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tv   Melissa Harris- Perry  MSNBC  May 5, 2012 10:00am-12:00pm EDT

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stage in civil rights history, i ask, hey, can we get each other's back? plus, we are still getting to know the most famous man in the world. will we ever truly know what makes him tick? and the legacy of tip pa canoe and why politicians invented bumper stickers long before we had cars. and why the president spent the week waltzing in front of a blind audience. hello, i'm melissa harris-perry, and this morning the alleged mastermind of the september 11th attacks is appearing before a military commission in guantanamo. shaikh khalid muhammad's detention is coming to an end for the open case of justice after 9/11. for many americans though, that ending came a year ago this week with the killing of osama bin
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laden. president obama commemorated that day with a trip to afghanistan where the war on terror began and while there he signed a ten-year agreement with afghan president karzai while we will draw down the troops and bring them home. >> our troops here in afghanistan launched the trip that killed osawma bin laden, ad the chance to defeat al qaeda is now within our reach. >> so with one speech, he is able to take responsible for killing the head of the global terrorism, and vow to commitment, and it is a do-si-do for the dove to hawk on foreign policy and it is on a day that only reminders the president's supporters that the guantanamo bay detention facility is still
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open despite the campaign promises to close it. this is, not that any of us could forget is an election year where all of the presidential business as usual is campaign business. and many can read the president visiting the troops in afghanistan as a campaign stop, but remember, foreign policy is the primary work of the executive office. article ii declares the executor to be commander in chief. and he has more autonomy in foreign affairs than trying to pass domestic legislation through a uncooperative legislature. and whether you call it spiking the ball, the president's call on the mission that took out osama bin laden are key elements of the re-election campaign. still, this is what the political scientists sometimes call waltzing been a blind audience problem. you see the presidents tend to campaign on foreign policy, but
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the p public often does not respond to these issues when at the ballot box. consider the case this week of the blind chinese activist chen guangcheng who has been under house arrest by the chinese government for his outspoken criticism of the chinese rule. his arrest at the prison in bbeg prompted secretary hillary clinton to go to work for his release. foreign policy rarely galvanizes voters except when war is the d dominant issue. so president obama campaign and in part won in 2008 on the anti-war stance and remember that obama then criticized the pred sors for taking the ball off of war in afghanistan and
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misconceived support in iraq, and now he is a president who ended two wars and brought the 9/11 masterminds to justice. the question is will the voters care? and joining me is the communications director for dnc, and kathleen jamison hall who is the communications director at the university of pennsylvania. and so, here is the theory bandied about, that you do all of the work at the center for foreign policy, but it is a bore and shrug by voters. >> the reason they tried this week to not just talk about what has been accomplished b tow take you behind the scenes into the decision-making, and from the beginning, i thought that there was a lost opportunity to teach us something about obama the
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leader, because that is really the only thing that people kind of shrug, and if we are in war and feels imminent, they have a reaction, but here was a opportunity to see the president in the leadership role without having to deal with congress necessarily like when he gets to control all of the toys and the butto buttons, and there is a lot to be earn willed about him. they are trying within the context of the of the campaign to teach people about behind the scenes. this is how the man makes decisions. this is why you want to stay the course, if you will, with the president. >> and literally behind the scenes. nbc news this week had a sort of groundbreaking interview and opportunity to see inside of the situation room. we heard the during the gop primaries and the language that president obama is an appeaser, and yet on december 8th of 2011, last year, president obama directly responded to that. we will take a listen to that. >> our goal is not to build a country in america's image or to
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eradicate every vestige of the taliban. these objectives would require many more years, many more dollars and most importantly many more american lives. our goal is to destroy al qaeda, and we are on a path to do exactly that. afghans want to assert their sovereignty and build a lasting peace. that requires a clear time line to wind down the war. >> so, that was not the sound i was thinking of, but the moment when the president said just ask osama bin laden if i'm an appeaser, but that sound bite we just heard is useful also to understanding the president as a leader. what differences are those kinds of statements going to make come election time? >> well, first, the foreign policy does not necessarily help, true, but being a strong leader perceived on foreign policy does matter. when you win strong leader, you are well on the way to winning the presidency. in 2000, that is the ground that
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george w. bush commanded against al gore and on that difference that part of the election swung. what you are seeing here is how do you abut appeaser? show strong leader. the last week has been strong leader, there, afghan. and strong leader, and remember osama bin laden and inside of the situation room, and strong leader, and that is a rebuttal to the characterizations, and ostensibly, it has established strong leader. >> that is important when you are talking about an incumbent running for re-election, because, again, the argument is stay the course. that is the argument against george bush when he was re-elected and the polls showed that even if people did not really like him or agreed with him, but they are not ready to switch the horses midstream here, and he is good enough, and this president is better than good enough, but it goes to the point. >> i like the idea of not backing down, because it is the challenge that the president faces in domestic politics,
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right? the fact is that there are 500-some-odd additional people who have to be convinced. 435 members of the house of representatives and 50 senators and all of those folks are part of the constituencieconstituenc the president making a call about the navy s.e.a.l.s and the death of osama bin laden. >> thing i don't like about the appeaser argument is look at the deal we had to cut with iraq to get out, because our president was not willing to sacrifice a degree of security for the troops, he said we will not sign the agreement, and we will just pull out is the mark of not an appeaser. >> and also, he has a very strong secretary of state, and it is difficult for the democrat to be weak on defense, but as you lay up the visual images and have a trial and remind with the biden slogan that detroit is
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alive and osama bin laden is dead. what youare essentially saying is to translate this leader into the perception of a person and now no room for the right to run against him on the defense, but no room for him to say soft on anything, because it is tough on economy. >> so it is a muscular presidency, but i want to ask in part, because it feels like a big shift from the 2008 particularly primaries where part of how he positions himself as a distinct candidate over and against hillary clinton is that, look, i thought that the war in iraq was a stew wupid war and i would not have voted for it and i was not in congress to vote for it, but at that time i stood against it. i will close guantanamo bay, and so there is a portion of the left that is not responding to the hawkishness and feeling a great deal of angst about it. what will happen to those voters? will they hold him accountable
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for being too hawk ish? too successful? >> well, the point of being a strong leader in the context and now he has been in the job for three years and part of the argument they are trying to make is that because of the 500 other people, and a good portion of whom made it their agenda to make sure there not a second term, and when he is in charge and knows the agenda, and wants to get these things done, and some of the things that he has said have not happened the way we haven't watted and we have gotten some progress and not the way we wanted, but he is not the only player in the mix. so the argument that they are trying to make is that he is a strong leader and he will keep pushing to keep it done, but he has to deal with the other forces. >> and the part of the problem with guantanamo because i cannot close it unilaterally, because we have to have congress on board. >> but the framing is clear, likable person, but aren't you disappointed that he was not up to the job? and the question is can't you see the strong leader translate
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back from the foreign affairs into economic activity in the presence of iffy job growth. it is job growth there and better, but he is in the difficult position of arguing, it is better than if you had elected the al teternative. it is a difficult argument to sell. >> i want the dig in on what the afghanistan policy is and looks like, because part of the reason that it feels like waltzing before a blind audience is because we have so little information to understand issues like drone attacks and the chinese humanitarian crisis and things like that. so stay there, because i want to continue to waltz before the blind audience, and also coming up, what issue could be a driving wedge within the democratic party base. we will talk about that. for three hours a week, i'm a coach. but when i was diagnosed with prostate cancer... i needed a coach. our doctor was great, but with so many tough decisions i felt lost. unitedhealthcare offered us a specially trained rn
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over the last three years, the tide has turned. we broke the taliban's momentum. we have built strong afghan security forces. we devastated al qaeda's leadership and taking out 20 of the top 30 leaders, and still, there will be difficult days ahead. enormous sacrifices of the men and women are not over. >> that was president obama's address to afghanistan from afghanistan on tuesday evening where he underscored the message that the tide of the war is receding in afghanistan, but on that very day, a stark reminder when a suicide bomber in kabul killed seven people, and showed that security in afghanistan will continue to ebb and flow no matter the stated time line. in the months ahead as the time line draws near, time will tell how the war in afghanistan bears fruit on election day. but here to join us is retired wesley clark, and former nato
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commander and now adviser to president obama's campaign and he is in little rock, arkansas. and spencer ackerman who writes for wired magazine's danger blog, and he joins us from washington, d.c. >> thank you, melissa. >> general clark, i want to start with you this morning. we have been talking about president obama's accomplishments both in drawing down troops in iraq, and his language in afghanistan this week, and obviously, the killing of osama bin laden and what difference will that make for the president politically this year? >> it is a strong platform to take foreign policy off of the table as a traditional republican advantage, and it is the first election since the 19770s where a democratic president or nominee can actu actually say we're stronger on foreign policy, and as you said previously, melissa, in every democratic -- republican rather primary debate, there were one or more candidates up there
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saying that the president was appeasing and weak and repeating a lot of old stuff that is just not true. i think that he's, the president has to hammer home this message now and take this issue offf of the table. he is a strong leader. no one is going to get to the right of him or to be tougher or more constructive on foreign policy than president barack obama has been. >> and so, let me go the you, spencer, on this, because it is a very interesting way that general clark just put it to kind of taking it off of the table by making clear the president's strength and yet i wonder about taking the issues awe of the table in an election year. as you look at the actual policy, for example in this agreement that was signed this week, what is your assessment of the plan, itself? is it something that we ought to be talking about as the 2012 election cycle? >> absolutely, melissa. something that the public should be talking about, but the obama campaign wants to talk about. i'm not sure they want to take the issue off of the table, but
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i think that they want to keep it on the table, because prec e precisely, because it is not clear what mitt romney's afghanistan policy is, and it is not very clear what other avenue of attack aside from the threshold issue of who is weak and who isn't. the romney campaign really wants to launch on foreign policy. on the issue, itself, in afghanistan, the president talks about a tide of war receding, but the tides kind of come in and out and at different levels, and when you look at the events in afghanistan there is two more years of american combat and ten more years of commitment to afghanistan and a drone war occurring with a lot less visibility next door in pakistan. so the war is very much a fact of american life going forward. >> i want to pause that. general clark, wapt to ask you a little bit about the drone war question, because part of what we want to do here is to provide more useful information to the
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viewers about why afghanistan matters, and certainly part of it is the response to 9/11, the al qaeda question, but this week, john brennan, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counter terrorism was also talking about the question of drone attacks, which in pakistan, for which afghanistan is obviously critically strategic, so take a listen to brennan. >> so let me say it as simply as i can. yes, in full accordance with the law and in order to prevent terrorist attacks on the s tos states and to save american live lives the united states government conducts targeted strikes against specific al quaid terrorists and sometimes using remotely piloted aircraft often referred publicly as drones. i'm here today, because president obama has instructed us to be more open with the american people about these efforts. >> okay.
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general clark, that is -- it is as straight forward as you can imagine, the president's spokeman saying we are using drones here, and the president instructed him to tell the american people about it, and will drone attacks become an issue in the con exthet of tkoc campaign this is. >> no sh, they are more in the support of the president's defense policy, and when i say take it off of the table, i don't mean take it off of the table for the president, but the republicans cannot use it against him. they have no foreign policy position other than to say democrats are traditionally weak, and he is not weak. so now, let's get it on the republican failures on the domestic side, and that is where the campaign will go based on a very strong platform in foreign policy, and the drone attacks being part of it. he has not been afraid to use a powerful weapon, and thank goodness he has, because 20 of the top 30 leaders have been
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taken out, and we have osama bin laden and using the drones elsewhere, an unmanned aerialsleswheaerial s elsewhere and this is an exceptional problem facing the united states of america, and no other nation has faced this kind of worldwide attack against us in countries that we are not at war with. so it requires exceptional means to go back at them and one of the exceptional means are the unmanned aerial vehicles. >> spencer, i want to ask you about this, because it is feeling like in part 21st century war, and part of the conversation about the democrats being weak on issues of foreign policy is the 20th century version where you go to invade a country and states that fight against each other. what should we be thinking about as we try to make the audience less blind on these issues, and what are the key issues of the forms of international engagement for us to understand
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as a public so that we can judge the quality of the foreign policy? >> well, first of all, it may not be the best idea to describe or think of drones as exotic, robot war for instance. every time a drone fires a weapon, a human being decides not just to release the weapon, but where it ought to go, and that there is a chain of intel je intelligence that leans to that attack. the thing is that we know almost nothing toward the targeting cycle is, and the decisions of who should be targeted. brennan's speech that you played the excerpt from is a classic example of telling and not showing. among the people the drones have killed is a propagandaist anwar al awlaki who was an operational matter of al qaeda
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and killed as an american citizen. that is wort havingh having a d around. >> and these are useful questions. and we hope you will stick around to talk about the strength of leadership and talk about it in the context of how we put the context of the of the unemployment rate that has dropped, and whether that will matter in the next election. that is coming up next. this is $100,000. we asked total strangers to watch it for us. thank you so much, i appreciate it, i'll be right back. they didn't take a dime. how much in fees does your bank take to watch your money ? if your bank takes more money than a stranger, you need an ally. ally bank. no nonsense. just people sense.
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oh, poor governor mitt romney. he began the week confront iing the anniversary of the rifle's most memorable accomplishment the death of osama bin laden, but then he was thrown a bone at the end of the week. >> we should see the number ps of 500,000 jobs created per month, but this is way, way off of what should happen in a normal recovery.
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the reason that the unemployment rate is going down is because you have more people dropping out of the workforce than getting jobs. it is a terrible and very disappointing report this morning. >> so unemployment went down to 8.1% in april down from 8.2%, and adding a net gain of 115,000 jobs, but the gains wereless than the economists predicted. so still is the top concern on the minds of americans is the econo economy. and here is kathleen finny and general wesley clark, adviser to the president e's campaign and want you to weigh in here, kathleen jamison. >> well, it is interesting that the goalpost shifted this week. so for a while the argument was president obama said it is under 8.0%, and they didn't show it, but romney said under 4:%, and
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knowing that we won't get there and knowing that what matters is the trend. he did the same on the foreign policy front, and not just afghanistan and iraq, but pakistan. and i would argue that there were successes with pakistan based on the agreement with afghanistan. so the trend is to move the goalpost along so it is unattainable. >> well, the line is going to way because of the shrinkinging labor market and that is not good news. we don't know whether it is moving toward a stall in the recoverier owhether or not this means that some jobs came into the economy early because of the favorable weather. this is an indeterminant moment as a result. we make too much of small changes in big numbers which is the number of people there, but there is a big number of people holding back and not in the labor force at all and experiencing pain which translates into votes. >> and the white house is still holding its breath. there is a lovely optic there, general clark, of romney saying
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it is horrible and terrible and awful, and while there a number going down on unemployment. optically it looks add, but it is a small number. so general clark, how will the president discuss the economy and the strength of the leadership there? >> well, first of all, back to the previous discussion for a second. as your other panelists have noted, the president has great influence on foreign policy and not as much influence on the economy he is on really solid ground with the energy policy, and that is a solid policy, and he has been all-in, and it is oil and gas and we are spending $300 billion a year importing foreign oil, and increasingly, we are going to replace it with domestic energy sources which creates jobs. and so i think that's the momentum that you will see the administration and the spokesmen begin to talk about. there are tremendous
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opportunities in this, and you can see it in the marcellus shale and the northeast and you can certainly see it in north dakota where you can't find a place to live out there. so many people are out there pour i pouring in to work. and energy is so fundamental in the economy, this offers a chance to correct 40 years of relative failure on american energy policy and we have it in our hands, so it is a major strength for the administration going forward. >> thank you, general wesley clark, and this has to be one of the most informed electorates yet if we run on energy and foreign policy, we may end up on the other side as a profoundly informed electorate. karen and kathleen will be back later in the show. coming up, as president obama launches the re-election campaign in a couple of hours, there is a deep divide decades in the making between the president's key supporters. and i want to know if it will keep some voters home november,
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the progress continues... but that doesn't mean our job is done. we're still committed to seeing this through. this tuesday north carolinians will go to the polls to vote on a constitutional amendment to say that a marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic union to be valid and recognized by the state. now, how does the state ballot question play into the re-election of president obama? think about the base. we know that african-americans are a key constituency for candidate obama in 2008 and will be again for the re-election as are gay and lesbian voters. but could these two parts of the base be at odds of each other, and could the vote in north carolina give us a peek at the
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issues. and joining us is lisa who is the head of lgbt organization. and we have the author of "coming of love." and jennifer chrisler, the executive director of counseling and foot soldier william j. robert barber from the naacp. >> thank you, melissa. >> reverend barber, it is lovely to speak to you directly and you were first foot soldier on the program in part because of your work against amendment one in north carolina. do two things for me. first, can you tell me about what amendment one is so that the viewers will know, and then i want to ask you why the naacp as a national organization does not take a holistic stance on the issue of same-sex marriage.
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>> well, first of all, melissa, thank you for allowing us to come on. this amendment is really an attempt to put to a poplar vote a constitutional rights of individuals. it is a dangerous precedent. it is a form of states rights trying to trump the 14th amendment, and even if equal protection clause in our constitution at the state level with the 21st century of nullification, is bad law, because every family lawyer, and law school, and experts from the law school have said it is bad and hurts heterosexual families and it will hurt domestic violence, and persons who experience domestic violence. >> let me clarify, and i want you to clariire continue, but i clarify this for folks, because the way that the question is put to the ballot it is worded that
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if a woman is in a relationship with a man who is not her husband, she cannot get protective rights because they are not in a relationship. >> and if the city governments allows insurance benefits to the children, but because you only recognize one union, it disallows that as well, but at the civil rights level, the same people who have fought us at every turn on voters rights and the same people trying to suppress the vote, and same people cutting $6 billion from the public education and trying to roll back welfare reform, and racial justice ak, and fought us at every turn have come to the commu community and asking us to promote discrimination and hate being written into the very framework of the constitution, and that is why the nc staaa of north carolina and 125 partners are standing firm against this. >> reverend, what you have done there with the local nbaacp is o
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cr critical, because these are the folks who come for the rights of the people of color, but it does feel like our national civil rights organizations the naacp, the lcsc, and they have not take anne national stance on issues of lgbt equality, an aisha, can you speak to na? >> i will speak to that after her. >> well, this is bigger than the lgbt rights. conservatives are creating a smoke screen for discrimination and try to pit the black folks against the gay folks which is to say they are mutually exclusive but that cannot happen as here i am a black woman, and they are trying to discriminate against the minorities and roll back the times of the
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opportunitieses in america, and they should use the resources in the ballot areas to get north carolina's economy back on track and wasting time and money and redundant, because what folks don't know is that same-sex marriage is already illegal in north carolina. the legislature took part of that. >> it is already illegal, but by instantiating it into the constitution, and making it an amendment, and that is the thing, that reverend barber, you have the greatest disagreement about it is the instantiation into the constitution. >> that and putting the people's constitutional right up for a popular vote, but think about if equal protection under the law is protected which is the fundamental precedent here, you have the family research council which is listed as a hate group by the southern poverty center and the national organization of marriage in their own document i sag it is not about marriage, but a unholy marriage of the far right ideology and money that
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deliberately designed to divide. so if we ask the right question, and what we have found if the north carolinians get the right language, they are against the amendment. do you believe that the discrimination and the hate division should be written into the constitution, and whether you believe for or against same-sex marriage religiously or personally or by conviction, that is protected, too. that should be a choice, but putting it in the constitution, and that is why we have people who are against same-sex marriage from the religious point of view for all or their convictions, but they are also against this amendment. and when we ask the right question, the majority of north carolinians and african-americans stand against this amendment as long as we are not suckered into the wrong question by the ultra right. >> i want to bring in the question, because i am hammering on what i see as a part of the failure of the contemporary civil rights organizations to take a clear stance on this so we saw the national organization
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of marriage memo, and that is appalling for all of us karg about the question, but the strategic goal is to drive a wedge between the gays and the blacks and two key democratic constituencies, and as you pointed out, the idea of driving a wedge between the gays and the blacks assumes that there are no queer black people which is by itself -- >> and that is the fallacy of the whole marriage debate is that blacks somehow equals straight and gay equals white. that is ridiculous. >> partly of what happened in the organizing communities, and that is what i want to put to head here, on the one hand, i want the naacp to come out clearly on the civil rights issue of equality and where are hrc and glaad and when we are marching for trayvon martin and i want us to be allies, but i need them on both sides. >> absolutely. no question that part of the conversation that is happening in this country is the what are
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the shared income and values. as the mother of twin boys, i think all of the time, what do i want to teach my kids about this next generation? about the future of human rights and civil rights in the country, and i think that as organizations like ours, we have to stand up on issues that matter to everyone. from a family perspective, why aren't we focused on the health care? why aren't we focussed on the jobs? family across the country are like one refrigerator repair away from disaster financially, and we should be thinking of policies that really shape and impact that, all families, because families are complex these days in this country, and as aisha has said that more same sex couples of colors are raising children in this country than same sex couples. >> it is more likely to live in poverty and suffer. >> and this is where we talk about everybody being in this together, the piece.
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first off, race as a tool to move progressive policy is old as dirt. whether is gay issues or on people -- whatever it is, it is old as dirt. the best way to allow that to happen is when the progressives get color blind, right? and so when the progressives weather whatever the issue is, and when the progressives say we will not talk about race and ignore race, every single time the right will move into that space, and define race as it. >> and perfectly happy to talk about it. >> and perfectly happy to talk about it, and that is important. that is one, but second, the point is that there is a great deal of really important work going on both in the racial justice community and in the lesbian and bisexual and gay and transje transgendered communities and where you see it is not at the national levels, but the local
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organizing levels, and that is an important thing to drill down and talk about how to support it. >> we will talk about supporting that and north carolina, you are going to stay with us, reverend bar eber and continue with this conversation after the break and play armchair psychologist to president obama and tb crazy love letters. ♪ love is so crazy right now time for the your business entrepreneurs of the week. ken whiting and his nephew own whiting foods which has run food concessions on the santa cruz boardwalks since 1983. they have learned that managing this generation means that you have to speak their language. for more watch "your business" sunday mornings at 7:30 on ms c msnbc. [ donovan ] i hit a wall.
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i want to remind americans and remind our viewers that the architect of the march on washington is not martin luther king jr., although he was the great voice, but the architect was byron rustin who is a openly gay man and quaker and pacifist and all of those things openly, and that his relationship with king was deeply impacted by his out identity, and other people like barbara jordan, and other civil rights leaders, and she lived more than 30 years with her female partner in texas and one of the kind of leading civil rights leaders of our time. so there isn't, and there are not two communities and we are overlapping communities, and reverend barber, let me go to you first. >> let me say and help a little bit. if you don't buy the line that the right has put out there about the divide and come on the ground in north carolina for six years, the naacp, and 120 chapters have been leading and building a coalition called the people's coalition of now over
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125 organizations, and renting a broad 14-point agenda and representing more than 2 million people. that agenda is expanding civil rights. so the reason that we can fight back so hard in north carolina is because we have been working together and sit down at the table and even the members of the lgbt community and we have decided if you fight this on the constitutional level, yes, persons who have differences on the religious level and we have had people pro marriage, and prosame-sex marriage, but this issue of the equal protection under the law and the issue of not letting popular rights be legislated. i was when you labeled me a foot soldier, i was in a rally of one of the most diverse gatherings in a southern state in the last 30 years, and it is growing and expanding. so we are not starting to work,
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but we have been doing the work, and that is why we are able to fight back so powerfully. >> and talk to me about the strategic coalitions. >> i want to put a fine point on what reverend barber is saying, because one thing that the colorlines coalition did is that we surveyed 80 organizations and some of them did the work on the racial justice and some working specifically with people in color in queer communities, and what we found is that there is actually enormous amounts of work going on at the local level but that the challenges are two-fold. one, folks feel isolated by this conversation that equates gay civil rights with whiteness, and they feel isolated with that, and then also leaves some of the local organizations wildly underfunded, because they cannot get resources to do their work. but where they find the most fertile ground is when they are working on the issues that affect, uniquely affect people
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of color in the lesbian, bisexual, and gay and transgendered community, and when we talk about housing and gender discrimination and talk about marriage broadly and not just same sex, but homelessness, and youth. >> and looking at the agenda. >> and i wrote a report in january called "jumping beyond the broom, and why black and gay and transgendered americans need more equality" because when we look at the issues that lie at the black community and the gay community we find that they are at the bottom of every metric whether it is economic insecurity or economic disparities and whether it is educational attainment and who is bullied in the schools and mental health, et cetera. >> that is going on at the national level, too. we finished a report with the center for american progress called all children matter and that report looked at the
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disproportionate fact of the children raised in the 1 million gblt families in this country and what we found from the policy perspective is that things around family issues, economic security, access to social safety net, and education and the quality of it, and as parents, that is a uniting bond that we all rally around so nicely. >> we will be right back after this break. ♪ you don't stop ♪ and you can't ♪ ant you won't stop wake up!
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the more you bundle, the more you save. now, that's progressive. in the short time that we have left in the hour, we will continue our conversation on amendment one in north carolina the so-called wedge between black and gay communities. the wedge this week was between the romney campaign and richard grennel his adviser as an openly gay man was pushed out. how much are these issues going
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to play for president obama building a strong multiracial diverse coalition in 2012, and how much will all of this matter? >> look, this conversation is one that is ongoing. and it is unfortunate that we are not having the right conversation right now which is what are the common values that we want to see moving forward? what is the future that we are building for the next generation of my kids. i have one on the way. so what are we going to unite a around that? so 2 million and one chidren. >> yes, exactly and i'm contributing the one. but really, how do we focus on the common shared values and what is the legacy we are leaving for our children around these issues, and that is what we should be talking about. >> right. >> and the en generation of you people who supported president obama in full force think that the gay issue is moot. they feel that the conservatives are grappling for whatever straw they can to put us back into the muck of the cultural wars. >> younger people, it is very,
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very clear. >> yes it is very, very clear, and what the romney camp is doing as well as the disk disconnecting from the americans, and completely out of touch with what american voters care about, if these type of culture race-baiting arguments continue, it is bad news for the conservatives. >> and reverend barber, i want to give you one last quick moment before we have to go. >> i want to say if we ask the right answquestion, we will get right answer and focus on the constitution and there is a wedge and as you say don't get suckered into that. in north carolina when you do the hard work of organizing, you will see the mighty coalitions built, a nd that is what we are seeing and i wish you could come down to north carolina and see it. >> oh, reverend barber, i will do that because i went to wake forest and grad school at duke, and my dear friend teaches at nc state, so that invitation, i will take you up on it. >> we will make it happen.
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>> thank you for the work on the ground, reverend raymond barber, and also the rest of the panel. and also, we will dish about the president's lovely next. ♪ wherever you go i will follow ♪ ♪ i will follow him ♪ follow him wherever he may go ♪ hi, i'm phil mickelson.
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before the president launches his campaign today with the vision for the future, first he has to contend with some ghosts from the past, and the worst nightmare honestly of anyone who has been in a relationship, namely his exes and the meticulously preserved diaries and letters coming out of the woodworks. this week "vanity fair" released a autobiography of the president to be released in june, and in the book, two of the former flames of the president open up and tell all. instead of dishing on how the president loved and left them, his past loves paint a portrait
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of one of the most watched men on the planet and his search for himself. the person that he was looking for and that we now know as president obama was no accident. in the book, a friend from those years describes the future president as the most deliberate person i ever met in terms of constructing his own identity, and his achievement was really an achievement of identity in the modern world. that was an important period for him, and first the shift from not an international, but an american, and number one. and then not white, but black. joining me here at the table, msnbc political analyst karen finny who is the former director of communications for the dnc, and kai wright, editorial director of colorlines, and kathleen hall jamison head of the annen berg center for polic.
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okay. i confess -- i confess, i loved this story, because i felt like one of the things that excited a lot of us in the world of nerds when president obama was elected is a sense that a genuine intellectual was coming into white house, but you can never be completely sure on how someone frames themselves, and i actually thought it was sort of sweet in a little dorky way that he quotes all of the philosophers in the middle of the love letters and i wonder, do we gain any insight on obama the man and potentially obama the leader and president from knowing these things? >> well, they are not new things, though. one of the interesting things about barack obama is that for all of the crazy tea party conspiracies about who is he really? the man has lived out loud his whole life. i mean "dreams for my father" covered much of this emotional territory already.
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his restling with who he is, and the racial identity and what is the role in the world and what he will represent in the world. this is actually isn't new other than the really interesting girlfriend piece of it. >> but the girlfriend piece of it makes him very much an american male and how much of you have had the experience that you say, i love you and the guy says, thanks. >> nice sentiment, dear. >> come on, that is the american male in their 20s, trust me. >> i had another reaction which is that there is a strange piece in the internet that circulated in 2008 that said that barack obama did not write his books, and william ayers wrote his books. >> yeah, yeah. >> when you read the language in the love letters and or whatever those letters were, communiques and you compare them to the books, it is exactly the same voice, and exactly the same kind of stylistic tendencies and we can now put to rest that strange
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viral allegation. >> right that he did not write it. >> and i want to pause on this for a second, especially the point that he is an american male, because part of what the romney campaign has been doing as they put ann romney, a likable figure out front is this sanitize and although i think completely honest version of an american love story. there was only ann. there was only ann for mitt. it was just us. we met. and you know. but this story is a much more comp complicated one. obama actually did love others, and work on his way sort of as he finds his way to michelle who has a 70% approval rating. am i going too far in the metaphor that maybe americans prefer the third grade version of love and america and history versus the real complicated messy versions of love and america and history? >> plainly. >> well, how do we know that there aren't any complications in the mitt and the ann story?
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they can better control that story, because they have been together for such a long period of time and none of the former girlfriends are writing anything. >> well, it is uncomfortable point, but it is an important narrative for the romney story, because of the, what a lot of the americans think about mormonism. so having recognizable family is important to him. politically. you know, and i think -- >> you think that monogamy from the beginning is very important because of the lds? >> yes, because of the way that the americans think about it, and the regardless of the perception. >> not because it is there, but because it is out there. >> and whereas michelle obama has a 70% approval rating and she did not always have one. and one of the things that attracted me to, us, to the obama story, those of us in nerd land and many people who didn't participate or care about politics before that is the complexity of the obama story. it is a complicated story. it always has been. >> when i read it, i could not
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help myself, but i went out to find a quote that was so important that nothing crooked has ever been made from -- no straight thing has been made from the -- out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was created. i had to have a kantan moment. >> and that is the person who is detached. and the republican line on the detached and the republican framing of detached is cold and calculating and you can't necessarily trust. and the of course democratic take is endearing and romantic, and searching for himself and finding identity, but here is the bottom line electorally, once somebody has been president, we don't use the early biographical years,
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because they don't el the us anything knew, but those things matter for mitt romney, because we are screening him and fining out who he is, but once somebody has served two or three years as dan rather found out about george w. bush, whatever happened in the past does not matter. >> and does race complicate itt all? i love that story that once you nknow the three or four years that you have governed an it is the what have you done for us lately, and we don't care about the past, but i wonder if we are still grappling with having a black president and if we are behind the veil and trying to learn this president. am i overreading here? >> one of the excerpts that got no attention up against the girlfriend factor was the conversation that he said in trying to figure out who i am, and am i black? am i white? am i sort of all over the place, and i have to embrace all of it. that tells you a lot about who this person is, and why he is an
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effects tiff leader, because he is somebody, and again, if it plays against the narrative that the republicans want to paint of this man, but he is someone who genuinely, i think sees the big picture 360 degrees and is trying to live a life that embraces a lot of that rather than saying, i will put this piece offhere and be this, he is trying to be a more integrated human being, which is a harder thing to do, and racially, you know, talked about this as a mixed race person, that is a hard thing to do, and that is a hard-line the walk. >> though at the same time, there is a progressive critique of the president that i have made myself is and it comes up in this portrait is that he is a person who is more interested in what he represents than the change he makes. right? that he's -- that he sees himself as the embodiment of change, and that that gets in the way of system of ugly messy business of making change in a place like washington. you know, i think that, so i think that it is a, you can spin
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his, and it is clear that he is very concerned with what he represents, and you can spin that both a positive and negative side of it. >> and i love that he apparently says to genevieve cook, one of the ex-girlfriends that he is actually making a choice to go towards blackness, so he confessed that, you know, he is having ambivalence about being both black and white and it becomes clear to him that he needs to go towards blackness. we see him embrace the blackness both in the choice of romantic partner, and i have been carrying around my "invisible man" because i found out that apparently he had a tattered version of "invisible man" in his choice to live on the south side of chicago and even in the census bubble choice that he made in 2010, and is there something about that embrace, itself, that is politically relevant as a change moment. >> maybe. i think that it is more relevant to him. first off on the question of, i think that we are in fact wrestling with having a black president, but no more or less
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than we did in 2008. so we are there and that speaks to kathleen's point that the people have done what they are going to do around it emotionally, a and this is the end of that. it is present, but people are going to go where they have gone. and what is interesting about the "invisible man" piece is the ralph ellison and not richard wright. >> true. >> and you know, there are different ways to embrace blackness, and he is embracing a version that is, i think, could go differently. >> could, indeed. okay. stay right there and we will continue to dig into the psyche of president obama and the question of elections and then i want to test the panelists' political prowess. don't go away. c'mon dad!
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we are here and mining the memories of the president's exes for insight into what makes him tick. i don't know but we are having a good tick with it. still with me are karen finny and kai wright, and caroline jamison. and one of this is that alex had been fond of barry as she calls him, and he was particular way and worked an idea and question and turned it over and looked at it in all sides and then came to a precise and elegant conclusion. right, this idea of -- first of all i cannot, and i have read
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and the place you will see it is in the communication style, because if you see him answering questions, you will see what some in academic style is a high self-monitor and you hear him hearing himself and in pauses evaluating the next things he is going to say. there are strengths and weaknesses in that. sometimes in the presidency, you can see who could benefit from that more, but the question leads to is that a question of indecisiveness and that is where being a strong leader on foreign policy is a strong image, because it undercuts that. >> and yes, president obama was not a high self-monitor of those things, but president obama is. >> yes. >> and you think about the passage that you read in the
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context of the decision of whether or not to go in to get osama bin laden, and he had to take in a lot of conflicting information and here is the risk and the potential reward and which way to do it, and that is a lot about the style of his being a leader now, and how he approaches the decisions, but how he approaches decisions in where congress gets a say and a whole other piece that you have to deal with when you are not in your own head figuring it out for yourself. >> that is true, the executive role versus having to be the maser of the legislative branch as well. >> and policy making nor really politics is not elegant. that's the thing. this is not an elegant process. >> no, it is a mess. >> yes, is it is. >> it should be though. >> and it would be wonderful in the world if it is, but our government is not designed for it to be elegant, because we have a government built on conflict and in the notion of creating stability, and created
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a lot of good things for america, but it is built on conflict, and a frustration with the president that groews that you see in the letters and the governing style and the leadership style is that in the current job he has, elegance is not necessarily your best weapon here. >> and there is framework that the president is a cosmopolitan citizen, and that he is constantly apologizing which is very odd. but kwame appiah suggests that we should see this president who is from a african father and white mother who is from another
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part of the world and lived in chicago, and is that cosmopolitanism good thing or seen as weakness for the gop to push back? h. >> if you think about the changing demographics of the country and the world, it should be a good thing. think about the european countries now dealing with the immigration, and the nature of those countries are changing. the definition of what it is to be an american is changing, and that is part of what obama challenges is that there is a lot of deaf igs ins of what it is to be american. so i think that, yes, having somebody who understands deeply cultural differences, spiritual differences, educational differences, expeer yriential difference, i hope it is a good thing and less so than saying that everybody has to fit in the box, and everybody who doesn't, can't be on the team. >> it might give him empathy. >> well, in the obama message has been, you know, that my cosmopolitanism, and the things that you would call cosmopolitan and this is uniquely american,
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and this is the heroic american story. >> and this is the american exceptionalism. >> and that i, barack obama, can exist and be president of the united states and all of my complexity, because america is such a wonderful and exceptional place. that is the barack obama narrative. and so that is the they have successfully done that in 2008 was spin that with a new part of the electorate, and folks who had not been participating and young people, and people of color, and to say, yeah, that is right, i associate myself with the narrative and got into the game. >> and because, is the white house worried about this book when it comes up, and this is a "vanity fair" excerpt can getting me all riled up, but is the white house worried about this or part of the factorial scurry of a election cycle? >> i think they worry about everything, but to go back to the earlier point, one of the characteristics that comes from this cosmopolitan attitude is
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the ability to see from the perspective of others, and good leaders do that, but good presidents in culture in which we simplify don't do it in public. he has made the mistake of doing nit public and mistake not because it is the wrong thing the do in the broader context, but because it yields sound bites used to indict. so when he says he does not believe in intellectual exceptionalism, and he is in a speech in straussberg and he says that the french believes they are exceptional, and of course, he then makes the american exceptional in the united states, but what is critiqued is that they are granted to think they are, too, as if they shouldn't. >> but in fact, other sons may be just as warm as our own. and coming up, we have a pop quiz and we are dwog to play "name that campaign" right after the break. ok! who gets occasional constipation,
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people don't like to miss out on money that should have been theirs. that's why at ally we have the raise your rate 2-year cd. you can get a one-time rate increase if our two-year rate goes up. if your bank makes you miss out, you need an ally. ally bank. no nonsense. just people sense. with the general election in full gear both parties this week rolled out fresh slogans.
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president obama's camp unleashed forward as the new tag line on a new campaign video while the rnc began pushing hype and blame slogan as a play on obama's hope and change slogan. actually a slogan can turn the narrative and capture the nation. and who can forget reagan's "it is morning in america." and this brings us to this week's pop quiz. that is right. name that campaign. here to play are karen finny and kai wright, and kathleen hall jamison and let's play, "name that campaign." >> what school is this? >> and this is for you, karen. >> oh, dear. >> this candidate used his anti-war credentials in the re-election slogan saying he kept us out of war. which president used "he kept us
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out of war" as the campaign slogan? >> i have no idea. [ laughter ] >> you are not going to give up. >> well, guess, because there is only 40-some-odd ones. >> i will give you a hint. he was awarded a nobel peace prize. >> carter. >> actually, it was woodrow wilson. >> oh. who knew? >> and we are a real fan of woodrow wilson in the nerd land because he was president of the university before becoming president of the united states, and he did segregate washington, d.c. which has its own problems, and the birth of a nation. so, this second one is for you kai, and it is not standard campaign slogan, but it is a song. which candidate used the song "happy days are here again." >> ugh, for some reason i want to say al gore, because it feels like and al gore saying. >> voters were not so happy at
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this particular moment in american history. >> well, then, ronald reagan. >> oh, no, it was franklin d. roosevelt. >> i knew that one. >> and it was also hubert humphrey at the convention catastrophically as he was speaking. >> i love that you know that. i love that you know that. >> oh, now. >> that sanis an x. >> okay. cath can lekathleecath -- kathl you, "vote yourself a farm" and for re-election "don't swap horses in the middle of the stream." which president? >> well, i want to get help f m from -- >> this president has many connections to the current president. >> abraham lincoln. >> that is it! >> and abraham lincoln and by
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the way on this day in 1864, president lincoln wrote his own love letter to a woman in her 80s who knitted a pair of socks for him, and he saw it as a sign of great patriotism. all right. so this is rapid fire, for anybody who was not ju's was "j peanuts." >> carter. >> of course. how about "kinder and gentler nation." >> george herbert walker bush. >> that is right. 1988. >> come on, kathleen. >> and how about "don't stop thinking about tomorrow." >> bill clinton. karen if you had not gotten it right we would have thrown you out. and perhaps the easiest one ever. "i like ike." hmm. >> hmm, grover cleveland, and who is buried in grant's tomb.
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and tippecanoe and tyler, too. >> yes, henry ford harrison. >> and someone who asked to us think about the last one and that is william henry ford harrison's tippecanoe and tyler, too. and thank you for the "campaign slogans" because when we come back we will try to make it more serious and we are going to talk about framing and framing campaigns and where president obama is right now today as he is about to take the stage in ohio in about an hour, and stay tuned for that as we talk about what will be the frame on this campai campaign. ts, you may be muddling through allergies. try zyrtec® liquid gels. nothing starts working faster than zyrtec® at relieving your allergy symptoms for 24 hours. zyrtec®. love the air.
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at relieving your allergy symptoms for 24 hours. easy label, right? but that label can lead to prejudice and discrimination, and we don't want to go there.
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so let's try to see people for who they really are. you can help create a more united states. the more you know. the teacher that comes to mind for me is my high school math teacher, dr. gilmore. i mean he could teach. he was there for us, even if we needed him in college. you could call him, you had his phone number. he was just focused on making sure we were gonna be successful. he would never give up on any of us. >> we are just over an hour from the official kickoff of president obama's re-election campaign and you are looking at a live picture of the stage at columbus, ohio, where two
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campaign rallies will happen. later today, the president will campaign in virginia, and virginia and ohio are both crucial to his re-election and at the end of the day, framing is everything. how the candidate packages the message to the voters is key. for the president obama, gone are days of yes, we can, and hope, and the 2008 version, because those have to be left for four years ago, so how will the obama scam pain campaign mo? and back with me is karen finny and kathleen hall jamison and aisha from the action campaign. and i did watch the mini movie and see how the campaign is framing itself. >> and while there's still more to do, there's been real
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progress, because president obama never stopped believing in us and fighting for us. he took on the credit card companies, stopping unfair fees and hidden penalties, took on the wall street banks, too, fighting for tough new reforms to make sure that they never again wreck our economy. >> so, the president spends a lot of time in the -- or the president's campaign spends a lot of time in the video talking about his accomplishments and the things that he has done. is this the right frame? this is what i have done and keep moving forward? >> the frame in that is being misinterpreted and sans msnbc, and this is an ongoing theme for two months, everybody does the fair share in the america that he envisions and everybody has a fair shot and everybody plays by the same rules and that is the digestive slogan or statement of the campaign, and if they can sell all three of those things as their digestive message, it
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will be the first time that somebody has been able to complex message the theme. >> and fair shot, and everybody having the same rules. so we are rolling here to look at the accomplishments, but it is also the fundamental framing of fairness. >> but it is also when you are incumbent running for the re-election, you have to have the message framed somewhat around here is what we have done, and we have more the do, -- more to do and stick with me, whether you are george bush -- >> abraham lincoln. >> right. keep that horse in the river. but because at some point, that is the argument, why am i going to change now, different kind of change, or continue the change, right? that is part of the argument. one of the things that will be an interesting hallmark is that they will again use technology the bring people into the campaign so that the campaign hopefully feels like we are all in this together, and little bit more on the fairness and embodiment of fairness in a very
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unique way. >> that campaign was so sort of user-based technology was critical in '08 to make people feel like they were on the campaign staff. >> yes. >> i want to go back actually, because there is something really, really brilliantly simplistic in this idea forward, because when you think of contrast to mitt romney and what the republicans are offering is regression. >> literally take the country back. >> and go back waward and to alf the failed pr eed policies that work and the bush days with a tanked economy. so this is constantly reminding us to move for ward and we can ill afterford to move back to the policies of the past. >> and give the republicans a voice here by showing the hype and blame which is the counter and saying hope and change, no, it is hype and blame. take a look at what this counter strategy is. >> the real question is, will this country be better off four years from now?
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if you have health care, the only thing that will change under my plan is that we will lower your premiums. as presidentially go through the federal budget line by line and ending programs that we don't need. if you don't have a record to run on,? >> hype and blame and 2012. >> he keeps saying that he does not have a record to run on, when you hear from the obama campaign that the record he is running on. and there is a whole, i know you are, but what am i strategy going through from the republicans that he is heroic, because he got osama bin laden and it is part of the flipping of the message and the u-turn or the going backwards with the message. >> and what they are doing is not talking about the republican record. if you look at congress and how they have thwarted much of what the president has tried to
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accomplishment, and he still has accomplished a lot despite the lack of support of his leadership, and they throw out, where the republicans on these issues and how are the republicans working to move the economy forward and republicans doing to lessen the burr doechbs health care expenses and housing expenses. >> when i look at the quinnipiac poll, it is amaze hough close the president and romney are, so 44 and 42% with the president and a slight advantage in ohio which is key which is why he is kicking off there today and virginia and big gaps around gender, but smaller gaps around the sort of americans in general and 51/44 and better for the president in virginia. but is the romney campaign's only responsibility here to just take apart the notion of obama or is there a constructive building of a romney narrative that is meant to have to happen here? >> the ryan plan actually
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provides the republican alternative to the democratic very sketchy not quite there alternative plan. if this is about the economy, you could say that the republicans have more details out even in an environment that governor romney stated that we don't have enough detail to score his plan. and so if we are going to fight this campaign on the economy and i think that is the way in which the election is going to be decided, it is a relationship between i think a republican-driven alternative laid out by ryan, embraced by romney and a democratic alternative as yet to be totally specified. >> so the president is running against ryan and the congressional leadership as much as he running gains cant mitt romney. >> but it is not fair to say that there is not an alternative there that the republicans have articulated, because there is one, and the democrats are using it effectively in order to try to feature the prospective cuts
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that are going to be coming and guessing -- >> yes food stamps. >> and saying they are across the board, but congressman ryan says no, picking some things and taking them down entirely and other things are preserved and details to be specified, and this is the details to be specified election. >> and we will have more on the characterization of the re-election when we come back from the break. home protector plus from liberty mutual insurance, where the cost to both repair your house and replace what's inside are covered. so your life can settle right back into place. to learn more, visit today. kiwi. soy milk. impulse buy. gift horse. king crab. rhubarb pie. lettuce shower. made by bees. toucan sam. that's not cheese.
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to being a different kind of communications company. ♪ we link people and fortune 500 companies nationwide and around the world. and we will continue to free you to do more and focus on what matters. >> i am back with karen finny and aisha moody and kathleen mills jamison, and just before i go on stage and the president is about to go on stage in ohio really to kick off the 2012 re-election campaign, and there are live shots there from ohio. this is it, folks. this is what we have been waiting for and sloged through the primaries and we are now in general election time.
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and the president's campaign is moving forward. i have to show, because it cracked me up the, another ad released this week by karl rove's american krozroad cross they call it backward. the option. >> president obama, is america moving forward or backward? under obama 45% more people are on food stamps. 3/4 of a million fewer americans have jobs. homeownership is the lowest in 15 years. it is getting more expensive for health care. more expensive for gas. more expensive overall. the only thing moving forward under barack obama, our national debt up $5 trillion. four years of obama moving america forward. >> and so it is a nice way to say take the country back and right back out there with backward. >> one of the things that the
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campaign slogan should codo is offer a contrast, and forward and they are trying to flip the contrast back, and they are saying that they want to take us backward and they are trying to flip it back and say, no, no you are trying to take us back and we are trying the take it back, as they say. >> and the deeper argument is that the obama philosophy is fundamentally different from the romney philosophy and romney equal bush and as a result, you will go back to what caused the problem, and that is the notion. the question is, can the republicans frame it back to the failed promises? >> well, one thing i love in all of the numbers they showed is that part of the reason that we are in this place is because of the bush policies, so if he is talking about going backward, it is like, i'm sorry, that you gave us this debt. you know, we had a surplus, and you turned it into a debt. >> and over the last three years the republicans have done absolutely nothing to address any of the issues. that is the real thing. >> and attacked the social issues instead. >> created the smoke screens
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with social issues that have nothing with moving the economy forward and that is something that the president will hone in on. and while the numbers were rolling across the screen, romney is trying to protect 1% of the richest americans and make sure that their pockets are always padded and living a cushy lifestyle, and that is going to come up in the campaign. >> and republicans can't say that you have something done with a divided congress. we have a situation where you can't get anything done when you have this ideological divide an different parties control different parts of congress, and with the president with one party, and i mean that the question ultimately is who is going to get the blame for where we are right now? and the move to blame republicans is very problematic in a environment in which the democratic control the senate. >> and realistically, we are likely to get a divided government again. if president obama wins e r s
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re-election, he is unlikely to win it with a democratic majority in the house and the senate. >> right. and one question would be for mitt romney, how would you handle a divided congress? why would you be more effective? and not to mention that things are not happening in the house, and not so much because of the democrats, but the tea party freshmen, and john boehner cannot get anything done without nancy pelosi's help for goodness sake. >> so a hostage taking of the republican party for a small group who says they want to take the country back. another thing to point out that made me happy is the julia video. you were talk about the importance of the social media and they have a info graphic, and if you were julia and this is your life under obama, and go to college and interest rates on the student loans and care for your can unborn child and then you can retire into social security, right. and then comparing an kd
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contrasting and thinking it is julia and the way of flipping the war on women. is this sort of thing effective way of organizing what the administration has done, and what it looks to do going forward? >> i think it is absolutely. it is demonstrating the consequences of the alternative are in a real way that matters to individuals who just live their lives everyday like all of us do. the challenge that conservatives have always faced is that they are not speaking to the regular americans even though they pretend they are. they are pacifying the top elitist group of americans. what president obama talked about in the initial slogan in the first campaign is yes we can, and he had a notion of being a collective america that all of us working together can move the economy forward. there will continue to be undertones of that message in the election as well, and maybe different nomenclature, but that is what he is saying with julia, we are in this together, and we can only get out together. >> and the republicans are trying to flip it around saying
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it is socialism at the worst and you need government at every step of your life, when the point is that being made is that it is a positive role of govrnlgts government that is challenging, one of the undertones of the campaign, and here is an example of how government can be a positive force for helping julia become a positive citizen of the united states. >> yes, a positive citizen of the united states. if a few minutes i want to talk about how one politician decided to stop lying. it is time for a preview with alex witt. hi, alex. >> i want to stick around for that one for sure. as you have been reporting this morning the president officially kicks off the campaign in our hours. will start in the critic swing state of ohio. both he and the first lady will be giving speeches. we'll bring that to you live. it should start in an hour. >> an arraignment for the self-proclaimed shake mohammed has gotten off to a rocky start. in office politics, author,
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filmmaker, sebastian younger has taliban phone numbers and addresses. ela he tell us what he did with that info and why. the movie "avengers" is breaking records left and right. we'll tell you in must see. back to you with all of that. >> i love it. you're going to do that on the "avengers." maybe i will go see it. thank you. up next, can you believe that until this week there wasn't a single out gay republican state lawmaker? that all changed a few days ago. it's a big enough deal that it's our foot soldier this week right after the break. ♪
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♪ [ lauer ] this is our team. and unlike other countries, it's built by your donations, not government funding. and now, to support our athletes, you can donate a stitch in america's flag for the 2012 olympic games in london. help raise our flag, add your stitch at the simplest of actions can have an indelible impact. the story takes place in jefferson city, missouri. on april 18th a republican state representative introduced 182051
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to the missouri state legislature. this quickly became known as the don't say gay bill. it reads in part, notwithstanding any other laws to the contrary, no other materials or extracurricular activities sponsored by a school that discusses sexual orientation other than in scientific construction concerning human reproduction shall be provided in any public school. the translation, you can't talk about sexual orientation in public school. enter zachary wyatt. mr. wyatt, a 27-year-old former air force officer and current republican missouri state representative, two simple acts was speaking. on wednesday state representative wyatt urged his party to table the bill. >> kids need to be able to feel safe and speak with teachers, counselors and administrators when they are getting bullied. this bill will make that illegal. >> and then mr. wyatt said something else. something he didn't have to.
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you see, the law wasn't even scheduled for a vote. there was no imminent danger of the bill becoming law, but zak wyatt decided to say this. >> i will not lie to myself anymore about my own sexuality. it has probably been the hardest thing to come to terms with. i have always ignored it. i didn't even think about it or want to talk about it. i have not been immune to it. i hear the comments, usually snide ones, about me. today i ask you to stand with me as a proud republican, a proud veteran, and a proud gay man who wants to protect all kids addressing bullying in our schools. >> a proud gay man. a proud republican. in fact, mr. wyatt's decision to come out made him the only openly gay republican serving in the missouri state legislature. the act of coming out is often difficult, always personal for any gay or lesbian person, but wyatt chose to do so not in private but in a public forum.
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to push back against what he saw as a damaging and intolerant piece of legislation. by speaking, wyatt reminded his colleagues and all of us that the closet is not a privilege. by revealing his own identity he declared that no citizen should be forced into silence as a precondition of full political participation. for that, he is our foot soldier this week. and we credit him for reminding us that sometimes just saying who you are can be a giant step forward. that is our show for today. thank you for sticking around. thanks to you all for watching. i'm going to see you tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. eastern when the legendary ballerina misty cope land joins me here. coming up, "weekends with alex witt." how does this thing work? coming up, "weekends with alex witt."
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