tv State of the Union With Jake Tapper CNN February 14, 2016 9:00am-10:01am PST
we're out of time here, but i'll see you next week. "state of the union" starts right now. hello. i'm dana bash in washington, where the state of our union is steeling for a fight. the sudden death of supreme court justice antonin scalia sent an already tense presidential race into overdrive. and the political drama played out live on television last
night just moments before the start of a republican debate, president obama vowed to fill justice scalia's seat. >> i plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time. there will be plenty of time for me to do so and for the senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote. >> but within minutes, the gop candidates on the debate stage demanded that the senate block any potential nominee. >> i think it's up to mitch mcconnell and everybody else to stop it. it's called delay, delay, delay. >> a partisan showdown that will certainly play out on the campaign trail. we are going to look at this from every angle this morning. but first, two of the candidates on that debate stage are here. we'll get to jeb bush in a moment. but first, marco rubio who had a lot on the line. tried to bounce back from what even he admitted was a disastrous performance at the last debate. well, last night he argued that the stakes have been raised. >> it reminds us of this. how important this election is. someone on this stage will get
to choose the balance of the supreme court. and it will begin by filling this vacancy that's there now. >> joining me now is senator marco rubio. and, senator, as soon as we learned of the passing of justice scalia, you released a statement saying that the next president, not president obama, should pick scalia's replacement. now, president obama said yesterday that he plans to fulfill his constitutional responsibilities and nominate a successor in due time. and, as senator, don't you have a responsibility as well to consider that nominee? >> well, i don't think the senate's going to move on it. and i agree with that decision. the precedent's been set. it's been over 80 years now since in the last year of the last term of a sitting president, there isn't supreme court nominees. 80 years. and there's a reason for that. and the reason is that the next president should have the chance to fill that void, not someone who's never going to answer to the electorate again. we're going to have an election this year. and in the election, people are
going to get to choose a candidate for president. and part of that vote will be, what kind of nominee do you want? because we're going to be asked now, what kind of person or what kind of justice would you put on the supreme court? so let the voters weigh in in november, and then we'll have an appointment. the court can function with eight justices. it does it all the time. >> and we'll get to that in a second. it does it all the time, but this is an extended period of time. this is probably more than a year without a supreme court justice with, you know, just eight justices. >> yeah, but the court doesn't meet all year. no, the court doesn't meet all year. as you know, they have a term that ends this summer. so they have a few months ahead. they'll have eight justices sitting there for these rulings. and they've done that before. there are times when justices -- justice kagan had to recuse herself early on in her tenure in the supreme court because she had just served in the administration. this is not an unusual situation. the president can appoint whoever he wants, but mitch mcconnell's already made it
clear that we're not moving forward on any nominees in the senate until after the election. and i agree with that. >> you talked about what kind of nominee you would be okay with. one name that has been floated for the supreme court for president obama to nominate is district circuit court judge srinivasan. you were one of those 97. you voted to confirm him. so if president obama were to put forward his name, why not support him since you've done it in the past? >> well, there's a different criteria, obviously. it's a heightened level of scrutiny. they'll have to go through judiciary. i usually don't comment on nominees until they've gone through that process. appellate courts are important, but the supreme court is the ultimate appellate court. there's a whole new level of scrutiny and hearings and testimony. i would reserve judgment no matter who he nominates until that process concludes. again, irrespective of who the president nominates, the that the's not moving forward. mitch mcconnell's already made that very clear. the next president will have the chance to appoint somebody. and when i'm president, i'm going to look for someone like justice scalia.
they're hard to find. but he has inspired a lot of young people. these are the sorts of people i'd like to see on the supreme court. >> let's talk about the debate last night because there were a lot of extraordinary moments. but one specifically was when you turned to senator cruz and questioned his ability to speak spanish. let's listen. >> i don't know how he knows what i said on univision because he doesn't speak spanish. and second of all, the other point that i would make -- [ speaking spanish ] >> senator, were you calling into question whether or not senator cruz is a real latino? >> no, i was calling into question whether he even knows what i'm saying. he points to this interview on univision, which he claims i said something different than what i say in english. he has no idea. he's just going off what other people are telling him, and it's false. it's just not true. and the bottom line is there's been this disturbing pattern over the last couple weeks from ted cruz of just saying things
that are not true. just in the last week he's lied about my record on marriage. he's lied about my record on planned parenthood. of course, he lied about ben carson in iowa. last night donald trump says he's issuing robo calls, doing the same thing to him. and then he also is not telling the truth about immigration. he goes around portraying himself as this purist. ted cruz, the purist on immigration, but i was there two or three years ago when he was, you know, passionately arguing that the committee that we needed to pass immigration reform, we need to do bring people out of the shadows, we need a kind of compromise on people in this country illegally. and now he portrays himself as this sort of purist who's never changed his position on the issues. it's just not true. and i think this pattern has become very disturbing when it comes to ted cruz's campaign. >> senator, you used the word "lie" last night. you used it many times now. that's a pretty tough charge, and the rhetoric is really escalating. >> well, there's no other way to describe that. it's a lie. when you say something that's not true, it's called a lie. that's the definition of it.
now, i don't know about every other aspect of his life. i'm not attacking him there. i'm just saying on this campaign, he is saying things that are not true. and he's saying it repeatedly. and he knows they're not true. >> let's drill down on one of the things that you just mentioned, which is gay marriage. ted cruz is vowing to overturn the supreme court's gay marriage decision through constitutional amendment. he's criticizing you for wanting to leave that ruling in place. why isn't that a fair criticism? >> because that's not what he's saying. what he's saying is that i've called it settled law. those words have never come out of my mouth. he's making it up. it's a lie. what i've said is it's the supreme court decision, it's current -- >> so what would you -- >> well, first of all, presidents can't overturn supreme court decisions. and he knows that. on the supreme court. i think that case will continue to be tested. it's happening now. tennessee is working through a case that i think will ultimately find itself at the supreme court.
i disagree with the decision. i've always said i think it's bad law. >> but he supports a constitutional amendment that is one thing that you could push for. that's not on the table for you? >> well, no, that's not -- his constitutional amendment is an amendment that recognizes that the states have the power to define marriage. that's what the constitutional amendment he's promoting. and my argument is that already exists. >> okay, senator, before i let you go, you have quite an exchange last week before the new hampshire primary with chris christie. he is now not in the race anymore. after he dropped out or since then, have you called him? >> we have. we've tried to get ahold of him. i think he's taking a few days away from all the grind. and i understand that. i know we spoke to his staff. we're trying to set up a time to talk. i know he had some briefings the same day he made that decision, catching up on work. i want to be clear, i have no animus towards chris. i like him very much, always have. this is a political campaign. it's a competitive environment. and people are going to exchange, and we gave as good as we got. like i said last week in the debate, obviously things didn't go the way we wanted it to, but last night they went very well.
i think chris is not done with public service. and my sense is you're going to see him serving this country in different capacities now and in the future. and we wish him the best. >> senator, thank you so much for your time. and have a good valentine's day. >> thank you. and with the next republican primary just six days away, the debate stage was sizzling hot, and the insults got personal. >> george bush made a mistake. we can make mistakes. but that one was a beauty. we should have never been in iraq. we have destabilized the middle east. >> but so -- so you still think he should be impeached? >> i think it's my turn, isn't it? >> you do whatever you want. you call it whatever you want. they lied. >> i could care less about the insults that donald trump gives to me. it's bloodsport for him. he enjoys it. >> joining me now is former governor jeb bush. and, governor bush, let's start with the passing of supreme court justice antonin scalia. senator cruz, senator rubio and senate gop leader mitch mcconnell all say that the next president should replace scalia, not president obama. at the debate, it sounded like you disagree.
what is your position? >> no, i think president obama is going to submit a nominee. and, in all likelihood, this person will be out of the mainstream, and they'll be rejected by the senate. that's his prerogative. he has every right to do it. and the senate has every right to not confirm that person. that's what i said. he clearly has the power to do it. but given his choices of supreme court justices in the past, the senate of the united states should not confirm someone who's out of the mainstream. >> but if i could just clarify, right now it sounds as though -- >> yeah. >> -- the republicans who run the senate aren't even going to schedule a vote. you think that one should be scheduled? >> it's up to mitch mcconnell. that's really not important to me. >> you mentioned what kind of supreme court nominee you would pick. you know this. many conservatives still haven't gotten over the fact that your father chose david souter for the supreme court. a lot of them are still smarting over the fact that your
brother's choice for chief justice, john roberts, ended up with somebody who helped save obamacare. isn't this a problem for you, that this whole question of a supreme court nominee is front and center right now given conservative skepticism? >> well, the souter choice was unfortunate. he wandered off into the liberal camp for sure. john roberts, i think, can be a defended choice for sure just, you know, the obamacare decision, i was disappointed in, but he's made some really good rulings beyond that. here's the deal. i think the lesson learned is you pick someone with a proven longstanding record, a history that you can point to. when he wasn't considered or she wasn't being considered for a nomination to the supreme court, when he or she was doing their work, and the consistency of their rulings was what mattered. that's the scalia approach.
he was very consistent on his interpretation and his rulings. and that's what we need. >> let's talk about the debate last night. you and donald trump went at it again a lot. there is so much heat between the two of you. >> yeah. >> you really don't like each other, do you? >> i don't know him well enough to not like him. i do think that he would not be the proper nominee for our party. he's not a conservative. he's not a serious person. his conversation in debates when he talks about foreign policy, it's scary. to say that russia could be an ally, he basically seemed more interested in putin than my brother, for example. i mean, we shouldn't be changing teams here. we ought to be focused on what are the -- what's the national security interests of our own country. and i don't think that he's really thought it through. >> and, governor, somebody who is coming to your aid, joining you on the campaign trail tomorrow for the very first time
is your brother, george w. bush. >> yeah. >> you have been a presidential candidate for eight months. why now? >> because we're nearing the beginning of this process. and i think there's a lot of interest in my brother coming. and he's been helpful all along in a lot of different ways, giving me advice and helpful raising money, doing all sorts of things. but this was the appropriate time for him to do something he's not done. >> yeah, he hasn't. >> he hasn't done anything public during his -- since he left office. so this -- this is the right time, right when the interest -- when it's important and when people are watching. >> you say that, but in iowa, in new hampshire and even before those votes were taking place, maybe he's a controversial figure, in general, but as you well know, with republicans, he is quite popular still. so why did you wait this long? >> yeah, no, absolutely. >> any regret about waiting this long while you're -- you know,
at this point -- at the beginning, you were riding high, but now, you know, you're struggling for survival. >> well, i feel like after three or four obituaries have been written, i feel like i'm still alive and hanging in there and making good progress. and my brother will help a lot. >> how will he do that? >> the point is, is he a popular republican? you bet he is. he will make the point, i think, i hope, tomorrow that he knows what it takes to be president of the united states, to be commander in chief, to keep the country safe and that he believes that i have those skills based on my record and based on how he knows me. and that will be an incredible validater in south carolina where values matter and where national defense matters a lot. so i'm looking forward to the event. we should have a great crowd, and it will help my campaign a lot. i also know that i have to share my record and who i am. it's not a delicate balance at all. it's adding. it's yes, i'm a bush.
i'm proud of it. i'm proud of my brother, my dad, my mom. i'm proud of every bush. i love them dearly. and i also have a story to tell. and i have detailed plans to fix the mess in washington, d.c. it's all of that. that's what a campaign is about. >> and, lastly, south carolina is the state that kind of rescued your brother's campaign in 2000. do you need to finish at least third in order to keep going? where do you see the -- your real goal, your candid goal, for south carolina in terms of your long-term prospects? >> my candid goal is to beat expectations, whatever those are, that i don't control. and i intend to be in this over the long haul. and as others drop out, my hope is to be there to take on the front-running candidate to make sure that people know that the republican party is the conservative party, and it needs a conservative to lead it to victory against hillary clinton or bernie sanders. that's my mission. i only focus on that. >> no matter what you do, how you finish in south carolina, you're moving on?
>> my expectation is i'll beat expectations here. >> all right, governor. thank you very much. thanks for your time. appreciate it. >> thanks. thank you very much. and the president says, of course he will nominate a new supreme court justice. but republicans who run the senate say he's wasting his time. that battle is next. dad, you can just drop me off right here. oh no, i'll take you up to the front of the school. that's where your friends are. seriously, it's, it's really fine. you don't want to be seen with your dad? no, it's..no.. oh, there's tracy. what! [ horn honking ] [ forward collision warning ] bye dad! it brakes when you don't. the newly redesigned volkswagen passat. right now you can get a $1,000 presidents' day bonus on new 2015 or 2016 passat, jetta, or tiguan models. but i've managed.e crohn's disease is tough, except that managing my symptoms was all i was doing.
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so choose ultimate flora by renewlife. it has 30 billion probiotic cultures. feel lighter and more energized. ultimate flora. more power to your gut. welcome back to "state of the union." i'm dana bash in for jake tapper. the sudden death of supreme court justice antonin scalia has huge implications, and it sent both parties scrambling. president obama, last night, pledged to nominate a replacement. >> these are responsibilities that i take seriously, as should everyone. they're bigger than any one party. they are about our democracy. they're about the institution to which justice scalia dedicated his professional life and making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our founders envisioned. >> i'm joined now by the top democrat on the senate judiciary committee, patrick leahy of vermont. senator, thank you so much for
joining me. i'll just start with what the senate majority leader, republican mitch mcconnell, said last night. he laid down the gauntlet, saying the senate will not confirm anybody until after the presidential election. your thoughts. >> well, i think he's making a terrible mistake. he's certainly ignoring the constitution, ignoring responsibilities. president obama is doing the same thing that president reagan did. at the end of his term, he nominated a supreme court justice. the confirmation was in the last year of president reagan's term. the democrats controlled the senate. none of us intend to play politics with something as important as a supreme court nomination. and the democratic-controlled senate voted 97-0 in favor of president reagan's nominee
in the last year of his presidency. the fact is when you elect a president, you have to assume if there's supreme court vacancies, he is going to make the nomination. and it would be a sheer dereliction of duty for the senate not to have a hearing, not to have a vote. >> but, senator, i want to ask you about something called the thurmond rule, which is an informal agreement in the senate that the ruling party -- party not in the white house blocks all judicial nominees during a presidential campaign season. you subscribed to that when it
was the opposite, so why is it different now? >> well, there is no such thing as a thurmond rule. i used to tease the republicans. i'll give you an example. the last two years of president george w. bush's term, democrats were in control of the senate. by this time we had confirmed two or three times as many judges of george bush's than the republicans have of president obama's. they're playing politics the same way they did when they killed about 70 of president clinton's judges by their pocket veto. the fact of the matter is a supreme court justice, let's have a vote. let's have a debate. the senate has more recesses scheduled, more holidays scheduled this year than i've ever seen in my time there. we ought to go forward and have a debate. >> you know that the republicans are arguing it's not about time spent in washington. it's about which president gets the chance to nominate the pick. you know, i've been covering you in the senate for a very long time. and i just know from experience, as do you, where you sit on these issues depends on where you stand. and if there were a republican
in the white house, democrats were in charge of the senate right now, i bet you'd be arguing to move forward on the supreme court nominee. fair? >> no. in fact, i was there when the democrats were in charge of the senate in the last year of president reagan's term, a member of the judiciary committee, and i urged that we go forward with president reagan's nomination, and we did. i mean, i'm pretty clear where i am. now, justice scalia was a friend of mine. we disagreed on a lot of things. i had a lot of respect for him and his family. in fact, his youngest son and our youngest son used to play soccer in grade school on saturday mornings. justice scalia would call him nino, and i would stand there in our old clothes watching the kids playing and joking back and forth. i mean, this has to be a terrible blow to his family. let's not add to that blow by politicizing this.
let's do exactly for president obama what democrats did for president reagan and have the vote. >> senator leahy? >> yeah, go ahead. >> do you think that if republicans continue down this road that they say they're not going to bring up whomever the nominee is for a vote, would you recommend to the president a recess appointment? >> i don't think we're there. i think the president -- and i've talked to the white house last night. i think the president has to nominate somebody, nominate a qualified person. >> but would you rule it out if things don't change the way they are now? >> i don't even think -- i don't even think we're there. i think what we ought to do is nominate somebody. if the republican leadership refuses to even hold a hearing, i think that is going to guarantee they lose control of the senate because i don't think the american people will stand for that. they want us to do our job. they can see us doing recess
after recess, time off all year long, tell us to come back, cancel when those recesses, come back and have the hearing and have the vote. that's what the american people expect the senate to do. >> all right. senator leahy, thank you so much for your time. we will be watching what goes on when you all come back to town after the presidents' day recess, speaking of them. thank you very much. he next this morning. with tempur-flex you've got the spring and bounce of a traditional mattress and it also adjusts to my body. ahhh... my cloud feels so comfortable. it feels like somebody's hugging you. how can a bed do that? (vo) there's a tempur-pedic for everyone. find the feel that's right for you. and now through february 28th, save up to $300 on one of our most popular tempur-breeze mattress sets.
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the united states until january 20th, 2017! that is a fact, my friends, whether the republicans like it or not. >> so just how seismic an event is this for presidential politics and the race this year? joining me now are donna brazile, vice chair of the democratic national committee, conservative radio show host hugh hewitt and bob woodward, author and associate editor of "the washington post." thank you all, esteemed panel here. bob, i'll start with you. if republicans succeed in blocking president obama's nominee, what are the political ramifications? >> well, i think they're immense, and i think this is a potential minefield for everyone, including hillary clinton and the obama white house because if you think ahead, because it was a conservative justice who died who's going to be replaced, the
argument by the democrats is, gee, we're going to put a fifth liberal on the supreme court. the republican nominee can go out and say we are going to preserve the balance. and in the world now of real voters, i think it is the persuadable voter or the independent who's likely in a positive way to respond to the idea, yeah, let's preserve the balance. let's not do anything radical. >> that's true, but it also has the potential to really energize the base in both parties. nothing energizes conservatives, for example, like the supreme court possibility. >> you're right. i agree with bob, the minefield is on both sides. but if i were a republican, whether the majority leader all the way down to the county clerk and every nominee, i would say very simply, no hearings, no votes. lame ducks don't make lifetime appointments.
>> and he's a lame duck a year out? >> easily. the last time -- justice kennedy has been referred to a lot -- was nominated in november of 1987. that vacancy occurred in june of 1987. so there is no precedent. and i would simply add the base will not forgive anyone. senators will lose their jobs if they block the blockade. there should be an absolute blockade. and patrick leahy, your guest earlier, voted 27 times to deny a vote or a hearing to republican nominees between 2001 and 2003. patrick leahy created the conditions that he was decrying right now. >> donna, you heard hugh say that republicans will lose their job, but obviously what you're hoping, in the politics of this, is that democrats can hold this over vulnerable republicans saying you're not doing your job. >> absolutely. look, there are 34 senate seats up, and many of those seats are in so-called presidential battleground states. if you're senator johnson from wisconsin, senator toomey from
pennsylvania, senator kirk from illinois and many of the other states, senator portman from ohio, these senators must decide whether or not they're going to be branded as not just voting to shut down the government, the federal government but also shutting down the supreme court at a time when the supreme court has a lot of big issues on the docket. 21 cases are scheduled to be heard in march. 21. so i look forward to hearing the republicans discuss how they will block president obama, again, while there are so many issues, tough issues, before the court. >> but that's a processed question. and i think those -- look, if you're a republican running and you can say keep me there, balance is really important. this isn't about the left or the right. this is about the center who's going to decide the election. >> isn't it also about president obama's legacy? he has been very clear in a lot of different moves lately that
he's not afraid of congress and he wants to make some pretty bold strokes before he leaves. could this be one of them? >> well, but you can't issue an executive order to make a supreme court justice. it has to be confirmed by the senate. i think if you think ahead to the fifth or sixth bounce of this, is this a fight the democratic nominee for president is going to want? >> yes. >> not necessarily. >> why, donna? >> because marriage equality, immigration, affirmative action, voting rights. all of these issues hang in the balance. and i think for democrats, like republicans on abortion and some of the other issues, this is an issue -- this is a court that should not be staffed one way or another based on, you know, the person who just -- >> the left, if you get an obama -- >> what's wrong with that? >> well, okay, i'm talking --
the neutral center here, not the left or the right. >> justice scalia and god bless his soul, condolences to his family, he was not the center on these big, weighted issues of our time. >> things that are actually pending before the supreme court as we speak, immigration, abortion, unions, affirmative action. what is the political fallout? never mind in the future, right now as we speak. >> i believe that the take care clause on the immigration, i thought that was a six-vote case anyway. so i think that will still go the way that constitutionalists and originalists would like, that justice scalia would like. and one thing bob said and donna has confirmed, justice scalia is not just any justice. he's a giant. even though you would never agree with him on employment versus smith which is a 1990 case which i always decried as unfortunate. >> thank god everybody has google. >> it's about religious freedom. and he's a giant. so it may be tough for portman and ayotte and for kirk to -- >> the vulnerable senators. >> the vulnerable republican senators and johnson to go with no hearings, no votes, lame-duck presidents don't make lifetime appointments.
they may lose as a result of that. but if they allow it to go forward, they will certainly lose. and so they have a choice between -- they have to block this nomination. >> justice scalia revered the constitution, and the constitution provide a mechanism to replace justices. and that's what the senate should do. they should vote to hold a hearing. >> ten seconds, final word. >> well, let's see if that's going to happen because i think the republicans have the vote on this. and again, you know, what -- in the 1970s when justice douglas, very much of the left, retired. there was an article in "the washington star," the competitor to "the washington post" by one of the great supreme court reporters of all time. and the headline was, "the supreme court will never be the same. everyone, left, right, center is going to miss justice douglas." i think it's the same with scalia. >> i love ending this discussion with bob woodward talking about headlines from the '70s. it's kind of perfect.
>> that's all i can do. >> thank you all very much for that discussion. as we've just been talking about, the white house is vowing to nominate a new supreme court justice. who will it be? our experts' top picks right after the break. microsoft cloud changes our world dramatically. it wasn't too long ago it would take two weeks to sequence and analyze a genome. now, we can do a hundred per day. with the microsoft cloud we don't have to build server rooms. we have instant scale. the microsoft cloud is helping us to re-build and re-interpret our business. this cloud helps transform business. this is the microsoft cloud. text mom. i'll be right back. be good. boys have been really good today. send. let's get mark his own cell phone. nice. brad could use a new bike. send. [google] message. you decide. they're your kids. why are you guys texting grandma? it was him. it was him. app-connect. from the newly redesigned volkswagen passat.
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and my gum and it was uncomfortable. just a few dabs is clinically proven to seal out more food particles. super poligrip is part of my life now. welcome back to "state of the union." i'm dana bash. there is now an empty seat on the highest court in the land. president obama has promised to fill it, but who will he pick? joining me now with insights into the president's thinking is david axelrod, former senior adviser to president obama, and our supreme court expert, jeffrey toobin, who has written several books about the court. david, let me start with you. what is happening right now inside the white house? you have been through this process with this president. >> well, first let us say that aaron sorkin could not have
written this script better, dropping this right in the middle of a presidential campaign. but look, i think that they're going to want to move quickly. because you don't want this to settle in. you want to move quickly, put a nominee in front of the senate, obviously qualified, and let them explain for the next 11 months why they want to deprive the country of a supreme court justice at a time when there are a lot of critical cases. >> that's what you would advise the president, put somebody forward who's obviously qualified, don't go for broke, don't go for somebody who's liberal to excite the base? >> there will be those who suggest -- i saw some names, camilla harris, the attorney general of california, running for the senate right now, maybe cory booker. >> you think that's a bad idea? >> both splendid people. i'm sure they would be great justices. why not pick someone who's already been confirmed by the court, who's on the bench and who's clearly qualified and has
been rendered as such by the senate. >> jeff, let's talk about some of those potential nominees. there is one currently sitting on the d.c. circuit court, sri srinivasan. he was confirmed just a couple years ago. 97-0. he's worked for president obama, solicitor general and also under bush. and there's another -- there's a woman who is on the 8th circuit court. and her name is jane kelly. she's actually reportedly pretty close with the republican judiciary chair, chuck grassley, because she's got iowa roots. what do you think of those? >> that's true. i think those two are far and away the most likely nominees by president obama. in part, because they are young by supreme court standards. jane kelly is, i think, 51. sri srinivasan is 48. both have impeccable qualifications. they are sitting serving federal judges on appellate courts. and, most importantly, both were confirmed 97-0. and so the argument would be,
what is it about the past two years that have made all these republican senators suddenly decide that these people are not qualified to be on the supreme court? >> let me put to you what senator rubio told me earlier in the program when i asked him that question because he voted for one of them. and i said that very thing. and he said, well, it's a completely different job. it should take more time and more scrutiny. do you buy that as somebody who knows the court the way you do? >> well, the answer is the supreme court is a very political body just as the u.s. senate is. the reason the republicans don't want to vote against a kelly or a srinivasan or any obama nominee is not because they're not qualified. it's they're an obama nominee. this is the most controversial supreme court vacancy in a generation. the court has five conservatives and four liberals. the opportunity to switch the balance on the court to five liberals and four conservatives,
that's what this fight is about. it's not about the qualifications. it's not about what time of year it is. it's about switching the balance on the supreme court. >> absolutely. and david -- >> i was interested when i heard senator -- you asked senator rubio about some of these potential candidates. he said, well, i don't want to comment before a nomination. i want to reserve judgment. well, what are you reserving judgment on if you're not going to confirm anyone? so i think he got kind of caught up in the switches there. i'm sorry, i interrupted. >> no, i was just going to say, the president so far has sort of thought about history when he's making nominations. >> yes. >> not only to women but the first latina on the supreme court. in your past conversations with him, is that something that is important to him and could be going forward? >> well, certainly he was aware of the history he made in appointing justice sotomayor, the first hispanic and first latina on the supreme court. i think that it's not lost on him, i'm sure, what the balance of the court is, as jeff just
noted, in that this will shape judicial history for some time to come, if he were able to put someone on the court. so i think that will really frame his thinking. and i think the candidate that he can -- that will create the starkest choice for the senate in terms of their qualifications is the one he wants, the one who's most qualified is the one he's going to want to appoint. >> david, thank you. jeffrey too bichltbin, thank yo much for your insights. and what does it take to get two supreme court justices on an elephant? the surprising friendship with justice scalia and another person on the court who may surprise you. that's next. ♪
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call them the odd couple. supreme court justices antonin scalia and ruth bader ginsburg forged an unlikely friendship, even vacationing together. >> very nice person. she likes opera. you know, what's not to like? except her views of the law, of course. >> his death leaves behind a political storm but also a singular legacy. here with me is his biographer, author of "american original: the life and constitution of supreme court justice antonin scalia." thank you so much for coming in. i just want to ask about the size you saw of him that other people didn't.
>> i should mention that ruth bader ginsburg returned the favor by saying "i love nino, but i would like to strangle him." >> he has a sense of fun. >> yeah. >> he played poker, he would sing and play piano and there's a lot about his hunting but he really enjoyed hunting and he told me about hunting turkeys and how cunning they were. he said you have to be really quiet because you only get one shot, and i always thought that epitomized his time in the law. you get just one shot and he took it. >> yeah, he certainly did. you were also intrigued by his immigrant story, background. specifically, his father who came to the u.s. from sicily and learned to speak english but eventually got a doctorate from columbia. how did his background influence that? >> high standards. he was an only child. also the only child with this offspring in the large catholic family. his father was quiet demanding. he ended up being the first
italian-american justice. he felt he had a lot of demands on him. his father became a professor of romance languages. his mother was a schoolteacher. he was the apple of their eye but felt the bar very high. >> the only child to go on and have nine children. >> i know. >> his conservative views left him kind of maligned by a lot of liberals. you got an incite on how he reacted to that. >> in 2005 when chief justice john roberts was tapped in, and jon stewart made a remark when someone said somebody nicer than scalia and jon -- he said what's that about? i'm a decent guy.
he had feelings too. >> so he was surprised. did he get kind of the wrap on him by the entire left of this country? >> i think he felt, he understood that he separated himself from them on the law and actually thought hey, i'm a decent guy. get to know me. he was a bad boy on the bench and certainly never wrote a bad sentence. his rhetoric was so energizing for the people on the right and i think he felt like understand me for who i am, and also he thought understand me for someone who is trying to interpret the constitution the way it should be interpreted. >> so interesting. thank you so much for your incites. i'm going to go back and read your book again. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> with six days to go until the next votes are cast, all six remaining republican candidates will be here on cnn for back-to-back town halls in south carolina. watch as they answer voters questions with anderson cooper wednesday and thursday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on cnn. thank you so much for spending your sunday morning with us. stay tuned to cnn for continuing coverage on this story. go to cnn.com/sotu for extras
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the x1 voice remote is here. this is "gps," the global public square. welcome to all of you in the united states and around the world. i'm fareed zakaria. we'll start with some of the serious threats facing the world. first off, terror. isis will probably try to strike the united states in 2016. that's what a top intelligence official opines this week. does he have the strength and smarts to do so? here to assess the u.s. government's own threat assessment. >>en