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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  February 15, 2012 2:00am-3:00am EST

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santorum surges. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, deliver us from mitt. first came donald trump, then michele bachmann, rick perry, herman cain and newt gingrich twice. now it's rick santorum. anyone but mitt. is santorum the flavor of the month or an existential threat to mitt romney? three polls out in the last two days suggest santorum is for real. this time, mitt has reason to be worried. for the first time now,
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president obama's campaign team has to consider the possibility that santorum could be the gop nominee facing him. would a race against a candidate who questions women, not just at the warfront but also in the workplace be an easy target for team obama? plus, the brilliant andrew sullivan writes for "newsweek" that the birth control fight could end up as a big winner for president obama. he says the further the right wing, the farther is identified on birth control, the better it is for the president. andrew sullivan joins us tonight. when house republicans caved on allowing an extension of the payroll tax cut, it was an admission that once again, this was a loser issue for the rs. finally why rick santorum is real and romney ain't. we begin with how serious a threat is rick santorum is to mitt romney. steve schmidt was with the mccain/palin campaign in 2008. and howard feinman is "the huffington post" editorial director.
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both are msnbc political analysts. steve, imagine you're sitting right there, right now working with romney. and you're looking at the following. santorum surging in the new national polls. in "the new york times"/cbs news poll, santorum leads the field with 30%. that's a 14-point bounce from last month. romney is behind him at 27%. in the pew poll, santorum again leads with 30 points. 30%. he's more than doubled his standing from a month ago. romney is in second with 28%. again in second. and in the gallup poll, 32% for romney. santorum is right behind him at 30%. look at that. you have three things going on now, steve. santorum seems to be moving ahead in the polls. he's quickly getting the momentum here. so romney is not only falling behind, but he's beginning to fall behind significantly and he
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has to win february 28th in michigan or arizona. he best well win in michigan. if he loses there and continues to fall in the polls, he may be dead meat. how do you do to turn that around if you're him now? >> one of the things, chris, when you look inside those numbers, he's losing ground with conservatives. he's losing ground with evangelicals and he's losing ground with independent voters. if you're the romney campaign, you're looking at data that says you have to disqualify rick santorum, which i think is easier said than done as you look ahead to michigan. but they are in a tough spot. the three losses had a huge impact in this race. i think the race is more wide open at this moment than it is at any time since the beginning of the race. and rick santorum is a lethal threat to the nomination, particularly if rick santorum is able to win in michigan. >> howard, is rick santorum the
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barack obama on the republican side, from the last time, the guy who is the true believer and anti-war guy running against the centrist, the hillary clinton? does he have a chance of getting the zealots? >> he definitely has a shot. and rick santorum impresses people. having been out on the campaign trail for months, he's the guy who voters know believes what he says and says what he believes. you may not necessarily agree with him, but when you look at rick santorum, you know that here's a guy whois saying what he believes. >> isn't that great? i mean, i'm not saying he's perfect. because he's not perfect. he's not a middle of the roader. but i can't think of a politician who you never get the sense is spinning. >> the characteristic body language of rick santorum is a shrug that says no, i'm not going along with that. you've seen it. you see it on tv. he goes, no, and he shakes his head.
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no, i'm not going to support gay marriage. yes, i'm going to be down-the-line pro-life. on the social issues in particular. by the way, his campaign would like to stop talking about the social issues. they want to sell rick santorum as a blue collar, pennsylvania, manufacturing guy. not one of the 1%. and that's another threat to mitt romney. mitt romney, rather late in the game but smartly, is talking about his dad selling aluminum paint. it's part of his background. it's a conservative part of his background. but if mitt romney gets into a blue collar contest with rick santorum, he's going to lose. >> let's look at this poll. the poll in michigan has santorum on top at 39% to native son romney's 24%. look at that differential. i go back to this. the way we're watching this election is like the hillary clinton fight against barack obama.
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every couple weeks, there seems to be a major event. the one who wins that seems to be in the driver's seat here. in a new ad in michigan, here's romney playing up his home state heritage. this is the tip o'neill, all politics is local. by the way, i have counted, he has five states he claims is home right now. he has as many positions as he has states. let's watch here. >> i grew up in michigan. it was exciting to be here. i remember going to the detroit auto show with my dad. that was a big deal. how in the world did an industry and its leaders and unions get in such a fix that they lost jobs and their future? president obama did all these things liberals wanted to do for years, but the fact you have millions of americans out of work. home values are collapsing. people are stressed. i want to make michigan stronger and better. michigan has been my home and this is personal. i'm mitt romney and i approve this message. >> he seems rootless, steve. he's from michigan, massachusetts, new hampshire, utah, and he's got a house where
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he lives most of the time in california. is that a problem, to claim so many places as home or is that a positive? >> it could be a problem, but i think romney's family's roots go deep in michigan. i think it is smart for him to be talking about. what jumps out at me in that spot is how different it is from the strategy in florida, which was entirely negative, negative all the time to take out gingrich. i think the romney campaign has clearly settled on the fact they need to communicate some positive virtues about mitt romney in michigan, although i suspect you're going to see an aggressive campaign there as well. >> we got the word they are going after gingrich. what's that about? they are going to use the super pac money and the stuff without his name on it to go after gingrich. what's that about, steve? isn't his problem santorum and not gingrich? >> i think his problem is santorum. santorum is ahead in the race. he's ahead in the race with gingrich still in the race. and i do think if newt gingrich
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were to drop out of the race tomorrow, all of the polling data, all of the evidence suggests that most of that vote share would move over to santorum. i'm not entirely sure what the benefit of going after newt gingrich is at this point in the race. i do think that as you look ahead to tuesday the 28th in michigan, this is a punxsutawney phil election. if, in fact, rick santorum is able to hold on and win there, this nomination contest is going to be a two-person race and it's going to go forward for a very long time. if mitt romney comes back, he's able to win in michigan, he'll win in arizona. he'll have momentum going into super tuesday. i think he does well there. he becomes the de facto nominee. but i think the fact is that rick santorum is a tougher opponent to run the negative ads against and take him down the way gingrich collapsed in florida. >> let's look at santorum's campaign. it's more ragtag than the perfectly orchestrated mitt romney's campaign. take a look at a santorum rally last night with the horror film lighting as he tries to speak
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over the occupy protesters who crashed his event. >> one in three americans don't graduate from high school. almost all of them, over three-quarters of them will end up in poverty at some time in this country. we have to provide an opportunity for them instead of standing here unemployed yelling at somebody to go out and get a job. >> you know, it's like you used to hold a flashlight under his face. boooahhhh! that kind of thing. there he is saying something very intelligent. which was instead of yelling at the protesters, why don't we get them jobs and opportune sits in >> rick santorum's events rarely have been well-crafted or well-advanced. but he prospered in iowa and he's done well elsewhere by selling himself as the guy in the sleeveless sweater who is all about substance and not about showbiz.
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and that was probably taking it one step too far. >> he was trying. >> but it's helped him. it's very interesting with mitt romney. in florida, everybody kept repeating the statistic, and it was true, that 99% of mitt romney's ads on behalf of mitt romney were negative. >> okay. >> and it took down his approval numbers. that's why he's doing what he's doing now. >> steve schmidt, you talked to republicans. are they aware the media is rooting for santorum out of sheer fear of the enoui boredom that will set in if it looks like romney locks this thing up? we face a long, dull, summer of mitt romney if he locks this up. >> i think it's pretty obvious when you look at the coverage of the race where most of the reporters are and where they are rooting interests are so far in the race. i do think when you talk to republicans, the one thing that everybody understood is that
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mitt romney had to avoid a situation where he faced off against a plausible candidate. and i don't think michele bachmann was plausible. but a plausible candidate, a plausible commander in chief in an ideological contest, which is where mitt romney is now, it's very difficult for him to be in an ideological contest against rick santorum. it will be interesting to watch. >> you are a guy i trust completely about this. your assessment is it's finally the gunfight at the o.k. corral. he's finally faced a candidate in rick santorum who is credible as a presidential candidate. that's what you're saying? >> absolutely. >> mitt romney said it was going to come down to a two-person race. but because he nor the people around him are conservatives, they assume if it came down to a two-person race, romney would automatically win. they don't understand their own party. mitt romney was saying a year
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ago when he was raising money, it's going to come down to a two-person race, me against a conservative. he assumed that was a winning combination. >> i love your vision. i think you understand it more than he does as a reporter. i think he doesn't understand why people would go to a pea party meeting. the basics. he doesn't get why they are angry. because he's not angry. he hasn't had it rough enough to understand why they are angry. thank you, steve smith. howard fineman, thank you. the republican campaign is turning into a two-man race. is the president ready for this? would he rather take on santorum in the general election or stick with romney, the duller candidate? you never know about the wild candidate. he might be a tougher one. this is a great one. can they turn their weaponry in the direction of santorum? you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc.
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washington state is the latest state now to approve same-sex marriage. the state's governor signed it into law yesterday. now the debate turns to new jersey, where the senate just passed a bill to legalize it. the assembly takes it up later this week and has the votes to pass it. but governor chris christie says he's going to veto the bill and he says he wants the issue to be put to a statewide referendum. we'll be right back.
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welcome back to "hardball." one of mitt romney's strongest selling points has been he's the most electable candidate. he says. but what if that selling point was ripped out from under him? rick santorum is in a dead heat and may be passing him. romney, who had been polling well among independents, has seen support drop. in his latest ads in michigan, rick santorum rejected the idea that romney is the most electable. let's watch. >> who has the best chance to
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beat obama? rick santorum. rick santorum. a full-spectrum conservative, rick santorum is rock solid on values issues, a favorite in the tea party for fighting corruption and taxpayer abuse, more foreign policy credentials than any candidate, and the jobs plan will make an economic super power again. rick santorum, a trusted conservative who gives us the best chance to take back america. >> great ad. so, how big a threat is santorum to romney and how big of a threat would he be to barack obama come november? we have the experts. mark halperin, a senior political analyst for msnbc, and editor for "time" and john heilemann, also an analyst. let me start with a question for both of you. is the white house believing now they might have to face santorum? >> they still think there's a better chance than not they face romney, but they see weakness in romney.
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they are fully prepared to face santorum. i heard earlier about shifting their focus to santorum. they are well prepared. they are sitting on a bunch of stuff about santorum i'm certain that will be tough for him to handle. but they are prepared to deal with him. and they think he may be a stronger opponent than romney right now. >> one of my favorite movies, i often say it is my favorite but my list changes a bit, is "lawrence of arabia." can santorum be the arabs coming in from the desert, not that he would claim that ethnic identity? would he do it? >> i don't know if he would be able to beat barack obama, i don't think he'd be in a better position, but i don't think he'd be in a worse position. the national polls are meaningless because it's fair to say the obama campaign and the democrats have been attacking romney steadily for months. but that said, the national polls show them basically running about the same place with respect to obama. 10 points behind.
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i think rick santorum and mitt romney would be very different kinds of general election candidates. they would appeal to different sets of swing voters. they both would have appeal to different sets of voters and both would be able to give obama a real battle, especially if the economy stays bad or turns back bad over the course of the next few months. >> it seems like romney would be better if the economy went south. a great candidate. i'm not sure rick santorum would be good as a candidate to exploit an economic downfall. this morning, joe scarborough said he thought santorum would be a tougher opponent in the fall than romney. let's listen to morning joe. >> the conventional wisdom is a guy like rick santorum has said too many crazy things. he's too this and too that. i'm surprised that activists a month or two ago saying i thought rick santorum would match up better in the general election than any of these other candidates because he does have the blue collar background. i think a santorum/obama matchup
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would be fascinating. you certainly couldn't call him the 1%. >> looks like joe has his valentine's collar on today. mark, the question there, again, a smart guy like joe who is really smart on politics does think santorum has strength. he's the genuine article, as we always say in politics. he would pass any political lie detector test. he says what he believes. that's always been a romney shortfall. >> romney and santorum match up about the same in the electoral college with one exception. santorum, right now, based on public and private polling, is stronger in the midwestern battleground states. neither of them would be particularly strong with hispanic voters. romney has an edge in florida right now. santorum is strong where romney is weak. the reason there's confidence in the white house and chicago that
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romney could be beaten is all the thing its you listed. he's a member of the 1%. he has a personality that a lot of people don't cotton to. santorum would excite the base. he comes across as a natural and a genuine guy. also the blue collar cred. on the other hand, he would have to get through the nomination and then withstand $500 million of negative ads. so a snapshot of today is different than come the fall. >> let's look at these guys. let's look at the latest poll numbers here. obama versus romney. and santorum versus gingrich. let's look at those numbers in the latest pew research poll this week. in a general election matchup, the president easily tops mitt romney among all likely voters. that's a big upswing. winning by 10 points compare that to how he would do against newt gingrich, who he would beat by 18 points in a head to head. i don't believe that. jack german, as our old friend around watching this show, i'm
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sure, i'm hoping he is, john heilemann, these numbers are so out. anybody that thinks the general election come november 8th is going to be these spreads i think is looney toons. i don't see the president being able to wipe out romney, but he could wipe out santorum because you could nail him on so many far-out cultural positions it would kill him among gay people. he's dead among them. that's a small percentage. but if you get him on women and working women who work outside the home, he's said strange things about why women work outside the home. women who work very hard, 50 hours outside the home, and another 30 or 40 hours at home would find offensive. >> i mean, chris, on your first point, i don't think anybody certainly in the white house thinks they are going to end up winning the general election by 8 or 10 points. they think it's going to a close election. the second thing is, there's no doubt the kind of campaign the white house and the barack obama re-election committee would run against rick santorum and it's the kind of campaign you're
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suggesting. they would be focusing, more than they are, on trying to bring over swing voters, independent women, that would be a big focus and they do would that. to go back to the earlier part of the conversation, rick santorum has that blue collar appeal we have talked about. if there's an economic downturn, he's going to be appealing to a populist, white, working class part of the electorate. and that part of the electorate delivered for republicans in 2010. that was how republicans won back the house in 2010. >> okay. i know that vote. it's where i come from. why did that vote reject him for senate by 18 points? >> you remember, chris, the 2006, i don't want to make rick santorum's talking points for him. 2006 was a big democratic wave year. there's no doubt that santorum's positions on things like terri schiavo got him in trouble with women voters.
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but i do think there's an interesting thing. mitt romney appeals to swing voters who are kind of economically conservative, but socially liberal. rick santorum would be appealing to the opposite swing voter. he would be appealing to cult churl conservatives who are economic liberal. you would see a campaign based on trade. you'd see a campaign based on a down scale economic appeal. those are some voting groups the president hasn't been super strong with. i'm not trying to say rick santorum would have the advantage, but there would be a very different dynamic in the race if rick santorum were the nominee. >> good case. let me try another case with mark. he lost by 18 points to bobby casey because he took $35,000 a year from penn hills county to pay for his kids' home schooling on television down in virginia. that would haunt him again. that may be a local issue, but it killed him last time. >> there's a million things. the romney campaign is sitting on stuff about santorum as well but not all that would play as well in the general fight.
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the obama campaign would have a bunch of stuff like that. but he won in pennsylvania too. casey is a great centrist candidate and a great name and a great democratic year. i'm not as hung up on his loss that year as i am on just the general performance questions of could he withstand the onslaught? i think a psychological matter, better to handle it than gingrich was, for instance. if he wins the nomination, he would have beaten a front runner with a low-budget campaign. he will get tons of opportunity to reintroduce himself to the country and to those people not paying attention now. if he takes advantage of that, the things of his past aren't as important as how he emerged from this campaign beating romney and heading into the general election if he pulls it off. >> i think the fact he has a lot of kids is interesting. that's probably a plus because mitt romney -- rather newt gingrich has half as many wives as rick santorum has kids. mark halperin, thank you.
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and john heilemann, thank you. up next, which failed candidate might try again? you won't believe it. this guy is coming back for another beating. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. [ other merv ] welcome back to the cleaning games. let's get a recap, merv. [ merv ] thanks, other merv. mr. clean magic eraser extra power was three times faster on permanent marker. elsewhere against dirt, it was a sweep, with scuffed sports equipment... had it coming. grungy phones... oh! super dirty! and grimy car rims...
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back to "hardball." now for the sideshow. first up, go all the way. when president obama took to the podium earlier today to discuss the payroll tax cut, there was another order of business that took priority. and it was the male listeners the president was going for here. let's listen. >> let me start with a quick public service announcement for all the gentlemen out there. today is valentine's day. do not forget. i speak from experience here.
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it is important that you remember this and go big. that's my advice. >> smart man. well, time is running out, guys. the first lady recently said the ball was in the president's court when it comes to organizing valentine's day. next up, was that just a rehearsal? by the time rick perry bowed out of the presidential race last month, he had embarrassing debate performances. you'd think he'd had enough. think again. here he is with abc's jonathan carl. >> have you had some time to reflect on this experience? >> oh, yeah. i tell people it was by far the most exhilarating thing i have ever done. >> you may run again? >> absolutely. it was great practice. >> well, before you run for president again, hoss, i would recommend you take a solid american history course at the university of texas. we have had enough of secession. and lost in the buzz over
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rick santorum's rise, newt gingrich's campaign has taken note of valentine's day by launching with the title of liberals love romney. let's look at some of the liberals that gingrich features on that site, all accompanied by an obviously fabricated quotation. first up, saul alinsky. gingrich reserves that for president obama. desperate candidates require desperate measures. then there's al gore. remember him? romney was for climate change, climate change science before he was against it. and of course, president obama himself whose health care plan is modeled on the one romney championed as massachusetts governor. what may be closer to the truth, and i think is that moderates and some liberals out there don't fear romney as a presidential candidate because they suspect he's just pretending to be conservative. up next, is the birth control insurance issue a big winner politically for president obama? journalist andrew sullivan says
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it's a big one. he'll join us when we return. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc.
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whitney houston's family decided against a public memorial for the late singer. instead, they will hold a now back to "hardball."
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i understand some folks in washington may want to treat this as another political wedge issue. but it shouldn't be. i certainly never saw it that way. this is an issue where people of good will on both sides of the debate have been sorting through some very complicated questions to find a solution that works for everyone. with today's announcement, we have done that. religious liberty will be protected and a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women. >> that was last friday. welcome to "hardball." president obama says he never saw the contraception debate as a wedge issue, but it's turned out to be a wedge issue in a whole new way right now by making an accommodation to the catholic church on contraceptive coverage. he solidified his base among liberal catholics, but split the right, you may say. but has this changed the political game? andrew sullivan is brilliant and
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breaks it down in "the politics of sex." e.j. dionne also joins us for "the washington post" and has been covering it as a columnist. andrew, i guess that's the key question out there. you got to it in your essay. so did the president go in this siding with the women, like secretary sebelius and the people at the white house, the committed people, knowing he was going to go up against conservative catholics, did he want this fight? >> no, he didn't want this fight. who would want this fight? obama spent his entire administration trying to avoid this kind of fight. but he couldn't avoid the choice. he had to make a choice. and i think the get-out was he would have a year to figure it out. when push comes to shove, he decided to back the 98% of catholic women who used birth control and the vast majority of catholics who support birth control and take on the benedict
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control and take on the benedict xvi and the bishops for whom no issue seems to be more important than controlling the sex lives of other people. >> e.j., we may agree on this. but you pointed out at the front of this thing, basically taking what we might call liberal catholics and others and saying this can be resolved. you don't have to have this fight with us at least. >> right. i still think he pays some price for not coming to this compromise right out of the box. i agree as a narrow -- looking at it narrowly and not politically now if this is a fight about contraception and not about religious freedom, obviously, obama wins that fight. the bishops are making a mistake. those bishops who really want to fight him all the way down the line on this. >> they want to take contraception out of health care period. not just out of the church. >> i think there they start losing a lot of support, including in the church. where others who basically said
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we have a religious liberty interest which we want to protect, and we also understand that the notion of providing contraception is part of a health plan. it's not alien. there are a lot of catholic institutions that provide it. >> i said it on friday. i like the way the president handled this. he recognized he had gone too far in intruding on the place of the church in defending their own beliefs. and he fixed it and said the insurance companies will pay the cost for this birth control coverage. you agreed with me, i think, on that. i carefully read your article, and you didn't like the first way -- the initial take he took on this. >> no. and i think because inevitably, someone would have raised the question of religious liberty. this question of contraception is controversial. if you remember in the vatican council, the commission set up by pope john xxxiii approved the pill only to be overruled by
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pope paul vi. so the idea this is a crucial and critical doctrine was forced in the first place. but if you can avoid a fight with religious people, you should. and i think it's a complicated issue. i might add also, in california and new york, this was already the rule. this was already the law. in 2000 the employment equality opportunity commission ruled it had had to be mandated in every health care plan because otherwise it would violate sex discrimination laws. so i think a lot of this was ginned up by the bishops. they were the one that set a for obama. they are like wile e. coyote trying to blow up the road runner, only it blew up on them. >> let me go to e.j. on this. politically speaking, as well as being a catholic like i am, this whole issue. do you think the president handled this overall, from beginning to end, pretty well in the way he corrected himself
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along the way? >> i wouldn't put it that way. i think he blew it at the beginning. it wasn't like this compromise wasn't out there. they considered this compromise. it was proposed a long time ago back in the fall. and so i think that if he had started with this right off the bat, the first time around, i think some of this fighting simply wouldn't have happened and he could have said right out of the box, i understand religious liberty. having said that, i think he's a lot better to have corrected it. >> could he have gotten the liberal catholics if he had done it from the beginning? >> yes, i think he could have. >> same question to you, andrew. overall, take a moment. how would you say the president's political skills and good conscience came together here? >> i think he's a conscientious person who tried to make the right call. but i tell you something, he's also a politician. what does this really do? it puts contraception in the center. it riles up the evangelical base. who does it really benefit? it benefits rick santorum.
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it allows rick santorum to say, look, romney care was just the same as obama care on this. he signed the same rule. it is going to empower rick santorum to win and do well in the south, which is going to, long-term, is going to be a fantastic advantage for obama. so what this did accidentally, and i called it an improvised bait and switch, is he gave rick santorum the gift that could win him the nomination of the republican party which will be a catastrophe for the republican party. >> so, machiavelli or serendipity? >> and obama doesn't machiavellian. but rick santorum is happy tonight. he is going to use this issue. >> i agree. this president, what's the religious word for luck? >> i think from the beginning of his career, he's always been lucky. although i still don't think they should get airing about
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this. i think there are women who care about contraception he won, but i think there's still more trouble to be had here. >> the good news is i have heard from the white house from a good source that the president knows the church had a good case in this first round and he thinks he dealt with the concern he had. but it was a legitimate concern. which makes me happy. so there is peace in the land. thank you andrew sullivan. coming from london. you're always brilliant. i don't have to tell you that. up next, house republicans caved on the payroll tax cut. it's a loser for them, perhaps lose-lose because they would have lost if they won. this is "hardball" on msnbc. ♪ [ camera shutter clicks ] ♪ [ male announcer ] it's hard to resist the craveable nature of a nature valley sweet & salty nut bar.
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so i get claritin clear for strong, non-drowsy relief of all my allergies like dust mold pets and pollen. looks good. thanks. i live claritin clear. we got some new polling from the massachusetts senate race up there, which will be one of the hottest fights this year. let's check the scoreboard. according to a new poll from boston, it's a three-point race right now. elizabeth warren is up. and brown has 43. we'll be watching this one all the way to november. we'll be right back.
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we're back. democrats and republicans have spent much of the last 24 hours jockeying for position after leaders agreed to an extension of the payroll tax holiday, much in dispute for months now. looks as though president obama
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will get everything he wants in the area, and extension of unemployment benefits which he wants for those out of work and protec medicare to reimbursement to doctors. joining us now is congress woman donna edwards, from maryland, and mick mulvaney, republican from south carolina, a member of the tea party caucus. lady and gentleman, it seems like the wind has changed politically, the president is sky high, up by eight points against the nearest opponent, who would be romney, way ahead of the others. not looking around for deals to cut, looking around for victories, congressman mulvaney, looks like the president was a tough guy to negotiate with here. >> chris, i've heard that all day on your network, i have yet to understand why the republicans getting what we wanted in december, which is a year extension on the payroll tax cut and allowing people to
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keep more of their money is a cave on our part. maybe it's possible that in this circumstance we both wanted the same thing. >> but you wanted a deal, you wanted an offset you wanted him to cut other stuff to pay for it and he said no and he got away with it. >> a large group of us were not focusing on the pay for on this particular portion of the bill. republicans have said for many many years it's peoples money to begin with, when we cut taxes that is not the same as spending, we don't need to pay for it. what you're talking about is the pay for the doc-fix. >> okay, congressman i respect you a lot. here is the problem. why is this held up all these months if it was that easy? >> i don't think it's easy. i think what you're seeing there is disagreement on unemployment insurance and on the doc fix. i think what we did was at that time stuff we could agree on and move on to the stuff. >> bailing out. congresswoman, what happened here, your view? >> even on "hardball" you can't rewrite history.
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>> never on "hardball." >> dem krats and the president have been fighting -- tp. >> take a minute. >> excuse me. democrats and the president fighting for an extension of unemployment for the payroll tax cut, and for the doc fix and republicans have been fighting all the way. what we see here is that the president not did he get what he want but the people got what they want and needed. let me ask you about the mood on the hill, congressman mulvaney. south carolina will probably vote republican no matter who you run against, you can count on that state as long as you're down there as a member i can't see the democrats carrying south carolina nor can i see the democrats losing new york, or d.c. but this election now, i thought until a couple weeks ago the president had real problems. i saw the growth rate looking small this year, now it looks like may climb three points real growth, unemployment may drop down below eight.
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romney looks solid,now looks weak, may lose the battle to santorum. what is going on in the wind direction is it a question of economic recovery, coming faster than people thought it would, a couple weeks ago even? >> chris, first of all you will see the change over the course of nine months. this is a short term business, three election cycles away from going to november, but i think you're overstating the point. i live very close to the north carolina border and the president is really struggling there. they had a have you known popular democrat governor say she is not going to run for reelection, now struggling to find someone to run on the democrat ticket with the president in north carolina. this is a state he needs to win in 2012. >> he does? >> he's struggling there. i think you're overstating the point. state-by-state. >> being a carolinan i can see your perspective, he got it last time by a tad. congresswoman, the liberals in
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your caucus is everybody pretty cool with the guy now, stood up for women's rights on the issue we talked about even though it seems like an archaic discussion about birth control, he stood with the women who care most about it, boxer and secretar sebelius, seems like he has the rope in his hand, he seems to be on top. >> i think all along, chris, the president has understood where the american people are. and of course he stood with women because the overwhelming majority of women believe in contraception in the country, he got it right on straightening things out with the church and separation between church and state. but also he has gotten it right on the economy. the american people can see our economy has been growing for 23 straight months, creating jobs and opportunity, we need to extent unemployment, the tax cut is a big win not just for democrat, a big win for the american people. 160 million people will have assurity of a tax cut until we
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get the economy back on track. the american people see the difference for all the shenanigans, the president is leading here, we're standing with the american people and make sure that we keep this economy going, that we continue to create jobs and that anybody who wants to get in the way can do that but they do it at their own peril, this is not about politics, it's about what we're all willing to do on behalf of the american people and people can see the difference. >> who is your strongest candidate at this point, congressman? >> it's not determined yet. what i do know --. >> who do you think it is? >> honestly don't know. i was with rick perry i've not endorsed anybody else. i think the same thing will happen to the republicans that happened to the democrats four years ago at the end of a primary the very best of the candidate will step forward. >> good news for you, rick perry said he will run against next time you got another shot at
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president perry, if that is good for country i don't know. congress woman donna edwards, mick mulvaney thank you. >> why rick santorum is doing so well, you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. introducing the perfect situp. invented by the u.s. navy seal who brought you the perfect pushup, the perfect situp re-invents the situp by combining the upper ab crunch with the lower ab leg lift. then the perfect situp adds an audible coach.
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let me finish with this, mitt romney makes moderation look meek. he shouldn't because it isn't.
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this country has been led for much of the history by some president walked the right lane, some the left. but generally they stuck to the main highway. that is if they won the election tilting in either direction. once they got to get in the government they tended to the center. mitt is a trimmer, he says he's with you except when he's with your enemies, then he's not quite with you. you heard the joke, the santorum guy told it cpac last week, conservative, liberal and moderate walk in a bar. the bartender looks up and says hi, mitt. they used to say in massachusetts he wasn't pro-life or pro-choice, he was multiple choice. enough about romney. can you follow a guy in bat wheel you're not sure which side he will take? the soldier can't respond to the bugle call at the can't figure out which army the bugler is in. that is why santorum is surging right now.
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same reason why starting way back early last year, some other candidate was surging, some other candidate was always surging. because some other candidate was not romney. it's because romney ain't got it. he lacks the central trait of the winning candidate, a sense of purpose. beyond personal career ambition. hard to actually focus evidence tone day on what romney's purpose is in national politics apart again from personal advancement. here we go again, another set of primaries, in michigan and arizona, another opportunity to test purpose that would be santorum strength against well-purchased organization and negative advertising. those assets most precious to romney. it's a simple question. why are you in this race? why are you in politics, why do you care? the man from michigan or massachusetts or utah or new hampshire or california, wherever romney is currently saying he's from can't seem to pin down an answer to that question. that tells you all you have to know


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