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What Will NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Do?; Sofia Vergara's Battle over Frozen Embryos with Ex-Fiance; Hillary Clinton's Stance on Immigration; Carly Fiorina and Katie Couric Spar Over Electability. Aired 9-10am

Aired May 9, 2015 - 09:00   ET



MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish. Welcome to the program. The question on everybody's mind this weekend. What will NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell do? Will he suspend Tom Brady. If so, when? For how many games?

"The New York Daily News" is reporting a decision could come as early as next week. The NFL is flatly denying this, but the question remains. What will the punishment be? I want to bring in former New England Patriots' wide receiver Donte Stallworth who played with Brady.

Donte, it seems it's a question of when not whether. He's got to be punished for this, would you agree with me?

DONTE STALLWORTH, FMR. PATRIOTS WIDE RECEIVER: I don't know if he has to be punished. I do think that there is a lot of circumstantial evidence here. Now I know that this is not the court of law, but as far as, you know, you want him to get down to the bottom of it, even the own report itself, it describes that you really can't determine for a matter of fact if Brady was involved first hand.

Like if he actually directed the two assistants to circumvent the rules or even for the case if the two officials, the two assistants. If they were directly involved in deflating these balls. There is no direct evidence of that.

SMERCONISH: Donte. Come on.

STALLWORTH: But the NFL, but the NFL has acted prior to certain allegations as these without or with precedence. So there is precedent here for the NFL to make a ruling and a suspension if they want to.

SMERCONISH: Wait a minute, respectfully, I got to go to the evidence because I read that 240 or so page report. Here are just three texts that I want to show everybody. Particularly those who haven't spent the time doing it.

Here is text number one from Mcnally to Jastremski. "tom sucks... I'm going to make that next ball an effing balloon." To which Jastremski says "hey, I talked to him last night. He actually brought you up. And said you must have a lot of stress trying to get them done." Implication Brady knows McNally is being stressed because he's got to deflate the balls.

Here's text number two. Text number two says "can't wait to give you your needle this week, happy face." Mcnally. "F, Tom, make sure the pump is attached to the needle. Effing watermelons are coming." Meaning, they're going to be inflated.

Text number three says, "I have a big needle for you this week." And then McNally responds, "better be surrounded by cash and new kicks meaning sneakers or it's rugby Sunday." "F... tom." He says it again.

I mean, clearly, these two are going back and forth. The one guy calls himself the deflator and they acknowledge that Brady is in the loop. I thought that when the NFL said more probable than not, that's a civil standard. They frankly could have used the beyond a reasonable doubt standard. Your response to those texts are what?

STALLWORTH: Well, I think those texts can also be interpreted in another way. You look at the text messages, they are damning but also to, you know, there are other text messages, as well, that people really aren't talking about.

Some of those are the fact that Brady was complaining. He was upset at halftime at the New York Jets game that took place on October 16 that the balls were more inflated than he liked. When Jastremski went and checked the balls after the game, they were close to 16. Which is well more higher than what the NFL's regulatory mandate is for the balls to be between 12.5 psi and 13.5 psi. So there's a lot in there. I mean, if you want to suspend him off of circumstantial evidence, then, yes, you obviously could. And the NFL has done that twice.

SMERCONISH: Here's what I think he's not hearing the lesson of Watergate. I think that the sooner he comes to terms with what went on and his role, the better his brand will be. Let me show you and everybody else what he said Thursday night.

This is Tom Brady's first comments since the Wells report was released. He said this.


TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: It's only been 30 hours. I haven't had much time to digest it fully, but when I do, I will be sure to let you know how I feel about it.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Was the super bowl tainted?

BRADY: What do you guys think?


BRADY: Neither do I.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Has this, however, detracted from your joy of winning the Super Bowl?

BRADY: Absolutely not.


SMERCONISH: Donte Stallworth. I found that to be brazen in the face of what's in this report. You got to worry that his brand and his place in NFL history are being harmed by this until the day when he says, "hey, you know what? I was in the loop. And here's what was going on and he maybe says other teams do it, as well.


STALLWORTH: Well, yes. And I think everyone wants to hear more from Tom Brady, but I'm sure he's being advised by his agent and other counsel that he has around him to let things play out. See what the NFL does and then he'll go from there.

I do think that we need to hear from Tom Brady. But until we do and, also, there is a lot of other instances in that report. There's some holes in there. They didn't put all of Tom Brady's investigation in there. They didn't put all of his comments in there to the investigators and you listen and you obviously have to take everything at face value. But if you listen to what his agent says that there are a lot of loopholes in there and some of the instance that did not come out in that report were a lot of what Brady had. A lot of it is provided in that context.

SMERCONISH: But if it didn't come out it's because he didn't hand over his phone. I want to bring in Mike Pereira. He is the former vice president of officiating in the NFL, currently works, as everybody knows. as a great rules analyst at Fox Sports.

Mike, there's a reason they have rule two in the book. Rule two is that which specifies the inflation level of the football. How serious an offense is this?

MIKE PEREIRA, FMR. VP NFL OFFICIATING: Well, it's cheating. I mean, I think that's the thing that you have to take a look at. To what degree of cheating is it? I guess that's for everybody else to consider. But the fact is it's cheating. And you don't deface the footballs. You don't - we went through this once with the kicking balls but we never thought we would have to go through it with the actual balls that the quarterbacks use.

So, you know, it is a serious charge. And what you do is if you look, if you don't take discipline on this and if you don't take serious discipline on this, then where do you go with the rule, with equipment period? Where does it go to beyond the football? Where does it go to player safety equipment? So it's no question in my mind that it's a serious charge that the Patriots knew what they were doing.

SMERCONISH: So what is the appropriate punishment?

PEREIRA: Well, suspension to me. I mean, that's -

SMERCONISH: For how long?

PEREIRA: That's where the league stands.

SMERCONISH: For how long?

PEREIRA: You know, I think, some people are saying, four games. I do think it's multiple games, which is part of the reason why it's taken the decision so long to be made. You know, I think two games is probably appropriate. You know, taking some air out of the football. How egregious of an act is it? You have players even today that put silicone on their bodies when they're not supposed to so that you can't grab.

It's cheating. It's against the rule. But I think more so than just the footballs, the disappointment to me and I think to the commissioner and Troy Vincent is the fact that New England didn't come clean and they didn't cooperate as they said they would when they wouldn't let McNally get interviewed a second time, when Tom didn't turn over his phone.

This is the team that Bob Kraft stood up and said we will cooperate fully with the Ted Wells investigation and they didn't. And that's going to add layers on to the suspension and to me, that's going to bring the Patriots and the club and the ownership into the discipline arena, also.

SMERCONISH: Mike, did the NFL set a trap for the Patriots? I ask the question for this reason. When you read the report, you find that the GM of the Colts sent an e-mail one day before the AFC championship game saying, "hey, you know, word's out in the league that the Patriots play loose with the inflation rule. And we want you to keep an eye on this and it occurred to me that the NFL did not then go to the Patriots and say, we've got our eye trained towards this.

Instead the NFL kind of sat back and as you know, then all hell broke loose. Do you think -- here's my specific question. Do you think that the NFL should have said something to the Patriots in advance? We've got an eye trained towards those footballs.

PEREIRA: No, I don't think they should. The fact is, is that there was an accusation that there was cheating going on. I mean, when it's something like this that's deliberate with the equipment, I don't think you set a trap. I mean, I think you do everything to find out if they're doing it now in that particular game and if they've done it in the past, which apparently they have done in the past also and it even seems other quarterbacks and pretty much quarterbacks seem to support the notion that it has din done by other teams, too.

You set the trap. That's the way of the world. You don't, in something that could be serious like this. You don't say, "Hey, how have you been doing this?" Because you know what they're going to do? They'll say, no and they're not going to do it. I don't get that notion at all. You either did it or didn't do it. And so, how the league finds out about it, to me, is secondary.

SMERCONISH: Hey, Donte, I know to the uninitiated this may seem like what is the big deal? A half a pound relative to inflation and me the last time I touched a football was holding for extra points back in high school and it has been a lot of years. But what I learned in this report is the very serious way in which quarterbacks want those footballs prepared.

In the case of the Patriots, Jastremski prepped 25 to 30 footballs a week just for Brady to make a final selection. My point is, this is a very important subject to QBs all over, right?

STALLWORTH: Yes, it is. If you listen to quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, he likes his footballs a little more inflated.


Every quarterback has their, ever since I have been in the NFL, started in 2002. Every quarterback has their balls tailored to their specific liking. In this case if there is an instance where you find that there was deliberate initiative to circumvent the rules, I think there should be discipline. No one should be above the rules.

But at the end of the day, you know, it's a lot of circumstantial evidence. But as we've seen before prior to the past that the NFL does not, they do not need, you know, definitive, definitive things to make rule changes and they probably will hand down discipline to Tom Brady and the Patriots.

SMERCONISH: Mike Pereira, one final observation. In this report buried is the detail that minutes before the AFC kickoff, the AFCT championship kickoff Wes Anderson who is the crew chief and apparently no BS kind of a guy. He's got a problem. The footballs are missing. Have you ever heard of an instance like this?

Now, of course, we know that McMally had taken them to the bathroom. Have you ever heard of something like that? I mean there had to have been panic in the officials' locker room.

PEREIRA: Yes, I haven't. I mean, two things. First of all, before the game, you know, there's no footballs. And you know they're yours. They're brought in and you got a certain amount of time period where you have to check them all. And there's really 36 they got to check, including the back-up balls.

All of a sudden they're missing. What do you do? You go to the locker room attendant, you find out and you finally find them on the field. But then the second half, too, where were the footballs for the start of the second half for the Patriots. They were still in the locker room being tested. You have alternate officials. It took them a while to get through all the balls and log all the pounds per square inch per ball and codify that. That's what they had to do. That came out in the report.

So, it was, it was, indeed, a strange game. But the discipline, here's what I think, Michael, the discipline is going to be strong enough that this won't happen, again. And we won't have to talk about this because much like the bounty situation and much like the video situation with New England, Spygate, the discipline is always strong enough to where it discourages anybody to try it again.

SMERCONISH: Unsurprisingly, gentlemen, Jon Stewart is having some fun at Brady's expense. Let's take a look.


JON STEWART, HOST: There's not much that can get to me any more. So I thought.

He knew! He knew that the balls were being deflated! Brady knew! They called himself the deflator. One of the guys in the locker room (INAUDIBLE) called himself the deflator. What was the other guy's name? Joey cheats at football.


SMERCONISH: Some people say it's bad for the NFL. Me, I'm already checking the Eagles schedule because I want to know if the Patriots are coming to town next season because I want to be there for that game. Mike Pereira, Donte Stallworth, thank you, gentlemen. We appreciate you being here.

STALLWORTH: Thank you, Mike.

SMERCONISH: Coming up, Sofia Vergara's ex-fiance is seeking custody of their frozen embryos. I don't think that he has a shot. But famed criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos - he sees it differently. We'll find out why he thinks Sofia Vergara should be concerned.



SMERCONISH: Welcome back. Actress Sofia Vergara's public battle with her ex-fiance over the couple's frozen embryos has taken a nasty turn. The two squared off this week on morning talk programs. Vergara slammed Nick Loeb for creating a spectacle out of what she says is something very personal. The issue at hand, he wants to bring the embryos to term and she does not.


NICK LOEB, SOFIA VERGARA'S EX-FIANCE: Well, I've always believed that life begins at conception. How else would I define what two embryos are that happened to be female. I can't say that these are female property. These are lives.

SOFIA VERGARA, ACTRESS: I don't understand why this person, you know, I don't want to allow this person to take more advantage of my career and try to promote himself, get press. This shouldn't be out there for people to give their opinion when there's nothing to talk about.


SMERCONISH: The two signed an agreement when they were dating that both must consent in order to bring the embryos to term. My view is that both are wed to that document. I don't think that Nick Loeb has a claim to have Vergara's egg brought to term without her consent.

But famed criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos disagrees. And he is here. Look, my wallet has your name and phone number in it in case I ever get jammed up. You're the guy I'm going to. So I respect your opinion. Convince me that this is a legitimate claim.

MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I don't think that the law has caught up to the science at this point. In fact, there's a case right now winding its way through the Illinois appellate courts in which the guy I think is - does not. He's trying to prevent this and he's gaining some traction.

The idea is that if you have a contract, then it can always be interpreted and the way, what you just put up on the screen the way that the courts in Illinois interpreted it was completely in line with what Loeb was saying here. It's entirely possible that some judge looks at this and says well, they consented at the time and now it's too bad you can't, this is not real property or personal property. This is a life that some judge finds that, then you got a problem if you're Sofia.

SMERCONISH: But that would run contradictory to Roe versus Wade. No viability of an embryo in this case, much less, you know, 22, or 24 to 36 weeks. It's not the rule of god, but it's the rule of man that's going to govern.

GERAGOS: Well, I think part of what you're seeing here is that you're going to see these is these are kinds of wedge issues. You know, as we have abortion restrictions throughout the country and people use that. This is going to be the same next fight that we're going to have on the right to life.

SMERCONISH: Is part of the basis for your opinion that maybe it's viable is that it's in California. I'm not scoffing at California. California puts up with a lot of raps from people in Middle America and the east coast. But oftentimes trends begin in California that 10 or 20 years later the rest of us say, "Well, sure, of course."


GERAGOS: Sure, of course.

SMERCONISH: If this were in New York, would you feel differently?

GERAGOS: No. I think it's a viable issue, meaning, I don't think the courts, I'll repeat it, again, have caught up to the science on this. I don't think that you're going to be able to contract your way around certain things like you're doing when it is something like this, which is an embryo or what the term is now is pre-embryo before it's been implanted. But I don't think that necessarily a contract is going to bind them. There is going to be public policy considerations.

SMERCONISH: Nick Loeb wrote for the "New York Times." By the way, he's blocked me from reading his Twitter posts. So apparently he doesn't like what I've said about this on CNN thus far. So instead of his twitter feed, I'll go to "New York Times." Put on the screen for Mark Geragos part of what he wrote.

"In my view keeping them frozen forever is tantamount to killing them." Mark, on my radio program, I had a guy who called Marcus from Greenville down south and he said to me, "let's take that statement to its logical conclusion. It would mean that every frozen embryo must be brought to full term." Really? Are we ready now to say to all couples out there who have frozen embryos that better result in a full-term pregnancy?

GERAGOS: Well, it's an interesting question because by some accounts there's over a million of these frozen embryos out there that are in various fertility clinics and things like that. I don't know. I mean, logically, I don't know if there is any answer here that you can talk about and it is going to be the court's struggle to come up with something.

When you were asking me what is the opinion on it. You know there was the Manny Pacquiao class action suit. You thought at first blush this goes into the category of most ridiculous lawsuit of the week. This is, I think, an issue that is going to get a lot of traction in the courts. The Pentagon who where you are at some point, I think it's going to be a hot button issue.

SMERCONISH: Loeb says and others say, many men say there is a gender bias in the law. In fact, I'll put up on the screen a second portion of the "New York Times" piece if I might where he talks about - there it is.

"A woman is entitled to bring a pregnancy to term even if a man objects. Shouldn't a man who is willing to take on all parental responsibilities be similarly entitled to bring his embryos to term even if the woman objects?" Is that the direction you would go if your phone rings?

GERAGOS: Yes, that's exactly it. Because what you're going to argue is, look, at this point you harvested the eggs, you got the fertilization and the woman has got control of her body. You're not forcing her at this point to do anything. That whole series of arguments, as you have said, encapsulate Roe v. Wade, does not really apply.

So now it is a gender issue. Why doesn't the male have an equal right to determine what he wants done?

SMERCONISH: In this particular case, I hear many members of the public say he should move on. He should find a new relationship in the way that she has and, finally, they wonder if there is a little revenge going on here in his mind?

GERAGOS: Well, I'm sure there is. But, remember, most of these cases so far. The only ones that gained traction in the courts is where a woman, for instance has had, like the Illinois case. She had chemotherapy and that there was an issue to infertility and there was no other option. If he had some infertility issue or if somebody else comes along and say, "look, I have no other way to have kids and this is the only way I will be able to biologically have kids," that is where you may get some traction and that is a case where a male prevails.

SMERCONISH: The document in this particular says not only says that both consent is required, consent of both parties is required but if one of them should pass, if one of them should die, then the embryos will be destroyed. He bought into that. I think that makes his argument all the more difficult.

GERAGOS: It does. But I think you're going to have a situation at some point where the courts are going to say that the man can have the right to do this. In the right kind of factual setting. So, I just think it's an issue that's fascinating and you're going to see this wind its way through the courts in the next couple of years. It's certainly not a frivolous area of the law.

SMERCONISH: OK. I'm still calling you if I get jammed up, but I disagree with you. Mark Geragos, thanks so much for being here.

Hillary Clinton takes a surprisingly strong stance on a pathway to citizenship. Did she just box in Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates even before Jeb has the chance to announce that he's running?



SMERCONISH: Welcome back. This week Hillary Clinton took an aggressive position on immigration. Clinton is calling for a full and equal path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and she says she'll do everything in her power to make that happen.


HILLARY CLINTON, 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for you and for your families across our country. I will fight to stop partisan attacks on the executive actions that would put dreamers, including those with us today at risk of deportation. And if Congress continues to refuse to act, as president I would do everything possible under the law to go even further.


SMERCONISH: Some see those as fighting words. Did she take this stance to block out potential rivals Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio? Is she trying to lock down the Latino vote?

I want to bring in national political correspondent for the "New York Times" and CNN political analyst Jonathan Martin. Hey, Jonathan, I want to run through about half dozen of the week's political headlines. Let's begin with that one. Was that a preemptive strike against Jeb, against Rubio and maybe even Ted Cruz?

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. For her she thinks that good policy makes good politics in this case. And she clearly is trying to do a couple of things. She is trying to align herself with the main stream of her party, which has changed, Michael, in the eight years since she has ran and frankly has changed quite a bit since her husband first ran over 20 years ago.

[09:30:07] So, that's A. B is yes, she is trying to drive a wedge between herself and swing voters, especially Hispanic swing voters in candidates like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio who she sees looming as possible nominees and as possible threats in places like Nevada, where she was, as well as Colorado and Florida.

So, absolutely, she is trying to make life uncomfortable and a primary scenario where Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are facing pressure on their right to not give in on the immigration issue. She's really trying to force their hand.

SMERCONISH: She said that not one Republican candidate for president, either someone who is in or potentially might get in, is fully supportive of a path towards citizenship. Is that true?

MARTIN: Jeb Bush has said that he would support a path towards full citizenship although he has proposed only a path towards legal status. And when he was asked about that difference, Mike, what he said was that currently, in the Congress, he didn't think it was possible to get a path to full citizenship because the conditions just weren't there politically. But he will be OK with that. That's a bit of parsing there. But I think if he had the opportunity, he would support, indeed, full citizenship.

SMERCONISH: Peter Schweitzer's book "Clinton's Cash" came out this past Tuesday. It's gotten a lot of attention, including in your newspaper.

MARTIN: Right.

SMERCONISH: Has she withstood the scrutiny that comes from that book or still issues to play out in that regard?

MARTIN: Oh, there's still months, months to go here before we have a great sense as to whether or not stories about the foundation, about the Clinton's financial handlings are going to be detrimental to her political prospects.

In the short term, though, I think she has weathered the storm. We had a poll, Michael, you might have seen this week in the paper showing that since March, when in that time period, you had a combination of the stories about her e-mail usage as secretary of state and these stories about the foundation, that her numbers have actually gone up in that time period. In terms of her approval rating and in terms of how many Americans see her as honest and trustworthy.

So, in the short-term she has survived the initial barrage but as you know, Michael, there is more to come here.

SMERCONISH: You know, with regard to "New York Times"/CBS News polling, there is something else that you reported that jumped off the page. Let's go to the Republican side of the aisle.

When you look at the internals -- and this pertains to Chris Christie -- 42 percent of one segment said they are not open to voting for Christie. I'm talking about Republicans. Forty-two percent of Republicans say they would not consider voting for Chris Christie.

Is he done?

MARTIN: Oh, I think you can't say in politics nowadays to anybody is done because things change so dramatically and so quickly. It is only May of 2015. But he definitely has a steep hill to climb. That number jumped off the page to me, too.

The question that we ask so your viewers know, you know, which of the candidates would you consider supporting, and which of the candidates would you not consider supporting? That is a better question than a straight head-to-head who are you for, because it's so early and nobody has really figured out who they're for.

But this tells us who folks are open to and who they are not open to. And, overwhelmingly, people seem to be skeptical, more skeptical of Christie. He was, by far, the highest number in that question of who people would not consider supporting. And, again, as you pointed out, that is within the Republican primary electorate.

SMERCONISH: Jeb Bush has a decision to make and that decision is whether he competes or really tries to compete in Iowa where some polls have him running seventh. What are the considerations that the Jeb campaign needs to consider?

MARTIN: The size of the field, who is playing and the two lanes of the primary party -- one lane being the sort of cultural conservatives, evangelical lane. The other lane being the more -- business, friendly center right lane. And can he find a way to compete there in a fractured field and finish somehow in the money.

And if he can, I think you'll see him there. If he decides it's basically going to be a race to the far right, then I think he will just seize Iowa to someone who is more conservative. Now, he's not going to say outright I'm skipping Iowa. I think it will be more delicate than that.

The key is, candidates vote with their feet. Watch where he goes and how he spends his money. How much money is he physically in Iowa? How much money is he putting in Iowa? That's the indicator.

SMERCONISH: And he's to lessen expectations so that when the Iowa caucus ends, Americans don't awaken and say, wait a minute, he raised all that money, he was the presumptive fund-raising frontrunner and he got hammered.

Let me ask you about your front page story yesterday in the "New York Times" about Marco Rubio. This was interesting because the demographics are problematic for the Republicans in the long term and it's an aging white male oriented party.

[09:35:08] Your reporting pointed out that in that demographic, Rubio is a particular favorite.

MARTIN: Yes, look, something happening in the Republican Party where they've seen eight years of President Obama and they understand the power of political symbolism and of the possibility of sending a message with the messenger. And that counts in politics.

And I think that there is a notion among some that we have got to send a message to a changing country that we are not this older, whiter, male-dominated party and here we have this younger, you know, first generation Hispanic candidate who could send that message.

But the challenge for Rubio, Michael, while some in the party who like the idea of this young, articulate Hispanic being their nominee, there are others frankly driven to conservative politics, in part, because they've got, you know, sort of white grievance. That's what drives them in politics. It's a chunk of the Republican base. And so, Rubio --

SMERCONISH: Right. I think as your reportage pointed out, it's the push one for English crowd. Those who are offended by that are part and parcel to that GOP base.

MARTIN: It's exactly right. So, how does Rubio appeal to those folks and at the same time, also, make clear the other segment in the party that -- yes, I am somebody that would bring a new face to this party. It's a balance he has to walk.

SMERCONISH: Jonathan Martin, what a great recap of what's been an interesting week. Thank you so much for being here.

MARTIN: Thank you, Michael. Enjoyed it.

SMERCONISH: Coming up, Carly Fiorina not only announced she is running for president this week, but she agreed to an interview with Katie Couric. Sarah Palin didn't do so well. So, how did Carly come out when she sat down with Katie Couric?

Nicole Wallace joins us next.


[09:41:04] SMERCONISH: Welcome back.

This week, Carly Fiorina became the first Republican woman to announce a 2016 presidential run. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO doesn't have the same support or governmental credential as the other female in the race, Hillary Clinton. Fiorina is in last place in the latest presidential polls.

This week, she sat down with Katie Couric and got a small taste of life under the media microscope. Fiorina was quick to call foul on a question that Couric asked that she viewed as sexist.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KATIE COURIC, YAHOO!: Cecily Strong at the White House Correspondents' dinner said Carly Fiorina is considering running for president. It seems like a lot of work to be a FOX News pundit.

By the way, she took shots at many, many people. But implicit in those comments or that comment, I think, Carly, is that you -- really many people believe you don't have a great chance of securing the GOP nomination. You're polling at around 1 percent.

So, is this -- are you hoping that you may be, in fact, a vice presidential candidate?

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Katie, would you ask a male candidate that question?

COURIC: Yes, I would ask. I think a male candidate who is still polling 1 percent, I would ask that question.

FIORINA: Well --


SMERCONISH: So, was the question fair? I know the perfect person to ask. Before Nicolle Wallace was a co-host on ABC's "The View", she served as a senior adviser for the McCain/Palin campaign in 2008. She was standing in the wings during Sarah Palin's now infamous interview with the same Katie Couric.

Nicolle Wallace has written a brand-new novel, we'll talk about it. It's called "Madam President."

Nicolle, thanks for joining me. Was that question fair?

NICOLLE WALLACE, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": You know, I think it was. And, listen, Carly can handle it because the better question, if I were Katie, I would have asked, Carly, what she saw because Carly was behind the scenes in 2008. She was a very important adviser to our campaign. She was a very important adviser to Senator McCain and she saw first hand what Sarah Palin went through.

So, you know, when you're running for president, it's not about sitting in judgment of the questions because the media will do what the media will do, but I think that Carly had every right to question the premise of the question and I thought both women handled it well. But I think the better question for Carly might have been, what did you learn from having such a behind the scenes look at what Sarah Palin went through?

SMERCONISH: In retrospect, do you think that Katie Couric's questioning was sexist?

WALLACE: No, I don't think it was sexist and I have taken responsibility for making decisions or recommending interviews for Sarah Palin. I was in the position to influence the interviews that Governor Palin did in the early days of the campaign and they were not interviews that made Governor Palin look good. So, in every way, shape and form, I failed her.

But I think that by now, Katie Couric's body of work speaks for itself. Plenty of Democrats and Republicans talk to her. So, I think that speaks to the fact that she's an equal opportunity questioner. And in the interest of disclosure, I worked for Katie Couric and she is a friend of mine and I thought John McCain's interviews with Katie Couric during the same period that Sarah Palin sat down with her were some of the fairest shots that he got out at getting his message out during '08.

SMERCONISH: Behind closed doors this week, Governor Jeb Bush apparently identified former President George W. Bush as a chief foreign policy adviser, in particular on the Middle East. Is that politically wise?

WALLACE: Well, I think that what you're going to see in Jeb Bush, and you may know this already is that he does not put politics first. He answers the question and tells the truth, and as a president, he will always do the right thing for this country.

And I tell you the right thing would be for anyone running for president in either party to speak to all former presidents about one of the most important alliances our country has. And that is our relationship with Israel.

SMERCONISH: With regard to the Clinton campaign, you're, obviously, familiar with the premise of this brand-new book, "Clinton Cash."

WALLACE: Yes, I'm reading it. I just started it. Yes.

[09:45:00] SMERCONISH: Here's the question. You know, some of it is complicated. The basic is that foreigners who are prohibited from making contributions towards a Clinton campaign, nevertheless, were able to curry favorite with Bill and Hillary through contributions through the foundation or by engaging him to speak.

Do you think this sticks, or is it just too complicated in an era where many Americans attention spans seem relegated to 20-second sound bites?

WALLACE: Here's the deal: the Clinton cake has been mixed. It has been baked and it's on the counter. And in that cake, for better for or for worse, people already presume that the Clintons believe that they are above the law. That people believe that the Clintons don't play by the same set of rules.

But -- and this is an important point -- when we get into the general election, if you have any one of the men and one woman that you talked about before running, I think they have a great opportunity to contrast their trustworthiness with questions about hers.

We don't, you know, these are allegations I haven't heard Hillary address them specifically, but it does raise questions. It does further cement the narrative that the Clintons think the rules are for everybody else. SMERCONISH: I get the impression that we could run this race

tomorrow. That we could have this election tomorrow if she's the Democratic nominee and get the same result without the spending of a fortune and without debates and we're going to -- because it seems like no one is undecided.


SMERCONISH: You just offered, you know, your take with regard to her and Clinton supporters would say, this is a partisan hit job by a Koch brother stooge. You know the whole argument.


SMERCONISH: It seems like, you know, it's already game on with regard to her.

WALLACE: OK. So, here is the variable, and this is what I'm really excited to watch. The media is not having it. And to their credit, the media is more skeptical about the Clintons than not just the Hillary supporters, but Democrats in general.

And I heard Charles Krauthammer say last week that Republicans need to keep their -- stand back and let the media do their job because so far, the media seems willing to ask the important questions about the Clinton Foundation money, about the e-mail server, maybe the one downside of having been on the national political stage for almost 25 years. The media has seen this before and they're not going to let them get away with it.

It maybe my fanciful thinking, but that's the hope I'm going to hold out for a little longer.

SMERCONISH: Good transition because your new novel is "Madam President." Obviously, speaks of a female president, however, I don't think you're envisioning Hillary Clinton as being that president.

WALLACE: No, she is a Republican.

SMERCONISH: It's a novel and yet it's deeply personal because in it, there is a time capsule of sorts of your very personal memories of September 11th.

WALLACE: On 9/11, I became obsessed with all the little details. You know, the fountains were still running and there were fresh food everywhere. And the stewards on Air Force One, I was not on Air Force One that day, but in subsequent days and months I was, were so professional and calm and so focused on taking care of the president.

I just became consumed by all these little details. So, I placed a fictional president and what I hope will always remain a fictional premise, terror attacks on this country into a very real setting and very real details about what happens on that complex.

SMERCONISH: Nicole Wallace, thank you so much for being here. Best of luck with the new novel. WALLACE: Thank you so much.

SMERCONISH: Coming up, location, location, location. Why where you grow up really matters.


SMERCONISH: And finally, happy Mother's Day. When I see my mother tomorrow afternoon, we'll probably reminisce about the past. Like the time when she drove my brother and me to little league baseball tryouts and decided to step into the batter's box herself, only to hit one over the left field fence, or at how at our urging, night before a rock festival was staged at our small town, she drove us slowly in our '66 Chevy Impala, so that we could spy out at hippies, who were sleeping out in tents.

We might laugh about the night that she dragged my brother out of a dance after seeing what she described as hoodlums smoking outside. My mother, a high school graduate, has twice built thriving residential real estate businesses. Her hard work and success as a realtor afforded our family a lifestyle and me an education we would otherwise not have enjoyed.

Tomorrow, I'll thank her for that and for guidance, and for unconditional love. But now, I'm adding something new to the list -- I want to thank her for not only how she raised me, but also where. I always suspected I had an advantage growing up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, now there's data to prove it.

New research released this week from Harvard economists Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hedren underscores the importance of where children are raised on their future well being. The earlier a family moves to a good neighborhood, the better the children's long-term outcomes. The data looked at over five million children who moved across counties when they were growing up in the '8s and '90s. According to the "New York Times," among the nation's 100 largest counties, the one where children faced the lowest odds of escaping poverties contains the city of Baltimore.

I was at the other end of the spectrum, raced in a prosperous suburban county which ranks among the most advantageous in the nation for upward mobility among boys raised in low-income families. For example, a boy raised in a low-income family in my native Bucks County can expect to earn $4,130 more in annual income compared with his counterparts in the other analyzed counties nationwide.

[09:55:00] We weren't poor, before me mom sold real estate, she was a secretary and my dad was a guidance counselor. We were decidedly middle class. Still, in my county, there was an increase in average annual income for boys in middle income families, compared with our counterparts nationwide. The combination of good schools with better test scores, intact families, and civic engagement provided a backdrop for climbing the economic ladder.

Economists Justin Wolfers commenting on the new data told me, "Place matters, neighborhoods have profound effects on kids and that should be something that policy makers really put their eye on."

My mom, the realtor, would probably express it differently. She would probably say -- location, location, location.

Mom was my date last year at the White House Christmas party. She's doing great.

Thank you, mom.

I will be right back.


SMERCONISH: Thanks so much for joining me, don't forget -- you can follow me on Twitter if you can spell Smerconish.

See you next week.