tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC December 13, 2011 4:00pm-5:00pm PST
right candidate andou'll be back, and i'm sure the comedians will be waiting for you. they usually need a good joke at night. jonathan capehart, thanks for your time tonight, and thank you for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. the devil you know. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, it's newt to boot. the big news from our nbc news/"wall street journal" poll out today is while newt gingrich can win the republican nomination, he can't win the election. those angry republican voters just want to stick it to president obama with a gladiator like gingrich. however -- the big however -- they're giving the president a gift. a candidate who lacks the confidence of the american people.
but the big reason newt gingrich is the republican front-runner right now, he's a bomb thrower. he's willing to call president obama kenyan anti-colonialist. he's explained his marital infidelity by saying that it was so patriotic. he'll say the zaniest thing because the angriest republicans love to hear them. we've collected newt's five worst stink bombs, if you will, and we're going to bring them to you tonight for memory's sake. and watch what happens went mitt romney meets a gay vietnam veteran. >> i want to know how you feel, that you do not believe that everyone is entitled to their constitutional rights. >> no, actually, i think -- >> i think your -- >> i think the time the constitution was written, it was pretty clear that marriage is between a man and a woman, and i don't believe the supreme court has changed that. >> what is he, antonin scalia, original intent? that veteran is with us tonight, and he says that exchange has convinced him that romney won't be getting his vote. plus, leaving iraq.
after nearly nine years american troops will be pulling out of iraq in a number of trays. republicans talk about how we cut and run, but the truth is very different. our reality check tonight on the huge american watch we're keeping on iraq. and let me finish tonight with the joys of traveling this country. i've just gotten home after six weeks of traveling and sharing an heroic story. we begin with a new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll, and our resident brain trust, cynthia tucker, is a pulitzer prize winner and syndicated columnist and visiting professor at the university of gentleman and the visiting people, peter is with us from "newsweek" and "the daily beast. there's newt. "the audacity of newt." what a the new nbc/"wall street journal" poll shows among republican primary voters, gingrich beats romney overwhelmingly. look at these numbers, 40 to 23, almost two to one. but gingrich doesn't do so well in the presidential character category. among all voters, which is important eventually, 39% said president obama has the right set of personal characteristics
to be president. 34% say he doesn't. for mitt romney, the numbers were much worse. 20% say he has the right characteristics. 31, no, he's in the minority now. but look at newt's numbers here right now. only 17%, what, one in seven, are confident he has the right personal characteristics to be president of the united states. by the way, the public is pretty aware of this guy. and a whopping 42% say, no, he doesn't. that lack of confidence in gingrich on the part of the american people shows in the general election matchup where it's obama, 51, gingrich, 40. an 11-point spread. peter, you wrote this piece. maybe i have an advantage or disadvantage, having worked in washington on capitol hill and watched the rise of newt gingrich, the worst possible way, calling his opponents corrupt, attacking democrats. as a party, as a party of treason, terrible, terrible politics. he did get there. the ends did justify his means, i suppose, in his heart. but the american people remember his means.
>> well, i'm not so sure that the republican base remembers his means as vividly as you do, chris. i think the last part of what you said is the most important thing to them right now. which is, he did get there. i mean, there's a lot to be said about newt and a lot has been said, and a lot will be said. but i think the most important thing is this. he won. i mean, he delivered a monumental, historic victory to republicans. it was the first time in my lifetime that there had been a republican speaker of the house. people remember that. and people also know, in the immediate, that this is a guy who, in fact, articulates what they want to hear right now, which is, you know, we used to call it red meat, but it's a very forceful argument for conservatism. >> well, isn't it mainly, as
rick hertzberg of the "new yorker" said in the meeting i went to yesterday morning, isn't it really what he's expressed is not so much an articulate thought as much as sheer emotional contempt for democrats. contempt. >> there's something to be said about that. it's instructive to remember, and rick, of course, is a great observer of our political moment, but there's something, i think it's instructive to note who the first front-runner was among republicans. this very election was donald trump. you know, not a famous republican, not a famous republican thinker. but a guy who was saying hot-button stuff. you'll remember, he was engaging that fringe issue of the birth certificate. and he was leading the polls until, of course, that thing sort of blew up on him. but gingrich brings way more to the table than that for the republican base. and the thing he is doing first and foremost is forcefully going against liberalism broadly and the president and his programs,
specifically. and that, you know, that just absolutely hits. >> let me go to cynthia. when you go to the hard right and you show that almost ferocious nastiness, it's a thug's kind of approach to politics. and i agree, it has an appeal on the right. do you concede the center, at some point in the general election? it looks like in our numbers, you do. that the public overall, while the right and the conservatives like this guy's thuggery, if you will, his nastiness, his diabolical means justify the ends, that the person in the middle goes, wait a minute, do i really want four or eight years of that, controlling a nuclear button with how many of thousands of warheads? do i want to put a person with that kind of temperament as commander in chief? >> well, electability is newt gingrich's weak point. that's the achilles heel. and that is the argument that mitt romney has been trying to make, that he is trying to make more forcefully to republican voters. so far, it hasn't made any
difference. all of these republican voters want to hear is what you and peter just talked about, somebody who's willing to use rhetoric. and newt has mastered incendiary rhetoric. >> it sounds like the stuff you get from the middle east. this crazy kind of talk. >> over the top, incendiary. that's his specialty. he has been working on that for years. >> so how many nuclear weapons would you give him to control? >> i wouldn't give him any. and here's what's interesting, chris. many republicans who worked with him in the house don't want him anywhere near the nuclear buttons either. >> go ahead, peter. >> sorry to interpret. >> you're in. >> i guess that's true. i guess i would consider this. i mean, the more republicans in washington, the more even conservatives in washington, you know, dr. tom coburn, senator coburn, about as conservative as
you can be, the more they speak out against newt gingrich, i think, the better off he is in the republican primaries. >> explain that again, for the people watching, who may not get that. because you're enjoying the absurdity of it, but tell us what that absurdity is based on. why would somebody who's considered crazy by a true, blue conservative like tom coburn of oklahoma, be all the more enjoyable for certain people? >> you know, i do believe that this is an -- you'll remember that the tea party impulse first expressed itself as a revolt against sitting republicans. i mean, it was first, ah, so you people come to washington and you go native, and the budget goes crazy and spending goes crazy and the deficit goes crazy. i mean, that's the first -- that is the primary impulse of the tea party movement. and extending from that is this sense of throw them all out. and being a good conservative with a common sense attitude
towards, for example, the possible governorship of the governance of newt gingrich in washington doesn't count for much in the base. >> i'm just thinking about, we're going to get to this, but i want to get ahead to it. let's go to rudy giuliani here. he's apparently joined right now, based upon his comment, he's joined the gingrich express here. he says he tried to be the republican nominee. of course, that was giuliani. he says gingrich has broader appeal than mitt romney does. let's listen to rudy. >> my gut tells me, right now, as i look at it, that beginning -- that gingrich might be the strong are candidate because i think he can make a broader connection than mitt romney, as i said, to those reagan democrats. he won't have this barrier of possible elitism that i think obama could exploit, pretty effectively. >> there you have it. who's the weaker of the two? the nasty boy newt gingrich, or the too fine, the preppie mr. mitt romney?
he's saying that the nasty boy connects with the reagan democrat, the tough guy working on the factory line somewhere. >> well, that forgets the fact that newt gingrich has absolutely no discipline. he's intemperate. and he is going -- >> this past week he does. >> but that's just a week. we have weeks and weeks to go, and he's going to lose it in these primaries, chris. he's going to blow up. >> let me ask you that key question. the one i'm watching, peter, and you're reporting this story well. here's the key question. we've all watched newt in his crazier times. men want to go off and kill giraffes, an absolutely crazy, loony tunes comment, which can only expressed by him, because it means nothing. can he now recognize that he does have a very good chance to win the nomination and, therefore, a very good chance to be the alternative to president obama in tough economic times, and, therefore, a good chance to be the next president not to blow it. does his temperament allow for that? >> a very good question. i think probably not. i know that he recognizes this. he said to me, when one of our
conversations, he said he spontaneously offered, do you see how disciplined i'm being? i'm keeping it positive. i'm not sure. he came very close yesterday to blowing up, i think. not for the giraffe or none of the things that most of the establishment, political washington thinks are crazy about newt. but going after romney as the plutocrat. i think giuliani was exactly right. that will be one of the president's lines of attack, if, indeed, romney becomes the nominee. gingrich needs to be careful about that sort of thing. and i think you can see that he understands that he needs to be, because of the fact this very day, he issued a statement to his supporters saying, you know, we're going to stay positive. we're going to stay positive about republicans. they can't be bloodied going into the general election. of course, that's pretty self-serving. >> yeah, because he's the front-runner. but as you point out, he went right after romney, doing the chop shop job. >> and romney's very smart to
keep probing for that button that will cause newt to go off. >> he went after him for the three marriages and that didn't do it. newt does that confessional thing of his. he goes into the confessional. i don't want to get into his religious life, but the fact that he is able to come out and take that >> but that works, chris. >> i know it works. we're all sinners, i understand completely the christian culture, i'm part of it, i know that. and especially, i think, my church and confession's part of it. and i understand that. boy, well, he may have everything figured out here. this is going to be one heck of an election if he's the nominee. >> i don't think he does. newt will explode over not something we expect. he has had a year to prepare a good answer over his three marriages. it will be something when he's tired, a moment caught off guard. not a particularly probing question, where he just loses it and goes off. and people will remember how ill-suited he is for the oval office. >> well, maybe we'll see that happen and maybe we won't. you can't spend a life rooting for the guy headed for the goalpost to fumble.
because most of the time, they don't fumble. thank you, cynthia tucker, being hopeful for the christmas period. and peter boyer being a good record. great piece on the cover. how the photographer got him to pose in that arrogant way, maybe that's part of the thing we're looking for here. look at this guy! arms akimbo, that's called. coming up, newt gingrich lass raced out to a big lead because, as we said, he's a bomb thrower. we've got newt's five biggest stink bombs, his wildest, most incendiary statements. you should remember these for friday nights when you're sitting next to somebody perhaps at a saloon and you want to remind them about who this guy really is. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. they came to see us in florida... make that alabama... make that mississippi. the best part of the gulf is wherever you choose... and now is a great time to discover it. this year millions of people did. we set all kinds of records. next year we're out to do even better. so come on down to louisiana... florida... alabama... mississippi. we can't wait to see you.
brought to you by bp and all of us who call the gulf home. top v neck 3 piece suit dance wear bolo snakeskin boots sequin costume under things stiletto heels skinny jeans houndstooth snuggie pork pie hat oshkosh socks 5% cash back. right now get 5% cash back at department stores. it pays to discover. ♪ it's nice to see you [ male announcer ] this is your moment. ♪ this is zales, the diamond store. take up to an extra 15 percent off storewide now through sunday. put this in your notebook. the obama re-election team is mapping a variety of paths for the president to get to 270 electoral votes he needs for re-election. it's fascinating stuff. all of them start with the states john kerry won in 2004 as the baseline, which are now worth 246 electoral votes. remember that number, 246. the western path to victory adds
colorado, new mexico, nevada, and iowa, which would give the president 272 electoral votes. the southern path starts with those kerry states and adds north carolina and virginia, good for 274 electoral votes. the midwest path adds ohio and iowa, which gives obama 270 exactly. the florida path, just win florida. that gets him 275. and the campaign thinks it can expand the map further in a state like arizona. the obama team also announced that bill clinton will campaign for the president. we'll be right back. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro.
premier of the packed bag. you know organization is key... and so is having a trusted assistant. and you...rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle...and go. you can even take a full-size or above and still pay the mid-size price. here we are... [ male announcer ] and there you go, business pro. there you go. go national. go like a pro.
welcome back to "hardball." the best thing mitt romney may have going for him is the trove of opposition research available on his number one rival now. in fact, perhaps the man ahead of him now, newt gingrich. there are decades worth of this outrageous number of statements he's made, interviews, appearances all filled with wild accusations. here to run through a few of "hardball's" top gingrich moments -- or bottom gingrich
moments -- are nia-malika henderson of the "washington post" who covers politics for "the post." also here is david milbank, a political columnist for the same organ. our top five. number five moments. in 1995 susan smith was convicted of murdering her two little boys by buckling them into her car and driving the car into the lake. a horrible story. newt gingrich's reaction at the time. "i think that the mother killing the two children in south carolina vividly reminds every american how sick this society is getting and how much we need to change things. the only way you get change is to vote republican." there you have the most -- well, you say what you think, objectively. a man who blames one of the country's two largest political parties, the democrats, on a killing by a mother in a horrible case of her two children. nia? >> yeah, this obviously was vintage newt, in 1994, he
routinely threw rhetorical bombs like this and was such a divisive figure in american politics. i think he's arguing now that he has changed, that he's gone through some saul to paul conversion in terms of his rhetoric, in terms of his lifestyle. and i think it's going to depend on whether or not he's able to maintain that. as you said, the democrats have a treasure-trove of this stuff. you probably didn't even have to dig around to get much of this stuff. so i'm sure, over at dnc headquarters, in chicago, at the obama re-elect team, they have notebooks and notebooks of this kind of stuff and videos of him throwing these sorts of jabs at democrats, you know, and that will make it very difficult for him in a general election. >> i ask people, as they watch this list of horrors, to remember the phrase, oh, he'll change, when they get married to somebody. oh, he'll change, or she'll change. everybody lives in the world where the person they like a lot, want to get from 90% to 100%, this isn't, by the way, 90% here. number four, back in march -- not march, not a million years ago -- spoke about his grandchildren to an audience at a texas church.
he said, quote, i am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of america by the time they're my age, they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical islamists and with no understanding of that it once meant to be an american. this is this year. >> yes, and it sounds alarming, if they vote republican -- >> how does it get to be an islamist society? >> there are various category of newt things, and some are just running off at the mouth, and you know, he should have some special imodium prescription for those. others are very calculated, like the previous one, where he uses the word "sick." this is a word that frank luntz poll tested and said you want to demonize the opposition by using words like "sick." so it is very deliberate. and frequently it's using the slippery slope argument. you know what, i don't think this hurts him one bit in his fight with romney right now. >> because you go down below the surface of the earth, the ground level, you meet bloggers way
down in the subbasements, they talk like this. this is the kind of comments you get on a column when you write it, right, in the comment list? number three, i really believe i really, really love my country. this past spring, newt told the christian broadcasting network that his passion for america is what drove him to cheat on his wife. let's listen to newt. >> there's no question that at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately that i felt about this country, that i worked far too hard and that things happened in my life that were not appropriate. and what i can tell you is that when i did things that were wrong, i wasn't trapped in situation ethics. i was doing things that were wrong. i was doing them. i found that i felt compelled to seek god's forgiveness. >> "partially driven by how passionately i felt about my country," nia. this is a cover for infidelity. >> this is the patriotism excuse for adultery.
>> i've never heard it before. it's new. >> i've never heard it before. it's essentially i loved my country so much, i had to share it with a woman who's not my wife. that's essentially what his argument is around that. i think one of the things why this in some ways works for him. again, it's that conversion narrative that he's floating there, that very much resonates with christians. this whole idea of redemption, of, you know, once being a sinner and now being forgiven and in some ways i think it works for him. folks out in iowa, folks in south carolina who are in the christian tradition, good catholics who are used to confessions, a good catholic like you, chris, understands this sort of language. >> no, i don't understand blaming it on patriotism. i don't understand that one. >> but you understand the confession. >> i think it's bs. it's bs. >> let's go now to two. this is one that newt had to say about the president. by the way, anybody who defends this has a problem with this country. here's what he said with the national review last year. not a million years ago. "what if obama is so outside our comprehension that only if you understandenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece
together his actions? that is the most accurate predictive model for his behavior. this is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who wanted to have played a wonderful con. as a result of which he's now president." so he throws in the street corner, the ghetto sort of con-guy hustler on the street. he throws that in. he's some sort of street hustler. then he combines it with some notion that he's really an african, a mal-mal kind of guy, against the british and east africa. an experience he never had, was never shared with him by a father he never knew, complete racist crap. i don't know any other way to describe this. >> but also clever and devious. >> clever? i think it's flagrant. >> they can be both at the same time. but think about the context here. this was the height of the birther movement. was newt gingrich going to come out like the others, like sarah palin and join the birther thing and say that obama's not american? he didn't do that. he did this instead. so he was reaching out to the
birther movement with this but not going whole hog. i think that was a very calculated and very clever. of course it falls apart under scrutiny. the previous one falls apart under scrutiny. okay, now that he's faithful to his wife, does that mean he's not patriotic and doesn't love his country anymore? i guess it would follow logically. >> this thing going to the racist stuff. again going back to 1994, the way back machine. it's a golden oldie, newt gingrich saw himself as the protector of the united states. he told the "than thea constitution," people like me are what stand between us and auschwitz. i see evil around me every day." what do you make of that, nia? >> well, this is newt gingrich's grand vision of himself, is this transformative figure. he obviously is a man with a huge ego. you talked about that "newsweek" issue with his arms akimbo, where he looks like he thinks he should be the leader of the free world. but, again, this is what worked in 1994. he's very much a part of the culture there, and in some ways i think it's still going to work. in a lot of ways, republicans are looking for this superhuman,
larger than life figure. and i think in some ways, newt gingrich gives them that. he is the tom sawyer of american politics. he's always up to something -- >> you're being kind. >> -- sometimes it's awful, >> this is frightening. >> sometimes it's awesome, but it's always interesting and grand. and i think that is in many ways what's resonating with a lot of republicans. >> let me sum up here. if you accuse one of the major political parties of america of supporting the murder by the mother of her children of cold-blooded murder, if you call a guy a foreigner even though he's born in america because of the color of the skin, you are not american yourself. if you make these comments again and again about how you cheat on your life, and instead of just confessing it, blaming it on your patriotism, how many nuclear weapons would you put in this guy's hands? it's not common sense, it's not even american, it is -- i don't know what it is. and you've got to add these up. and by the way, those who vote for this guy are responsible for him. you can't just say i was angry that day or didn't like obama, anybody who puts this guy in the white house has this on their
conscience. nia-malika henderson, david milbank, thanks for coming on. i'm much tougher than these guys. he scares me. david axelrod makes an analogy. that's in the sideshow. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. ♪ [ male announcer ] a simple gesture can spark romance anytime. and when it does, men with erectile dysfunction can be more confident in their ability to be ready with cialis for daily use.
cialis for daily use is a clinically proven low-dose tablet you take every day so you can be ready anytime the moment's right, even if it's not every day. [ man ] tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and medications and ask if your heart is healthy enough for sexual activity. don't take cialis if you take nitrates for chest pain, as this may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. [ man ] do not drink alcohol in excess with cialis. side effects may include headache, upset stomach, delayed backache or muscle ache. to avoid long-term injury, seek immediate medical help for an erection lasting more than 4 hours. if you have any sudden decrease or loss in hearing or vision, stop taking cialis and call your doctor right away. [ male announcer ] ask your doctor if cialis for daily use is right for you. for a 30-tablet free trial offer, go to cialis.com. the most epic day in america. and the end of a journey that began here... ...when the swipe of a visa card... ...gave one man the chance to bring happiness to ten friends,
including the knuckleheads at the car wash. those are super bowl tickets? yes dude! you're going to the super bowl! [ morgan ] use your visa card for a chance to win. to see more of the story, visit our facebook page. so i'm glad it's with fidelity. they offer me one-on-one guidance to help me choose my investments. not just with my savings plan here at work. they help me with all of my financial goals. looking good, irene. thanks to fidelity, i can stay on top of my financial future, huh? good one. why, thank you. whether it's saving for retirement, college, or anything else, contact a fidelity investment professional today. ♪ feel the power my young friend. mmm! [ male announcer ] for unsurpassed fruit and veggie nutrition... v8 v-fusion. could've had a v8.
back to "hardball." now for the sideshow. first up, deck the halls of the house. when house democrat paul tonco of new york state took the floor this morning to give a year-end address about the state of congress and the middle class, he opted to sugar coat his reality with a timeless holiday classic. let's hear tonco's holiday spin of what should be on tap for congress. >> 'twas the week before christmas, when all through the
house, a cry echoed much louder than a roaring mouse. don't raise our taxes, on us, please be fair, or our middle class will be lost in despair. when outside the chamber there arouse such a clatter, the public was disgusted and shouted, we matter! let's get to work and not be grinches this season. the economy and middle class are clearly the reason. working together with all of our might, happy holidays to all, and for fairness, let's fight. >> i get the message. fairness. up next, eyeing the field. president obama's campaign staff may have been banking on a 2012 face-off with mitt romney, but the tides have certainly changed, and it's make room for newt, and the obama camp is not holding back. how about this colorful analogy offered by senior strategist david axelrod about the former speaker of the house. he gave it during a briefing yesterday. "i told my colleagues yesterday a bit of homespun wisdom i got from an alderman in chicago some years ago when one of his colleagues wanted to run for
higher office, and he was really dubious. he said, quote, just remember, the higher a monkey climbs on a pole, the more you can see his butt. so you know the speaker of the house is very high on the pole right now, and we'll see how people like the view." well, that's gross. you can see they're taking newt's surge as anything but a laughing matter in the obama camp. up next, as the last american troops leave iraq, republicans are talking about us cutting and running. well, it's a ridiculous charge that has absolutely no basis in fact. let's get a reality check, a true reality check from iraq, next. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. [ female announcer ] wish you had that list huh?
the one you swore you could memorize. that's the all-natural straight from the earth sugar she puts on her grapefruit. but is she eating sugar this week? she ate pizza. but she did blot it with a napkin. maybe she wants the all natural, zero calorie stuff. but if you're wrong, you're insinuating she's fat. ♪ save yourself. it's only natural.
payroll tax cuts. president obama has threatened to veto it. the measure would force work on what's known as the keystone excel pipeline which would run 1,700 miles from canada to the texas gulf coast. federal regulators say it's time to hang up. they wan to ban driver from cell phone use of any kind of the ntsb is recommending safe prohibiting texting and talking behind the wheel even hands-free devices. half young drivers admitted to texting or e-mailing while driving. today's violence in belgium left five people dead including the attacker. the gunman began a rampage. authorities say it's not clear what motivate the attack which also left 122 people wounded. now back to "hardball."
>> in the coming days the laugh american soldiers will cross the border out of iraq with honor and their heads held high. after nearly nine years our war in iraq ends this month. >> welcome back to "hardball," that was president obama yesterday during a press conference with iraqi prime minister al malika. the promise will be official. after eight and a half years, 4,500 dead americans, 32,000 wounded and nearly $1 trillion in financial costs. the last troops will finally leave iraq. the typical republican refrain is that the president is cutting and running and our influence in the region will be on the wane. well, dick cheney once again leveled that charge last night. let's not forget that it was under george w. bush that the agreement between the u.s. and iraq to remove our troops was reached back in 2008. also, while troops are leaving the country a strong american
presence will remain, including the world's biggest american embassy, the state department will keep a staff of 16,000 in the country, including 5,000 in security contractors. richard engel is chief foreign correspondent for nbc news and joins us now from baghdad. rich, thank you so much. >> give us a sense of residual strength in that region. the power we can project into iraq if we have to. >> reporter: not very much, frankly. and i think based on the interviews i've been doing today, this huge presence that is staying behind here could ultimately be a liability. i spoke to a lot of iraqis who say that they don't believe that u.s. troops are really leaving, that the u.s. embassy and all of its security contractors, 15,000, 16,000, 17,000 people is really just a military base by another name. and certain militant groups are certainly going to want to target them.
so if the idea is to project power and to maintain influence, you could end up antagonizing a lot of people by doing that. >> but i guess i'm trying to get to the -- in other words, in real terms, we have a lot of power left in that area. you think it may be a vulnerability to hang in there in another form, throw contractors, rather than through uniformed service people? it may create a target, rather than a power? >> reporter: absolutely. absolutely. one soldier that i was speaking to described it this way, that this huge contractor presence is a self-licking ice cream cone. it is contractors protecting other contractors. they don't have a mandate to go out and provide any kind of security to the people. imagine it this way. you have a large staff at several different locations. so those people need to move from one embassy complex to the other. so when they travel, they need protection on the roads. when they get to that other transportation -- that other site, they need to have more security there. they'll also have to have housing at a secondary location.
that will need security for the housing. you'll need engineers to help provide services to the security systems there. and it just keeps building and building and building, on top of itself, without really providing much of an impact on the ground here in iraq, and certainly having very little contact with the iraqi people. the kind of security that the people need to go outside of what looks like and feels like a prison, makes it very difficult for them to interact with the people. iran, which doesn't have this enormous presence, has much more impact on the ground, and doesn't have 15,000 diplomats here. >> my concern, all along, geopolitically, was that we would topple a sunni government, led by saddam hussein, and allow, basically, a kind of anscluss of iraq on iran. will this be under iran the way lebanon is under syria? >> reporter: iran's influence is
already here. think of it this way. there are right now zero direct flights between the united states and iraq. you have to go through dubai or several of the other countries. there are, on many days, 12, 15, 18 direct flights between iraq and iran. there are over 2 million iranians who come here every year. they invest here. when you walk around the country, most of the taxi cabs on the streets in baghdad these days come from iran. so iran's influence, economically, culturally, politically even, depending on who you ask, is already very significant in this country. some of that is positive. iraq can use the tourism. and just because pilgrims from iran are coming here to visit shiite religious sites doesn't mean they're taking over the country. but it certainly shows the amount of influence that they have. >> thank you very much, richard engel. take care in baghdad. >> reporter: you take care of yourself. >> now let's to "the washington post."
author of "imperial life in the emerald city," about his time as a correspondent in iraq. let's take a look, now, rajiv, of what dick cheney's been saying about -- here he is, the former vice president last night on cnn bashing this withdrawal of troops by the united states this december. let's watch. >> we're now in a situation where we're pulling all of our troops out of iraq, period. no stay-behind force. he's trying also to accelerate the withdrawal from afghanistan. and it generally looks like a u.s. withdrawal from the region. and you add to that the fact that the iranians are actively pursuing nuclear weapons, and i think it diminishes the u.s. presence, it reduces our leverage, it, in effect, is going to significantly alter our position in that part of the world. and i think that's a mistake. >> well, this is the man many people believe rammed us into iraq, got us in this war. he used his influence against w. to get us there. now saying we should never leave, basically. that is the implication. don't leave.
go into these countries and stay there in sort of a neocolonial presence, which drives them crazy, and makes it look like we're in there to stay. your thoughts on this? is is there any reasonable way, list inge to richard angel, that residual force we're keeping in forms of contractors is a target without a purpose. what would be the purpose of uniformed people still there? >> well, just look back at what the uniformed military presence has been doing there over the past year, fairly small, largely quartered on bases. they weren't going out and patrolling. they weren't really a presence on iraqi streets. and they certainly weren't holding iran meaningfully in check. and so, keeping 3,000, 5,000, even 10,000 u.s. forces there, had the iraqis been willing to do it, and provide the necessary immunity, it's hard to see how that would fundamentally impact, you know, the course iraqis are taking into the future. and yes, iran is playing a role there. there's certainly a close
economic relationship, as richard mentioned. lots of pilgrims come to visit holy sites in iraq. but let's be under no illusions here. iraq is not turning into a satellite state of tehran. the iraqis are nationalistic people, who will forge their own identity going forward, chris. >> well, that's good to hear. you know, in terms of american politics, which i cover here, rajiv, let's take a look at this. according to a new cbs poll right now, 77% of the american people agree with this need to take these troops out. only 17% disagree with it. and i was just thinking, listen to dick cheney, and i'm no fan of his foreign policy, i'm just thinking, suppose he had said back in 2001, 2002, when he was blowing the bugle for going into iraq, he said, let's go in there and stay a decade or two. if he had been honest, in what he's just saying right now, back then, nobody would have gone in. so this argument, get them in there, hook us in there, ratchet effect, and then keep us in there for forever is a totally dishonest approach to policy making. it's getting us to do something under false pretenses, and then coming out and saying, let's never leave, by the way.
if he had tried that back in 2001 during his big bs buildup, nobody would have gone in there. >> it would have been a totally non-starter. not only were they arguing there was wmd, and that they were going to quickly democratize the nation. they argued that the reconstruction would be self-funding. you know how many tens of billions of dollars we paid for iraqi reconstruction, not to mention the hundreds of billions of dollars now totaling more than $1 trillion for the overall military presence. no, i mean, even if this thing were a quarter of the cost, a tenth of the cost in terms of american lives, in terms of american dollars, in terms of american casualties, i think it would have been a non-starter back in 2002. >> they said it would have been quick and easy, it was absolutely essential, and then it was going to be quickly over. it was going to be a cakewalk. a wonderful phrase. a cakewalk that's now ending after a decade and they want it to continue! rajiv, you're a great reporter. thank you so much for coming on. tonight on "the rachel maddow show," a big guest, vice
president joe biden coming on primarily to talk about iraq. so i believe the fact that she was table to get him on the show tells you this administration wants to talk about getting our troops out of iraq. they really want to talk about it. so they're very proud of this number of four out of five americans supporting them in this policy move. up next, rumbling with romney. we'll meet a vietnam veteran who locked horns with mitt romney in new hampshire over same-sex marriage. the vet, bob garon, said the exchange changed his mind about romney. this is "hardball," only on msnbc. deer. fish. fantastic. ♪ this holiday, chevy's giving more. now qualified buyers can get 0% apr for 72 months on a 2011 chevy silverado. or 0% apr financing for 60 months plus no monthly payments until spring.
♪ i have to be a tree in the school play. good. you like trees. well, i like climbing them, but i've never been one. good point. ( captain ) this is your captain speaking. annie gets to be the princess. oh... but she has to kiss a boy. and he's dressed up like a big green frog ! ewww. ( announcer ) fly without putting your life on pause. be yourself nonstop. american airlines. we'll be right back with a vietnam vet who is gay, who got into a heated exchange with mitt romney over same-sex marriage. we'll be right back.
[ knock on door ] cool. you found it. wow. nice place. yeah. [ chuckles ] the family thinks i'm out shipping these. smooth move. you used priority mail flat rate boxes. if it fits, it ships for a low, flat rate. paid for postage online and arranged a free pickup. and i'm gonna track them online, too. nice. between those boxes and this place, i'm totally staying sane this year. do i smell snickerdoodles? maybe. [ timer dings ] got to go. priority mail flat rate shipping at usps.com. a simpler way to ship. ttd# 1-800-345-2550 let's talk about the typical financial consultation ttd# 1-800-345-2550 when companies try to sell you something off their menu ttd# 1-800-345-2550 instead of trying to understand what you really need. ttd# 1-800-345-2550 ttd# 1-800-345-2550 at charles schwab, we provide ttd# 1-800-345-2550 a full range of financial products, ttd# 1-800-345-2550 even if they're not ours. ttd# 1-800-345-2550 and we listen before making our recommendations, ttd# 1-800-345-2550 so we can offer practical ideas that make sense for you. ttd# 1-800-345-2550 ttd# 1-800-345-2550 so talk to chuck, and see how we can help you, not sell you.
ttd# 1-800-345-2550 premier of the packed bag. you know organization is key... and so is having a trusted assistant. and you...rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle...and go. you can even take a full-size or above and still pay the mid-size price. here we are... [ male announcer ] and there you go, business pro. there you go. go national. go like a pro.
we're back. yesterday, mitt romney found out just how precarious retail politics can be when he was confronted by a voter on the issue of gay marriage. let's take a listen. >> i believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. the defense of marriage act that exists in washington today defines benefits, whether for veterans or for non-veterans, as between married spouses, and for me, that's a man and a woman. we apparently disagree on that. >> if you do not believe that everybody is entitled to their constitutional right. >> i think at the time that the constitution was written marriage is between between a man and a woman.
>> new hampshire is right. you have to look a man in the eye to get a good answer. >> good luck, governor. appreciate it. >> you're going to need it. >> you are right the man who peppered romney with those questions about his views on gay rights and same-sex marriage. bob garen is a vietnam veteran who is gay and describes himself as an independent voter. bob, you certainly got involved there in what we call retail politics, talking to a guy who was fairly recently the front-runner. what was your reaction as a man, a gay man, to his statement he made to you? >> well, i congratulated him for answering the question the way i asked it. in the beginning i asked him, i said, i've got a question for you, but please give me a yes or no answer without any political hype. and he did. and it disappointed my feelings about the man.
i was leaning toward governor romney as an independent voter. however, my concerns when i asked him whether he would support or repeal in the marriage laws in new hampshire, he made it very clear that he would repeal it. and that was unacceptable. >> what did you make of -- bob, what did you make of him going back to the original intent of the founding fathers as his defense? i mean, that sounded like scalia talking. most people recognize the constitution has taken different meanings over the years, because times have changed. i mean, there's no reference to an air force, for example, in the constitution. there are things we really didn't have to deal with back then. one of them is mores, attitudes about sexuality and orientation that weren't prevalent at the time. were you surprised he took that sort of old conservative argument, oh, that's not the way ben franklin looked at it?
by the way, we have no idea how they really looked at it. what did you make of that? >> i was very surprised. first, i'm not a professor of the constitution. i didn't know he was, either. i didn't know that the constitution made it clear what a marriage was between a man or a woman. i -- it's nowhere in the constitution that i can remember that it says anything about that. here's a man that plans to be in the white house and apparently he doesn't know about the constitution either. i was dumbfounded. i just don't know where he came up with that kind of information. >> well, are you -- boy, i'm supportive of your position, but i have to be tough. are you a one-issue voter? in other words, if you find out one candidate, for example, barack obama, is for civil unions but you think he's probably more liberal than he's willing to say, and you have mitt romney who may be more liberal than you care to say. are you the kind of person that
will vote on that basis? >> no. i don't rely just on one particular issue. there's a lot of factors when i consider a candidate for the office of the president. the economy, the jobs, the homeless, the list goes on. but i am really concerned about a man that's going to go in the white house that isn't open minded or even willing to entertain an idea that's a little different than how he feels. i don't like to be told how this veteran can -- go ahead. >> you know what, you did something neither governor romney or i did. you served in vietnam. thank you for your service, sir. i hope your experience as a soldier over there is good as any other soldier's. thank you so much for coming on, bob garon, for serving our
country in a way neither mitt romney nor i did. thank you. >> thank you, chris. we're going to return with the finishes of joys of traveling in this country which i've gotten to do. i've been in boston, minneapolis, san francisco, philly. everywhere on this book for john f. kennedy and what i've learned. ♪ the weather outside is frightful ♪ ♪ but the fire is so delightful ♪ nothing melts away the cold like a hot, delicious bowl of chicken noodle soup from campbell's. ♪ let it snow, let it snow ♪ it's nice to see you ♪ in my bed ♪ ♪ there are diamonds in her eyes ♪ ♪ ♪ and they sparkle in the night ♪ ♪ when the moment comes alive [ male announcer ] this is your moment. this is zales, the diamond store.
take up to an extra 15 percent off storewide now through sunday. an this was the gulf's best 15 tourism season in years. all because so many people wanted to visit us... in louisiana. they came to see us in florida... nice try, they came to hang out with us in alabama... once folks heard mississippi had the welcome sign out, they couldn't wait to get here. this year was great but next year's gonna be even better. and anyone who knows the gulf knows that winter is primetime fun time. the sun's out and the water's beautiful. you can go deep sea fishing for amberjack, grouper and mackerel. our golf courses are open. our bed and breakfast have special rates. and migrating waterfowl from all over make this a bird watcher's paradise. so if you missed it earlier this year, come on down. if you've already been here come on back... to mississippi... florida... louisiana... alabama. the gulf's america's get-a-way spot no matter where you go. so come on down and help make 2012 an even better year for tourism on the gulf.
in washington earlier this afternoon. my last speech in a six-week multi-city tour for my book "jack kennedy: elusive hero." the head of the national archives, david ferraro, gave me a copy of a hand scribbled set of notes, look at them there, that jack kennedy used in giving the most famous speech in the cold war. his address in june of '63 in west berlin. here's the notes and the speech. >> today in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is ich bein ein, bearleener. >> look at the notes he was handing in his hands. those german pronunciations president kennedy brought with him that day. ben bradley working for "newsweek" remembers kennedy practicing those words in german in the car as they approached the city hall. you know, the things that have impressed me the past six weeks of riding around the country across the country is the
warmth and seeing people's faces when they hear about the days of the kennedy era. it's so powerful. so compelling to hear people, and i guess it's just natural for them to ask how can we get it all back. people who love their country want to see it at its best again. they want to see us going for more civil rights, for sending peace corps people around the world, somewhere again shooting for the moon. they want to be united again in common national purpose. they want that feeling again and one of the greatest experiences going out to the cities from portsmouth, new hampshire, to san francisco and meeting people who watch "hardball," by way, and care deeply about this country. i see it in their faces. i'm asking for those looking for a book, by the way. here's the pitch for this holiday season to get copies of "jack kennedy: elusive hero," a warm feeling you'll get about a really good part of our history. the story of a young man and his rise from world war ii hero who saved his crew in that war to the president who saved the country and the world in the cuban missile crisis. it's the positive compelling hopeful story i know america needs now more than ever. it's the most personal look yet, i think, of the 35th president.