tv Hardball Weekend MSNBC October 30, 2011 7:00am-7:30am EDT
flipping out. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews down in washington. leading off tonight, mitt flips again. mitt romney is becoming a parody of himself. just three days ago, he said he had no position on an anti-union measure out in ohio and then lurched into reverse the next day, saying, why, of course he was 110% behind the issue. well, if romney's serial flip-flopping has embarrassed him, he isn't showing it. romney's now disavowing his long-held position that the earth is getting warmer and that humans are partly to blame. he now says, quote, we don't know what's causing climate change. and he says, we should not try
to reduce carbon emissions. seriously, can you believe anything this guy says? does he even he believe what he says? plus, could newt gingrich become the first openly mean president? that's the clever question posed by our own david corn from mother jones. very quietly the mess tof his figure who once blamed congress for a mother who drowned her children has been slithering his way up the polls. if herman cain collapses as so many expect him to do, could newt become the next anti-romney. the republicans certainly need one. also, marco rubio's problems may extend well beyond the self-inflicted damage of his embellished biography. he may just be on the wrong side of the immigration issue for too many latino voters. and a tea party group says michele bachmann is all about one thing -- michele bachmann, and it's time for her to g-o. let me finish tonight with jack kennedy and how he could never figure out texas, even at the end.
we start with the latest flip-flop from mitt romney. susan page is the washington bureau chief for "usa today," and steve kornacki, welcome back, steve kornacki! i haven't see you for awhile. he's with salon.com, seriously, i mean it. here's the latest flip-flop from romney. romney was asked this summer what his position on man-made global warming was. let's listen to his response. >> i don't speak for the scientific community, of course, but i believe the world's getting warmer. i can't prove that, but i believe, based on what i read, that the world is getting warmer. and number two, i believe that humans contribute to that. i don't know how much our contribution is to that, because i know there's been periods of greater heat and warmth in the past, but i believe that we contribute to that. and so i think it's important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you're seeing. >> and now let's listen to what governor romney had to say
yesterday. here's the flip. >> my view is that we don't know what's causing climate change on this planet and the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce co2 emissions is not the right course for us. >> i'm beginning to think that the question for mitt romney should be, what are you coming as? like on halloween. what are you coming as tonight? let me go to susan page. what are you coming as tonight. there he is with his shirt on, saying there's climate change, man-made contributing to it, which is a reasonable scientific fact. and then he's just flipping completely, as if he had never given it any thought. >> and his campaign has sent me an e-mail saying he hasn't changed positions, that he continues to believe that there is climate change and he believes humans contribute to it, but he's not sure by how much. but that's not exactly what he said in this most recent appearance. and one thing with romney -- >> why's he doing this? there's a logic to this. why does he go 180 back and forth? >> i think it's not a 180. i think it's a more modest tweak than that.
but i think what he said in your first clip is unacceptable to some conservative republicans. he's trying to emphasize the conservative part of his message. but we're so ready. he's so vulnerable on the issue of flip-flopping, because he has flip-flopped on issues like abortion rights and other fundamental -- >> health care. everything. >> health care. that it makes him very vulnerable. people are ready to see a flip-flop wherever they can. >> let me go to steve. you haven't been on in a while. i want your fresh thinking on this. why does he fear the right? here's a guy who is going up in new hampshire, he's up at 40% now. he should win there. he doesn't have a consistently threatening opponent. i mean, right now, it's herman cain, but it doesn't look like he's got staying power. no one person seems to be able to beat him. why doesn't he just stick to where he's been, say, look, i'm a moderate conservative, that's where the country is. >> well, you know, i think, first of all, it's an open question if really in his heart of hearts, he's a moderate conservative. if you go all the way back at the start of his political career 17 years ago the only real constant is for all the
flip-flopping, for all the modest tweaks in his rhetoric, the one constant, whatever he's doing, whatever he's saying at any particular moment always seems to line up with what he perceives to be his political imperative of the moment. that's why i think you can sort of draw a direct line between today and between what happened earlier this week in ohio. >> what does he think politics is? i mean, this is a -- you've hit on a fundamental point. if he thinks politics is simply going before an audience and basically being a hooker in a sense, a political hooker, and basically giving them what they want, the party toy want, literally. you want to hear this? i'll say this. that's certainly not leadership. but what kind of politics would that be? just saying what the audience wants to hear, literally? because that's what you just said. >> sure. and i think if he becomes president, it's a question of whatever he perceives at any given moment in his presidency to be sort of his imperative of the moment. >> what would his role be, then? what would his role be? it's not leader. >> of course not. that's the open question. that's why you can read the question of, is he a secret moderate, is he really a conservative? you can read it two ways.
because maybe he becomes president and feels he has to serve the tea party. maybe the republicans are running the house, maybe they're running the senate, and he governs as a very conservative president because he feels all the pressure from the right and all the pressure from his own party. but the threat and risk if you're a conservative or you're a tea partier and you're looking at this guy is, well, maybe that could happen. but maybe he's president and he sees more of an imperative, more of an incentive to cut deals with democrats and be more of a moderate, compromising president. and it's a fundamental, whether you're a swing voter in the middle or part of the republican base, the sfdal thing is, you don't know. >> okay. you report this in a straight fashion, obviously, susan. does anybody ever come up to him and say, i know this is a trick question, is there anything you won't change on? is there anything where you're rock hard on? this is like man for all seasons. almost a morality play. are there any issues where you just say, look, i'm willing to lose on this one. capital punishment, abortion rights, usual issues people are very strong on one way or the other. does he got anything like that? >> the issues he talks about as his core issues, the ones he's focusing on this time are the economic issues like tax
policy and regulation and so on. but it is -- >> you mean, he's generally anti-government. >> but it isn't it both to strengthen his weaknesses, and his strength is that he's adjusting to try to fit so he can get elected. and his weakness is that that, in many ways is not what voters appreciate. why do voters appreciate herman cain when he, who has, himself, had come down on several sides on issues -- >> they feel he's basically a regular guy who's never been to washington. but this boneless wonder here, this double-jointedness this guy is pulling off on every issue. here's romney, by the way, he had a spectacular reversal on this ohio thing, which means so much to people out there, they're really going to vote hot on this. back in june, romney on his facebook page said he supported this law by governor kasich. to get tough in limiting collective bargaining, which is a very hot issue in the midwest. on tuesday, romney visited the ohio gop phone bank, where callers were urging voters to back the law and sounded not entirely supportive anymore. let's listen to how his bones that don't seem to be there in his body. let's listen.
>> i'm not speaking about the particular ballot issues. those are up to the people of ohio, but i certainly support the effort of the governor to rein in the scale of government. so i'm not terribly familiar with the two ballot initiatives, but i'm certainly supportive of the republican party's efforts. >> guy's like a whirling dervish. his body parts are even moving around fast there. and then he goes over with his kind of life line with his staff, help me out on this. on wednesday, romney said this. let's listen. >> i fully support governor kasich's, i think it's called question two, in ohio. fully support that. what i was referring to is i know there are other ballot questions there in ohio, and i wasn't taking a position on those. one of them, for instance, relates to health care and mandates. with regards to question two, which is the collective bargaining question, i am 110% behind governor kasich and in support of that question. >> you know, it's like he offsets his gyrations by saying, i'm now 110%, like 110 proof or something.
i don't know how you can be 110% for anything, but why does he shift from ambivalence and confusion to absolute certainty, plus? >> that's -- i think that's a perfect illustration of what happened in ohio this week of the shifting imperatives that i'm talking about and how they define whatever romney's saying and doing. because on tuesday, when he said, you know, he wasn't really taking a position, he was thinking like a general election candidate. he was thinking like the guy who's way ahead in new hampshire, who really doesn't have a serious rival on the republican side right now, and who thinks he's going to be the nominee. and he's in ohio, a big swing state. he's talking about an issue that's very divisive and very unpopular in ohio and doesn't want to take a position and gets all cute. but then what happens? there's a torrent of abuse from all these vocal conservatives saying, he's selling us out, this is why we can't nominate him, and he starts thinking about those 70% of republicans who still won't come to his side in the republican primary polls. so his imperative shifts and suddenly he's got to worry about the primary. so he goes back to being oh, i'm 110% for this. how could you think otherwise? that's what conservatives are
wondering. he can say all the right things in the world right now and say them very persuasively, but the minute he gets the nomination, will he start acting like that guy who was in ohio on tuesday? >> thank you, susan page. you're so smart. and steven, welcome back. coming up, could newt gingrich, mr. mephistopheles himself before the first openly mean president? that's a question posed by our own david korn who's coming right here from mother jones. and he's going to be right here. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. look, every day we're using more and more energy. the world needs more energy. where's it going to come from? ♪ that's why right here, in australia, chevron is building one of the biggest natural gas projects in the world. enough power for a city the size of singapore for 50 years. what's it going to do to the planet? natural gas is the cleanest conventional fuel there is. we've got to be smart about this. it's a smart way to go. ♪
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welcome back to "hardball." a recent uptick in 9 polls for newt gingrich has him running third now among republican candidates. even ahead of former front-runner luke perry. so is newt just the flavor of the week to be? the latest anti-romney candidate? or is it possible a man this angry could actually become president of the united states? david korn is the washington
bureau chief for mother jones. his piece today asked just this question, can newt be the first openly mean president, as in openly guy. anyway. and alex wagner is also with us, an msnbc political analyst. you chuckle about it as well as i do, alex. and i'm chuckling, because that's always been my observation about newt. he's an opportunistic to exploit any opportunity to hate the other side. >> if you go over his history, he has decades of angry rhetoric, not just excessive political rhetoric. you might recall the days when he said of tip o'neill, your old boss, he doesn't know the difference between freedom and slavery. he used to counsel other republicans to call democrats traitors. i mean, again and again, we know what he's done with barack obama, and if you go back and you think about our presidents, some of the mean, behind the scenes, certainly richard nixon, but in their sort of public personas, whether it's reagan or bill clinton or barack obama, they're not mean personally. they don't go for the angry, excessive attack rhetoric, so
maybe andrew jackson was pretty mean when he was president, but we don't really elect these type of people to the highest office in the land. so newt would really be breaking a barrier. >> i think it's a fair question. would you want a guy as president who likes wrestling in a cesspool. that's what this guy is. he likes dirty as possible. both sides can get dirty and he can be a little less dirty, dirtier than the other guy. he doesn't want to run on a clean field, this guy. >> no. and let's also keep in mind that this is someone who recently has fearmongered over islam and sharia law, his comments about the community center down at ground zero were incredibly inflammatory. he's someone who has invoked the memory of auschwitz when comparing -- when talking about democratic policies and politics. he's incredibly inflammatory. and then, of course, you have his political record and what happened when he was speaker of the house, the ethics charges, his philandering, and most recently, you know, $500,000 in tiffany's debt. i mean, there are a lot of holes in a newt gingrich presidential campaign.
>> here he is earlier this year with david brody who asked him about his past and he gave an awfully strange reason. this will go down in history as my favorite, favorite cover story. let's listen. >> there's no question that at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately i felt about this country, that i worked far too hard, and that things happened in my life that were not appropriate. and what i can tell you is that when i did things that were wrong, i wasn't trapped in situation ethics. i was doing things wrong, and yet i was doing them. i found that i felt compelled to seek god's forgiveness. >> here he is explaining his infidelity through a couple of marital problems and marriages with his passionate feeling for the country. the old phrase, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. i've never heard it quite used this way. >> he's a scoundrel and a cheat, right? >> i don't want to get into that, because it's not our line of country, but to use it in a
political context, alex, you take this on. to use that in a political context. who does he think is buying that nonsense? >> the star spangled banner made him do that? >> who would believe that? >> it's complete poppycock, because he has nothing else to hide under. and as someone who launched his own ethics investigations, and used that as a road to speakerdom and then was thusly unseated for his own philandering. it made no sense, it was hilarious, i think, when he said it. the reason newt gingrich is seeing a resurgence in the polls is because fundamentally this entire field is wildly unsettled, and all i can think of is one of viennese waltzes were everybody changes partners every couple chords and that's exactly what's happening. and rick santorum i predict is probably coming up again. he's going to be the flavor of the month in a matter of weeks, too. >> i was thinking of the viennese waltzes myself. just kidding! >> i was thinking of musical chairs. >> oh, well, you know. >> take it from high school.
let me show you two recent national polls where in both newt gingrich has risen to third place. first are the results from the fox news poll, it's got gingrich up at 12, just behind cain and romney. similar numbers in "the new york times"/cbs poll, where gingrich has a 10% to cain's 25% and romney's 21%. clearly he has pushed behind, ron paul behind him and rick santorum behind him and there he is up there with the top three. one of the most memorable moments of the gingrich campaign, back in may, "face the nation" -- i love bob schieffer, but this is more proof of how good he is. he grilled newt over his spending at tiffany's. let's listen again to newt. >> you owed between $250,000 and $500,000 to a jewelry company. what was that about, mr. speaker? >> well, first of all, it's about obeying the law. >> did you owe a half million dollars to a jewelry company at one point? >> we had a revolving fund. >> what does that mean? >> it means that we had a revolving fund. that -- it was a -- >> who buys a half million
dollars worth of jewelry on credit? >> no, it's a -- go talk to tiffany's. >> it's very odd to me that that someone would run up a half million dollars bill at a jewelry store. >> well, go talk to tiffany's. >> i mean, you're running for president. >> right. >> you're going to be the guy in charge of the treasury department, and it just -- it just sticks out like a sore thumb. >> no -- >> the utter reasonableness of bob schieffer. wonderful flat texas accent, the way he just asks the most obvious human question. and the other guy just finally cannot even b.s. his way out of it. all he can say is talk to tiffany's is all he can say. >> he probably should have said, ask my wife. >> oh, no! oh, no! he's not going to do that. >> but, listen -- >> she may be expensive, but she's not available for this kind of stuff. >> if you look at the answer he gave there and the answer he gave on marital fidelity, it shows he has a sort of sense of being above it all. like he thinks he can cut -- like he can cut corners. >> can't get away from bob. >> it did not work.
but this is a guy who for 30 years has had this sort of arrogant, egotistical complex that allows him to accuse other people of being like nazis and he can't even answer a question about tiffany's. >> well said. to bob schieffer! >> thank you david corn and thank you alex wagner. have a nice weekend fellas. up next, you know it's bad for michele bachmann when even tea party leaders aren't taking your presidential campaign to heart or even seriously anymore. she's in the sideshow. i think she's never getting out of the sideshow now. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] this is lara. her morning begins with arthritis pain. that's a coffee and two pills. the afternoon tour begins with more pain and more pills. the evening guests arrive. back to sore knees. back to more pills. the day is done but hang on... her doctor recommended aleve. just 2 pills can keep arthritis pain away all day with fewer pills than tylenol. this is lara who chose 2 aleve and fewer pills for a day free of pain.
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hovering around 23% since back in 2008. well, let's see how "the daily show" cracked the code behind that one on last night's show. >> when it comes to his polling numbers, mitt romney has been nothing if not consistent, which is interesting, given that in every other regard, he has been shockingly inconsistent. how has he managed to neither gain nor lose support? he has clearly surveyed the republican field and decided, i think 23% is enough to beat any of these yahoos. >> we're going to have a fence. it's going to be electrocuted -- electrified. and there's going to be a sign on the other side that says, it will kill you! >> african-americans have been brainwashed. >> so you're saying any community, if they want to ban a mosque? >> yes, they have the right to do that. >> that's why romney doesn't have to really say anything. his strategy in the debates should just be, hey, man, i'm here, but i cede my time. >> so the secret is, leave the crazy talk to everyone else. next up, losing the last straw,
as gop candidate michele bachmann went from 2012 front-runner to lagging far behind, the likes of herman cain and mitt romney. her fail-safe support group has always been the tea party. well, even those tides might be turning against her. a recent letter from the president of american majority, a tea party group, to its members reads, "in bachmann's case, it is clear that the campaign has become less about reform and more about her personal effort to stay relevant and sell books. a harsh commentary, but true. it's not about tea party values or championing real plans to solve real problems while other campaigns are diving into the substance, the supposed tea party candidate, bachmann, is sticking to thin talking points, and hanging on for dear life. that's close quote right there. how do you like that? and she's the founder of the congressional tea party caucus. and to round out the week, there's no denying it. as if the numbers couldn't sink any lower, this week's cbs news/"new york times" poll had approval for congress, the united states congress, at 9%.
and the representatives themselves can't hide from the news. how are they reacting? well, a tweet from senator john mccain read, "congressional approval at all-time low of 9%. we're down to paid staffers and blood relatives." well, paid staffers and blood relatives, does that one sound a bit familiar? apparently it's been somewhat of a go-to tagline for mccain since as early as 2006, five years ago. how about some flashbacks? >> there was a major poll just a couple of days ago that showed the approval rating of congress at 13%. you get down that low, you get down to blood relatives and paid staffers. >> you get down to paid staffers and blood relatives. >> the only people that approve of us are blood relatives and paid staffers. paid staffers. and blood relatives. blood relatives and paid staffers. blood relatives and paid staffers. >> okay. to me the only thing more possibly depressing than being
down to paid staffers and blood relatives is to be down to just saying you're down to paid staffers and blood relatives. hmm. that's "hardball" for now. coming up next, "your business" with j.j. ramberg. the "i'll sleep when it's done" academic. for 80 years, we've been inspired by you. and we've been honored to walk with you to help you get where you want to be. ♪ because your moment is now. let nothing stand in your way. learn more at keller.edu. or a can of paint... you came together to vote, to share... to volunteer. and now, thanks to you, 10 communities have more to smile about. what's next? tell us on facebook. ♪ ooh baby, (what) can i do for you today? ♪
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