tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC May 7, 2012 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT
vote. we are seeing voter registration groups pull out. we need to fight any attempt to suppress the vote. not only to see what's going on in the white house but what's going to happen in your house and my house. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. bomb plot foiled. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in ft. lauderdale. leading off tonight, terror plot foiled. we have this late-breaking story. the cia says it foiled a plot by an al qaeda affiliate in yemen to destroy a u.s. passenger jet. it was supposed to happen around the one-year anniversary of the raid on osama bin laden. the plot apparently involved a
suicide bomber using an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate over detroit on christmas in 2009. in the past hour, leon panetta had this to say. >> i do not comment on specific classified operations other than to say that the united states engages in a number of operations to go after al qaeda and their militant allies. their terrorist allies who would try to attack the united states. what this incident makes clear is that this country has to continue to remain vigilant against those that would seek to attack this country. >> we'll have the latest on this story at the top of the show. plus, debating gay marriage. it was a great case of tell me what you really think. yesterday vice president joe biden came out in favor of same-sex marriage. it's assumed he was speaking for
himself, not for the president. opposing gay marriage is no longer a slam dunk for republicans. americans' attitude towards gays and gay marriage are changing incredibly fast. but, how biden's from the heart declaration will affect the election is anyone's guess. also, president obama kicked off his re-election campaign this wct weekend by rejecting the question, are you better off than you were four years ago? he said the right question is, where are we going to go from here? romney, he said, wants to go back to the policies that got us into this mess. and one thing that keeps team obama up at night are all those new voter i.d. laws that republicans are getting written into state laws. their real effect will be to keep democrats from voting. thing is, it may just work. how's that for democracy? finally, let me finish with the civic lesson needed to get people to the polls. now, more than ever. we begin with that failed terror plot. andrea mitchell is nbc's chief foreign affairs correspondent. and pete williams is nbc's justice correspondent. pete, lead us in to this, what we know about what the cia
discovered, and how they stopped this tragedy from happening. >> well, this, they say, is a great success for intelligence. that the plot was to happen around the one-year anniversary of bin laden's killing by the u.s. now, of course, that was last week, and they say that the plan was to get someone, a suicide bomber, to get on board an airliner coming to the u.s. now they say no specific airline or flight had been chosen, no ticket had been purchased, but they say that a suicide bomber had been recruited, and that's when intelligence stepped in, shut the plot down, and this is quite remarkable, actually recovered the device. now, it's described as a more sophisticated version of the underwear bomb, as you mentioned that abu abdulmutallab was wearing on christmas day. like that device it had no metal parts and right now the united states is trying to see whether the device could have been detected by the full body scanners that are now deployed
in many airlines, many airports for flights that are bound to the u.s. now they say they can't be certain, but they suspect it's built by al qaeda's and yemen's master bombmaker, the same man who designed the underwear bomb, and also the bombs that were hidden in printer cartridge, toner cartridges that were sent on cargo planes, intercepted on flights that were destined for chicago. so it's described as a great success, chris, for intelligence, and a further sign that al qaeda in yemen is still the number one plot -- number one threat to the u.s. >> let me go to andrea mitchell for the political context. if you were to blow up an airliner flying from yemen to the united states, filled with people from yemen, people from our side working with them, what would be the fire power politically of blowing up a plane in that route? >> well, certainly that would be -- >> okay i'm gone. >> -- a huge political explosion, as well. let me give you a few more details. as you just heard pete williams is running off.
we're all reporting on this at the same time. first of all, the white house, the national security council, has put out a statement now, chris, that the president was first informed of this in april by john brennan, his top counterterrorism official. he directed homeland security and law enforcement and intelligence agencies to take whatever steps were necessary. i am told separately that we were working very closely with saudi intelligence on this, because this man al asiri who was the master designer of bombs and still is at loose we believe in yemen had also designed the bomb that did successfully explode. it was an attempted assassination in 2009 against a top saudi official, the son of prince nayyaf, the interior minister, who is himself a top counterterrorism official. he was injured in that attempted assassination in jeddah, saudi arabia. so you had three known instances where al asiri did design bombs.
one was the cartridge bombs that pete williams pointed out. the other, of course, was the underwear bomber in 2009. and then the successful attempt -- the attempted assassination that did blow up against this saudi official. one other thing, saudi official, saudi intelligence reportedly cooperated with the u.s., chris, in trying to find this suicide bomber and actually find the device. and it has been suggested to me, and we need more corroboration of this, that finding the suicide bomber and the device did lead to this sunday's attack in yemen on a leading al qaeda official, reportedly the man who replaced al awlaki as the leader of al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. so these may well be connected, that the intelligence developed with this thwarted plot did lead to a successful drone attack in yemen. we don't know -- we don't have a second source on that. i'm just suggesting that it has been -- it has been told to me
that these are connected. chris? >> andrea, step back from the -- what we're doing now. the police reporting on this, the news breaking part. give us the context. maybe it needs to be explained one more time. what's al qaeda trying to accomplish in the saudi peninsula? why is it targeting us? why is it using people from yemen? what is it trying to disrupt geopolitically with these attempted attacks? >> well, as you know, al qaeda in the arabian peninsula now mainly located in yemen, is considered the greatest threat against the united states. these are the terrorists, first awlaki and then his successors who have been trying repeatedly to attack the american homeland. since osama bin laden was pretty much removed from any kind of operational leadership. and we know from his final letters and his communications that he was aspirational. he did want to attack president obama. he did want to attack the then-leader of u.s. forces in
afghanistan, general david petraeus, then following that, of course, the head of the cia. but at the time, he no longer had the operation ability with al qaeda. main al qaeda. the central organization. >> right. >> but these splinter groups, mainly located in yemen now, as well as in somalia and a couple of other places, have been increasingly attempting to fill that vacuum. and that is the main focus of american intelligence and american drone strikes with the cooperation of officials in yemen. >> hold on there, andrea. let's go right now to evan colman, our nbc terrorism analyst. he joins us by phone. evan, again, back to that question when we've been listening to the top administration people from the president on down recently we've been hearing that yemen is the belly of the beast, if you will, in terms of what we're facing as a threat. what do you -- what comes to you when you hear this report in terms of the politics, the ambitions of al qaeda as it still survives in these splinter groups? >> well, unfortunately, i think
it's one of the great untold foreign policy issues going on at the moment. it's not an issue in the presidential election, but maybe it should be, because if you look at what's going on in yemen right now, there is a sustained campaign by a fairly large grouping of al qaeda operatives in a large area of yemen, and they're threatening to take over several strategic locations. and the yemeni government doesn't really seem to be capable of stopping them. in the meantime, we have now yemen serving as the basis for international terrorist plots, and this is fairly predictable, actually. if you ask me a week ago what al qaeda faction stood the greatest chance of launching an attack against the united states, i would have guessed, i mean, frankly, i would have guessed it would have been aqap, al qaeda in yemen. >> what would this do with the relations with the yemeni government? would this be an attempt to embarrass the government, bring it into sort of disrepute? what would be the political goal? just to hurt the united states or to hurt our relations with a somewhat friendly government?
>> i think they want to demonstrate they are still relevant. they want to demonstrate that they're still active. that despite the loss of osama bin laden, despite all the drone strikes that have been taking place in yemen, that this organization is still capable of moving forward. but the question is, can it really do so? especially in light of the loss of not only al awlaki but also fahd al quso, the operative who died just on sunday. he was instrumental. he was behind the or involved with the october 2000 bombing of the "uss cole." this guy's been involved in almost everything. and he was also the one who stood very prominently when aqap claimed credit for the underwear bomb plot. so i think you know it's certainly very important to see these victories. but at the same time, i think this is going to be an ongoing problem, and there are no easy solutions in yemen. it's a very difficult country in which to navigate. i don't think there's any obvious military solution. >> right. >> and certainly, you know, the political ones are not very -- very availing either. >> let's talk about our own protection against terrorism
tactically here. we have an underwear bomber attempt right now, much like the one over detroit, which was caught just in time, where actually that failed. here we have a situation -- how would you get on an airplane, what kind of an airport would allow you, what kind of a tsa system would permit you -- a passenger to get on a plane wearing an underwear bomb? is it feasible anywhere in the world to pull this off? to get through surveillance? >> that was part of the issue, is that when al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, when aqap claimed credit for the initial underwear bomb and the subsequent cargo bomb plot, they said very specifically that according to their estimates there was nothing in present airline security regulations that would be able to stop this. on a second occasion. it would all come down to intelligence. whether or not we would be able to identify the actual operative who is going to carry this out. and, in fact, you know, at least from the initial details in this latest plot, that sounds to be what happened. i think, you know, we're going to stand a much better chance of stopping this kind of thing if we try to tend toward finding
out who the operatives are designated to carry these devices rather than trying to scan every single passenger looking for a device that is getting increasingly small. it's getting increasingly technologically developed. you know, these guys aren't -- they aren't fools anymore. they're not tourists. they've spent a lot of time doing this. ibrahim al argsiri, the individl who presumably built this latest bomb, he sent his own brother in a suicide mission to try to kill a saudi official. this guy, you know, he's got some experience in this, and i think we have to, you know, we have to understand that we're dealing with, you know, a fairly trained expert. >> evan, let's talk about the expertise. right now we've heard about tonight just the breaking news. the cia discovered and thwarted a plot by a member of al qaeda, or a splinter group in yemen. al qaeda in yemen, to get in to an airline, the passenger to get past surveillance, to go past the equipment of the tsa over there. to get on a plane. my question to you is, how do these devices work? how can a passenger carrying
something so small in his clothing, in his underwear, that's capable of blowing a hole in an airliner? >> well, i mean it's a liquid explosive. and it's carried in various separate components, and at least if we go by the model of omar abdulmutallab, those components are only combined when that individual is on board the aircraft. again, the actual instructions for how they built this, aqap published those instructions on the internet. and they published them in english with the note that they were hoping that other people would take these designs and replicate them. and there have been other incidents that, unfortunately, have suggested that perhaps that is the direction in which we're going. there was an individual stopped at one point traveling through somalia carrying what appeared to be some kind of liquid explosive inside his clothing. let's hope these are isolated circumstances. that is part of the issue that aqap, al qaeda in yemen, has
tried encouraging other terrorist factions to take up this particular recipe and use it in their own operations. >> let me ask you about the future of terrorism. when you go to bed at night, you think about it, an old question. is this the kind of spot opportunity where somebody's going to get some training, is going to find a willing recruit, with a limited amount of very state-of-the-art equipment, they're going to -- it's not going to be 9/11 again. it's not going to be khobar towers. it's going to be one person, perhaps, destroying a whole airplane filled with perhaps 300 people. that's what the next target will be. >> let's hope so. let's hope so. >> hope so? why would you hope for that? >> well, i mean, let's hope that they're only aiming that small. but that's not what they're talking about in their propaganda. i mean, if you look at what they're discussing, they're talking about going after strategic targets. they're talking about oil installations. oil pipelines, supertankers. the kind of thing that would drive oil prices through the
ceiling and cause an economic crisis. they're talking about other kind of major strategic-style attacks. that, you know, we presume that because of the fact that they're aiming for a suicide bomber here or there that their aims are limited, but i don't think that's the case. and i think, you know, judging by their propaganda, or at least what they're talking about, their estimation is that by doing this they can destabilize international airline travel. they can destabilize commercial markets just by one suicide bomber. >> right. >> so i mean, it all depends on what perspective you look at. but they certainly have the aim of doing as much damage as they can possibly achieve. >> thank you so much, evan kohlmann. and andrea mitchell. and pete williams earlier tonight all contributing to this report. andrea, any more on this we should know as we close this story tonight? >> just that the president is again thanking all of the people in counterterror community in homeland and the fbi and in u.s.
intelligence, did counter this threat. they say that no americans were ever in danger. no airliner was ever at risk. they clearly found the suicide bomber and his device, importantly, through american intelligence, and because according to pete williams' reporting there was no metallic materials involved, this was a more sophisticated device than the previous attempts. it was similar, but upgraded from the al asiri designs. it may be he. it may be some other apprentice of his, but it is typical of his designs. his designs against the saudi leader, the cartridge bomb, and also the underground bomber -- the underwear bomber. >> thank you so much, andrea mitchell. it ends up as a good news/bad news story. good news we caught it. bad news it's still coming at us. vice president biden came out in support of same-sex marriage. he wasn't speaking for the administration as most people think. but there's no telling how biden's tell me what you really think moment will affect the election. this is an issue that's going to
matter, i think. that's ahead in the next moment. this is "hardball." got it all. here. have a good day, honey. i love you, ok. bye, mom. [ female announcer ] sam's mom is muddling through her allergies. what can she do? she can get answers at walgreens. with guidance and information to help her make informed choices for her allergy needs. like zyrtec -- with the strength of 24-hour rtec, you get relief from your worst allergy symptoms, indoors and out. right now, buy one and get one 50% off. ♪ find answers at walgreens. you get a 50% annual bonus. and everyone likes 50% more cash -- well, except her. no! but, i'm about to change that. ♪ every little baby wants 50% more cash... ♪ phhht! fine, you try. [ strings breaking, wood splintering ] ha ha. [ male announcer ] the capital one cash rewards card. the card for people who want 50% more cash. ♪ what's in your wallet?
♪ what's in your...your... hollywood's back with obama. actor george clooney is hosting the president for a record-breaking fund-raiser this thursday. according to "the hollywood reporter," the event is already sold out and expected to bring in $12 million to the re-election campaign. that would be the biggest presidential fund-raiser in his history. the event will be held at clooney's home and the studio heads and other celebrities are all expected to attend. i guess it will being a big ticket out there. we'll be right back. in florida we had more sun tans... in alabama we had more beautiful blooms... in mississippi we had more good times... in louisiana we had more fun on the water. last season we broke all kinds of records down here on the gulf. more people more good times. this year we're out to do even better... and now's a great time to start. the sun's out and the beaches are even more relaxing. you can go deep sea fishing
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well, it's been a dramatic day for supporters of same-sex marriage. yesterday the vice president of the united states told david gregory on "meet the press" that he was, quote, absolutely comfortable with gay marriage. well those comments focused attention on the president, of course, who has said his views on marriage equality are evolving. why is this still such a tough topic for the white house?
let's get to it, the executive director of the great human rights campaign and sam stein covers the white house for the huffington post. i want to go to the politics. then we'll get to the advocacy here. first let's take a look at what vice president biden actually said on "meet the press" yesterday in response, apparently spontaneous response to the question put by david gregory. let's watch. >> i just think that the good news is that, as more and more americans come to understand what this is all about is a simple proposition. who do you love? who do you love? and will you be loyal to the person you love? and that's what people are finding out, is what -- what all marriages at their root are about. i am vice president of the united states of america. the president sets the policy. i am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties,
and quite frankly, i don't see much of a distinction beyond that. >> well i have to say before we get started here, congratulations to "meet the press." this is exactly the kind of thing "meet the press" is known for, sam, getting to the tough question. perhaps it struck vice president biden by surprise. it certainly struck the white house by surprise. but he came out with a from the heart response. what he really believes, apparently, without any kind of guidance or coordination, it looks like. right? this was from the heart. >> it shouldn't have struck him by surprise. they've been pressed on this issue repeatedly, often by gay publications, gay reporters, and it's always been a vexing issue for this president. from my reporting, i get the sense that biden really did speak from the heart. he wasn't operating off talking points and you can see by the trouble it's causing the administration, including in this briefing room today, that they were not prepared for it. and the walkback has been as big a story as the comments itself. at first they said biden was speaking on his own volition. then they said he didn't say anything that was different from the president.
but if you look at it objectively, there is daylight between biden and the president who is stuck on a very long evolution, still. >> yeah, the president says he's evolving. i want joe to respond to this. here he is, the white house press secretary jay carney trying to explain this. he repeatedly was asked about the issue of same-sex marriage today. he said the president said in the past his views were evolving. carney insisted that remained true. so this is a tough job for a presidential press secretary. let's watch carney in action. >> there are very few people who think that the president is not going to, after november, whether he's re-elected or not, come out in favor of same-sex marriage. why not just come out and say it and let voters decide? it seems -- it seems cynical to hide this until after the election. >> jay, i think the president's position is well known. he's spoken to this. it's gotten a great deal of coverage. i don't have an update to provide you on the president's position. it is what it was. >> pretty rare when somebody
runs for office saying in effect i'm getting ready to change my mind. i'm wondering, if -- if you don't run some risk of looking kind of too clever by half here? >> look, i don't have an update for you on the president's personal views. that's the answer he has and i don't have a new answer for you. >> well, let's go to my friend joe. this is a tough one. i know where you stand, joe, and i'm with you. but here's the president of the united states who's trying to get 270 electoral votes this fall. he has states like north carolina he has to win, and he has to win perhaps in virginia. maybe not have to win in north carolina, but certainly virginia, ohio, states where there's been trouble before on this front. look at what happened to -- to john kerry back in 2004 when karl rove and don king and those people connived with the cuyahoga county black ministers and cost him that state. so this is tricky business. what do you think the president wants to do here? what's your sense? you're his ally. >> well, you know, i think sam's
absolutely right when he said that allies, and myself among them, have pushed the president, have pushed the administration to come out in support of marriage equality. we've done that ongoingly and will continue to do that. not just to avoid the sort of antics that you saw over the last 24 hours. most recently with the white house press briefing. but for the substantive merits, and the message that it sends to people all across the country. and that is what i hope is not lost in the words of vice president biden yesterday. he said some very powerful things. he talked about being moved by the individual story of a couple that he met and their children, and so substantively i think it makes a huge difference all across the country. and the circumstances of people's lives. i think it would certainly energize people out there, some segments of the electorate out there, and of course, we're fighting, you know, in a number of states across the country to preserve marriage equality, and maryland, in washington, and of course, north carolina, and minnesota, and trying to fight a pro-active ballot measure in
maine. so i understand the complexities of it. but what i hope is not lost, you know, are the strong words of the vice president, the strong words of the secretary of education this morning. >> let's hear -- you are ahead of us. let's look at arne duncan, the secretary of education. although biden may have spoken on his own, he didn't speak alone. here's arne duncan today answering a very direct question on "morning joe" about this issue of gay marriage. here's the secretary of education. let's watch. >> do you believe that same-sex men and women should be able to get legally married in the united states? >> yes, i do. >> okay. have you ever said that publicly before? >> i don't know if i've ever been asked publicly. >> ha! this is an amazing case of outing people's political views here. to use another reference here. sam, i am surprised that they're all sort of like free boating it here. free boating i guess is the term. is everybody allowed to speak their conscience now on this issue in the administration? >> except the president,
apparently. because no one actually believes that the president is not supportive of gay marriage. it's not a -- he was as a state legislator. he did sign a document saying he supported it. they disavowed that, said it was an aide who did it, but no one actually believes that the president personally is opposed to it. it's just a practical political matter. i'm reporting tonight that there's a top breaking democratic official trying to elaborate on why he's still evolving. look at states like north carolina, where there's this ballot initiative that would say marriage is only between a man and woman. it's going to pass in all likelihood. and they look at that and they say, listen, if you put gay marriage on the ballot right now in november, that could be 10,000 votes in north carolina. there was a 14,000-vote margin in that state in 2008. they say why risk it? there's an upside to it, as well, if you do come out publicly in support of same sex marriage. >> joe, it's great to have you on. sam, it's great to have you on. i love this topic, and i know you do, too, joe. it's a very important cause but also great to watch politics in action. as we cover this story, the president's thinking. right?
he's evolving. he'll be evolving all night long, probably, the easiest phrase. it will be so interesting to see where he ends up. at least the democrats believe in evolution. how's that for that one? coming up the forum, some republicans don't believe in evolution and don't evolve themselves. we've got the kickoff of the obama campaign coming up next. the themes he's going to run on. you're watching "hardball." [ male announcer ] the inspiring story of how a shipping giant can befriend a forest may seem like the stuff of fairy tales. but if you take away the faces on the trees... take away the pixie dust. take away the singing animals, and the storybook narrator... [ man ] you're left with more electric trucks. more recycled shipping materials... and a growing number of lower emissions planes... which still makes for a pretty enchanted tale. ♪ la la la [ man ] whoops, forgot one... [ male announcer ] sustainable solutions. fedex. solutions that matter. then don't get nickle and dimed by high cost investments and annoying account fees.
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as we told you at the top of the hour, the cia has foiled a terror plot. the plot involved a suicide attack against a jetliner headed to this country, our country. and the bomb was said to be a more sophisticated version of the device the underwear bomber tried to detonate more than two years ago. officials say no airlines were ever in immediate danger. coming up, president obama formally kicked off his re-election campaign by avoiding the question, the old reagan question, are you better off than you were four years ago? instead the president's trying to convince voters now that better times are ahead, and he's the guy to get us there. will it work? well that's ahead, this is "hardball." kiwi. soy milk. impulse buy. gift horse. king crab. rhubarb pie. lettuce shower. made by bees. toucan sam. that's not cheese. grass fed. curry. gingersnaps. soup can tower. 5% cash back. right now, get 5% cash back at grocery stores. it pays to discover. ♪
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rehberger. a lawyer for bunny mellon testified today. edwards is accused of using donations to hide his pregnant mistress. and u.s. investors are keeping a close eye on europe as two election shakeups rattle france and greece. now back to "hardball." >> we have to move forward. to the future we imagined in 2008. where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. that's the choice in this election, and that's why i'm running for a second term as president of the united states. >> welcome back to "hardball."
that's president obama, formally kicking off his re-election campaign on saturday with rallies in the key battleground states. you're going to know them well, ohio and virginia. watch those states. and we saw the outline of his campaign theme. his pitch, if you will. we're on the right track, but there's more to do. we're on the right track, but there's more to do. and the president made clear mitt romney is not the one to do it for us. >> he doesn't seem to understand that maximizing profits by whatever means necessary, whether through layoffs or outsourcing or tax avoidance or union busting, might not always be good for the average american or for the american economy. i don't care how many ways you try to explain it, corporations aren't people. people are people. >> with six months until election day and two new polls showing mitt romney and barack obama nearly even right now, both candidates are in overdrive to define the other.
chris with "the washington post" and david corn washington bureau chief and author of the book "showdown." let me go to david corn on this, it seems to me that this is going to be a campaign that's going to be great to cover on shows like this, and all across msnbc, and our competitive stations, as well. this is going to be about ideology. this isn't going to be about what the unemployment rate happens to be this week. it's going to be about where we're headed. who are we as a country? what do we believe in? what philosophy should drive us? the president laid down that marker today. it's about what you believe we should be. it seems to me, over the weekend, he's made the point that he wants this campaign to be about ideas and purpose. >> you know, you're right about that, chris. and i hate to plug my own book, but he spent much of 2011 setting up the campaign exactly in this fashion. he wants it not to be a referendum on him and the economy for obvious reasons. he wants it to be a choice in values and visions from what he
has to offer, progressive set of values and visions, and the romney view, which is he caused backwards on tax policy and look how he just described romney. he basically called him mr. monopoly. a guy who just cares about profits and such. so he wants this debate now. and also he doesn't want to give romney a nano second of an opportunity to start moving back to the center after that weird and wacky and crazy republican primary season. so that's why he's coming out strong and just trying to keep and define him severely conservative and a guy who may know the value of profits but not the value of values. >> chris, what romney seems to want to do is say hey, gang, let's all go to "b" school. let's all go to business, school, make as much money as we can any way you make it. and by the way, if you vote for me, you can be like me. you can be just like me. that's what he's offering. >> i would put it slightly differently. i think what he's basically saying, chris, it's a variation on your point. i think what he's saying is look, we tried a guy who didn't
have deep experience in the private sector as president, and in romney's assessment, that didn't work. what he's pitching himself as is a guy who has spent his life fixing the problem which is turning things around. you can agree or disagree with this concept, but turning things around. the salt lake city olympics, companies with bain he would put in there. he would put massachusetts in there. turning things around. that he is a fix-it artist -- >> chris, how is that different than gordon gekko in "wall street," greed is good? >> he would say, and again i'm not defending romney, but what romney, i think, would say is that, and he does say, things like bright horizon. staples, that they invested in lots of companies that did well and eventually helped the economy. that's the case he's making for us which is i have the right experience, the unique experience for this time and place, barack obama does not. the experience he is touting is very clearly kind of that business school private sector experience. >> right.
>> they just think that contrast works now. it doesn't always work. but they think it will work now against obama. >> we're going to cover the good, the bad and the ugly. here's some ugly. this afternoon mitt romney answered president obama's weekend rallies in ohio and virginia with his own town hall in cleveland. he took questions from the crowd, including this one. >> the microphone right behind you. >> we have a president right now that is operating outside the structure of our constitution, and i want to know -- i want to know -- i want -- yeah, i do agree he should be tried for treason. >> he should be tried for treason. that's what she said to romney on the course of his answer romney did not challenge the premise or even address her comment that obama should be tried for treason. but a reporter followed up on the ropeline. let's watch. >> governor romney, do you think president obama should be tried for treason like the person who asked you? >> of course not. >> no? why didn't you say anything? is there a reason you didn't say anything like senator mccain did four years ago?
is there a reason you didn't correct her? is there a reason you didn't correct her or say that you wouldn't? >> i answered the question. >> but you don't agree with her answer? >> i don't correct all the questions that get asked of me. i obviously don't agree he should get tried. >> david corn, that's kind of fassle to allow somebody to stand in front of you and accuse the president of treason and not say wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute here. let's keep this legitimate here. let's be americans. he's an american. i'm an american. we're both within the law. let's stop this kind of talk. it would have been, yet again, a sister soldier moment, that's what we call when you stand up against your own crowd when they get out of line. >> we're still waiting to see any act or moment of courage from mitt romney on this whole campaign. we saw it briefly with john mccain back in 2004 when someone accused barack obama of being an arab and he said, no, he's a good american. we just happen to disagree. you and i have talked about this before, chris.
again and again and again, mitt romney has played footsie with either birtherism or the far right excessive rhetoric. he doesn't say what they say but he says barack obama doesn't understand the uniqueness of america. he doesn't understand the american experiment. so he's out there sort of doing a more light version of this idea that there's something foreign or there's an other quality to barack obama. it's been part of his campaign from the get-go and he doesn't seem to be moving away from it, even as he tries to court independent voters now. >> well, that's a question, chris cillizza. can he keep getting away with this, i'm the american home team? i'm america's team? this guy is not quite on the team of americans, without the press saying, wait a minute, objectively speaking you're playing to the worst elements in american society when you try to get in to this nativism, this sense that people are crooks if they don't agree with you politically, or they're traitors, even? >> well, let me -- let me preface this by saying this will be an unpopular opinion with you
and david, i think, in this -- in this circumstance, and i'm not saying this for every circumstance in which this comes up, but in this circumstance, when i watched it, it struck me more as mitt romney, a awkward candidate who is not good on his feet than mitt romney silently condoning views that are clearly outside of the mainstream of society and should be outside of the mainstream of society. he's not someone, even like mccain, who is a little bit more able to kind of take in things and spit them out in realtime. i think if he had his druthers, he would have rather said, you know what, there's no place for that, and then have the follow up on the rope line and then have this conversation that we're having. i attribute it more to his awkwardness than any sort of hidden agenda that he has in terms of condoning some of the views that are out there. >> okay. we'll you're right on that. chris and i agree. >> oh, all right. >> david and i agree -- >> oh, okay.
>> i think your verdict is diminished capacity. anyway, thank you. you go with diminished capacity. i'll go with he knew what he was doing, and david agrees with that. thanks, guys, for coming on tonight. up next the new voter i.d. laws around the country aren't cutting down on voter fraud but they're certainly shrinking the number of democrats who are registered to vote, getting out to vote. for the republicans who pushed those laws that might be, you think maybe, the point? watching "hardball." [ male announcer ] what's in your energy drink? ♪ power surge, let it blow your mind. [ male announcer ] for fruits, veggies and natural green tea energy... new v8 v-fusion plus energy. could've had a v8. [ male announcer ] american innovation. 29 years ago, it helped us invent the minivan. ♪ today dodge grand caravan is the most awarded minivan ever. ♪ who knows where innovation can take us next?
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well, france actually elected its first socialist president in more than 15 years. the effects of francois hollande's victory this weekend will be felt right here at home, of course. first hollande has promised to end his country's involvement in the afghan war. that's big enough. he's going to announce the french pullout at this month's nato summit back in the united states in chicago, actually, this month. and second hollande campaigned on a promise to buck the current trend toward economic austerity in europe. many republicans in this country are arguing for stricter austerity measures, but it's left many european countries mired in deeper economic trouble. not exactly a good role model over there for what people like mitt romney are pushing here. we'll be right back. ♪ surf's up everybody get your boards and your wetsuits ♪ free-credit-score-dot-com's gonna direct you ♪ ♪ to check your credit score before it gets too late ♪ ♪ and you end up strapped for cash ♪ ♪ patching your board with duct tape ♪ ♪ so hit free-credit-score-dot-com ♪ ♪ find out what credit's about ♪
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laws in ways that would undeniably suppress voter turnout among city dwellers, minorities and the elderly. in other words voters that usually support democrats. big surprise there. republicans say it's all to prevent voter fraud, whatever that is, these days. democrats say it's a solution in search of a problem. and it will have big consequences come november. well, u.s. congressman bob brady is a democrat from pennsylvania, also the chairman of the democratic city committee in philadelphia, the organization there, and michael waldman is president of the brennan center in new york university of law. so let's start with the real guy. congressman bob brady, you've got a city organization you've got to get into the streets. what happens when these older people who live in row houses, don't own cars, don't have driver's licenses, want to vote democrat? how are you going to help them given the new law in pennsylvania? >> the new law is disenfranchising them. they have to come up with a photo i.d. if they don't have a driver's license, they have to apply for a nondriver's license photo i.d. and they have to show different types of i.d. at the polls. they have to show either an i.d. from a college that's dated.
they have to show a passport. they have to show city, state or federal i.d., and if they they acquire that. how do they acquire that. they have to get a birth certificate or a social security card. the ironic part about it, in order to get a social security card, you have to show a photo i.d. you got to get a photo i.d. to get a social security card to get a photo i.d. totally ridiculous. all kind of money being spent and it is just voter suppression. >> suppose one of your committee people, if anybody calls up and says i've never driven car in five years, i don't have a driver's license. what do i do? what does your committee person tell that person to do? this process sounds hopeless. >> it is. we're trying to educate everybody that don't have a driver's license or a photo i.d. we're trying to do it as best as
possible. we're going to court next week with the naacp. we're going to go to court and the most restrictive law in the united states we're trying to appeal it. >> michael, this is really, i think, brutal. what they're saying to people is you can show up as they have done all your life, you voted in every primary for 25, 30 years. you walk around the corner. you go where you always voted. this person says where is your photo i.d.? the person says what is that. i didn't go do college, i don't have a car. within six days you have to show up with a government photo i.d. card. how is anybody going to do that? how do you get to city hall? you got to take a subway. you got to get down there with money. you have to know how to do and you're probably intimidated in the first place. this looks like voter suppression. >> it is remarkable. at a time we ought to be
expanding democracy. these very crafted lawed in pennsylvania and other places make it harder for seniors, for poor people to vote are being passed. you see situations in a lot of places where you have to go to the dmv office to get the paper work. you have to have a car to go the distance to get to the dmv office. these kind of laws, we don't know how big an impact they will have. we know that about 11% of people who are eligible to vote in the country don't have a driver's license. we expect it will make it harder for a lot of people to vote. it isn't needed to protect the integrity of our elections. >> the most polls show the democrats what he had the president by somewhere around ten points. if this election gets closer, how many votes will this take way from you, this new law? >> if it takes one vote away, it's wrong. voting is a right.
the argument is you need a photo i.d. to get on an airplane. their privileges. we have a right. people born in the united states have a right. we are taking that right away. that is wrong. if we miss one vote, two votes, that's wrong. we're trying to get people to come out and vote and increase the voting and we have this ridiculous law that will decrease it and put a poll tax on people that want to vote. >> i think everybody watching including me ought to get any this and help people to vote. it may have an impact that's political. i got to tell you, denying older people the chance to vote is a poll tax. is there a movement that should be nonpartisan to deal with this? >> yes in pennsylvania and around the country. you saw last year this big wave of laws cutting back on voting rights. the worst since the jim crow era. what you started to see this year is real fight back and some
suc successes so that voters in maine repeal the law they passed up there to end election day registration. you've seen in ohio voters have put a petition on the ballot. >> keep up the good work. thank you, mr. brady. thanks for coming on the show. good luck. i'll be glad to help. people ought to get out and help. >> we're doing it now. thank you. >> it's up to the good committee people. let me finish with a civic need we have to get people out to vote. you're watching "hardball." you got to vote. ♪ you are my sunshine, my only sunshine ♪
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let me finish with this. i think people who want to vote should be allowed to vote, don't you? we shouldn't be out there putting undue burdens on people. we should be encouraging the people to vote, not discouraging. it's the good work of political parties to get the voters to the voting booth. they have calling which is to activate voters. it looks this new thing of requiring government i.d. card s creating a real challenge. i'd like to hope that organizations and not just democratic organizations will be out there this summer getting people to deal with this, to get themselves a voter i.d. card. that means getting the raise birth certificate. it's going to be real challenge. i can't think of a better role for party people, committee
persons like my grandfather and civic groups to get people in a position to cast a vote this november. here is the point. it's not a partisan activity to help people exercise the right to vote. it may help one party more than the other, i would think the democrats. that's so it could keep a disproportionate number of democratic voters from casting a ballot. is there anyone that would stand up that a voting that's been voting for years should be denied their vote. i think we can think about ways to stop that from happening. as i said a moment ago, this could be a great hooray for the political organizations. the committee people would run down the street list, go to the doors of the person on the list and find out who doesn't have an i.d. card and help them get one. it's the kind of political work they can't do on tv. that's reason enough for the local committee