GWEN IFILL: Everybody in the pool – Rand, Hillary, Marco – how the 2016 race is shaping up. Plus, crossed signals on the Iran nuclear deal and a South Carolina shooting jolts the justice system. We’ve got it all tonight on Washington Week.
They are in it to win it. This week, Rand Paul.
SENATOR RAND PAUL (R-KY): (From video.) I have a message – (cheers, applause) – a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: We have come to take our country back.
MS. IFILL: Next, Hillary Clinton, who also wanted to take the country back eight years ago.
FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: (From video.) You know, after six years of George Bush, it is time to renew the promise of America.
MS. IFILL: And Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who will take on his old mentor, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. We explore the rapidly forming field.
Meanwhile, the current administration is tying up loose ends – not least of which, how to seal the Iran nuclear deal.
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: (From video.) It’s going to take more work, but it may also be that the hardest part is behind us.
MS. IFILL: And another police-involved shooting in yet another state raises an increasingly familiar question: Can law enforcement police itself?
Covering the week: John Dickerson, political director for CBS News; Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent for The Washington Post; David Sanger, national security correspondent for The New York Times; and Pierre Thomas, senior justice correspondent for ABC News.
ANNOUNCER: Award-winning reporting and analysis. Covering history as it happens. Live from our nation’s capital, this is Washington Week with Gwen Ifill.
Once again, live from Washington, moderator Gwen Ifill.
MS. IFILL: Good evening. Political news is breaking out all over the place, but where to begin?
In Washington, the buzz is all about Hillary Clinton, and this weekend – and who, this weekend, will finally announce what we kind of already knew, that she is running for president.
But on the Republican side there’s a lot more movement. Rand Paul is in the race, Ted Cruz is raising money hand over fist, Jeb Bush is hiring and Marco Rubio is poised to jump into the pool on Monday. We have Karen and John here to help us wade through it all, but first let’s listen to what Rand Paul had to say this week.
SEN. PAUL: (From video.) I have a vision for America. I want to be part of a return to prosperity, a true economic boom that lifts all Americans, a return to a government restrained by the Constitution. (Cheers, applause.) A return to privacy, opportunity, liberty. Too often when Republicans have won, we have squandered our victory by becoming part of the Washington machine. That’s not who I am.
MS. IFILL: Let’s talk about the Washington machine. Is that what he – is that who he is? And what is the Washington machine that he’s running against?
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, he’s – what he’s running against is the machine that pinches your liberty, the machine that overspends and taxes you too much. And so all of his suggestions really sure are funneled into that word that he used, “restrained.”
And so he wants to put term limits on members of Congress. He wants to put a balanced budget amendment in place so that Congress can’t keep spending more than it takes in. He wants to slash spending at a rate faster than almost every Republican even in Congress right now would support or has supported in the past, and certainly has been able to pass. So it’s everything to shrink government.
And running against Washington is a very smart thing to do. Seventy-five percent of the country doesn’t trust Washington. So if we were all running, any of us here, that would be where you’d want to start your campaign.
But if you look at his campaign and what he’s trying to do – everybody runs against Washington these days, but he’s trying to – he’s creating a – he’s trying to create a movement. It sounds very much, actually, like Barack Obama when he talks about going out into the country and creating such a movement for liberty that the power of that movement not only sweeps him into office, but then forces Washington – this thoroughly broken system that he plans to change from top to bottom – that that movement will be constant in changing Washington, which is a pretty tall order and gives you a sense of his ambitions, because, you know, Barack Obama tried to create a national movement and it didn’t always work.
MS. IFILL: But it got him elected.
MR. DICKERSON: Sure.
MS. IFILL: And the difference now, of course, is Rand Paul has got to get past a few Republicans before he can face Hillary Clinton. But it now looks like we’re probably going to – we’re finally going to see Hillary Clinton get formally into the race this weekend. How is her strategy different – it sounds like it’s the polar opposite of what he’s talking about. She represents broken Washington, in some respects.
KAREN TUMULTY: Well, it’s interesting, too, because she’s going to do it by video on a weekend over the Internet, which is exactly how she announced in January of 2007. And I went back and I watched that video today.
MS. IFILL: I did it too. What did you see?
MS. TUMULTY: Well, you see her sitting on a very comfortable-looking sofa in a living room with family pictures in the back, and it was – it was meant to make her look warm and human and approachable. But the impression you also get is that this is a woman who doesn’t think she’s going to have to break a sweat in this race, back then. She –
MS. IFILL: Looks too comfortable.
MS. TUMULTY: She talks about how we’re going to start a conversation now. When she talks about what she’s running on, it’s a laundry list of Democratic priorities – end the war in Iraq, health care, energy independence – but not an overarching rationale for her candidacy. So it occurred to me that if you went back and watched that video, that announcement, you could really see all the things that were going to go wrong for her in the coming year.
And so that’s – you know, and the other thing that is not anywhere mentioned in that announcement was the historic nature of her campaign, the fact for the first time it appeared that a woman was within striking distance of the Oval Office. So I think that this time around, she is going to sort of play those larger themes. So she’s –
MS. IFILL: She’s already started.
MS. TUMULTY: And she’s also got to come up with sort of an overarching rationale for her candidacy. But her strategists are promising it’s going to be done on a very small and intimate and personal scale; that, you know, you won’t see her flying around this time in the helicopter, as she did in Iowa the last time.
MS. IFILL: Hmm. Well, we’ll wait and see if that’s true.
DAVID SANGER: Karen, you know, the difference between when that video was done and next Sunday’s is done, is she’s been secretary of State in between, which means that she owns at least the first half of Barack Obama’s foreign policy. She owns where we were in Iraq on the withdrawal, on Afghanistan, a range of other issues. Doesn’t quite fit with the, I’m a grandmother now, let’s have a conversation. How does she play that?
MS. IFILL: Let me ask John to weigh in on that.
MR. DICKERSON: Well, I think what she’s going to try to do – just from let’s talk about the theater of the moment, because basically the next week is about theater. Again, Karen’s point, there’s also a message. But theater first is to get her out from the couch, the idea of being encased in political celebrity, encased in that secretary of State-ness, where she’s seen with the sunglasses on reading on a C-130 airplane. She’s going to be in living rooms, in small settings – that’s what they would hope, anyway – in kind of intimate scenes, connecting with people, talking to them about a grandchild, about her mother’s struggles and perseverance, and then trying to answer this question about why are you running. I think foreign policy will be part of that.
I think she does have the baggage of the Obama years, but she also has some facility with the topics. And I think some of the Republicans running against her, though their foreign policy message is basically centered on the idea of strength – just America needs to be strong and that will solve many of our problems, which has a kind of blunt force to it – I think they are – if they get into a real debate about foreign policy with her, she does have facility on those sets of issues, and that’s a chance for her to show mastery.
So I think in the – in the pushout of this campaign, it’s to show connection with voters – that she’s not this imperious character who rides around in black SUVs, that she’s a real human being. But then I think foreign policy comes in as a sign of deeper competence. That’s the way they’d like it turn out, anyway.
PIERRE THOMAS: But the fundamental question: Can she be a better candidate to win?
MS. TUMULTY: Well, certainly her campaign last time was pretty much of a disaster organizationally, the degree to which they squandered resources. But the biggest flaw of her campaign last time was the fact that she was sort of the wrong candidate for the moment. She had voted in favor of the invasion in Iraq.
And so I do think that the biggest hurdle for her remains coming up with this overarching rationale for her candidacy. And once you have that, the – it seems like she’s got a lot of the Obama campaign veterans working for her. They are promising there won’t be the kind of infighting that we saw last time. But ultimately, she needs the message.
MS. IFILL: Let me – let me backpedal a little bit to the – to the Republicans, because there is a dozen of them out there, but – three by Monday, when Marco Rubio gets in, who will actually have announced, done what Hillary Clinton is doing on Sunday. Do they – we’re talking Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul – do they represent the soul of the – or the fight for the soul of the GOP – the libertarian, the hardline conservative, the – or even Jeb Bush, who is the mainstream?
MS. TUMULTY: Republicans talk about their primary in terms of brackets. You know, before you – before you win the nomination, you have to win your bracket. So you do see – for instance, you see that Rand Paul and Ted Cruz in many ways are going to be going after the same voters. Jeb Bush, potentially Scott Walker, you know, seem to have the track with the establishment voters. But right now, they are going for market segmentation.
MR. DICKERSON: The challenge for those three who have kind of jumped in already – Rubio, Cruz and Rand Paul – is they are all freshman senators. The Republican Party just spent seven years explaining why a freshman senator was not – did not have the capabilities, capacity of executive experience to be president.
MS. IFILL: But if you’re running against Washington, isn’t that a good thing?
MR. DICKERSON: Well, that’s – here’s the challenge. Yes, good thing to be not a captive of Washington. Barack Obama tried to do that as well. Not so good that you have no executive experience. Republicans have, in the context of Barack Obama, talked about executive experience, this idea that governors the job that most closely approximates the presidency. And, oh, hey, there are some governors running – Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Rick Perry. So you have – Chris Christie. You have –
MS. IFILL: John Kasich. We could keep going. (Laughs.)
MR. DICKERSON: Yeah. But those are the four who are – who are –
MS. IFILL: Yeah.
MS. TUMULTY: Bobby Jindal.
MS. IFILL: (Laughs.) Yeah.
MR. DICKERSON: Bobby Jindal, yes, and wouldn’t want to count him out.
Anyway, so you have people who are not of Washington and have that executive experience. So that’s one of the other – you know, these brackets, it will be interesting, they will shift. One day you are in this bracket and the other day you’re in that bracket as you compete with so many candidates.
MR. SANGER: Let me ask about Rand Paul for a sec, because we saw in that video a very smooth kind of presentation, but in the interviews we’ve seen a testiness. He and Savannah Guthrie went after each other this past week.
MS. IFILL: I wouldn’t say she went after him. She asked him questions.
MR. SANGER: That’s right. She asked him questions about changes in his position and he argued with the premise that he ever had.
MS. IFILL: Right.
MR. SANGER: What have we learned in the course of this?
MR. DICKERSON: Well, I think what we learned is he’s a little testy, because he’s had these confrontations with male and female reporters. And you know, the testiness, voters will make their own determinations about that. Voters don’t like the press, and so it’s very possible for people to think, you know, they should start picking at him, ask him serious questions.
But when Mike Huckabee, who is also thinking about running, says, you know, welcome to the big leagues, he’s – when he says this in response to Rand Paul’s behavior, when he says welcome to the big leagues, his argument is, hey, this is – you know, if you can’t get through a few interviews, you’re not going to be ready for this job.
MS. IFILL: It’s temperament. A temperament issue, right?
MR. DICKERSON: Exactly. It’s –
MR. SANGER: And Savannah was asking him serious questions.
MR. DICKERSON: Right.
MS. TUMULTY: And on that – on those debate stages, his opponents are going to be asking those exact same questions as well. And the fact is he has changed his position, especially on national security.
MS. IFILL: Well, the one thing we know for sure is that this is going to pick up and that we’ve got – we’ve got three more coming in, oh, maybe three again a week from now. So we’ll be watching.
A week ago, negotiators were running victory laps after the successful conclusion of the Iran nuclear talks in Switzerland. This week, it got complicated again. At first, it looked good. U.S. lawmakers held their fire and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard offered cautious support. Secretary of State John Kerry told Judy Woodruff on the NewsHour that Iran will be held accountable for its actions in the past and in the future.
(Begin video segment.)
JUDY WOODRUFF: The International Atomic Energy Agency has said for a long time that it – that it wants Iran to disclose past military-related nuclear activities.
SEC. KERRY: Right.
MS. WOODRUFF: Iran is increasingly looking like it’s not going to do this.
SEC. KERRY: No, I disagree.
MS. WOODRUFF: Is the U.S. prepared to accept that?
SEC. KERRY: No. They have to do it. It will be done. If there’s going to be a deal, it will be done.
MS. WOODRUFF: Because it’s not there now.
SEC. KERRY: It will be done.
MS. WOODRUFF: So that information will be released before June 30th, will be available?
SEC. KERRY: It will be part of a final agreement. It has to be.
(End video segment.)
MS. IFILL: “It will be done.” But don’t tell that to Iran’s supreme leader and to its president. Hassan Rouhani appeared yesterday to offer a different interpretation.
IRANIAN PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI: (From video, through interpreter.) We will not sign any deal unless on the very first day of its implementation all economic sanctions against Iran are lifted all at once.
MS. IFILL: That leaves us where, David?
MR. SANGER: Well, Gwen, this was the week that things began to fray apart. If last week was all about a framework accord, that the United States turned out its set of facts and Iran turned out its set of facts, this week was about the two sides saying they don’t really agree on what the facts are, and that’s a problem. We’ve got 2 ½ months before a final agreement has to be reached.
There is a reason that they are sitting there arguing over when sanctions get lifted, whether or not you can inspect military bases, whether or not, as the secretary was discussing with Judy Woodruff, that Iran would be required to reveal its past suspected military dimensions – that is to say, its work on bomb designs and so forth. The reason these were are all unresolved by the time they left Switzerland.
MS. IFILL: When I listened to John Kerry just now talk to Judy again, I realized that he sounded much more hesitant about that June 30th deadline than I heard the first time I listened.
MR. SANGER: That’s right. And while we didn’t hear it from President Rouhani, elsewhere in that same talk he said, well, there’s nothing sacred about June 30th, it could go beyond. Well, in fact, there is something sacred about June 30th: it is the deadline for which the temporary agreement that has kept Iran from producing uranium at a higher pace, from going ahead with the construction of its plutonium reactor, runs out. So one of two things would happen. Either you would extend that again, which everybody says would be a bad idea, or the Iranians could be the position of July 1st of pressuring the West by beginning to rev up again.
MR. THOMAS: What happens if everything falls apart?
MR. SANGER: Well, nothing good.
There are two way things could fall apart. One is some extension of the status quo in which you try to keep these negotiations going, and that might be in the interest of both countries because Iran doesn’t want the sanctions to get worse and would like to have them lifted, and U.S. and the allies do not want to be in a position of seeing more nuclear activity take place. But there is a scenario under which this whole thing does fall apart and then the Israelis step in and say I told you so, and suddenly we’re all wondering if somebody’s going to do a military strike.
MR. DICKERSON: And if they did a military strike, they – the Israelis or the U.S. military – how much damage could it do? How far would it set back the Iranian program?
MR. SANGER: You know, this is one of the strongest arguments in favor of a negotiated solution. If you could make what John Kerry emerged with last week stick, it was a pretty impressive package. It was not complete, but it would restrain their ability to race for a bomb for somewhere between 10 and 15 years. If you engage in a military strike, it might set them back two or three years, and when it was over they would probably be more committed than ever to racing for a weapon.
MS. TUMULTY: Now, Iran is not the only party that the administration is negotiating with here.
MS. IFILL: Yeah.
MS. TUMULTY: Congress is also demanding a say in this. Where do things stand on that? I mean, are they coming any closer to deciding what, if anything, is the proper role for the Congress here?
MR. SANGER: Well, the president said in his interview with Tom Friedman that he wanted to find a way for the Congress to have a voice.
MS. IFILL: Right.
MR. SANGER: That’s a different thing from finding a way for the Congress to have a vote. (Laughter.)
MS. IFILL: Or approval.
MR. SANGER: Or approval.
And so the amendment that Senator Corker is trying to move through – and there could be some progress on this next week – would essentially give them until this June 30th deadline and then, at that moment, everything would shut down for 60 days while Congress considered the agreement, and then they would actually get to go have a vote. The administration thinks this is a disaster waiting to happen, so they’re trying to come up with some amended way so that Congress would get a sense of the Congress vote without having something that’s binding.
MS. IFILL: But Iran is not helping with that. So what –
MR. SANGER: Every time the ayatollah comes out and speaks, it inflames people in Congress.
MS. IFILL: Exactly.
Well, we’re going to move on, because it happened again: a baffling and upsetting shooting captured on tape. But this time there was an immediate arrest, an instant firing and nearly united condemnation, not of the victim but of the alleged perpetrator, a North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer.
NORTH CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA MAYOR KEITH SUMMEY (R): When you’re wrong, you’re wrong. And if you make a bad decision, don’t care if you are behind the shield or just a citizen on the street: you have to live by that decision.
MS. IFILL: As the Justice Department launches yet another federal investigation, a question nags: Are these individual or systemic problems, and why do they keep happening? Pierre, what do you hear?
MR. THOMAS: It’s a combination of both. Clearly, most law enforcement officials are outstanding public servants. But there is a tiny percentage that do bad things, and when they do bad things it often ends terribly.
And we call color of law cases, in which they look at individual officers and look at whether there is some data to support that there are systemic problems across the country. Right now, the Justice Department in the last five years has conducted about 20 investigations of police departments across the country looking at what they call patterns and practice of abuse, bias if you will, against usually African-American residents. They have also done what they’ve committed excessive force or done things like sexual assaults against a citizen, using their badge to do so.
I looked at the data before I came to the show. In the last six years or so, 400 and some odd officers have been charged in connection with that.
MS. IFILL: So if you are a resident of one of these cities, these municipalities under investigation, how do you know to trust that law enforcement can police itself?
MR. THOMAS: Well, that is what the Justice Department’s main role can be, because on their own police departments often don’t fix themselves.
MS. IFILL: Right.
MR. THOMAS: So take Cleveland, for example. They have been under investigation for some time. The Justice Department came up with a list of things that they felt needed to be improved, including training. And the city is now working with the Justice Department because the hammer is there that if they don’t get some things better, that there could be a federal court to oversee their police department.
MS. TUMULTY: But what they had here that they didn’t have in Ferguson, that they didn’t have in Staten Island, was this video, this incredibly brave bystander who decided to create a record of this. What does that tell us about these efforts to make sure that, you know, police have cameras on them – that, again, you don’t argue the facts the way you have in these other cases?
MR. THOMAS: That video, according to every law enforcement official I’ve talked to in the last few days, extraordinary. It is piercing. It shows police potentially in the worst light that you can show a police officer.
MS. IFILL: It should be said there was video in Staten Island. It just was disputed video.
MS. TUMULTY: Right.
MR. THOMAS: Right.
The key here, though, is that the man is running away and there’s such a distance between he and the officer that – again, the case has not been adjudicated, so we want to be fair here, but that officer is going to have a hell of a time explaining what led him to believe that his life was in danger or someone else’s life was in danger in the way that thing was unfolding. That is a key issue. And when you don’t have an argument where you can say, hey, I felt my life was in danger and there’s a videotape to show, look, the man’s running and you shot him eight – at him eight times, that’s a difficult and a powerful message.
And again, you saw that local community and those police officers charge one of their own extremely quickly. That is highly unusual. That’s the power of that tape.
MR. DICKERSON: That’s what’s interesting. Is this a highly unusual instance that just happened to be caught on tape? Or there have been some reaction I’ve seen in the African-American community where they say, no, this is a thing that – this kind of thing happens; it just happened to get caught on tape.
MS. IFILL: Right.
MR. THOMAS: Well, there has been a litany of recent cases where there has been video that shows that routine encounters – and this is the thing, routine encounters. We’re not talking about police going into violent situations.
MS. IFILL: This guy’s light was out.
MR. THOMAS: Right.
MS. IFILL: Back light was out, yeah.
MR. THOMAS: Traffic stops. Take the case at UVA or off the campus of UVA recently where the young man is accused of underage drinking. Well, he ends on the ground with his head split wide open. Those are the kinds of things that people are concerned about in the African-American community. What is making these routine cases escalate so quickly?
MR. SANGER: Here, after Ferguson, we saw days of protests that then came back in waves after various decisions were made. We didn’t see as much this time.
MR. THOMAS: Again, the fact that the video prompted local police and local authorities to act so quickly gave people a sense that, look, this is being treated very, very seriously.
MS. IFILL: Yeah. It’s important to remember the officer was never indicted or arrested in Ferguson and that was part of the source of the anger.
MR. THOMAS: Exactly.
MS. IFILL: Yeah. OK, well, thank you. We’ll be talking about this a lot more, obviously.
Thank you all as well.
We’ve got more to talk about, as you can tell, but we’ll do it online on the Washington Week Webcast Extra, where, among other things, John Dickerson’s going to share with us his idea of the seven questions that should be on the presidential job application. You can watch the webcast later tonight and all week long at PBS.org/WashingtonWeek. Keep up with developments with me and Judy Woodruff over at the PBS NewsHour, and we’ll see you here next week on Washington Week. Good night.