tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC October 10, 2011 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT
or are you just playing? thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. focus on religion. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. happy columbus day. leading off tonight, religion and politics. not since 1960 has a candidate's religion played a central role in a presidential campaign. but when a baptist minister, robert jeffress, raised the issue of mitt romney's mormonism and its relevance to the presidency, it became a matter of discussion. pastor robert jeffress joins us at the top of the show. romney's religion has always been a potential achilles heel for him. the other candidates don't have to make an issue of it. they may well not want to. well, tonight, how religion
could determine who wins the presidential nomination of the republican party. plus, with each passing day, those occupy wall street protests are gaining momentum. top republicans dismissed the demonstrators as mobs. we'll hear from both friend and foe, tonight. and is it possible that president obama isn't very good at politics? you know, the people, person-to-person kind. that's the question posed by a "washington post" reporter who says the president has a problem beyond the economy. people. he doesn't enjoy meeting with people, the story says, he endures them. it's an odd position for a president to be in. to put himself in. and let me finish tonight with my views on the matter of religion and public office. we start with religion in politics, and with me now is pastor robert jeffress of the first baptist church in dallas, texas, who said mitt romney's not a christian and called mormonism a cult. let me get to those questions right off the bat. and let me convince you -- first of all, i'm so glad to hear
you're a fan of "hardball" and i appreciate that, sir. tonight i want you to just elaborate on those words. let's take a look at what you said friday at the values voters summit, and then you can elaborate on. here's part of your introduction for rick perry. let's watch. >> do we want a candidate who is a good, moral person? or do we want a candidate who is a born-again follower of the lord jesus christ? rick perry is a proven leader. he is a true conservative. and he is a genuine follower of jesus christ. >> afterwards, you were asked to compare romney's faith to that of rick perry. let's watch what you said. >> rick perry's a christian. he's an evangelical christian, a follower of jesus christ. mitt romney's a good, moral person, but he's not a christian. mormonism is not christianity. it has always been considered a cult by the mainstream of christianity. so it's a difference between a christian and a nonchristian. >> pastor, thank you so much for coming on. and i guess my only role here,
since i'm a secular person involved with political discussions, to find out what you meant by that in a secular context. in other words, we're in the middle of a campaign, what relevance is it. the word "cult," would you use it again if you were asked the same question? >> yes, but i would clarify, like i did in that clip later on, i was talking not about a sociological cult, i'm talking about a theological cult. it's a fact, mormonism came 1800 years after jesus christ and the founding of the church. mormonism has its own human leader, joseph smith, its own set of doctrines, its own religious book, "the book of mormon," in addition to the bible, so in that way, it's a cult. i believe mormons are good people. but i don't believe that they are christians. and by the way, chris, my view is not unique. "usa today" today cited a poll that said that 75% of protestant
pastors do not believe mormons are christians. that's three out of four protestant pastors. and you know, there are people out there who want to try to paint me as the jeremiah wright of the right. my comments are not fanatical, it's just true that mormonism is not a part of historical christianity. >> websters, here's what websters describes in a religious context what a cult is. a system of religious worship or ritual, a quaisi-religious group, often living in a colony, with a charismatic leader who indoctrinates members with unorthodox or extremist views, practices, or beliefs. is that what you believe as a cult? >> well, i believe in more a -- >> this is what websters says. so you disagree with this definition? >> i think it can be expanded. but you look at brigham young, and some parts of those definitions apply to that as well. but what i'm saying is to those
of us who are evangelical christians, and remember, chris, that is to who i'm speaking, there are a lot of reasons why to prefer rick perry to mitt romney. i believe that mitt romney is conservative out of convenience, while rick perry is one a conservative out of conviction. but to those of us who are evangelicals, when all other things are equal, we prefer competent christians to competent nonchristians, who may be good, moral people like mitt romney. >> but are you concerned at having what you consider a member of a cult in the white house? would you want a cultist in the white house? it's your word, not mine. >> i understand that. and that's why i've been very clear to say, if it comes down to a choice between mitt romney and barack obama, i'll probably hold my nose in the general election and vote for mitt romney. because i believe there are other criteria besides the person's faith. you know, i believe that barack obama is a christian. >> let's stick on this. you don't believe mitt romney is
a christian, are you concerned about a particular thing he might do as president as a member of a cult? do you believe he might do something -- no, seriously. he's a member of a cult, you say. you support other people for president, fine. but i want to get back to this. is your problem with mitt romney that he's a member of a cult, or he may not be a good member of the cult. because you hit it both ways in your conversations, you suggested that he's not a good mormon. would you prefer a good mormon to someone who you think is not a good member of the cult? >> well, somebody stopped me in the hallway after the voters summit and said to me, pastor, my problem with mitt romney is not that he's a mormon, but that he's not a good enough mormon when it comes to the issue of abortion and gay rights and so forth. look, i think if it comes down to it, and this is why i brought up barack obama, i would rather have somebody in the white house who is not a christian, like mitt romney, who at least embraces some biblical values versus a professing christian like president obama, who supports unbiblical principles, like abortion. >> i understand.
that's a political view. but just to straighten this out, because you made a lot of news on this, and i appreciate you coming on this program. we don't mind making news here either. you say that he's a member of a cult. you stick to that, right? >> yes. yes. a theological cult, i want to clarify that. >> are you concerned that any one of his theological cult beliefs sitting in the white house, per se -- forget it's mitt romney. are you concerned about the very fact, come january 2nd, 2013, that a member of a cult is in the white house? does that, in itself, concern you? >> no, i do not have that concern, because i think there are a lot of other things to be concerned about about mitt romney, and as we both just alluded to, i'm not sure he's that much of a practicing mormon. i don't know, be if he were a really devout mormon, i'm not sure how he could have held the views he did about abortion so long. >> what is wrong with mormonism?
>> well, mormonism, first of all, has another revelation, the revelation of "the book of mormon," came 1,800 years after christianity. it uses a lot of the same language as christianity does. it talks about jesus christ, it talks about faith. but it's the jesus christ who came to north america in the 1800s, not the jesus christ of the bible. it doesn't have the traditional belief about heaven and hell. it teaches a works-oriented type of salvation. so for those of us who are evangelicals, there is a difference. and as i cited in that poll, 75% of protestant pastors believe that there's a vast difference between mormonism and biblical christianity. >> last point on religion, it's not my strength, but let me ask you this, do you believe, as a christian, and you're a christian, do you believe that mormon people believe that jesus christ was god? >> well, you know what i've learned -- >> you said, "well," is that the answer, well? >> no.
>> do you believe they're christians, in other words? to that central point. >> well, i don't believe all baptists are christians. i'm a baptist, i don't believe all baptists are christians, all catholics are christians, or all mormons are christians. nobody goes to heaven in a group, chris. we go individually to heaven or hell, personally based on what we believe in jesus christ. >> you're very good at this, but this is called spin. >> no, it's not. >> i want to ask you, sticking to the issue of faith and belief. >> not all mormons believe what mormons believe. >> you know you've stirred up -- >> -- all members of any faith. >> does it bother you that you've stirred up a bee's nest on this. that they hear the word "cult," they hear charles manson, they hear jonestown. they hear cult in the way i've described it in the dictionary of the united states, in webster's dictionary, as some group living in a colony with a charismatic leader that indoctrinates members with unorthodox or extremist views. you say that's not the definition you use, but to
americans who hear you, when they hear cult, i'm going to give you now a chance, say you didn't mean that kind of cult. say, i did not mean -- >> okay, i will say that, chris. i will raise my right hand and say, i did not mean that kind of cult. i was talking about a theological cult. but let me add, if i could, that i think many of the people who are bothered with what i said about a cult are just as bothered when i sit here and say that mormonism is not christianity. so a lot of the reporters, they rushed me after my introduction, because they picked up on the fact that i was distinguishing a good moral person, like mitt romney, with a born-again follower of jesus christ. they knew what i was saying. they knew i was saying that mormonism is not christianity. and i think that's what the real issue is. not the cult issue. >> would you, in general parlance, would you always support, what you consider a born-again christian for the presidency against any other opponent? in other words, that's your position? >> no, i wouldn't say that. no. i would not say that. >> you say that's why you're for
romney -- or that's why you're for perry, you said. >> no, chris, i gave a number of reasons i'm for perry, not just because of his faith. i believe he's a consistent conservative, i believe he's field in leadership, perhaps not rhetoric, but in leadership. and i think there are a number of reasons beyond his christian faith. and again, i think you've got a christian in barack obama, a professing christian, and a nonchristian in mitt romney, and i've said publicly i would vote for mitt romney if it comes down to that. but, remember, chris, we're in a primary season, and those of us who are evangelical christians, we have a chance to select a christian for our leader. and i want to remind people, chris, it was john jay, the first chief justice of the united states supreme court who said, we have as our duty and privilege to select and prefer christians as our leaders. having preference for christians over nonchristians is not being bigoted, it's a preference that we're allowed. >> let me read to you the united
states constitution, what it says about religion and political office. article 6, united states constitution, which many people believe to be divinely inspired. the senators and representatives before mentioned members of the several state legislatures and all executive and judicial officers, both of the united states and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this constitution, but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the united states. sir, how else can -- i know you're a fundamentalist, so let's go to the strict meaning of this term. "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust." how can anyone of any religion read that anything -- as meaning anything else but what it says? >> chris -- >> "no religious test." >> chris, certainly you understand the difference between government imposing a religious test and private citizens having any kind of litmus test they want to.
are you suggesting that for me to prefer a christian over a nonchristian is against the law or unconstitutional? that's absurd. >> no, no. >> no, article 6 is talking about the government cannot impose a religious test. you can impose any kind of test you want to. >> of course. anybody can have any preference or prejudice, of course we can. >> that's right, but you're misleading people in thinking it's unconstitutional. >> no. >> yes, you are. >> no. i'm just asking you if there's a higher value in what you're saying than what the constitution says. people can say i'm italian american so always vote for the italian american. i'm black american, always vote for the african-american candidate. everybody can do that. but that's not a high value. people can always say, i'm always going to support somebody of my religion. you can't say that what you're proposing, which is simply to vote your religion is somehow a higher value than any other prejudice, can you? it's just a prejudice. >> oh, i can say -- >> yeah, but it's just a prejudice. >> do you think john jay, the author of the federalist papers and the first chief justice of the supreme court was a bigot? do you think that, chris?
>> no, i'm just saying, do you think what you're saying is no different from someone saying, it's just another religious sect or cult or denomination that simply votes their nomination or cult or sect. it's just the same old kind of tribalism that we had in europe and we tried to leave behind. yes or no? >> well, first of all, chris, your viewers have just heard me say that i would vote for mitt romney in certain circumstances. so, obviously, i have other considerations. but to your question, is there a higher authority than the constitution? for me, as a christian, as a pastor, the answer is yes. it is the bible. >> you know, it's great to have you on, sir, and i think you're great. the way you talk on this show, i don't agree with you, but i think it's great that you come on and honestly reveal. you're not a tricky guy. not too tricky. thank you very much, pastor robert jeffress for coming on. >> thanks. coming up, let's get into the politics of mitt romney's religion and how it could determine who wins next november.
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we'll be right back with the political take on what we just heard from pastor robert jeffress. i think he made some news tonight. "hardball" back in a moment. ♪ [ cellphone rings ] cut! [ monica ] i have a small part in a big movie. i thought we'd be on location for 3 days, it's been 3 weeks. so, i used my citi simplicity card to pick up a few things. and i don't have to worry about a late fee.
welcome back to "hardball." we just saw how for some evangelicals, mitt romney's mormon faith is a deal, a big deal, perhaps, certainly relative to other aspects of this campaign. will it stop romney in the deep south and the border states where he's been stopped before when he tried to run before? and why have so many of the gop candidates not criticized remarks on romney's faith more forcefully, including remarks we just heard? ed rollins is a republican strategist, who most recently worked for michele bachmann's campaign, and david corn's an msnbc political analyst and the washington bureau chief for "mother jones" magazine. let me go to ed rollins. ed, i'm not sure if you caught my discussion with the reverend -- pastor jeffress. i thought he was impressive in his way.
he comes from a different background than us, but i was attentive and i think he has something to say that seems to be important to a lot of protestant ministers. >> it is. and i think it's unfortunate. you and i grew up as kennedy democrats, and obviously, we saw bias towards our hero, john f. kennedy, in 1960 and before, and hopefully we thought we'd get rid of that. i think there's a bias out there against romney by some evangelicals. i think it's unfortunate, but it's true, and it is a bigotry, and i don't care what anybody else wants to call it. but i think at the end of the day, romney is a strong candidate and he's prepared to go fight that. but i'll say this, having had mike huckabee, who was an evangelical minister and what have you, there are a lot of very significant evangelical leaders who didn't endorse him four years ago, because they didn't think he could win. but i think what bothers me a little bit is they're such a part of our party today, that tolerance has become very important. and i have always tried to
advocate a party of addition, not a party of subtraction. mormons, by natural inclination, many of them are good republicans, and i think to a certain extent, by one element being against another element because of their faith and their faith alone i think is a detriment to our party. >> let's take a look at the results, david, before we get to him, of the 2008 republican presidential primaries. they are a guide somewhat to how romney's facing the situation. the states romney won are in yellow. see where they are, up in the northwest, generally. they are not anywhere in the deep south, anywhere in the border states. he won no states there. he only won 11 states, but won no southern or border states where evangelicals are strong. baptists. >> yes. mitt romney last won a general election in the very non-mormon but tolerant state of massachusetts. and i think he's discovering that this issue which he tried to put to bed in 2007 is not going anywhere. and you can tell to the extent that it's sort of embedded in this contest by looking at what michele bachmann, who i used to
work for, and herman cain said this very weekend when asked about this. they would not denounce these remarks as bigotry or intolerant the way that ed just admirably did so. they don't want to touch this, because i think mormonism has become the third rail of the gop presidential primary. >> over the weekend, many of the presidential candidates were asked about pastor jeffress' comments, but most dodged -- this is key -- most dodged the question. here was herman cain on cnn yesterday. let's watch. >> i'm not running for theologian in chief. i'm a lifelong christian, and what that means is, one of my guiding principles for the decisions i make is i start with do the right thing. i'm not getting into that controversy. >> i'm not getting into it. they may not be the right thing. here's michele bachmann avoiding giving a direct answer on the same program. let's watch. >> this is so inconsequential, as far as this campaign is concerned. we have religious tolerance in this country, and we understand that people have different views on their faith.
>> by not answering the direct question, do you think mitt romney is a christian, you leave open the possibility that people are going to say that you dodged the question, the direct question. >> no, i think what the real focus is here, again, is on religious tolerance. that's really what this is about. >> and here's rick perry when asked if he agreed with pastor jeffress' comment that mormonism is a cult. here's what he said. >> governor, is mormonism a cult? >> no. >> you don't think so? >> do you believe that mormonism is a cult? >> no. i already answered that back there, i told him no. >> i couldn't hear him. did he say anything? >> he basically said no, but he wasn't very happy about it, and he certainly didn't criticize the pastor. >> let's go back to that and the question to ed rollins, is this going to hurt romney? >> i don't think this particular incident does. i think it's brought it to the forefront and i would hope that thoughtful people condemn it. and once again --
>> but they're not, they're not doing it. we just watched. >> unfortunately, the ones that seem to be coming forth are catholics like myself and bill bennett and others that are claiming it's bigotry, because we sensed bigotry before. but my sense today is we have a field of some qualified people. there's a lot of code words, having been with both mike huckabee and michele bachmann and having been at a lot of these evangelical churches, there's a lot of code words. i don't understand them, it's not my faith, and i think to a certain extent, they're very fearful of going across those lines. and i think that's unfortunate, because i think if you want to be brave and courageous and show what a great leader you are, you'd step forward and say, listen, i've been on the stage with mitt romney, i may disagree with him on some issues, but he's an outstanding, god-fearing man and this country would be well served to have his caliber of person leading. >> you know, i've been spending a lot of time on this jack kennedy story for the book i've done, and i just have to tell you that he tried to discriminate, distinguish between those who had legitimate concerns about his roman
catholicism, about the fact this is largely a protestant country, and possible questions of loyalty to the united states and loyalty to rome. and he thought there were some people like that and had to disabuse of that. and that he would quit if it came to a conflict. is there any concern about the actual power of the mormon church that might be in conflict with the conservative philosophy of the republican party? i can't think -- they always seem -- and you know this better. there doesn't seem to be any agreement on the issues of life and same-sex. >> i go back to ronald reagan's chief political strategist and pollster was an outstanding mormon, and we spent a lot of time with reagan going around to mormon events. it's an extraordinary religion. i don't understand all the nuances of it, but that doesn't matter. they're good people and they basically take care of themselves and i think each faith is different.
and i think to a certain extent, the whole drill here ought to be condemning biases and bigotry. and as i said earlier, addition is the name of the game. >> well said. we need mormons, we need the evangelicals, and we need jews and we need christians. >> have you heard anything, david, this is really important for our program, we're getting done here tonight, have you heard any concern, legitimate, secular concern about how the authority of the mormon church may somehow get in the way of a conservative candidate being a conservative republican president? >> this is all about theological fundamentalism. if you had pastor jeffress on for longer and if you'd asked him about islam, buddhism, catholicism, hinduism and judaism, he would have said those are all bad religions too. this is about a fundamental bloc of american voters who would look at mitt romney and say he's not one of us, it doesn't matter what his position is on abortion, doesn't matter what the mormon church is going to get a tax break or not from him -- >> well, we'll see. we'll have a third party candidate if that's true.
thank you, ed rollins. and ed rollins could well be leading that third party effort. >> i wouldn't be surprised. >> i've seen you before, you're always ready to lead the column into battle. >> i'm done. >> it's good for business. >> i love it when you're out there. up next, mitt romney versus mitt romney. it's not his religion but his flip-flops that are making headlines in the sideshow tonight. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc.
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>> it's not going to happen. i know you want me to run, but this, this can't go national. my style works in one place. new jersey. if i run for president, i got to go to places like mississippi, in june. i mean, can you picture me in the mississippi heat in june? and, by the way -- wait, mitt, earmuffs. >> you got it, gov. >> look, i'm going to run in 2016, i just can't do it now. let's just say, i got to make a couple things go away first, all right? but after this poor bastard loses, i'll get a nice head start, i'll run in four years, it will be great. fat president. come on, it writes itself. >> wow. i think the reason governor christie didn't run, by the way, is he knew, like in that, he wasn't prepared. and next up, pop quiz. this one brought to us by the democratic national committee
and the title of the multiple choice quiz basically makes its choice. whichmitt.com. ready for some practice? let's take a look at this question regarding the candidate's stance on health care. which statement can we attribute to romney? in massachusetts, i was able to put in place a plan that helped get health insurance premiums down and gets all of our citizens insured. if we can do that nationally, we help the entire nation. or, "one thing i'd never do is impose a state's plan on the entire nation. that makes no sense. i'll repeal obama care." well, which one is it? which one's obama, which one's mitt romney? or do you check all of the above? let's go with that. want the evidence, the dnc has it covered. >> was able to put in place a plan that helped get health insurance premiums down and gets all of our citizens insured. if we can do that nationally, we help not only the auto industry, but the entire nation.
>> one thing i'd never do would be to impose a state's plan on the entire nation. that makes no sense. i'll repeal obama care. >> killer. i guess that is the case for mitt's all the above. up next, those occupy wall street protests are picking up steam around the country now. and republicans are stepping up their criticism of those. we're going to hear from both sides when we return. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. ah looks like somebody's a winner. ha, not me! cause shipping is a hassle. different states, different rates. not with priority mail flat rate boxes from the postal service, if it fits it ships anywhere in the country for a low flat rate. so shipping for the chess champ in charleston is the same as shipping for the football phenom in philly? yep. so i win! actually, i think you deserve this. no, i deserve this. wow, got one of those with a mailman on top? priority mail flat rate shipping starts at just $4.95,
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levels. members of a south florida family were rescued after clinging to their capsized boat. an eighth person is missing and presumed drowned. police have linked a fourth murder victim to a couple that went on a killing spree. a pregnant mother and full term fetus are dead after a 33-year-old woman abducted the mother and forcibly removed the fetus killing both of them. finally a massive rally on wall street. the dow soared 330 points as investors welcomed a promise from france and germany to shore up euro zone banks and help settle the debt crisis. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." as the occupy wall street protests continue into the fourth week now, the crowds are continuing to grow around the country.
as protesters express their anger at the bleak economic situation many americans are facing. now there comes a report that adds some validity to that anger. according to "the new york times," average household incomes fell more after the recession than during the economic crisis itself. during the period between june 2009 and june of this year, household incomes fell 6.7% to just under $50,000 compared to a 3.2% fall from december of 2007 to june 2009, when average household incomes were over $53,000. so many politicians have begun to weigh in on the protests, falling along partisan lines. so who will ultimately end up benefiting from the occupy wall street movement? our question right now. ron christie is a republican strategist and steve kornacki is a writer with salon. gentleman, thank you for joining us. i guess i have to ask you, first of all, what is your emotional reaction when you see those people in the streets, particularly downtown new york, in the wall street area, ron christie? what's your personal reaction to seeing these pictures of people down there?
>> well, it's pretty moving to see a large number of folks protesting in the streets, chris. i guess my first emotional response is, i feel your pain. i understand where you're coming from, but go get a job. >> go get a job. so you think they're there by their own -- >> go get a job. >> -- their own problem. they just blew it? >> i think when you find a lot of people who are coming to new york city, college students who are out having sex on the lawn, people who admit that they're there just to be part of a good time, people who are taking drugs, people who are breaking the law, yeah, i think they need to go get a job. i think that there are people who are legitimately in new york and in cities across the united states who don't have a job, who don't have a prospect of hope, but i think there are a number of people who are going there to be disruptive, and i think that's wrong. >> you just hit all the erogenous zones of right-wing outrage there. i didn't know all that was going on. let me go to steve kornacki. steve, is all that true, that descriptive account of what's going on?
outdoor sex, drugs, people out on the lam, people should be looking for a job that should easily have one. is that picture accurate from your perspective? >> i live a few blocks away from there, and if that's true, maybe i'm spending my saturday nights in the wrong place, because that's news to me. >> give me your description of all the points in that crowd. >> i think it's a diverse crowd. i think what it started as a few weeks ago is probably different than what it's become since then. because it's grown. i think if you looked at sort of the hard-core component of this thing, at the start, it was extremely decentralized, i think it was very disconnected from politics, from having a political agenda, and i think it really just expressed frustration more than anything else. i think what's happened is people looked at that frustration, you look at, you know, for instance "the new york times" story you're talking about right now, where the duration of unemployment, the average duration of unemployment for somebody, you know, ron is saying go get a job, well, this
is as high as it's been since the great depression. we're talking about an average of 40 weeks now at least that people that are out of work. that's just the people who are still looking for work. how many people have given up in this economy? i think people coming from that perspective looked at these protests and they saw something that resonated with them. and i think that's what it's becoming to express. >> so it's like kennedy talking about the guys back from vietnam. ron and steve, you both went down and saw the same crowds, but you had different reactions. you first, ron, you smelled the crowd, you saw them. you know what we're talking about visually, right? >> yes, i do. and it's just a disgrace. i think people have the obligation, if they're upset with the government, they have the lawful petition right to say, hey, this isn't right, but they don't have a right to urinate on the lawn, they don't have -- >> yeah, but they're not mad at the government, they're mad at wall street. they seem like they're mad at the business people. >> well, their anger is misplaced. if they want to be angry at someone, i would suggest their elected officials in washington, d.c. who can't get it done. i would be angry at this administration, who received a lot of money from wall street --
>> that resonates with what eric cantor, the leader of the house said. here he is, republican leader of the house last friday, not too long ago, two days ago, talking about the protesters. >> i, for one, am increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying wall street and the other cities across the country. and believe it or not, some in this town have actually condoned the pitting of americans against americans. >> well, here's who he's talking about. nancy pelosi, the democratic leader, hitting back and defending the protesters just yesterday. let's listen. >> i didn't hear him say anything when the tea party was out demonstrating, actually spitting on members of congress right here in the capitol, and he and his colleagues were putting signs in the windows, encouraging them. >> steve, there you have the difference. i guess a mob looks like a mob if you're looking at it from the right. if you're looking at it from the left, if you will, or center
left, it looks like your people. but it is true. why were the tea partiers not called a mob? >> well, i remember that there was, you know, some talk, you remember those town hall meetings in the summer of 2009. a lot of them got really unruly, got out of control. you know, i think there's a certain truth to the idea that when there's a movement that's clearly identified with one side of the political spectrum, the other side will try to emphasize sort of the most extreme elements of it in order to rile up its own base, you know, in response. but i think what's interesting when you talk about comparisons between the tea party and what you're seeing on wall street right now, i think the connection between what was going on and what is going on with the tea party in partisan politics was very clear. you look at the average tea party member, they voted for john mccain in 2008, like 95% of them did. fundamentally, when you strip everything else away, the tea party movement really was just and is just an anti-obama movement. i think it's fair to say that the values that are sort of shaping the wall street movement are probably more on the left than the right, at least as we now define the political spectrum. but i don't think at this point,
at least, we can connect it as easily to partisan politics. we have nancy pelosi and other democrats saying constructive things about it right now, but a lot of the democrats who are doing that have been some of wall street's best friends throughout the years. it's yet to be seen if you can connect the movement on wall street to politics quite the way the tea party movement has been. >> you know, ron, there's really a historic precedent for this. going back to the beginning of our republic, people from the west have mistrusted the big new york bankers as andy jackson stuff. this isn't un-american, is it? how do you put it in our history, the stuff in new york right now? >> i don't think it's un-american. i think, frankly, of our history, this looks a lot to me like 1968. a lot of people coming out against the vietnam war, a lot of people protesting. the difference here, though, when you look at eric cantor's use of the word "mob," chris, i looked it up on websters before i came on tonight. a mob, according to websters, is a large and disorderly crowd. what you have in new york is a large group. some of these folks have been disorderly. by definition, that's a mob.
you didn't see the same kind of activity with the tea party. and this allegation that nancy pelosi just had has me so angry, i was at that tea party rally when she said that members of congress were spat upon. i was standing right there, i saw these members of congress, the members of the black congressional caucus, i didn't see a thing. but denigrating the tea party who have been largely peaceful in their demonstrations is nowhere near analogous to what we're seeing in new york. >> you may be right, but you're wrong about the '60s. i loved them, they're fabulous. didn't like the assassinations, obviously, but the other part of the '68 experience was incredible. anyway, thank you, ron christie, thank you, steve kornacki for joining us in this great debate, which is growing. up next, could it be that president obama really doesn't like politics? this is an amazing story. a big front-page story in "the washington post" this week. a reporter writes that the president doesn't enjoy people contact, he endures it. and that's having a real effect on how he tries to win four more years. it sure does and this is "hardball." a hot topic coming back here in a minute.
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former president george w. bush says he hopes history proves wrong the one third of veterans who say the wars in iraq and afghanistan weren't worth fighting. bush maintains both wars were worth it and says history will show that he's right. the former president adds that he wouldn't have sent u.s. troops into combat if he didn't think the wars were worth fighting. last week a pew poll found that 33% of iraq and afghanistan war vets said the wars weren't worth fighting, and these were the men and women who fought them. about the same amount said the wars were worth it. sounds like a close call for a war we had, we fought, not sure we had to. we'll be right back. [ male announcer ] cranberry juice? wake up!
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freestyle lite test strips. call or click today. we're back. president obama won the election in 2008 by inspiring millions of americans to come together and vote for him. so just what happened to that historic politician that so many voted for? as scott wilson wrote in "the washington post" this weekend, those personal skills haven't quite translated to the oval office. "beyond the economy, the wars and the polls, president obama has a problem -- people. obama is, in short, a political loner who prefers policy over the people who make politics in this country work, which raises an odd question. it is possible to be america's most popular politician and not be very good at american politics?" wow. scott wilson is with us to talk about this piece along with his colleague at "the washington post", nia-malika henderson. scott, i'll tell you, a few pieces jump off the page at me, yours did. this president, what is it?
because he seemed to spend a lot of time with us during the campaign. not a lot of personal one-to-one time with reporters, obviously, we sensed that, but the people felt something from him. i felt something from him, obviously. sensed that. but the people felt something from him. i felt something from him obviously. why does he avoid people and contact with individual people now? >> i think part of what you're describing was the genius of that campaign. people projected what they wanted to on this president. he was wonderful on the stump. he gave sophisticated, serious speeches, treated the public with a lot of respect. but the public in abstract largely. and when it comes to governing, the model is very different. it requires a lot of person-to-tern contact, whether it's with hill democrats or donors and he's not interested in that. he does not like doing that from what i've been told. >> franklin roosevelt was probably the greatest president, of the 20th century.
that's a nonpartisan assessment. he got us through everything. the depression, the war. fdr felt he needed to sit down and play cards every night with members of the senate and congress so that he could establish that rapport. he would win card games, he would win money from them, but he knew when he lost they would never carve the check anyway. but he spent quality of time with the big shots of capitol hill. does obama do that? >> you'll remember when he started his administration, he used to invite people over on wednesday nights for cocktail parties, made an outreach to members of congress and others to say i'm here, i want to know you, i want this to work. it didn't last very long. it never felt real to people. he didn't enjoy it. and faded away in a lot of partisan acrimony. so the answer is no. he does not -- he has very few friends, personal and political. he's a private person and it's an odd situation to be in when you're the most public figure in the world. >> you know, tip o'neill, my old boss once said to a congressman,
i will not name his name, he said, i don't need you when i'm write. >> that's right. >> politics is about loyalty and i have to ask nia this question. bill clinton when he was in trouble with monica and all the mess he got himself into, his pals stuck with him. does the president have pals and women who support him when he's in trouble? >> certainly not on the hill. i think one thing you see him try to do is go outside of washington and build a surrogate base out there. people like the mayor of atlanta, people like michael nutter, the mayor of philadelphia. and even al sharpton is on air every day defending him when he went toe to toe sort of with maxine waters. but i think -- >> so you think he has enough surrogacy. i don't. >> i think they're trying to build surrogates. you say hilda solis. there was a moment when they said they would try to get -- >> so you say he's starting to. do you think he has enough time to go out and develop an alliance with enough people? see, i think he's lonely politically, not just personally.
nobody is out there shooting for him, building him up, assuming him. >> yeah. i totally agree with you. i think that's the point. the point is bill clinton had friends of bill to explain him at difficult times in his presidency. particularly personally difficult times for him. barack obama does that have that. no one comes up and says he didn't really mean that, what he meant to say is this. he's really a very warm person. he's really -- he doesn't have those people stepping up. you said it last week on the morning that chris christie decided not to run for president. you said that chris christie has a way of making people feel that he's speaking to them. barack obama has a way of speaking at people. and i think people even on a one-on-one basis really feel that. >> i know what you mean. your thought, nia. last thought. >> i think that's true. when you see him address people, it is sort of at them, not to them. and i also think he has campaign surrogates but not necessarily personal surrogates who can talk about him --
>> he needs people like eddie rendell we saw on this network now common. because he's still defending the clintons after these years. >> people that know him and -- >> will die for him. anyway, thank you, scott wilson. a great piece. really important piece. nia malika henderson. thank you. when we return, let me finish with this talk about cults and what the constitution really means by freedom of religion. it seems like for every anti-aging problem, there's a different cream. i challenge that with olay. i've found one cream with everything i'm looking for... olay total effects. with 7 age defying effects in just one, easy to use cream. i've swapped to all-in-one total effects. why don't you swap too? ben and his family live on this block. ben's a re/max agent, and he's a big part of this community. re/max agents know their markets, and they care enough to get to know you, too.
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let me finish tonight with this. the constitution of the united states is very clear on one matter concerning public office. there should be no religious test for serving this country. none at all. this is a paramount principle of our american republic. the founders have seen much of europe torn apart for centuries, by one christian persecuted by another christian people over what a true christian should believe. that is all part of what we left behind. we meaning the people who came before us and building this country. we had seen too much of war, too much of the carnage that come from those who base their politics on religion, deciding who they hate on the basis with whom they can detect a difference in creed. we decided these wars of religion must end, this dependence of the state on one particular creed must end at the bond of patriotism and a particular religious dogma must cease to exist. this to bring us up to date is what we're founded on. not a unity of religion. a unity of belief it is wrong to demand any such thing. and so we push on, forward most
of us hope, to a more tolerant society, one humbled by the realization that religious faith is just that, it is a faith not discernible, nor provable nor deniable by science or popular dictate and therefore really ultimately above challenge. to say that mormonism is a cult is nothing more than a religious putdown. all religions are based on a creed offered to us. we can accept it or reject it. our freedom to do either is protected by the right of others to do the opposite. people vote on the basis of all kinds of factors. common ethnicity, common region, common politics. we vote for people because we respect their war record or their record on a particular war. some people will vote on the basis of religion. that is their right and protected by the same constitution that guarantees that they and everyone else in this free country will be protected from ever having to pass a religious test for public office. you have the perfect right to say what you want about someone's religion. what you cannot say is that it is somehow un-american for someone of a certain religion to serve in public office. on