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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  April 3, 2012 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT

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thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. obama takes on ryan's hope. let's play some "hardball." good evening, i'm in for chris matthews. leading off tonight, game on. polls close and republican primaries in one hour in maryland and washington, d.c., and in two hours in wisconsin. wisconsin is critical for rick santorum. it may be the last best chance for him to make a stand and keep his candidacy alive. msnbc will have complete coverage of the primary results starting in one hour at 8:00 eastern time. but earlier today, president obama was clearly looking past the primaries, and on to november. the president hit mitt romney where it hurts. right in his support for paul
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ryan's budget plan. the president called the plan a pro january horse that would deepen inequality in the u.s. the republicans have doubled down and proposed a budget so far to the right, it makes the contract for america look like the new deal. thchblts w. >> this was the latest in a series of addresses mr. obama has made portraying republicans as social darwinists. while listening to president obama, we wondered what would the republicans respond? there is no need to guess, we have a republican and a democrat on tonight to face off in a debate. also, the trayvon martin case, nbc news has obtained the audiotapes of george zimmerman's prior phone calls to police. do they show that he was racially motivated or profiling? we get a report. and we're not the only ones who noticed that mitt romney's
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endorsements seem to lack something. enthusiasm. "the daily show" noticed and we've got their take in the sideshow. finally, we'll get a first look at the exit polls that will make or break the wisconsin primary. we begin with president obama's very tough speech on the ryan budget and the republicans who support it. jay carney is, of course, the white house press secretary. jay, from the president's singling out of mitt romney, am i to conclude that the white house has concluded, he's the nominee? >>el well, i can tell you that we -- you know, watch what you guys report and read what your colleagues report, and it certainly seems like he could well be. but the point the president was making was that all of the republican presidential con t contenders, those who would hold this office come 2013 have endorsed and supported the ryan republican budget. so regardless of who emerges as the republican nominee, it is -- this is not the -- the ryan republican budget and its sort of radical vision it represents, as the president said, is not
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something that only a faction of the republican party supports. it's not something that, you know, the mainstream of the republican party rejects. it is the republican budget. it has been embraced by every republican leader there is from governor romney on down. so what the case -- the case the president was making today, there are two competing visions of america's future that are very stark. and that can be easily contrasted. and one is embodied in the ryan republican budget. and it basically embodies -- like doubling down on the same policies that got us into the worst financial and economic crisis we've had in 70 years. >> you say -- you say radical. the president earlier today said trojan horse. and also said that it it was a thinly veiled social darwinism. let me show you how paul ryan responded. quote, like his reckless budgets, today's speech by president obama is as revealing as it is disappointing. while others lead by offering real solutions, he has chosen to
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distort the truth and divide americans in order to distract from his failed record. his empty promises are quickly becoming broken promises and the american people will hold him accountable for this violation of their trust. your response, the white house response to congressman paul ryan. >> well, what i'd like you to do is contrast that brief bit of boiler plate from congressman ryan to the substantive fact-filled presentation the president gave today. what's lacking from congressman ryan and what is lacking in his budget are any of the statistics and facts and numbers and math to back up his promises. what we know is that in order to pay for substantial new tax cuts for the wealthy, the money has to come from somewhere. and it's going to come from nondefense discretionary spending, only. and from entitlement programs like medicare and medicaid. so what it means is, more tax cuts for the wealthy in order to pay -- in order to pay for them, the middle class and seniors get stuck with the bill. there is -- what i would like to hear from congressman ryan, what the president would like to see
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from congressman ryan is a fact-filled critique, and not a lot of boiler plate. the facts speak to the fact that the president has put forward a balanced approach, as you know. and the ryan budget is doubling down on a theory that we tested a decade ago. >> jay, final question. >> slowest growth we've had in a long time. and it led to the middle class being put under great stress while the wealthiest americans saw their income's rise. >> final question. tomorrow on the radio when i get the inhe feltable call who says congressman paul ryan is reigning in reckless federal spending, the the response is what? >> when i was a reporter, political courage was when someone from one party was willing to take on the invested, embedded special interests in their party. show me anything in the republican ryan budget that asks anything of the wealthiest supporters, the wealthiest corporations that support the republican party. it does not. it is not courageous for a republican to say he wants to give tax cuts to the wealthy
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while he asks seniors and the middle class to pay for it. that's not new. we've seen it before. i think the american people recognize that. >> white house press secretary jay carney, thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you. now let's turn to howard fineman, editorial director for "the huffington post" and republican strategist, steve schmidt. both are msnbc political analysts. gentlemen, let's talk about the particulars of this paul ryan budget, as a matter of fact, to make sure that our audience knows what we're describing. last week it was passed in the house, been criticized for pushing deep tax breaks while making major cuts to programs that mainly serve low-income americans. according to the center for budget and policy priorities, ryan's budgets includes $2.4 trillion worth of reductions to medicaid programs, $463 million in mandatory programs, including pell grants and other social services. $291 billion in cuts to discretionary programs. and $134 billion in cuts to the
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food stamp program. and here's what the president said about the budget plan today. let's watch. >> this congressional republican budget is something different all together. it is a trojan horse. disguised as deficit reduction plans, it is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. it is thinly veiled social darwinism. it is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity, and upward mobility for everybody who is willing to work for it. of. >> it seemed to me, howard fineman, and i know you were in the room, this was an effort by the white house to clearly tie mitt romney and paul ryan together. >> that's exactly what it was. and on a day when in wisconsin, republicans are going to the polls. and if they vote for mitt romney, they'll remember that paul ryan was by his side campaigning in wisconsin. so it was very deliberate strategy on the part of the white house. what struck me about this,
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michael, is the sort of almost grim determination that the president had to attack the republican party and tie every republican they could find to paul ryan and the republican house budget. even to the point of president obama praising what he described as another tradition of republicanism, going from abe lincoln and dwight eisenhower, who we always hear republicans talk about, to praising richard nixon and even george w. bush. so you know something is going on particular particularly when a democratic president is praising george nixon and bush, but that's exactly what president obama was doing today, to really try purposefully and is intentionally and in a tough fashion to separate the republicans out from the mainstream of american society. >> well, and as you mentioned, mitt romney has been campaigning with paul ryan this past week in wisconsin and voiced support for ryan's budget. the president called out romney
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specifically by name today ask that's what i was making reference to with jay carney. watch. >> one of my potential opponents, governor romney, has said he hoped a similar version of this plan from last year would be introduced as a bill on day one of his presidency. he said he's very supportive of this new budget. and he even called it marvelous. which is a word you don't often hear when it comes to describing a budget. it's a word you don't often hear generally. >> steve schmidt, read those tea leaves. what's going on with the president calling him out for the word marvelous. is that intended to further portray governor romney as an outlier? >> well, look, michael, i think what's going on here is that the obama campaign is turning on. the general election is starting. they know that mitt romney is going to be the opponent in the fall. they see the same poll numbers that everyone else has, that this republican primary process
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has made mitt romney 34% favorable rating, has made him unpopular, has lost ground in the middle of the electorate. so all of this is about trying to seize territory in the middle of the electorate. to control the 50 yard line, where these elections are won and lost. even though you see some numbers showing the president opening up the lead, i think the reality that both sides look at is that this is a race that both sides start out with about 47%. so the president is trying to use this ryan budget to try to paint republicans and thus mitt romney is out of the mainstream and he's off to the offensive start on that today. >> howard, do you buy into that analysis of the politics of this? because my gut reaction was to say, having watched the president, okay, the rs are going to portray this as an attempt by paul ryan and the republicans to rein in reckless spending and the ds are going to say, as usual, you republicans are out to hurt the poor. where's the praise for the is,
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the independents in this? >> that's a good question. i'm not entirely sure the tone and the tactics that the president and his advisers are launching this campaign, this fall campaign with -- that's really what it is, the general election campaign starts today, in my view. to play that first card in an attack way and say, look, let's not look at my record. let's look at the apocalypse that will happen if these people get in power is interesting and shows, i think, that at the very least, the white house and its strategists are being cautious, and they're not -- they don't necessarily think they're arguing from strength about their own record. but they sure think they have a vehicle to attack -- a place to attack what they're going after today on the ryan budget. >> steve, yesterday, the obama campaign put out an ad tying mitt romney to big oil. let's watch and then you can critique. >> under president obama, domestic oil production is at an eight-year high. so why is big oil attacking him?
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because he's fighting to end their tax breaks. he's raising mileage standards, and doubling renewable energy. in all these fights, mitt romney stood with big oil, for their tax breaks. attacking higher mileage standards and renewables. >> as an attempt to portray him as part of this cog of the conservative machine. good strategy, bad strategy? >> well, putting aside for a second the fact that big oil, quote unquote, big oil, never attacked him. you know, look, this is an area where the president has some real political liabilities. the lack of an energy plan, the key stone pipeline. rising gas prices. but when you are you making an attack from a place of weakness, on to your opponent, it's really a sign of overall political strength. it just shows that the president, after the end of this long republican primary process, isn't as strong a political position as he has been in some
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time. and they're beginning the campaign by focusing on their opponent's vulnerabilities and also trying to mitigate some of their liabilities, both on the economy, both on the issue of energy. and that's what that ad is about, and that's what the speech was about today. >> a final question for both of you. one-word answer if you're able. did paul ryan's vice presidential stock go up or down today? howard fineman, you first. >> up. >> up. steve schmidt. >> steady. >> steady. steady as she goes. all right. thank you both. thank you, howard fineman, thank you steve schmidt. coming up, we'll get reaction from what we heard from president obama today from two members of congress, one democrat and one republican. and we'll get the latest on those tornadoes in texas. this is "hardball." hi, i just switched jobs, and i want to roll over my old 401(k) into a fidelity ira. man: okay, no problem. it's easy to get started; i can help you with the paperwork. um...this green line just appeared on my floor. yeah, that's fidelity helping you reach your financial goals.
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from now in his home state of pennsylvania. let's check the "hardball" score board. santorum is still clinging to a six-point lead in the key stone state, he's at 41%. romney is at 35%. we'll be right back. don't go over 2000... 1200 calories a day. carbs are bad. carbs are good. the story keeps changing. so i'm not listening... to anyone but myself. i know better nutrition when i see it: great grains. great grains cereal starts whole and stays whole. see the seam? more processed flakes look nothing like natural grains. you can't argue with nutrition you can see. great grains. search great grains and see for yourself. for multi grain flakes that are an excellent source of fiber try great grains banana nut crunch and cranberry almond crunch.
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welcome back to "hardball." republicans are voting in primaries today in maryland, washington, d.c. and wisconsin. wisconsin is critical for rick santorum, and we have some brand-new exit poll information from wisconsin to report. let's look at the evangelical vote. today, white evangelical's made up 34% of wisconsin republican primary voters. this number is very significant, because so far, demographics have been destiny. in earlier contests, if the van gel california vote was more than 50%, santorum won. less than 50%, romney won. polls close in maryland and washington, d.c. at 8:00 eastern time. and an hour later, 9:00 eastern, in wisconsin.
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today, as we have reported, president obama took on the paul ryan budget plan, framing it as an issue of fairness and putting it squarely into the presidential fight. let's listen. >> maybe, just maybe, at a time of growing debt and widening inequali inequality, we should hold off on giving the wealthiest americans another round of big tax cuts. but that's exactly the opposite of what they have done. instead of moderating their views, even slightly, the republicans running congress right now have doubled down. and proposed a budget so far to the right, it makes the contract with america look like the new deal. >> democratic congresswoman marcie captor of ohio opposes the ryan plan. republican congressman jason chafe it's of utah supports it. and both are on the house budget committee. a breakdown, members of the committee, for the nonpartisan center of budget and policy priorities shows that the tax
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cuts in the ryan plan will disproportionately favor the wealthy, making more than $1 million a year, they'll see a 12.5 increase in after-tax income that's an average of more than $250,000. congressman chafeitz, respond to that, that this is all designed to help the rich and take advantage of the poor. >> well, what you have to do is read the fine print. because what we have talked about as house republicans is we want to broaden the base and lower the rate. what that chart showed they were just going to lower the rate. now, we want to broaden the base, which means getting rid of loopholes and other things which i think is common ground. if you talk to republicans and democrats, we want to get rid of the loopholes. that's what we're saying, disproportiona disproportionately, the wealthier americans get more loopholes so we want to close those. >> what loophole specifically are you referring to? >> there's a less list of them. goes on and on. back in december of 2010, i actually voted against the extension of the bush tax cuts
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because it was coupled with all kinds of loopholes and special interest breaks and what knots. i voted against it. the president is the one that voted for it, and supported it and signing it into law. so there are a host of things we want to do. and what our budget says is in a revenue-neutral way, we want to broaden the base and lower the rate. i think that should be bipartisan in our approach. >> i'm all for closing loopholes. it seems most of the loopholes benefit the wealthiest americans and if in fact the wealthiest are having their loopholes closed, you wouldn't expect, as the chart presented, they would see dispro partial not advantage from the paul ryan plan. >> no. what that chart is totally incomplete. what it doesn't show is the impact of actually broadening the base and lowering the rate. what our budget calls for is to do so in a revenue-neutral way. that's what we're trying to accomplish. and that's where you need to engage other, you know -- the ways and means committee, corporations committee. we're trying to set the framework to put forward a responsible budget that over the course of the time will balance
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the budget and pay off the debt. contrast to the president and the president's budget, never balances. the democrats always call for a balanced approach. the problem i have with it, they have never put forward a plan that actually balances the budget, which i think is a moral imperative. >> congresswoman captor, what will i see when i get to the fine print? react to that, please. >> you're going to see that this is a radical plan. the ryan/romney budget actually gives tax breaks to the wealthiest, those billionaires in our country, wall street bankers that are just laughing over the bonuses that they're depositing. that actually gives them, on average, an additional $150,000 in tax cuts, and more. tax cuts we can't afford as a country. and then what it does is, it begins to voucher out medicare. it sticks a dagger in the heart of the middle class of this country. it says education and training, sorry, we're going to cut that. same thing with medicare. you know, it hurts the programs
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that benefit the vast majority of the american people. so it takes it out of the heart of the middle class. and says the old trickle down theory, we want a little more trickle. our view as democrats is, we want the middle class to prosper. we know that with job creation in this country, with more education and training, with investment and research and development, that's where new jobs come from. and we don't need to give those who already have a great deal at this time more breaks and add to our deficit. >> congressman chavifz, one of the things i thought was redeeming about simpson/bohls, everyone had skin in the came. my understanding is social security is not on tablt and the defense cuts proposed would be offset. shouldn't everything be in play if we really want to address the debt of the country? >> well, i think that in the house republican budget that we passed, went through committee, it passed through the house of representatives, we're actually doing our job. we're actually addressing and talking about a budget. so, yes, of course. we actually want to -- there are
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things that need to be cut in defense. i for one believe it's time to bring our troops home from afghanistan. i think that's the right thing to do. so one of the things that simpson/bowles did not deal with is obama care. you can't take $500 billion out of medicare and then expect there to be no effect. and so that was one of the criticisms. simpson/bowles did a wonderful job on a lot of areas, and you'll see actually quite a bit of their suggestions in this plan. but you've got to contrast that with the president and then certainly the united states senate, who won't even bring up and debate a budget. and the president's plan, who was defeated last year, 97-0. this year he brought it up on the floor, this wasn't one democrat that voted for the president's budget, it wasty feeted 414 nos and 0 yeses. >> congresswoman kaptur, please respond to that, and then i want to ask about what's going on
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today. >> first of all, in terms of a budget, we have to pass a proposal that causes this economy to keep growing. and without job creation at a robust levy, and we begin to see it coming back in the automotive industry, for example, people go back to work, they pay their taxes, we don't have these huge social costs borne because of unemployment. and the economy can roll. we see that in auto motive country, rail country, steel coils moving across the midwest. people being hired. we thank president obama for helping to resurrect this sector. general motors, chrysler now at the top of their game. who would have said that was possible three years ago? we have more work to do. i think with natural gas coming on, moving toward energy independence as a country, this president has done an enormous amount to begin to turn an economy around that was truly dead in the water. under the last administration. so my answer is, job creation is the answer, and we can experience it today, right here in the midwest. we see the difference. >> big election tonight in
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wisconsin, congressman chaffetz, is it time for rick santorum to get out of the race? >> i think the best person to beat barack obama, who has got the background, the expertise, and can articulate what needs to happen in this economy is mitt romney. i think the sooner that happens, the better off for our republicans up and down the ticket from coast to coast. it isn't about rick santorum, it's about what's best for the party, what's best for the country. and i think after hopefully a strong showing today, and at three different parts of the country, that more and more people come to the same realization that marco rubio and others came to, and that is mitt romney is the best person to be the republican nominee. >> congresswoman kaptur, quickly, i know you represent both toledo and cleveland, i think of those as white, democratic blue collar workers who hold the keys to this election. i'm sure you're mingling with them when you go home to your district. what are they telling you? >> they're asking me, why can't the republican house get out a
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transportation bill so more of them can go back to work. they see a group of levilutionists in the congress, people who want to take us backwards. this is an "i can". nation. the with this recent war on women and what's going on with women's health across this country, and those numbers are certainly reflected here in ohio, the american people want someone who is reasonable, sitting in the presidency. they don't want anybody radical. they want someone focused on job creation, and someone who knows that as the middle class prospers, we balance our budgets. we put america on an i can do track again. >> i wish we had more time. thank you very much congress wam marcie kaptur and jason chaffetz. yesterday, we showed you some of the least enthusiastic endorsements for mitt romney. republicans who sound like they would rather be doing just about anything else other than supporting the former massachusetts governor. on jon stewart, he noticed as well. stick around for that in the
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sideshow. you're watching "hardball." ♪ i'm michael bazinet, president of creative digital imaging of bangor, maine. we have customers all over the united states. we rely on the postal service for everything that we do. the eastern maine processing facility is vital to our operation and our success. if we lose this processing facility we could lose clientele because of increased mailing times. we would have to consider layoffs as a result of that. closure of this plant will affect all of us. ♪
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back to "hardball." now time for the sideshow. first up, here's something we picked up on yesterday, the pitfully unenthusiastic endorsements that mitt romney has been receiving. and we're not alone. "the daily show" took note of the trend as well. let's take a look. >> republican after republican have begun to line up behind mitt romney with one simple message. >> we're entering a face this could be become counterproductive. >> he offers at this point a stark contrast to the president's record. >> i'm going to endorse romney because he's going to be the republican nominee. a lot of tepid endorsements, but these are tea party types. let's hear from the base.
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>> he's not a perfect candidate. it's hard to identify with him. it's hard for economic conservatives to identify with him. >> all right, these are his supporters. just imagine if past campaigns had failed this test of sincerity. i like ike would have been -- ike is fine. reagan's optimistic morning in america would be, uh, yeah, it's time to get up. >> i think even luke warm might be overstating it for a couple of those. up next, the latest in the trayvon martin case. investigators are looking into whether george zimmerman profiled in his prior phone calls to police. we'll get the latest from sanford, florida. when we return. you're watching "hardball." need any help? uh, nope. just, uh, checking out my ad. nice. but, you know, with every door direct mail from the postal service, you'll find the customers that matter most: the ones in your neighborhood. print it yourself, or we'll help you find a local partner. and postage is under 15 cents. i wish i would have known that cause i
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i'm melissa rehbergerehberg. tornadoes tore through the
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dallas metropolitan area causing damage, and cancelling hundreds of flights at dallas-ft. worth airport. the national weather service called the storms large and extremely dangerous. homes and builds were ripped apart. the winds tossed tractor trailers. the city of arlington has declared a state of emergency and more than a dozen injuries have been reported. northern texas is under a tornado watch until 8:00 p.m. local time. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." the fbi remains in the retreat at twin lakes. that community in sanford, florida. as agents interview residents about neighborhood crime and fellow resident george zimmerman, who shot and killed trayvon martin in late february. we've got the latest developments for you tonight from michael isikoff, nbc news national investigative correspondent, and joy-ann reid, managing editor for the
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agreo.com. michael, what's the latest? >> well, as you say, michael, the fbi was back there, in the -- in twin lakes today, questioning witnesses, going door to door. one thing we've learned is that one crucial piece of evidence is these audiotapes of the prior phone calls that george zimmerman made to the police. we had an exchange yesterday about this. you were right, i was wrong. these had been previous low released. but what we now know and didn't realize, and i don't think people have realized, is they are critical to the fbi investigation, which is civil rights. is there a pattern of racial profiling. was there by zimmerman? is this evidence of whether or not he had racial motivations in the night that he pursued trayvon martin? and one of the things worth pointing out, because we raised this yesterday, we listened to all of the calls today. we listened -- not just the trayvon martin call.
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but all of the ones that are still in existence, going back to last august. and in every instance where it's reported in police reports that it was -- he was calling about suspicious activity by a black male, that's only information that he is asked about. he doesn't volunteer the race of the suspects he's calling about. he's asked to describe them. he's asked their race. and that happens in every time he describes them as african-american males. of there's no hint, at least in these phone calls, of any racial motivation. >> okay, but wait -- >> by george zimmerman. and that's going to be helpful to zimmerman's lawyers if the fbi -- if the justice department tries to bring a civil rights violation. >> all right. but let me ask this question. because i understand the distinction you're making. you're saying he doesn't call and offer that information. it's elisted from him. >> right. >> does he call about suspicious white guys in the neighborhood? how often -- >> we know of -- no, there's seven calls in its entirety.
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the calls about particular suspects are the five that we've referred to, and that includes the trayvon martin call. and those are all african-americans. the other two don't involve suspicious activity by individuals. there's a dog fight, there's a garage door open. so you can't sort of make that comparison. look, it is true that in every instance where he's calling about individuals they happen to be african-americans. but at least in the audio calls, he's not emphasizing that point. he's not making a point of it. he's -- the information only comes out after it's elisted by police. >> i hear you and i respect that. but he's picking up the phone -- every time he picks up the phone, it's because there is a black guy. >> right. look, i don't -- i don't suggest this is dispositive evidence. if it was, the fbi wouldn't have a reason to keep conducting its investigation. i'm just saying that, you know, we're still piecing together a lot of spotty information.
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>> i understand. >> on this case. there's a lot of murkiness. and every data point is one piece of information that, you foe, the public can weigh in trying to assess what really happened here. >> okay. and not to be repetitive, but joy-ann, there's something strange about the call regarding trayvon martin when zimmerman, who the "orlando sentinel" has reported in 15 months called 46 times. i find it unusual that he doesn't say, hey, it's george zimmerman from neighborhood watch. at no point in that phone call does he identify himself as being from neighborhood watch. in other calls i've listened to he does. i don't know quite what to make of it. but you would think there would be some simpatico between neighborhood watch and police. but apparently not, because he never says i'm with neighborhood watch. >> that's a great point. including in the call about the person he says was lurking around the home of frank taffy,
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the guy defending him, he points out in that call he's from neighborhood watch. and you're absolutely right. he doesn't point that out. the neighborhood watch program is run by the acceseminole coun sheriff's department, not the sanford police. so when you're calling these nonemergency lines -- that's the other issue. he wasn't necessarily calling 911 emergency lines, he was calling nonemergency lines, which is fairly easy to get information. but i guess being nashd neighborhood watch, he would have that number. the other thing that's interestin out, he was repeated calling about seeing black males. and whether or not he was talking about that in the call, it does turn out -- i mean, this community is about 20% black. the retreat at twin lakes. but it seems to be that his concerns were consistently about black males. and one other thing i'll point out really quickly. george zimmerman doesn't live near where this shooting took place. he lives on the other side. he was quite far fertilizer home
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when he was picking up the trail of trayvon martin. so it does seem he was doing something that neighborhood watch said you shouldn't do, which is patrolling around like a police officer. >> michael isikoff, we show some b-roll right now of zimmerman at the police station that night. and you know there is this raging controversy online as to whether, when you enhance that, if you see a wound on the back of his head. frankly, i don't know if it's outcome determinative if he does or doesn't have a wound. we obviously know there was a scuff scuffle. but what, if anything, can you say about that issue? >> well, look, i think we still need to see the medical reports from that evening. the ems reports of the medical personnel who were on the scene, which we haven't seen yet. we do have the police report that clearly states that zimmerman was bleeding from the nose and the back of his head. but i do want to pick up on one point joy raised about the neighborhood watch program. another data point, piece of information we found today is,
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we got specific information about the briefing that was given at the twin lakes clubhouse in september 2011 on the neighborhood watch program. this was a meeting that zimmerman himself set up. he invited the sanford police officer who oversees the neighborhood watch program to come brief people on it, and we actually got the powerpoint on the -- that was given that night. it clearly says, no neighborhood watch is not vigilante police. and in the briefing, the police officer specifically tells neighborhood watch volunteers, you are not to pursue suspects, and you are you not to carry weapons. so those were instructions that zimmerman clearly did not follow on the night of the confrontation with trayvon martin. >> i wish i had more time. to be continued for sure. thank you michael isikoff, thank you joy-ann reid. >> thank you. it's primary night in washington, wisconsin and washington, d.c. we'll preview the action in what
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could be rick santorum's last chance to get back in this race. and remember, you can follow me on twitter. so long as you can spell smerkonish. this is "hardball." so right, for a change. and then there's you... why should i try it? my system gets out of sorts but that comes with age, right? wouldn't you like to feel great? just because we're in that over 50... what does that mean? are we done? activia helps regulate your digestive system when eaten daily. these could be our best years yet. activia your finances can't manage themselves. but that doesn't mean they won't try. bring all your finances together with the help of the one person who can.
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a certified financial planner professional. cfp. let's make a plan. former vice president dick cheney is home after heart transplant surgery. cheney was released from a virginia hospital today, ten days after getting a new heart. cheney is 71 years old. he thanked his doctors and the donor's family for what he called a remarkable gift. we'll be right back.
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take the next step here in wisconsin. i need you to go out and vote. i need your help. i need you to get out and vote and get your friends to do the same thing. >> welcome back to "hardball." we're minutes away from polls closing in maryland and washington, d.c. and a little more than an hour away from polls closing in wisconsin, where republicans have been voting in gop primaries. this could be santorum's last stand. he needs a win tonight to give his campaign a reason to carry on. and for romney, it's all about securing his place once and for all as the gop nominee. joining me, nbc political director, white house correspondent and host of the
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daily rundown, chuck todd. and nia, malika henderson, covering the campaigns for "the washington post." chuck todd, what will we learn tonight? >> whether this nomination is officially over, frankly. and i think that a win tonight for romney in wisconsin, a santorum loss in wisconsin, especially if it's somewhat of a significant margin, something over five points closer to double digits, something like that. and i think you're going to see vultures start circling the campaign of santorum. and he's going to have to make that big decision over the next 72 hours, does he want to risk his own sort of political status in this sort of rehabilitation that he has made for his political career, does he want to potentially throw it all away by risking a loss in his home state of pennsylvania, or does he want to figure out a way out, essentially, before then? and you'll see then the full apparatus start rallying --
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rallying around romney in a way that, frankly, has already begun. >> nia, am i right in saying that you believe it's going to end the night the way we began it and it will be the same old-same old for a little while longer? >> in some ways, that's about right. we went into the night thinking mitt romney is going to be the nominee, double the combined delegates of his next two competitors, gingrich and santorum. looks like he's going to win tonight. you already saw santorum both lowering the stakes in wisconsin, but also moving the goalpost to pennsylvania and saying no matter what happens tonight they plan to go on to pennsylvania. and that will be the race to determine where this thing goes. but, again, they've got a -- tomorrow, i think chuck todd is exactly right. they've got three weeks to decide whether or not they want to leave this race as a possible statesman or stay in this race, santorum, and be a spoiler. because that's in some ways what he is setting up to be. he had this window where he really looked like he was a contender and rehabilitating his
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image. but he certainly risks going into pennsylvania and losing all of that, because you can imagine that romney is going to go in there and use the full strengtho try to wrap this thing up there. >> you know i'm not permitted to nor do i have data that will allow me to forecast what will happen. we talked about the evangelical vote and if 30% of those that came out, that would bode poorly for santorum. >> wisconsin could have been a good state for rick santorum. i think we'll look back and say michigan was his chance. if he had been able to win michigan, wisconsin could have set up better for him as would have ohio and illinois. this is a perfectly good state for mitt romney. if you look at every demographic overlay, almost all of them suggest if the vote turns out the way the nbc poll turns out, almost every demographic is good
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for romney. they haven't take tennessee state for granted. i think they have done a pretty decent job of going after santorum through various means and turning to the general election, which is where the focus and most of the political world is now given what the president has done in the last 72 hours and what the romney campaign has done. >> is wisconsin in play legitimately in the fall? i think ronald reagan was the last republican to capture the state. >> i would say ask me about the recall. i'm referring to scott walker, republican governor there. the recall is on the ballot for june. the theory goes like this. this is a state that leans democratic if all things are equal. if republicans win this raum and walker survives, they believe it demoralizes the democratic base a little bit in wisconsin, demoralizes labor. does show this state can be fully in play and competitive as
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it was in 2004 when this was a state that karl rove was obsessed over trying to carry against john carey. if walker loses the recall, the reverse happens. there's still a slight democratic advantage in the state. democrats can afford a demoralized base and keep it competitive. republicans can't afford a demoralized base. >> 71% of republicans in the state strongly approve of scott walker. an equal number or more democrats disapproved. he said there will be a lot of money spent to convince the people in the middle. >> there's a senate race that could end up being pretty competitive in the state and that would keep focus and money
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there even if the top of the ticket decides it's not a winner. republicans don't need the vote of wisconsin to win, but they sure like to have it in play. it gives them a broader set of possibilities. it's one they need to keep more than republicans need to encroach on. they got to look for places to encroach. i think chuck is right. if they keep walker in office, i think it will one they pour a lot of resources in. >> we're going to come back. want to roll over my old 401(k) into a fidelity ira. man: okay, no problem. it's easy to get started; i can help you with the paperwork. um...this green line just appeared on my floor. yeah, that's fidelity helping you reach your financial goals. could you hold on a second? it's your money. roll over your old 401(k) into a fidelity ira and take control of your personal economy. this is going to be helpful. call or come in today.
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the first polls will close in just a couple of minutes. we're back. nia, with all this attention on paul ryan because of the wisconsin vote today and through tonight, one wonders if his chances of being selected for the vip stakes are enhanced assuming mitt romney heads toward the nomination. >> that's a good question. everybody is talking about all these names. i think paul ryan and mitt romney form a really nice show no wisconsin. they had a mutt and jeff act there. he seemed very comfortable with him. what's interesting is you have the president really setting up this connection between mitt romney and paul ryan and almost
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doing what clinton in '96 connecting bob doyle to newt gingrich. i think it will be interesting to see how mitt romney talks about the ryan budget. what he says tonight in his speech. that will be the elephant in the room because you saw the president today really pivot so strongly to the general election mentioning mitt romney's name for the first time. it will be interesting tonight to hear what mitt romney says in this speech. a lot of his speeches have been very much hammering president obama after these victories he's had in several primaries. it will be interesting tonight whether he really pivots to the general election and lay out his vision. >> i feel the need to point out that it's my home state and it's a beauty contest. in other words, if he stays in and he successful in pennsylvania, he could win the primary and walk out having lost the delegate count.
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something i know chuck todd has reported. what thoughts do you have on that? >> if he doesn't get out of the race and stays on, the game is to be a plausib. [ applause ] plausible candidate in may. he had such a bad movant. he loses everything this month that voters are sophisticated when the press says it's over, it's over. that tends to shift things. hillary clinton was able to overcome that. he had good resources and strong machine that won a lot of contests. i'm not sure rick santorum is survive into may. >> i would agree with you. he lived off the land in iowa for a long, long time. thank you for great analysis. polls will be closed in wisconsin just one hour from now. they are closing in maryland and washington, d.c. as we

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