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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  December 28, 2011 10:00am-11:00am PST

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the paul campaign is up with a new ad taking shots at his rivals. >> serial hypocrites and flip-floppers can't clean up the mess. one man stands alone. >> this hour, the ron paul factor. plus, desperate measures? rick perry sues to get on the virginia primary ballot. and death of a dictator. an elaborate farewell to north korea's kim jong-il. i'm chris sill lis cillizza andrea mitchell today. with six days left to go mitt romney is rising while newt gingrich may be running out of steam. all those negative ads seem to have having an effect on gingrich's poll numbers and his effort to stay above the fray. >> if you want to attack people, at least be man enough to own it. you look at ron paul's total record of systemic avoidance of reality and you look at his newsletters and then you look at his ads, his ads areç about as accurate as his newsletters.
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>> jonathan capehart is an editorial writer for "the washington post" and an msnbc contributor and my friend and the best dressed man in washington. want to get all those in at once. >> i appreciate that. >> newt gingrich never one for under exaggeration. this is a systemic exaggerator. he's kind of lashing out at ron paul, lashing out at mitt romney. the problem though, jonathan, he's not doing this on at the vision adswise so not many people are seeing it. is this a sign of a candidate who senses his moment may be slipping away? >> it could be that, but it could also be that he knows that if he throws rhetorical hand grenades at the two people who are viewed to be the people to take iowa that he will get as much media as possible. he has no money and yet we're talking about him. >> you're right. >> everybody is talking about him. >> a classic punching up grat i strate
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strategy. >> you pick fights with the guys who have the money. this suggests newt gingrich may be smarter than maybe i give him credit for. mitt romney is responding to gingrich's call to have a one-on-one the 0-minute 90-minu. >> we've had, i don't know, 10 or 12 debates where we have debated each other. we have two more scheduled for january. if it comes down to this, the two of us, at some point we will debate person to person, but right now there are a bunch of folks in this race that are still in the race. newt and i are not necessarily number one and number two across the nation so we'll have to narrow it down. >> i love that. >> 90ç words to say no. what's romney up to? >> look, the key phrase in that clip is there are a bunch of folks. mitt romney, the thing he most wants is a lot of people in the iowa caucuses because it splits the vote and makes it possible for him to actually take the iowa caucus. >> you're so right.
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he has a ceiling but if gingrich, perry, santorum, bachmann all drinking from the conservative pool, mitt romney drinking from the establishment pool, maybe it's enough. jonathan capehart, he'll be back later on. >> thanks. up next, we have newt gingrich on the bus right now in central iowa, but today he took some time out of his schedule to sit down with our nbc news political director chuck todd for an interview. chuck joins me live from mason city. hello, chuck. >> reporter: mr. cillizza, doing double duty. how are you doing, sir? >> well, sir. tell me what newt had to say. >> reporter: we're going two parts of it now. the first part i want to talk about is what you were just talking about, which is this idea of negative campaigning and as you know overnight there's actually some anti-romney, pro-gingrich direct mail pieces that are hitting mailboxes, and i actually asked speaker gingrich about one of them because one of them used some
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really tough language. here is what he had to say about it. >> i wouldn't call him the second most dangerous man in america. i'm happy to publicly urge them not to repeat that line in future mailings. on the other hand, if they have a factual bily accurate mailingo says he's for this and for this, i think the question is whether or not he's for it. i think beingç factually accure and explaining somebody's position is legitimate. it's when you are factually wrong or when you are factually distorting things or you're taking something and you're turning it into something it isn't, that is wrong. >> reporter: one man's negative is another man's contrast ad, chris. i also asked the speaker, i said, you know, usually the candidate that's complaining about negative ads is the one that can't afford to run them, and that's how we got started on this tangent and on this issue. but he certainly sounds like somebody who is happy that there's finally a super pac helping him rather than hurting
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him. >> and, chuck, i know that you guys talked about south carolina. you know, we're so focused on iowa, but i always say to people, we have four votes in basically a month. we have iowa january 3rd, new hampshire, january 10 .south carolina the 21st, florida the 31st. newt i know seemed to suggest to you that he's in it through south carolina no matter what, right? >> reporter: well, what was interesting here is he said -- i simply asked him, what do you have to do in iowa, and he started to say, look, you know, i have to finish, you know, in the top three or four and i said four? i said then where do you have to win? and that's where this got started. here is what he said to that. >> if you looked at where we first put our team -- our biggest team is in south carolina. but i'd like -- frankly, i thought if we -- originally six weeks ago i would have said
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third or fourth i'm rising. i would like to come in second in new hampshire. i think it's very hard to beat romney in new hampshire. although it will be fun.ç it will be a much more exciting week than he thinks. >> don't you still have to get top three. >> top three or four depends on whether they're all bunched -- what if you have four people tied. what if you have ron paul win? at that point i think you have -- people shake their head and go to the next topic. >> reporter: first thing about the setting there, we had two parts of the interview. the first part we were essentially having a casual conversation talking about the campaign, talking a little bit about history. and, you know, they were fine with the cameras being on. that's where the conversation went on iowa and south carolina, the more formal part as you saw in the first clip. i think the two most important things i took out of that was, one, is obviously they think south carolina is the be all, end all, and historically it is, and that's why, boy, nobody
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wants rick perry to bomb here more in iowa than newt gingrich. and nobody wants him to get into the top three or four more than mitt romney. second, i thought it was interesting that he set his own expectations a little bit in new hampshire saying, hey, we got to finish second in new hampshire. that's not necessarily an easy thing for newt either. >> particularly if ron paul wins iowa, chuck. he's already in second or tied in second with newt gingrich in new hampshire. you figure he gets a little bit of a bump there. question, if romney happens to win iowa, we're going to talk more about it, but that's the feel of the day, that romney has the momentum there. if he wins iowa and new hampshire, does newt gingrich, rick perry, or anybody else have a chance to cut him off at the pass or is the race kind of effectively over even if romney search doesn't haveç the delegates yet to clinch the nomination? >> reporter: remember with john kerry it was effectively over but nobody said it was effectively over then. there were a lot of places he
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had sort of last stands. there was the last stand in wisconsin, with wesley clark on super tuesday and there was that week after super southern tuesday of virginia and tennessee and wesley clark needed to sweep those. i think we're going to have some last-stand moments. realistically if romney somehow sneaks out a win here in iowa, and don't forget, he's got two shots at winning. he either winning it or he's second to ron paul and beats everybody else. that's also a victory for mitt romney. because then he has no chief conservative alternative. but i do think south carolina, you know, what romney wants is this splintered field. he wants both -- he wants rick perry to play the role of fred thompson in holding huckabee down in order to allow john mccain to win south carolina with less than 40%. mitt romney can win south carolina if the number is in the 30s. and that only happens if a perry and some other people keep
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playing there. >> i have to admit, i love the three-dimensional chess of that time of the nomination. nothing more fascinating. one quick question about gingrich. you sat across from him. he's never somebody who has lacked for confidence even when he's been down. what's his vibe? does he look tired? does he look energetic? what are you getting from sort of what he's not saying? what's the vibe he's giving off? >> reporter: i think you hear it a little bit. the fact he'sç rejiggering expectations. i think he wants to find ways to stay in this race, pure and simple. there's no ifs, and, or buts. if it means just anywhere in the top three or four, that's enough. it's funny you say that about sort of the vibe. this is a very confident man. he doesn't lack for it, but i actually asked him, i said is there a part of you that's sort of ecstatic you made it this far considering what happened in the summer. and he didn't take that bait. he said, no, june and july, two hardest months of his 53-year
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career in politics. he said that was really hard to deal with. i don't think he had ever felt a setback like he felt, and what was interesting is the hardest part for him to deal with in all this it seems to me is not the criticism from democrats, it's the criticism coming from people he thought were his friends. he's surprised by how little support he has among sort of the other conservative warriors of the '80s and '90s. >> chuck todd, i'm already looking forward to -- i have had a taste but i'm looking forward to more of the gingrich interview. i know on msnbc today and then in "the daily rundown" tomorrow. thank you. reading the tea leaves. the tea party could have a huge impact on who comes out on top on iowa caucus night, but which candidate will get that tea party vote in this is andrea mitchell reports only on msnbc. . it's a medication i could take and still smoke, while it built up in my system. [ male announcer ] along with support, chantix is proven to help people quit smoking.
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in the spring to january third, mitt romney has to get past skepticism among social conservatives. russ is in charge of helping mitt romney answer this question, he's senior adviser to the romney campaign. russ, i want to start on iowa because that's where everybody is at the moment. the democratic national committee, they put out a memo raising the stakes for romney in iowa. i want to read it. they note, in the month of debumber alone, mitt romney's campaign in the super pac xoring his candidacy spent $4 million in iowa. clearly, romney is now all in to win in iowa. do you dispute that chs characterization? >> chris, and you know this, we're not going to be taking sort of anything that the democratic national committee is putting out about what our strategy may or may not be really seriously. we have been very clear all
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along that we'd like to win everywhere. you know, governor romney from the beginning said he was going to participate in the iowa process, going to participate in the caucuses, would debate in iowa, and now it's the last week and we are on our bus tour and we hope to do well. we're not going to get into any kind of expectations game. >> i don't disagree you want to win everywhere, i'm sure you do. but at the same time my home state of connecticut is a lot further along in the process than iowa. iowa tends to matter more and if past is prologue, suggesting it is an indicator of what's to come next. i have heard talk you would be fine if you finished in the top three in iowa. can you at least set the expectation that is a win, place, or show is necessary for the national front-runner in the first state? >> here -- chris, our expectation is this. that we're going to get to 1143 delegates by the end of this process. and be the nominee.
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so our game plan all along is not for mitt romney to have to win in any individual state. the expectations that we want to set is that mitt romney will be the nominee. >> and let me ask you quickly, russ, about ron paul. is just talking toç chuck and said ron paul is his best friend in iowa. do you spend time worrying about ron paul? certainly mitt romney the candidate has not had a negative word to say about ron paul and he's had plenty of negative words to say about newt gingrich. is ron paul is mitt romney ally in iowa? >> well, i just heard that ad that you ran, chris, and it sounded like ron paul was attacking mitt romney in the ad so i wouldn't call that sort of a best friend strategy. look, there's been a lot of -- there are nine candidates in the field. everyone is trying to take their best advantage and try to play to their strengths.
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we think our strength has always been mitt romney is the best person when it comes to the biggest issue facing this country, and that's jobs and the economy. and he's the best position to take on president obama when it comes to the big issues that are facing us in this election. that's why i think we're going to be the nominee. >> we're going to find out if voters agree in just six days. russ, i'm excited. thanks for joining us. >> thanks, chris. by the time the republican party has a nominee to face president obama, there is concern that the party's brand will have suffered some real damage. some people are blaming the tea party's influence on the candidates and on republican lawmakers. matt kibby is the president of freedom works and he joins us now. matt, my colleague dan balz at the "washington post" wrote a piece that suggested some republicans believe the tea party has pushed the republican party too far to the right. that the two-month extension on the payroll tax cut being an example. that the reason party is so afraid of the tea party they are making themselves çunelectableo
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those critical independents in a general election. i assume you disagree. tell me why. >> i do disagree and those are a lot of the charges we heard leading up to the 2010 election as well. you have to understand that the tea party is not about a party, it's about a set of ideas, and those ideas that the government is spending too much money it doesn't have, that there's too much control in washington that's crowding out job creation in this country, these are not just republican or democrat ideas. these are where the american people are right now. so to say that those ideas have somehow shifted the republican party to the right i think is disingenuous, and i think what you can say in a real sense is that we have refocused all of the republican candidates on the issues that will appeal not just to the republican base but swing independents. >> now, matt, chuck todd was just sitting down with newt gingrich, and they talked a little bit about the tea party. i want to play something for you and then i want to come back and talk about it. >> we said the other day on a
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tea party telephone call, i can't be for tax cuts for rich people. that's a dead loser. you can't start there. if you give up everything you think you're going to lose to obama, why are you running? >> it's an interesting point that former speaker gingrich makes which is essentially that do you want to elect someone who is more in the middle or someone who is taking positions that are much more core republican, tea party beliefs, who might not be able to win. what matte erters more? >> i think electability comes from an authenticity. and theç principle we shouldn' choose certain groups and punish them, certain other groups and reward them in a tax code, that's a fundamentally american value of treating everybody like everybody else. i think it's a mistake for republicans to fall into the class warfare mode. that alienates independents. >> ron paul has categorized himself as the tea party before
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tea party was cool or before it existed. he's running a new ad in iowa which seems to be aimed at pitching himself as a tea party candidate. let's run just a little bit of that ad. >> consistent, incorruptible, guided by faith and principle. ron paul, the one we've been looking for. >> the one we've been looking for. is ron paul the one tea party supporters have been looking for, matt? >> well, i think if you look at the crowded field in iowa, i don't think tea partiers have settled on a candidate. in a sense, all of these candidates, and ron paul has a legitimate claim to have been there early on these issues, but a lot of the candidates evare talking the talk and we're looking for someone who is authentic and can win because we do have to beat president obama. i think tea partiers are pragmatic enough to combine those issues.
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we're not just looking for purity and purity that's going to lose in november. >> thank you. >> thank you. could mitt romney be headed to a first place finish in iowa? after down playing expectations, he's starting to look like the caucus winner. >> we're following all the news in iowa. that's live pictures in rickç santorum. he's holding a town hall at a coffee shop in dubuque, iowa. this is "andrea mitchell repo s reports" only on msnbc. progress: bp has set aside 20 billion dollars to fund economic and environmental recovery. we're paying for all spill- related clean-up costs. and we've established a 500 million dollar fund so independent scientists can study the gulf's wildlife and environment for ten years. thousands of environmental samples from across the gulf have been analyzed by independent labs under the direction of the us coast guard.
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we're only six days away from the iowa caucuses and while the race remains fluid, politico is reporting that mitt romney is, quote, in striking distance of an iowa win. intriguing. politico's jonathan martinç is live in des moines. j-mart, i know you wrote the story. it seems like it feels -- i always say this buzz and feeling. i don't know how much we put in it, but it certainly feels like last week was ron paul's week.
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this week may be mitt romney's week in iowa. what's your sense from being on the ground there? is the energy real? >> yeah. look, i think romney has the best chance he's had to win iowa here in some months. chris, everything that he needed to go his way has really gone his way, and, look, i think the fact is that his chief rival now, 76-year-old libertarian candidate for president who even his own supporters don't see as a possible commander in chief. chris, if governor romney can't beat ron paul, what does that say about the strength of his broader campaign? i think he's poised to do very well here, if not win the caucuses outright. if you talk to some of his folks privately especially, they will tell you that he's in a very, very strong place. publicly, of course, they're consumed with this expectation
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setting because they've been burned here, as you well know, before. >> and jonathan, how much does he have a ceiling in the state of iowa? you mentioned '08. he spent $10 million, untold amounts of time in the state. you know, and he topped out, i think he got 25 if memory serves me. is 25 basically it and he just hopes that the conservative vote fractures enough that 25 is enough? >> the difference between this time and '08 asç some of his supporters will tell you is in 2008 mike huckabee coalesced the christian conservative vote. now you've got santorum, bachmann, and perry and newt to a certain degree making a claim on some of the same voters. so, yeah, 25% could well do it for romney this time. that wasn't enough four years ago when huckabee had all those supporters here in place. now, there's been some buzz, chris, santorum is making a move here. but there are five days to go
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and is that move from 10% to 15%? if that's the case, probably still enough space for romney to win. >> and santorum boom is good news for romney. jonathan martin from des moines. thank you. the republican candidates are rolling through iowa hoping to make it through the caucuses without running out of gas. plus, an elaborate sendoff for north korea's dear leader. and a new threat from iran to block a critical oil supply route. this is "andrea mitchell reports" only on msnbc. i habe a cohd. yeah, i toog nyguil bud i'm stild stubbed up. [ male announcer ] truth is, nyquil doesn't un-stuff your nose. really? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus liquid gels fights your worst cold symptoms, plus it relieves your stuffy nose.
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there's a battery that's relied on to help bring children holiday joy. of course, children don't really think about which battery makes their toy run, but, still, you'd never want to disappoint. duracell. trusted everywhere. topping the headlines today, the navy is warning iran any disruption to the strait of hormuz will not be tolerated. the warning comes as iran continues to make threats to close the shipping route if new sanctions are imposed targeting their oil exports. a spokeswoman for the navy's
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fifth fleet says the navy is always ready to counter malevolent actions. a crackdown occurred in syria despite the fact that arab league monitors were there. the medical examiner's office says smoke inhalation killed 7-year-old twins, their 10-year-old sister, and both of their grandparents. the grandfather's death was also due to bluntç head and neck trauma. the fire was caused by discarded fireplace embers. the children's mother and her friend survived. in north korea tens of thousands of mourners turned out in nasty weather to say good-bye to their dear leader, kim jong-il. >> reporter: the north koreans kept everyone in the dark about the details for kim jong-il's state funeral, but in the end they pulled off a remarkably
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dramatic funeral procession. under heavy snowfall, a long line of vehicles made its way across the capital, pyongyang, covering about 25 miles and lasting about three hours. it was led at the front by two vehicles in particular, one a limousine that bore the portrait of the late kim jong-il known by his people as the dear leader and another vehicle which was believed to carry his remains. it was also accompanied by his son and suck ceacesuccessor, ki and his uncle who is sharing power with him. there were thousands of north koreans who had turned out. many in military uniform in the main square, but also civilians lining both sides of the streets of the capital. there were many close-up shots, the cameras coming in tight to show people grieving, crying for their dear leader, asking him to return. it's worth reminding everyone
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it's not clear how much of this was staged. the pictures could only come direct from north korean state television so we haven't been able to verify how much of this was when gin genuine or, in fac. the candidates are putting on exhaustive bus tours to justify capturing enough votes to have stay in the race. >> we have a shot at the top three. i think we have a shot all the way to the top. i think this could be a late breaking race. >> jill lawrence is national journal's managing editor for politics. okay, jill, we always hear this, win, place, or show. three tickets out of the iowa. how much is at stake for the saner to rupps, basan t saner to -- santorums, bachmanns, rick perrys. who of that group maybe sneaks in and surprises us in a good
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way? >> well, you know, it really is interesting the way they seem to realize at this point that the person they need to take down is ron paul. and so i think there will be just one slot available for all those four people, and the question is when gingrich and bachmann go after paul, are they chipping into his support? are they reinforcing his support? you know, is there a backlash. >> i totally agree. i always wonder whether attacking paul does anything. it's like i am rubber, you are glue situation. you mention bachmann opinion i want to play a little bit of bachmann talking about being a conservative. i think this is clearly aimed at peeling off some of those ron paul folks. let's play it. >> we're hearing that from some of the candidates on the ground right now, they're cooperating the language of the tea party and yet they're as far from the tea party as they could possibly be. of all the candidates that are running i am the one with the unassailable proven track record of a clear 100%ç consistent
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conservative. >> so obviously the name of the game here is to get as far to the ideological right as possible, but the whole question of who is the tea party candidate, who is it? is it ron paul? >> well, it could be ron paul. it could be michele bachmann. perry has a claim to it, santorum has a claim to it. and then there's also the kind of fiscal end of it which, you know, those people, any of those people who have latched onto ron paul may be second guessing their decision at this point and moving on with all these revelations about newsletters with racist and anti-semitic comments in them. >> there's a lot to look through. now, let's talk about iowa and how it influences what goes beyond it. this is a state that's traditionally winnowed the field, not chosen the nominee. who, if anyone, drops out after iowa? could you see a perry or a santorum or even a newt, i don't think that's likely, but any of them dropping out if they do poorly in iowa, if they don't finish in the top three?
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>> you have to follow the money and also follow the calendar and these people don't have much money. on the other hand, they have a lot of appeal to the evangelical voters who will figure largely in south carolina which is not until the 21st, and i think it's perry who is resolved to stay in through south carolina. he also may have some residual money left over from his initial fund-raising when everyone thought he was going to take this race by storm. so i do think though that there will be some winnowing because people won't be raising any money. >> you can't raise money. i would say newt gingrich told nuk todd that he's looking at south carolina. jill lawrence, thank you. >> thank you. now for aç wrap on the grod game in iowa and where things stand. i'm joined by steve mcmahon, democratic strategist, and david winson, a senior adviser to the gingrich campaign. david, i want to start with you first. chuck tadd sodd sat down with n
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earlier today. newt essentially said i hope we do well in iowa, i think we need to finish second in new hampshire, but south carolina is where we need to win. if mitt romney wins iowa and new hampshire, is there even a south carolina for newt gingrich? >> absolutely. again, what you're looking at is that's where his strength is. when you take a look at sort of across the country, you see newt gingrich still leading by a slim margin when you look at the gallup polls mitt romney, but obviously what's about to happen in iowa is really sort of shifting as things evolve. mitt romney, what are the new expectations given what he's doing, newt, how does he get back to talking about his ideas, and, again, going to your point in terms of ron paul, does ron paul bring in different demographics that sort of change the composition of the caucuses? we've got a lot of election and campaigning to do yet here. >> now, steve mcmahon, you have seen this on the democratic side. in '04 we were talking about howard dean until about three weeks before the iowa caucuses. we were talking about him in a good way and then we started
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talking about him in a bad way. the race is over within a week. i take david's point, but in practical political reality, if romney wins iowa and new hampshire, are we looking at a reverse 2004, the race is effectively over for romney, or not? >> you may be looking at a reverse 2004 but david is right, the social conservatives want to have their say, and they want to have a choice, and in iowa, you know, they have manyç choices. they're going to splinter among many candidates. i think the interesting thing is how many of these candidates go to new hampshire because the strategy newt gingrich is talking about going right to south carolina and effectively skipping new hampshire is the same strategy probably that a rick perry or michele bachmann would pursue because in new hampshire 40% of the vote or maybe even more could be independents and the independents don't go for the tea party and they don't go for the christian conservatives. so there aren't a lot of votes in new hampshire for the
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christian srconservative alternative to mitt romney. the best place for that candidate to head is south carolina but they may face the same problem. it might be three or four who decide to stay in. >> david, let me quickly, chuck spoke to former speaker gingrich. i want to go a little policy here about a lot of foreign policy matters, but i want to play you what he had to say about iran and then we'll come back and i'll let you respond. >> i think there's a very one-sided model that appeases the most dangerous and puts pressure on people that we can pressure without any risk. i think you have the same thing with iran. we should have had a strategy for the last decade of replacing the current iranian dictatorship and doing it nonviolently. >> now, david, obviously the last decade includes the presidency of george w. bush. a fair criticism by your candidate and is it one that might get him in trouble with some republican primary voters? >> if i may again, the answer to that is newt has a long track
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record in terms of foreign policy. he was quite involved in terms of helping out in terms of developing a lot of that policy and he obviously has his points of views, but i want to get to something. that was an interesting question, but ultimately what's going toç decide this in termsf where newt gingrich goes is over the next month or two in terms of his discussion of economy and jobs. and so i have to say for anybody in this campaign, as all republicans are sort of looking forward to dealing with president obama, ultimately this conversation has got to be two comes up with the best jobs and economic plan to then challenge the president of the united states with. >> steve -- go ahead, steve. >> i think you would agree that the person who is diverting from that message more than anybody is newt gingrich by going after ron paul, going after mitt romney. he's not talking about the economy and jobs. he's talking about his opponent, about how unfair it is they say bad things about him, and i think you're right. he's the most thoughtful and intelligent person in the field but he's not running a disciplined or effective campaign right now. >> well, i mean -- >> david, quickly.
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>> given all the other news stories that have sort of emerged from other locations, it's been difficult for newt to stay on jobs and the economy, but i think you will clearly see him do that. >> to be continued. we have six more days before iowa. we have a long time maybe before the nominations wrap up. steve and dave, thank you. >> pleasure. republicans and real estate. with the housing market still struggling, will any of the presidential candidates say what the american people want to hear? and ousted president hosni mubarak is back in court. we're live in cairo. me, guided only by a dream. i'm embarking on a journey of epic proportion. i will travel, from sea to shining sea, through amber waves of grain, and i won't stop until i've helped every driver in america save hundreds on car insurance. well i'm out of the parking lot. that's a good start. geico, fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent, or more on car insurance.
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i'm craig melvin. coming up next, we'll get the latest on the kaes lating tensions between iran and the u.s. the pentagon warning that iran's interference with naval traffic will, quote, not be tolerated. "time" magazine's bobby gosh will join me to talk about that. and a study program in the tucson school district is
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illegal. supporters calling it an attack on arizona's hispanic population. we'll talk about that and gift cards are the number one item on holiday wish lists. so why do billions of dollars on them go unused? all that and a whole lot more coming up at the top of the hour on "news nation." >> we're following all the developments as the candidates criss-cross iowa. jur lookiyou're looking at live pictures of rick santorum in due buick and ron paul in newton, iowa. this is "andrea mitchell reports" only on msnbc, but we have plenty more for you. the housing market is where we're talking now. it's still a mess, and the latest data isn't encouraging. home prices fell in most major cities for the second straight month, and a national home builders group calls this year the worst it's ever seen for new home construction. one would think the republican presidential candidates would be all over the topic, right? not exactly.
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the candidates are hardly talking about it or offering detailed solutions. john harwood is here to talk about it. john, it is remarkable with the very rare exception of at a debate in las vegas in october, we really haven't heard them talk much about this at all. what gives? >> well, chris, some problems are so difficult and expensive to solve that nobody feels like talking about them. we're talking about american homeowners are trillions of dollars under water. what do you do about that? this is why mitt romney's solution, which is not the kind of thing that sounds good on the campaign trail so he doesn't say it very often, is don't have the government interfere with the foreclosure process, let the market hit bottom, and then it will come up helped you would hope or we all would hope by a stronger economy. that's not a very satisfying answer because what are the alternatives? how do you make people who have invested in mortgages except lower returns in order to
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refinance? how do you get the congress to let bankruptcy judges reduce people's mortgages in the bankruptcy process given, again, the resistance of investors and other people sayingç why shoul they get a special break? so it is a tough, tough problem, and, you know, in reality the obama administration itself has only marginally a different position because it, too, doesn't have trillions of dollars lying around to solve it. >> if it's not likely -- to your point, if it's too complex and hard to solve and not politically popular to solve in a primary, in a general election we're talking about states like nevada, highest home foreclosure rate in the country, florida, high on the list, those states also happen to be biggies when it comes to swing states in the general election. presumably whoever is the republican nominee and president obama are going to have to find a message to talk about it in november, correct? >> yes, and it was nevada where mitt romney gave an interview to an editorial board a couple
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months ago. we talked about this at our cnbc debate in november, and said that you ought to not interfere with the foreclosure process. the obama administration is going to say look at mitt romney. he doesn't care about your housing values. he wants to let it hit bottom. we can't afford to do that. the reality is that the administration's own steps are fairly modest but they will try to have a message contrast saying we're activist, he's passive. >> john harwood, thank you for joining me. >> you bet. the trial of ousted egyptian president hosni mubarak resumed this morning with the 83-year-old wheeled in on a hospital gurney. he's facing charges in connection to the deaths of some 800 anti-government protesters. nbc joins us live from cairo. >> reporter: good afternoon, chris. as you mentioned, after three months, the former president, his two sons, and six other security officials, including the formerç minister of interi, were brought back into court
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after this recess. now, we have to emphasize the reason why there was this three-month delay was because defendants were actually -- lawyers representing the defendants were trying to get the judge removed. they wanted a different judge to reside over the case. that motion was dismissed, so it is the same judge who began the trial that will oversee it. the defense strategy is really to say that the former president and his security officials acted within the law and that he, the president, never gave a specific order to actually kill demonstrators but to simply contain the demonstrations. the prosecution has yet to make its case. we're still in the very early stages of this trial that is expected to go on for a very long time. human rights organizations and pro-democracy activists in egypt have been extremely disappointed with the decision by the judge to ban television cameras from inside the courtroom. when this trial began, the egyptian people and really across the arab world were able to see this trial. now since that decision though, journalists have been allowed in but cameras will not be allowed in until the end of the trial. back to you, chris.
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>> thank you. what political story will make headlines in the next 24 hours? that's next on "andrea mitchell reports." ♪ girl started blowing up their credit score ♪ ♪ she bought a pizza party for the whole dorm floor ♪ ♪ hundred pounds of makeup at the makeup store ♪ ♪ and a ticket down to spring break in mexico ♪ ♪ but her folks didn't know 'cause her folks didn't go ♪ ♪ to free-credit-score-dot-com hard times for daddy and mom. ♪ v.o.: offer applies with enrollment in freecreditscore.com an accident doesn't have to slow you down. with better car replacement, available only from liberty mutual insurance,
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which political story will make headlines in the next 24 hours? i would be remiss if i didn't mention you are a full msnbc contributor? >> yes. >> we haven't had a lot of good data out of iowa and new hampshire. we're going to get some later today. >> we're going to get new polls at 4:00. there's three things people should be looking at. how much has ron paul been hurt by the re-revelation of those racist, anti-semetic newsletters that bear his name? has newt gingrich's standing eroded further or is he holding steady in iowa? and the third is, is mitt romney the sleeper candidate here who is burn fitting from the conservative vote being split? we talked about this at the top
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of the show. there's a reason why mitt romney who, remember early on, he said he wasn't -- his campaign said he wouldn't compete in iowa ç about. >> go to the straw poll. >> and now he's there. he's going to be there for new year's eve. >> three day bus tour. if romney -- this just shows you never know what you wish for. if he is ahead in the polls that come out in iowa, i wonder now all of a sudden the expectations for him, he's ahead in these last polls, shun the he win? if he loses, does is it all of a sudden flip around? the last six days of any campaign are fascinating. especial especially here with so many undecideds. >> maybe he'll crest too soon. could mitt romney seal this thing up in the next 14 days? what if he wins iowa, then he wins new hampshire, goes into south carolina and florida. what if he wrap s this up by
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january. if he doesn't win iowa, as you said. >> it could be a different story, we noah with a influences new hampshire. stay tuned, i'm excited. you have the sweater vest on, i'm excited about that. jonathan capeheart the man. thank you. >> thanks. >> jonathan always checks out the fix blog. you can too, don't forget to follow me on twitter @thefix. that does it for this edition of "andrea mitchell reports." andrea returns tomorrow, and then beginning friday she will anchor from des moines, iowa. now a look at what's next on "news nation". >> we're following developing news in the battle for with a wash right now, mitt romney about to hold an event in the hawkeye state where new polls put him in a tight race with roç paul. newt gingrich's super pac goes negative. we'll have a response from
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gingrich about the new attack on romney. the pentagon vowing iran's threat to disrupt oil supply will not be tolerated. we'll get the latest on the escalating tensions between the u.s. and iran. news nation just minutes away. n. [ female announcer ] you can't pass mom's inspection with lots of pieces left behind. that's why there's charmin ultra strong. its diamondweave texture is soft and more durable so it holds up better. fewer pieces left behind. charmin ultra strong. yeah, our low prices are even lower. we need to teach her how to walk. she is taking up valuable cart space. aren't you, honey? [ male announcer ] it's our biggest clearance event of the year where our prices are even lower. save money. live better. walmart.
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and medicare guide you don't need to be an aarp member to call. don't wait. call now for free information about the additional coverage you may need. ♪ right now, not holding back, with six days to go before the iowa caucus. who will win depends on who you you read. some say it's romney to clinch, others say ron paul. many others are saying newt gingrich is coming out standing. it will not be tolerated, that'sed message from the u.s. navy to iran after iran threatens to shut down a vital oil route. what a waste? they're the

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