tv Morning Joe MSNBC December 28, 2011 3:00am-6:00am PST
destroyed? i don't care if the iranians get a nuclear weapon? i think it's very difficult to see how you would engage in dealing with ron paul given -- given the newsletters which he has not disowned -- >> you could not vote for ron paul? >> he would have to go a long way to explain himself and it would be very difficult to see today ron paul as the republican nominee. >> what would you do if the choice was ron paul or barack obama? >> what would you do? >> i don't know. all i'd say, mitt, is if you want to attack people, at least be man enough to own it. that's your staff, and that's your organization those are your millionaire friends paying for it. and let's be clear. i wanted to fight for real job creation with a real reagan camp style job creation program. republican who, in fact, is very timid about job creation. let's get it on together and compare our two plans. >> let's get it on together says
newt gingrich. good morpg, it's wednesday, december 28th, welcome to "morning joe." joining me onset. . nbc news political analyst also co-anchor of squawk on the street, david faber. welcome all. >> good morning. >> so, newt gingrich, governor rendell, he's not going to go negative unless he's threatened in any way by someone. ron paul right up near the top of the polls, so he goes half ron paul. mitt romney he's challenging to a duel. he's threatened and as mitt romney as you point out on the cover of a lot of newspapers, looking comfortable. >> newt is reverting back to be newt. and it's always good copy. i don't know if you noticed in that pets for newt. pets had diamond-studded collars on. that explains the tiffany line of credit.
but newt's lowered his expectations. he's talking about a few weeks ago -- he's talking about i'm the nominee, and now he's talking about coming in the top three or four. romney looks good, but he could finish fourth and it wouldn't surprise anybody. this is like nothing i've ever seen. >> richard in washington, we're six days away from voting finally after all of this talk and debating. where are we right now? mitt romney seems to like where he's sitting. ron paul certainly could pull this out, as well. >> well, the truth is at this point in iowa, nobody actually knows. and that's partly because it's not just a fluid year, but it's all about turnout and predicting turnout is the key. we just don't know where they are on that scale. you know, the "des moines register" poll is normally the most predictable. and that's been moving around all over the place. what you have at this point is a projection of strength. and that's what romney's been doing very well for the last year even when he hadn't had a front-runner poll rating to justify that term.
if you put a gun to my head, i'd say ron paul's organization, his momentum is timing right. the democratic operative who basically ran the obama campaign in iowa like to say you've got to get hot at the end. he wasn't talking about newt gingrich's kind of heat. but you've got to time the rising right. and ron paul's timing seems to be right. doesn't matter about the fit or he's too crazy or unpredictable or have any momentum moving forward, but he does seem to be in a strong position. how many tickets are there coming out of iowa? i suspect there are not three, there are two. and so the competition here is for second or third place and that's romney and gingrich again. >> a few weeks ago we thought newt gingrich's timing was perfect. he's begun to fizzle a little bit. ron paul's campaign responded to the remarks from newt gingrich saying in part, frustration from his floundering campaign has
newt gingrich showing who he really is, a divisive big government liberal. newt has a long record of standing against conservatives dating back to his support over liberal nelson rockefeller over barry goldwater, so this childish outburst is nothing new. mike barnicle, you've been sitting comfortably over the holidays in the boston area watching this. what do you think? >> let's take a look at the field. >> uh-oh. >> you have ron paul, woo. you have newt gingrich, double woo! you have michele bachmann, you have rick santorum, you have mitt romney. and then ask yourself this, what do you figure barack obama asked for christmas? he got it, the republican field. i mean it's amazing what they're doing out there in iowa, what they're doing across the country. it is a clown show. in a country that is filled with people who are anxious about
their economic features, anxious about their children's educational futures, anxious about their families' futures. in a country like this with the poll results seemingly so negative about people's prospects for the future, you have this clown show setting up barack obama's successful, right now, i would say, reelection. >> it's interesting you use that term, the boston herald came out yesterday endorsing mitt romney, which could have impact in new hampshire, putting the support behind the former massachusetts governor calling him a standout in a "republican clown car." the editorial went on to say it's been an entertaining several months, but really now, does anyone see even the remotest possibility of any of those folks taking the oath on the capitol steps on january 20th, 2013. there's only one with the integrity, the experience, the organizational strength, and intelligence to beat barack obama, that man is mitt romney. >> willie, we've been saying
that all along. move it forward a few months. can you see anybody other than mitt romney making the acceptance speech at the republican convention? it's impossible to fathom. and what do you think about the reference ron paul made to picking rockefeller over goldwater. that was half a century ago. that's pretty stunning. >> you know, governor, what's stunning about the ron paul campaign is, listen, i don't want to indict his followers that probably, you know, mostly really good people. but the fact that this guy's background and his beliefs have not been covered up until quite recently, up until the last week is the indictment of the media. basically played the moral equivalency card of the united states that we were partially responsible for september 11th. stuff like that, crazy, lunatic fringe stuff and yet, you know, we've covered him as if he's a quaint little old country doctor, he's not. >> well, i think a lot of people
in the media never took his candidacy seriously enough and didn't dig in enough. let's talk about economics, your beat. the message for mitt romney has been and continues to be in iowa. he's up with an ad saying he's a competent businessman. he's the man you want at the helm. this economy is sliding back ward, he's the manager who can take us back from the brink. is that a winning message from here? is that a credible message from mitt romney? >> it's probably the main message he's got to stick with as we head into next year. with the unemployment rate still at 8.6%, we all know it's most likely going to be the defining issue of the election less than a year from now. and his experience as a business leader, and at some point we'll probably get into a little more exploration of that in terms of private equity. but ultimately he's falling back on that to say i'm the guy. i'm the guy who can figure out how to create jobs in this economy. and i can't imagine that that
will change. and one would imagine that he will be the single most significant threat to president obama if, in fact, he gets -- >> there's still the achilles heel there, willie. he can say that and his background puts him in a position to say it. but when you peel back i'm the guy that can create jobs, it's basically the same old rhetoric. cut taxes, reduce regulations. there's nothing new, there's nothing stimulative about it. what did you want to do about the infrastructure? is he going to make significant investments in the infrastructure? and if so, how? those are the questions that need to be asked. and he's winning on competence. he's winning because he's a competent guy who has run things very successfully. the olympics, a good example. that's his long suit, even better than being a businessman, he's competent. the president, good guy, isn't, he's competent. >> where are those rockefeller republicans, by the way? >> long gone. >> call mike barnicle. >> is the criticism of bain
capital, which we've heard from the white house and other republican candidates, is it fair to say that what they did, and there's been a lot written and talked about about this, that they would take over a company and the partisan attack is, and fire a bunch of people. the idea he ran businesses is not a good argument for him. that's the way the partisan attack goes. is that fair? >> well, there's certainly a fair part of it, yeah. the playbook to a certain extent and the private equity industry is to take over a company and try to create as much efficiency as you can. of course, that's the way you're supposed to do things in a capitalist economy. and they did fire people. but there are also examples of where they put a company in a better situation where it was ultimately able to grow and hire people. so like everything, it's not completely clear, but there are going to be instances they're going to go after him and say, look, you took over this company, you slashed the workforce by 30%, what good did that do, except for a small amount of people who made an enormous amount of money, which is how private equity works.
>> and the romney comeback to that is, mr. president, you took over the car companies, fired a bunch of people and made them healthy again. >> he's got two -- one on balance, bain created more jobs than it fired, number one. and sometimes as governor i had to look at putting money into saving a company even though the company was going to go from 1,400 workers to 1,100 workers. we lose 300, but we saved 1,100. >> richard, i want to get your take on this question. we have the one 50-year-old reference. we got another 50-year-old reference from mitt romney yesterday. not necessarily staying above the fray, mocking newt gingrich for failing to qualify for the virginia primary ballot. the gingrich campaign compared that failure to the attacks on pearl harbor. but mitt romney compared it to an episode of "i love lucy." watch this. >> what do you think of speaker gingrich not getting enough people on the ballot?
>> you know what? i think he compared that to pearl harbor? i think it's more like lucille ball at the chocolate factory. i mean, so you've got to get it organized. >> mitt romney made fun of you today. i don't know if you heard. did you hear about this? he's comparing you to lucille ball when she was at the chocolate -- >> i have a message for mitt romney. i'll meet him anywhere in iowa for 90 minutes, just the two of us in a debate with a time keeper, no moderator. i'd love to have him say that to my face. >> as david faber says, no guns, just knives. an abandoned warehouse somewhere. richard, that goes back to the competence message that mitt romney has. he says, look, newt gingrich can't even get himself on the ballot in his home state and he wants to be president. please. that's essentially what he's saying there. >> look, the subtext, by the way. he's comparing him to a woman and newt gingrich saying he
needs to man up. this is childish stuff. it's very entertaining. what you have here is, yeah, the gingrich campaign has completely failed at one of the most basic tests, getting on the ballot. it's not rocket science, it's his home state. could he not find, you know, the rotary club or someone to help him out here? and there are beyond the personal rivalries. you know, it's a big country, but the rules of this election are obvious for anyone. the fact that gingrich has not been able to respond on air in anything other than the free media he gets from talking to wolf blitzer or anyone else, the fact he hasn't been able to organize even though, you know, his rise in the polls is now several weeks old, which in this race is more like several months in dog years. so, you know, he just hasn't crossed that bar of being able to run anything. and that does give romney
something. it shows a certain degree of competence. i just don't think the republican party as a -- as a group of people is looking for competence as one of their top ten issues. what they want is fire, they want passion, and here you have mitt romney coming up with this nice quip although, i guess, he hasn't been watching jersey shore. there's nothing more recent on his dvr. but it was so scripted. even the gaze out into the middle distance. you know he had been working on that. his advisers put it in his back pocket and he didn't have to think that hard. >> romney and paul were the only two who got on the ballot in virginia. mike barnicle. less than two weeks to the state of new hampshire, the polls up there show romney with about a 20% lead there. what are you hearing out of that state? >> yeah, romney's doing very well in new hampshire. worked very hard, a terrific on the ground organization. it's been up there in place for
over a year. obviously it's sort of an adopted home state of his. he has a home in new hampshire. he's going to win new hampshire by a substantial margin, i think. the gingrich thing is continually fascinating, though. gingrich gained ground in new hampshire, seems to have receded a bit over the last ten days. you get the impression from listening to gingrich and that clip proves the point about to be made, i hope. no matter what you say about gingrich, you can insult his hair, wife, dog, whatever, all he wants to do is challenge you to a debate. he has no other retort other than, yeah, well, 90 minutes you and i, let's get it on, no rules, let's debate this thing. i mean, you can't -- the comic value of this primary is off the charts. >> and looks like romney will come out of new hampshire at least. >> i want to go back to something that richard said. he said competence is not in the
top ten issues for republican voters. and may be so for republican primary voters. >> right. >> if you're making the case to defeat the president in the fall, i think competence has got to be right there up at the top, which is why i think that romney still runs by far better than anybody else head to head against the president. americans want their president to be competent. the fact that newt gingrich couldn't run a competent campaign in virginia is important to a lot of voters because campaigns matter. >> you're talking about the suburbs of philadelphia and places like that where he'll have to win. big news out of washington yesterday, blow to democrats' hopes to retain their majority in the senate. ben nelson announcing he will not seek reelection. he made the announcement in the youtube video. >> i also feel it's time for me to step away from elective office, spend more time with my family, and look for new ways to serve our state and nation. therefore i'm announcing today that i will not seek
re-election. simply put, it's time to move on. >> democrats had rallied around the vulnerable two-term senator contributing more than $1.5 million to his $3 million war chest. his support of obama's 2009 health care legislation may have been the final straw for nebraska voters. an op-ed in today's "wall street journal" entitled "obama care's latest casualty." said mr. nelson ultimately provided the 60th and final senate vote to pass obamacare at 1:00 a.m. two christmas eves ago. in march 2010 that only needed a simple majority of 51 senators. by then, his opposition was irrelevant. richard wolf, ben nelson's departure means what? >> well, he obviously wants to spend more time with his family. i don't know why you have a hard time believing that. >> beyond that, richard. >> it was always at least a
toss-up as they'd say down here. and that doesn't really affect things hugely, but what's hard is as ben nelson had obviously a huge name recognition in nebraska. and being an incumbent really matters. incumbents have pulled it off in the last cycle. think about harry reid facing tough odds in nevada. it wasn't by a narrow margin in the end. a lot depends on who the republicans pick. there are some tea party folks running in that republican primary. it's just a very upheld battle for democrats to keep hold of the senate. there's too many seats up there. i don't care was the real issue for ben nelson. you know, the reason ben nelson finds himself in the same position as newt gingrich and mitt romney is that the president's health care reform was essentially a republican idea. you can't blame nelson for thinking that health care would be okay in nebraska. >> yeah. and now have seven democrats leaving the senate at the end of the current term. >> worst part, willie, though,
another moderate leaves. we're winding up with two polarized parties that may never agree on anything. >> willie -- >> yeah? >> i want to spend some more time with my family so i don't have to be here all morning. what is wrong -- >> you're dismissed. >> what is wrong with these people who go to washington? i want to spend more time with my family? why not tell the truth? look, i don't want to spend half the time for the next year raising more money and end up losing? why not say that? >> go be with your family. >> his family doesn't want him. >> our most memorable interviews of the year, including new jersey governor chris christie, george clooney, and betty white, all this morning, if you can believe it. also the morning joe year end review. declared 2011 the year of the
protester, we decided to go in another direction. first up, bill karins with a look at the forecast. >> we did more tree trimming in new england last night. winds gusted up to 70 miles per hour in coastal areas of rhode island, we have about couple hundred thousands people affected by this storm. and we still have a lot of people without power this morning. the winds are downright now. we've got about 35-mile-per-hour gusts in pittsburgh, a windy, blustery day as that storm leaves a little bit of snow coming off the lakes near buffalo and snow squalls near pittsburgh. shouldn't cause you travel trouble. today, it's going to be chilly, even though temperatures in the low 40s. it'll feel like the 30s with the wind gusting all afternoon and cold air coming into detroit and buffalo. chicago on the cool side, the storm system in the pacific northwest, mostly rain, but we will get some snow in the high elevations. a great day from texas to florida and a sneak peek at tomorrow. more of the same. we don't have any more big storms on the way as we approach the new year.
welcome back to "morning joe." let's take a look at some of the morning papers. we begin with the parade of papers in the "savannah morning kn news." paula deen's cooking bible named the unhealthyiest of 2011. the term low-fat appears once in some 450 pages, but she doesn't pretend to be low fat. she makes no apologies. and yes, that was our lead headline in the newspapers. the financial times says north korea marking the end of an era of leadership today.
tens of thousands of mourners attended the funeral of kim jong-il. his son and successor kim jong-un led the procession that snaked 500 miles in the snow-covered streets in the country's capital. it featured rows of soldiers, massive crowds of citizens beating their chest and weeping as the motorcade passed by. the "wall street journal," the obama administration declining to label china a currency manipulator after seeing recent increases in the value of the yuan against the dollar. the artificial devaluing is helping china to gain trade advantage. cheaper currency makes chinese goods less expensive in the u.s. while making american products more expensive in china. both could increase the trade deficit with china which is on pace to hit a record high this year. david, this is kind of a sensitive subject here when you're dealing with china, you don't want to outright call them currency manipulators, but
that's what's going on right now. >> the currency is higher than it should be. and that makes their goods cheaper and more competitive. tensions with china are going to continue on a number of fronts. at the end of the day, though, they are our banker, let's not forget that. they own over $1 trillion of our debt. and that is not going to change any time soon. the fear i think on many parts is that you enter a trade war, and that's something you want to avoid with tariffs going either way or both ways. and that has already started, as well. we've seen that in china in part on u.s. auto manufacturing. and so that's a concern. but, you know, as we move into next year, it's hard to imagine these tensions whether over currency or something else like corporate espionage, which is in the business community becoming a bigger and bigger issue, not talked about as much because corporations don't want you to know that the chinese have hacked into their system. but let me tell you, this is happening a lot. in fact, the chamber of
commerce. the u.s. chamber of commerce recently was hacked by chinese. many people go to work every day in china as part of the government, we believe, whose job it is to ultimately find secrets from u.s. corporations. i'm bringing up another area where there conceivably be increased tensions with china. it's going to be a key. we focus so much on the u.s. economy for this election, it's hard not to imagine that these are the issues the next president will be dealing with front and center. >> for all the talk of rising china over the last several years. you hear bubble talk. whether it's housing or trade or anything else, is there a bubble forming in china right now? >> you know, i mean, right, paul krugman, i think, last week, couple of weeks ago writing a column on that. it's hard to know. the statistics themselves are always hard to judge. we have to downgrade them to a certain extent. we know this is an economy that's growing very rapidly, bringing 300 or 400 million people from rural areas into the cities. a migration of which the world history has never really seen.
it's an incredible thing going on in china and will continue. but there is concern that ultimately there are bubbles in the economy. is that across the board? will it truly collapse in some calamitous way? it's hard to imagine, but a concern. >> going awfully fast. let's turn to politico, politico's maggie haberman. good to have you in studio. >> thanks for having me. >> we're talking about third party run. could there be a third party candidate? is it picking up steam, a, and, b, is it a possibility at this point? >> it is. they're not disclosing, but they have gotten on the ballot in 13 states and they're making a push to get on in all 50 states. they got on in california, which is pretty tough. if they nominate someone conservative, that could help
the president. if they don't nominate someone conservative and they talk about centrists and finding someone in the middle, that could end up being problem mat i think for president obama. we do hear this, right? about every four years. there's going to been an independent run and it's going to change everything. mike bloomberg was going to be it in '07. what does make it different for me, was when they did a briefing with reporters a couple of weeks ago or a week ago, they talked about this. talked about americans elect. they'd clearly looked at it. i was surprised. so they are aware that in sort of an unusual climate and unusual circumstance like this group, things could be a little different. do i think an independent can win the presidency? no, but there's room for somebody to impact. >> who is that person? ron paul's been asked over and over again, will you run as a third party candidate? he's deflected that for now. let's say he ran, he hurts the republican and helps the
president. >> he could be a real problem. you could also have a scenario where you have a couple of people running as independents. we have today gary johnson who there's been a lot of hype about the fact he's about to switch he has registration and leave the gop and try to run on the libertarian line. gary johnson was registering very low on the polls in the gop, i don't think there's a huge difference for him here. but i do think there is going to be certainly a lot of media interest in the third party candidacy and a lot of attention. >> don't you think that the only one that could make an impact on the fall election is ron paul? >> i do, absolutely. we're talking about right now, absolutely. i can't rule out this group, americans elect depending on who they get. there's some speculation we will see another rerise of bloomberg group. >> at the end of the day, is it sort of a fun media parlor game? >> more than anything else, but with a chance with a little bit of impact this time. >> too much stands in the way. you need too much money and need to get on too many ballots.
we'll see you in iowa in a couple of days. coming up next, the nfl pro bowl rosters are out. i know you don't care about that, but it's interesting because tim tebow's name is in the frconversation. we're pleased to recognize another of our innovators in the classroom. here's a fifth grade teacher who started an independent reading program that in just three weeks has boosted test scores. >> my name is erin cottman, and i'm a fifth grade reading teacher in atlanta, georgia. >> give them to me -- >> most of my students are low-income students and i wasn't really satisfied with their scores. kind of felt like something wasn't working, something's not right, i need to do something else. it was a long process, about a month or so, and we identified the reading level of all the books we have as well as the reading level of the children. and then i color coated the system.
this would give the children the opportunity to pick books that would be on their reading level. and instead of mrs. cottman mandate what they're going to read, we did choices. we got some test scores back and they grew 10 percentage points. for me, that's great. i'm going to make them good readers and lifelong readers, i have to let them make the choice. progresso. it fits! fantastic! [ man ] pro-gresso they fit! okay-y... okay??? i've been eating progresso and now my favorite old jeans...fit. okay is there a woman i can talk to? [ male announcer ] progresso. 40 soups 100 calories or less. let's do it, let's go to vegas. vegas baby! maybe we should head back to the dealership first? vegas! no, this is a test drive. vegas!
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all right. quick sports. tom brady, aaron rogers, very worst all star game, the pro bowl. when it comes to who made the cut, look at the team records. brady one of eight patriots selected to the roster. both of those teams are 12-3, the packers and the 11-4 raiders had seven selections. green bay has lost one all year. 6-9 bills, titans have a winning record but didn't get anybody on the team either. 12-time pro bowl linebacker lewis, he'll be back, and denver rookie, von miller. tim tebow not selected, but denver post is reporting tebow is the second alternate for the
afc. that means tebow could be added to the roster if other quarterbacks decline to play. a, if they play in the super bowl, they don't play in the pro bowl. if they're injured or nicked up, they opt out, or sometimes these days don't want to go. tim tebow could be playing in the pro bowl, a guy who throws about, 7 for 23 every sunday afternoon. >> that's fine. the biggest outrage here is the omission of matthew stafford, detroit lions quarterback. the lions are going to the playoffs for the first time since 1957. >> how about the lions? they might be coming here to play the giants if they can sneak into the playoffs. mike barnicle, i know you need to get back to your family. such a blessed time for you. we'll see you later. coming up later, our interview with new jersey governor chris christie.
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welcome back to "morning joe." in the final weeks before the iowa caucus, republican governor of new jersey chris christie has been playing wing man for mitt romney. in this "morning joe" rewind, we got a dose of christie's jersey straight talk on his pick for the 2012 republican race. >> i'd like to know exactly why mitt romney, the candidate of your choice -- >> yes, ma'am. >> i'm not sure i fully believe, but i'll go with it. i'll take your word. i'll keep walking. >> i'm ready. i'm ready. >> how do we expect him to reach across the aisle if he can't get to his base and get his party to get on board with him at this late stage in the game? >> one thing i've observed with politics is, everything's
baloney until you start voting. nobody's voted yet. and i'm saying this is determined -- mika's saying he can't get his base -- >> we've been doing this for a long time. >> he's going to be the republican nominee for president. and when he is, he's proven before he can reach across the aisle. he was the governor of massachusetts with an overwhelmingly democratic legislature and got things done in massachusetts there. that's something that barack obama has never in his life proven he can do. voting present in the legislature doesn't count. not voting and not showing up in the united states senate doesn't count. if he wanted to continue to be a bystand bystander, he could've stayed in congress his whole career. it's time to be held accountable. and he has not stood up the test of leadership. mitt romney's done that before and i think when you see it come down to a choice between mitt romney and barack obama, you're going to see one person who has had executive leadership in the private sector and as governor and someone who is still searching around in the darkroom for leadership. >> mark haleprin?
>> what have you heard from your fellow republican governors and other leading republicans about what would happen if newt gingrich were at the top of the ticket for your party? >> look, i think that the problem for us if speaker gingrich were at the top is the election would be about speaker gingrich and not about the president. and i think as republicans, this election has to be first and foremost about the president. and i think the speaker can't help himself but make himself the center of attention all the time. as a result, while some of his ideas i think are fine, i think some of them aren't, and in the end, he's going to carry so much of that into an election that the election's going to be about newt gingrich and i don't think that's a good thing for our party. >> would he be a good candidate for new jersey? >> no, he would not. new jersey is a tough state for any republican. but i think that new jerseyans have a long memory about his time as speaker of the house. he was very unpopular back then. >> why? >> i think people saw him as uncompromising and incendiary
when he was speaker. >> if you look at his voting record, over 90% acu, lifetime voting record over three decades in the house. he balanced the budget, helped lead the charge of balance the budget for the first time in the generation, balanced it for the first time since the 1920s. if you look at his record, it's a very conservative record. it's historically conservative. >> i don't think -- i don't know whether i agree with it being historically conservative. but here's the bottom line -- >> what was accomplished from '95 through '98? >> well, i think if you talk to john kasich, he would tell you it wasn't solely because of newt gingrich. many of them would say it was in spite of newt gingrich. that's one thing. secondly what i'd tell you too is as a governor, i know now after two years of doing this job, there's nothing that teaches you how to lead and how to make executive decisions like
having to make them. he's never had to make them. and i think we've gone down the road of having -- >> is that barack obama? >> yeah. >> is that why we don't elect senators. >> i think that's typically why we don't because folks in the senate and the house don't have to make decisions. there's always a subcommittee vote that i voted the other way, i passed an amendment to the bill, and they never have to take responsibility. when you're a governor, you have to take responsibility. in new jersey, in the end, i'm held responsible for what's going on, so i've got to make things work with a democratic legislature and a divided government. >> the media acts as if the first two years of the obama presidency never took place. they act as if this president didn't have a filibuster proof senate, did not have a 79-vote majority, and we hear time and time again that the republicans have derailed the obama presidency because he's lost one chamber. it is a ridiculous argument. >> listen, i couldn't agree more. >> thank you.
>> and i'll tell you something else, though, i think the president has forgotten about that. >> yeah, well -- >> and the president doesn't want to talk about it because he's in reelect mode. he's decided to fritter away the last quarter of the year here running for reelection. i have -- i've had to face much tougher things in new jersey from a political perspective than he has. i have a state that's overwhelmingly democratic, a legislature that's overwhelmingly democratic. yet, we've accomplished the things i mentioned before, plus balancing two budgets without raising taxes, created 60,000 new private sector jobs since i've been governor. before that, we lost 116,000 private sector jobs since the last year with jon corzine. and as of today, new jersey state government has less employees than 2001. we've made it smaller, smarter, less expensive for people and done that with a democratic legislature. if i ever had a filibuster proof
majority in my first two years. what do you think would've happened in new jersey? >> if a guy comes in and a legislator comes in and they need a curb cut, you're going to make the decision. make the decision. >> guess what, mike? it has nothing to do with ideology. you can look at andrew cuomo who i didn't think was going to do well as governor of new york state. but he comes in and immediately leads. >> that was impressive. >> leaders, there's something about leaders. >> so here's my question. why are we talking about newt gingrich and president obama when mitt romney is your candidate? i want to know why he can't own the stage in the same way. >> the fact is that i don't think -- let's talk about candidates who own the stage at this time. ronald reagan didn't own the stage in 1980 at this time. and he lost iowa to george bush 41. george bush 41 didn't own the stage at this point. he lost iowa. and had to fight for his life -- >> came in third place behind -- >> pat robertson. and my point to you is that at this stage, you're not expecting
someone to own the stage. when they actually get votes and win, that's when we know it. they don't own the stage because of polls and style exclusively. do i wish that mitt would be a little edgier and a little bolder? sure, and i've told him that, and he knows i feel that way. but he is he who he is. membership point is, still if you look at his qualifications, what he's done, of the people standing up on that stage offering themselves for president. he's so far and away the best qualified person of the republicans to be president that i know my party's going to nominate him. and when they do, the president's going to be in for a fight. >> new jersey governor chris christie, and we'll be right back with the year-end review.
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all right, it's time. 12 months of absurdity reduced to seven minutes. it's the year-end review. >> the united states has conducted an operation that killed osama bin laden. >> all day, all week, occupy wall street. >> breaking news out of japan where there has been a massive tsunami wave. >> these are the people that drove this revolution. >> 9-9-9 -- >> so you know what? it's turned out to be magical. >> duh, winning. >> the voices of 2011. a year whose arrival was announced by a golden voice that touched our lives. for about a week and a half. >> nothing but the best of oldies, you're listening to magic 98.9.
>> as soothing as his baritone may have been, it was the deep pipes of a former pizza executive that stayed with us this year. ♪ imagine there's no pizza >> deep dish. >> becky-becky-stan-stan. >> there was no sex? >> no. >> none? >> no. >> i believe these words came from the pokemon movie. >> the farewell closed a beautiful chapter in the year's bizarre race for the republican nomination. >> if he has a birth certificate, he should release it. >> uh, the -- commerce, i can't, the third one, i can't. >> didn't you owe $500,000 to a jewelry company at some point? >> go talk to tiffany's. >> because he -- >> are you a flake? >> i think that would be insulting. >> terrifying.
>> this is an unusual interview. all right. let's do it again. >> live free or die, victory or death, bring it. >> this year, washington suffered an actual earthquake. >> feel that? >> and some political tremors too. there were debt ceilings. >> pull off the band-aid, eat our peas. >> super committees. >> if you spend more than you earn, you lose your butt. >> and congressional deals from hell. >> but on the surface, looks like a satan sandwich. >> a long war brought to its end. >> the war in iraq will soon be brought to history. >> and a bright political career brought to its end by a tweet heard around the world. >> that's not a picture of you? >> i can't say with certitude. >> there were profiles and political courage like the montana state representative who fought to protect the right to drive drunk in big sky country. >> either you hitchhike or you drive. i promise you they're not going to hitchhike. >> the illinois state senator --
>> dollar dollar bill y'all, thank you. >> and the subtle warning against the forces of darkness that want to kill our grandmas. oprah and regis were not pushed off the cliff as far as we know. the icons stepped off the stage and the nation was forced for the first time in a generation to search for its own favorite things. alex trebeck, meanwhile, remained on television and haunted our dreams this year with the mind searing knowledge that he sleeps in the nude. >> i put on my underwear and ran down the hall. >> speaking of nudity, it was another strong year for the world leader who from time to time likes to fish topless. vladimir putin spent good portions of 2011 scuba diving and bending frying pans. not such a good year for moammar
gadhafi. after decades of terrorism, he met his end in a libyan drainage pipe. with masses in the streets demanding historic change around the world, one mass was in the street to celebrate the historic lack of change. america had its own royal wedding, and then 72 days later, a royal divorce. >> isn't it weird to think if i wanted to, i could throw you over the edge. >> it cost the united states its aaa rating, but we still have our heroes. richard simmons keeping us safe in the skies. meatloaf keeping gary busey honest. >> i'm the last person in the world you ever want to [ bleep ] with! >> and miss arkansas throwing her voice competitively. miss arkansas reminded us all of american exceptionalism as china began to shoep signs of
vulnerability. its leaders looking the open sit of threatening playing hoops and its senior citizens singing and dancing to lady gaga while wearing golf shirts and dockers. ♪ the competition for our 2011 person of the year was fierce. there was the kid in the darth vader super bowl commercial. there was the guy who tried and failed to rob a seven-eleven in a gumby costume. there was wendy murdoch pimp slacking the guy who tried to pie her husband rupert. there were the two old guys who scrapped on stage at a canadian football reunion. alas, there can be but three medallist, and only one who wears gold. the bronze goes to the mountain biker dominated by a 300-pound
leaping antelope, the silver to a crowd favorite who has become an internet hero, the coonskin cap eyewitness. >> he gets it, digging it like that, like dale jr. >> it was hard to believe there was someone better than that guy over the last 12 months or someone more entertaining than the cain/perry combo. >> if they print any more money over there in washington, the gold's going to be good. >> but there was. this year saw perhaps the greatest public meltdown in the history of american popular culture. our 2011 person of the year is the star of both "hot shots" and "hot shots part deux" mr. charlie sheen. >> i'm tired of pretending i'm not a rock star from mars. >> i've been riding on a mercury surf board. i'm a high priest war lock.
winner, winner sheen dinner. i am on a drug, it's called charlie sheen. rhymes with winning. i'm biwinning, i win here, win there, duh, winning. >> you see, america is still great. a big hour ahead. chris matthews joins us. also alex wagner right here onset. keep it here on "morning joe." [ male announcer ] you are a business pro. lord of the carry-on. sovereign of the security line. you never take an upgrade for granted. 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.
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candidate of davenport. gone is the candidate who would heal the nation. instead, the campaigner in chief divides americans. engages in class warfare and resorts to distortion and demagoguery. once barack obama appealed to our better angels, now he demonizes our fellow americans. >> welcome back to "morning joe," 7:00 in the morning, beautiful shot of the sun coming up over washington. governor ed rendell still with us onset, richard wolf in washington with us. and joining the table, chris matthews and the author of the book that has set up shop on the "new york times" best seller list, "jack kennedy: elusive hero." and alex wagner. good to see you all. >> thanks for having me. >> could you ever imagined what it's doing? >> no. i think at a time we're in right
now, which is unsettled and uneasy and angry, people want to go back to a time where they felt good about being an american and felt like a purpose. the key is purpose. we had to beat the soviet union and also be avoiding a third world war. it required intricacy and intelligence at the top and unity. and kennedy found a way to set us on a projectile to win the cold war without a war, which was everything, the peace corps, the alliance for progress, even the special forces. beating the soviets to the moon was a way of demonstrating to the third world that our economic system was better than theirs. it was thrilling to his ability to see how we had to go through this very difficult couple of years, 20 or 30 years to win the cold war, beat the soviet union without a nuclear war. the avoiding of the nuclear war was key. it's a hell of a story and i was lucky, i guess, to come out with it at a time when people want to hear it or do want to hear it
now. >> i was giving it out like candy for christmas. you figure what has not yet been said about jack kennedy -- >> well, i got into his diary he kept that nobody knew he kept a diary, nobody knew he'd begun his memoirs. and there was so much on tape from the white house that actually put on tape, fascinating conversations with people like douglas macarthur. i think 90% of reporting is getting out there and finding out it came from his headmaster, and finding out what jackie kennedy really said after he died. nobody looked at the notes that teddy white kept from that four-hour interview about her belief because of his marital behavior that his mother never loved him. she had very many strong theorys about jack and how he was jack. but boy did she love him. >> you talk about the cold war, the moon shot, the peace corps, these are big ideas he convinced the country we could do. what big idea should president obama have right now? and how should he convince the country?
>> you can't remake a person's brain soup. they are what they are. we always criticize politicians, but they wouldn't have gotten there if they didn't have something good about them. his ability to win. he ran against hillary clinton, nobody could beat hillary clinton and lost all the big states to her, and he found a way to get the electoral delegates. he found a way to do it. he has luck. he runs against alan keys for the u.s. senate. he may be lucky again. but i think this is a very difficult time and it's going to take more than luck in shanghai as rita heyworth said in movies. it's going to be a very challenging year for him ahead. >> he may be lucky given the nature of the field he's up against. on the republican side right now, alex, we look at what's happening in iowa and now six days away from the voting, finally, there'll be actual voting. where are we right now? mitt romney, we see him with a lot of smiles on his face in
pictures right now on the covers of newspapers. >> we see mitt romney trying to sort of pump the flesh in iowa. i think there's a great piece in today's "new york times" talking about how difficult it is for mitt romney to connect and, you know, it talks about a lot of romneyisms on the trail, guessing people's ages, the relation to the people they're sitting next to, usually incorrectly, graduating people for no reason at all. but the one -- the one area of strength i think he seems to have is when people come at him with something really unpala unpalatable and say you're wooden, should i vote for you? he brushes it off, windshield wipers in a way that no one else in the field quite can. but it does look like we're working toward the days where he is, in fact, the gop nominee. >> it was interesting in the way it was written. the "boston herald" put the support behind romney calling him a stand out in what they
called a republican clown car. the editorial went on to say it's been an entertaining several months, but really now, does anyone even see the remotest possibility of any of those folks taking the oath? there's only one candidate in the republican field with the integrity, experience, the organizational strength and the intelligence to beat barack obama, that man, governor ed n rende rendell, is mitt romney. he's competent, he stands there and the people around him on the debate stage do not look so competent. >> and that's his long suit. and we've been saying it for six months through the ebbs and flows of the other candidates, he's there, he's steady, he's competent. he's the perfect foil to run against the president. if you don't like the president, you don't want to elect somebody who makes you fearful. mitt romney doesn't make anybody fearful. those suburban voters in philadelphia that you talk about, chris, they're going to be at peace with mitt romney. >> i agree completely. they're not afraid of him. and i think -- i think that's
the biggest fear in the white house that they have an alternative that doesn't scare people. and right now what scares people is what's happening. it's a challenge. i tell you, this election is so tricky to predict. and i look at mitt romney who is so calm and not scary. and i look at him. and if he puts christie on the ticket and able to reach in on the kind of voters the governor was talking about in ohio and pennsylvania, it's not new jersey, that's a hard one to pull with them. get this guy from the northeast who connects with reagan democrats. it's not hispanics who decide this election, it's going to be the different ethnic group people who have been voting democrat and republican back and forth, probably split for obama last time. but this time they're uneasy about him. pick those men and women off. take pennsylvania. challenge pennsylvania even, but pick up ohio. that's how they do it. and the democratic strategy of going off to virginia and north carolina and try to pick up the mountain states of nevada and colorado, boy, that's a tricky,
tricky challenge, i think. this is going to be one heck of a campaign. and the president's got the chops to do it, it's from here to there. >> i also feel like to the christie pick for v.p. christie has a strong emotional core and a real personality and warmth. >> as opposed to the guy we were just talking about. >> yeah, opposed to mitt romney who has just sort of a gaping space, no one can hear you scream hole in his heart, apparently. i don't know. >> it's pretty good. >> you would never say that about chris christie and if we're talking about the yin and yang. >> people are very proud of their ethnic bauckground. he was going to different people -- >> bad idea. >> and say to people like, are you french-canadian and get somebody with an obviously italian name and say are you northern european?
what are you doing this for? >> there's only one thing to guess. you guess people's age and you always go low. >> that's right. >> the guy in the atlantic city boardwalk, he would guess you like two years under but not three years under because he wanted to make money. he'd make my mom feel so great. he still nicked it. he was that good. >> except romney's guessing saying, is this your sister? no, this is my wife. to the point of -- >> then they get reporters say was that an insult or not. i wasn't sure -- >> the woman said i wasn't sure if it was a compliment. maybe it was an insult. >> stop guessing -- >> what a strange thing for the guy that's not that good at the small talk and branching off into dangerous small talk. >> don't go there. richard wolf, let's talk about what the boston herald calls the clown show with newt gingrich fizzling a little bit here. is the clown show over? is this now mitt romney's race? >> no.
>> it's not over? >> no, because this race is going to run for months and months and months. and you know, you can easily see a situation where they go down to south carolina and florida, which by the way is several weeks away. again, in this cycle, several weeks is like several months. so mitt romney is really unlikely, even with some momentum coming out of one or both of those early states is really unlikely to make his comeback in south carolina or florida. so you could end up with three different winners out of the first three states. even super tuesday doesn't deliver a majority of delegates in that race. and that's plenty of time for these people to be reassessed, reevalua reevaluated, are they serious or not? and the critical question for the republican voters, do they want their howard dean or john kerry? do they want someone who looks presidential as governor rendell has said who can stand toe to toe with the president? or go with the spirit, the heart, with the scream? i don't think that's a resolved
question. i really don't. >> this may not be over yet, fans. there's a true book writer there. don't end this on the first chapter. i love the spirit of richard -- don't go away, fans, there's a lot more football here. >> a lot more ron paul where that came from. >> by the way, it does remind me of 1964, after kennedy was killed, the republicans didn't know who they were. they had an ambassador who was working for the democratic president at the time who won the new hampshire primary. they had a marital issue with governor rockefeller who had married a woman who left her kids behind and it was a very dangerous situation politically. just like this with newt. and so there's a lot of parallels to that crazy year. but the most important parallel to '64, they couldn't make up their minds. it was an unusual republican year. this year the whose turn it is, mitt romney, up against this sort of chaos where they do change their mind every two weeks.
think about it, donald trump was number one for a while. think about the clown car and who was in it. herman cain, by the way, fabulous, the gag reel. but when your candidate list looks like a gag reel, you're in trouble. and herman cain with the 9-9-9, that's not funny if you want to win this election. there's a lot of clowns in this car. and the republicans really have a -- still have a hard time. mitt romney can't get above 25%. we're going to see this tuesday if he can. but i don't think he can. and that's why i think ron paul's going to win next tuesday. somebody's always going to get above 25%, and it ain't going to be mitt romney in each event. if you look at each campaign, each primary, who can beat 25%? florida, i think the governor and i agree, that is the mitt romney chance to win a diverse state, southern florida's like new york -- or northern part of the country. northern florida's like southern
united states. as we saw in that fight over the florida primary, the results brought in the election of 2000, the recount, there's so much in florida. i think that's a good, diverse state where mitt romney ought to be able to pick up all those pieces and win that one. >> do you agree, governor, that this could be a long, protracted process? >> there are two scenarios. richard set forth a very good one. and that's a very strong possibility. and chris is right that romney doesn't get more than 25%, it's going to be a long, drawn out. but i think romney may be getting voters in iowa who say look, he's inevitable, he is saying i've got a vote for him, i've got to vote for him. and if he gets -- if he wins iowa and then he'll win new hampshire by more than 20 if he wins iowa, he'll lose in south carolina, but then he wins florida. i think it's over because no one has the money to stay with him. remember, it costs money to get on television. look what they've done to newt
gingrich with tv ads and newt gingrich's inability to respond. >> if he wins iowa, that's a heck of a premise if he does that, though. >> rick perry still hanging around, spending a ton of money. >> how? why? just because he has money in the bank that's the only reason he's being considered. >> he doesn't do anything. he doesn't know anything. he can't run for president -- this kim jong-un -- >> how about sotomayor and the eight justices. at least pick an odd number now. >> give him the test to become an american before they take office. >> the one thing rick perry has, he has chutspa. >> michele bachmann said that. he had this pledge, he was going to stay positive. he took a shot at mitt romney during an interview yesterday with wolf blitzer.
>> all i'd say, mitt, is, if you want to run a negative campaign and want to attack people, be man enough to own it. that's your staff and that's your organization, those are your millionaire friends paying for it. let's be clear, i'm willing to fight for real job creation with a real reagan camp style job creation program. you are a moderate massachusetts republican who, in fact, is very timid about job creation. let's get it on together and compare our two plans. you look at ron paul's total record of systemic avoidance of reality and look at his newsletters and his ads. >> now, if he were to get the republican nomination -- >> he won't. >> could you vote for him? >> no. >> what would you do? could you vote for president obama? >> if someone gets up and says i don't care if israel's destroyed, if i don't care if the iranians get a nuclear we?
i think it's very difficult to see how you would engage in dealing with ron paul as a nominee. given the newsletters he has not disowned. >> you could not vote for ron paul? >> he would have to go a long way to explain himself and it would be difficult to see ron paul as the republican nominee. >> what would you do if the choice were ron paul or barack obama? >> i don't know. >> ron paul's campaign responded to those remarks saying in part, frustration from his floundering campaign has newt gingrich showing who he really is, a divisive big government liberal. dating back to his support of rockefeller over barry goldwater. this sort of childish outburst is nothing new. that from the ron paul campaign. >> going back to '64 again. >> can i ask a question? you folks, i've always wondered because it's a word that gets used in the political context
all the way. what's the derivation of floundering? >> because i think a fish, flop -- >> it's the fish flopping around? >> you are floundering. >> a boat that founders is worse. >> word play with ed rendell and chris matthews and alex wagner. >> hey, richard, i miss the old above the fray newt gingrich. what happened to that guy? he was there for about 2 1/2 weeks and here he is back in the mud. >> well, he doesn't have money to do this on air in ads, and he has to do this kind of thing. i'm entertained by a man the tiffany's millionaire versus the wall street millionaire. one's $20 million, the other's worth $250 million. i don't see how this strategy's going to work, he's never going to sucker romney into it. i guess he sounds tough when he's with wolf blitzer. >> richard wolffe, thanks so
much. see you in iowa. >> you bet. >> at least someone's disavowing ron paul in that field. at least give gingrich credit for that. >> very big of you. and we'll get back to word association with the governor coming up -- >> flounder, picture that. george clooney's mission with sudan. he told us about his project to help end the violence there. and up next, chuck todd live from iowa just six days before the first votes are cast. chuck next on "morning joe." confidence, with depend in color. now available in gray. looks and fits like underwear. same great protection. depend.
what do you think of speaker gingrich not getting enough people on the ballot? >> you know what? i think you compare that to -- was it pearl harbor? it's more like lucille ball at the chocolate factory. so, i mean, you've got to get it organized. >> mitt romney made fun of you today. i don't know if you heard. did you hear about this? he's comparing you to lucille
ball -- >> i have a very simple message for mitt romney. i'll meet him anywhere in iowa for 90 minutes just the two of us in a debate with a time keeper, no moderator. i'd love to have him say that to my face. >> meet me any place, any time. what do you think about the lucille ball reference? that was september 1952. >> well, i'm thrilled that young people like you all know about that. that was how many years ago? >> there she is. there she is. >> lucy and desi, flounders, what else? >> i love the fact that some of our culture remains among us all. and this scene is such -- and it's a brilliant putdown. it is -- >> you know why, chris? because lucy's shown on cable. >> it's iconic too, like charlie brown with the football. you use it as a reference. >> everybody's been there where you have 50 things to do. the dream i have is going to the classroom i don't know where it is and i've got to take the exam that day and i'm trying to find the classroom.
i don't know where the registration office is -- it gets more complicated. i think i did this once, i ordered a russian class in summer one year and i thought i only did it once, why am i having this dream over and over again? >> i love this show. dream interpretation, word games. it's exciting. let's go to iowa. with us now from mason city, iowa, nbc news, political director, and host of "the daily rundown," chuck todd. he'll be interviewing newt gingrich later today. chuck, give us your latest dream from last night so we can interpret it for you. >> reporter: well, it was an hour and a half sleep, so you don't get the best dreams on that note. lots of driving here in lovely iowa. you've got to love it. mason city, by the way, i want to do other cultural references from the 1940s and '50s for you. mason city, music man is where they sort of lay claim to the music man and all of those 76
trombones, chris. but no, i think what we're watching over the next six days is, it's clear that everybody's tracking polls, shows ron paul ahead, and the only candidate that likes that is mitt romney. mitt romney's got two ways to win iowa. he either finishes first or finishes second of ron paul. and now all of a sudden you're seeing all of these other candidates start attacking ron paul. the problem they have, though, is that paul's support that's with them, it's not going anywhere. he's attracting sort of nontraditional republicans, nontraditional conservatives. so one wonders why they're spending a lot of effort doing that while the effort is really, one, can they consolidate the evangelical vote and call themselves the alternative to mitt romney. or two, somehow expand the number of people that show up to the caucuses, try to get more conservatives to show up to make that little part of the pie they're all splitting up a little bit bigger. >> alex? >> hey, chuck, it's alex wagner.
we've been hearing that paul is enlisting democrats and independents to caucus for him in iowa. and i'm wondering if any sort of the resurfacing of these allegations or the controversy around the newsletters has hurt him at all. if that's registering among these democrats and independents who are apparently paul supporters. >> well, i don't know, i think we've got to wait to see if it's going to resinate here in iowa. one thing about a negative, it's one thing for it to show in the "new york times" on cable, it's another thing if it shows up in paid advertising. and we haven't seen that yet. and maybe that goes to the issue that i think a lot of strategists wonder out here. are paul supporters simply devoted to ron paul, the sort of protest vote, anarchists, no, i'm going with the guy who wants to say no to everything and protest what's going on right now. and so it may not matter hitting
him on the edges. that said, you also bring up another point about paul, he can change the make-up of this electora electorate. he can make it a lot different, a lot more nonconservative and nonrepublican, which is why he has ceiling might be 23%, 24%, rather than what it is in every primary state, somewhere between 12%, 13%. >> you're going to be talking to newt gingrich later on. we've been watching a series of clips with him last night with wolf blitzer sounding a bit defensive to be generous. how was that campaign feeling six days ahead of the vote? >> well, they seem to be a little -- a lot nervous. i mean, i think they know their support's dropped dramatically. they're finally scrambling to get money on the air, more tv ads on the air. he doubled the amount of positive ads he's running. there's a super pack that's finally putting up ads on his behalf, a positive, and another
super pack out here starting some negative attacks on romney at least in direct mail and that might help him on the margins a little bit, trying to make the case that gingrich is the only conservative alternative. but it's hard. and one of the questions i have for him is how do we not judge his ability to be president by his ability to run his campaign? whether it was when it started seven months ago or the inability now to get on the virginia ballot. you know, all of those things add up. and while being president's a lot more difficult and a lot -- and stuff comes at you a lot quicker, at least a campaign does give you a small sense of maybe their managerial skills and stuff like that. and that's a question i have. >> we've also seen scaling back of events. how much can you tell us about that? he had this big bus tour as we can see from the vehicle behind you, but looks like half as many events as originally scheduled. what's that habit?
>> well, it's still a lot of events. he doesn't do an event quickly. one thing about gingrich at these town halls and events, he gives -- it's not his nature to just do a quick ten-minute coffee shop drive by, you know. he likes to have a longer conversation. i think for a lot of republicans it's part of his appeal. this is a case where his campaign is letting newt be newt. let him have three stops a day that are all, you know, an hour or two hours long rather than try to scramble -- mitt romney's very good at the glad handing. he's gotten better at it than he was four years ago. that's not newt. >> i wonder, chuck, you're the best by the way, these days -- and i just wonder if this isn't the first time out the caucuses next tuesday. a chance not to pick a president, but to to show what you really feel. and i wonder whether it is a chance for people who are truly libertarian to just say, you
know, okay, i'm going to vote for ron paul. he may not be the nominee, but i'm going to show what i think about government. i don't believe in government or foreign policy. i don't like all this foreign adventurism. the same thing with christian conservatives saying, you know, i'm going to vote for this guy santorum and rick perry and say i don't believe in abortion rights or same sex marriage and i'm going to say so. i'm going to walk out of that caucus with clean hands and i'm never going to have to say i held my nose. i'm going to vote for somebody i truly believe in. i think there's going to be a lot of that next tuesday where people say i'm going to be pure if nobody else is. i can't bring myself to vote for a newt gingrich or a mitt romney. i'm going to vote my belief and my feeling. isn't there going to be a big vote on -- i'm thinking of mike huckabee's vote. where's that 38% of pure christian belief going to go? where's that true libertarian spirit going to go? i don't think it's going to go to practicality and i've got to
go for this guy. what do you think? >> reporter: well, look, iowa's never shown that. especially on the republican side. they've never gone with pragmatism. there's always been sending a message, that's the history of the iowa republican caucuses, versus the democratic side where we've seen them go pragmatic, think john kerry in 2004. one is i do think one thing we -- you brought up about ron paul, iowa's a classic old-fashioned isolationist element inside this republican party. and so i do think that paul has appealed to that, as well. it's always been a little more dovish than hawkish on that scale even inside the republican party. but let's talk about that 38% on mike huckabee you mentioned. i think one of the reasons why mitt romney can sort of back into this, right, by just getting the sort of 30% of establishment republicans out
there and getting almost all of them for him, which could be a winning hand in a seven-way race is that huckabee vote's getting split up. santorum trying to get a piece of it. rick perry, you've got to follow him on the trail to see this, but he has done a major transformation into becoming a christian crusader of a candidate. talking about he's changed his position on abortion now. after watching the huckabee movie now, he's against abortion in all cases. there is no exception anymore for an abortion in rick perry's mind on this. he's trying to do that, santorum, bauchman, you know, they split all that up, 3 into 39, that's 13 for all three of them. >> perry came out with that the other day. rape, incest, no abortion under any -- >> it's all about that. >> chuck todd, thanks so much. live mason city, iowa, in front
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i also feel it's time for me to step away from elective office. spend more time with my family, and look for new ways to serve our state and nation. therefore i'm announcing today that i will not seek reelection. simply put, it's time to move on. >> chris, ben nelson steps away, the seventh democrat in the senate announcing he will not come back after this term. what does it mean? >> well, it's tough being a moderate democrat right now. bill nelson must be feeling it, claire mccaskill. and in the west coast, as well, but it's very tough out there where you have to win with a hybrid electorate. of you got to bring people over from the other side. and he was appealing to republicans. but his voting record on the democratic side was in the 80s. that's pretty democrat. but that makes it troublesome
among the caucus voters. blew me away. sounds like the british labor party. but bill nelson, tester, tester's in good shape. i think they're going to hold the senate if they can win with massachusetts. >> right. >> if warren who i really like because i think she's not the martha coakley, they don't have the elite problem with her. she's a regular democrat, if she can keep running in that middle and not forego the kennedy tradition up there like coakley did, i think she can win. and that's a big upset to knock off scott brown. >> there's talk about trying to get john kerry to run again. that's unlikely. looks like that seat will go republican. do you think the senate will go that way? >> we've been all very focused on the presidential race, but look, there's been upthought, maybe the house will swing back.
if i was a betting woman, which i'm not, i don't know, senate going republican seems, you know, with nelson and as chris outlined a very likely possibility. and the repercussions and the implications of obama if he is reelected going forward -- >> it's interesting, ben nelson if his real motivation was he thought it was going to be almost an impossible race to win, i think he's wrong because how many republicans have filed or said they're filing? seven or eight. ben nelson could've gotten harry reid lucky and got a candidate, such a fringe candidate. the nebraskians who are would've voted for ben nelson. >> we have north dakota too, another challenge for them. the way it is right now, they only have to pick up one, but i do think they'll have moves the other way. by the way, every election no matter how it goes, there's joe bidens. there's that odd guy or person that goes the other woman, the person who beats the tide and
becomes the hero of the future. i look for people who buck the tide. if elizabeth warren wins, look out for a national leader. if you can come out ahead of the power, you've proven yourself. you can't be beaten then. >> that's the race to watch up there in massachusetts. >> i love coming on this show. >> "jack kennedy: elusive hero," it's a great book. >> willie, you're a star. governor, it's always an honor. you're a superstar. >> and you. >> by the way, watch -- maury povich started at noon. a lot of people turn on the tv at noon. you've got a great opportunity. >> i'm happy to be there. >> no, they're happy to have you. >> i'm happy to be there. >> and in the west, alex, i had a friend of mine in dallas said -- >> 9:00 a.m. >> i thought she'd said "morning joe." "morning joe's" too early.
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welcome back to "morning joe." earlier this year, movie superstar and activist george clooney joined us to talk about his latest crusade to help the people of sudan. here's the hollywood heavy weight in our "morning joe" rewind. >> you've been working on this issue for some time. it's stunning to me that back in the 1990s we were talking about 2 million people killed in a
sudanese civil war and then darfur over the past decade, it seems like the horrors there never end. you just got back, and you're working like hell to effect change there. give us an update. >> well, it's actually been one of the brighter spots on the history of the sudan in the last week or so. they had their first election. they voted for independence since 1956, they stood in line and looked like overwhelmingly they're going to get their independence. it's going to be a long hard slog to actually work it through and make it a successful country, but it's got a real shot. and it's a lot better than being under the rule of the leaders who over the last 20 years have been in charge of heinous acts, you know? >> so there is a real chance. explain to our viewers what's going to happen here. the civil war between the north and the south. it's been religious, it's been
ethnic. 2 million killed. they're going to actually try to divide the country in half, aren't they? >> they're going to basically try to put it back the way it was. a lot of us who have colonized over the years, it doesn't work when you say, let's make a nice country out of these two groups who got along okay for a long period of time, and didn't particularly love each other and now they're one country. they're basically going back. it's less religious. people like to call it a christian and muslim fight and also very much about the territories. the south, there are farmers in the north, there are nomads. and basically, they fought a war and in 2005 killed about 2 1/2 million people. in that war. and there was an agreement that said five years from this date when they agreed. if things aren't working out for you guys as one country, then you have the right to vote for
your independence, which they had decided to do overwhelmingly. and it's -- i was on the ground there during the election and i have to say it's not often in your life you get to stand next to miles and miles of people voting for their independence for the first time. that was exciting to do. >> george, one of the projects you're working on is the satellite sentinel project. and i take it the sudanese government doesn't like it too much. >> they didn't seem all too happy with my long lens. you know, we -- we sort of -- a big issue -- and i spoke to the security council at the u.n. on darfur a few years ago, and one of the big issues you run into, one of the problems, you have more peace keepers in the sudan than anywhere else in the world, but their mandate is so watered down with their ability to protect people because someone on the security council, one of the rotating members or sometimes china who has a lot of business there, you know, one of them says, well, this is just
rebel infighting. and you never really have the cameras to prove it. you can't -- we get shots and pictures of things afterward, but you don't have a view of it. our feeling was, well, let's get pictures of tanks and helicopters lined up on borders that they say they aren't beforehand, as opposed to tri e triageing it afterwards. and we can do things goffs can't because we're individuals. >> i remember back in the '90s, a lot of members of congress would have to sneak into sudan and frank wolf told me, you fly the cessna in low, you can get into some of the refugee camps, but it's dangerous. how dangerous was it for you guys to do that? >> the only time it's dangerous -- look, it's plenty -- there's so many ways. we're dipping our toe in this, obviously. but there's so many ways to get killed there -- the people who live there on a day-to-day
basis. the average age is something around 36 years old for a male, i think, in chad, the neighboring nations. it's a hard life. i was up north in the disputed border region and that's a very, very dangerous place to be. while we were there, a couple of miles from where we were about nine people were shot and killed. it's -- that part's tricky, and you get a little -- you don't know the neighborhood all that well so you're always a little bit off your game some, but you just keep moving. >> george, willie geist here. i think a lot of people would be interested to know how you picked the sudan way back when. i'm sure you had people coming at you from all directions wanting you to be spokesmen for their causes. i was interested to read your group, the human rights group came up with brad pitt, matt damon -- >> susie -- they just mentioned my name, susie. >> that's how we picked the sudan. i go sudan, and then we picked it. >> pointed to a map.
but how did you pick this region? and did it -- was some of the genesis on the set of those "ocean eleven" movies? >> no, all those guys are good friends of mine and they are all very socially involved in many things. for me, it was reading nick cristophe's articles in "the times" about darfur, which i was woefully late to and i started to understand -- my father is a newsman. he used to always talk about how he would do a story and then get bumped for -- do a big news store rained bumped for an entertainment piece and that was in the '70s. not much has changed. i said let's go over there and i will be the entertainment piece and you be the newsman and we will sort of try to keep it in the headlights that way. and we have had some success at keeping it -- keeping a name on it. i have to say, you know, it is pretty frustrating, you would think that once people know about something that it wouldn't
happen. we always say never again but the truth is that doesn't really make much of a difference. >> let's bring into the conversation from washington the co-founder of the enough project, john pender grass. thanks for joining the conversation. >> oh oh. >> good to have you. >> john, good to see you again. what should the obama administration do and the state department? i remember -- i remember back in the '90s, i tried to get a resolution passed through the house condemning the civil 1 to 2 million killed. i had opposition from the white house, from the state department, from every diplomat, oh this is the worst thing in the world to do you're gonna turn over the tables, don't -- don't go there. does our -- does this state department get it? does this president get it? >> yeah what's happened, i think is the poll lit tizization in affect of the sudan policy that constituencies have been built in no small measure due to people like george who have brought a lot of attention to the matter, built these
constituencies, particularly within faith-based communities and the student movements and now, everyone from president bush to president obama takes this constituency seriously and it becomes a political issue, not just some backwater policy issue decided in the bowels of the state department. >> john what do we have to do to make sure we are not talking about sudan ten years from now, that we are not talking about the killing ten years from now? >> well, in six months, a new state is going to be born officially, southern sudan. that state will potentially be stillborn if it isn't -- if the institutions of democracy, if development initiatives are not supported right up front and it leaves behind terrorism and all kind of negative things that state has to be engaged very deeply to see a democratic
transformation there so i think the next level of effort that we have to ex-spend besides preventing new conflict between the two is laying the groundwork for real democratic transformation in both of these entities or else, indeed, we will be talking about these two places ten years from now as the horror movie continues. >> for more information on george clooney's organization, satellite sentinel project, visit satsentinel.org. we will be right back on "morning joe." [ male announcer ] you are a business pro.
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still ahead here on morning joe, our conversation with the great, the excellent betty white. plus, six days now until the voting begins in iowa and newt gingrich drops that whole i won't go negative thing. morning joe, back in a morning. [ child ] it's so cool! you can put a force field on him and be invisible! [ child 2 ] i call first player. no. i already called it. [ dad ] nobody's playing anything until after we get our homework done.
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you like the ron paul's total record of systemic avoid dance of reality and you look at his news letters and then you look at his ads, hips afds are about as accurate as his news letters. >> now, if earn to get the republican nomination. >> he won't. >> let say he was, could you vote for him? >> no. >> could you vote for president obama? >> somebody gets up and say i don't care if israel is destroyed, i don't care if -- it i don't care if the iranians get a nuclear weapon? i mean, i think it is very difficult to see how you would engage in dealing with ron paul as a nominee. >> so, let's just get precise. >> given the news letters which he has not yet disowned. >> could you not vote for ron paul? >> we have to go a long way to explain himself and i think it would be very difficult to see today ron paul as the republican nominee. >> what would you do if the choice were ron paul or barack obama? >> i think would you have a very
hard choice. >> what would you do? >> i don't know. all i'd say, mitt, is if you want to run a negative campaign and want to attack people, at least be man enough to own it. that is your staff and that's your organization. those are your millionaire friends paying for t and let's be clear, i'm following fight for real job creation with a real reagan/kemp style job creation program. you are a moderate massachusetts who, in fact is very timid about job creation. let's get it on together and compare our two plans. >> good morning and welcome back to "morning joe" it is 8:00 here on the east coast, take a live look at new york city, back with us on set from governor ed rendell. cnbc's david faber, up in boston, mike barnicle and in washington, with us, richard wolffe. so, newt gingrich, governor rende rendell, not going to go negative unless he is threat ened by anyone. ron paul at the top of the ol polls in iowa, goes after ron paul.
mitt romney, of course, he is challenging to a duel, some sort of a debate. he is threatened and mitt romney, as you point out on the cover of a lot of newspapers, looking very comfortable. >> newt is very back to being newt and always good copy. i don't know if you noticed, with ilie you the pets had diamond-lined collars on. that explains the tiffany line of credit a few weeks ago, he was saying i'm the nominee, now talking about coming in the top three or four in new hampshire. look, it's a crap shoot. romney looks good but he could finish fourth and wouldn't surprise anybody. this is like nothing i've ever seen. >> richard wolffe in washington, handicap this for us now, six days away, voting finally after all this talk and all this debating, where are we right now? mitt romney seems to like where he is sitting, ron paul could certainly pull this out as well. >> the truth is this point in iowa, nobody actually knows and partly because it is not just a
fluid year but all about turnout and predicting turnout is the key. we just don't know where they are on that scale. you know, des moines rebelister poll is normally the most predictable and that has been moving around all over the place. what you have at this point is a projection of strengthette and that's what romney has been doing very well for the last year, even when he hasn't really had a front-runner poll rating to justify that turn. you know, if you put a gun to my head, i would say ron paul's organization, his momentum is timing right. you know, paul tews, democratic operative who rant obama campaign in iowa said you like to get hot at the end, not talking about newt gingrich's kind of heat, but you have got to time the rise right and ron paul's timing seems to be right. it doesn't matter about the fit, whether he is too crazy, up predictable or have any momentum moving forward but ron paul does seem to be in a strong position. the question is how many tickets
are there coming out of iowa? i suspect there are not three, there are two. so the competition here is for second or third place and that's romney and gingrich again. >> interesting a few weeks ago, we thought newt gingrich's timing was perfect, thought he timed his rise the right way, he's begun to fuzzle a bit. ron paul's campaign didn't respond to the remarks we heard from newt gingrich saying in part, frustration from his floundering campaign has newt gingrich showing who he really is, a divisive big-government liberal. newt has a long record of stand against conservatives dating back to his support for liberal nelson rockefeller over barry goldwater so this sort of childish outburst is nothing new. mike barnicle, you have been sitting comfortably over the holidays in the boston area watching all of this, what do you think? >> let's take a look at the field. >> oh oh. >> you have -- you have ron paul. whoo. you have newt gingrich, double whoo. you have michele bachmann, you
have rick santorum. you have mitt romney. and then ask yourself this, what do you figure barack obama asked for christmas? he got it, the republican field. i mean it is amazing what they are doing thought in iowa, across the country t is a clown show in a country that is filled with people who are anxious about their economic futures, anxious about their children's educational futures, anxious about their family's futures. in a country like this poll results so negative about the future, you have this veritable clown show setting up barack obama's successful, right now i would say, re-election. >> interesting you use that testimony, the newspaper right where you are sitting, the "boston herald" came out yesterday, endorsing mitt romney could have impact in new hampshire, putting its support behind the former massachusetts governor, calling him a standout in a, quote, republican clown
car. editorial went on to say it has been an entertaining several month bus really, does anyone see even the remotest possibility of any of those folks taking the oath of office on the capitol steps on january 20, 2013? only one candidate in the republican field with the integrity, experience, the organizational strength and the intelligence to beat barack obama. and that man is mitt romney. >> really, we have been saying that all along, move it forward a few months. can you see anybody other than mitt romney making the acceptance speech at the republican convention? it is impossible to fathom. michael what do you think about the reference ron paul made, picking rockefeller over goldwater? that was half a century ago. that's pretty stunning. >> you know, governor, what's stunning about the ron paul campaign, listen, i don't weren't to dial his followers. they are probably mostly really good people, but the fact that this guy's background and his beliefs have not been covered up
until quite recently, up until perhaps the last week is an indictment of the media this is a guy who after september 11th basically played the moral equivalency card about the united states, that we were partially responsible for september 11th. stuff like that crazy, lunatic fringe stuff and yet we have covered, oh, he's quaint little old country doctor. he's not. >> well, i think a lot of people in the media never took his candidacy seriously enough and therefore, didn't dig in deep enough. david fish a, let talk about economics, your beat. the message from mitt romney has been and continues to be in iowa, up with an ad saying's competent businessman. he is the man you want at the helm. this economy is sliding backward, it has failed for three years under president obama, he is the manager who can take us back from the brink s that a winning message from him? is it a credible message from mitt romney? >> the main message he has got to stick we imagine heading into next year. unemployment at 8.6%, most
likely going to be the defining issue of the election less than a year from now and his experience as a business leader and at some point, we will probably get into a little more exploration of that in terms of private equity, what he did and didn't do, ultimately falling back on that to say i'm guy, the guy who figure out who can create jobs in this economy. i can't imagine that that won't -- that will change and one would imagine that he will be the single most significant threat to president obama if, in fact, he gets the nomination. >> still an achilles' heel there willy, he can say that background puts him in position to say that you are peel back i'm the guy that can create jobs, basically the same old rhetoric, cut taxes, reduce regulations, there's nothing new, nothing stimulative about it. what does he want to do about the infrastructure? is he gas golden gate to make significant investments in the american infrastructure be and if so, now those are the questions that need to be asked. right now, in the clown show, he
is winning on competence, he is winning because's competent guy who has run things very successfully, the olympics, a good example is his long suit, better than being a businessman, he is comp at the time. the president, good guy isn't, he is competent. >> are the rockefeller republicans -- >> find any, let me know. >> call mike barnicle. >> is the criticism of bain capital, which we have heard from the white house and from other republican candidates, is it fair to say that what they did, and there's been a lot written and talked about this, that they would take over a company and the partisan attack is and the fire a bunch of people. so the idea that he ran businesses is not a good argument for him. that's the way the partisan attack goessome that fair? >> well, i mean, there's certainly a fair part of it, yeah. the playbook to a certain extent, the private equity industry, take over a company and try to create as much efficiency as you can, way you're supposed to do things in a capitalistic economy, they did fire people but also examples were they put a company in a
better situation where it was ultimately able to grow and hire people. >> yeah. >> so like everything, it's not completely clear but there are going to be instances that they are going to go after him on, they are going to look and say, hey, you took over this company, slashed the workforce by 30% what good did that ultimately do except to a small group of people who made an enormous amount of money, which is typically how private equity does work. >> the romney come back is mr. president, you took over the car companies, fired a bunch of people and made them healthy again. >> but he has got two adjoiners, once, balance bain created more jobs than it fired, number one. number two sometimes as governor, i have to look at putting money into saving a company, even though the company was gonna go from 1400 workers 1100 it means we lose 300 but did our investment mean we saved 1100? >> right. richard, i want to get your take on this back and forth. we had the one 50-year-old reference to rockefeller and goldwater, another 50-year-old
reference yesterday from mitt romney, not necessarily staying above the fray, mocking newt gingrich for failing to qualify for the virginia primary ballot. the gingrich campaign compared that failure to the attacks on pearl harbor. but mitt romney compare it had to an episode of "i love lucy." watch this. >> what do you think of speaker gingrich not getting enough on the ballot? >> um, you know, i -- i think you compare that to pearl harbor, i think it's more like lucille ball at the chocolate factory. so, you got to get it organized. >> mitt romney made fun of you today, i don't know if you heard. >> no. >> compared you to lucille ball "i love lucy," chocolate. >> i have a very simple message for mitt romney. i will meet him in anywhere in iowa, for 90 minutes, just the two of us in a debate with a timekeeper, no mod rarity, i would love to have him say that to my face u >> as david faber says no guns,
just knives, meet you in an abandoned warehouse somewhere. richard that guess back to the competence message that mitt romney has. he says, look, he can't -- newt gingrich can't get himself on the ballot in his home state and he wants to be president? please, ethank's essentially what he is stlachlgt. >> the subtext, by the way, comparing him to a woman and newt gingrich says he is timid and he needs man up. i mean this is pretty sort of childish stuff, very enter taping, whether or not they use queens bury rules. what you have here is, yeah, the gingrich campaign failed at one of the most basic tests, getting on the ballot, not rocket science, it is his home state. could he not find the rotary club or somebody to help him out here? and there are, beyond the personal rivalries, you know, it's a -- it's a big country but the rules of this election are obvious for anyone. the if a act that gingrich has not been able to respond on air in anything other than what they
call earned media, free media that he gets from talking to wolf blitzer or anyone else, the fact that he hasn't been able to organize, even though you know, his rise in the polls is now several weeks old, which in this race is more like several months in dog years. so, you know, he just hasn't crossed that bar of being able to run anything and that does give romney something. it she is certain degree of comp tense. i just don't think that the republican party as a -- as a -- as a group of people is looking for competence as one of their top ten issues. what you want is fire. he hasn't been watching "jersey shore." even the gaze out into the middle distance, you know he had been working on that advisers put it in his back pocket and didn't have to think that hard. >> we should point out in
fairness, romney and paul the only two that got on the balance not virginia. probably something wrong there mike barnicle, i want to look ahead, less that two weeks to the state of new hampshire, polls show romney a 20% lead there. what are you hearing out of that state? >> romney doing very well in new hampshire, worked very hard, a terrific on the ground organization, up there in place over a year. obviously, sort of an adopted home state of his, a home in new hampshire, he is going to win new hampshire by a fairly substantial margin, i would think. the gingrich thing is continually fascinating though. gingrich gained ground in new hampshire, seems to have receded a bit over the last ten days but you get the impression from listening to gingrich and that clip proves the point about to be made, i hope that no matter what you say about beginning rich, you can insult his hair, his dog, his wife you his parents, whatever, and all you want does is challenge to you a
debate. niece other retort other than, yeah well, 90 minutes, you and i, no rules no robert's rules of order, let's just debate this thing. the comic value of this primary is just off the charts. >> looks like romney will come out of new hampshire at least. i want to go back to something richard said, competence is not in the top ten issues for republican voters and may be so for republican primary sbroirts if you are making the case to defeat the president in the fall, i think comp tense has got to be up there at the top. which is why romney runs better against the president. americans want their president to be competent. the fact that gingrich couldn't run a competent camp cane in virginia, that is port. >> the suburbs over philadelphia, places like that going to have to win. a blow to democrats hopes to
maintain their imagine juror knit senate. ben nelson, nebraska senator, announcing he would not seek re-election, made the announce n a youtube video. >> i also feel it's time for me to step away from elective office, spend more time with my family and look for new ways to serve our state and nation. therefore, i'm announcing today that i will not seek re-election. simply put, it's time to move on. >> democrats had rallied around the vulnerable two-term senator, contributing more than $1.5 million to his $3 million war chest. nelson's support of president obama's 2009 health care legislation may have been the final straw for nebraska voters. an op ed in today's "wall street journal" entitled obama care's latest casualty says, in part, mr. nelson ultimately provided the 60th and final senate vote to pass obama care at 1 a.m. two christmas eves ago, he then disavowed his own kickbacks and voted against the final version of the legislation in march 2010
that only needed a simple majority of 51 senators. by then, his opposition was irrelevant. richard wolffe, ben nelson's departure from the united states senate means what? >> he obviously wants to spend more time with his fam kwloichlt know why you have a problem believing that. >> beyond that, richard. >> this was not a state democrats thought they could hold onto, it was always a toss up, as they say down here and that doesn't really affect things hugely but what is hard, ben nelson had obviously huge name recognition in member and being an inn tim bent matters. incumbents pulled it off in the last cycle. think about harry reid facing really tough odds in nevada, managed to win and it wasn't by a narrow mar gyp in the in the end. there are tea party folks running in that republican primary, just a very uphill battle for democrats to take -- to keep hold of the senate. there's too many seats up there. i don't think health care was
the real issue for ben nelson. the reason ben nelson finds himself in the same position as newt gingrich and mitt romney is that the president's health care reform was signingly a republican idea. you can't blame nelson for thinking that health care would be okay in nebraska. coming up, a "morning joe" rewirngd our interview with betty white, right here on set with us. next, the story of how one french philosopher convinced the world that moammar gadhafi had to go. first though, here is bill karins with a check on the forecast. >> a lot of people in newt gingrich got blown around, the winds are going to be up during date but the rain is over. we have just a little bit of snow in the -- coming off of lake erie and ontario, where the winds are worse, buff low, pittsburgh, syracuse, rochester, cleveland, a raw day for you and those streamers off the lakes, locally you dump a couple inches of snow that is it. windy for the big cities, bumpy on the flights, wouldn't be delayed like yesterday.
anyone joining us from west, the stormy weather from oregon and washington state through the rest of the week at the end to of this year, hopefully the new year, get you a break. the forecast, windy and chilly in the great lakes, stormy in the northwest, at least you are not dealing with snow there, a rain event, a sneak peek at tomorrow, kind of more of the same, how beautiful has it been from florida to areas of the deep south? areas like san antonio, near 70 degrees today what a beautiful end to the year. you are watching "morning joe." of course, we are brewed by starbucks. nick, what are you doing? oh, there's still a few more days of chevy's giving more. got to stay loose. how do you do it? i have my little helpers. boop. oh. [ chuckles ] [ male announcer ] hurry in to chevy's giving more. these savings are almost over. now qualified buyers can get 0% apr for 72 months on the 2011 chevy silverado.
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welcome back to "morning joe." joining us from baltimore is new york magazine's benjamin wallace as well as. his latest piece for the magazine, he explained how french philosopher convinced the world it was time for moammar gadhafi to go. benjamin, great to see you this morning, thanks for being with us, let's lay out before we get
into what he did here, who he is. who is bernard henri level vicious why is he a prominent figure in france? >> one of those only in france stories. levy a philosopher/public intellectual, for 35 years, he is a prominent figure in france, always on television, puts out a book on the year, occupies a christopher hitchens' like space. during the '70s, he played significant role in helping move the french left away from a orthodox marxism. ever since, he has been a sort of spokesman for humanitarian intervention, he has been in afghanistan and darfur, sort of a proto george clooney kind of role. >> also fair to say he is mocked in many circles in france or become so in the last couple of decades? >> yeah. i mean, the thing that's amazing about this story is here is a guy who is --s who public image has completely consumed his intellectual reputation.
a year ago, he was most in the news for a kind of public tug-of-war between his mistress and his wife. >> yes. >> this is a -- a guy who has written two books about being mocked in public. so, yeah, no, he was a man who was at 63, in danger of dissolving whole fly his caricature. when he appears on tv, he always has his shirt unbunted, down around his solar plexus. so, it is very recognizable figure. >> he goes to the almost up chartered three built down, which i don't think i have he ever seen before. >> right. >> barnicle never did three buttons? >> i hope not. god help us. lay out the story us for, remarkable and i don't think a lot of people know t. >> it is remarkable. he is -- at the end of last february, he is sitting in cairo and he has a column in a french "newsweek"ly and he is reporting on the aftermath of the arab spring and he sees on television
as a lot of people did on the time, on cnn, that there's this civil war that has gun to break out in libya that happened moammar gadhafi and his sops are threat evening to drown the rebel town of benghazi in rivers of blood and he feels this kind of siren call from inside of him and he says i have to go and one of the things that he has is he has an enormous amount of personal wealth. his father built this extraordinary french timber fortune and so he hires a rivate plane and a photographer schleps over the border into libya. answer and he locates mustafa abdill jaleel, at the time, the political leader of the rebel faction. he is googling him, you know, while he is waiting to meet him on his phone. but he tracks him down and he says, if you give me a rebel delegation, i can get you guys
meeting with nicolas sarkozy, the french president. he -- he didn't know that he could, but he sort of decided that he would say this. they have been friends for a while though, sarkozy and levy. >> a complicated relationship this is why this is an only in france story, there's 15 people who really matter in france and they have all nope each other for 30 years. levy had -- you know, levy and sarkozy were at times political rival bus levy's daughter -- let me see if i can get this right, levy's daughter was married to -- previously married to the philosopher who had had an affair with carla bruni, the supermodel -- >> we need a flow charge tort follow this. it is amazing. >> let me ask you what do the rebels think when this french philosopher swoops in on his own private jet and says i'm the guy that can lead doubt promised land. what do they think about this guy? >> two reaction, one is what the f, you know and the second was,
you know, we don't have a lot of options and, you know, when you're pinned down and outgunned and, you know, you're worried about the future of your movement in your country, and you're promised an audience with the french president, you say, you know, all right. and so three of them got on a plane and -- on levy's private plane and flew and met sarkozy about a week later. in this meeting with sarkozy, which levy was making this very strong case based on the memory of rawanda, on the memory of sarajevo, saying that this is a place where a leader like you, mr. president can really be heroic, can really step in and prevent a pass sacker before it happens. the d exhortations
recognized the proper government of libya, not gadhafi and commit to move nato to intervene. over the course of the next week, that's exactly what happened. >> well, benjamin, we have got alex wagner with us. she has a question. >> benjamin, the as a result fascinating, i'm getting a few highlights here on set and i think one of my favorite passages is levy talking about the haters saying they have no effect on my narcissism in the face of assaults, my egoal is fire-proof, shatter-proof. when we have our human tear yans, our cultural ambassadorers go to areas of, you know, duress, of hardship, of genocide, there is the expectation that they will set their own egos aside, but that doesn't seem to really be the case with mr. henri levy, does it? >> what is extraordinary about him is you see how narcissism can, in fact, you know, be a form of humanism, you know, can
make heroism possible. it's an act of just extreme ego ittism to say i can fly to a war zone, operating with no commission, with no, you know, sanction from the french government and just, you know, make history. and make diplomacy happen. it's impossible. this is a terrible situation, really depressing how little the west can do in moments like this, yet in libya, here is a
circumstance where again, you know, is not quite as vivid as darfur, haven't progressed that far, not clear there are mass killings of that sort but a place we really did see a general whip kind of -- genuinely heroic humanitarian intervention and i don't know, interesting to think b. >> quickly before we go benjamin, any chance we give him too much credit for what happened? >> sure. yeah. but the peripherals look pretty good for him. you know, the french minister of foreign affairs threatened to quit at being end run here, so, sure, there's always some mystery about exactually how much he moved sarkozy but if you look at the circumstantial evidence, it looks like did he have a pretty big affect there pretty big role. >> a fascinating story, in the new issue of "new york" magazine, benjamin wallace as well as, we appreciate you bringing it to us. >> thanks.
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oh, those hot-looking quarterbacks of today. hot one, hot two his nick name is matty ice, he is so cool, but i prefer matty steam, because he is so hospital. you can't stop. >> that was betty white make an appearance on monday night football this week. betty stopped by our set on "morning joe" to discuss her latest book "betty and friends, my life at the zoo" in this "morning joe" rewind we stayed humble when we asked her about her adoring fans and the recent surge in her career. >> well, bless your heart and i appreciate it but it's not a resurgence, guys, i haven't been away, i promise. i have been working for the last 63 years. but it's lovely -- thank you, if you want to think it's a resurgence, great. >> is superstar dom again. >> oh, sure. sure.
>> i want you to be careful with that whiskey in front of you, i don't want to you sip it thinking it's iced tea or anything. >> no i'm gonna take it on the plane. >> she asked for a different drink, i'm wondering if we can get it for her. >> you are a vodka lady. >> well, not regularly. >> okay. all right. >> no i -- i -- i'm not a whiskey drinker but i'm a heavy drinker t heavy. >> speaking of heavy. your new book, it actually -- it's so beautiful, it's very weighty. it's very heavy. >> well, it's not that big, but it's -- it's a labor of love. i have been working on this -- the pictures are wonderful. >> photographs. >> and then i have been working with the zoo, as i say, for 50 years and through those years, he is our zoo photographer taking these incredible pictures and he always would give me a
print. so finally, i thought i can't keep these without showing them to somebody. >> they are beautiful. >> what was the -- what was the origin of your interest 50 years ago? what got you interested? >> in the zoo? >> uh-huh. >> i have been a zoo nut since the womb. my mother and dad were zoo nuts and the underlying purpose of this book was to tell people the good the zoos do instead of saying, oh, all the animals should be let out of the zoo and the took their natural habitat. what we have done to their natural habitat, it's just disappeared. and there would be so many species these days that would be extinct if it weren't for zoos. >> what do you get, betty, from the animals when you're around them all the time? what do they give to you >> oh, they are my passion. they are my life. i -- everybody says when did this start? and i always answer the womb because i was fortunate to have a mother and dad who loved them as much as i do and passed it on
to me. in fact, when i was brought home from the hospital as a baby, we'd beautiful marmalade kitty, toby, who would sit on the corps other of my crib but my mother said if toby hospital approved the baby, the baby would have gone right back to the hospital. >> that's great and you know, i've seen you doing commercials for rescues over the years. i mean, you have a passion for animals that has spanned decades and i wonder what you think of where we stand today in terms of there are all these people with these pedigree dogs out there and they are spending thousands of dollars for them and yet, there are so many animals that need homes. >> well, that -- these the message we keep trying to pass out that if you want a specific breed, if you want, you know, something, i promise you guys, with a little research, you will find that breed in shelters or
at a rescue. and there's a wonderful organization, best friends, in utah that does marvelous work and all the missables that you can send out. we have come come a long way, i have been in the animal business all my life and i'm going to be 90 in january. >> incredible. >> the animal business has changed a lot. the public has finally come around to realizing the different ways that animals benefit us. medically, they lower our blood pressure. >> therapy. sure. and finally, the public is beginning to get hip to that. >> what's the state of america's zoos right now? >> again, through trying to educate, you know, and send a message out, they are doing pretty well. everybody needs -- they are all fighting for the same buck, of course.
that goes with the territory, but they are more scientifically oriented, trying to send out the message of why these animals are important, not just -- not just for people to come in and look at, isn't that wonderful? they are literally saving species. the california condor is a classic example. we got down to 22 birds, 22 birds on the planet. and they have been here since the old ages and animal activist let them die with anything dig nitty, san diego zoo and los angeles zoo took every one of those 22 birds into captivity and people said country do that for captive breeding. between the two zoos, they bred them to where now, there are wild con door back up in california where they came from, flying over the grand canyon,
they are flying over montana, they are flying over mexico. it's a success story that wouldn't have happened if we hadn't had the breeding program. >> we want to ask you about some of the projects you have going, but you mentioned you're about to turn 90. so i'm just curious at what you think of the concept of retirement. >> of what? i'm afraid a word that -- like msnbc, i can't repeat it. i -- i'm having too much fun. i'm having fun on "hot in cleveland" with these wonderful girls i work with valerie bertinelli and wendy malik and -- >> how fun. in terms of span of your career, so much has changed in television industry. how has it changed for women, maybe when it comes to negotiating deals or anything? >> my problem is i started in
1949. and we weren't gender oriented at all. if there was a job to do you didn't worry about whether it was a man or a woman, you did it. so i was producing, writing and producing and acting and emceeing and all kinds of things. so, now, the first thing is you produce? you were a produce they're early? and i -- frankly, i have never been gender oriented. i don't know it isn't. what i think has changed in television is the audience. the audience now -- back then, when i started, everything was new. there was actually a picture in the corner of your room with people talking, you know, that could you see. and i did an experimental show, downtown in the packard show room where we were on the fifth floor. when i graduate from high school, i don't think california was a state yet.
we -- did the show on the fifth floor and it went all the way down to the lobby and there was a monitor about this big over in the concern. so we did -- -- the student body president and i did the merry widow, damages and singing. people had to stand among the cars to watch it and it was such a naive audience, the audience has changed. everything was new then. now, they have heard every joke, they know every plot, they know from the first line where the show is going. it's a tough audience to surprise. >> thrilled to have betty white with us this year. she has got an upcoming hidden camera prank show with senior steps, which should be fun. and nbc doing a special tribute for her 90th birthday which will air next month. up next did anyone leave the house this year to do their holiday shopping? we will see if cybermonday gave a boost to the economy. business before the bell is next. [ woman ] my boyfriend and i were going on vacation,
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welcome back to "morning joe joe",joe and mika looking good in their holiday jam mis, last fry dan or way too early when i was out. check before the bell with cnbc's brian shackman, live at the new york mercantile exchange what are you looking at? >> a lot of stuff, willie. quickly, testimony you twice a year, the treasury puts out a report, they talk about china, saying they are not a currency manipulator but need to let their currency appreciate, a delicate balance in the trade wars if they don't let their currency appreciate, we can't buy products. let's talk shopping. $35 billion, i don't know what your habits are, but if i could buy shoes and pants, i would never go to the mall, 'cause i can never get shoes and pants that fit when i shop online. the other one i wanted to point out, the lightest volume day at the new york stock exchange
yesterday of the year and i found out why, it is because everyone was playing electronic "star wars" game. how about this? more than 1.5 million characters built in this game and 60 million man hours have been played and i didn't think "star wars" was a big deal anymore, i have kids 5 and under, i don't know they game it had. but that is just incredible. the u.s. productivity has plummeted because of "star wars." >> i sound like a old guy, but is this a video game we are watching now? looks like a movie? >> you can have different characters, play them all over the world, do the different stuff. i'm used to technofootball and rbi baseball. >> we are the same. probably stopped playing video games around the same time, super mario hitting the scene this is out of our league, 1.5 million, what man -- 60 million man hours went into making this thing and this thing is going to fly off the shelves? >> trying to go after "world of war craft," you can play your buddy five states over, six players play at the same time, it is just this whole storyline
you inject yourself into, thing wes dreamed about playing as kids is now actually a reality. >> you live in a virtual world now. >> sounds like alec baldwin will get in trouble again. >> playing only the airplane again. $35 billion, up 15%, a great number for retailers, brian? >> yeah, goes from november 1 to december 26th. let's face it, this is the trend of the future if you don't have double-digit growth every year, i actually just did a bump of stories own. ps and fedex, you should see the volume of boxes that are amazon that go through ups every single day is just unbelievable the volume that comes just from those retailers. >> about the only way we do it now, shopping online. britain, thanks so much. i'm going to go play that video game. was it a cartridge or something i put into my tv? i will have to figure that out. brian, thanks so much. see you soon. we will be right back on "morning joe." oh it's clearance time!