The continuing conflict in Libya and the looming government shutdown were the big topics I got to with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) this morning on "Meet The Press."
On The Budget
The number-two ranking Democrat in the Senate told me he would "absolutely not" vote for a budget with cuts to the EPA and Planned Parenthood. Durbin said, "This fight isn't over the deficit, it isn't over the amount of spending cuts, but rather it's to debate and re-litigate political issues."
You can catch more from Durbin and his take on the "irresponsible" actions of Republicans here.
Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the U.S. and its allies need to better understand the Libyan rebels before arming them. He told me, "We know what they're against, the rebels. We know they're against Moammar Khaddafy remaining in power, but we don't know what they're for."
The former FBI special agent and Army officer expressed concerns over an al-Qaeda faction among the rebels. He told me:
In most Middle East countries there are elements of al-Qaeda. Now that doesn't mean they're a part of the government...We know that they're there. They in the past, the Libyan al-Qaeda element, or al-Qaeda in the Maghreb provided foreign fighters in Iraq to target U.S. citizens.
Opening Day is a national holiday as far as I'm concerned. I'm on way way to NATS Park in the rain to watch the retooled Nationals take on the Braves and Jayson Heyward.
I led a discussion with Nats execs and top players yesterday and I'm feeling better about their prospects. Jayson Werth is a great add, defensively the team promises to be stronger which should help shore up the starting rotation which has a lot of question marks. I also like that the Nats have made some big investments in Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. Here's an MLB write up about my support of the Nats.
Finally, I'm from Los Angeles and am a lifelong Dodgers fan. I'm annoyed that all the pundits have failed to mention them as contenders in the NL West. I resent the oversight given the potential strength of the rotation. Don Mattingly as the new skipper will be tested however.
An attempt to save some time and cash may be why the GOP presidential field is still so unsettled, according to head of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus.
“I think you can do a lot more nowadays with less time,” Priebus told me today during our mid-week PRESS pass. “We’re not going to have a shortage of candidates.”
No Republicans have formally announced a run for the White House in 2012, a stark contrast from the 17 candidates who had declared or formed exploratory committees by this point in the 2008 election cycle.
“It's a matter of how much time and how much money all these candidates want to spend in winning the nomination,” said Priebus.
The newly elected chair of the RNC cited 2008 as an example of a prolonged primary season, and believes voters are looking for a shorter election season this time around.
Priebus - who has met with nearly all potential candidates and been on the campaign trail - said a number of candidates “are going to be testing the waters,” mentioning Donald Trump, Tim Pawlenty and Haley Barbour. “Who actually gets in, you know, it’s anybody’s guess.”
Below is an article from MLB.com about my streak of attending Washington Nationals home openers:
Meet the Nats: Gregory a regular at openers
NBC reporter to attend sixth Opening Day in past seven years
When it comes to world affairs, NBC reporter David Gregory is the man to watch. He can be seen as the moderator on "Meet the Press" every Sunday morning.
But one could also add the title of "baseball fan" to Gregory's name. He is a Nationals season-ticket holder and will attend the team's home opener Thursday afternoon against the Braves. It will be his sixth Opening Day involving the Nationals in the last seven years. Gregory missed one Opening Day because he attended his sister's wedding.