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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  February 28, 2012 4:00pm-5:00pm PST

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pac. well, that was fun. but it's time for me to call it quits. what rick santorum is still out there, so, folks, remember, screen your phone calls. thanks for watching, i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. hey prince william, it's reverend al. do you like blueberry pie? rick versus romney. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in new york. what an evening it's going to be. in just one hour, we will see vote-to-totals from michigan. and at 9 p.m., we will see vote totals from michigan and arizona.
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tonight, we stand and watch again at the political abyss of mitt romney. he may win tonight and avoid a devastating fall, but if he loses, the fall could be deadly. how does romney explain losing in michigan? how does a candidate who outspends a rival 2-1 explain rejection? and how does anyone explain losing to a candidate who makes himself so challenging to vote for as rick santorum? this may be as big a night as we have had in this political season. and we'll have it covered now until the dust settles. then rachel maddow and i will be joined for full coverage of the primaries. we begin our coverage tonight right now with "time" magazine's joe klein and howard fineman, also an msnbc political analyst. i want to start with you, joe. tonight, this thing about mitt romney. i want your general stance. i don't think he's a good politician. i don't think he has the human
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touch or bedside manner. he's not what we think of as a good politician. that's his problem. >> that's true. and today was an incredibly significant day in the history of mitt romney. he finally admitted that there was something that he wouldn't do to get this nomination. >> what's that? >> he would not set his hair on fire. you know, as much as i'd like to see romney set his hair set on fire, the fact is that throughout this process, he has sold his soul to the devil time and time and time again. and finally today, he said that he wouldn't criticize the president in the outlandish way that santorum and newt and others have been doing. >> let's show thatright now. here's mitt romney saying what he won't do. we're finally hearing what he won't do. what he's not even willing to do. let's watch it. >> it's very easy to excite the base with incendiary comments. we have seen throughout the campaign that if you're willing
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to say really outrageous things that are accusative and attacking of president obama, that you're going to jump up in the polls. you know, i'm not willing to light my hair on fire to try to get support. >> howard, is this the same candidate who fairly recently has said again and again, if president obama is president next year, iran will have nuclear weapons. if i'm president, they won't. i think that's a pretty strong statement in terms of incendiary. but your thoughts? >> well, he's already set his hair on fire many times, it's just not flammable. >> howard, quote of the day. now we move on. >> but looking at it from the other way, how much guts does it take as a politician to stand up for a college education or to stand up for the separation of church and state? is that as far as mitt romney is willing to go to take issue with rick santorum? if that's only as far as he's
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willing to go with the mild and sort of vague denunciation of incendiary rhetoric, does he deserve it? you have to have a little bit of guts in politics. why not take him on? that will force santorum even farther to the right. but mitt romney refused to do it. >> here are the numbers, he is on the abyss. the latest polls have santorum with a slim edge right now of 38% to 37% in michigan. that's how close they are dancing on the edge of the cliff right now. romney could lose tonight. >> he could lose. and even if he wins tonight, what does he win? next week, we have super tuesday, which isn't looking that terrific for him now. he's going to have a tough road in probably the most important state, which is ohio. it's going to be near impossible for him down south. he has two little blocks, that block in new england with massachusetts next week and the mormon stripe in the west. idaho has a lot of mormons. >> well, one of the most
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interesting things tonight, howard, is rick santorum, as many people have said are unacceptable, you pointed them out, he is still running head to head with this guy in the guy's native state. that's the most devastating shot at mitt romney. he can't beat a guy who has stuck his chin out on so many cultural issues, including after going after jfk, the state jfk carried back in '60 and has a lot of catholic followers to this day. and making these other comments that most would say are 1953 at best. >> a couple things, first of all, rick santorum has made it difficult for himself to reach out to catholic democrats. you don't want to trash jack kennedy when reaching out to catholic democrats. i think what you're going to hear from the romney campaign in the off chance romney loses tonight, if he does lose, and i've already been talking to some of his people about this, they are going to blame the democrats. they are going to say, if you look at the numbers, mitt romney
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has a decent lead among republicans, but rick santorum is going to the democratic side to get the democrats in. romney will blame everybody else. the problem is, and joe and i have covered i don't know how many campaigns between us, and you too ,chris, i have not seen mitt romney improve as a candidate or as a campaign. this last week or so in michigan and down at the nascar event, for mitt romney was a nightmare. you had ford field and you had him making fun of people with the cheap rain slickers. you had him bragging about the owners he's friends with. just one disaster after another for both him and his campaign. for the professional politicians, they are wondering, we thought this guy was technically competent. he isn't even that right now. >> what's wrong with being able to prove you can reach across the aisle to get democratic votes? >> i would go one further. he has gotten worse as a candidate. when he first came out, he was
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making a disciplined case against obama in terms of the economy, in terms of jobs and regulations and so on. he's become a mess. >> here he is. let's take a look. he's made your point here, guys. here's mitt romney conceding he's made some mistakes during the campaign. let's watch him. >> i'm very pleased with the campaign, its organization. the candidates sometimes make mistakes. i'm trying to do better and work harder and make sure we get our message across. i think in the final analysis, i anticipate become the nominee because i think what people want to be talking about is the economy. >> are these mistakes, howard, or are they disclosures? a mistake, according to michael kinsley years ago, is when you tell something you really believe. this guy i think are disclosures. we have campaigns to see who the real candidate is. my wife has a couple caddys.
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he made fun of a person for not having an upper class raincoats on. made fun of them for wearing ponchos. that's not a mistake. that's him. >> it's a mistake if you're running a campaign designed to show you have a connection to real people by going to nascar event and then make fun of the clothes people are wearing. >> i have never heard of a politician making fun of people for the clothes they are wearing. >> so they had a $3 poncho on. you know, they can't afford a brooks brothers or barber coat. >> one reason romney may be going after santorum for his snob comment is he has his own image problem as a snob. here's what he said to the group of fans wearing plastic ponchos. i like those fancy raincoats you bought. really sprung for the big bucks didn't you? he's making fun of people wearing those clear, see-through ponchos you buy, usually when you get caught in the rain. he's wearing this sporty,
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abbreviated raincoat. >> plus they are already in a bad mood because the race is being delayed. >> on sunday, rick santorum said john kennedy's his historic speech on religion in '60 made him "throw up." today he backtracked. let's listen to his backtrack. this is rick. >> i probably wouldn't have gone down that road with jfk and throw up. we don't generally want to hear candidates throwing up at all, in any context. you know what i mean? >> i would agree with that. i wish i had that line back. if you read president kennedy's text, while there was some good things he said in that, there were some things that triggered, in my opinion, the privatization of faith. and i think that's a bad thing. >> well, i don't know he went after kennedy on what many people believe was the best
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speech of his campaign, which is to try to explain although he was a catholic, he wasn't going to take his religion into the office and become a theocrat. >> he's the opposite of mitt romney. i was out in michigan over the weekend. mitt romney is those wonderful kind of sterile suburbs that surround detroit. >> wonderful? sterile? >> santorum is hamtrammel and lincoln park and the places -- and so he doesn't premeditate this stuff. he just lets it rip. he's the legion of decency. >> my question to those who are on the other side. howard, speak for them, those in the center and the left. what should they fear more? romney's elitist attitude towards the economy where he looks at everything from the economically or santorum's gut sense that his religion should trump the constitution, if necessary? >> i think rick santorum is posing a more fundamental challenge to the modern world.
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and on the assumption that it's going to probably be a tight race regardless, and i think it will because of polls showing that there's still a lot of unhappiness with president obama's leadership, especially on the economy, i would say be careful what you wish for if you're wishing for rick santorum, because the campaign, i think, would be one of surpassing ugliness, probably on both sides, and something even more divisive than anything we're already prepared to expect in this coming election. >> could he win the presidency, howard? >> yeah, he could win the presidency. if you get in the finals and the big game, you can win. i wouldn't say no. because as we all know, we were talking about the area of ten states. you're talking about ten battleground states. you could say it's unlikely, but i don't think you can say it's impossible. of course, you never say that in politics.
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>> joe, do you agree, he could win the general? >> probably not, but he has a shot. the thing about romney's campaign that's so crazy is that if you run on eligibility, which is a stupid thing to run on in the first place, you have to prove that you can be -- that you're electable to the people in the middle who are going to put you over the top. and he has done none of that in this campaign, going back to the very first thing we started with. >> what i have learned is when people hear the word santorum, they listen. they are interested. when they hear romney, they are bored. there's something boring about that name. thank you joe klein and howard fineman. coming up, the santorum campaign is robocalling, especially michigan democrats urging them to vote for him in the open primary today. he's looking for democratic votes. it's driving romney crazy. you're watching "hardball"'s coverage of the michigan and arizona primaries today, only on msnbc. announcer ] wouldn't it be cool if you took the top down on a crossover?
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allies have outspend rick santorum 2 to 1 in michigan. the romney campaign and super pac have spent $4.1 million in that state versus $2.1 for the santorum campaign and super pac. not to be left out of the action, newt gingrich, who got another money infusion from casino mogul sheldon adelson, newt's super pac is spending on tv ads in seven states. we'll be right back. if there was a pill to help protect your eye health as you age... would you take it? well, there is. [ male announcer ] it's called ocuvite. a vitamin totally dedicated to your eyes, from the eye-care experts at bausch + lomb. as you age, eyes can lose vital nutrients. ocuvite helps replenish key eye nutrients. [ male announcer ] ocuvite has a unique formula not found in your multivitamin to help protect your eye health. now, that's a pill worth taking.
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welcome back to "hardball." in michigan, democrats are able to walk up to the polls and vote
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in today's republican primary something rick santorum hopes to use to his advantage. listen to this robocall that went out to democrats today in hopes of getting them out to vote. >> michigan democrats can vote in the republican primary on tuesday. why is it so important? romney supported the bailouts for his wall street billionaire buddies but opposed the auto bailouts. that was a slap in the face to every michigan worker and we're not going to let romney get away with it. on tuesday, join democrats who are going to send a loud message to massachusetts mitt romney by voting for rick santorum for president. this call is supported by hard-working democratic men and women and paid for by rick santorum for president. >> tonight, we can report new exit poll data on who voted today in michigan. 10% of the voters say they are democrats. 31% say they are independents. 59% say they are republican. and that democratic number hasn't changed a whole lot since 2008. look at the number of combined
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democrats and independents and the decline in republicans from four years ago. that's notable. today in michigan, 27% of voters say they are moderates. 14% are a members of a union. those are on par from four years ago in the bouting. are these the kind of reagan democrats who want to pick an obama alternative? mayor dane walling is the democratic mayor from flint and mark halperin writes for "time" magazine, msnbc senior political analyst. what's your thoughts about this? romney is throwing around the term "dirty tricks." it seems to me under michigan law you're perfectly within your rights to pick up a republican ballot if you choose so. is that a dirty trick for a democrat to vote in the primary today? >> no. this is how it's been in michigan for a long time.
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and governor romney knows that well. there are democrats and independents and vice versa in the primaries. and i think he's just trying to prepare for a shock tonight and find someone to blame. >> what do you think of that, mark? is that a fair assessment? maybe it was a clean trick. get the other side to vote if you can't win with your vote. >> do my best fred armisen doing joy behar. who cares. what does it matter? if romney loses, that's all that's going to matter. some are going to vote because they are reagan democrats and they like his message. some will be mischiefmakers driven by unions. it doesn't matter. the robocalls are fine. if you want to become president of the united states, you want democratic votes because you're going to need them if you're going to win the general. >> mayor, back in 2000, when i was happy with john mccain, i was thrilled he won in michigan. i thought a lot of the catholic voters went over to the democratic side because they
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liked him. he was a war hero. they didn't have a war hero running on their side. they had one running on the other side. they did what most people do. there is a president for you this is how elections work. people go to the polls and get to vote for who they like for whatever reasons they choose. for governor romney to suggest that anyone is somehow hijdisrey works. >> john mccain had a lot of crossover votes. he took part in the primary. 17% were democrats. 35% were independents. and among the democratic voters, mccain trounced george bush 82% to 10%. what does it tell you that we're looking at the numbers coming in? is it good for the crossovers to have a prounounced effect? >> it could. if you're focused on the
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mischiefmakers, it's hard to know how they would answer. they may not answer honestly. >> let's go with the legitimate concern for democrats. >> it's good for santorum, particularly if he gets the bulk of them. i asked someone who worked for rick santorum. you want the reagan democrats, but how do you feel about the mischief makers? and his answer amounted to hummana, hummana, hummana. they didn't have an answer. the state party has denounced them. rick santorum probably will and should denounce them in the sense of party politics. you don't want to come out of this having been elected on the back of michael moore. i don't think we'll know what percentage it is. reagan democrats, would have welcomed them under different circumstances. us with these exits. after the robocall news broke, santorum defended the call and brought romney's campaign tactics as defense. let's watch.
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boy, what goes around comes around, mitt. >> you mean when he runs a robocall of my voice from four years ago saying good things about him, that's not a low moment? it's interesting he criticize me for attracting democrats because one of the things that romney's people say is he can't attract democrats. we'll wait and see. >> mayor, so many goes around comes around pieces, hard to keep track of them. romney defended himself for having voted for paul tsongas in 1992 in a democratic primary by saying he was basically miff chief makinmaking. he wasn't defending his voting. he was saying he was over there to screw with the other party. he's admitting his behavior in the past is the worst interpretation of voting today. >> right. he's trying to flip-flop again on this. it's right for him in one case and now it's wrong for somebody else. and i think the voters at the end of the day, when you have a
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million and a half people go to the polls, you're going to see them vote for the people who they think are best positioned to lead this country forward. >> let me ask you about something in the gut out there. in the gut, when you talk to uaw families and people who care about whether they are in the supply business or just care about the economy of your state, is there a sense that romney is particularly guilty because he voted to bailout wall street and not the auto industry? >> yes. governor romney should have known better. he talks about his connections to michigan. his family has deep roots here. he should know how important the american auto industry is to our country, to our state, and for him to get into that overheated rhetoric and talking about letting detroit go bankrupt, that sent a clear and strong political message that he just has disdain for the voters and the working families in michigan. it's coming back to haunt him. >> by the way, if he loves
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michigan so much, why doesn't he live there? >> that's a good question. >> it's not like he has a job somewhere else. the whole question of the bailout, how does it work politically out there? >> there are some people who vote in the process who agree with him about markets and the way it should have been handled. clearly though, if he wins on the backs of independents and democrats flocking to santorum, i think the bailout issue it's such a hot button. the fact that he's opposes the bail out the way he did. >> he'll have the brand of the guy who loses michigan, if he does, he'll have the brand of a guy who betrayed the auto industry. >> even if he becomes the republican nominee, he will have that in the jeep election, too. david plouffe salivates over that every day. >> thank you, mark halperin, who even does know these guys.
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we have been talking about whether the open republican primary could be affected by democrats crossing over to vote in the gop race and we are getting some information on how that is shaping up in our nbc news exit poll. take a look this year, 10% of voters in michigan call themselves democrats, compared to 7% four years ago. so, not much of a big change there. but the number of independents
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is up six points to 31% from 25% and that leaves a nine-point drop in the number of self-described republicans this year from 68% which we saw in 2008. we are also seeing similarities in the size of other key groups each state. now, take a look, 38% in arizona and 30% in michigan call themselves very conservative and a similar number of people said they are strong supporters of the tea party. and our last number, take a look at this, 38% in both states describe themselves as white evangelicals. chris, with he will keep watching these numbers closely throughout the night to see how the groups vote and keep an eye on them and bring it to you next sit polling. >> tamron, thanks so much. when we return, i will be joined by republican strategist steve schmidt, former republican party chairman michael steele and muffing ton post howard fineman and the "washington post," eugene robinson. what a crew of experts, you are watching "hardball's" live coverage of the michigan and arizona primaries today. we will be right back.
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i love the crack of an election night and welcome back to "hardball's" coverage of the michigan and arizona primaries. bring in our panel. republican strategist steve schmidt, who is famous now. he ran the mccain/palin campaign and more importantly, if a big movie coming up, "game change" as played by woody harrelson. and michael steele, chairman of the republican national committee, we always rooted for him. howard fineman the editorial director of the "huffington post" media group and eugene robinson is a pulitzer
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prize-winning columnist for the "washington post." i want the two republicans to work us through what you think of the state of this contest, bring us right up to date, we don't know what happened yet in the two big states tonight where is this primary, the looks of santorum up there arguing the cultural issues? mitt romney coming off his -- i would say as a bit of an elitist? how would you see the two candidates now? >> i think inside the republican party, especially in washington, chris, people are deeply, deeply unhappy and becoming very, very pessimistic about the chances of any of these candidates to defeat the president in november. the fact is if you look inside the polls, what's happened is the republican party's base is fractured, democratic base is uniting. the middle of the electorate, those independent voters, a couple months ago, they had soured on the president, they are back squarely with the president. mitt romney is bleeding out among those independent voters, his up favorables are rising. you see the president is open to five or six-point lead which is still a structurally close race
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but a significant lead at this point. if you look at this contest now, you are talking about issue, whether it be the president wants your kid to go to college so they can be indoctrinated about contraception, relitigating the president kennedy speech of 52 years ago, which there has been a consensus on in this country for a very, very long time and rick santorum, we have a candidate who takes three paragraphs to explain every controversial sentence he utters three times a day. people are pretty down right now and there is still a lot of talk about the mystery candidate who is going to jump into the race. i think it is a fantasy, nevertheless, people are still talking about it. >> michael steele, if you were still the chair of the republican party, would you be saying now is the time to find a replacement for these candidates? >> no i would not and be consistent with what i have been saying from the very beginning, to pick up where steve just left off, inthink that is a fantasy that some knight in shining armer is going to come in and save the party from itself. i think steve has laid out a very accurate indictment of how we've got ton where we are.
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where i still have a glimmer of hope and i've always held out is that the base of this party is gonna bring this thing into its own conclusion and its own time and its own way and i think that's the important thing for me. you know, whether the washington crowd is happy or unhappy, could i care less about. what i'm more concerned about is the point that steve touched on about the base fracturing along lines were we can't recover, we can't bring ourselves together to go into the big and most important battle this november. so, let deal with the bodies on the ground, comes from the knute's campaign and mitt's campaign and santorum's campaign as well as ron paul's but let's now think about how we pull this together, rally behind one of these guys over the next few weeks as we get ready to the big fight. >> let talk about the collateral damage. today, the "boston herald," john mccain warned about the damage to the party's nominating
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contest could do to the nominee once he is decided upon. here's what mccain said. this is like watching a greek tragedy, the negative campaigning and increasingly personal attacks it should have stopped long ago. any utility from the debates has been exhausted and now it is just exchanging cheap shots and personal shots followed by super pac attacks. gene robinson that seems to be a damage assessment by a loyal republican right there. >> well, you know, john mccain talking about intraparty peace and lovgs i mean, he hasn't always been about that. he has been a maverick at times always been about that. he has been a maverick at times. o he has a point, this has gotten personal and the underlying fact that is going to continue giving the party problems, i think, is the majority of the party isn't yet sold on mitt romney, still isn't sold on mitt romney and until the party accepts him as a nominee or rejects him in favor of somebody else there is going to be this uncertainty this
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continuing rancor and the party's prospects are going to look somewhat dimmer. >> howard, i want you to come in here after you hear romney not willing to go as low as the other candidates, wouldn't play to their erogenous zones. here is rush talking about that today. romney said he wasn't willing to light his hair on fire for the base. here's rush on that. >> so romney's not willing to say incendiary things, quote, about owe bam in to excite the base. well, what does he say? nice guy, just in over his head. what does this tell you that romney thinks of the base? that it takes incendiary comments to turn you on. and all you want is somebody beating up on obama. somebody to come along and beat up obama or set their hair on fire to get attention, then
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that's all you care about. >> god, howard, i think he has figured out romney that that he is an elitist who looks down on the base. think rushbo is saying that here. >> first of all, i think is interesting that mitt romney has actually tried in his way to be incendiary. he started out the campaign a year ago saying barack obama's a nice guy the president's a nice guy, he is in over his head. that doesn't didn't work. so, in recent months, he has been very, very incendiary, it just hasn't lit any fires anywhere. but now he is getting it from the other direction because -- because mitt romney seems to be looking down his nose at rick santorum and refusing to engage him on things i think there's very little risk of engaging him upon. if mitt romney wanted to stand up and bravely defend college education and separation of church and state, i think he could possible probably get away with it but too timid to trial. >> steve, when you are accusing
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a guy, put it the right way, romney put it i refuse to be a rabble-rouser that intuitively is saying this the republican party is rabbel. >> exactly. he doesn't want their passions to be too inflamed. i think the first step in getting help is admitting there's a problem. so, it was good today to hear -- >> who is chuckling out there? somebody is. >> mitt romney talking about the fact he has made a lot of mistakes and he is going to try to do better. a couple of weeks ago, there was a story trying to explain why he breaks into verse of "america the beautiful" at the campaign rallies that is what he wants to talk about. that's what he wants to do. so, maybe there's a growing recognition that with some of this stuff, whether it's the nascar quote, the poor people's quote, that there needs to be a greater discipline, a greater focus, maybe the need for a positive vision out there on the campaign trail. >> you know, gene, you were laughing, i just don't buy the fact that these are mistake buys romney. they are revelations, they are
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giveaways. it is not like -- what's it called, the joker comes in like in a batman movie, interrupts your transmission, that is the transmission. that is romney. >> i think he is who he is. he said it. >> right. >> i'm not as ardent a nascar fan, but i know a couple of guys are team owners. i mean, that is his life and he is not hiding it and, you note, people who like it, people who don't like it won't, i guess. to follow on steve's comment, mitt romney entering some 12-step program to right hits campaign, you know, step two and three probably going to have to be -- raise some money, we will see how he does tonight, but if it's perceived as a weak performance, he is gonna soon i think get to the point where funders, maybe a little wary, maybe sitting on the sidelines, he can always write himself a big check. he will have decisions to make
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given the rate which he is spending money. >> chris, can i say having covered movement conservatives for 30 years, they can smell con detention. >> yeah. >> they can smell when they are being patted on the head and told to go stand in the corner. what romney doesn't get is that is the party of today i think he sees party in the conservative movement, now pretty much one, overlap, especially in the groups, primaries and caucuses, i don't think he really understands who he is talking to and i think, you know, all the money in the world, all the negative attacks all the mechanics, corporate campaign, $65 million he has spent so far may keep inching him down the road. for all we know, he may win both of these events tonight, but it will be grudging, it will be against, essentially against the base of the party, the only reason santorum's even in this.
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santorum's done everything he can to make himself unpalatable or unelectable, mitt romney may be barely palatable in the end but that's all he will ever be. >> michael it reminds me of "the last of the mohicans." remember colonel hayward, you had these very well poofed up french officers that had the indian iroquois allies go out and take scalps, but they were all perfectly dressed and they would never do anything like that. it's like dish hate to use the word french because i like them but like the french officers are people like mitt romney and they are going, it's too bad i have to fight on the same side as these coarse indian bus they are the ones making you win the war against the english, you know? he needs them to win but doesn't really like their company, am i wrong, michael? >> i don't think you are. i think howard again has put his finger on it that condescension, that sense of disconnection is a theme throughout the presidential campaign. let's put this in context for everyone this man, romney, has been running for this office
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since 2008 and the fact that we are on a night like this in his backyard, talking about the possibility of his losing michigan, talking about the fact the base isn't with him, everything you need to know about the difficulties he has had in making that connection, that full-throated connection with the base of this party and until that happens, this saga is gonna continue and to your point, may be begrudge, you know exco , coming together at the end in tampa but my concern is how-to-does that translate to the effort in november? we have seen the numbers down and gop primary turnout in the contest so far. this does not bode well for those rabel rousers who you are going to need go do some rousing this november if they are not feeling it. >> this last one, i think i have to correct you, you said he has been running for president since 2008. mitt romney has been running for president since 1968 when his father lost and a lot has happened to your party in those
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40 years. let's try to catch up, when we come back with steve schmidt, michael steele, howard fineman and eugene robinson this is "hardball's" live coverage of the michigan and arizona primaries, both here on msnbc. look at all this stuff for coffee. oh there's tons. french presses, espresso tampers, filters. it can get really complicated. not nearly as complicated as shipping it though. i mean shipping is a hassle. not with priority mail flat rate boxes from the postal service. if it fits it ships, anywhere in the country for a low flat rate. that is easy. best news i've heard all day! i'm soooo amped! i mean not amped. excited. well, sort of amped. really kind of in between. have you ever thought about decaf? do you think that would help? yeah. priority mail flat rate shipping starts at just $5.15, only from the postal service. a simpler way to ship. how they'll live tomorrow. for more than 116 years, ameriprise financial has worked for their clients' futures. helping millions of americans retire on their terms. when they want. where they want. doing what they want. ameriprise.
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welcome back to "hardball," coverage of the michigan and arizona primaries both today. let me start with howard fineman. you look at this as a track tell. when you look at this tonight and a good night for romney what would it be? >> well, a good night for romney is to win arizona, which i think he has got a good shot at doing. and to win michigan by more than
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a hair's breath. to do it by what he can describe or can plausibly be described as a real margin. because this is a -- michigan is a state he should win, should win comfortably, he's in the fight for his life up there. he has to win it and win it i think by more than a few votes. if it is a hair's breath then he will not have -- will not have quelled doubts about him. >> steven, we're leading in super tuesday, next week is the big enchilada, ten states will vote. how much does tonight affect that, will people change their minds? >> i think if santorum wins michigan it's devastating for romney to lose in ohio or be in a close contest in ohio. the reality is michigan is not going to be on the target list in the general election. the president will be in a solid position there. not the case with ohio. the other issue for romney
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culturally the republican party, yet to demonstrate to win in the south. a number of southern states, one of them excusable because it's newt gingrich's home state, how does mitt romney fare in the south? >> newt can win in tennessee, georgia, where else? >> tennessee, whenever there has been candidate perceived more moderate versus more conservative, more establishment candidate has typically carried tennessee in these contest. it should be a contest romney does well in, but as you start to look ahead on the remaining schedule here, romney hasn't demonstrate and ability to connect cultureally with the base of the party, he can be the nominee without connecting with the base of the party in the south but means it will be a turbulent relationship. >> the only test we had of the lds connection is the pan hahan
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in florida. >> it helped in nevada, didn't help him in the panhandle. >> howard, is this a prelim, impact statement? >> you have to understand next the super tuesday won't settle anything. that is mistake on it. i think it will be a divided result. that is most likely. given what we know about the likely results tonight. i think newt gingrich as you said is in a strong position to do well in georgia and the most delegates are at stake in georgia because the republicans reward states that do well for republican presidential candidates by tilting the delegates in that direction. so he will do well there. i think newt gingrich has a shot in tennessee to be competitive. i think rick santorum will give mitt romney everything he can handle in ohio. don't forget he's from pittsburgh, knows eastern ohio area, that is one in the same with western pennsylvania. and mitt romney is going to win massachusetts and vermont, his
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home territory, and but who knows how he will do, i agree with steve 100%, tennessee is a good indicator in certain ways tennessee will be the kind of ohio of the south, for super tuesday. >> corker and alex sander are the moderate republicans that win there. how will the press react, play this if romney does sort of what was said tonight if he does, wins in arizona and pulls a squeaker in michigan, what happens then? is that not good enough? >> if it's a squeaker, then the headlines i think are romney basically still a question mark. if it's a kwesqueaker. if he wins by an ample margin, it's a good night for mitt romney. and i think you have to give him that. it does give him momentum going in super tuesday. and as you look ahead, he still
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has the money advantage. it's not that michigan is certainly not going to settle this domination battle but if he does really well in michigan, it does give him a boost. he's then, if he gets the domination he has to make it worth something. >> we want a wild west next tuesday. that what is we want. lots of different surprises, lots of fights and lots of winners. thank you, steve schmidt, michael steele, howard fineman, eugene robinson. whether we return the trouble with mitt romney. you're watching "hardball" live coverage of the michigan and arizona primaries today only on msnbc.
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let me finish tonight with this, what is a politician? is it he or she someone who has the natural touch with people? someone who can get people to go along with them or a personal that will say anything to get along. someone who hides believes, strongest commitments in order to get people to like them? think about who meets the first definition the person get other people to go along with them because he's so good with people they find themselves liking what he has to say. i would say bill clinton, wouldn't you? think of the second definition, politician admit nothing, who doesn't want to lead voters but get by them. mitt romney, mitt romney, mitt romney. i think this is the reason why he's having so much trouble getting anyone excited about him. he doesn't like this thing, this
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campaigning, this asking people to vote for him. he wants to be back in the board room to talk away he normally talks about having a couple cadillacs, liking being able to fire people who don't deliver for him or rib somebody for wearing a cheap rain coat when he sports something just right. this is a teaching moment, teaching all of us the way candidates look at things, the ray one paul doesn't believe in government. newt gingrich calls himself cheerful if he basks in world calamity. rick santorum sees religion over the state. romney sees everything from a comfortable seat. politics isn't for everyone. some learn to lead, some learn to be led. romney learns not how to lead the voter but get by him that made all the difference. why president obama, who led this country through difficult times and taken the heat for tough decisions, will

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