tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC October 13, 2011 2:00am-3:00am EDT
send out the clowns. let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm crist matthews in washington. leading off tonight, clown show. that's what the republican field is amounting to. michele bachmann starts talking about the sign of the beast. rick perry says the american revolution happened in the 16th century, and newt gingrich says chris dodd and barney frank should be imprisoned. that's what he said, for writing legislation he disagrees with. no wonger mitt romney never, quote, loses a debate. how could he in this crowd? as roberta flack and donny hathaway san, where is the love? polls show him treading water
while republicans keep picking a new flavor of the month. plus joe biden said today it won't happen. hillary clinton said today it won't happen, and i have no evidence it will happen. why do some people keep stirring the pot, saying a desperate president obama will dump biden and put hillary on the ticket? what are we to make of the alleged plot to assassinate the saudi ambassador. ? was it a rogue operation? or planned at the top in iran? let me finish with the sorry displace, as peggy lee would say, is that all there are there is? we start with the clown show. congressman frank is from, and congressman frank, i have a lot of respect for you, as you know.
here was night gingrich talking saying you both should be in prison. inchsz if you want to put people in jail, i want to second what michelle said, you ought to start with barney frank and chris dodd, and let's look at the politicians who profited from the environment, and the politicians who put this country in trouble. >> clearly not saying they should go to jail. >> in chris dodd's case, go back and look at the countryside deals, and in frank's case look at the lobbyist he was close to at freddie mac. >> first of all, you have to understand when you think you are the intellectual leader of the free world, and you find yourself struggling to pass michele bachmann in a poll in iowa, it is unsettling. i understand the poorman isn't getting his due. you know, the run-up to this crisis, it began to bubble over
bubble over in 2007 and 2008. the republicans controlled the congress from 1995 through 2006. newt was himself speaker for four years, did nothing about the problems he accuses me and chris of causing and then it was tom delay. i'm regretful, chris. apparently i had some secret influence over the republican leadership i didn't know about, because if i had i would have told them not to impeach president clinton. i would have told them not to go to war in iraq. i would have told delay not to go on the dent show. there's a lot of things that i
would have done. the second thing, what he then is objecting to, the bill that we passed. they don't like independent consumer agency and the work that elizabeth warren did. they don't want derivatives to be regulated. incredibly, they want to go back to a situation where aig was able to get itself in all this trouble. they don't want a fiduciary responsibility on people who advise investors. advise investors. as i said, first of all, he's talking about the period when his party was in control. in 2007 when we took over, we began to make illegal these subprime loans, et cetera, and as i said, poor newt is just beside himself. he thought he was a great gift to the country, and he finds himself being taken back to the return window, not at tiffany's, i guess, but a different place,
and he can't deal with it. let me suggest behind the malevolent comment of newt gingrich of you and senator dodd was a grim effort to try to raise a few bucks in this campaign. as you must know, congressman frank, as everybody in business knows it, you and chris dodd did something to regulate those people, is this the way to pass the tin cup around and get money for what's already a cash-strapped campaign, not only a ludicrous one but a poor one? >> i suppose there are a lot of people who made a great deal of money, and if you read the journals and whatever, there are people complaining that because of what we did they can't do as much. by the way, what we did, i think, was to restrict some of the activity that added nothing to the real economy, trading paper back and forth. i mean, these people had -- they were engaged in economic transactions that had as much relationship to the real economy
as fantasy football has to sunday afternoon, except they were making money off of it. and people were very angry at us because they are not making the trading profits they used to make, and, yes, i'm sure newt does make some money off of it. >> what do you make of the republican party? you grew up in massachusetts and new jersey way before that. you know there used to be a clifford case republican party, a party of governor sargent and reasonable people. what happened to that? last night, i want you to start and look at this. here's rick perry who actually is a governor of one of the states, maybe a secessionist governor but a governor, and here he is talking about the revolutionary war. of course, massachusetts had much to do with it. here he is talking about when it was fought, not about when the earth was founded 5,000 years
ago, according to these people, but when we fought our revolution, that part. let's listen. >> our founding fathers never meant for washington, d.c. to be the found t of all wisdom. as a matter of fact, they were very much afraid of that. it was actually the reason that we fought the revolution in the 16th century was to -- to get away from that type of onerous crown, if you will. >> how do you describe this knucklehead history? i mean, this guy is the guy that said texas has the right to secede from the union. i think we fought a war over that. now he's placed, well, they always have problems with the history of the universe, he had problems with that. here he is saying our country was founded back in the 1500s. >> i'll be honest, i think rick perry is jealous of me and here's why.
he signed a book that someone wrote and said he could never live in massachusetts because they vote for ted kennedy, a great senator, john kerry and me, even after they know what we stand for. he was appalled that people would vote for us even after they know what we stand for. the reason i think he's jealous is as people in the republican party have found out what he stands for, they are not voting for him, so he's very jealous that someone can tell people what he thinks and not have to repudiate it or go back on it. the floundering around, yeah, it's discouraging, but to go back to your main point. i was very bipartisan when i was in the legislature. there were some differences, but we could work together, i think. you have a group of people now. the republican party today is in the grips of the most rigid
ideological splinter we've seen, and the problem is that they don't represent the whole country. they represent the people who vote in republican primaries and that's driven all of them further right, so mitt romney, for example, is in a mode of repudiating position after position. i notice in the debate last night they quoted his having supported the -- the bush administration's efforts to deal with the financial crisis in 2008. he's now repudiating that. he of course has repudiated the health care. there has never been a time in american history when so rigidly ideologically extremist a group has controlled one of the major parties. >> and he was the sober one last night. let's look at rick santorum. i want david to get in here. rick santorum advocating basically getting rid of all corporate taxes for manufacturers. just get rid of them all. don't pay for it. just get rid of it. let's listen. >> what happened was we became uncompetitive so we need to be competitive. that's why i proposed taking the corporate tax for manufacturers and processors, taking it from 35% and eliminating it. 0% tax, allow this to be the manufacturing capital of the world again. >> this is just in line with what bachmann said the other
night in the last debate saying we shouldn't have to pay any taxes. >> first i think i should say that i'm hear to make a citizen's arrest of barney frank, if i have a chance. i mean, they are bidding down. pretty soon it's going to be negative numbers on taxation. i mean, her main cane's plan would raise taxes on the poor? michele bachmann says we shouldn't pay taxes. he doesn't want taxes on any manufacturing, but his headline was i want to go to war with china. >> yeah. >> he meant an economic war, but it's like the war language, the rhetoric has to be as excessive as it can for any of these guys to have a chance of winning over those republican primary voters that barney was talking about. >> can i add, by the way, you're talking about not raising taxes. they have backed away from savaging social security and medicare but these are all, they all want to increase military spending. we're spending at cold war rates of military spending and going all over the world. you cut taxes, you claim that you're going to proteocial security and medicare and you increase military spending. they are going to really make the military the volunteers, volunteers in a sense that we won't be able to pay anybody. we'll have to volunteer for people to give us bullets and volunteer people to fly planes. the illogic is incredible. how do you justify that and cut how do you substantially increase the largest single item in the discretionary budget, and cut taxes, but say social security and medicare will be fine? >> last night, congressman, david they were supposed to stick to economic and, of course, michele bachmann couldn't avoid religious concerns. here she is passing what even my
producers think was a joke. i don't think so, talking about the sign of the beast which i learned from some of these characters is apparently 999, herman cain's economic program turned upside down, 666. let's hear her brand of humor. this is michele bachmann, desperate. >> when you take the 999 plan and you turn it upside down, i think the devil's in the details. >> yeah. >> what would you say if you are debating a person like that who shifted the topic to the strange far right christian notions about the devil and the sign of the beast? she can't resist that catnip. >> i guess if i were debating her, not just debating her, and i was losing in the polls, i would do exactly what newt gingrich did. i'd start to say outlandish things and change the subject. >> barney is as outrageous at newt thinks he is. your thoughts? >> i think there's a slight chance, maybe more than slight,
that michele bachmann really believes this. >> the sign of the beast. >> that herman cain is the antichrist. >> she's said so many outlandish things over the year and she has a very fundamental view of the world. she has a very conspiratorial view of the world. next time you get on the show, ask her about agenda 21. she believes in black helicopters and everything leading up to the rapture. >> i know. >> so it's not inconceivable that this wasn't a joke. >> let me go back to square one. congressman frank, again, besides being a liberal and a progressive supporter of your interests in your district up there in massachusetts, and you do study politics and history, what has happened to the republican party? why does it look like a tea party-fueled party looks like it's giving up and finding a candidate it likes and looks like it's willing to go with one it doesn't like?
>> it's a combination. i think the fact is the economy went very sour during a republican regime, and i want to stress this again. the republicans have had that great success in saying oh, the democrats caused the problem. for six years, 2000 through 2006, which is clearly the time when the economic problems festered and got worse and were ready to blow up, we had republican control of the presidency, the house and the senate, that's unusual. the last time we had a six-year period of one party controlling all three branches was lyndon johnson so they had control, and it went terribly wrong, and here was this problem. they could not deal with that, and they could not deal with the problems that there was too little regulation, too little government intervention, too little of a public sector along with the private sector, so that were literally kind of driven
mad by it and the anger just exploded on themselves. so i guess they had to say, look, they couldn't possibly go to the left. if george bush's administration was a failure in this leading up to the economic crisis and, of course, in the iraq war, the greatest mistake in american history that i believe was the single conscious decision, then the only answer is to go further right. they couldn't stick with bush. they are constitutionally unable to move to a more centrist position so they had then the only place they could go is to the right. that's why you have people like gingrich and romney and a lot of others far to the right of where they were before. again, the model they have of a bush administration became indefensible and they had to find a new model, and given their ideology, the only one they could find was to the right. >> you're invited back on this program any time you would like, especially when you're accused of a felony by newt gingrich. >> well, to be fair, he didn't say -- it might have been a serious misdemeanor. >> any time, any place. thank you, congressman barney frank of massachusetts who i do believe has the iq that newt in his delusion thinks he might have had at one point in his earlier life. thank you very much, of course, to david corn.
if mitt romney is the republican front-runner, the voters didn't get the memo. they don't have a heart for this guy. polls show romney's numbers have been stagnant while bachmann, then perry, and now cain have all shot to the top. why the tea party doesn't love this romney character. maybe because he's not one of them. you're watatching "h"hardball,l," only on msnsnbc.
we've got new poll numbers in two of the hottest senate races out there. let's check the "hardball" scoreboard. first, massachusetts republican where senator scott brown faces a well-funded challenge from consumer advocate elizabeth warren. right now brown leads but not by much. he's up by 47-42. that's within the reach. root for her up there. next for virginia, for the senate for the seat of the retiring jim webb, governor tim kaine up against former senator george allen, kaine has a one-popoint leadad, 45-44.4. whatat a greatat race. two prpremiere m matchups s we'll bebe wawatching a all the
gaining traction with actual republican voters. in poll after poll his support has stayed virtually unchanged as other candidates have battled to fill anti-romney, if you will, position. last month it was rick perry in that position. now it appears to be herman cain challenging him. this is despite the fact that he's been strong in debates, mitt romney has, and has racked up a number of impressive endorsements, but what's wrong with mitt romney? will his numbers begin to move now, and here's what we can tell from what the results of the newest nbc news/"wall street journal" poll tells us and that's just out today. compare how republican voters see mitt romney compared to herman cane. 16% of voters are very positive, 16%, 1 in 6 are very positive while 28% are very positive towards cain. romney has stronger negative numbers though it's also true more people know who he is
having run for so many more news and cain is a newcomer. for more on this we're joined by nicolle wallace, a former senior mccain/palin adviser and author of the book "it's classified" -- there it is -- and i've been talking to you, jennifer, so i want to start with you about this recently, and i get this sense that there's two fights going on in the republican party. romney has won one of those fights, the more establishment republican wing and eastern wing historically and always one of the wings of the republican party, always is and still is the dominant party. the western and southern wing, which is basically tea partiers, conservatives, very antigovernment people, they don't have a candidate yet and it is not romney. your thoughts. that's my thought. what's yours? >> i agree with your thoughts. i think one of the reasons that people aren't really talking about that much in a
non-sensational way is the fact that romney is a mormon. i think in iowa, for example, where 44% of gop primary voters are evangelical, 42% say they know people -- that the people they know would not vote for romney. that's like saying i won't vote for romney. >> i know it does. >> you know, that is a huge obstacle for romney. that means that the evangelical vote as it moves to iowa, maybe not so much in new hampshire but then as it hits in south carolina and the southern states, if he's got almost half of republican primary voters questioning whether his religion is a cult, he's got a huge problem on his hands. >> well, let me go to nicolle on that. i didn't want to start on that. i wanted to start on what seems to be this tissue rejection of romney by the tea party conservative wing of the republican party. address that question raised by jennifer. will his lds religion end up
forcing the republicans to look to another candidate between now and next year? >> i don't think so, and i think, chris, you know that every candidate in both parties always has to bring some burden with them on the campaign trail. for john mccain, who is was last candidate i worked for, it was his position on immigration. he had once supported comprehensive immigration reform with the late ted kennedy, so george w. bush brought some positions that were suspect to the republican base when he ran in the primary in 2000, things he had done in texas with the late lieutenant governor bullock, so every nominee brings a burden of some positions and obstacles. i don't think your analysis of what's been going on with the republican side is entirely unfair, but i do think we're seeing a transition. i think as we speak together tonight i think that romney may be -- i think people may be
settling in with romney. i think they may be getting more comfortable with the idea that this lusting after all these other guys who have shown no interest in running for president has been detrimental, has been a waste of time, and has been a disservice to the guys who were on the field. whatever you think of our eight nominees, the business of running for president is excruciating, and i think it has been a disservice to the eight candidates who are in the field for our party -- i've called it dysfunctional dating, but it's that age-old phenomenon of wanting what you can't have, so i'm happy for the party that period seems to be over. >> okay. well, then the question still applies, and i want to go back to jennifer on this. apart -- let's talk about his lds religion for one more back and forth here. if it is -- well, certainly it's more than a position he holds.
it's who he is religiously, and the question is if they are happy two-thirds or three-quarters of evangelicals with the notion that he's a cultist, will they ever put a cultist in the white house? will they have a hand in it? even come november when the choice is obama, now my question to you, jennifer, it's a tough one. if they have to choose between a cultist and obama, who are they going to put in the white house? >> i think that if people believe he's a cultist they will have a lot of trouble turning out for him. what we saw in '96 with dole, what we saw in 2008 with mccain is centrist candidates who couldn't produce a turnout works couldn't win, and they weren't mormons. they weren't a first, so you have to ask yourself in the middle of a huge recession, in the middle of a time where people are very critical of government, are they going to take the step of electing another first right now in 2012,
and is the turnout going to be there for a centrist and a centrist who is mormon, and i don't think we should be afraid to talk about the subject. if romney and another candidate were jewish, we would certainly be talking about whether this country was ready for the first jewish president. i don't think this is off limits, but i do think it goes much beyond romney's religion. he's flip-flopped on issues that evangelicals care about. he's flip-flopped on the life issue. that really resonates. there's still a lot of single-issue voters out there. he's flip-flopped on the issue of gay marriage, and i don't think that people have gotten past the flip-flopping. i don't think nicolle is right that people have accepted romney and settled in. three months out from the elections that begin, i think people will go back to perry. they may go back to bachmann.
they may go back to ron paul. they are going to look for a nominee that represents their ideology. >> let me ask you, nicolle, about this race. two ways it could end right now. it could end slowly over months and months of back and forth with perry coming back, or romney can decide to shoot the moon and go to iowa and say i can beat herman cain, who is now the front-runner. i can beat that guy in iowa. what would you recommend, he go for the kill, knock off herman cain, and win the whole thing early on? what would you recommend? you sound like you're optimistic about romney winning this thing so i'm asking you the big question, can he win it early? >> look, i am optimistic. i think more of the country than both of you. i don't think that the country only looks at someone's religion. >> i'm not taking a position on this. don't put me in a box. >> so i don't think that's the
impediment that -- that we are making. >> the polling numbers keep coming up to say that he's a cultist, that these people in the conservative christian world don't see him as a christian. isn't that a problem, or isn't it? if they don't think he's a christian, do you think they will vote for him, nicolle? if they don't think he's a christian, will they vote for him? >> i think that republicans, tea party members and independents are united in wanting to see president obama and his economic policies which have been so detrimental for the middle class and for the vast majority of this country voted out of office so i think that there will be bigger themes and ideas that unite the country around a candidate like mitt romney. but if you look at 2003, this point in the democratic primary, we were looking at howard dean as a likely democratic nominee and we were talking about wesley clark. so all three of us may be talking about the entirely wrong cast of characters so i'm not ready to count anybody out. >> i need to -- i need to check in with to -- i need to check in with you, haven't talk with you for a while, nicolle, do you think herman contain would be a great president? >> he would be a great nominee for our party. how can you ever know? no one can predict. the job is extraordinary. that's why i write a novel about the presidency. it's so extraordinary. you can't predict what kind of president anybody will be until they are in that office. >> that's a wio cf1 o you don't like romney tonight. >> word on herman cane's 999 plan. next in the sideshow. i don't get this anyway. i think it's better than 666 from what i've heard. you're watching "hardball," only onon msnbc.. when a moment might turn into something more. and when it does men with erectile dysfunction can be more confident in their ability to be ready with cialis for daily use. cialis for daily use is a clinically proven low-dose tablet you take every day,
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back to "hardball." now for the sideshow. first up, giving it all you've got. vice president joe biden is not pleased with last night's defeat of president obama's jobs bill in the u.s. senate. far from it. in an interview on the "today" show biden was asked why the president did not launch a bipartisan jobs bill many months ago? get ready for his no-holds barred response. >> he not only rolled up his sleeve, we rolled up our sleeves, our pant legs, we were in our gym shorts working like a devil. they made it clear. that under no circumstances are they prepared to pay for anything that we need to do now so we don't raise the debt further in order to help people have jobs. >> well, who got at this jobs bill who is not too big for the republicans to swallow. he made that point. it was meant to be bite-sized and no wonder the frustrations
that republicans didn't bite. next up, how is this for a winning endorsement or not? all starts with tennessee today senator kerry todd, a leading sponsor of a law down that to allow handguns in barrooms. there he is. things went sour for him late last night when he was pulled over and arrested for a dui and what was right next to him as he sat in the driver's seat, a loaded gun, holstered right next to him, according to the police affidavit. he was, quote, very unsteady on his feet, almost falling down at times. his speech was slurred. his eyes were red, watery and bloodshot. the subject, that's him, was obviously very impaired and not in any condition to be carrying a loaded handgun. well, think he might want to take a back seat now, i would say, in this legislative fight to let people like him carry guns into barrooms. and now for the big number. it's all about that 999. jon huntsman may have joked that
he first thought the term referred to the price of a pizza. that didn't push herman contain's economic plan far from front and center throughout the debate last night, mostly thanks to cain himself. let's listen. >> i have put my 999 plan on the table. the 999 plan that i have proposed is simple. 999 is bold, and what 999 does it expands the base. i have proposed 999. put it in the 999 plan. 999 plan. 999 will pass. 999. remember, 999 plan. 999. my top priority is 999. and jobs, jobs, jobs. >> well repetition is the mother of memory. at the very least you can't say he's not trying to get it in there. how many times did mr. cain say 999 during that debate, 25 times. no surprise, 16 of those times came from the former godfather's pizza ceo himself, 999 times 25, that's the big number. up next, vice president joe biden says there's no way president obama will replace him and put hillary clinton on the presidential ticket. any push by any democrat, i
now, are you? yes or no, are you on the ticket? >> absolutely positively yes. there's never been a question about that. the president has made that now, are you? yes or no, are you on the ticket? >> absolutely positively yes. there's never been a question about that. the president has made that clear, and hardly anybody is raising it anymore.
i guess it's parlor game talk, but the parlors are bare down here. >> welcome back to "hardball." >> ann curry certainly raised it on the "today" show and that was vice president biden explaining or plainly stating that he's not going anywhere and will be on the ticket as vice president running with president obama for re-election in 2012. however, news stories that biden will step aside and let hillary clinton step in as vice president still show up here and there. for example, today in "the chicago sun times" the columnist out there laura washington phrased it like this today, quote, an obama/clinton ticket would be a potent and historic lure. it would pander to female voters, but i suspect they will go with it. so why won't this story just go away completely? joan walsh is the editor at large with "salon" and matt cooper with "the national journal." joan and matt, we're all three professionals. we watch these things come and
go. >> right. >> it seems like if you have a column that's nobody has read lately and you want somebody to read it, this certainly worked for laura washington today. i shouldn't say that. i don't know her column, but let me say we're talking about it so it worked. is this the way to get a column read, to bring up this proposition? >> sure. it's a great way. >> i've known laura for a long time. i don't think that's what she was doing, chris. she finds it interesting. people find it perennially interesting, but it's just not going to happen. you know, i'm a huge, huge admirer of hillary clinton. i don't think it's a good idea. i don't think it really adds what people think it would add. the groups that she did well with, certainly women, latinos, the white working class in particular, i don't know that hillary as vp necessarily lures them back. she's not running her own candidacy. she becomes part of a team and i don't see president obama doing that to joe biden.
i don't see why. >> let's go to matt cooper, your thoughts. is there anything to this besides, and i know i've written columns to stir the pot. it's good to stir the pot. it gets people thinking. sometimes i say things on this show, laura, if you're watching, to stir things up, although i'm not sure they are true yet because i think they are emerging or they might emerge. your thoughts, matt? >> yeah. i mean, look, it does stir the pot. she's endlessly interesting, and -- and, look, if there was ever anything, god forbid, that happened to biden's health or something, she'd be the obvious next in line to come in for that veep spot, but if you look at the presidents who have had to dump their veeps jerry ford or nelson rockefeller to move to the right or fdr or wallace, they do it for big political reasons that wouldn't be the same if you exchange biden for hillary. hillary was, as joe said, popular with white working class voters.
she picked up two-thirds of white voters in the primary against obama in 2008. biden plays well with those voters. maybe not as well, but well, so you wouldn't really get that much with a hillary on the ticket. >> well, the associated press reports that hillary clinton said this about her future plans, quote, i am looking forward to being out of public life, whether it's high level appointments like this or elected office. i have no interest in or no plans of any sort to pursue that any more than i am really looking forward to returning to private life. you don't have to give a shermanesque speech for the vice presidency because you can't run for it, joan, but i do wonder. >> right. >> here's my question, something you sort of got to. i always felt bad about jerry ford dumping nelson rockefeller because nelson rockefeller, whatever party you're in, is certainly a public servant and a good one all those years as governor of new york and accepting the vice presidency,
and to have him dumped in '76 just to sort of lighten the burden of jerry ford certainly didn't help jerry ford much. >> no. >> he got beaten. >> exactly, and i don't think -- i don't think it helps barack obama. i think that joe biden has been a good vice president. i think he's helped him out. and, you know, as matt says, he brings some credibility with some of the same groups that hillary does. now, look, i'm a woman. i'm a feminist. i can't deny that certainly in 2008 she just brought a movement feeling, especially at end of the campaign, to her candidacy, and there would be some of that. no doubt there would be a little bit of that, but would that balance out the feeling of desperation and being disloyal to joe biden that such a move would raise, i just don't -- i don't think it balances it out. i think it's a dangerous -- it's one of those things. the beltway giveth and taketh away. we would love this story because
it's a good juicy story, and then the next day it would be oh, my god, barack obama, he's desperate. >> yeah. >> joe biden, kicked to the curb, you know. the optics on this, as we like to say, are not very good. >> let's take a look. this was laura washington entirely, a great columnist. bob woodward, one of the great investigative reporters of all time, perhaps the big one, here he is in an interview october a year ago that actually started this buzz at one point. let's watch. >> it's on the table, and some of hillary clinton's advisers see it as a real possibility in 2012. president obama needs some of the women, latinos, retirees that she did so well with during the 2008 primaries, and so they switch jobs. >> well, matt cooper, it's hard to read exactly what bob meant there when he says the clinton people are talking this up. >> right. >> the clinton people see it on the table. the clinton people see it as a real possibility.
they don't make this call. i mean, if sid blumenthal or fred, one of the guys over there that would like to see this happen is talking this up, it has no consequence, does it? >> no, it doesn't. i mean, look, there's hillary people always go through a lot of what if? what if it had been us? >> yeah. >> no shortage of obama supporters who are thinking maybe she would have been tougher and a little better taking on john boehner, but, you know, where she is right now is just physically exhausted. i don't think you can underestimate how tired you must be after eight years as first lady, going right to the u.s. senate, being the senator to new york right after 9/11, going right into a presidential campaign and then logging about 1 billion miles as secretary of state. that is a lot for a 63-year-old. >> you know, i have to say personally, on a personal basis, nobody i like to bump into more
and meet than hillary clinton. i get the biggest giggle out of meeting her. she is something else in person. i say that to our worst enemies, meet her and you'll be amazed. anyway, thank you joan walsh and matt cooper. got a little chuckle out of joan with that one. up next, an alleged terror plot by iran to assassinate the saudi ambassador here in washington. how high up ththe ladderer did thahat go? this is "hardball," only on msnbc. ot eer!" ♪ ♪ but the second that she shut the door ♪ ♪ girl started blowing up their credit score ♪ ♪ she bought a pizza party for her whole dorm floor ♪ ♪ hundred pounds of makeup at the makeup store ♪ ♪ and a ticket down to spring break in mexico ♪ ♪ but her folks didn't know 'cause her folks didn't go ♪ ♪ to free-credit-score-dot-com hard times for daddy and mom. ♪ offer applies with enrollment in freecreditscore.com™.
boy, a lot -- all of us have been watching these anti-wall street, there they are, protests around the country, especially up on wall street. well, now we have our first idea of what americans think of those demonstrations. our new nbc/"wall street journal" poll out today asked people whether they support or oppose the protests. a plurality tend to support that, something less than 50, but 37% say they tend to support the occupy wall street protests versus 18% who say they oppose them.. ththat 18 isis a pretttty low nunumber. that s suggests s the prototests might have legs and momore importantly political value to the democrats especially.
assassinate a diplomat, that is something for the whole world, every nation in the world will learn the facts of this will be outraged. this is all about keeping the world united in opposition to the activities of iran, and we've taken nothing off the table. we will take nothing off the table. >> welcome back to "hardball." that's vice president biden this morning, of course, reacting to the alleged plot to assassinate the saudi ambassador here in washington.
so what does this alleged plot tell us about iran's terrorism ambitions and how high up in the iranian government does this plot actually go? we don't know. evan kohlmann is an msnbc terrorism analyst and robin wright is a fellow at the united states institute of peace and the woodrow wilson center and also author of "rock the casbah." what do we know now? >> the united states has made some very serious allegations about iran's attempt to assassinate the saudi ambassador. this is a fascinating story because iran is capable of so much more. it was engaged in the support role, allegedly, behind the largest loss of u.s. military life in a single incident since world war ii in the bombing of the marine barracks in lebanon in 1982. it's been involved, allegedly, in bombings of u.s. embassies. it's allegedly been involved in attacks in iraq and afghanistan and facilitating, arming and so forth. >> so hezbollah, in most cases?
>> through hezbollah, through proxies proxies. this case doesn't make sense in a way. if it's true, something has dramatically changed in iran. >> the assassins, if they had gotten talked. >> well, most of the time iran has used cutouts and it's been quite effective. the idea of using a car salesman from corpus christi, texas, working through the mexican drug cartel, is not clearly in keeping with its past operations. >> it looks like they need to be caught. let me go to evan coleman, would they risk being caught, where they go to a mexican cartel, plan their dirty work, plan to kill the ambassador. our fbi would be able to track this to them. >> if you try to imagine this as the product of collective thinking on the iranian government, seems like this is russian roulette. if you killed the saudi ambassador to the u.s., you'd be guaranteeing a serious u.s. reaction and i believe a military one. it's difficult to understand
this as a product of collective thinking. it's much easier to understand this as maybe the product of a rogue individual within the revolution their guard corps, or the quds force, somebody who's influential, somebody who's very powerful and maybe somebody who's very senior. you wonder how many others within the iranian government really had fingerprints on this. >> what's the purpose besides mayhem of killing the saudi ambassador here in washington? what would you gain strategically if you're already hated by the united states, you're already under all kinds of embargoes from the west. this would add to those embargoes, add to the sanction and add to the hatred and fear of iran's trouble making. >> yeah. i think most importantly, especially for the countries involved here, iran desperately needs china to stay out of what's going on at the u.n. security council. if china all of a sudden had a reason, i.e. instability in saudi arabia to have sanctions
against iran, greater action grens iran, it doesn't make sense. the chinese are staying out of this. the last thing iran wants to do is push them into cooperating with the u.s. and further sanctions. it's a very change calculous. >> one thing missing in the debates last night, i want to shift a little because you know this stuff. you'd expect the right wing candidates last night, like bachmann and people over there -- it's hard to tell who isn't right wing in the republican party. i don't think romney is or huntsman. they'd be pushing the iran button right now. bomb the nuclear facilities in iran, for israel, do it for us. you expect the right wing bell to ring. why hasn't the bell rung yet in these debates? >> romney has talked about the line in the sand over iran's nuclear program which is another reason it doesn't make sense. this is the time iran is trying to avoid more sanctions because of its controversial nuclear
program. it knows that -- iran doesn't want to be an issue in the american presidential election. so the timing of this doesn't work. the fact that no one has yet talked about iran in more specific terms, it will come. >> to we have right wing government, a far -- i don't know if the terms mean anything. an extremist government in tehran that might support the attack on the said udi ambassador here? >> i don't think so. ahmadinejad is not going to win an award for the nobel peace prize. he of all people wants to avoid a direct confrontation with the united states. it seems very strange. >> thank you for coming on. i love that assessment. it's quick and clear. when we return, let me finish with the clown show thatat's the 22012 repubublicane . marjorie, you've had a policy with us for three years. presidential debate team if you call it that. and we switched to fedex cause a lot of their packaging contains recycled materials. tell them what else fedex does. well we're now using more electric trucks and lower emission planes. we even offer a reusable envelope. now, can't we at least print on the back sides of used paper? what's the executive
let me finish tonight with this. i don't think the republican party is enjoying a robust competition for its nomination. in a year when you would expect a feisty combustive all out battle for the presidential nomination, the chance to go one-on-one with a weakened democratic president, you'd expect to see several serious candidates testing each other's abilities. we've seen a bizarre pattern of one conservative candidate after another put up his head then bow it. trump, bachmann, perry, christie. the head up now is businessman herman cain. but the pattern is clear. each rises then fades.
each with one main appeal. as an alternative to mitt romney. last night this odd ritual of despair on the tea party led right to what a fair minded observer might think was a clown show. for the sober minded romney, think of what was on display last night. rick perry confessing he came to a debate on the economy without a plan for jobs. did the dog eat his homework? a u.s. congresswoman responding to a proposal by another candidate by saying his 999 tax proposal could be a cover for 666, the sign of the beast. what did miss bachmann mean by saying this in a presidential debate? was it a joke? there's the humor in making off the wall reference to the devil? what did she mean when she warned the students in the audience they would be paying a 75% income tax rate? what did former senator santorum say when he wanted to eliminate all together the corporate tax on manufacturing and replace it with what? what kind of conversation was
that last night around that table? then in a special category of ma nef lens came newt gingrich's charge that senator chris dodd and congressman barney frank should be imprisoned for passing regulation regulating financial institutions. this is a typical gingrich bomb throwing, it seemed to actually fit in last night around the strange table where one person seemed to be the adult and so many others were simply acting the part of clowns, doing anything to get attention having realized the contest such as it was seems at least for this fall season to be over. perhaps the caucuses and primaries of january will bring out a higher level of seriousness. sadly for the country it's too late to bring out a more serious cast of candidates. that hope is gone. as the viewers of last night came to discover. again, the question looms -- why in a year they had a chance to lead have the tea party-jibed republicans shown up with such a