political environment right now, or if that was just a one-off.

    NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON:

    Well, we will have to see.

    This has been part of the debate that we saw in the wake of Ferguson. You saw sort of the black lives matter campaign on social media. Very surprising, though, that this is a Republican. He’s a white man. He’s the head of the FBI — to talk in such a frank way about race.

    It reminded some people of Eric Holder when he gave that nation of cowards speech six years ago, also in February. Notable that it’s February. Notable that we will probably see more kinds of conversations about race, given that it’s Black History Month. But where do you go from here I think is the question, right?  A speech is one thing. Policy and legislation is something else.

    GWEN IFILL:

    I’m trying to figure out who we are watching in this 2016 lineup would pick this up, this cudgel.

    AMY WALTER:

    Well, we have already seen somebody like Rand Paul pick it up. Again, you have here’s a white libertarian from — who is very conservative who is aligning himself, and has been doing this for quite some time, with African-Americans and other Democrats to say we need to do some work on justice reform, on criminal sentencing.

    And, in fact, he talks very much about the fact in the — actually in the wake of Ferguson, he was one of the few politicians who came out, sort of sounded like Comey, when he said, let’s just be clear here. There is a difference in the way that whites and blacks are treated in our justice system.

    GWEN IFILL:

    Final brief thought from both of you on this foreign policy piece.

    We have talked before about people rushing over to London, coming back, not necessarily making the point they meant to do. All the issues we talked about for the first part of this program, whether it’s about Libya or the Islamic State or Ukraine, does that seep into this campaign yet?

    NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON:

    Absolutely.

    AMY WALTER:

    It absolutely has.

    NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON:

    Yes. And we have seen that already with these foreign policy trips that are really trade missions, but really foreign policy trips.

    I think we will see it with the discussion of the AUMF and authorizing the use of force. We will see Lindsey Graham on one end, Rand Paul on the other, so very much informed.

    AMY WALTER:

    And voters, too. It’s starting to pop up in polls too in terms of their concern with it.

    And I think, for Jeb Bush, his issue is going to be not so much is he going to go and make statements about ISIS, but how is he going to be different than his brother?  That’s going to be key.

    GWEN IFILL:

    Right. Full circle back to…

    NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON:

    Yes.

    GWEN IFILL:

    Amy Walter, Nia-Malika Henderson, thank you both.

    AMY WALTER:

    Thanks, Gwen.

    NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON:

    Thank you.

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