tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC October 11, 2011 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
officially, i'm a cubs fan, i don't know if you've heard. >> we'll take -- >> but the packers, i'll go with the packers. in principle, i'm with the packers, but in spirit, i'm a cubs fan for the next year. that'll do it for us. i am dylan ratigan and "hardball with chris matthews" is up right now. so, how does obama beat romney? let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, beating mitt. now it's herman cain who's leading in the polls, as the darling of the right. but the one constant hanging around with the republicans, mr. right now, if it's not mr. right. romney clobbers mr. obama in our new poll in new hampshire and is neck and neck with him in iowa, two states obama won in 2008.
if obama's going to beat romney and win re-election to his second term in these very challenging times, he can't totally blame bush. he can't focus on the past. he's going to have to make a case for the future. can he do it? that's where we start tonight. plus, we've been talking about it for days here on "hardball," and now it's gone mainstream. can the democrats embrace the occupy wall street protesters? should they? if they jump in, as one person pointed out, what happens if the protesters start throwing garbage cans through the windows or worse? also, the president's jobs bill. we know it won't get 60 votes tonight to overcome a filibuster. the question is, will it get enough democratic votes to avoid embarrassment for president obama. will he get, say, 50? and a story right out of robert ludlum novels. federal authorities say they foiled a plot by a man linked to the iranian government to use mexican drug cartels to kill the saudi ambassador to the u.s. and
to bomb the saudi gasembassy he in town. we've got fascinating details on that story that just broke. and let me turn tonight with the case for a really big jobs bill. we started with how mitt romney is going to beat barack obama. michael steele is now an msnbc political analyst and mark penn is a democratic strategist and a former hillary clinton campaign strategist. mark, hillary's not running this time. i don't think. president obama is running for re-election. he has to make the case for a second term. he has to probably, we're just going to propose this the now, beat mitt romney, the way it looks right now. romney's got some great many numbers. let me show you why we're proposing that. just came in from the new nbc news and the maris poll up in iowa and in new hampshire. in the iowa caucuses, mitt romney leads among republicans, but herman cain is right behind him. ron paul and rick perry are both well behind -- well behind them. in the new hampshire primary, republicans overwhelmingly now go for mitt romney, more than 30 points behind him are both
herman cain and ron paul, with rick perry down to fourthe up there. by t way, in head-to-head matchups, and that's what we're going to talk about right now, a possible head-to-head matchup, a probable one between president obama and mitt romney. the president narrowly defeats mitt romney in iowa by just three points, while mitt romney beats the president in new hampshire by a pretty impressive nine points, 49-40. so given all that we're just proposing tonight it's time for the president's -- because i know the people in the white house are thinking about that. how do they beat mitt romney? >> well, you know that they've got to occupy the center. the problem with mitt romney is that he is the most centrist possible republican candidate. and the conservatives are fragmented. so that means two things. is mitt romney a conservative or is he a centrist? i think the president's got to push him to the right. it's got to use mitt romney's primary answers to show that romney, the old romney might have been in the center, the new
romney is to the right. the president is mainstream. give him a chance. his policies will work. >> say he's not good on immigration, he's not good on abortion rights, he's not good on all the issues where the center tends to be more in the center. put him over on the right. >> put him on the right, so he can't have access to the women voters, to the latino voters. the kinds of voters that make up not just the democratic base, but that go beyond the base into the center. >> michael steele, former rnc chair, what happens if you see the republicans doing -- i'm sorry, the democrats doing that. beginning to craft mitt romney as a right-winger, as basically a rick perry? >> well, i think that there are a couple dangers in there for the left in doing that. number one is that as 2010 showed us, that there are a lot more people who tend to hew more to the center right of the spectrum politically and will support conservative candidates and romney, i think, can stake that ground out very comfortably, particularly after the nation sees him go through this primary process. >> so you're saying that their
strategy, if it becomes the strategy, to jam him over on the right, isn't going to hurt him? it's not going to hurt him that much. i think, ultimately, it's probably an okay place for him to be, as this cycle has shown itself over the last, you know, seven, eight, nine months. >> well, look, i think that, also, is it a massachusetts miracle or a massachusetts mess that romney created? you've got to go after his record as governor, you've got to go after his record with big business, favoring big business, and you've got to show on the social issues and the issues of values, he's to the right. it's a three-part strategy. but the problem that the obama team has is the last three years. and so -- >> okay, let's stay off -- >> i'm just saying -- >> that's the counterargument. but what do they do if they make this guy on the right. suppose they make him gordon gekko, they can he's one of the pigs on wall street, one of the equity people that's been making tons of money through lobbying in washington and keeping their taxes from having to be paid -- >> bring it on. >> especially portrays him as a
bad -- >> bring it on. that clarifies and lays on the table what we've been saying that the obama administration and the democrats have been nothing more than class warfare. it etches -- it puts it up to that level. if you're going to look at romney and his success and what he's done, he was not part of the debacle over the last five years or last two years -- >> do you think the public likes the people who brought us through financial hell in '09? >> are you saying that's romney. everybody knows that's a lie. >> he's a big business equity guy -- >> he's a business guy who's not been in that business the last three years -- >> your argument? >> you've got to defeat the three parts. that he's moved to the right, that he's big business, that his record's not as good as it -- >> i say bring it on and let's have fun doing that and we'll win on that. we'll win on obama's record against that argument. >> do you think the public is rooting for the people protesting in wall street or wall street? >> i think the republic right now is rooting for itself. and the protests -- >> i'm asking if they have to
choose between a romney -- >> no -- >> a gekko type and a regular person. >> first off, i don't accept your analogy that romney and gekko are one in the same. so let's take -- >> so greed's not good? >> that has nothing -- romney has -- >> you're saying -- will you say greed's not good? >> what you're trying to do is disingenuous. >> there's frustration throughout the country. >> right. and that's not reflected, if romney is beating obama by nine points in new hampshire, clearly, that's not reflected in the voters' attitude. >> yeah, but romney's not well known. >> romney's not well known?! he's been running for president for five years! >> he's been keeping out of the controversy. i think the voters -- >> if this is the strategy, bring it on. >> they will say, where's the record? they'll say he's big business, and they say, hey, we liked you to the center, but not to the left. >> let's go through some stats to firm up -- i don't think it needs firming up. every poll that's taken by every legitimate organization shows
that the american people believe our tax system is totally unfair. they believe the rich should pay a higher percentage. the reason democrats are going after millionaires plus is because that's a very popular position to take. you say it's not popular, you say the millionaires would win the argument against the regular people. that's what you're saying? >> that's not what i'm saying. that's what you're saying. >> listen to my words and don't interpret them -- >> you're saying, when you go over to the right, it's okay. >> what i'm very clearly saying is, if the strategy is as you set it up -- >> he set it up. >> as you set it up, that's a great argument for us to have. and i think the american people, as they've shown since 2010, are more inclined to not disabuse themselves or dismiss a moiitt romney just because you, say, chris -- >> you're basically saying. let me clarify definitions. because you shock me, michael, you say it doesn't matter whether you run rick perry or romney, as long as you're on the right, that's where you belongs. >> i did not say that. i'm addressing your supposition that if romney is running, that
he's going to -- as mark said, we're going to force him to the right. and i said that's not necessarily a bad place to be. >> force him? the republican party is moving to the right. >> a minute ago you said it was fine. >> it's the same thing. it's okay. >> okay, let me take a look at how the republican field is shaking up right now. and the reason we're talking about romney right now, how it shifts. remember the familiar sight of mitt romney and rick perry sparring in the center of the pack in those fall debates beforehand? well, tonight rick perry has been upstaged, and perhaps one of the truest signs of his surge in the polls, herman cain will be standing there in the center. the people who organize these debates say they don't do it, but they do it. they put the front-runners in the middle. you can see the full seating arrangement in this chart. you can see herman cain there in the center, or the left over there at the top, and romney on the right at the top. are they the two front-runners in your party right now? is romney ahead, or is cain really a threat to him? >> i think romney's ahead and i think cain is in that hunt, if you will. perry's still a game perp and
then, of course, you still have someone like a rick santorum -- >> but romney has positioned the fact -- isn't romney responsible for herman cain winning that straw vote in florida. you're laughing because he got his people to push him so he'd be his alternative. >> maybe that's true. you have to ask those guys. >> sis he using herman cain as tackling dummy? >> no. i think he sees him as someone he can work with should this thing progress and he becomes the the nominee and you're looking at a romney/cain ticket. >> here's romney touting his business credentials and his service as massachusetts governor, but he was also quick to say nice things about herman cain. here he is setting up his favorite sparring partner, someone he clearly doesn't see as a threat. >> i was able to use my skills in a public sector setting, and that's probably something if i were herman, i would say, i wish i had that too. because you don't want to necessarily learn that for the first time as the president of the united states. he's a great guy. vote for either one of us and you'll be happy.
>> isn't that amazing language? he was able to use his skills in a public setting. a public -- in other words, he was governor of massachusetts and he's acting like -- don't blame me for being in the government. a public setting. >> it's very clear what's happening. cain's surging, perry's collapsing. cain's a conservative with some economic credentials. the conservative vote is being split, it's allowing romney, because chris christie didn't get in, to run away with the moderate republican vote. that's what's happening. >> and to run away with what chris christie brings to the table as well, with this announcement today, that that grassroots activism, that sort of tea party effect, i think romney, right now, is the tortoise that's looking at the finish line and feeling pretty good about it. >> i still think there's a problem in your party, and i think it's been addressed by mark, that in the end, the only way you win the republican nomination is rhetorically going to the right. you can't win as a centrist. >> how do you win the democratic nomination? >> by the time he's done doing that, obama has him in the corner.
>> how did barack beat hillary? hillary was considered the conservative. obama spoke to the liberal wing of the party. why do you act like this is a new political revelation. >> because mccain was eight years too late to the fight and you know it. >> it's not just the social issues. it's the republicans in congress are at 12 and romney is backing the republican congressional position. >> okay. >> which means he's going to be out of step on the social issues and then out of step -- >> but it's a whole different dynamic -- >> let minimum finihim finish h. you're overwhelming this guy -- >> no, that's it. >> okay, thank you both, then. thank you, michael steele, and thank you, mark penn. coming up, can the democrats embrace the occupy wall street protests themselves? they could use the anti-wall street fervor, but they won't want to be associated with those protests should they get ugly. and that's their conundrum. they don't know whether to join or watch for a while more. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. pain relief that works at the site of pain...
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welcome back to "hardball." the occupy wall street protests began 25 days ago in a new york park, but the anger has grown and the protests have spread across the country now. today, protesters in new york were hopping -- hoping to highlight how much less the wealthy pay and taxes by carrying giant checks and protesting at the home of some
of the big apple's richest residents. with the protests growing in number by the day, democrats have merely been expressing support for the groups in statements and letters like this one from the progressive caucus. however, yesterday the democratic congressional campaign committee sent an e-mail, asking its supporters to sign this online petition to stand in solidarity with occupy wall street protesters and to send a message to republicans who have been critical of the movement. if the democrats are trying to join or lead this occupy wall street parade, it's a strategy that comes with considerable risk, of course. u.s. congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz is the chair of the democratic congressional committee. she joins us now. thank you for joining us. are you, as a leader of the party, still trying to figure
really ignored the needs of the middle class. gave ul the advantages in the scheme to corporations and to wall street and to the wealthiest, most fortunate americans. and this is the pushback. this is the point at which that middle class folks say, no more, it's time for some balance, and i think that the worst of it is reflected in mitt romney's unbelievable, within 24 hours, saying that two sides of the same coin, in one day. going from calling these protesters dangerous to being able to the next day say that he identified with the 99%. i haven't ever seen anything that mitt romney's done that's
shown a sensitivity or an orientation to the 99% of the americans who are struggling to make sure that they can put food on the table and have some balance in their lives economically. >> let me show you three top political leaders, allies of yours, colleagues in the democratic party, extending their hands to the protesters. listen. >> i think people are frustrated and, you know, the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works. >> the american people do not think the system is fair or on the level. that is the core of what you're seeing on wall street. >> i support the message to the establishment, whether it's wall street or the political establishment and the rest, that change has to happen. we cannot continue in a way that does not -- that is not relevant to their lives.
people are angry. >> when do you believe, congresswoman, that democratic officials will begin to meet with the people who are protesting the way that republicans in the last election certainly met with tea partyers and used them to get elected to control the congress? >> well, i think many of my colleagues would be willing to sit down and meet with them. i know that i have not had requests in my congressional office to meet with the occupy wall street protesters in south florida, but i'd be glad to meet with them. i agree that it is a reflection of the frustration of the middle class and working families who feel like the policy under the republicans put the wind at the backs of the wealthiest and most fortunate and that thanks to president obama, now we do have an orientation and a pressing forward of trying to put some balance in there, focus on the needs of consumers, add some weight to the scale on behalf of
consumers, and occupy wall street protesters are pushing for that advocacy to make sure that we can even the scales up. that's what president obama's doing on the policy side as well. >> well, can you list the things that you would do as a member of congress and a leader of the party that's going to make them happy? what are you doing to win the support? from what i understand, the people in the streets are so alienated right now, so angry, they don't like either political party. it's not a place where president obama can go up and get a big applause from showing up, or he'd be there now. how do you make them see you guys as the good guys? >> well, for starters, we're pushing to get richard cordray, the president's choice for the consumer protection bureau to be approved by the united states senate. the republicans are blocking that. so continuing to advocate for the full implementation of the consumer protections of the wall street reform legislation, that's a way to help address the concerns of occupy wall street, but we've already accomplished
quite a bit. the credit card holders' bill of rights bill that was passed and signed into law by president obama, that really makes sure that credit card companies can'w jack up interest rates arbitrarily and focuses on the needs of consumers that are credit card holders. and there's more that we should do. but we've got to balance the scales here. the republicans want to put all the weight on the side of the wealthy, most fortunate americans in corporate america. mitt romney even said that corporations are people. democrats believe that people are people. >> well, well-said. thank you much, thank you for joining us up in new hampshire. >> thank you. >> scene of the somewhat less than interesting debate tonight, because i haven't even figured out what channel it's on. thank you. debbie wasserman schultz, democrat from florida. joining me now is ron reagan, author of "my father." do you feel for those people, is
this something that you wish you were part of? >> i can be part of it myself if i want to stroll a few blocks from here, because an occupy seattle movement started over the weekend, i think it's at fourth and pike here in seattle. i just got back from overseas, so i haven't had a chance to go down there. but the impression i get, and i think joe biden even mentioned this in one of the clips that you plaid, this is a movement that has a broad-based anger. and the challenge, it seems to me, for the democratic party, if they want to somehow join the movement or co-opt the movement, however you want to put it, that these folks are just as mad at them as they are at the republicans. the republicans may be more egregiously in the hop pocket of the wall streeters and bankers, but the democrats are too. there are those who staked their whole career on creating loopholes. they're not the natural allies of the occupy wall street movement. >> let's not forget that democrats control both houses of congress and the white house, at
numerous times in our lifetimes, and they didn't fix the tax system when they had all the power in the world. let's take a look at "the new york times" reports today, reports that some of your party, actually the democratic party, are nervous about getting involved with these protesters. democrats are nervous. "they see the prospect of the protesters pushing the party dangerously to the left, just as the tea party hads often pushed republicans farther to the right and made for intraparty run-ins. some officials in the party remain wary of their potential impact, especially if the protests were to turn more disruptive or even violent." do you sense there's a downside for the dems if this stuff gets more rowdy, if you will, rougher up there? >> yes. imagine what would happen if people at these occupy wall street groups should start showing up with assault-style weapons and talking about second amendment solutions. yes, then i'm sure the roof would come off, wouldn't it? but the problem for the democrats isn't that this might turn violent. i suppose it could, but i don't
see any signs of that so far. but the problem is, again, that these people are angry at a system that has been rigged by both parties to serve moneyed interests. the democrats have been complicit in that, just as the republicans have been complicit in that. your question to debbie wasserman schultz, what are you going to offer these people, is exactly the question. what are the democrats going to offer these people? they going to throw some bankers in jail? are they going to close the loopholes for the richest 1%? i'm not so sure that all the democrats are on board with that? >> when aren't both parties hoping for colder weather that comes soon, because then they can say, what a great demonstration upon happiness and so glad that it's over so we don't have to worry anymore. ron reagan, thanks for joining us tonight. up next, another awkward campaign moment, no surprise there, for mitt romney. catch the sideshow, you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc.
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back to "hardball." now for the sideshow. first up, he may be the gop front-runner, but mitt romney's more spontaneous attempts at humor are often more spontaneous than humorous. and yesterday, he gave us just one more instance to add to the list, when he was joined by his wife, ann, at a new hampshire town hall. let's watch. >> i am -- i'm thrilled to let people also know the other side of mitt, which you might not all get to see, and that's -- oh, dear. >> oh, dear. is this the return of the cleavers? speaking of romney, remember a few weeks ago when he stood side by side with former presidential candidate tim pawlenty? what seemed like pawlenty's endorsement seemed like he had moved on from his own white house ambitions, but as it turns
out, pawlenty's still stuck on the what if. yesterday pawlenty pointed out that he regrets putting so much campaign cash into his early campaign days in iowa, saying, "we were out of money. to go forward, you have to have money. hindsight's always 20/20." and then, "based on what we knew at the time, we thought it was the right call to drop out." pawlenty also pointed out that he would have remained a contender if he knew then what i know now. given pawlenty's new job as a national cochair for romney's campaign and he's still talking about what he could have done, would've, could've, should've. and now for the big number. there may be a total of eight candidates in the gop roundtable debate tonight, but in reality, the field of candidates is a whole lot larger, on paper, anyway. according to the fec, the presidential findings are still coming in and show no signs of slowing down. what's the all-inclusive of 2012 presidential candidates on the republican side? well, as of friday, 239 people
and an overwhelming majority of them got their paperwork in well before the ones we'll see at tonight's debate. and on the 2012 ballot, for that matter, 239 candidates. wow, they're all running for president. that's tonight's big number. up next, president obama's jobs bill faces a big vote tonight. in fact, it's coming soon. and while it won't pass, the big question is whether enough democrats will vote for the jobs bill to spare the president impairment. that's why i recommend crest pro-health clinical gum protection. it helps eliminate plaque at the gum line, helping prevent gingivitis. it's even clinically proven to help reverse it in just 4 weeks. crest pro-health clinical gum protection. yeah, maybe not. v8 v-fusion juice gives them a full serving of vegetables plus a full serving of fruit. but it just tastes like fruit. v8. what's your number?
and having enough income when you retire. that's why i'm here. to help come up with a plan and get you on the right path. i have more than a thousand fidelity experts working with me so that i can work one-on-one with you. it's your green line. but i'll be there, every step of the way. call or come in for a free portfolio review today. i'm amanda drury with your cnbc market wrap. stocks finishing mixed after bouncing around in a narrow range all day. the dow jones industrial slipping 16 points. the s&p 500 adding half a point and the nasdaq is up almost 17. well, let me start with some news out of europe, breaking just after the closing bell, with slovakia's parliament
rejecting an expansion of the european bailout fund in a first of two votes. they are the last of 17 eu nations that has to improve it. it is expected to pass on the second vote. meanwhile, eurozone inspectors gave tepid approval for another round of aid for greece in november, despite the fact that it has already missed strict deficit targets. and alcoa here in the united states kicking off the earnings season with solid revenue, but weaker than expected profits. shares are moving lower in after-hours trade. dollar says it will continue on as a stand-alone firm. that's it from cnbc. we're first in business worldwide. now back over to "hardball." today the senate of the united states has a chance to do
something about jobs right now by voting for the american jobs act. this is a moment of truth for the u.s. senate. >> the moment of truth for the u.s. senate. well said. welcome back to "hardball." president obama was in pittsburgh today, as you saw, for a meeting of the counsel on jobs and competitiveness, and he made sure to let voters know there was a jobs bill vote today, but senate minority leader mitch mcconnell described the jobs bill as a political stunt. well, that's what he says. let's hear. >> democrats have designed this bill to fail. they've designed their own bill to fail. in the hopes that anyoneyz votes against it will look bad for opposing a bill they mistakenly referred to as a jobs bill. >> wow. the upcoming procedural vote requires 60 votes to keep the jobs bill alive. that looks mighty unlikely right now. but will the president get enough democrats to support his bill to save his face and look strong. howard stineman is an msnbc
political analyst and john heilemann is with us, you're both up there watching that republican debate tonight. let me ask you about this vote. howard, it seems to me that based upon the latest tally, they could get as many as 52 out of the 53 democratic coalition. they could also get perhaps less than 50. we're going to watch that and come back in our second edition tonight of "hardball" to give you the results of the votes this evening, but how high are the stakes, sir? >> well, the stakes are high and it's no accident that this vote is happening today in parallel with this republican debate here at dartmouth college, chris, because in talking to white house people, what the strategists there are telling me is that they like the contrast. they want to be able to say that this congress down in washington isn't just a do-nothing congress, it's a prevent-anything congress. and that republicans in the senate, in particular, are blocking this jobs bill on the same night that republicans are
up here in new hampshire claiming they want to talk about how to create jobs in america. that's a contrast that the white house says it likes, even if they don't get every democrat to vote for this biwy0u >> okay, heilemann, john, the question to you, how many votes do they need tonight? there's 53 democrats in the coalition, including two independents. lieberman, of course, and bernie sanders, but that includes 53. they've already lost bill nelson -- or ben nelson of nebraska. they're up to 52 possibles. do they need at least 50 to say they won tonight or what? what's the number? >> chris, that sounds about right to me. you know, look, i think from the president's standpoint, as you've acknowledged and as we've talking about over the course of the last few weeks, they've noun th that this bill was not going to pass. and what they wanted, with the contrast with republicans, it's not good for them to lose a lot of democrats, because that louse them to no longer be a party line thing and they can't paint republicans as the only obstacle to progress. but at the same time, the president's going to end up
running against the do-nothing congress. and that's going to include some number of democrats. he's going to run against them as much as he's running against republicans. he's going to have to save his own skin as he goes forward to re-election. >> let's take a look. president obama called on voters to support his jobs bill and actually reprized that "pass this bill" mantra. let's listen. >> let congress know who they work for. remind them what's at stake when they cast their vote. tell them that the time for gridlock and games is over, the time for action is now, and tell them to pass this bill. if you want construction workers on the job, pass the bill. if you want teachers back in the classroom, pass the bill. if you want tax cuts for your family and small business owners, pass this bill. if you want veterans to share in the opportunity that they upheld and they defended, do the right thing. pass this bill. >> howard, my big question to
you both right now, is this big enough? is this big enough, this difference between democrats and republicans, for the president to be able to say with $175 billion infrastructure bill, is he able to say, this is a turnaround proposal? this is the difference between economic hell and economic heaven? this is the good guys' position, the other guys are the bad guys? >> no, i don't think the numbers are big enough, chris, for that kind of thing. he had his one shot at that in the original stimulus bill, when he had more political clout. some would argue that he didn't go big enough, but be that as it may, no, i don't think the numbers here are what turns it. he's really making a sort of political and procedural argument, which is that this republican-controlled or at least republican-frozen congress just won't move at all. that they won't listen to reason, that they're on another planet, politically, and in terms of economics, and no matter what reasonable package he proposes, not the biggest in
the world, but a reasonable, decent package, as he describes it, they aren't even willing to consider. that's what his argument is, not, as i said, not just do-nothing congress, but stop-anything congress. >> same question to you, john. i'm looking at the violence -- not violence, the activity on the streets of new york. i hope it doesn't turn violent. the frenzy of passions at work in this country right now. for everybody that's on the street, there's probably 1,000 people who have that same kind of anxiety and anger about what's going on. is this president meeting that zeitgeist, if you will, that feeling in the country head-on, or is he doing it small bore? >> i think he's doing it small bore, chris. and i think it's a mistake, for two reasons. you know, you have a goldilocks approach here. what's supposed to be a goldilocks approach, and you end up with a bill that for people on the left, it's not big enough. it's not bold enough. it actually won't fix the problem. and i think as a matter of substance, even if you pass this, no one really believes that this would fix the problem
with joblessness. and among those who think that all stimulus is wasted government money, this looks like another liberal boondoggle. so i'm not sure who this wins with. it doesn't win with people who want big spending. it doesn't win with people who are skeptical of spending. it ends up in the middle ground that doesn't satisfy anything. >> let's take a look at chuck schumer, the senator from new york, here he is with chuck todd on what happens after the bill doesn't get 60 votes. of course, it always takes 60 to break a filibuster. they're just trying to get 50 to look good as democrats. let's listen. >> what is the plan after today? the whole bill does not make it, doesn't get to 60 votes, then it's piecemeal? >> yes. >> you start doing it piece by piece? >> piece by piece. i mean, each of these pieces has broad support among the american people. as we draw the line on the specific issues, i think you may find the kind of coming together that we're not going to find on the vote today. >> so what's going to get through if this doesn't in terms of pieces. will we get a payroll tax cut for workers to make hiring
workers cheaper? will we get an unemployment benefits extension, which they've always fought. will we get infrastructure. what's it going to be, howard? what gets through after this? >> well, i think payroll tax, probably. i think they've got to do it, having cut it twice, they've got to do it again. otherwise, you know, we could be tipped back into a second recession, because of cuts and consumer spending and consumer confidence. that's probably not wuumber one. after that, who knows? i don't know what else will get passed. and the question you asked is the right one, chris. this isn't something that is going to do much more than preserve the status quo. extend unemployment benefits, continue a payroll tax cut. yes, the infrastructure piece is a big piece, but i seriously doubt that the president's going to have the muscle to get that through. >> yeah, i wonder if this administration is the last one for president obama, will he look back and say, i tried to do too much on jobs, or i didn't try enough. i think we're getting to the answer. anyway, thank you, howard fineman, thank you, john
heilemann. up next, we'll be back with you in a second edition tonight at 7:00 to talk about what happened on the senate floor tonight and the jobs bill fight. great question tonight, coming up. by the way, the administration busted up a terror plot by iranian agents today that would have targeted a saudi ambassador to the united states. this is really robert ludlum stuff. we'll tell you what just happened here in washington. big attempted assassination, it looks like. this is "hardball," only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] inside every box of cheerios are those great-tasting little o's made from carefully selected oats that can help lower cholesterol. is it a superhero? kinda. ♪ ♪ ♪ co-signed her credit card -- "buy books, not beer!" ♪ kinda. but the second that she shut the door ♪ ♪ girl started blowing up their credit score ♪ ♪ she bought a pizza party for her whole dorm floor ♪ ♪ hundred pounds of makeup at the makeup store ♪ ♪ and a ticket down to spring break in mexico ♪ ♪ but her folks didn't know 'cause her folks didn't go ♪
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and guide to understanding medicare, i can keep my own doctor and choose my own hospital. and i don't need a referral to see a specialist. as with all medicare supplement plans, and help pay for what medicare doesn't. call this toll-free number now... welcome back. fbi director robert mueller today said it read like a hollywood script, an alleged iranian plot to hire assassins from a mexican drug cartel to assassinate the saudi arabian ambassador here in washington. two men have been charged with the plot and one is a dual american/iranian citizen. the other man, who has not been apprehended, is a member of iran's special operations unit. there are still a lot of questions about this, not the least of which is how high up in the iranian government this plot goes. to help us understand what's
going on, we're joined by nbc national investigative correspondent, michael isikoff, best in the business. michael, what do we know about this plot? it involved the restaurant here in town, almost like a gangland style assassination attempt. like you do in the mob days. >> look, the restaurant is something that was the fbi informant's suggestion. it was a fictional restaurant. there was no real restaurant. and that's one of the problems in sorting out this case. clearly, there was something real there. and this is a wild case, you know, from the mexican zetas cartel to the, you know, saudi ambassador, the iranian ambassador -- >> but the iranian agent s paid 1.5 million to knock off somebody. >> allegedly. if you read the complaints closely, it's not clear that they were willing to put up 1.5 million for this. that that was the suggestion of the informants. and as i was trying to say, that's one of the difficulties in sorting through this here. what we know is this american iranian in corpus christie, a used car salesman, apparently,
makes contact with a federal drug informant out of texas. and says he wants to plan an attack against the saudistates. now in the original conversation, according to his confession, all he talked about was a kidnapping the saudi ambassador. at some point in the conversations with this informant it becomes a much more elaborate and deadly plan to bomb, to assassinate and -- and carry out other attacks. >> how does the iranian official from the quds force get involved? that's what interests me. >> this guy, the chief suspect, the used car salesman, is traveling back and forth between the united states and iran and is allegedly meeting with quds force commanders, and just late today the treasury department announced -- announced designations against some of the high level quds force commanders who they say were coordinating
the attack and supervising, and it clearly go, according to the treasury department announcement, high up in the quds force. one of them had been previously designated by the treasury department for plotting a mass attack on u.s. soldiers in iraq and had been previously designated. another quds force command her been previously accused of human rights abuses in syria, suppression of protesters there. >> yeah. >> so this clearly, according to the u.s. government allegations, goes high up in the quds force. now, does that mean that the iranian government itself -- what about the iranian government itself and the quds force? >> a lot of factions in iran. >> these are public officials who are getting paid. >> they are public officials and people of responsibility in the iranian government, but what's not clear is whether they were operating on their own, you know, for instance, take an analogy, if this was the united states government, was it a rogue operation by the quds
force, or was it sanctioned by the country? >> if we're trying to knock off somebody inside iran who is an ally of iran, that would be a huge international -- >> of course, it is. >> and would make the biggest stink about that at the u.n. >> absolutely. >> so what are we going to do about it? will they make it a criminal case? >> they have certainly made it a criminal case. >> what about the government of iran? are we going to hold them responsible as an enemy or just talk about a political -- rather, a criminal investigation, that this is a dick tracy case in. >> look, we've been squeezing the government of iran for some time over their nuclear program. we've been imposing sanctions against the government of iran. you know, they have gone pretty far in what they think they could do without provoking some sort of military conflict with the iranian government. i think this ratchets it up, but how far are they going to take this? i don't know. it's going to be interesting to see. >> when these two guys, one of them are go to court. >> and he's confessed. >> and he's the one that nailed
the other guy, fingered the other guy. >> right. >> he's always talking. he'll continue to talk to get his sentence down. >> right. >> so they will continue to negotiate with this guy, a rough looking customer. this going to bring him into the old dick tracy interview room. >> right. >> and they are going to get him to tell everything, right? >> right, and i think he already has told quite a bit. the question is how much, if you read the complaint closely, it is not entirely clear how much the quds force commanders who were supervising him and who were running him were approving -- were directing to him and how much the federal drug informants, they understand -- >> somebody shows up with a promise of $100,000 and a down payment. >> yeah. >> perhaps a longer promise of 100 million. somewhere that money coming from? from iran. >> from the iranian government. there is something clearly here. >> yeah. >> there's real meat here. i don't think this is made up or concocted. what i'm saying is there's a lot of ambiguity.
>> okay. >> about what exactly -- >> remember how world war i started, assassination of an official in a foreign country. thank you, michael isikoff. >> when we return, let me finish with a bold way to get the economy moving again, and why i think we deserve to hear what president obama thinks about this bold plan. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. little industrial? okay, there's enough energy right here in america. yeah, over 100 years worth. okay, so you mean you just ignore the environment. actually, it's cleaner. and, it provides jobs. and it helps our economy. okay, i'm listening. [announcer] at conoco phillips we're helping power america's economy with cleaner affordable natural gas... more jobs, less emissions, a good answer for everyone. so, by reducing the impact of production... and protecting our land and water... i might get a job once we graduate. your doctor will say get smart about your weight. that's why there's new glucerna hunger smart shakes. they have carb steady, with carbs that digest slowly to help minimize blood sugar spikes. [ male announcer ] new glucerna hunger smart. a smart way to help manage hunger and diabetes.
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that new recession that seems to be creeping our way. what would you do? i'm not asking about ways to reduce the deficit or diminish the overall national debt, nor do i want political flourishes gestures that give joy to the left or the right. no, i'm asking about what we, the people, can do that will avert another recession, that will act on the economy in a way that cuts the unemployment rate, puts money in the pockets of consumers and gets this country moving again, gets business investing in products that have a market out there of american people who are able, willing and stirred to spend money. what would you do? today a columnist for the "new york times" offers us an answer. it's a prescription for meeting the great malady of the american economy, unemployment, or if you want to put it more brutally, the oversupply of labor in this country. call it what you want. the simple fact is there are more people looking for work here than there are people looking to put them to work. nobody has to be told that.
it's the condition we're living in. part of the proposal suggests that "the times" today is to create 5 million new jobs a year with a five to seven-year infrastructure program at a cost of $1.2 trillion in government and private sector spending, but mostly government spending. this drives us right to the point of decision, doesn't it? you can support such a proposition which goes well beyond anything president obama is pushing, or you can oppose it, saying the government ought to be cutting spending. i think the president ought to make it clear where he stands, that even if he doesn't have the votes right now to get it passed. if he thinks this bigger program is called for, he ought to say so. people ought to know where their leader wants them to be led, don't you think? don't we have a decent claim on knowing that our president agrees with the need to do something this vital, this big, even if he can't get the votes for it? nothing would dramatize the ideal of a second obama presidential administration than him