tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC April 4, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
good evening, in new york, sitting in for chris matthews tonight. will the real mitt romney please stand up. with his three primary wins yesterday he has all but won the nomination. now the task of defining romney is on, and the obama campaign is happy to paint him as a wealthy flip flooping tool of the right. today romney responded and said that the president is hiding his intentions until after the election. one thing that everyone agrees on is that romney needs to do something to jump start his campaign. is there anyone out there who could join a romney ticket and make a difference? meanwhile is it possible that the only person in america that doesn't know that rick santorum
is dun is rick santorum? does he think he can win, or is it erasing the legacy of a big loss in 2006. americans are divided between black and white and democrat and republican for the trayvon martin shooting. and what republican senator is staying close to obama and away from romney. we begin with the race to define romney. michael steele was chairman of the republican party, david corn is the author of "show down" bout are msnbc analysts. let's define romney and what's at stake in the campaign. speaking today at the same venue where obama launched the general election, romney set about defining himself and why he should be president. let's listen. >> this november, we'll face a defining decision.
the election will be about principal. freedom and opportunity will be on the ballot. i'm offering a real choice and a new beginning. i'm running for president because i have the experience and the vision to get us out of this mess. >> and romney pointed out that his background makes him qualified to fix the country and that obama has blown his chance. here it is. >> the first three rules of any turn around are focus, focus, and focus. but instead of focussing his attention on the economy, he delegated the stimulus to nanty pelosi and harry reid. >> like the president did yesterday, romney to my eye, casting this in very big picture terms. >> absolutely, mike. first let me say congratulates to david on "showdown" it's going to be excited and looking forward to. >> thank you. >> the reality as you set it up
is perfect. it's change time, and we're moving to the general campaign. yes you still have the dance with santorum and gingrich. they made it clear whether they're in this or not they're in it. so that doesn't mat tore romney now high pressure he is focused on defining the president before he is defined first. that is the trick he has to work through. to make sure that his message of laying out this political landscape between now and the convention, and absolutely after the convention to the election, is one that he has control of. they have been very good about that. i have to give the romney campaign kudos in that regard. they're good when they hone in their message. they have shown republicans how they're doing -- >> the three of us, it's hard for us to understand this, but truly to much of the country, the whole campaign remains a
blank slate. and as michael said, the race is on to cast that di and for that impression. >> it's like a new show, mitt romney -- shape shifter. and he is starting season two where he can start anew. i'm glad that michael, and i appreciate him mentioning my book, in it i describe the year after the 2010 disastrous election and what was going on in the white house. they were aiming for a very stark choice. they wanted to define a choice in the way romney does. it works to the white house's challenge if there is a choice between values and visions, between obama and romney. usually the republican would want the election to be a referendum on the president because the economy is not doing so well. but mitt romney seems to agree with barack obama that this should be a big bold debate
about values and visions for the future of this country. and each side now has laid down their initial marker on how they go about defining their own set of missions. >> governor romney set to define his own personal narrative. he fought that the obama team is hammering home that he is an elite rich guy. >> my dad didn't have the chance to finish a college degree, and he apprenticed as a lath and plaster carpenter, and based on that he turned around a car company and began governor of the state of michigan. i was tempted today go into the car business, but i wondered if my success was due to my dad. so i staid in massachusetts and got a job with the best company that would hire me. >> and president obama portrayed romney as out of touch and prone
to odd word choices. >> he called it marvellous, which is a word you don't often hear, when it comes to describing a budget. >> then the pro-obama super pac brought back billy crystal's parody to skew romney. >> absolutely marvellous. >> one more, it turns out that the president is not unfamiliar with this particular m-word if you will. they said three time that's obama has said marvelloous. here is the most recent.
>> michael steele, apart from giving us chuckles, what is the significance of this? >> we all need romney is trying to set out this narrative, telling the story of his father is nice, but you have to make that connection to yourself and how that ties into the american people. it's great that your father struggled, but we don't get the impression that you struggled that much as a young man trying to make it on your own. that it was not necessarily handed to you, but it was easier than a lot of us. the way i would sum it up, is people want to know you have walked ten blocks let alone amile. they want to nauns yyou to unde my neighborhood. >> he seems more comfortable to
me when he is talking policy than about his own background. i think much of the electorate for him to tell that story, but it doesn't come naturally to him. >> but it's not his story. what happened with his father or grandfather is not material even to his own development high pressure you notice he didn't say he went to harvard business school, you think that was an accident? i don't think so. he is a creature of privilege. and he can't help that, but again and again and again and with the gaffes he shows that he doesn't have the common touch. i think ultimately, the president needs to be crass and shove it down his vote. on the ryan budget, the tax breaks for the wealthy, the benefitting low and middle income americans, it will play into him being a 1%er and
backing a budget that is a 1% person's dream. >> do they want the ryan plan to be front and center? what are they saying, michael, in boston today, are they fine with this being the test to define the campaign in. >> in the general election it's not clear exactly how the ryan plan will be received or perceived by the american people. there's no radar on that yet. right now they can do the warm fuzzy anticipating that obama will slam it and my buddy david corn will hit it hard. but in a general election, i think it's not so much we want to have it front and center, maybe off a little to the side. >> we talked about the attempt to define mitt romney, and romney was trying to define obama. listen to this because i want to talk about what's going on with
this clip. >> president obama's comments are deeply troubling. that incident calls his candor into serious question. he doesn't want to share his real plans before the election either with the public or with the press. his intent is on hiding. you and i are going to have to do the seeking. >> david corn, the open mic moment, what's going on with mitt romney's reference to it there. >> he is trying to make obama look shifty. listen, the guy has been president for over three years now, there's a lot to judge him on, it's obvious what president was talking about. look at what happened with the new stark treaty. this was a process started by ronald reagan and every other treaty had tremendous support, but the republicans tried to block it in a lame duck session that obama was able to out maneuver them, and so what he
sate social security obvious. we can't do arms control negotiations on this fence or anything else until after the election because it's so politicized and it has been because it's been by the republicans in the senate. >> michael, let me ask you, this furthers the use of that open mic moment that internet loer that president obama is going to do something evil. >> it's true, it is, it's going to happen in the second term, just wait. i think honestly, this is a very good line for mitt romney. i thought he handled that very well. laying that argument out and making that indictment, and -- >> for the base, for the base is why you're saying it. >> if you think the signature piece for the first team was health care, just wait until second term and that's what people are worried about. that's the underlying concern that ta lot of people -- >> i agree, i think they will
use that to play the base, but is there any example where's in the second term of a major initiative under wraps in the first term is unveiled. >> now he will finally be that radical socialist that they promised us he would be. and maybe -- i'll tell you what, maybe he'll go on to save another industry like the auto industry. who knows what he will do next. >> did you see the latest report on ford and gm, come on, that's not saving. >> i have to leave it there, i appreciate you as always, thank you. coming up, despite romney's wins, santorum vows to fight on. is will willing to do all that he achieved by risking a loss in his home state? that's ahead and this is "hardball." that's good morning, veggie style. hmmm.
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romney's religion is off limits. this is what she told chris j jansing. >> that is is just propose -- for them to suggest that religion will be injikted by president obama and the democratic party, they need to look inward at the accusations of their party. >> she went on to say that republicans are the one that's questioned obama's religion, nationality, since he has taken office. d ocuvite. a vitamin totally dedicated to your eyes, from the eye-care experts at bausch + lomb. as you age, eyes can lose vital nutrients. ocuvite helps replenish key eye nutrients. [ male announcer ] ocuvite has a unique formula not found in your multivitamin to help protect your eye health.
that was santorum last night following a triple loss to romney. he is is pledging to fight on in pennsylvania and beyond. >> pennsylvania and half of the other people in this country have yet to be heard. and we're going to go out and campaign here and across this nation to make sure that their voices are heard in the next few months. the clock starts tonight. we have three weeks to go out here in pennsylvania. and win this state, and after winning this state, the field looks a little different in may. in 1976, ronald reagan didn't get out of the race, and won the state of texas, which we have every intention of doing. >> but does he still think he can win this is or is relishing in the roll of spoiler and
trying to help chances of running in 2016. both of my guests are msnbc political analysts. robert, we're a couple of pennsylvania guys. at the end of the show tonight, i'm going to do a commentary and argue that what i think is going on is senator santorum is trying to erase his 17 point lost to bob casey, beat romney, and he will not be the guy that got beat on his home turf, and more that he beat romney in the 2012 cycle. am i wrong? >> no, he lost by 18 points, and if he does win pennsylvania on the 21st, it doesn't matter from a political standpoint. but it does matter from a personal standpoint because there is redemption there, and perhaps this sets santorum up
for 2006, 16, or -- perhaps rom will put santorum on the ticket. >> given all of the harsh things, and you might say that's par for the course, all of the things santorum has said about romney, i think a lot of that would be too hard to pull back for them to unite on a ticket. >> do you remember in 1980, george h bush said that. recall between hillary clinton and barack obama. so this goes a long, long way back. lbj and jfk did not like each other at all. so there have been times where republicans and democrats in the primary have beat each other up only to join forces to do one thing and to win. >> joan, today campaigning in pennsylvania, he addressed if his home state is is a must win. listen to this and react to it?
>> yeah, we have to win here, and we plan on winning here. you know, as i said last night, the people of pennsylvania know me, all of the negative attacks are, i think, going to fall on a lot of deaf ears here, and we have a strong base of support here and we're going to work very, very hard, get into may, and may looks very, very good. >> joan walsh, here is the thing i don't think people are grasping, pennsylvania is a beauty contest. if he wins the popular vote, it does absolutely nothing relative to the delegate count. >> right, and it's all ego, and we understand that's a strong driving force in politics, michael, but on the flip side, he could fall on his face. his lead is eroding. he is leading by an average of about six points in most recent polls. so the other side of this is that he would kind up, if he
starts to see his support fall apart, he should pull out. the flip side of a great ego stroking victory is even a close loss, that would be devastating. >> it's interesting you say that, because on "morning joe" this morning he said the strategy he would take if he were mitt romney. >> if i were mitt romney today, i would go up with millions of dollars in adds in pennsylvania today, and let him know if you stay in this race, and you make me sweat this out, and stop me from focussing on barack obama, you know what i will do? i will reduce you to rubble in your home state, and just like rome i'm going to go to salt the earth and make sure nothing will grow again. >> it's a delicate dance for when he gets out. how do you see it playing out?
>> two quick things, i agree with joe partially. i don't think negative ads will help romney, pennsylvania knows santorum very well. so what romney needs to do is focus on the positive and drive a wedge between, as you know, the moderate republican women that live in the counter areas, the areas outside of philadelphia, that's number one. number two, knowing santorum the way i know him, if in fact mitt romney does car pet bomb the state, i think that policy will hurt romney in the general because rick san form will not endorse rick san tomorrow, and he may have a contested convention going into tampa which is what you don't want. >> dr. larry sabatos said he thinks that he has the right to run in 2016, and i see him jeopardizing that the longer he stays in if he is prolonging the
time when romney should be raising money. >> yes, santorum has run the right to run in 2016 or 2020. in ronald reagan went all the way to kansas city against ford, and ronald reagan ran again in 1980 and he was the conservative champion. he is partially right, but santorum and the people around the country have a right in may for kentucky, arkansas, or west virginia, there are still people in the process that still want to vote. we're not sure we are for romney, gingrich, or san tomorrow a tomorrow, and we have the right to vote. >> if santorum is successful, how does he go out after pennsylvania when there are a host of states where probably he would win. if you don't get out soon, it's another full month or two that
this goes on. >> i think you're right about that. i think if you won pennsylvania, i don't think it would make that big of a deal because of the points you raised. and and it is his home state, but i think he would be encouraged, and if he wanted to fight on for 2016, the longer he stays in the better he does. he is just not a ronald reagan figure. he is not on the cutting edge of change. i think at the end of this season we'll find that he continues to hurt the republicans and it's going to be a tough general election for romney. >> if romney loses the general, santorum says see, i told you so, he was too moderate. >> thank you, up next, john mccain knows how to not pick a running mate, and he has advice for romney. that's in the sideshow. i'm here with karen and her bffs
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palin. we have a wealth of talent out there, and i'm sure we'll make the right choice. it's a tough decision. i would obviously tell him not to rush to judgment for one thing. >> speaking from experience, we'll have more on romney's short list. next up, let's churn to the senate race between scott brown and his challenger. they have a new ad out linking brown to, you guessed it, the former governor. ♪ people let me tell you about my best friend ♪ >> now i'm proud to call my very, very dear friend, mitt romney. >> i'll take him any where i can. >> i informs a hotel, and a lady came running across the lobby, and she came up to me and i'm
used to that now, and she said "are you scott brown?" >> by the way, brown knows he has a romney problem, he is staying as close to obama as possible. and finally, rick santorum and gingrich said they'll support who every snags the nomination, but both have dragged romney through the mud in an effort to stop him from getting the ticket. the new republic put together a list of the zingers that might come back to bite santorum and gingrich if they join team romney. >> this is someone who doesn't have a core, he has been on both sides of every single issue. >> i don't believe any moderate can debate barack obama successfully because there's not a big enough gap >> he is the worst republican in the country to put up against barack obama. >> something so hypocritical
about the romney campaign. >> he was for climate change, now that it's not popular, guess who changed with it? governor romney. more of that on a tv set near you. copping up, vp stakes, what does romney need as a running mate, and you can follow me on twitter if you can spell smerconish. not in this economy. we also have zero free time,
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soldiers. and president obama signed the stock act into law earlier. it bans members of congress from trading on nonpublic information. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball," romney has not won inform delegates yet, but talk of his running mate is in discussion. for rom any, it may be especially significant givend the severity of the damage that he suffered in the past months with key segments of the electorate. so does romney need to choose someone bold and interesting? a game changer? someone that can improve his image with the base of the
party? or someone who is safe and won't overshadow him. we have two msnbc contributors with us. men, we're strategist for romney, we're in a room, we need to pick a vp, what's the top of our priority list for what we're looking for? >> the top of the list, i think for mitt romney is someone whose credentials are stable. it needs to be somebody who is not a massachusetts moderate, and would further either alienate or depress the republican base. that's the first thing i would look for. >> i didn't appreciate until i read what you published today, that they've always gone if ideological balance. >> first of all, there are as
many theories about how the vice president gets picked as there is people mentioned to be picked. so i do think this kind of i ideological mixing has heft to it. mccain informs a similar position to romney. he won the nomination but was distrusted. he picks palin. bush could not having picked someone like tom ridge. go all the way back to ronald reagan. we have it on the screen now, mccain and palin, bush senior goes to quail, and they go in the opposite direction and a conservative taps a moderate.
>> yes, in '80, i think it was fascinating, it was not just a tonely moderate. he was not an establishment guy. george h.w. bush, this guy was the establishment's establishment. >> his slogan was a president we won't have to train. let's look at people likely to be on the short list. on the one hand you have potential game changers and they include marco rubio, chris christie, susan in a martinez, and paul ryan. on the other hand, romney might look to safer bets like bob mcdonald, john thune, tim polenti. i can't see him throwing a long
ball the way mccain did. i think he will have a way to figure out who his vp should be. in the list did anything jump out? >> i agree with you. i think it's unlikely that he goes for a game changer. i think it's more likely that he picks someone like, say, senator portland, who on the calculation, if the algorithm spit out that gives you three precincts in cincinnati that can tip the state of ohio into the republican column, that would be who you go with. when it comes down to pick, it looks dire. it looks like he is not going to win or he is way behind. then all bets are off, and maybe he decides that the only way to be in the game is to go with a game changer.
>> follow this analysis, implicated but the payoff is great. john waver diagnoses romney's problem like this. number one the base doesn't trust him or like him. number two to fix that he has done everything he can to attract them. number three, number two hasn't working. four while attempting number two, he alienated key general constituencies, so he is in a box. does he try to fix number two or pix someone that help with the constituencies in number four that might deliver or help deliver a state. i personally would bet on the basis. smolders hait toward the president, and try to get someone that can help in a battleground state or fix a constituency problem. it sounds like an s.a.t. question they once failed. >> look, i think a play to
excite the base, to me, given where romney is, yes, i think he needs to do that. i also think he would like to get someone in a could be history making in some way to counter the barack obama being the first african-american and ideally someone of a swing state. if you go by those three criteria, it seems to many that marco rubio is the first ck. he is a hero, cuban american, and from florida. you never know, and rubio is new to the national scene. the argument is is he ready, he may be hurt by the spector of sarah palin. but i would say if you're ranking it today, michael, you put rubio first, and in my opinion there is a gap between first, second, and third. >> you're in good company because if you had to bet, you
would be wise to go with marco. they put his selection at 25% making him the odds on favorite. i would have to believe that paul ryan is going to climb in that waggering, because this week as been all about him. if it will be in large part about him, won't he be in that mix? >> i think that while romney can own the ryan budget as well, so they might as well own him too and have the guy that explains it better than anybody else on his team. and ryan is young, he is good looking, he has a certain presence. he's not the greatest speaker, but the base loves him, and he might be seen as a persona, as not terribly threatening to independents. >> doesn't do anything with hispanics and women though. >> absolutely not.
>> he is from wisconsin though, just adding, another potential swing state. >> i don't think since '84 it's gone in that direction. >> good point. >> up next, facts and rumors in the trayvon martin case. this is "hardball." ♪ open up. we have come for the foul, unholy beast. the one with the red markings. the miracle whip? stand aside that we may burn it. [ indistinct shouting ]
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been too much. and 43% of whites compared to 16% of african-americans. we have been tracking the story since sanford florida, and mooukle joins us now, what's the latest? >> the latest is that george zimmerman hired a new defense lawyer who is a former cop, prosecutor, a specialist in dna cases, so suggesting he is looking for somebody with a strong background in forensics, which is going to be crucial in this case, he clearly needed one. he had one lawyer that had never tried a homicide case. who had been representing him through all of this. what is extraordinary, though, is that both of these lawyers in an interview they did with the local fox affiliate last night acknowledged that neither one
has met george zimmerman. he has been in hiding since this happened. >> that's strange. >> it is very straunge to be representing client in a highly charged case like this without having met your client, looking him in the eye, going over the whole story. and, you know, it's fair to say that most seasoned lawyers would not take on a representation like this without sitting down with their client and meeting him. >> no doubt, thank you we appreciate it. we have a columnist with the "orlando sentinel." you have made me a reader, i think the coverage has been tremendous. >> thank you. >> can we go through myths and facts in the case. you havecase. and i want quickly run through a couple and correct the record as
to whether it's fact or myth. for example. george zimmermann was not arrested because his father is a former judge who pulled some string. what's the story. >> michael, there's no evidence of that whatsoever. his father has said that he is a former magistrate in virginia. but the police didn't know that at the time and we have nothing to show that that factored into the decisions in this case. >> factor or myth, zimmerman outweighed martin by 100 pounds? >> another myth. mr. zimmerman weighs about 190 pounds, argument to his family. his weight actually wasn't on the original police report. so we weren't sure for a while, how much he weighed. trayvon martin's weight, his family says, is about 150 pounds. so, as you can see, it's not that 100-pound gap that's been reported. >> fact or myth, trayvon martin shouldn't have been walking through the gated community where he was shot? >> look, that's absolutely a myth. trayvon martin was there, visiting his father and his
father's girlfriend. you know, he had every right to be there. he was a guest. he had family members who lived there. and, you know, he wasn't walking through at 3:00 a.m., as some have reported. it was only about 7:00 on a sunday evening. >> fact or myth, the department of justice is investigating civil rights abuses by the sanford police department in the martin case and years prior? >> okay. there was only one civil rights investigation going on right now, and that's according to the department of justice and the fbi. they are looking into civil rights allegations against mr. zimmerman. right now, the police department, as a whole, is not being investigated. >> at the outset of this conversation, you heard me relate some polling data that shows the the discrepancies between blacks and rights, rs and ds, in terms of how they view the level of news coverage. were you surprised to hear that, or does it comport with your finger on the pulse in your community? >> no, it's not surprising to me at all. it really registers with the
feedback that i've been getting, and that we've seen, you know, nationally on this case. >> in order, you believe that the folks locally would be in those same mixes? >> you know, i think they would. i think there is a bit of a divide between r&ds on this topic. gun control has become a big topic of conversation when people talk about this case, and that issue tends to split them along party lines. >> and stand your ground as well, i guess, is what you mean to say, right, not only gun control, but whether that florida law ought to stand, and in the other states. >> sure. gun control as larger issue, and specifically stand your ground, the 2005 law that was passed here in florida and has since spread to other states. and that is the statute that is getting the most talk, you know, since trayvon was shot. >> all right, many thanks. i begin a click on the sentinel every morning because i want the latest on the case.
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let me finish tonight with this. now that the maryland, wisconsin, and washington, d.c. primaries are behind us, all eyes are shifting to my home state, chris' home state, and rick santorum's home state of pennsylvania. today, "the new york times'" headline, pennsylvania lets romney go straight for jugular. at politico, it was, "santorum puts his money on p.a.."
well, permit me a quick primary on pennsylvania. there are two things that you need to know. first, on the surface, the primary election dynamics would seem to benefit rick santorum. yes, the last time santorum was on a pennsylvania ballot in 2006, he lost by 18 points to bob casey jr. but today, poll after poll shows santorum leading mitt romney, albeit, by a dwindling margin. santorum's chances have been aided by electoral changes that favor his primary prospects, but won't bode well for him or the gop come november. consider that over the last four years, the state's gop has lost almost 140,000 voters. and meanwhile, the ranks of the unaffiliated, and that's what pennsylvania calls independents, has swelled by almost 161,000 or 43%. in other words, six years after he decisively lost pennsylvania, including a total blowout in the traditionally moderate philadelphia suburbs, santorum will compete for votes in a primary that now better suits
his strengths, a smaller, more conservative one. the exodus of moderates from the gop helps santorum in the short run, but bears no relation to his general election prospect ifs he somehow becomes the nominee. now, the second thing you need to know about pennsylvania is that this primary is a beauty contest. if chris were here, he'd explain it with a history lesson. in 1976, ronald reagan was competing for the nomination with president ford. as the campaign headed toward the convention in kansas city, with reagan said his running mate would be pennsylvania senator richard schweikert, a move designed to win over the pennsylvania delegation. why? because reagan knew that pennsylvania doesn't tie its delegates to the victor of its primary. that strategy, it didn't work in '76. but reagan benefited from the beauty contest four years later, when george herbert walker bush won the pennsylvania primary, but a majority of the state's delegates went with the gipper anyway. how can this happen? it's because those running for delegate to the convention are
listed on the ballot in their home congressional district without any stated commitment nor tie to a particular candidate. i know because in 1984, i was an alternate delegate, elected to the gop convention in dallas. what usually happens is that the gop faithful are the ones that run for the slots. they include party loyalists who are involved in their local committee and they tend to be influenced by the establishment, which has been reluctant to support their former colleague, santorum. nevertheless, santorum has said he has every intention of winning the keystone state. and because the party has narrowed in its composition, he can certainly do that. but he and his campaign must surely know that winning pennsylvania's popular vote won't put him any closer to the delegate count needed to actually win the nomination, which means this could be all about erasing that 18-point loss in 2006, a beauty contest indeed. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "the ed show" with e