Washington Watch Roundtable: The End Of The Iraq War, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul’s Chances In Iowa (VIDEO)

This week’s Washington Watch Roundtable features April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, Robert Traynham, Washington bureau chief for the Comcast Network, Sonya Ross, Race, Ethnicity and Demographics Editor for the Associated Press and Joe Madison

MR. MARTIN:  Lots to talk about this week, folks, on the roundtable.  April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks – so shy on the show –


MR. MARTIN:  — Robert Traynham, Washington bureau chief for the Comcast Network – that nice, D.C. red tie; Sonya Ross, Race, Ethnicity and Demographics Editor for the Associated Press; and, in all black, lookin’ like Johnny Cash, Joe Madison –

MS. SONYA ROSS:  [Laughs.]

MR. MARTIN:  — Sirius XM Radio’s “Black Eagle.”

MR. MARTIN:  All right, folks.  [Chuckles.]

MS. APRIL RYAN:  That’s terrible.

MR. MARTIN:  Come on, now.  Come on, now.  Look at ’im – lookin’ like Shaft down there.

Go ’head, Joe!

MS. ROSS:  I like Shaft better than Johnny Cash.

MR. JOE MADISON:  I do, too.  [Chuckles.]


MS. RYAN:  “He’s a bad mutha-” –

Shut yo’ mouth!”


MR. MARTIN:  But Johnny Cash had – had –


MR. MARTIN:  — more money than Shaft did.

MR. MADISON:  That’s right.  Yeah.

MR. MARTIN:  All right.  Folks are talking about the whole issue of, obviously, the pullout of [troops from] Iraq.  Lots of criticism [of] the President for the decision.  Here’s what Sen. John McCain had to say.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN:  It is clear that this decision of a complete pullout of United States troops from Iraq was dictated by politics and not our national security interests.  I believe that history will judge this president’s leadership with the scorn and disdain that it deserves.


MR. MARTIN:  When you look at the polling numbers, Americans have made it perfectly clear they are sick and tired of the war in Iraq, but also the decision to pull the troops out on this date wasn’t agreed to by Pres. Obama.

MR. ROBERT TRAYNHAM:  It was George Bush.

MR. MARTIN:  That was negotiated by Pres. George W. –


MR. MARTIN:  Bush.

MR. TRAYNHAM:  Right.  I think – right.  You’re absolutely right.  Look, Pres. Obama has been very clear throughout his presidency and also throughout his campaign that he wanted to end the Iraq war, so there’s nothing new there.  I think what’s interesting with what – what – what Sen. McCain is saying is – is that, obviously, this emboldens – this is what he’s saying; this is not what I’m saying – it emboldens our enemies.  Obviously, Iraq is way too fragile to leave right now.  Regardless of public opinion, we still have to be over there for our national security interests.

MR. MARTIN:  But we could not get the agreement with the Iraqi government to grant immunity for our troops.

MR. TRAYNHAM:  That’s true.

MR. MARTIN:  I would say that the President would’ve been negligent had he allowed U.S. troops to stay in Iraq without that immunity.

MR. MADISON:  The reality is they wanted us to leave.

MS. ROSS:  Yes.

MR. MADISON:  Let’s be honest.

MR. MARTIN:  It is their country.

MR. MADISON:  That – thank you.  And – and the reality is we’re not leaving.  Remember, now, we have the world’s largest embassy in – in Bagh- –

OFF CAMERA:  In the world.

MR. MADISON:  — -dad –

OFF CAMERA:  Um-hum.

MR. MADISON:  — in the world.  We have now 17,000 embassy employees – 17,000 – let alone the number of contractors that are still there.  But the bottom line is it’s a sovereign nation, and the other reality is what you said.  Republicans wanted us to come home, and here’s the other thing.  We shouldn’t ’ve been there in the first place.

MS. RYAN:  And that – [crosstalk]- –

MR. MARTIN:  $800 billion has been spent, and that’s not even adding up the cost of treating our soldiers over, frankly, their lifetime[s].

MS. RYAN:  — there’s an emotional cost, and there’s definitely a financial cost, which we are dealing with and feeling right now.  This country, the people – the American public – we’re tired.  We’re tired of hearing about our troops dying.  We’re try- — tired of not seeing our family members home.

MR. TRAYNHAM:  A couple of things.  We must remind ourselves that 1441, the United Nations resolution, back in 2001, was violated not once, not twice, [but] three times with Saddam Hussein.  At the time – again, at the time – we thought that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.  We now know that to be not the case, but back then we didn’t know that.  We a- — I also remind everyone tha- — and April would – remembers this – that during the Clinton Administration, during the first Bush Administration and up to this Bush administration, Saddam Hussein consistently violated the no-fly zone.  So, again –

MS. RYAN:  You’re absolutely –

MR. TRAYNHAM:  — in –

MS. RYAN:  — right.

MR. TRAYNHAM:  — context, neoconservatives – but also most Americans – said, “You know what?  Saddam Hussein is a bad” –

MR. MARTIN:  But – but –

MR. TRAYNHAM:  — “person.”

MS. ROSS:  [Crosstalk]- — but Saddam –

MR. MARTIN:  — but l- — but le- —

MS. ROSS:  — Hussein –

MR. MARTIN:  — but let’s also say –

MS. ROSS:  — is now –

MR. MARTIN:  — this.  First of –

MS. ROSS:  — dead.

MR. MARTIN:  — all – first of all –

MS. ROSS:  But Saddam – [chuckles] –

MR. MARTIN:  — ou- — o- — one se- — one second.  Our CIA was pushed and prodded to get to that point.  Our analysts kept saying, “We don’t have the firm results.”

Second thing, which Americans do not want to own up to, and Ron Paul keeps talking about in these debates:  we paid Saddam Hussein.  He was on our side –

MS. RYAN:  — at –

MR. TRAYNHAM:  During the –

MS. RYAN:  — one time.

MR. MARTIN:  — whe- — whe- —

MR. TRAYNHAM:  — duri- — during the Iran-Iraq war.

MR. MARTIN:  — when –

MS. RYAN:  At one time.

MR. MARTIN:  — when Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against –

MR. TRAYNHAM:  Against his own –

MR. MARTIN:  — his own people –

MR. TRAYNHAM:  — people.

MR. MARTIN:  — we knew about it –


MR. MARTIN:  — and we said nothing.

MS. RYAN:  But here’s the – here’s the de- — here’s the issue.  National intelligence – people in the national intelligence community said, yes, we needed to deal with Saddam Hussein, but that may not have been the time – and that was the issue.  We had faulty intelligence, going into Iraq – okay?  And to some extent, we still have faulty intelligence in a lot of maters, but we had faulty intelligence telling us weapons of mass destruction –

MR. TRAYNHAM:  — sure.

MS. RYAN:  — that we never found.




MS. RYAN:  Nine years later, look –


MS. RYAN:  — what happened.

MR. MADISON:  All this “UN this, UN that,” “faulty intelligence.”  Hell, the – excuse me.  I know it’s Sunday morning.  The American people were lied to.

MS. RYAN:  Yes!

MR. MADISON:  That was the bottom line!  And now –

MS. RYAN:  And that’s why –

MR. MADISON:  — that the Bush –

MS. RYAN:  — in 2002, Obama said [it was] a –

MR. MADISON:  — Administration –

MS. RYAN:  — “dumb war.”

MR. MADISON:  — officials are writing their memoirs, you’ve got Cheney arguing with Rice about what was said, what wasn’t said.

MS. RYAN:  Who’s at fault.

MR. MADISON:  And if somebody wants to talk about how we were lied to, go interview Colin Powell.

MR. MARTIN:  We’ve seen the 1,728th Republican debate take place –


MR. MARTIN:  — this year.  Chump Trump will not be actually hosting –

MS. RYAN:  “Chump Trump.”

MR. MARTIN:  — a debate.  Yes –

MS. RYAN:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  — “Chump Trump.”  That’s exactly what he is:  Donald “Chump” Trump.  That was a joke of an idea – him moderating a debate.  And what – what is very interesting –

MS. RYAN:  [Giggles.]

MR. MARTIN:  — in all of these debates [is] all of a sudden, Newt Gingri- — Gingrich has risen to the top.  Folks keep talking about Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, but the one person who has been consistent, right there in the top three constantly, has been Cong. Ron Paul; and people act like he doesn’t even exist, but he has a chance to actually win Iowa.

MR. TRAYNHAM:  Sure.  I mean he – look, he won the Iowa straw poll.  Ron P- — I’ve been to Iowa three times now.  Every time I go to Iowa, what I am fascinated by is by his ground game.  I mean his supporters – what Ron Paul had for breakfast this morning, people would cheer, because he’s that popular with his – with his base.  He – it’s – it’s an interesting phenomenon in terms of the Ron Paul organization.  There’s a very good chance that he could win the Iowa –

MR. MARTIN:  The –

MR. TRAYNHAM:  — caucus.

MR. MARTIN:  — the GOP – it’s ve- — it’s interesting watching these debates, because the Republicans can’t stand it when Ryan – Ron Paul calls them “warmongers,” when he ba- — blasts them about wanting to go to war in Iran, when he talks about the cost of all of these bases overseas.  Then, of course, you have many Republicans who say mi- — you know, he is not kissing up to Israel with every, single pronouncement.  But he is saying some very uncomfortable things that his own party cannot stand someone to say to their fellow candidates.

MR. TRAYNHAM:  But that’s always a reality check.  I mean, look.  During 2008, Dennis Kucinich was that reality check on the – on the – on the left, and the progressive side.  You always have someone on – for lack of a better term, on the fringe left or the fringe right that is always that reality check, that says, “You know what?  I may be the crazy uncle on the c-” – “in the attic, but I’m speaking the truth.”

MR. MADISON:  But – but –

MS. RYAN:  [Crosstalk] –

MR. MADISON:  — “crazy uncle” –

MS. RYAN:  —  yes, yes.

MR. MADISON:  — is fun to listen to – isn’t he?

MR. TRAYNHAM:  Always.

MS. RYAN:  Fun to –

MR. MADISON:  I mean – and –

MS. RYAN:  — watch, too.

MR. MADISON:  — and that’s why –

MS. RYAN:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MADISON:  — I mean I almost like Ron Paul.  I mean –

MS. RYAN:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MADISON:  — [chuckles] –

MR. TRAYNHAM:  “Almost.”

MR. MADISON:  — we- — well – well, when I say “almost,” only because he’s – in – in his libertarian point of view, he opposes civil rights –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MR. MADISON:  — like the ’64 civil rights bill and the ’65 voting rights bill, so I can’t hang with –

MR. MARTIN:  He couldn’t even vote to –

MR. MADISON:  — him on that.

MR. MARTIN:  — give a medal to Rosa Parks –

MR. MADISON:  Yeah, but –

MR. MARTIN:  — but I understand –

MR. MADISON:  — but –

MR. MARTIN:  — your point.

MR. MADISON:  — but – but the point is that he is part of this anti-Washington e- — [sentiment] that a- — that exists –

MR. MARTIN:  He’s really the –

MR. MADISON:  — out here –

MR. MARTIN:  — originator of –

MR. MADISON:  — today[?].

MR. MARTIN:  — of the Tea Party.  Te- —

MR. MADISON:  He – and – and – quite honestly.  And as a –

MR. MARTIN:  Rush Limbaugh.

MR. MADISON:  — and – you know.  And he – and he’s – and here’s the other thing.  He is consistent.  Ron Paul is the same Ron Paul he was ten, 12 years ago.  H- — you could run – rerun the tape, and you’ll get the same –

MS. RYAN:  But it’s the –

MR. MADISON:  — Ron Paul.

MS. RYAN:  — “crazy” – but is the “crazy uncle” presidential?

MR. MADISON:  No!  That’s why –

MS. RYAN:  That’s – that’s the –

MR. MADISON:  — he won’t win!

MS. RYAN:  — and that’s –

MR. MADISON:  I mean that’s –

MS. RYAN:  — a – [crosstalk]- —

MR. MADISON:  — right.

MS. RYAN:  — well, w- — hey, wait a –


MS. RYAN:  — minute.  We don’t know that –


MS. RYAN:  — because it’s “everybody but” –

MR. MADISON:  Win what?

MS. RYAN:  — “Mitt.”

MR. MADISON:  The nomination or –

MS. RYAN:  Yeah.  It’s –

MR. MADISON:  — the presidency?

MS. RYAN:  — “everybo-” – well, no.  Well, I don’t know!

MR. MADISON:  No.  [Chuckles.]

MS. RYAN:  It’s “everybody but Mitt” –


MS. RYAN:  — so –

MR. MADISON:  — come on!

MS. RYAN:  — we don’t know.  If Newt does something crazy, talking about the kids again, you know, going to clean the – clean the schools and everything – the ten-year-old Black kids; that was code that he was using – you never know!  You know, Ron Paul, the “crazy uncle” –


MS. RYAN:  — could wind up being number one.  You never know.

MR. TRAYNHAM:  Ron Paul’s not going to be the Republican nominee.

MR. MADISON:  E- — e- —

MR. TRAYNHAM:  He’s not.

MR. MADISON:  — no.

MR. TRAYNHAM:  But – but having –

MR. MARTIN:  But you – but –

MS. RYAN:  [Crosstalk] –

MR. TRAYNHAM:  — said that –

MR. MARTIN:  — you know[?] – [crosstalk] –

MS. RYAN:  — do you wanna bet?  Do you wanna –

MR. MARTIN:  — but – but here –

MS. RYAN:  — [laughs] –

MR. MARTIN:  — but here’s the deal.  But here’s the deal.

MR. TRAYNHAM:  Ten dollars.

MR. MARTIN:  Here’s the deal.

MS. RYAN:  [Laughs.]

MR. TRAYNHAM:  Not 10,000.

MR. MARTIN:  But here’s o- — here’s one of the things that – that’s be- — that’s bothered me constantly – and I’ve said this here, on CNN, elsewhere – is that we have no right to – to sit here and actually go through these predictions when not a single vote has been cast.

MR. TRAYNHAM:  I agree.

MR. MARTIN:  I mean when people start saying, “Is the race over?  Newt’s on top” – no!

MR. TRAYNHAM:  I agree.

MR. MARTIN:  And I also – I don’t believe –

OFF CAMERA:  We’ve got a lot of time.

MR. MARTIN:  — I also don’t believe –

MR. TRAYNHAM:  I agree.

MS. ROSS:  Anything could happen.

MR. MARTIN:  — that the first four states will decide this whole thing.  I think that this GOP race –

MR. MADISON:  Oh, it’s going to go –

MR. MARTIN:  — will look like the –

MR. MADISON:  — down to the e- —

MR. MARTIN:  — the Democrats in –

MR. MADISON:  — yeah.

MR. MARTIN:  — 2008, where it will go through –

MS. ROSS:  [Crosstalk.]

MR. MARTIN:  — April, May, possibly –

MR. MADISON:  It – it –

MR. MARTIN:  — June.

MR. MADISON:  — it may even go to a broker convention

MS. ROSS:   That’s true.

MR. MADISON:  — in – in – you know, in – where is it?  Tampa?


MR. MARTIN:  In Tampa –

MR. TRAYNHAM:  — [crosstalk].

MR. MARTIN:  — yes.



MR. TRAYNHAM:  – but to your point, Roland, the people haven’t spoken yet.  You know?  The pe- —

MR. MARTIN:  Right!

MR. TRAYNHAM:  — the people in Iowa, South Carolina and these true presidential-battleground, primary states have yet to speak yet.  And what’s interesting – to your point about the polling going up and down – who knows?  You know, we very well may see another candidate come out there that we don’t even know about yet.

MS. ROSS:  These de- — these debates are taking place against a backdrop in which “sober” Republicans are saying, “What in the world?  Why is Newt Gingrich on top?  What do we need to do to get Romney up there?”

MR. MARTIN:  I mean the –

MS. ROSS:  “What do we” –

MR. MARTIN:  — establishment is –

MS. ROSS:  — “need to do” –

MR. MARTIN:  — coming after Gingrich –

MS. ROSS:  — “We don’t” –

MR. MARTIN:  — guns blazing.

MS. ROSS:  — “understand why this is happening.  We thought if we got rid of Herman Cain, and if we got rid of” –

MS. RYAN:  Herman Cain –

MS. ROSS:  — “these” – “all” –

MS. RYAN:  — would never – [crosstalk] –

MS. ROSS:  — “this conversation, that maybe Mitt would surface to the top like cream.  We don’t know why this is happening.”  That debate is going on in –

MS. RYAN:  Because they don’t –

MS. ROSS:  — the undercurrent.

MS. RYAN:  — want Mitt!

MR. MARTIN:  I wa- —

MS. ROSS:  So, they’re –

MR. MARTIN:  — I –

MS. ROSS:  — content –

MR. MARTIN:  — real quick.

MS. ROSS:  — to allow the – the Bachmanns and the Rick Perrys and the Ron Pauls to nibble on –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. ROSS:  — Newt Gingrich.

MR. MARTIN:  What’s happening in the GOP – does it help the President?  Or, is it simply a matter of that’s internal family politics.  He still is facing an uphill battle?

MR. MADISON:  Oh, I think, just like the election, it’s too early.  Look, I – I suspect that, come February – and the President’s very smart at this:  “Let them eat each other up.  It’s a circular firing squad.  Why should I get involved in that?  They’re going to wound each other.  They’re killing each other off.”  But I bet you, come February, we’re going to see an Obama that we probably have never seen –

MR. MARTIN:  And, actually –

MR. MADISON:  — before.

MR. MARTIN:  — in February, there’re no Republican primaries in that month.

MS. RYAN:  It’s too time between now and Election Day.  The last three months just before –

MR. MADISON:  Absolutely.

MS. RYAN:  — Election Day is when everything can happen.  Anything can happen –

MR. MADISON:  Right.

MS. RYAN:  — now.  But you have to remember those polls are a straw hole of right now.  The economy is still bad – okay?  But who knows what’s going to happen?  Gas prices may go down.  People may get their jobs.

But I’m going to say this to you.  The narrative is, for both sides – or, if it’s not, it should be – “jobs, the economy,” “jobs, the economy.”  It’s all the same.  It’s all –

MR. MARTIN:  Let me s- —

MS. RYAN:  — cyclical.

MR. MARTIN:  — I – I’ll end with this here.  I do not say it is too early, because we talked about voter suppression at the outset –

MS. RYAN:  That’s true.

MR. MARTIN:  — and the fact of the matter is a shift of several hundred thousand votes could change –

MR. MADISON:  [Crosstalk.]

MR. MARTIN:  — the entire election.

MR. MADISON:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  And so I disagree with this whole – the conventional wisdom is you wait until Labor Day –

MS. ROSS:  Yeah.

MR. MARTIN:  — or the summer for a nominee.  No.  The reality is –


MR. MARTIN:  — reelection – that process is right now –

MR. MADISON:  Right.

MS. RYAN:  Get your –

MR. MARTIN:  — because, again –

MS. RYAN:  — driver’s license and –

MR. MARTIN:  — if you –

MS. RYAN:  — go to the polls.

MR. MARTIN:  — that’s – that’s the –

MS. RYAN:  Or –

MR. MARTIN:  — bottom line.

MS. RYAN:  — your state I.D.

MR. MARTIN:  That could change –

MS. RYAN:  Yes.

MR. MARTIN:  — up to 15 states.  That could determine this election.


MS. RYAN:  Get your –

MR. MADISON:  — organize now.

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. RYAN:  — state I.D.

MR. MARTIN:  April, Robert, Sonya, Joe, we certainly –

MS. RYAN:  Go to the –

MR. MARTIN:  — appreciate it.

MS. RYAN:  — polls!

MR. MARTIN:  Thanks a bunch.


MR. MARTIN:  All right.  I told you April was so shy.

Calm down.