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tv   The Chris Matthews Show  NBC  July 23, 2012 12:00am-12:30am PDT

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americans. is the obama plan working? we won't know until november. and finally, you betcha, the romney runninging make looks to be a safe choice, no sarah palin this time. any chance that goes safe is an overreaction. the bland leading the bland. i'm chuck todd. chris matthews is off this week. welcome to the show. with us today, dan rather, gloria borger, kathleen parker and david ignatius. first up, the tragedy in denver came at the end of a week that was notable for how small and petty the campaign was getting and only seemed to highlight the smallness. dan, look, you have been through a lot of these rodeos. looking back at the last week of politics, it was awful. and then friday happens and all the campaigns started acting responsibly again. >> but that won't last long. this does perspective, this puts this into perspective. it signals to us once again just how bland and mostly irrelevant the campaign rhetoric has been.
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yes, the initial responses were on the news, that won't last very long. >> gloria, look, these are moments and sometimes they're outside and they have a long lasting impact. we think they will. the president has to play consoler and chief. mitt romney and the response to this. >> you look to presidents to be the national pastor at times like this. i mean, i remember bill clinton for example, oklahoma city and you kind of warm with the president and the president had a campaign event on friday, which he showed up at but didn't talk about politics and mitt romney pulled down on all of his ads. >> kathleen if the ads are in bad taste now, why are they up at all? >> that's a good question. it's time for the campaigns to think about they do and the
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constant negativity. things that are so controversial you have to pull them when something awful happens. maybe that's a way to put that checking process in place before they go on air at all. >> david, you covered the bigness of the world when it comes to campaign politics. can an event like this shake the campaign sort of out of their small and petty? >> i wish it could. we keep hoping that some deep event will shake us from our partisan divisions. it doesn't happen. we'll spend a few days thinking deeply about this, i hope, and it will go back too much -- mudslinging. >> there is a method to this. the obama team always used the summer to hammer mitt romney to paint him into the unelectable corner. despite the pounding, romney's favorable rating has barely been dented. the main theme has been romney's wealth, putting him in a class that doesn't get regular people or worse the effort has been three pronged. romney can't control his blind
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trust. team obama put this out for romney's race against ted kennedy in 1994 when romney charged that kennedy was hiding behind his blind trust. >> the blind trust is an age old ruse, if you will, which is to say you can tell the blind trust what it can and cannot do. you give the blind trust rules. >> second that romney was active in bain capital after he was effectively gone. the obama campaign is just trying to change the subject. >> the president's campaign has been, i think, outrageous in making the kind of charges they have. i think the kinds of attacks are beneath the dignity of the presidency. the president needs to rein in his campaign and talk about the real issues that the people care about. >> the third prong is to disqualifyify romney by using the refusal to release more tax returns as a way of saying that the romney campaign and romney is out of touch. romney says voters have seen all they need. >> we're putting out what is required plus more that is not
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required. those are the two years that people are going to have and that's all that is necessary for people to understand something about my finances. >> kathleen, anne romney had to get on the defense of this. here is what she said on abc. >> so many things that will be open again for more attack. you just want to give more material for more attack. that's really -- that's just the answer. we have given all that people need to know and understand about our financial situation and about how we live our life. >> you interviewed her this week. they seem pretty defiant about not giving out anymore even as republican office holders are saying why don't you release more information? >> i did interview anne romney, i think the same day, that was the same dress she was wearing. she looks beautiful i have to say. we didn't focus so much on the tax question in my interview, but she is one feisty person and she is very focused on seeing her husband's seven stay out there and out front and not focus on some of these, what they view as this constant
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attacks. right now they're edging up in the polls. when you're doing that, you don't generally deliver more information to be criticized. it's a problem for them in the long run. >> dan, though we know it feels right out of the 2004 karl rove playbook. carly cook wrote earlier this week that karl rove ought to get royalties from the campaign. >> it is out of the karl rove campaign back. romney has been placed on the defensive. i don't quite understand what his campaign is trying to do. he talked about the economy, i think the overwhelming issue in the campaign, but he has been placed on the defensive. i think of the three you mentioned, the refusal to open up his taxes may prove to be the most hurtful for him. however, as you pointed out, not only is this singlely not dented his popularity overaurblings but in the key states, you and i agree, the key eight states in particular with independent and
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swing voters, not only has it not hurt him, in some ways, it has done a little bit better. >> this is where there seems to be a disagreement on the campaign. we're saying that, the observers. the obama campaign will say this is about trying to set a baseline on romney so he doesn't get to tell his own story. >> right, they're trying to disqualify him. they're saying the american public, ok, you may -- some of you may decide you don't want to rehire barack obama. ok, that's step one. step two is if you don't want to rehire barack obama, you have to decide whether you want to actually hire mitt romney. what they're trying to do now, campaign 101, whether it's karl rove or anyone else, is define mitt romney as a secretive, outsourcing, rich guy who doesn't understand your problems and so far -- >> and doesn't pay his taxes. >> i got to interject here for a minute if i may. first of all, they're not trying to just disqualify him as gloria
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mentioned. they have recently characterized him as a felon. when you say the american people don't care about this issue, of course they care. by the way, they're not stupid. you can't characterize, we're "washington post" heavy on this end. fact checkers have completely exonerated romney from the charges the campaign has made. this is dishonest. >> obama has to be careful because his likeability which is the key to his success could start tanking if not careful. >> david, jump in. is there a boomerang that he has to worry about? the big difference between 2004 is bush didn't level the attacks himself. it was others that did it. >> surrogates did it. >> obama has to do it himself. their own campaign is spending money on the ads. the "america the beautiful" ad was really nasty, tough.
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>> i think the obama camp is basically happy that romney is so much on the defensive. i have to say, i think romney has a real lose-lose problem with his tax returns. if he releases them, they're going to show in graphic detail, we know this, what a small percentage of his income he paid in tax, how enormous that income was, all the various shelters. if he doesn't release them, he is going to get pounded from now until election day it's going to be one of those targets that we just shoot at. i think on that score, the tax return issues is going to do the work for the obama campaign. >> what if joe and jane smith from toledo, ohio, what should the question we ask on their behalf to romney on tax returns be? should it be, should what you're able to do in paying taxes be legal? >> well, not just the question of being legal. the american people in general,
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they don't be grudge success. in fact, they admire success, but they want it to be fairly earned. and the longer -- i agree with david. the longer romney holds out on the tax returns, the more the suspicion grows, well, there must be something terrible in there. recent presidents opened up their taxes. i want to get back to this point. i think we chatter about it a lot, washington, new york, boston axs, it is making inroads and asking questions about romney. this election is going to be decided on who can put the country back to work again, jobs, and the economy. >> kathleen, so the obama campaign spent a lot of this week taking a little bit of bain out of context as far as that concerned. the romney campaign was takinging obama out of context with this argument about who helps somebody succeed, the individual or government and this or that. they have obviously cherrypicked their quotes.
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it really revealed the divide in american politics, wasn't it? >> it was certainly a gift to mitt romney. whether you cherrypick the phrase and the larger context may soften it, but when the president said you didn't do this on your own, you had a lot of help, an s.b.a. loan, it gives romney the opportunity to make the argument for free enterprise. >> the republican argument is individuallism. the democrat argument -- >> it takes a villain. >> it's the support net. >> what i think honestly to change the subject and get back to taxes, why doesn't someone start talking about what you need to do to avoid the going over the fiscal cliff? who came up with the big ideas now? >> i know one thing that we didn't talk about last week, health care. i think it's easy to forget what an enormous escape the obama campaign had as a result of the supreme court decision. we're not talking about it. >> both of them.
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>> but i think that was a vulnerability for obama. we're not talking about -- >> we can celebrate that apparently the war on women is over. >> you know what, we still got a few more weeks in the campaign. you never know. all of the pitch battles aimed at character. you just heard examples of this. all of the millions in tv ads, they have yielded a familiar complaint, mainly, why aren't they talking about what they'll actually do in the next four years. it's a classic "seinfeld" episode with george and jerry trying to figure out how they pitch their sitcom, i mean campaign to nbc. >> what is the show about? >> it's about nothing. [laughter] >> does it have a story? >> forget the story. >> you got have a story. >> who says you got to have a story? remember when we were waiting for that table in that chinese restaurant that time? >> so you say i go to nbc and tell them i have this idea for a show about nothing. >> we go into nbc. >> we? since when are you a writer? >> a writer, we're talking about
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a sitcom. >> we go to nbc and we say we have an idea about a show about nothing? >> exactly. >> what is your show about, i say nothing. >> there you go. >> you have something here. >> a campaign about nothing, the complaint every four years. this time it's staring us in the face. when we come back, mitt romney is hoping to light up skevereds, recharge his campaign and maybe he'll use the pick to do it. he wants to play it a little safer than before. no sarah palin. is it smart? "scoops and predictions," right from the notebooks of this top reporters. we'll be right back.
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>> welcome back. as mitt romney picks a running mate, he hopes for this kind of rollout. >> a city that this trust has been given to me, 88 years to the day after the women of america first gained the right
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to vote. [cheers and applause] >> forget, it was mccain's best 48 hours. the palin effect was short-lived, the lesson learned by romney reportedly is to sacrifice pizazz for safety. 47% said that the veep choice may matter to their vote. i'm sure that's the politically correct thing to say. romney is focusing on a few. the short list, jindal, plenty and ohio senator rob portman. steven colbert is trying to pour a little cold water on senator portman. >> he is better served with someone who is not as exciting. >> put portman on the ticket. >> yes, nothing fires up the base like boring because romney doesn't want somebody who is going to upstage him and just look at these two together. it's like the bland leading the bland. >> all right, well, it's been -- it really bugs senator portman i hear that we all have sort of put him in the bland box.
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>> poor guy. >> but, kathleen, picking up portman, it's signaling a governing pick. this is not about november. this is how i'm going to govern, fair? >> i think that's a fair appraisal. clearly, i think the assumption and it's probably correct that the american people want somebody who is just going to offer stability, predictability. the pizazz element is not so important when you can't pay your bills. >> david, portman to me seems like barack obama's joe biden, four years ago, the same idea. biden was going to bring governing experience. >> he is a legislator. portman is i think more of a serious person. >> than joe biden? >> yes, i do. i think that if mitt romney wants to have the country, our economy is broken and i'm putting together the team that is going to fix it, portman is a powerful candidate. just from the fun factor, watching sarah palin in that role, she was fun to cover. >> here is the thing.
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mitt romney has the anti-palin. you cannot -- well, right, but i think he can go outside washington to a tim plenty, by the way, who has run for the presidency. don't underestimate the importance of that, ready to go from day one. >> it's funny, the portman pick could look to washington and in one way and to bush. >> it's rare, almost unprecedented for a vice presidential candidate to make a decisive difference. >> well, except for last time. >> what the candidate looks for, a vice president who won't embarrass the ticket and nominee and can carry his home state. he is from ohio. >> we haven't had someone to carry his home state though -- >> one thing romney could do if he wants to get the subject away from taxes, he could announce his vice presidential choice ahead of time. that would change the subject and dynamic. i don't know that he would do
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that. >> we don't have it today, means we won't have it until august. when we come back, "scoops and predictions" from the notebooks of these top reporters. tell me something that neither chris nor
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>> welcome back. all right. my favorite part of the show. dan, tell us something we don't know. >> the closeness that has developed between senator john mccain and secretary of state hillary clinton, they like one another. people will be surprised given the last campaign. evidence just a few days ago
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when the mccarthy-esque attack came from some quarters, michele bachmann and an assistant on hillary clinton's staff. it was mccain who got up and defended her. i think that tells you a great deal about mccain. i think mccain did it as much for his relationship with hillary clinton as he did defending the young woman. >> they did vodka shots together. tell me something i don't know. >> hispanic vote, romney campaign is not giving up. expect a large expensive sophisticated effort to try and gain four to five points among hispanic voters in key battleground states, nevada, northern virginia, colorado, florida. >> and north carolina. david ignatius. >> you skipped me. >> i was going to give you the last word on this. >> if obama wins, he is going to need a new secretary of state
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because second clinton is leaving. the talk in the white house increasingly is that it will be susan rice, our u.n. ambassador despite a lot of support for carey who love it. >> a lot of women are rattling to it. >> i think she is really pulling ahead in this field. >> interesting. all right, kathleen. >> on a lighter subject, i finally got to the bottom of the romney's car elevator question. this is where we went with our interview. actually it's a $1,500 lift, like one of those things they have in car garages where they park cars in different places. i envision that your drive your into a ritz-carlton elevator and go up to the penthouse. >> krpted? >> apparently now. >> when he come back, a little serious time, the big question of the week, does the meltdown in syria play out as a divisive issue in this country during this presidential race this year? we'll be right back.
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>> welcome back. this week's big question, will the meltdown in syria become an actual campaign issue and one that will sharply divide president obama and mitt romney. david ignatius, your criticism for mitt romney on syria, but no alternative idea? >> you're going to hear more criticism. i think syria is going to frame the basic foreign argument in this campaign. president obama will say i got us out of a war in iraq, getting us out of a war in afghanistan and not getting us into a new war in syria. mitt romney will say this style of leadership is walking away from american power. this is an american decline. you'll have a real discussion, a real debate on what american pour is all about. >> gloria, there is a divide in the republican party about how much american military power to use? >> there is john mccain and everybody else. >> pretty much. >> exactly. i think the issue will come up, of course, the election is about the economy, but they're going to say that president obama is soft on russia, soft on china. >> dan, very quickly, how much
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should syria be in the campaign and how much should it be? >> it should be in the campaign quite a lot. in the end, not that much. i do think there will be a division. whatever is decided, whatever happens there, they're going to go at one another, romney and obama about it. >> kathleen, what are we learning from mitt romney? what is his foreign policy? >> i don't think we know. that is a weak spot for him and obama certainly has established that he has some successes on his side of the roster. >> we may hear from mitt romney this week on syria, given a big speech. both will go out to the v.f.w. great roundtable. dan rather, kathleen parker, david ignatius, gloria borger. that's the show. chris will be back next week, i that's the show. chris will be back next week, i promise.
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