McCain Wants to Leave Abortion Alone; Republicans Move Away from Grover

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John McCain sat down with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday to talk about everything from Susan Rice to the GOP's obsession with abortion. Turns out, he's softening a little on Rice. McCain previously shouted to anyone who would listen that Rice mishandled her tour of duty on the Sunday shows, and that he would attempt to filibuster the President if he nominated her for Secretary of State. On Sunday, McCain said he was open to sit down and talk about the Benghazi attacks with Rice, presumably like rational human beings. "I'd be glad to have the opportunity to discuss these issues with her," McCain said. "I think she deserves the ability and the opportunity to explain her position." That doesn't mean he's totally coming around on her, though. He still has some questions for her. "Why did she say that al-Qaeda has been decimated in her statement here on this program?... They're on the rise in the Middle East," McCain said. McCain, who has never met a foreign policy issue he didn't like, also said the U.S. should stop supporting Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's decree that gave him supreme executive power. More notably, McCain urged the rest of GOP brethren to shut up when it comes to abortion already, and he endorsed immigration reform. "We have to have a bigger tent. No doubt about it. And obviously we have to do immigration reform," McCain said. "There is no doubt whatsoever that the demographics are not on our side." He advocated for a new Republican Party that isn't a bunch of contrarians. "We are going to give a much more positive agenda. It can’t be just being against the Democrats… You’ve got to be for things, and we have to give them something like the 'Contract for America,'"he said. On abortion, McCain defended his own pro-life stance, but insinuated that some members of the party aren't really fit to talk about such delicate matters without stuffing their foot in their mouth. "As far as young women are concerned, I don’t think anybody like me – I can state my position on abortion, but other than that, leave the issue alone when we are in the kind of economic situation, and frankly, national security situation that we’re in."

Rep. Peter King said he would support violating Grover Norquist’s 26-year-old year old no taxes pledge during his appearance on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday using probably the most hilarious defense imaginable. "The world has changed and the economic situation is different," King said. "If I were in Congress in 1941, I would have signed a declaration of war against Japan. I'm not going to attack Japan today." King said the country shouldn't be putting itself into a corner and eliminating any options. "We should not be taking iron-clad positions," King said. "I have faith in John Boehner to put together a good package. I think so far he’s been pretty conciliatory in his language. I think John is going to do everything he can to avoid raising tax rates." Of course, King pointed to Reagan as an example of the two parties actually being able to compromise. "The bottom line is that we can't have sequestration, we can't go off the fiscal cliff," King said. "If Reagan and O'Neill can do it, Boehner and [Democrats] can do it." It should be noted that McCain had a similar sentiment in his Fox News Sunday interview, and Lindsey Graham did, too, during his interview on This Week

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Barney Frank blamed the Tea Party members of Congress elected in 2010 for the fiscal cliff, basically, on CNN's State of the Union. What he really said was that they were the ones who didn't want to compromise on anything, and that's why the country is in the position it's in. "I do believe that there were elected some people in 2010, tea party influence, who repudiated the notion of compromise, and some of them said it exclusively," Frank told host Candy Crowley. "You have to start from a position of principle and then you work together. I think in 2007 and 2008 we showed how can you do that." Frank was asked if he thought the President would be able to make a deal and not drive the country over the proverbial fiscal cliff it's currently barreling towards. "If there was a decision-maker who is being complacent in the face of this, we should be very critical. But the American Constitution and the American people have put people into a shared power situation who have had very different views," Frank said. "Now, one thing is different. Maybe I'm being a little partisan here, but it does seem to me that in 2010 some people came to the Congress…who said compromise is a bad thing. I hope that as the result of the last election there's going to be less of that, and every one of us has to be prepared to vote for something we don't like."

Joe Lieberman still has suspicions about how the Benghazi talking points handed to Susan Rice were edited the way they were, but that doesn't mean he isn't open to her becoming Secretary of State. "I think, particularly in fairness to Ambassador Rice, there ought to be the widest public airing of what led to her statements and others in the administration particularly obviously if she's going to be nominated for secretary of state or some other high office," Lieberman told Candy Crowley on State of the Union. Crowley asked Lieberman if Rice would be an "automatic no" if she did get the Secretary of State nod, and the Congressman said he would be open to the idea. "She's had a distinguished career up until now," Lieberman said. "Secondly, I don't know, I don't feel that I know exactly what she was told before she went on TV that Sunday morning, and I think we ought to find out before we decide on whether she's a good or bad public servant."

Sen. Dick Durbin was certainly chipper on Sunday morning when asked about the chances of making a debt deal to avoid the fiscal cliff on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopolous. He also outlined what his goals for the deal are, and they include raising taxes on the wealthy. "Let the rates go up to 39 [percent]. Let us also take a look at the deductions. Let's make sure that revenue is an integral part of deficit reduction," Durbin said. And yes, on my side of the table, bring entitlement reform into the conversation." When it was pointed out that the markets seem to be optimistic because they were up, generally, across the board this week, Durbin could only agree. "They should be optimistic, because we can solve this problem," he said.

Someone who isn't starting to let up on Susan Rice: Sen. Lindsey Graham. McCain's tag team partner in the Rice outrage is still banging that drum as McCain's head has clearly cooled, at least a little. "I don't believe that the best intelligence on Sept. 16 was that there was a spontaneous event in Benghazi that led to a mob that became a riot," Graham said on This Week, referencing the day Rice did a tour of the Sunday shows to talk about the attacks. Dick Durbin, also on the panel, even made a crack about Graham's persistence: "If this were a football game, the critics of Ambassador Rice would be penalized for piling on." Everyone laughed. "This is about four dead Americans, this is about a national security failure," Graham said. Well, Graham didn't. "I blame the president above all others. When she comes over, if she does [as a nominee for Secretary of State], there will be a lot of questions asked of her about this event and others."

John Kyl said the 24/7 hyper accelerated news cycle of today is at least partially to blame for Congress' inability to get anything done on State of the Union. "For one thing, the media now have a lot of time to fill: 24-7, cable TV, talk radio. They like to follow exciting things. Since most of it is political, they want to follow the contest, the fight, the scandal, and that's point number one," Kyl said. He longed for the old days before everyone actually paid attention to what Congress was doing. There used to be "about a year after the election in which you legislated…then by about March or April of the election year things started to get pretty partisan and it was pretty hard to get things done," Kyl argued. "We've now taken that to almost beginning the week after the election for a total period of two years, and so both parties are trying to set the other party up to make political mistakes and be criticized politically," he continued. "Media plays along with it because it makes good news. I don't know what the answer to that is, but I think that's part of the reason why it's been much more difficult for Congress to get things accomplished." 

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