tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC February 1, 2012 4:00pm-5:00pm PST
>> don cornelius gave me an opportunity like he gave so many others. i talked to his son tony today to say his father was a father to all of us. whatever the circumstance, however it ended, wherever you are, don, i wish you love. peace and soul. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts ri romney's war on poverty. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, oops, he did it again. mitt romney made another of those unforced errors today that has plagued his campaign when he said he's not concerned about the very poor. it's yet another opportunity for democrats to paint him as a rich guy out of touch with regular americans and worse yet someone
not really interested in getting in touch with them. and now the senate is moving on that buffett rule to make sure some very rich people like romney can't avoid paying their fair share of taxes. yes, in the eyes of the democrats you can just as easily replace buffett's name with romney's. plus what about newt gingrich? he didn't call romney last night to congratulate him. are you kidding? he didn't concede to romney in florida. he didn't even mention mitt romney's name. newt gingrich's performance, his at times delusional speech last night, left republicans wondering, is newt ready to take the gop down in his quest to bring down romney? just how much is newt willing to hurt the man who has spent millions hurting him? and you may have heard gingrich say this last night -- >> many of you may have noticed the obama administration has declared war on the catholic church and other religious institutions. >> well, newt is talking about the obama administration's recent decision to force catholic institutions including hospitals and universities to pay for birth control including
iuds that run counter to the teachings of the church. the administration says the decision is based on health concerns, but church leaders say it violates religious freedom. we'll have that debate here tonight. and new tapes from the day president kennedy was shot. >> i wish to god there was something that i could do, and i wanted to tell you that we were grieving with you. >> yes, well thanks, thank you very much. >> that is president lyndon johnson newly sworn in consoling rose kennedy, the president's mother. we have more of the kennedy tapes for you tonight. finally let me finish the duel going on right now between newt gingrich and mitt romney and how it reminds me of the aaron burr and alexander hamilton real thing. we begin with mitt romney saying he is not concerned about the very poor. john harris is editor in chief of politico and joan walsh the editor of salon. in all fairness we'll show the whole thing. this isn't the first time mitt has said he was focused on the middle class. nbc reported this afternoon he said something similar in october, but his choice of words
this morning were certainly eye-popping for people like me and everyone watching. let's listen to what this front-running candidate for the republican nomination for president said on cnn today. >> i'm in this race because i care about americans. i'm not concerned about the very poor. we have a safety net there. if it needs repair, i'll fix it. i'm not concerned about the very rich. they're doing just fine. i'm concerned about the very heart of america, the 90%, 95% of americans who right now are struggling. >> i think there are lots of very poor americans who are struggling who would say that sounds odd. can you explain that? >> well, you had to finish the sentence, soledad. i said i'm not concerned about the very poor that have a safety net, but if it has holes in it, i will repair them. we will hear from the democrat party the plight of the poor, and there is no question it's not good being poor and we have a safety net to help those that are very poor. but my campaign is focused on middle income americans. my campaign -- you could choose where to focus.
you could focus on the rich. that's not my focus. you can focus on the very poor. that's not my focus. >> you know, john, i don't know how to explain this guy. he gets deeper and deeper into this pit of strange talk. he's talking about being president of all the people and basically writing off people he doesn't think about or care about. he is saying i only care about i guess the segment of voters he thinks will be the swing voters and is openly saying i don't really care about them. he says it's an odd thing when he says we hear from the democrat party, the plight of the poor. there is no question it's not good being poor. there is no question it's not good being poor. what does he mean by that? >> well, i certainly agree with you, chris, that he has a pretty bad case of foot in mouth disease with the way he put that quote in. it seemed like he was given a chance to clean it up in the interview and didn't take advantage of that. i mean, i can't pretend that i don't know what he was trying to say and said inartfully which is the focus of his policy proposals is aimed at the middle
class. the focus of what his specific policy remedies are trying to achieve. so i don't think he was saying what you said and the way you characterized that, chris. >> i'm just reading the transcript. we can read it again. we hear from the democrat party the plight of the poor and there is no question it's not good being poor. it's not good being poor and we have a safety net to help them that are very poor but my campaign is focused on middle income americans. my campaign, well you can focus on the rich. that's not my focus. you can focus on the very poor. that's not my focus. well, i'll play it as it lays. what do you think, joan? >> well, chris, you know, i appreciate john trying to give the man the benefit of the doubt, but he's got a problem. he looks like he is somebody doing an imitation trying very hard to do an imitation of a regular guy and he keeps saying things like this. so that's problem number one. in terms of what he actually said, i think we need to call
him on the fact that his policy, he supports the ryan budget. the ryan budget cuts a lot of programs for low income people. so, you know, he talks about the safety net like it's some kind of hammock and the poor are just lying in it while the rest of us work. that's garbage. and finally, his tax plan actually raises taxes on the lowest 20% of americans while it gives a tax break to millionaires. so in terms of very specific policy, he is not out to help the poor. he may well hurt the poor. we should say that. >> i want to get back to something that's real. i don't think i'm looking for something here that isn't there. you know there are a lot of people, when you drive through washington at 6:00 in the morning, there were some really struggling people getting up at 6:00 in the morning in tough neighborhoods. african-american neighborhoods a lot of them working very hard. they don't have much money. they're poor. they're poor and they're working. do you think he knows there are people who go to work every day who are poor, that they don't lie in a hammock, that they're not taken care of?
do you think he gets it? i'm talking about the reality of life in this country. >> i'm talking about the reality of life for many millions of people, what you describe there is very remote from mitt romney's experiences. there is no question about that. for that matter, it's remote from the experiences of many people in our profession who in journalism cover these campaigns. >> i agree with that. >> the fact of the matter is most democrats also put the -- make their political appeals aimed at the middle class rather than the poor. poverty has not been endemic, lasting, deep-rooted poverty has not been a leading agenda item in this country for a long time. the one politician who tried to put it there recently was john edwards. perhaps not the ideal messenger in retrospect, but poverty has not been on the agenda. the points that joan is making that the safety net is not some kind of hammock for most people in this country, we're far removed from that debate. >> it just seems strange. it is one thing not to be
reading michael harrington's "the other america" every weekend over and over again. a great book about that very world, but the show, i found it calloused and weird. romney has a history of making comments that would seem to indicate he is not very concerned about the poor. here is what he said in october to a newspaper editorial board in las vegas about the foreclosure crisis. let's watch this. >> don't try and stop the foreclosure process. let it run its course and hit the bottom, allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them. fix the homes up, and let it turn around and come back up. >> i love it. get the people out of the houses they live in and they own. they can't pay their mortgages and fix up the houses and rent them to renters. anyway, let's look. today here just today president obama responded indirectly to those comments by romney. let's listen to the president. >> it is wrong for anybody to suggest that the only option for struggling, responsible home owners is to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom.
i refuse to accept that, and so do the american people. >> do you think there is a smart political calculation in recognizing there is tension between the middle class and the poor and actually between the middle class and the rich? the democrats are focusing on the tension between the rich and the middle class talking about the buffett rule, making sure the rich pay their taxes and don't escape scot-free. there is tension i believe between the middle and the top. but is it, do you think the republicans realize there is a tension between the poor and the middle class and they're playing on that distinction, john? >> well, that tension is one that was exploited for a long time. i haven't seen it be as much of a feature of politics in recent years, but in decades past that was a critical tension. the so-called lunch bucket voter feeling that people on welfare were ripping him or her off. i don't know that i think newt gingrich, excuse me, mitt romney was trying to revive the
politics of george wallace or richard nixon from the early '70s but i do think in his remarks including on the foreclosures he reveals that these are kind of abstractons to him rather than a real understanding of the human dimension of real people getting booted out of their homes or facing enormous economic distress. he is discussing this as though at a great distance. removed. >> i think he is looking at it from the position of a person who owns a lot of property, joan, someone who is thinking about how to make best use of the property. do they let people continue to scrape the money together and try to pay their mortgages off or dump them from the property, foreclose on them and start renting the property? it is the point of view of a land owner not somebody struggling to own a house. that's just didn't -- different ways of looking at it. >> exactly. it is exactly the perspective of a wealthy person, a person involved in banking, a person
involved in real estate, who doesn't simply doesn't get that for most of us, our houses if we own a house, it's the only asset we own. and we invest our hopes and dreams in it. when people lose their homes, many of them are losing everything. and that's what's happened in this housing crisis. you've seen people slide back into poverty. you've seen african-americans and latino families lose most of their net worth after fighting so hard to gain it. so every time he opens his mouth on a topic like this, he does reveal a compassion deficit, an empathy gap that he just hasn't spent any time in the shoes of people who have to worry about money or housing. >> well, the two best comments made so far i think are yours and soledad's. soledad's question to the candidate was, you don't think poor people struggle, just middle class people struggle? and you're used to the word hammock which i will never forget that the safety net is not a hammock. john and i think both appreciate it because it teaches us that even though you get a break from the government if you're really
bad off, it does not make your life good. it is not a good life to be poor. anybody who thinks so is oblivious to life on this planet. >> most poor people work. >> get up at 6:00 in the morning, drive through d.c., the poor neighborhoods. people are waiting at bus stops not going off to disney land. >> right. >> or the golf course. they're going to tough jobs making beds and doing jobs that don't pay enough to get you above the poverty line. john harris, thanks for joining us, the head of politico and joan walsh from out west. coming up newt gingrich didn't call mitt romney last night to congratulate him. do you think he might? you think he ever will? he didn't even concede losing in florida last night. this is hot. it's nasty. he also gave a rather delusional speech last night, newt gingrich did, about what he is going to do the first several days he is president of the united states. that guy is a long way from winning this one. you're watching "hardball" right now only on msnbc. sovereign of the security line. you never take an upgrade for granted.
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i think florida did something very important coming on top of south carolina. it is now clear that this will be a two-person race between the conservative leader newt gingrich and the massachusetts moderate. >> wow. welcome back to "hardball." that was a defiant newt gingrich last night in a speech that made no mention of conceding a huge loss to rival mitt romney down in florida.
gingrich plans to come back from the florida defeat and continue to fight for the republican nomination all the way, but does he think he can win it or is he simply looking to tear down romney? david corn and dede meyer who served as white house press secretary for president clinton. my sense is that romney has humiliated and hurt newt gingrich. newt gingrich is not always a nice guy. in fact, rarely so. >> right. >> but he has been pounded so hard personally, his reputation torn to shreds. it's going to be a long walk back for this guy to say good luck, mr. romney. >> no question. but i mean this is a particularly nasty campaign as we've seen 92% of the ads run by both the campaigns and the superpacs were negative. that's probably an unprecedented number. we haven't gone back and looked but this is just desperately negative. that said, there have been a lot of negative campaigns where the losers have graciously reached out to the winner not because it is the right thing to do, because it is in their self-interests.
that they look gracious and appeal -- >> why is it in newt's self-interest? >> because if he is the nominee, he has a chip with the romney supporters who watched it that night and say, my guy won -- he might get their vote in november. he might get their money. he might get their support. if he is going to be the nominee, he needs to bring the party together. doing things like this -- it's newt's job to do that. if newt is up there, if he wins. >> oh, if he wins. >> yeah. it's in his interest. >> i see. >> he thinks he's in. i'm saying if you are newt and you think you're in -- >> david, remarkable. a lot of people think newt is out of the race. >> that is newt's assumption. >> there are a lot of reasons for newt to do the right thing. >> you think it's the right thing to do? >> i think being gracious is the right thing to do. >> you think so? would you do it? >> of course. you have to do it. you know that in politics. >> but it's about self-interest. >> there are two things going on here. one is his own spite and bile prevents him from doing this. the other thing is i do think he
believes he has a chance to win. and why? because romney still is not right with the base. you know, 33% of the republican electorate still doesn't want romney and anything can happen. >> you guys are smart. you think romney should be thinking like a winner not a loser. >> newt is the last man standing and has to play this out. the question we have is whether he is going to lead pickett's charge and try to win this time or whether he is going to become the suicide bomber that blows everything up in the gop. >> you're following my advice i wrote in a book once and forgot about. don't get mad. don't get even. get ahead. >> and look like a winner to be a winner. he looked like a loser last night. >> you believe if he really thinks he has a chance to win he'll be a little more charming. here gingrich vowed to take the republican primary fight as you suggest through every state of the country. let's listen to his plan. >> you'll notice the number of folks are holding up a sign about 46 states to go. we did this in part for the elite media because, you know,
the same people who said i was dead in june and july and said i was gone after iowa who seem totally quiet the night of the south carolina victory are now going to be back saying, what is he going to do? what is he going to do? i want to reassure them tonight. we are going to contest every place and we are going to win, and we will be in tampa as the nominee in august. >> well, by the way, i don't think the elite media or any media i know doesn't want newt to take this fight -- we like this fight. it is a good fight to watch and maybe an important to watch. this morning on the "today" show mitt romney the front-runner said gingrich didn't even call him last night. >> actually newt didn't call after iowa or new hampshire. i called him after south carolina, his win there but he didn't call again last night. the other candidates all called. i don't know. i guess speaker gingrich doesn't have our phone number. >> now there. >> i love that. >> it's rubbing it in. he is rubbing it in.
>> that's not that appealing either. he could have said well he didn't call me. you know. >> he didn't have my phone number. whenever he does that laugh. >> ho, ho. >> but we've talked about this before. newt gingrich is not a nice person. he comes across as mean and nasty. >> do you think romney is? >> i think he's maybe gracious -- polite. >> have you ever had somebody spend $16 million in florida alone to destroy your reputation? now i -- to disagree with this guy about iran or something. this guy is a bad person. $16 million. >> for 34 years newt gingrich has called democrats nazis, and communist, socialists. he says obama wants to destroy the country. he has no claim to having a more dignified debate. >> two wrongs don't make a right. >> here is another reason to worry about it. newt is not in control of his emotions, right? he is feeling hurt. what happens if he is president of the united states and gets in
a tiff with netanyahu and netanyahu wants to call and talk about their plans to bomb iran? you know, you can't do that when you're playing at this level. >> it is not personal. it's business. >> exactly. you need to watch that. >> let's look at last night. a couple things. he talked about the obama -- let's take a look at romney. actually at newt last night. here he is. newt trying to make his speech all about his ideas and proposals for a possible gingrich administration. this was the most informative look at a presidency to be i've ever seen. he went through every bill he is going to sign, every executive order he is going to sign, all his foreign policy issues where he'll have the u.s. embassy in israel. everything. the most detailed account of something that will probably never happen. let's listen. >> i will ask them to immediately pass the repeal of obama care. i will ask them to immediately pass the repeal of the dodd/frank bill. the very first executive order will abolish all of the white house czars. all this is going to happen
about two hours after the inaugural address. okay? before we get to go to the various balls that night, we are going to have a work period. this is going to be a working presidency. >> and i'm going to have ice cream after dinner every night. i mean, it's like boys state or girls state here. what i'm going to do. >> well, you know, another point in the speech he said, i've been studying what america must do since 1958. he was 15 in 1958. so when you talk about having these grand ideas -- >> i believe that. >> yeah, yeah. >> you knew what you'd do. >> i knew what i was going to say about it. >> once again it wasn't a particularly effective speech. it was somewhere between being petulent and giving a visionary speech. >> you can be the masters of the cloth and decide in a minute what romney should do to bring this guy into good order. on "morning joe" which was great this week, romney continued his
ridicule of gingrich. >> sometimes i have to chuckle when i listen to people think newt gingrich is the conservative in this race. my record is conservative. i believe that people in this country will recognize that as time goes on. here in florida tea partiers and people who call themselves conservative voted in a majority for me. that's a good sign. >> sometimes i have to chuckle. i'd like to be there. i still think he looks like the hall of the presidents. >> yes. >> where the guy stands up, the statue of the president? >> yeah. >> what do you think? he doesn't know about the poor. i think he is treating newt like one of the poor people. >> right. you know, when he gets off his talking points and lets his true colors fly, he shows -- >> did you say shoe colors? >> true colors. >> by the way, i was at my bus stop in northwest philadelphia recently, northwest washington recently and i saw this beautiful mature woman like a european film star at the bus stop. it was you. you have your portrait on one of these big bus stops in d.c. >> i did for a while.
>> what was that product? >> jones new york, the clothingmaker. >> it was tasteful and classy. >> thank you. >> thank you david corn and thank you dee dee. >> on behalf of jones new york, thank you. why newt gingrich is beginning to remind people of his famous monty python bid. you're watching "hardball." remember this one? only on msnbc. if there was a pill to help protect your eye health as you age...
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back to "hardball" now for the side show. first up, no giving up. newt gingrich is standing by his decision to stick out the race until the convention in august but with pro romney's superpacs shelling out to bombard voters with negative ads about the former speaker newt's campaign could be in pieces by convention time. take this e-mail released by politico. quote, newt equals the black knight in monty python. monty python had his legs and arms chopped off in battle. still wanted to fight. here is how the black knight fights on even when he has been dealt enough blows to have lost all his limbs. >> i'm invincible. >> you're a looney. >> all right. we'll call it a draw. >> i see. running away, hey? come back here and take what's
coming to you. i'll bite your legs off! >> that's cruel. just like in that duel newt shouldn't count on team romney to back off no matter how much damage they've done. they could just keep on whacking him as you saw there. next up, first lady michelle obama appeared on "the tonight show" last night. how did she think the rivalry stacks up between president obama and mitt romney? i mean about the two men's ability to carry a tune that is? let's hear the two contenders and the first lady's review. ♪ i -- so in love with you ♪ for purple mountains majesty above the fruited plain ♪ >> did he say to you, honey, i'm going to sing? >> no. >> was that spontaneous? >> that was completely spontaneous. he does have a beautiful voice. >> did you hear mitt romney sing? what did you think? >> i saw it in the green room. >> right, right. >> it's beautiful.
>> beautiful? >> that's class. and finally, when small becomes big, the president's delegate process is a mystery to people. who did alaska whose caucuses get little attention wind up with more delegates than south carolina? alaska with a population of just over 700,000 people will send 27 delegates to the convention in tampa. compare that to south carolina with a population close to 5 million but with only 25 delegates. alaska ended up with this oversized delegation because the republican national committee penalized some states for moving up their primary dates. that brought to us care of the "alaska dispatch" newspaper. up next the obama administration is forcing religious institutions to pay for birth control as part of its health care reform law and that's got republicans and many religious leaders calling foul. that's ahead. you're watching "hardball" on msnbc. ♪
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i'm veronica de la cruz. presidential hopeful rick santorum was in colorado campaigning ahead of tuesday's primary. he snagged the endorsement of tom tancredo. tomorrow he heads to nevada. ron paul was already campaigning in las vegas earlier. paul told hispanic voters he favors a compassionate approach to immigration policy rather than barbed wire fences and guns at the border. nevada caucuses take place on saturday. let's geyou back to "harall." welcome back to "hardball." the obama administration has suddenly found itself in a fight it would like to avoid of course with the catholic church. an issue about new rules under the administration's health care
reform act that will require organizations like religious charities and hospitals including colleges to provide birth control insurance coverage for their employees. here's how new york cardinal designate timothy doan explained his objection to the regulation. >> never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. this shouldn't happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the bill of rights. >> joining me right now to explain this to everybody are "the washington post" reporter melinda hennenberger and melissa rogers a religion expert at the brookings institution. melissa also served as chair of president obama's advisory council on faith-based and neighborhood partnerships. we have two experts. i want to understand this issue. melinda, explain, why did hhs under secretary sebelius do this right now during an election year? issue this requirement? >> okay.
under the affordable care act, employers all have to provide free contraception to their employees. religious employers who make up a tiny percentage of employers in this country said we cannot do what violates our conscience. what violates our church rules. give us an exemption of conscience not to be able -- just to be able to not give free contraception that we don't even believe in to our employees. this was sort of a worst case scenario where i'm trying to figure out how it could have been handled more poorly, but i can't. so the president has a one on one meeting with the guy you just saw, tim dolan. >> archbishop of new york. >> yes. he is assured, they come out of it, he is feeling good. he comes out of it thinking, yes. this is going to be handled with sensitivity. he understands our concerns. he gets it. and so at the last minute on
january 20th, as everybody is showing up in town for the march for life, all of these catholics who support -- who are pro life and who supported barack obama at great risk. i mean really took on so much criticism, are really thrown under the bus. the woman sister carol keyan who single-handedly practically delivered -- there had been no health care reform unless she who runs the catholic health association had supported it, is just left out to dry by him saying, no, you have to violate your conscience to stay in the business that you feel god called you to do and serving the poor and the sick. >> okay. the way it was read from the pulpit on sunday was not just contraception being something that prevents the fertilization of the human egg by the sperm to be very technical but also what they call abortive methods like iuds and morning after pills. so the church sees a greater problem for them not just
contraceptives narrowly defined. this is the issue. i'm asking you the politics, melissa. is everything she said right the way this happened? it's just a tragic conflict of view or what? >> i think the problem is, yes, melinda explained it very well, the problem is that there is an exemption in the regulation but it's not broad enough so it doesn't cover these catholic -- >> who does it exclude? >> it excludes things like most catholic universities, most social services organizations. >> it excludes the catholic universities. >> i'm sorry. it does not allow the catholic universities to refuse to provide this coverage. >> right. >> so they are subject to the mandate. >> so universities and hospitals and all have to basically provide insurance for their employees which includes no co-pay, full coverage for any form of birth control including morning after pills. and why did the administration believe -- why did they do it? why did sebelius do this? let me be political here and not take sides on this, although i do have a side. i think i do. i'm not sure actually.
let me ask you this. why did they do it in the middle of an election year when you have a third or quarter of the country catholic and they are the swing voters? a lot of the other ethnic groups and religions are pretty much identified with a party. catholics tend to swing back and forth. they are the reagan democrats, the people that make up their mind maybe two weeks before an election. you know? these are tricky voters. >> yeah. absolutely. i think they had a good goal in mind which is in my view expanded contraceptive coverage is a good thing. the problem is they've struck the wrong balance here on religious liberty. we shouldn't in my view require objecting religious employers to pay for and offer their employees a plan that they preach against every -- >> here's white house press secretary jay carney trying to explain the reasoning for this mandate in yesterday's white house briefing. >> we will work with religious groups during a transitional period to discuss their concerns. but this decision was made after careful consideration by secretary sebelius.
and we believe that the proposal strikes the appropriate balance between religious beliefs on the one hand and the need to increase access to important preventative services for women. >> well, it's a tough one because all the time the government, especially our democratic government or any government responsive to the voters, the people, tries to avoid fights with religious organizations. jewish, catholic, whatever. they try to avoid issues. >> religious freedom is built into our first amendment. this is not to me a tough call. i mean, the only exemption -- >> well will there be an appeal process? will the president back down or should he? i'm asking. >> the only exemption they have is for institutions that primarily treat their co-religionists so of course you don't want that. of course you want institutions to be open to all so now it's a double whammy where you're being really -- >> i'm very proud of the work my wife and i have done, minimal work but i am very proud of the work with catholic charities because as you just said it is open to everybody.
everybody gets advantage of these things. >> that is the mission. >> this is a sad thing that there is this conflict. i think it is almost like beckett and history, this conflict between church and state and it ain't simple. >> i think we can fix this and i hope the president does. i think expanded contraceptive coverage can be offered and even to employees of objecting religious organizations but we should just not require the objecting religious organizations themselves to pay for and offer that. i think there are other ways to solve this problem. >> the irony though is that the very strongly pro-choice folks who push so hard for this are going to get nothing if obama is not re-elected because catholics don't turn out for him. there won't be a health care reform bill to argue over. >> watch this issue among reagan democrats. >> right. >> relatively conservative democrats who make up their mind each election who to vote for for president. melinda, you did a good job. melissa as well. thank you for coming on. maybe they'll find some way through this. up next new audiotapes of the day jack kennedy was assassinated.
these things are coming out now. chilling stuff here about rose kennedy talking to lyndon johnson. kind of a cold conversation if you consider the situation. maybe everybody was in shock. you'll hear it in a minute. this is "hardball", only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] to the 5:00 a.m. scholar. the two trains and a bus rider. the "i'll sleep when it's done" academic. for 80 years, we've been inspired by you. and we've been honored to walk with you to help you get where you want to be.
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if crestor is right for you. >> announcer: if you can't afford your medication, astra zeneca may be able to help. we're back. new tapes from president kennedy's assassination have been released adding to the story of this elusive hero. presidential historian and rice university professor douglas brinkley joins us right now. thank you for joining us. here is a telephone conversation you and i talked
about it earlier today between rose kennedy, of course the mother of john f. kennedy, and newly sworn in president lyndon johnson and lady bird his wife aboard air force one just hours after the shooting in dallas. let's listen to the brand new tape. >> president kennedy? >> yes, yes, mr. president. >> i wish to god there was something that i could do. i wanted to tell you that we were grieving with you. >> yes, well, thanks a million -- thank you very much. i know. i know you loved jack and he loved you. >> we feel that we've just had -- >> yes, all right. >> we are glad that the nation had your son. >> yes, yes. >> as long as it did. >> yes, well, thank you for that, lady bird. thank you very much. good-bye. >> love and prayers to all of you. >> thank you very much. >> you know, i don't know what to say, doug. it strikes me as a terse conversation. maybe it's all shock. not much heart there. it's strange. a strange conversation. >> it's very strange. and obviously there's no love lost between john f. kennedy and lyndon johnson, but i think rose
kennedy was obviously in shock and had to take the phone call but didn't want to stay on the line very long. got off it probably just didn't help the scenario any that john f. kennedy is dead and he was killed in texas, lyndon johnson's state. >> oh, yeah. do you really think that it's hard for me doing all the work, you've done it too about that relationship between jack kennedy. i know he picked johnson for his own needs to win texas and other southern states. they were never buddies before. probably never buddies again. but what is your thinking about the real sentiments involved? >> there was no relationship there by 1963. you know, bobby kennedy lived to loathe lyndon johnson as did ted kennedy and the kennedy family. there was always the feeling that johnson's presidency wasn't real, that it was really just a co-option of kennedy policies and the proof in the pudding that bobby kennedy geared up to run in 1968 over vietnam and
wanted to in many ways help cripple johnson's presidency. >> i mean, kennedy had these weird -- he laughed at them as kind of a river boat gambler and called them landslide because h gambler, called him "landslide" he won by 87 votes. used to kid him about a dishonest election. felt uncomfortable being in his presence. he didn't like being in the same room as lyndon johnson. let's go to something important to history, the viet nam war. a new tape came out november 20, just released, november 20, 1963 two days before the assassination. kennedy had his eye on viet nam. two days before he got killed, talking about what he was going to follow up with the ambassador henry cabot lodge. >> they were going to have a briefing book for me by saturday. i think i ought to be back here until maybe seven, then i have to see cabot.
>> what is your sense where we would have gone, we went with 500,000 troops as the complement of troops, subsequent beginning in 65, do you think kennedy would have escalated the way johnson did, made this in an american war. >> i absolutely do not. the evidence is i think growing all the time that john f. kennedy would not have been suckered into viet nam the way lyndon johnson was. i say that make i had written the biography of james forrestal, i used to interview mike. john f. kennedy wanted to plan how to get out of there. there was a feeling it was a lost cause, kennedy gave a world peace speech, starting a new foreign policy and remember, the generals didn't do john f. kennedy, as you know, chris, from writing your book, they didn't do him well by cuban missile crisis. he laughed off the generals in the end. the thought he would be so overwhelmed by what the military was telling him about viet nam the way johnson was doesn't seem
likely. we'll never know because there is an election in 64 that affected viet nam, we don't know if kennedy would have responded to a gulf incident, but you cannot say that john f. kennedy wasn't looking for a way to get out of the mess. >> i absolutely agree with you. we don't ever know the future when someone was killed, i think seeing the french war in indo-china, the use of fire power in 54, he always knew the issue was nationalism, all the more troops would increase their nationalism. they would resent us more the more troops we put in, that turned out to be the case. >> completely agree. also keep in mind connects to the previous comments we had, there was such a thing as you know as new frontiersmen, the kennedy's relationship to the military than lyndon johnson.
stuart udall, kennedy was getting his footing. he had won the big show downs in berlin, by not being a militarist, the notion he would squander his entire presidency on the gamble of viet nam wasn't in the cards and he was backing away from overcommitting the united states in the fall of 63. i have been writing on walter cronkite, he did a famous interview with kennedy, he dropped in your book, he drops the bomb on cronkite's first half an hour nightly news of distancing america from viet nam to a degree. so you started seeing in the fall kennedy wasn't -- hadn't bought in the idea if the dominos were going to fall if we lost south viet nam, even though the theory was in effect. >> every time i hear a kennedy for president, i'll listen to the generals on the ground, take their instructions, i go wait a minute you're running to be their boss. you're running to be a u.s.
commander in chief. thank you. kennedy was thinking about color tv at the 64 convention. he figured he would win the nomination and he was going to get reelected. already planning ahead right at the end there. sad but also positive in the way he was so optimistic. doug brinkley, thank you for coming on from rice university. when we return, we finish with the duel of words between newt and mitt, will it get worse? you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. wouldn't it be cool if you took the top down on a crossover? if there were buttons for this? wouldn't it be cool if your car could handle the kids... ♪ ...and the nurburgring? or what if you built a car in tennessee that could change the world? yeah, that would be cool. nissan. innovation for today. innovation for tomorrow. innovation for all. ♪
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let me finish tonight with this, the thousands injuries i born as best i could, but when he ventured upon insult i vowed revenge. those are the opening words to a short story how one man's revenge led to him burying the rival alive. that was a tale of horror, dark if brilliant fantasy. for case of real life revenge and history and politics think of aaron burr, and alex ander hamilton, they had a duel. hamilton said burr was despicable. here western watching a great poet's imagination and what we read. newt gingrich has a case against mitt romney right now. romney has spent millions with the single purpose of destroying gingrich as a candidate.
oh, not just that, destroying him as a public figure repelling h him in the country's mind. he's not attacking just not the politician, villainizing him, trampling him in the dust of iowa and florida that liberals are starting to root for gingrich. here is a question, how this is going to end? romney keeps ridiculing newt, publicly enjoying newt's humiliation, chortling over it. it isn't professional, smart, will reap trouble for romney. if romney thinks adding insult to injury will get newt or anybody to move oh may be good at business but he's no politician. hamilton could have pulled back on calling burr despicable, could have but didn't. we don't have duels these days, we don't have talk except when senator miller talks to me. we have politics.