The McLaughlin Group

Issues: Hillary Clinton at Benghazi Hearing / Justin Trudeau’s Victory / Joe Biden Not Running

John McLaughlin, Host
Tim Carney, Washington Examiner
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast
Tom Rogan, National Review/Daily Telegraph
Ryan Grim, The Huffington Post

Taped: Friday, October 23, 2015
Broadcast: Weekend of October 23-25, 2015

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ANNOUNCER: From Washington, THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP, the American original. For over three decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, HOST: Issue One: Hillary On The Hill.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, Mr. Chairman, I’ve said it before, I will say it again, I’ll say it as many times as is necessary to respond: Chris Stevens communicated regularly with the members of my staff. He did not raise security with the members of my staff. I communicated with him about certain issues. He did not raise security with me. He raised security with the security professionals.

Now, I know that’s not the answer you want to hear, because it’s being asked in many different ways by committee members. But those are the facts, Mr. Chairman.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Hillary Clinton, frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, was on Capitol Hill this week. Mrs. Clinton gave testimony on her four-year service as secretary of atate between 2009 and 2013, and specifically in relation to the September 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were murdered.

Republicans believe Mrs. Clinton has not had the opportunity to tell the whole story, especially about the period leading up to the Benghazi attack.

Democrats say Republicans are playing politics to discredit Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The exchanges were sometimes heated. Here’s GOP committee chairman, Trey Gowdy.

REP. TREY GOWDY, R-SOUTH CAROLINA: All right. I want to draw your attention to an e-mail about Libya from Mr. Blumenthal to you dated April 2011. It will be Exhibit 67. And this is -- this is informative. "Should we pass on," and then in parentheticals, "unidentified to the White House?"

If you were going to pass something on to the White House, why would you take off the identifiers?

CLINTON: Because it was important to evaluate the information, and from a lot of intelligence that I have certainly reviewed over the years, you often don't have the source of the intelligence. You look at the intelligence, and you try to determine whether or not it is credible, whether it can be followed up on.

GOWDY: Well, I'm going to accept the fact that you and I come from different backgrounds, because I can tell you that an unsourced comment could never be uttered in any courtroom. You have to have the --

CLINTON: But we're not talking about courtrooms, Mr. Chairman. We're talking about intelligence.

GOWDY: No, we're talking about credibility and the ability to assess who a source is, and whether or not that source has ever been to Libya, knows anything about Libya, or has business interests in Libya -- all of which would be important if you were going to determine the credibility, which I think is why you probably took his information off of what you sent to the White House.


MCLAUGHLIN: Who is Sidney Blumenthal? And why did he feature so prominently in the Benghazi hearing?

Tim Carney?

TIM CARNEY, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Sidney Blumenthal is sort of a classic Washington figure, a former Clinton administration official who now is an operative, using his political experience to do things like do business in Libya. And so, he’s kind of that annoying friend you have who emails you things constantly, that he’s Hillary’s annoying friend, but she would pass on some of his intelligence higher up, as that Trey Gowdy thing was showing.

And it also came out in this hearing that he had access to Hillary’s private secret little email that she moved away from State Department servers, while top State Department officials like Ambassador Stevens didn’t.


ELEANOR CLIFT, THE DAILY BEAST: The Republicans are trying to turn Sidney Blumenthal into a Svengali type figure in suggesting that he was behind all of the Libya strategy and is secretly whispering in Hillary’s ear. It’s ridiculous. The 11 hours of badgering her -- she withstood that.

I don’t -- in my history, I can’t remember another man or woman being subjected to that kind of questioning over that long period of time and doing as well as Hillary Clinton did.

MCLAUGHLIN: Ten hours.

CLIFT: And this was a select committee. They chose people on it. Several of them on the Republican side are former prosecutors. And they hammered away at her as though they were in a courtroom, and they were going to create reasonable doubt in the minds of one juror. A political prosecution, in the best sense of the word, is very different.

And in tone and style, the Republicans really fell on their face. And they -- one more time, Republican overreach helps Hillary Clinton. This is another hurdle she’s now gotten over on her way to likely capturing the Democratic nomination.

MCLAUGHLIN: Let’s get back to Sidney. Who was Secretary Clinton’s main advisor on Libya, Ambassador Stevens or Sidney Blumenthal?


TOM ROGAN, NATIONAL REVIEW/DAILY TELEGRAPH: I think the State Department bureaucracy, I think there are a number of failings that come out of this. To some degree, Eleanor is correct that Republicans -- clearly some on the panel -- it was obvious in the political tenor. But there are serious questions to be asked in terms of the video coming out, the change of rhetoric there, the clear impetus on the part of the administration to avoid a terrorism concern going up to the 2012 elections.

Also, Sidney Blumenthal taking the caveats of the emails. I mean, I felt that was ludicrous what Hillary Clinton said there as an excuse, that she didn’t want his name on there because she wanted the intelligence to be judged credibly.

Well, unless you’re doing human asset protection for a covert spy, which Blumenthal was not, you put the name on there so the president’s senior staff can see what’s going on.

But again, look, she I think the ultimate fact is, since the McCarthy comment, Republicans have shot themselves in the face on this. And -- you know, ultimately, she -- everyone is saying -- look at the coverage. Today, she’s campaigning on it -- she delivered, at least in political terms, a credible performance there.

MCLAUGHLIN: Who is McCarthy?

ROGAN: Kevin McCarthy was the House majority whip, buat he made that comment about that -- it was politically --

MCLAUGHLIN: Blumenthal was a special assistant to the president in the Bill Clinton White House and on the payroll of the Clinton Foundation, simultaneously giving political and policy advice to the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, especially on Libya. Did you know that?

RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Yes, and he’s an interesting figure. He was a journalist for a -- a very well-respected journalist, wrote a lot for "The New Yorker" before that. He’s still a respected author. He’s on working on three-part Lincoln biography -- Lincoln as a politician.

You know, he’s quite an interesting figure and he was there for the Clintons at their darkest moments towards the end of the first Clinton administration, and the Clintons are nothing if not loyal. And so, they have stuck with him all that time.

One thing that hasn’t been talked about at all by either side here -- and I think there’s an obvious reason for it, is, Ambassador Stevens was a particular type of ambassador. And I would say this in the best way possible, he was kind of a cowboy. He was somebody who took a lot of risks and he did so knowingly. He wanted the U.S. image in Libya to be one that was fearless and upfront. He would go jogging around Benghazi without any security protection. He was trying to let the local people there know, you know, that he didn’t look at them as enemies.

And when you take risks like that, you know, terrible things can happen, and that’s what happened here. But Hillary Clinton doesn’t want to raise that issue, because then it sounds like you’re blaming him for what happened.

ROGAN: Well, but I would say one thing, though, as an addendum to that. That to some -- right, you know, State Department, you know, bureau of diplomatic security that, you know, assistant director or whatever gets the briefing. Someone really did screw up in terms of not providing security.

And I get --

CLIFT: Yes, they did. I agree.

ROGAN: I agree but --

CLIFT: I agree with you.

ROGAN: Let’s agree. But the one thing that came out which hopefully we could all agree on, is that someone’s head should have rolled in the government bureaucracy.


CLIFT: There were seven or eight other investigations, including one -- excuse me, excluding one at the State Department, and four heads did roll. There was --

ROGAN: Well, but they didn’t get fired.


CLIFT: Well, that’s difficult to do in government.

ROGAN: I know. It should be easier.

CLIFT: You transfer people and whatever. So, unless you change our Civil Service rules --


CLIFT: Yes. So, that has all happened. And this -- that’s the whole point. This investigation -- so-called investigation by this committee is just a rehash of everything that went before.

CARNEY: But a few heads rolling isn’t the problem here. The problem -- part of the reason there wasn’t security there is because Obama and Clinton both wanted to make sure there weren’t boots on the ground. They had a specific strategy of a drive-by war. We’re going to do regime change. But unlike President Bush, we’re not going to occupy the country. That was the decision. That’s what Hillary pushed for. That’s what Barack Obama agreed to. That’s what Susan Rice pushed for.


CARNEY: That was part of their very bad decision, to have a bad war, and no occupations.

CLIFT: But you’re conflating -- you’re conflating military boots on the ground and embassy-like protection. Hillary Clinton is not --

GRIM: You can do that with Blackwater and others --

MCLAUGHLIN: OK. There is a contradiction between Hillary’s private emails and public statements dealing with the terrorist nature of the attack. Which of the two is more newsworthy? Who care to reflect on that -- Ryan?

GRIM: Sure. There are emails emerged, or didn’t emerge at the hearing, but they were rehashed at the hearing, showing that she had told particular people -- some leaders in the Middle East, her daughter -- that there had been an attack on the consulate and that people had died as a result. Subsequent to that, she said that this was related to a protest.

And so, you know, it was portrayed as quite a gotcha moment, and certainly some members of the families of those who died didn’t like where that was heading.

You know, I think what you got to remember here is that it was --

CLIFT: Chaos.

GRIM: Ansar al-Sharia had claimed responsibility when she was telling people that this was an al Qaeda-linked attack. They then withdrew their claim of responsibility, and the person who was eventually captured, and who led this attack has since said, yes, I was ticked off about that video and it had something to do with it. So, it’s not as if we’re talking either/or here.


MCLAUGHLIN: How come Chris Stevens has little or no contact with her?

GRIM: Well, you know, him having her personal email or her home address just -- you know, is not the most efficient way.

MCLAUGHLIN: He didn’t even have her private email address.

GRIM: But what do you need that for ? You’ve got --

CLIFT: He was only in the post, I believe, for four months, before he was killed, unfortunately. He was in touch with a lot of people at the State Department. I don’t think it’s unusual that he was not on the phone with Hillary Clinton. In retrospect, it would --


MCLAUGHLIN: What do we know about Stevens’ private life?

CLIFT: What do we know about Stevens’ private life? We know that he loved his job and that he spoke the language and that he wanted very badly to go to Libya. And he never asked that the consulate be shut down.

We also know that the outpost was a CIA installation, and I thought the point was made by the Democrats that, why wasn’t David Petraeus sitting there as a witness as well, and why wasn’t Leon Panetta, the former defense secretary, sitting there, because there were intersecting lines of authority that night. It wasn’t only Hillary Clinton. And, in fact, she played a minimal role.

MCLAUGHLIN: Is it true that Blumenthal sent more emails to her on Libya than any other source of information?

ROGAN: Yes, I think it is.

CLIFT: I don’t believe that’s the case.

CARNEY: The relevant thing here is, why his sort of input on this comes across as a little bit sketchy, is because he did have business interest there. And we know -- I mean, this is something the left is very good at reminding as of, when somebody has money at stake in something, that maybe you ought to take what they’re saying with the grain of salt. And in this case, it seems that Hillary put a lot of credibility in Blumenthal’s Libya emails.

CLIFT: There’s no evidence that anything came of any of his memos. There was no change in policy, nothing in effect.

ROGAN: From the emails we’ve seen.

CLIFT: It strikes me that she -- it strikes -- so, here, oh, it’s all the ones we haven’t seen?

ROGAN: Well, we talked about --


CLIFT: It strikes me, it strikes that she was doing at one point what she said you pass along something kind of as a courtesy, and you kind of get it off your plate, and you put in somebody else’s.

And Sidney Blumenthal is a good friend. And, you know, she’s not walking away from that. But chief adviser on Libya? No way.

MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: whose credibility improved the most at the Benghazi hearing? Former Secretary Clinton’s credibility or Committee Chairman Gowdy’s credibility? Hillary or Gowdy?

CARNEY: Hillary won easy.

CLIFT: Hillary, slam dunk.

ROGAN: Yes, politically, Hillary won.

GRIM: Gowdy was the one sweating. Hillary was fine.

MCLAUGHLIN: Gowdy was the one sweating. What was all the --

GRIM: The oil man. It was brutal.

MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Trudeau Part Deux.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADA’S NEW PRIME MINISTER: Canadians from all across this great country sent a clear message tonight -- it’s time for a change in this country, my friend, a real change.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Forty-two years of age, Justin Trudeau will become the next prime minister of Canada. In a major electoral victory this week, Mr. Trudeau’s liberal party won a parliamentary majority and unseated Canada’s current prime minister, Stephen Harper, and his conservative party.

The son of Pierre Trudeau, the former Canadian prime minister commonly regarded as the father of modern Canada, the younger Trudeau campaigned on a policy infrastructure spending and higher taxes on the wealthy. He will also end Canada’s military involvement against the Islamic State, known as ISIL and ISIS, terrorist group in Iraq.

President Obama hopes Mr. Trudeau will end Canadian pressure on the U.S. government to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline project.


MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What does Mr. Trudeau’s victory mean for U.S.-Canadian relations?

Eleanor Clift?

CLIFT: Much warmer relations with President Obama. The outgoing prime minster, Stephen Harper, was a climate change denier. Justin Trudeau says he will lead the delegation to France later this year.

On the Keystone Pipeline, Trudeau still supports it, but it’s not at the core of his being, the way it was for Harper. And what Trudeau is advocating to pull the Canadian economy out of the doldrums, is deficit spending and infrastructure spending. And we would love to have that in this country as well.

So, I think there’s going to be a real meeting of the minds between these two leaders. Now, he is pulling Canadian planes out the ISIL strikes, but he says he will continue Canadian involving in training fighters on the ground. And their planes are a miniscule part of the U.S.-led mission. So I don’t see that as a critical --


CARNEY: Yes, I don’t think we turn to Canada for their defense power, in most of our operations. But the Keystone thing is big, because Trudeau actually getting a majority of the parliament without needing to pair up with the New Democratic Party that they have there. That was the anti-Keystone party and a lot of people thought that Trudeau would form a coalition with them. He didn’t need that.

So, the stock of TransCanada, the Keystone company, went up about 3 percent in early trading, the day after Trudeau pulled out that absolute majority. So, if the U.S. continues -- like is pro-Keystone, then that will increase -- warm the relations.

MCLAUGHLIN: You like Trudeau, don’t you?

CARNEY: No, I think that the deficit is horrible.


CARNEY: And I think it would be a great experiment, where Canada goes into socialism and we see how bad it goes --

ROGAN: Exactly.

CARNEY: -- and then we can walk away --


ROGAN: He’s stolen my line there.

CARNEY: Sorry.

ROGAN: No, but I think that’s absolutely right. But the benefit is, right, that we have to debate. We are going to see what happens here now with deficit spending. Canadian taxes at those higher rates are very high already, and we’ll see whether the same thing that happened in London and Paris with the capital flight occurs in Canada.

CARNEY: Oh, no. Is Bieber going to move into the United States? Yes.

ROGAN: Well, we will see. So, it’s a great experiment.

CLIFT: Right.

MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that -- what do I have here? Infrastructure spending, higher taxes on the wealthy, to boost Canada’s economic growth, will it work?

CLIFT: Yes. Yes, make the case, Ryan.

GRIM: It will work. It’s not rocket science. This stuff is easy. When there’s slack in the private sector, the public sector steps in, makes some investments and the economy grows. And as the economy grows, more tax revenue comes in and your deficit in the long run ends up actually going down. So --

MCLAUGHLIN: Does that add credibility to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton’s proposals to raise taxes on higher earners in this country?

GRIM: I think it does.

CARNEY: Ryan makes it a good point there. Canada’s going through something like a recession, because they’re so dependent on the oil revenue. With the oil prices dropping, they’re at a different economic point. The Keynesian argument that Ryan is making and Trudeau’s making does not apply to the U.S. at this time, even if you buy into --


CLIFT: There’s something sort of global going on between the U.K., and now, Canada, and the rise of Bernie Sanders here, and the focus on income equality.


CLIFT: Electorates in various places are saying, things have gotten out of hand, we don’t like globalism --


CARNEY: The U.K. gave Cameron a huge majority, just because Labour put up a socialist, a crazy socialist --

MCLAUGHLIN: Where is the gap between Canada and the U.S. likely to widen?

ROGAN: Foreign policy.

GRIM: We’re still great friends with --

ROGAN: That’s a shame.

GRIM: Marijuana policy could be one place.

ROGAN: I do find that interesting though as a policy thing -- as much as we talk about the inequality and moral issues. Liberals, in the new liberalism, seem to have very little interest for people abroad who are being oppressed. Islamic State --

MCLAUGHLIN: Canada’s economy is in a mild recession and its dollar rate at 80 cents to the U.S. greenback. What will that mean for U.S. Canadian trade?

I ask you. You used to get to Canada.

ROGAN: Yes. Well, I think that -- I think



ROGAN: I think our trade relationship will improve.

MCLAUGHLIN: We had a social interest in Canada.

CLIFT: They’re still a strong trading partner, but Trudeau is not keen on the latest trade pact. So, he’s aligning himself with sort of the progressives in this country.

MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, he’s very much so. Higher taxes on the wealthy and infrastructure spending.

CLIFT: Yes. It’s time the wealthy paid their fair share, John.


CARNEY: There’s a lot of slack, and one of the problems facing U.S. industry today is that China and other countries are really reducing their demand for U.S. made stuff for raw materials, whether it’s agriculture or other things like that. And if that keeps up in Canada, that adds economic pressure. So, we take certainly no joy in the Canadian recession that’s going on there.

But I think that Trudeau had to campaign on something. It’s very polite anti-Americanism that’s a big part of their politics there, where they have to, not hate America, but distinguish themselves from America.


CARNEY: But in practice --

CLIFT: He campaigned in a very optimistic way. He talked about doing things in sunny ways. So, I think our politicians --

MCLAUGHLIN: Let’s sober up a little bit.

CLIFT: Oh, that.

MCLAUGHLIN: In this country, political dynasties like the Bushes and the Clintons are said to be falling out of favor. Does Trudeau’s election belie that trend? Or is it going to fulfill that trend?

CLIFT: I think Hillary had such a good couple of weeks here, I wouldn’t say the Clinton dynasty is falling out of favor. And I think in Canada, they remember Pierre Trudeau very fondly and they’re glad to have Justin, so -- I won’t comment on the Bushes.

ROGAN: I think wonderfully with Justin, some people in Canada think that Justin is a bit, you know, all show. So, he will be judged closely in the coming months. But again, I do think it is fantastic, whether we have, you know, both sides of the debate here. We’re going to see that experiment in governance and see what happens.

MCLAUGHLIN: Are we going to see Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton’s proposal to raise taxes on higher earners? Are we going to see that fulfilled?

ROGAN: They’re going to point to Trudeau, if he does well.

CLIFT: If one of them gets to the White House, yes.

MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Biden Bows Out.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As the family and I have worked through the grieving process, I've said all along, what I've said time and again to others: that it may very well be that that process, by the time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for president, that it might close. I've concluded it has closed.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): After months of grieving for his son, Beau Biden, who died earlier this summer, Vice President Joe Biden told Americans this week that he would not run for president.

Mr. Biden’s decision means the Democratic presidential field is now three strong, including Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. Earlier this week, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee dropped out of the Democratic race. Hillary Clinton’s supporters are now breathing a sigh of relief. Mrs. Clinton’s path to the Democratic nomination seems open. Nevertheless, Mr. Biden rebuked Mrs. Clinton for her campaign that Republicans are, quote/unquote, "enemies".

BIDEN: I don’t believe, like some do, that it’s naive to talk to Republicans. I don’t think we should look at Republicans as our enemies. They are our opposition. They’re not our enemies.


MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What made Biden and Chafee decide against running?


CARNEY: Well, part of it was what Biden was just saying there, that his message doesn’t actually resonate with the Democrats now, that idea of working with the Republicans. Democrats have decided, as Barack Obama has, that that’s sort of a bygone era. But another is, he actually was sort of quasi-running for a while there. He was trying to figure out who was calling donors, he was calling would be supporters to see if he could get them.

I think he probably found so many of them were on the Hillary train now. Even if they would have joined him months ago, now, they were already, you know, on board with Hillary.

MCLAUGHLIN: How did Hillary edge Biden out, Eleanor?

CLIFT: I don’t think she edged him out.

MCLAUGHLIN: She co-opted the liberal position.

CLIFT: His only path was to come in and save the Democratic Party from a frontrunner that appeared to be in a death spiral. She performed well in the debate. She handled herself very well, and he made the appropriate phone calls and he would come in probably as a distant third.

He would have taken votes away from Hillary Clinton, set the two of them up for a bloody fight, and whoever survived -- and it probably would not be him. So, this was not a viable option for him.

I just want to say one thing about the comment about Republicans. Hillary said in a lighthearted way when asked what kind of enemies she made. She mentioned, I think, the drug companies and maybe the insurance companies.


GRIM: The Iranians.

CLIFT: The Iranians. And she said, no, and I guess the Republicans, too.

As a senator, she worked across the aisle with, you know, John McCain and many other Republicans. So, I don’t think she’s closing down the avenue to the other side. But she has certainly given notice that she’s a fighter and --

GRIM: The Republicans were his best friends at the Benghazi hearing this week. You know, they certainly boosted her.

One key factor in Biden’s decision as we’ve since learned was when Jim Clyburn of South Carolina came out in an interview with "Huff Post’s" Howard Fineman and has said, "Joe, don’t run".

Just a month earlier, Clyburn, who’s a huge powerbroker in South Carolina, particularly with the African-American vote, which he needed to win to have a path to the White House, had said, Joe, you should run, you should think about running. And so, in a period of a month, that has changed. He has deep respect for Clyburn, and when he saw, that seems to have pushed him over the edge.

MCLAUGHLIN: Hillary also used policy issues to edge him off the radar. Over the summer, she moved sharply to the left by opposing the Keystone XL pipeline.


MCLAUGHLIN: Remember that?

ROGAN: Yes. TPP --

MCLAUGHLIN: Opposing the TPP trade agreement and proposing free college tuition and income redistribution. So you don’t need Biden anymore.

ROGAN: Well, I don’t think it is -- I disagree with -- you know, I think that Hillary Clinton has been playing off that kind of, you know, bite against the Republicans and generate the base as a counterbalance against Bernie there.

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, who doesn’t do it?

ROGAN: Well -- no, but -- well, Biden doesn’t. You talk to people on Capitol Hill, Biden has a reputation for being one of the most decent men in D.C. I think that’s why you saw so many people --

MCLAUGHLIN: So, Hillary is indecent?

ROGAN: Compared to him, yes. She is. Like she is, I think Joe Biden is -- you know, that speech she made, although he was articulating a lot of liberal things, John, he was very passionate, and actually, I would say, inspiring to some degree. And I think a lot of Democrats should watch that speech.

MCLAUGHLIN: Prediction. Tim?

CARNEY: The New York Mets will win the World Series in five games or fewer.


CLIFT: With Congress’ failure to deal with the gun issue, gun safety advocates are going to turn more to what are called smart guns, personalized guns, child safe guns, and the NRA will resist that, but it’s going to happen.


ROGAN: Paul Ryan will restore -- yes, Paul Ryan will restore unity in the Republican Party and get high ratings in these coming days. I also want to say, congratulations to Angus, Sinead, Veronica and Reed, and Finn (ph).

MCLAUGHLIN: Wow, whatever that means.


GRIM: I’ll say, Paul Ryan will actually survive for an entire year as speaker.

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I might as well go along with this. I predict Paul Ryan is destined for political stardom as the next speaker for the House of Representatives. If there is a Republican victory in next year’s presidential race, Ryan will become one of the most politically prominent players in Washington, as the next president’s agenda is enacted.

GRIM: Yes.

MCLAUGHLIN: You want to add to anything I just said?

GRIM: And if he doesn’t, he steps down.

ROGAN: I think he is very popular and he will unify. And he brings as well, I think he is important to the Republican Party in terms of the intellectual caliber that he brings.

MCLAUGHLIN: You share that view?


MCLAUGHLIN: You think he’s smart?


CLIFT: Well, he’ll be a player even if there isn’t a Republican president. He’s going to be the -- speaker of the House, you’re a player.

GRIM: I know he’s smart because he tells us that regularly.


CLIFT: Right.

GRIM: It must be true.

MCLAUGHLIN: I can’t improve on that.