Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
National Report Card: The First 100 Days
Aired April 29, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BLITZER: And after six minutes -- that was the amount of time that we gave you to go ahead and decide to grade the Obama administration's progress on the economy. We originally gave him an A. But then, after completely tallying all of the results, Anderson, we've now changed that to a B, based on some of the late numbers that came in later and weren't exactly tallied right away.
COOPER: So the initial votes which were tallied indicated an A, but as we got more votes...
COOPER: ...it actually went down to a B.
BLITZER: So, actually, it's a B, which I'm sure...
COOPER: It's more in line with some of the other votes that -- that we also saw throughout the evening, we saw for members of the Senate. We saw a lot of C -- a lot of Cs, frankly. I think only one B plus.
BLITZER: Right. For every one people who weighed in and said rate your two senators...
BLITZER: ...your two state senators, they got a C, basically, (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: But if you want to take part in this for the next couple of hours, it's -- it's interesting to take part. We'll also compare the way you feel to national polls with Soledad O'Brien and Bill Schneider, who are crunching numbers for us. But you've got to be on CNN.com right now to do it.
BLITZER: And I want you to go over and talk to our analysts, as well.
COOPER: All right.
BLITZER: Maybe they want to grade the president how he did at this news conference.
COOPER: I'm sure they're dying to.
BLITZER: I suspect they do. The president of the United States wrapping up the news conference. Anderson Cooper going over to the best political team on television.
COOPER: Let's see -- let's see the grades.
How did -- how did the president do in this prime time news conference?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, I'm just scrambling through. I didn't realize we were going to be grading him.
But listen, let me just say, I thought that in terms of mastery of the issues, we have rarely had a president who is as well briefed and speaks in as articulate a way as this president does. He's nuanced. He's very complete. He's up to speed on the issues.
The briefings in the White House, the reading has been done -- have clearly helped to educate him in ways. He's taken it to a whole different level in the way he speaks about issues.
That said, on one issue, I thought he was -- I thought he was a little disingenuous. And that is about growing government. You can't look at what his plans are on health care and look at his plans on energy and say he really doesn't want to extend the influence and grow government. I just think -- so on that basis, I thought he was an A in terms of material, but given that issue, I gave him an A minus.
GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm with him.
BORGER: I'm totally with him on that. I thought it was a pretty lively news conference, so far as these things go.
The interesting thing to me, though, was he said it twice. He said, you know, I would have liked a leaner portfolio. I would have liked to have come in like every normal president and just have two or three things to deal with, except now, that's not the hand I was dealt.
He reminded the American people that he's accomplished a lot, but he has a lot still left to do. And that's because he has so much more that he's got to do than -- than presidents in recent memory.
COOPER: Roland Martin, I see (INAUDIBLE).
ROLAND S. MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, but, hey, because what jumped out in what he said -- he laid out what we've done, but he said I am not content. And so that was the opportunity early on in the news conference to tell the American people, look, it's 100 days, we have a whole lot more. I also thought he was mocking what a lot of us in the media did by saying the next 100 and then the next 100 and all the other hundreds of days left to come.
COOPER: Jessica Yellin, no grade, but what did you think?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that what he's done tonight is shown that the Republicans have an enormous challenge going forward, because this man is tackling so many issues at once and in such a capable way that it leaves the Republicans unable to target any one issue.
If he were just going after health care, they could hit him on that.
YELLIN: If it were just the economy. But look at what he's doing. And it makes it such a dispersed field, they really don't have a target and they're really struggling.
COOPER: And there were those, John King, who said before he shouldn't try to do too much at once. Jessica Yellin saying, essentially, this strategy actually makes sense, just purely on -- if nothing else, on political terms.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In some ways, it helps him politically. Because you remember, a few of these issues, the Republicans are with him. He has more Republican support on Iraq and Afghanistan than he does Democrat support. So it helps him politically.
As a performer -- I'm not in the grading business. But as a performer, he is unrivalled right now in national politics. And that is one of the reasons he's trying to do so much so soon, because he knows he does not have a viable opposition at the moment. And so while he has the strength, he is trying to use it as much as he can.
A couple of things, quickly. He was very cautious. He was asked if the previous administration sanctioned torture. He tried to not answer the question. In the end, he said waterboarding is torture, they used it, you can connect the dots.
He was asked about his position on abortion in the campaign and whether he still supported that legislation. He tried not to answer the question because he knows how dicey politically that is. In the end, he said it's not my priority. I have other things to deal with. I'll deal with it down the line.
If I was troubled by one thing, not his answer, but just by if you think of the ramifications of it. When asked about the nuclear arsenal in Pakistan, he spoke of the central government of Pakistan and the military of Pakistan as two different entities. He said: "I'm confident the government and the military both now understand this."
It has long been thought that the military does not always follow the government. But if you're hooking at this crisis right now and they are dealing with two different entities inside Pakistan right now, it reminds you of the troubling stakes for this president.
COOPER: When you're talking about Pakistan and the military, you're talking about the largest institution in Pakistan.
COOPER: A million people in the Pakistani military.
COOPER: A huge portion of that country, beyond just the civilian government.
Our partisans -- let's look at some of the grades. If you can, hold them up high.
Ed Rollins, Republican, a B plus.
Donna Brazile, Democrat, A.
Stephen Hayes, a B minus.
Paul Begala, A.
Why a B minus?
STEPHEN HAYES, SENIOR WRITER "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, look, I mean he's very good at -- this is what he does and this is what he does very well. I think this is where he's sort of the master of -- of his own universe.
But I think, to build on what David said, there were are other places where he was disingenuous. I thought he was tremendously disingenuous on interrogations. You know, he said he couldn't talk about these memos that Dick Cheney has been talking about because they're still classified.
Well, he's the president. And the call from Dick Cheney and now a broad spectrum of Republicans and others, has been to declassify these memos so that people might get a better understanding of what exactly is in them and whether these techniques, however controversial they are, might have been effective.
He sort of kicked that question aside. I thought that was a tremendously unfair way to treat the issue.
COOPER: Paul Begala, was he avoiding it?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No. I think he winded through that minefield. He -- he talked about the law, the morality and the history of torture without -- he clearly does not have an appetite for prosecutions, but he's learned his lesson. He's not going to declare who will and will not be prosecuted. He leaves it up to the attorney general.
But look across the spectrum. His mastery of so many different issues and a very rare thing we haven't seen a lot from Barack Obama -- humor. That comment with Jeff Zeleny of "The New York Times," who asked him that four part question.
He's had a couple of stumbles telling jokes in the past. He made a mistake on Jay Leno and he made a mistake -- he made a joke about Nancy Reagan that people found offensive.
Now it looks like -- that's a high sign of confidence. If you've done something a couple of times and it didn't work, but then you can find your talent there again -- look, I thought it was -- I sat here on primary nights all through this election, said I was worried he wasn't experienced enough, worried he wasn't strong enough. This guy is definitely an A president.
COOPER: Ed Rollins, you've worked with President Reagan, a master of -- of these things.
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes. He had a very strong start. I thought his opening statement was perfect.
You know, what bothers me a little bit about it, as it goes on, it gets a little bit more boring. And, you know, you need to hold that attention span a good half hour, a good 45 minutes. The answer is a little long. He doesn't know how to turn and pivot off of them. But nothing incorrect that I heard. It just -- it gets a little boring.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I gave him an A because despite all of the nos and the naysayers from the Republican side, this president tonight said that he would still like to find common ground. He wants to work with the opposition. So I gave him an A, not an A plus, but I gave him a strong first card.
COOPER: Are you sitting between two nos and naysayers?
HAYES: I'm a proud naysayer.
ROLLINS: She's my audience.
ROLLINS: She's my audience. If we could turn her to the Republican Party this week, that will offset Schweiker (ph).
COOPER: Let's go to Wolf Blitzer right now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. We just started counting down from six minutes. You have six minutes to go to CNN.com and to grade the president of the United States -- his performance at tonight's press conference.
Do you give him an A, a B, a C, a D or an F?
You have five minutes and 32 seconds to go to CNN.com, on the main page. Let us know what you think. You can give him an A plus if you want to, or an A minus, or a D plus or a D minus. You have all those options in front of you right now. And in five minutes and 18 seconds, we're going to tell you what you think -- those of you who are going to CNN.com, what you think of how the president did, his performance at this nationally televised news conference.
We'll take a quick break.
Our CNN National Report Card
The first 100 Days of the Obama Presidency.
Our coverage will continue right after this.
BLITZER: A little bit more than a minute left for you to go to CNN.com and to grade the president's performance at the news conference.
One of the subjects clearly on the agenda -- swine flu. The World Health Organization today announcing that the swine flu -- a potential pandemic is now imminent.
Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent, is in Mexico City.
He's been covering this amazing story for us -- Sanjay, the president said he's all over this, the administration is all over it.
I was struck by the fact, he said if you shake hands with someone, go wash your hands right after you shake hands. A little practical advice, but it's serious.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is serious. And it's -- you're not used to hearing a president give such practical consumer advice. But it is the mantra that everyone seems to be preaching in the infectious disease world and elsewhere because it works.
But besides that, besides the individual responsibility, there was talk of what companies, businesses, pharmaceutical companies, states -- a lot of it was left on the states as to whether or not they should close schools, sort of the social isolation as a possible tactic as well.
So some practical advice mixed in with some, I think, more proven advice, as well, about s what can help control outbreaks like this -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Give us some perspective, Sanjay, about this pandemic potentially being imminent.
GUPTA: Well, that's exactly what it is. It's on a Level 5 out of six levels now. A Level 5 means that there is an imminent pandemic underway here. It's -- you have human to human transmission in more than one country within the continent, the United States and Mexico, as we know.
They think this is going to happen. So controlling this in every country, in every state and every household is sort of the name of the game. Containment is sort of the name of the game.
But one thing I will say, as well, all of this -- you know, you have to keep this in the scale of reference. This is talking about the scope of these infections, but not necessarily about the severity.
Wolf, as you know, I'm here in Mexico, where the severity has been much higher. But in the United States, it's been much lower. There could be a lot of infections, but it doesn't necessarily mean those infections will be serious. It doesn't necessarily mean those infections are going to lead to death.
BLITZER: All right, Sanjay, stand by. We're going to be getting back to you.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in Mexico City watching this swine flu crisis continue. That's the epicenter. That's where it started. That's at least what we believe.
All right, you've had a chance to go to CNN.com and grade the president's performance over at his new conference.
And based on the results that we have, he gets a B plus from those of you who went to CNN.com and graded the president's nearly one hour news conference -- a B plus.
A lot of you voted. We're going to tell you approximately how many shortly, as soon as we continue to tally these results -- a B plus, Anderson Cooper, is probably a pretty good grade that the president is getting right now, from at least those of our viewers who are weighing in.
COOPER: I'm sure the White House has got to be pleased with that.
Fareed Zakaria is joining us, the host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" on -- on the weekends.
What did you make of the press conference?
A lot of international questions.
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": I thought -- a lot of international questions. He's very comfortable with the international side of this. He's very comfortable answering them.
David and I were just talking about the fact that on the swine flu matter, he could have said something nice about the Mexican government, because the Mexicans have actually handled this incredibly well -- responsibly, efficiently.
One of the great concerns about this kind of epidemic has always been that it's going to take place in some Third World country and their public health system is going to be bad.
And if you look at bird flu when it -- when it broke out in China and then Indonesia, the Indonesians, in particular, handled it very badly.
Contrast that with Mexico, which has been responsive, transparent, efficient. Obama might have said something about -- about our allies to the south.
COOPER: We're also going to talk about Iraq and Afghanistan coming up.
Right now, let's go back to Wolf.
BLITZER: Whereas, Anderson, the unpredictability of the office, if somebody would have said swine flu was an issue or piracy, a few months ago, a few weeks ago, that would have been considered at least a little extraordinary.
All right, here's the next question we're asking. You have less than six minutes to go to CNN.com and tell us what you think. Grade the news media on reporting on the new Congress and the new administration during these, the first 100 days. You have five-and-a- half minutes right now to go to CNN.com and grade the news media on reporting on the new Congress and the administration.
We'll take a quick break.
When we come back, we'll be close to getting the results, what you think of the news media on these sensitive issues.
Our National Report Card
The First 100 Days, continues right after this.
BLITZER: We've got a minute forty-six left for you to go to CNN.com and grade the news media on its reporting of the new Congress and the administration. We'll get the results. That's coming up.
But Candy Crowley has been taking a closer look at all of this -- Candy, we've spoken a lot about the economy and our international relations. This president, over these first 100 days, has been very busy.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. You know, you could argue, Wolf, that, in fact, the president in the last couple of months of the campaign, probably won the presidency on the basis of his economic ideas. But that is not how his campaign started out.
CROWLEY (voice-over): Long before the economy soured, there was Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM JULY 3, 2008)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My first day in office, I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in and I will give them a new mission -- and that is, to end this war.
CROWLEY: January 21, President Barack Obama did just that and later set August, 2010 as the date for withdrawal of all combat troops -- slightly later than his original timetable. Up to 50,000 troops may stay in Iraq. Still, on this signature issue, this is a promise kept -- unless it isn't.
CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: We continue to see large scale suicide bomb attacks. There's a lot of concern that the U.S. military may not be able to pull out as fast as everyone would like, because if the Iraqis ask them to stay, they will.
CROWLEY: The president has also begun work on his pledge to take the war against al Qaeda to Afghanistan. He has sent more than 20,000 additional troops and he has moved on to related campaign promises.
OBAMA: We will leave by making sure that we close Guantanamo, because we're not a nation that locks people up without charging them or ships people off in the dead of night to be tortured in other countries.
CROWLEY: It took a few strokes of the pen to issue executive orders banning torture and closing down the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo -- a start, not a finish.
STARR: Closing Guantanamo Bay remains one of the toughest challenges.
Where are you going to put these detainees?
No state wants them in their prison system. And there is no resolution to how to legally proceed with their cases.
CROWLEY: Other promises -- and there are many -- include revoking don't ask/don't tell to allow gays to serve openly in the military. Not a word so far.
Renegotiate trade agreements to include labor and environmental provisions. It hasn't happened.
Reaching out to Muslims in the first 100 days. Went there, did that.
OBAMA: Many other Americans have Muslims in their families or live in a Muslim majority country. I know because, I am one of them.
CROWLEY: And one of his most controversial promises -- reaching out to adversaries -- a holiday greeting to Iran, chummy photo-ops with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and a relaxing of restrictions on contacts between Cuban-Americans and relatives back home.
But the open-handed foreign policy is a promise with an expiration date.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: If they reach out and they don't get a response, then it's a good excuse to go to the next stage and say, hey, look, we tried. We tried, but they won't do what the world community wants to do. Therefore, join us in something harder.
CROWLEY: CNN's State Department correspondent, Jill Dougherty, has also watched the new attitude toward allies.
DOUGHERTY: They are not dictating, they are listening. And they're also, in some cases, apologizing.
CROWLEY: It's been more symbolism than substance -- early tests of an over arching promise that his new approach will bring concessions from adversaries and help from allies -- or not. We'll see. The world does not move in 100 days.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
CROWLEY: In the end, the question is not whether President Obama will reach out, Wolf. It's whether the adversaries and the allies will reach back.
BLITZER: That's a good question. And we don't know the answer, whether all these guys are actually going to respond.
Candy, stand by.
We have the results now on the question that we were asking you -- to go to CNN.com and grade the news media's coverage -- the reporting of the new Congress and the administration. That's the result, a B minus, the news media gets, for its coverage -- for its reporting on the new Congress and the administration.
Here with another question we want to weigh in on right now. Grade the Obama administration's progress on foreign affairs. That's the question right now. You have six minutes -- less than six minutes right now to go to CNN.com and to weigh in. You just heard Candy Crowley's report on what the president is trying to do in the area of foreign affairs.
What do you think?
What grade does he deserve on the progress during these first 100 days, he's achieved or hasn't achieved, when it comes to foreign affairs? The president of the United States has been rather busy on this front as well -- visiting several countries, meeting with dozens of world leaders.
We're going to walk over to our chief national correspondent, John King.
He's taking a closer look at these first 100 days. And we've got an amazing opportunity here, because you and your team have gone through every one of these days -- day one through 100, which is today -- and -- to see what the president was doing and what was happening.
KING: And for this compilation, Wolf, most of the credit goes to the team in our political unit and our research team. They've done a fabulous job.
We can look at every single day. And we were just about foreign affairs. So look at these symbols here. This is a symbol for diplomacy, international affairs. This is a symbol for military and national security matters. Everyday you see it, that means the president dealt with it in some day.
Here's day 73. The President meets with South Korean leaders, attends that big G20 summit, meets with the Saudi Arabian leaders, meets with Indian leaders.
Let's move around a little bit more and slide over to another day. Day 76, of course, he was in Europe on this big trip. He was in Prague. He met with the leaders of the Czech Republic there and some other leaders.
But as all presidents learn -- Wolf, you covered the beat for a long time -- you're trying to deal with one issue and guess what, other things pop up. This is the president in Prague talking about North Korea's rocket launch.
KING: It doesn't want to play there.
Let me try one more time here, bring it in here and try it here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something. That's why we must stand shoulder to shoulder to pressure. Rules must be binding. Violations must be...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We'll stop him there. There's the president speaking out. Sometimes it plays with you a little bit and you've got to be patient.
But, again, here's the president on a trip to Europe, trying to meet -- make new alliances, make new friendships, as Fareed was talking about earlier and Jill was talking about in Candy's piece just there. Then you have to deal with North Korea.
Every president deals with this, Wolf. We've both covered the beat for a long time. Your focus is on one thing on any given day and what happens?
North Korea launches a missile. The swine flu epidemic comes up. So presidents are challenged.
And this one, as Candy noted, came to office promising to deal with the economy.
He has to deal with a lot of other things, too.
BLITZER: Because he may be focusing in on U.S.-European relations, but if there's a crisis with North Korea -- a missile launch -- or piracy off of the coast of Somalia...
BLITZER: ...or a fine -- a swine flu pandemic, potentially, he's got to deal with that, as well. And he's learning during these first 100 days...
BLITZER: ...that there's no script when you're president of the United States.
All right. We're still asking you to go ahead and grade the Obama administration on its progress on foreign affairs. You've got about three minutes to go. Go to CNN.com. That's where you can grade the Obama administration on its progress on foreign affairs.
We'll get you the results when we come back. Our coverage here of the National Report Card
The First 100 Days, continues right after this.
BLITZER: All right, time up. You have had a chance to go to CNN.com and to grade the Obama administration's progress on foreign affairs. The results are now in. Take a look at this, B Plus, that is what the average is for the thousands of people who went to CNN.com and graded the Obama administration's progress on foreign affairs.
I want to talk about that in a moment. We have a new question for you to consider right now. Grade the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. What do you think? You have under six minutes right now to go to CNN.com and to grade Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who's in charge of foreign affairs of this administration. It is going to be interesting to see what you think about that. Anderson Cooper, it's really an opportunity for our viewers to weigh in, in realtime, have a lap top, have a desk top, show us what you think by simply going to CNN..com, the main page, and clicking a button, A, B, C, D, or F.
COOPER: It couldn't be any easier. CNN.com is the address. But while we wait for the six minute countdown to find out what people think about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton job, let's talk about foreign policy. In terms of perhaps the biggest surprise for President Obama, what do you think it's been on the foreign policy?
ZAKARIA: Anderson, without any question, Pakistan. I think the problem in Pakistan has morphed and become worse and wore. But you have a unique challenge here. In Afghanistan, you understand the problem. Maybe you have a solution. And then the U.S. military and U.S. civilian agencies can implement it.
Pakistan, remember, we're not allowed in. We don't have a U.N. mandate. The Pakistani government has not asked the U.S. troops to go in, is unlikely to do so. So we're acting via remote control, with a very strange ally, which is the Pakistani military. How you make all of that work is going to be the great challenge for the Obama administration.
COOPER: And Dave, the situation there has gotten far more serious than it was even six months ago.
GERGEN: It has indeed. It's probably the most dangerous problem America faces in international affairs today. As Fareed says, we have so little control. We're dealing with it very indirectly. I did think it was interesting, Anderson -- and I'd like to ask you to follow up on this, Fareed, because you said on Anderson's show the other night that the Pakistani military has been very reluctant, wary of going in. And President Obama reported tonight in a press conference that we've finally seen in recent days them going after the Taliban and giving up this obsession with India.
Is there real change under way with the military or is this a head fake?
ZAKARIA: That's the million dollar question. I actually spoke with Secretary Gates this afternoon for my Sunday show, the whole interview of which will be on Sunday. But the administration seems convinced that the Pakistani military has finally gotten a wakeup call.
COOPER: Pakistani's military has been primarily focused -- the vast majority of its troops been focused on India, what they saw as the existential threat to Pakistan all these years.
ZAKARIA: Precisely. It's a very convenient way to deal with it, because it's a war you don't actually have to fight, whereas this one is a war you have to fight and you might lose. It's complicated. Many people doubt that they've even now gotten the wakeup call. And the evidence is certainly pretty sketchy. So right now, with the insurgency 60 miles from the capital, the Pakistani military has moved 6,000 troops of an Army of a half million to that area. That does not seem to me to suggest urgency and commitment. But the administration says that they feels that the Pakistani military has gotten -- has now decided to focus.
Now the question is -- this is a another big question -- do they have the capacity? It took us a long time to learn how to do counter- insurgency after Iraq.
COOPER: In terms of foreign policy, what have we learned about how this president conducts himself, in terms of how he negotiates, how he views these issues, that's different from President Bush?
BORGER: As he presents himself -- as we've seen him, he presents himself as a listener, first and foremost. He tries to present himself as the anti-arrogant president. Also, quite honestly, I think both he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in terms of Pakistan, have been very direct.
Last week, in a Congressional hearing, she came out and said that the Taliban is posing an existential threat to Pakistan. She used the phrase. And tonight at the press conference, the president told us how gravely concerned he was about the situation. So they're not keeping secrets here.
MARTIN: He also has made it clear that we are, indeed, citizens of the world. There used to be a position where pretty much this is the United States position, that's it. Get your butt in line. File along with us.
He recognizes that we have to listen. He recognizes that, even with the economy, it is a global economy. It's not a question of simply what we do in the US. What is happening in emerging countries? What is happening with the European Union?
So he's saying, look, we have partners here. We're still operating from strength. We're going to listen to you.
COOPER: Yet, for all of that talk of partnership, he didn't get more troops from European nations to fight in Afghanistan.
KING: He did not, because they're simply reluctant to buy in right now. They don't have the political support in their own countries to do it.
He's a very interesting guy, because a lot of what he's doing is quite risky. The embrace is Iran early on is risky. The pictures with Hugo Chavez, even some of his own people thought, take the book, shake the hands, don't be so friendly.
But if you talk to the president about it, he's quite passionate that he thinks he's right. In the case of Iran, he puts it this way, that George W. Bush did axis of evil, and said, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, and pushed them into isolation. The way this president argues it, if you just lay out a standard and say, here is the international standard of good behavior, and we will give you time to meet it. We will tell you why we think it's so important.
Then, as Jill was noting, six months, a year down the line, if they don't meet it, you can you say you isolated yourself. He says Bush made the mistake of pushing them across the line, backing them into the corner. His view is try the talk, see if it works. If it doesn't, then you can make the case, I didn't push Iran into to the corner, Iran chose the corner.
MARTIN: He deals it with it the same way I think he is dealing with Republicans in Congress. That is, when you talk about it in terms of reaching out. His whole deal is, if I don't make the effort to reach out, you can always attack me and say, well, you never talk to us; you never came to us.
So these countries can't say you have ignored us.
GERGEN: He's reaching out. I think there's a considerable question of whether he ought to stop apologizing for the past.
COOPER: We're just seconds away from finding out the grade you're all giving Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Let's go to Wolf on that and then we'll talk to our partisans, our pundits for the grade of the day.
BLITZER: Well, time is up. We can now grade, based on what you think of the secretary of state, her performance during these first 100 days. It's a B. She gets a B, based on those of you, the thousands of you who just went to CNN.com, and weighed in, gave her a grade. That's the average that you gave her, which is a B on foreign affairs.
We've been talking about that. Soledad O'Brien and Bill Schneider are standing by. The results that we're getting on these instant questions that we're asking at CNN.com is a reflection of only those of you who actually go to CNN.com and grade the answer to questions.
We do have some scientific polls that are coming in as well. Soled O'Brien and Bill Schneider are standing by, specifically on foreign affairs and the secretary of states. Soledad?
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: When we look at the official, the scientific polling, one thing that's important to note is it predates that press conference that we just heard from President Obama. So let's start with that grade. What grade the Obama administration's progress on foreign affairs.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: C Plus, which is a little higher than the economy. The economy they got a C. So it's doing a little better. He took a very successful trip to Latin America, to the Middle East and Turkey. The Afghanistan crisis, of course, he's increased America's troop commitment. And the pirates, one of the more headline worthy episodes which ended successfully.
O'BRIEN: Hillary Clinton?
SCHNEIDER: She gets a B Minus, a little higher than the administration's record as a whole for foreign policy.
O'BRIEN: Does it surprise you that her grade is higher than the job she's doing?
SCHNEIDER: She's made no real headlines as secretary of state, but she has acquired a reputation through the primaries. She was considered tough, a fighter. She stood through the primaries until the very end. A lot of people admire her for that. This is partly I think her reputation as a politician.
O'BRIEN: Let's break it down a little further. I think we can read more into, for example, how Democrats who voted for Clinton grade her now?
SCHNEIDER: Pretty happy. Look at this, 44 percent gave her a B, 42 percent, almost as many, gave her an A. These are Clinton Democrats. You expect them to be happy. They are pretty happy with her. Only one percent D, 13 percent gave her a C. What' the average, that's a B Plus, which is a little higher than the electorate as a whole. Exactly what you would expect.
O'BRIEN: How does it break down between men and women?
SCHNEIDER: Well, men, when they graded Hillary Clinton, as you can see, a lot of men gave her a B, some Cs there. The average here is a C-plus for men. But among women, a little higher. More Bs, fewer Cs. And a lot of As among women, 28 percent.
The bottom line for women, they give her a B-minus. So they're happier with her performance as secretary of state than men are.
O'BRIEN: What's the take away overall?
SCHNEIDER: Hillary Clinton has acquired a new reputation really. She used to be a very controversial, very polarizing figure. What we've seen in all of the polling, reflected in these grades, is she's enhanced her reputation and she's far less a divisive people than she used to be.
O'BRIEN: And no really big headlines yet. Thank you. Wolf, send it right back to you.
BLITZER: All right, Soledad and Bill, thanks very much. We know that you give the secretary of state a B as far as her performance so far during these first 100 days, based on those of you who actually went to CNN.com and pushed that button.
I want to walk over to Anderson right now. Anderson, some of our analysts have been thinking about the secretary of state's performance so far as well.
COOPER: And we're going to ask them about foreign policy as well. Ed Rollins, start with you. For Secretary of State Clinton, B Plus?
ROLLINS: I think she's done a good job. I think she really has, under very trying circumstances. I think she'll be an A performer by the time she's finished here. I think she has kept a very stable place, with some high-powered people put in around her by the president, Holbrooke and Mitchell. I think she's managed to still move at the front of the pack.
COOPER: And in terms of foreign policy progress?
ROLLINS: I would give an A to the national security side. I would give a little less, probably a B-Minus to the foreign affairs. I don't like the president apologizing. I think there were some honest mistakes in the early stuff. I give a B overall.
COOPER: Donna Brazile, for Hillary Clinton, A Plus?
BRAZILE: A Plus. I think she's off to a terrific start. She's helping the president rebuild alliances across the world. She's helped to reset our agenda, with many of our allies. I give her strong marks for the way in which she has conducted foreign policy.
COOPER: And for foreign policy progress in general?
BRAZILE: I think the president has done a great job. Look, I disagree with my colleague that he's gone around apologizing. The United States government depends on having a leader in a country that keeps his word, keeps its promise. For too long, we were bullies across this world. And I think the president set the right tone.
COOPER: You give a grade for foreign policy?
BRAZILE: I give him an A Plus as well.
COOPER: Wow. All right.
HAYES: Wow is right. I would give Hillary Clinton an incomplete. It's based on what Ed said -- building on what Ed said. I think it's unclear how much she's done and how much this has been the work of these special envoys. I think it's also unclear where the decisions are being made in the Obama administration. So I think we can't really grade her at this point.
COOPER: On foreign policy in general?
HAYES: ON foreign policy in general -- I would -- foreign policy in general on national security, I would give them an F. I'll give him a D Minus because I think he did the right thing in Afghanistan by sending 21,000 more troops, fortifying the situation, the American presence in Afghanistan, which I think will have -- if Pakistan goes the way we think it might, we'll have a fortifying effect there.
COOPER: Paul Begala?
BEGALA: You'll be shock?
BEGALA: I have deep personal affection for them, so that biases me. Wait, I'm supposed to hold this up higher, Anderson?
COOPER: There we go. That's fine.
BRAZILE: I'll hold it up for you.
BEGALA: In fact, I like some of the things that Stephen criticized her for. Who's making the decisions? She's become the ultimate team player. Nobody really thought that. She's not standing out there taking credit, saying I did this, I did that. I think that's been really important.
This is a job she did not want to take. And the president had to talk her into it. Now she's travelled more miles than any new president's secretary of state in history. She's been 70,000 miles, all the way around the world. And a complete reconfiguration of American foreign policy, all in 100 days, without any feuds with Secretary Gates, a very strong Defense Secretary, General Jones, a very strong national security adviser, Susan Rice, a very strong UN ambassador, and these special envoys.
This has been a remarkable team effort. Hillary ought to get a high grade for that.
COOPER: Grade for foreign policy in general?
BEGALA: I don't think it's been perfect. But I give it an A.
COOPER: Anybody with grades?
BORGER: I give Hillary Clinton an A, because I agree with Paul Begala. We were all talking when she became secretary of state, oh, my god, she's going to establish a separate power center. She's not going to be a team player. She's going to be trying to pull strings in the White House.
I thought it was bunk at the time. Now I believe she's a total team player and she's working so hard and she's doing exactly what the president wants her to do.
KING: There are two things internally they talk a lot about when we ask these 100 day questions. One is this point -- they say, unlike prior administrations, there's no fight between the secretary of state and the White House, the vice president and the White House, the kids and the grown ups, the insiders, the outsiders. They're all getting along pretty well. They have disagreements, but they're not petty arguments. There's not a lot of leaks against each other.
Number two, they say that one of the reasons, if you look at the polling, right track/wrong track, is something political strategists look at -- more people feel good about the direction of the country in a striking way than before the election and the last six months of the Bush administration. Inside the White House, they say a lot of that -- people feel a little bit more confident about the economy, but they feel better about America's place in the world. They feel that the president on the world stage has -- is starting to rebuild relations and it has people thinking positively about the United States.
And they say they are surprised at the White House by how much the American people like that. And they believe it's benefiting them politically.
MARTIN: That's where this whole notion of apologizing comes in. That is you have a president who expresses humility, and, again, who also says I'm recognizing what we did in the past. But this is how we're going to operate in the future. That gives confidence to the people who you want to be part --
COOPER: Do you have a grade?
MARTIN: Regarding Hillary Clinton? What the heck, might as well go with an A. Sorry, Steve.
COOPER: David Gergen?
GERGEN: My sense is he put together a first class foreign policy team. We were talking about a team of rivals a few months ago. This is a team of collaborators. I think Hillary's done an excellent job. I agree with those who have given her an A.
What has impressed me I think even more, though, is they're beginning to be more strategic. On Afghanistan, they really did sit down and try to do their homework, and try to figure out how is this going to work out over time. One of the things that's become a characteristic of Barack Obama, the way he ran his campaign, the way he is running his president, he's more strategic than most of our presidents.
COOPER: Is he ideological?
GERGEN: Well, I think he's a pragmatic liberal. I think there's no question he's left of center in his ideology, whether in international affairs or in domestic affairs. But I think he brings into it a streak of pragmatism.
COOPER: He does seems to tack to the center, in terms of when -- when there are people on either poles, he seems to try to look for middle ground. Am I wrong?
ZAKARIA: No. With all due respect, I would point out, I mean, the foreign policy Barack Obama is conducting so far is one that I think Brent Scowcroft would be very comfortable with; James Baker would be very comfortable with; Bob Gates, we know, is very comfortable with it. These are all hard-headed Republican internationals.
I tend to think that he's returning to an older tradition of American diplomacy, which was very pragmatic, very realistic. What's changed (INAUDIBLE) is the world has changed. He said something, Obama did, at the G-20 summit, which is very important. He said, we're not in a world where Roosevelt and Churchill can sit down over brandy and cigars and decide the fate of the world.
We don't want to be in that world, because India has risen, China has risen, the European Union has come together. Karl Rove got upset with him for saying that. But, you know, it went down fantastically in India, in China, in Europe, because people say, you recognize that this is a new world, and that we have a seat at the table. By saying that, and by not droning on about American exceptionalism, he's actually achieving American interests far more effectively.
COOPER: We've another question to put to our viewers. Wolf?
BLITZER: Before we get to that question, Anderson, I want to ask Fareed one question about Pakistan. You've been doing a lot of reporting on Pakistan. When the president of the United States said he's gravely concerned about the Pakistani government, the new president, Asif Ali Zardari. He says it's very fragile, perhaps even unable to deliver basic services like education or health care or justice.
Doesn't that even put greater pressure on this government right now? And suggest that maybe the United States doesn't have confidence in the government? We're all concerned about the stability, the security of that nuclear arsenal?
ZAKARIA: They're playing a difficult game, because I think that they really do see that the government needs to act and it needs to recognize that it has not done enough. So they've been sending a lot of signals. Hillary Clinton did it a week ago. She basically said they're in denial. He's pushing.
But at the same time, they're trying to reward it. It's a good cop/bad cop routine.
BLITZER: We'll continue. Stand by. The next question that we've been asking our viewers, it's already up there: did you vote in last November's election. This is a question you don't give a grade. You just yes or no. We're curious to see who's out there. Who's going to CNN.com. Did you actually vote in last November's election? Yes or no? Let us know what you did last year. You've got four minutes and 40 seconds left to go.
We'll take a quick break. Our national report card of the first 100 days. Our coverage continues after this.
BLITZER: Did you vote in last November's election? You've got less than a minute to let us know. Go to CNN.com, yes or no. Did you vote in last November's election?
Earlier, we asked you this question, to grade the Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner. Now, all of the tabulations have come in. He gets a C Plus. Originally, we thought he got a C, but a little bit better, a C Plus, Timothy Geithner, the Treasury secretary, how's he doing? Well, those of you who went to CNN.com, we now know he got a C Plus on average, as opposed to a C, which we earlier thought.
We're going to be grading the president of the United States later on his first 100 days. That's coming up later. But right now, we are just trying to assess how many of you actually voted, at least those of you who are interactively participating with us in this national report card.
You've got ten seconds to let us know, did you vote in last November's election? Didn't you vote in last November's election? We're curious to see how many voted and how many of you didn't vote.
Her's the answer right now: those of you who are participating, 78 percent say they did vote in last November's election; 22 percent say they didn't vote in last November's election. So those 78 percent of you who voted, here's the next question, we want you to let us know what you think, are you still happy with your voting decision of last November? Would it be a yes or a no? We're not asking if you voted for President Obama or his challenger, John McCain. We want to know, are you happy with the way you voted, with your decision last November? Are you still happy with your voting decision?
We're going to let you go for it right now. You have 5:50 to go to CNN.com and let us know whether or not you're still happy with your voting decision. We've got a lot more questions coming up, as well. Let's go back to Anderson Cooper, who has the best political team on television.
I wonder if our analysts, pundits -- I wonder if they're happy, without letting us know who they voted for, with the way they voted last November.
COOPER: Interesting question. Are you all happy with the way you voting?
MARTIN: My voting was a secret.
COOPER: Let's go back to foreign policy -- what? sorry.
BORGER: No, go ahead. Go ahead.
COOPER: As we wait for result -- we've got five minutes left for the are you still happy with your voting decision. In terms of foreign policy, what do you think has been -- I mean, is there a concrete success that Barack Obama can point to on the foreign policy front?
ZAKARIA: No, and I think right now the truth of the matter is, he's -- he's put forward a kind of beautiful overture, by which I mean he's reached out to Iran; he's reached out to Syria; he's put forward stuff for the Middle East peace process with George Mitchell; he's reviewed strategy towards Afghanistan. I think it's all been basically right, because it's changed the dynamic. There's a fascinating debate in Iran about whether they should be talking to the Americans. In other words, we're not the problem now, they're the problem. But act one is going to be when it doesn't work out with Iran, the Middle East peace process proves intractable, events in Afghanistan don't, you know, magically resolve themselves. How will he react to those very difficult developments on the ground?
I don't mean that, you know, I suspect he'll do badly, but he set the stage very nicely. The world is not going to conform as easily as any of us would like. And now what does he do? That's the next great challenge.
COOPER: Steven Hayes from the "Weekly Standard," you're not very pleased with how the stage has been set.
HAYES: Certainly not. I agree with David's concern that he raised earlier about apologizing around the world. I think, to a certain extent, he deserves some leeway on that. He wanted to reset his foreign policy, and wanted to draw the distinction with President Bush's foreign policy. That's fine. But when Daniel Ortega gives a 50-minute stem winder ripping America, in sometimes really almost obscene terms, I think the president of the United States has an obligation to stand up and defend the country.
You don't have to be, you know, a robust believer or advocate of American exceptionalism -- I wish that he was -- you don't have to be that.
COOPER: Should the United States be getting in a fight with Daniel Ortega?
HAYES: That's their question. Are you talking down if you do that? I think he could have said something very pointed after that kind of a speech, and said -- you know, even if he would have said that doesn't deserve a comment or an extended comment, because it was so outrageous.
But I think the problem -- and this goes back to the point earlier you asked about whether he's ideological. I think he is ideological. I think it's not fair to say that he's a pragmatist. I think the problem that he has, when he tries to respond to people like a Daniel Ortega, is that, in many case, he believes that the United States was too heavy-handed in that part of the region in years past. So he has a hard time defending the country against charges that in some cases he believes.
COOPER: Paul Begala?
BEGALA: I try to follow these things relatively closely. I work for the most trusted name in news. I had no idea that Mr. Ortega had gotten up and said these hateful things. That's a victory.
BEGALA: El Salvador's a wonderful country, I'm sure. It's too small even for a Club Med. We don't need our president --
COOPER: By the way, Daniel Ortega is Nicaragua.
BEGALA: Sorry. There you go, that shows my stunning I ignorance. (INAUDIBLE) Look at what he's done instead. For six years, the most bitter debate in America, and I think around the world probably, has been Iraq, America's role in Iraq. He hasn't solved the war. He hasn't ended the crisis. But he has diffused it so much that this president's Iraq policy is supported both by John McCain, who is probably the strongest hawk in the Senate on Iraq, and most of the liberal Democrats.
HAYES: That's an extraordinary thing to say, after the surge and after the troops solved the problem and calmed the situation in Iraq. Barack Obama had nothing to do with that. He opposed the surge form day one. He never got to the point where he actually supported it. And only late, only very, very late, did he acknowledge the obvious success of it.
BEGALA: He has accomplished something that eluded President Bush, except at the run up to the war, when he manipulated the intelligence and the fear about 9/11, and that is uniting both parties behind a sensible Iraq policy. That was impossible for George W. Bush. President Obama's done it in 100 days.
HAYES: Nobody opposes winning. We were winning at the end of the Bush administration.
BEGALA: So you're for the Obama policy?
BEGALA: But people support withdrawing, which his what this president wants to do.
ROLLINS: Just one point.
ROLLINS: I did work for a president, as did Dave Gergen, who took on Ortega, who is basically doing the Russian effort to spread communism in El Salvador. That was a war that we won. We created democracy. Jimmy Carter, after the election, went back and created a position for Ortega that gave him life.
He was not a nice guy back then. He was a Marxist, spreading communism when the Soviets were in our hemisphere spreading communism. We should never forgot that.
BORGER: I think the question of tone for this president, here's a president who summoned outrage for Wall Street and the AIG bonuses, and you saw him -- you saw him say I'm outraged. But Ahmadinejad gives a speech accusing Israel of genocide and you don't hear anything. I think some of the criticism is, when are we going to start hearing the outrage?
He may be playing it in the long haul here and holding back until at some point he will say something.
COOPER: I want to respond. But we've got five seconds for this vote. Let's hear the vote from Wolf.
BLITZER: Here's the question we were asking viewers. Are you still happy with your voting decision? Time is up right now. Those who went to CNN.com, you let us know: 83 percent of you, and there are thousands who actually went there, say, yes, they are happy with their voting decision of last November; 17 percent of those who went to CNN.com said they weren't happy with the way. Eighty three, at least those saying that voted for John McCain or voted for Barack Obama, are pretty happy; 17 percent not so happy.
Let's walk back over to Anderson Cooper. I don't know if it's surprising or not surprising. Sometimes those who vote for a winning candidate wind up having some buyer's remorse. I think we can't tell based on that question and the answer.