tv Meet the Press MSNBC May 20, 2012 2:00pm-3:00pm EDT
year about your taxes and spending. whether president obama and governor romney will tackle them in the campaign. with us, house budget chairman paul ryan and assistant majority leader democratic senator from illinois, dick durbin. also this morning, our political roundtable, and my big question this week -- if the election were held today, what would happen? the electoral map. the fight for middle-class votes. >> my mother and father dreamed as much as any rich guy dreams! they don't get us! they don't get who we are! >> and those questions of character. jeremiah wright and bain capital. >> i've been disappointed in the president's campaign to date which is focused on character assassination. >> with us this morning for the roundtable, republican strategist mike murphy, democratic mayor of newark, cory
booker, host of cnbc's "mad money" jim cramer, and "wall street journal" editorial board member, kim strassel. good morning. a big weekend of summits as the president is, as i said, on the world stage. these summits always attract protesters, and on the streets of chicago over the weekend that's been the case. mostly peaceful protests, anti-war, anti-nato. that'll be the big focus as the president meets with nato leaders this week. it's actually been threats of violence as well among the protests. three activists arrested accused of plotting to bomb targets including president obama's campaign headquarters. also accused of trying to target the home of mayor rahm emanuel as well as other targets. back up at camp david over the weekend it was the president with european leaders. beyond the photo ops and all the messages, a very serious debate. austerity versus growth.
this is not just a debate in europe. this is very much part of the u.s. economy. what do you do to get the economy growing again? do you have to slash budgets here in the u.s. if you're going to get the economy to grow or not. that's going to be a fight for the campaign and fall as well. e we wonder if there will be another debt debacle like last summer. i will begin with assistant majority leader and democratic illinois senator dick durbin and chairman of the house budget committee paul ryan republican of wisconsin, welcome to both of you this morning. >> thank you. good to be with you. >> good morning, gregory. >> good morning, dick. >> chairman ryan, let me start with you. this question of austerity in europe. they had failing economies, nearly depressed economies, the answer throughout the region was to slash their budgets. has it failed? >> well, no, david. i would say they've also raised taxes. they have -- this is a cautionary tale of what happens
when politicians who make a lot of empty promises end up running out of the ability to borrow money at cheap rates and now they're broken promises. it's a cautionary tale of what will happen to us if we stay on the path we're on. we're saying let's get on growth and off austerity. get our borrowing under control, heading tax reform for economic growth and preventing medicare, social security and medicaid from going bankrupt. that preempts austerity. the president, his budget, the fact the senate hasn't done a budget in three years puts us on a path like austerity. that's what we are trying to avoid in the first place. >> this is the problem, senator. whether if the president's message to european leaders is your approach hasn't worked. he wants a progrowth agenda. what does that mean? more taxes? more spending? more stimulus? is that his answer for the u.s. economy as well? >> no, david. i can tell you paul and i agree on the basic premise. we are facing serious deficit and debt challenge in this country. our approaches are different.
i agree with his position and president obama thinks we ought to make certain we're strong coming out of this recession, creating good jobs and growing businesses. secondly focusing on working people. middle-class americans who have been struggling, falling behind when it comes to their income. and making certain that the programs that we preserve as we cut spending are critical programs like education and innovation and infrastructure. when i take a look at paul ryan's budget and see $150,000 in income tax cuts for the wealthiest americans, that is not consistent with those goals. if we really want to bring the deficit down, stick to the simpson/bowles commission approach. put everything on the table, but first get this economy on its feet and moving forward. >> i just want to go back to this point about what europe is going through and the lessons from europe. they seem to very much be a part of our political debate as well. which is can you cut government spending and create economic growth or not?
>> i think you have to do some cuts in spending. that's part of it, for sure. but don't -- what the president says, and i agree is, don't eliminate the basic things that middle-income americans need to succeed. we're talking about an opportunity to own a home, to have an education for your children. these are things unfortunately cut by paul's budget in the house of representatives. that is not the approach to grow the economy and tame the deficit. >> chairman? >> well, it's as if our approach is draconian or something. what our budget does is growing spending on average by 3% a year for the next ten years versus president's obama's approach which is to grow spending by 4.5% over the next ten years. we're not really cutting spending, we're simply slowing the rate of increase. to your earlier question, can you cut spending without jeopardizing the economy the answer clearly is yes. if we fix the programs that are the drivers of our debt we
reduce a debt likelihood. we bring borrowing down which opens up certainty to investors. more to the point we should budget to fix this problem. dick and the folks over in the senate, they haven't passed a budget in three years, david. how can you send signals to investors, entrepreneurs, families, the american economy that we're going to prevent a debt crisis, european-like austerity if we're not even willing to pass a budget to deal with these issues for three years. the president gave us a budget but it doesn't address these things. >> what about your own budget -- there are a number of republicans who don't support your vision of how to deal with the budget deficit? don't you have a problem with it in your own party? >> not in the least. we have 41 votes in the senate alone just the other day. we passed it with a very comfortable vote margin in the house. what we did is we showed the american people specifically how
we think we can save medicare from bankruptcy, improve medicaid, get this debt under control by balancing the budget by getting spending under control. and what we're saying about taxes is take the tax shelters and the loopholes away from the well connected and well off so we can lower tax rates for everybody so we can allow small businesses to grow and compete. most of our businesses file their taxes as individuals. president obama is content with bringing their top tax rate to as high as almost 45% in january when competitors even in europe have an average tax rate of about 25% on businesses. we think that's a recipe for economic stagnation. mitt romney is showing a different path forward. we put our ideas on the table. unfortunately the senate isn't even trying. >> senator, i want to have you respond to this. i want to advance this. i read something by dan balz in the "washington post." when i go around the country this is what i get. can washington govern? the reality is lawmakers have kicked the can down the road on very big issues that will have to be addressed by the end of this year. let me put on the screen what
the stakes are as we move through the end of this election year. at the end of the year the bush tax cuts expire. taxes go up. payroll tax holiday expires. you also have by january of next year $110 billion in the across the board spending cuts that automatically take effect unless there can be an agreement to avoid that. now, speaker boehner spoke this week on the question of raising the debt ceiling. it had to be done last summer. it's going to have to be done again here before the end of the year. and he said we're going to look at this fiscal cliff again and he's going to have some stern demand. this is what he said this week. >> when the time comes, i will again insist. my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase. >> senator, how do you react to that? >> i was surprised. i'll tell you why i was surprised.
i didn't think speaker boehner wanted to remind the american people what the republicans in the house did to us last year. remember what happened? twice they threatened to shut down the government. and then they went further and said we're going to shut down the economy. they proposed literally defaulting on america's debt for the first time in our history. business leaders came to capitol hill and said, you can't do this. you're going to raise the cost of borrowing for families and businesses. this is going to hurt our economic recovery. and now speaker boehner has said, i want to do it again at the end of the year. this ought to be a clear indication to the voters of the choice that they'll have if they continue with the house republican leadership and their tea party dominance. this is not responsible. here's what we need to do. we need to get back to the bowles/simpson principles. paul ryan and i were on this commission. i voted yes to put everything on the table. paul ryan voted no. i still think it's the most reasonable bipartisan approach. we've got to convince speaker boehner and the house republicans to get down to this basic bipartisan bowles/simpson approach to bringing the deficit down but not destroying this economic recovery. >> if the criticisms of the republicans is my way or the
highway, democrats have done some of that as well. vice president biden was on the program a couple weeks ago. he talked about more than his support for gay marriage. i also asked him about this issue of what happens after the election if, in fact, they get re-elected. watch. >> if you win re-election, is your position, that's it? we're not going to compromise on taxes? rates are going to go up for wealthier americans, period? >> yes. because there's no way, there's no way to do anything other than hurt the middle class if we don't do that. >> chairman, when you hear that, do you think right after this election, as we face a debt ceiling negotiation, all of these cuts that are going to go into effect, you're looking at another standoff here over taxes? >> well, there's one more example of how the president disagrees with bowles/simpson. bowles/simpson says reduce tax rates across the board by closing special interest loopholes.
the reason people like me didn't support bowles/simpson it ignored health care, the drive of our debt. we put up alternatives. if the past is prologue to the future, the president has not offered a single solution to fix this debt crisis, to deal with this tax explosion that happens at the end of the year. more importantly he's disavowed any other alternative. that's how you get to compromise, david. you pass what you believe. the senate passes what they believe. you compromise. that isn't happening because the president and his party leaders in the senate are refusing to do anything to address this debt crisis. what's going to happen at the end of the year i think will largely be determined by who wins this election. this election is going to be a great choice of two contrasting visions -- the president's approach or the idea offered by governor romney. the country will choose. i think that will decide what ends up happening in lame duck and in 2013. >> depending on the outcome of the election -- say the president is re-elected. will you and other republican leaders feel like we've had a referendum on this,
we're going to have to give on this tax revenue increase and spending equation to get something done? or will you just pass some stopgap measures to put this -- the hard decisions off some more? >> that's all we've been doing. because we've seen no corresponding leadership on the other side of the aisle. so if the last four years are any indication of the next four years under current management, we'll keep kicking the can. we'll keep making empty promises to voters. then we'll probably have a debt crisis, david, in the next presidency if we stay on this path. then those empty promises become broken promises to seniors. we need to fix these problems before they get out of control. we really believe we have a narrow window of opportunity to prevent a debt crisis from happening and to get this economy going again. if we keep the kind of leadership we have in place i fear we'll have more of the same results. >> if the president wins re-election, do you and republican leaders feel like you have to compromise on the tax
question? >> i would like to do tax reform. you can get more revenues through economic growth and closing loopholes through tax reform. the thing is, we have bipartisan consensus on medicare reform, on tax reform. unfortunately that bipartisan consensus is not with the president and senate leaders. but there are plenty of democrats who agree with our approach to fixing these big problems -- >> i'm not hearing you say how the election is going to change anything. your view on tax reform is the same republican view we've heard now for a couple of years. are you saying that the election one way or the other will not change what republican leaders will do and should do with regard to compromise? >> first of all, i'm not going to negotiate with myself on television before the election. second of all, if the president acts the way he does today in the future, if he's re-elected, how do we prevent a massive tax increase? i don't know. you know what, david, current law is bringing this massive tax
increase. current law is bringing us toward a debt crisis. if the president is unwilling to sign legislation to change or prevent current law we're going to have a huge tax increase. then we're going to have a debt crisis. that's his version of responsibility. i can't answer for what he will or will not do. or for how a compromise might occur. >> senator durbin, let me ask you the same question. if government romney wins, voters are being told that these are contrasting views of government, big issues that are on the table. so if governor romney wins and becomes the president-elect, do democratic leaders, you and your other democratic leaders say, you know what, we're going to have to compromise on this in order to get something done so we're going to have to bend on our position of spending. we're going to have to bend on the issue of what the chairman proposes about medicare or on taxes themselves. we're going to have to give up the idea of raising taxes on higher income americans. >> i can tell you this, david. governor romney has said he wants to return to the same economic policies that we had under president bush that led us
into this recession. he called paul ryan's budget marvelous. it cuts taxes for the wealthiest and eliminates medicare as we know it and makes deep cuts in programs that middle-income families need. here's the answer. instead of finger pointing and name calling on the senate side we have a bipartisan approach. setting at the table, dick durbin, tom coburn, conservative republican from oklahoma, mike crapo, conservative republican from idaho and kent conrad. eight of us with mark warner, saxby chambliss. and mike johans and michael bennet. we are working toward the bowles/simpson approach which unfortunately paul ryan's budget doesn't reflect. everything has to be on the table. if we're going to work this out, if we're going to compromise and give the american people an answer instead of a political speech or sound bite, we've got to get back to the same basic bowles/simpson principles that paul ryan and unfortunately the three house republicans refuse to vote for. it's still the bottom line solution to our problem. >> senator, let me ask you a political question in this campaign. look at the polling, "usa today"/gallup. a show of strength for governor romney on the economy. folks saying 55% of the economy
would get better if romney's elected. 46% believe that if the president's re-elected. you see the corresponding numbers for how it gets worse. how much of a negative right now is the current state of the economy for president obama? >> i think people see an increase in a private sector employment which is a positive thing. they see the unemployment rate going down consistently month after month. that's a positive thing. we want it to move more quickly. they don't want to return to the bush economic policies that created this recession. i know these shows have to sift through the entrails of public opinion polls every sunday. i'm just telling you we have six months to go here. who would have guessed two weeks ago what happened to jamie dimon and chase in terms of wall street reform. there are going to be ten events between now and the election we can't even predict. but the bottom line is we're moving positively in the right direction to help middle-income families. we're going to continue to do that in a responsible way. >> chairman ryan, your thought on this?
>> look, just last month for every person who found a job in this economy, which was not near ly enough, three people stopped looking for a job. they gave up. 23 million americans are either unemployed, underemployed or simply stopped looking for work. this is a stagnant economy going in the wrong direction. the president is not providing the leadership we need to get the economy growing and prevent a debt crisis. mitt romney will. he's providing this kind of leadership. he's giving the country a choice of a different vision. i believe we can turn the economy around, avoid a european style austerity if we get the right leadership in place and put the solutions in place which traditionally have bipartisan support. that's what on the ballot this november. that's what the country is going to select. i believe if we get the right leadership in place we'll fix this mess, prevent a debt crisis and grow the economy. >> chairman, before i let you go, the vp process -- and you have been asked about this a lot. are you being vetted by romney's team at the moment? >> look, i'm not going to get into the internal process of another campaign. i'm focused in on doing my job
here as a wisconsin congressman, as a budget committee chairman. i'm just not going to get into all that speculation. >> i will urge you to rethink this view you have of not negotiating on television. that's highly underrated as a tactic. >> at least for your sake, it is. >> thank you. not to be selfish. chairman ryan, senator durbin, thank you both very much. >> good to be with you. coming up here, if the election were held today, what would happen? where are the campaigns now focusing their attacks and their visits and all of their advertising? also, what's fair game as we talk about this character question? our political round table is here. democratic mayor of newark, new jersey, cory booker. republican strategist mike murphy. cnbc's jim cramer. and "the wall street journal's" kim strassel. meet the press is brought to you by xerox. with xerox you're ready for real business. need any help? uh, nope. just, uh, checking out my ad. nice. but, y'know, with every door direct mail from the postal service,
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we're back with our political roundtable. welcome to all of you, mike murphy, mayor cory booker, good to have you as well. kim strassel from the "wall street journal" and jim cramer of cnbc. mike murphy, just listening to chairman ryan and senator durbin, it doesn't sound like the election is actually going to solve anything that's going to lead washington to govern any better. do i sound naive by saying i'm surprised by that? >> no. i think you're dead on right. the tough reality is that elections are about not solving anything. when you solve something you go to the voters with pain. if politicians have one thing in common, they know voters don't like pain. the elections are about winning and then maybe doing something later. >> but it's crazy, kim strassel, that we've got people who are so angry about washington being fundamentally unable to govern. i put the chart up of all the
big things that have to get decided by the end of the year after the election or we could face another debt debacle. are they serious about this? >> something is going to have to happen. it's just going to be a question of who has the ability to get it done. so one of the issues is -- i actually disagree a little bit with mike. i think if, for instance, you had democrats win maybe both the presidency and keep the senate and/or if you have republicans take over everything, then you would have some real movement to do something different. >> that's the question. if it's a slam dunk election in one way, is there more leverage? that's what you heard from the vice president in my interview a couple weeks ago. if we win we're not negotiating on taxes. >> totally true. if they win, the democrats run the table. i think rates are going to go up dramatically, particularly for dividends, capital gains. i think we can get rid of a lot of the loopholes like romney got. no more conversion of ordinary income into capital gains. >> this is not an easy thing,
mayor. the idea of tax reform fundamentally changing. this is where the president's been criticized. why didn't he try to do that. it might be an easier bipartisan thing to fix than some of these other areas. >> i think the president is looking forward to a bipartisan plan. the problem with the election we're frozen looking at this year and we're not realizing the deep trench our economy was put in the first place. the first time in the history of humanity we went to two wars without figures out a way to pay for them. a global economy in decline and had to bail out banks and bail out auto industry. there's a tremendous amount of cleanup that we had to do to the economy to get it back on track where we've had about 20, 25 months of straight economic growth. it's just hard to say we're going to clean up our problem in four years. it's hard to judge somebody on 2012 when we really should look at the totality of the problems within our nation and within our economy. >> governor romney is looking at the totality of the problems under this first administration of president obama.
and he's got this new ad out called day one. i want to show a portion of it. >> what would a romney presidency be like? day one. president romney immediately approves the keystone pipeline creating thousands of jobs that obama blocked. president obama introduces tax cuts and reforms that reward job creators, not punish them. >> jim cramer, this is an area of strength now for romney on the economy. i showed that chart earlier. he's got some traction. what does this ad say to you about their approach and his potential effectiveness. >> the specifics are good. in other words, people recognize that that pipeline would have created jobs. but at the same time, romney's known as a job destroyer. not a creator. i just don't think that this will stick. i think bain sticks. i think the idea that you bring in bain which is what happened in the '80s, they fire a lot of people and that's how they get prosperity for the rich. >> kim? >> he's got to begin engaging on this.
the weird thing about it is, this is an attack you could see coming from another planet. he was attacked when he was running against ted kennedy, when he was governor, in the primary by fellow republicans. right now they're very focused on what obama has done wrong. they want the election to be about that. a criticism unanswered is a criticism unanswered. this election is about two visions of the country. obama which he's presenting via the bain ad. romney has to use that to explain free markets and so on. >> i want to get back to bain in a minute. i want to stick to this ad, mike murphy. because this says to me, one, can you be comfortable with president romney? it's also an ad that recognizes as they do talking to romney advisers people like president obama. they don't want to reject him necessarily. but they want to -- they're certainly unhappy with economic policy. >> i think what's going on right now, both campaigns before the elections -- it's a real kickoff. it's a race to define mitt
romney. the obama guys want to because they know how vulnerable they are, they want to ruin romney. mr. scissor hands. that's the bain demagogue. the romney guys are trying to fill in the blanks about what do you get. if you look at that ad, turn off the sound, it says jobs, jobs jobs, working, working, working. it's a smart ad to fill in the romney story. who he is. in american politics, you're perceived as doing bad in the economy, you get fired. i think the missing piece is what happens in europe. in some ways the president's future is not in mitt romney's hands, not even in his hands, it's going to be in the european voters' hands and the policymakers there. >> mayor booker, this question, i want to go back to this issue of bain capital in terms of how romney gets defined on the economy. because the president's campaign went after this very hard in their own ad where they talk about romney as a vampire. i think we have a bit of that. i want to go to it.
>> i was a steel worker for 30 years. we had a reputation for quality products. it was something that was american made. and we weren't rich. but i was able to put my daughter through college. >> a paying job that you can support and raise a family on is hugely important. >> that stopped with the sale of bain capital. >> it was like a vampire. they came in, sucked the life out of us. >> governor romney says this is character assassination. this is not about economic record. it's about saying he's a bad guy. >> two points i want to make real quick. first of all, i think it's a race for president obama to remind the american public the kind of things we have been doing and stop letting the other side steal his narrative. he's cut the taxes on small business. start telling the truth about the obama record and let people know that not only is he doing the kind of things, cutting taxes on the majority of americans, he's also doing things to stimulate the economy. the economy is getting better. as far as that stuff, i have to say from a very personal level i'm not about to sit here and indict private equity.
we're getting to a ridiculous point in america. i live in a state where pension funds, unions are investing in companies like bain capital. they've done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. this to me, i'm very uncomfortable with. >> i know you defend the president. i have to tell you, when i talk to business leaders, jim, this is the difference in a will the of cases between washington figures and local officials like yourself who are out there trying to grow the economy who say, hey, wait a minute. let's not indict all of private equity. yet you have a campaign that's making him out to be gordon gecko. they want the voters to think mitt romney is gordon gecko and wall street greed and a throwback. >> i talk to the white house quite often. i'm a surrogate for the obama campaign. the messages they're sending me out to talk about is nothing about this. they talk about very clearly the average americans, middle-class americans, in fact over 90% of americans have seen tax cuts under this president. small businesses like the ones that are in my city have
benefited tremendously from incentives for investment. rewards for creating job. rewards for hiring veterans. on the issues that matter in the communities, i see the obama administration have stepped up and needing to get their voice out more. obamacare as people talk about, when you poll obamacare it doesn't do well. when you poll the aspects, people support that. the last point i will make is this kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides. nauseating to the american public. enough is enough. stop attacking private equity. stop attacking jeremiah wright. this stuff has to stop. it undermines to me what this country should be focused on. it's a distraction from the real issues. it's going to be a small campaign about this crap or a big campaign in my opinion about the issues the american public cares about. >> the ad was undermined this week, too, a couple of things. as this ad was coming out you found out the president was going up to new york for a fundraiser with the president of the largest private equity
outfit in the united states. he's happy to take money from private equity if it's helping his campaign and go out and attack. the other problem, this particular issue, the one plant they're talking about, the more people looked into it they found out actually it's not the story they told. bain went in there. this was a failing steel plant. they gave a lot of money. kept it open for an extra nine years. it arguably would have closed in '93 rather than 2001. it's a tough story as well. >> if the election were held today, mike, what is the leadership lesson of governor romney when he ran bain that voters are thinking about as they're going to the polls? >> i think it's too close to call now. the polls say romney is a bit ahead. that's news. a couple in a week. it's margin of error stuff. the electoral college is more complicated. i think we're at the beginning of this bain litigation. i think they will bank on it heavily. mayor booker makes a good point. people know the country's in trouble. this is a wrong track election. people are worried. they're watching europe. small ball on either side is not the way to go.
because the whole category of politics will be ruined. look, i'm not the church lady when it comes to negative ads. i have made a lot of them. but when that plant closed, mitt romney was running the olympics. the new guy at bain who actually made the decision to pull the plug in the thing is an obama super donor. there's a level of cynicism here in the tactics of politics i think we're hitting overflow on. it's interesting the bain assault happened exactly the time romney inched up in the polls a bit. >> you think there's a legitimate hit here on romney, his governing philosophy, whether he ran bain or how he will run a federal budget? >> when i interviewed -- i heard, look, we're going to cut the fat. we're going to make these companies lean. the only way to do it is to fire as many people as possible. by the way, that was very chic then. we forget. that was the message that you heard as a young person trying to figure out where to work. >> that's when people actually said chic. >> that's true.
he doesn't want to talk about bailout. it's about the auto industry. 15 million cars we've built this year. a gigantic number. you want to know who's hiring? ford, gm, chrysler. he never takes an ounce of credit for that. not at all. in the meantime, romney was against that. you could have shut down the auto industry. it will be about europe. germany is ascendant. obama is missing the point. it's not bain. it's gm. >> i think obama is saying, jim, you put your finger right on it. this is not about what happened to bain capital. i reduced the employees in my city by 25%. it's the only way my government would survive. call me a job cutter, if you want. we're seeing two men with fundamentally different ideals. one would have let the auto industry fail, costing this nation -- not just the auto industry. auto dealerships, people that make and sell parts. these are the big ideas i think
obama is talking about but is not getting through. the sexy stuff of campaigns the media plays over and over again that we waste time talking about is this negative stuff. the reality is -- i listen to obama. i have obama surrogate notes here. they're talking about the positive issues that define one economic policy that to me reflects where bush was -- >> let's not get too pious about this. their strategy is also to so disqualify romney as a legitimate alternative to president obama which is very similar to what president bush did to senator kerry in -- >> it's a hot summer strategy. you have to fight tyson, go after him when he's 6 years old, before he grows up. they want to knock romney out before the convention thing really begins. i have to say. i'm a detroit guy. grew up there. romney gets a bum rap. what there really was was a debate on how to restructure. romney had the tougher plan. in both cases the auto industry is smaller than it used to be. it had to be. we had to lose capacity. it's a good story now. >> you give credit to obama for
guiding that chapter 11. >> they both wanted the bankruptcy. the difference is that obama wanted to put in billions of dollars than the bankruptcy. romney wanted the bankruptcy. what romney didn't say but he should have and he would be in better shape politically because of it -- there would have been had to be a government liquidity loan to get the new thing up on his feet. >> he's not saying that. when you listen to what he wanted to do it was, okay, gm, triage. you can't do triage. it is still one of the largest companies in the world. >> the bankruptcy was the triage. they off load pension debt. give chrysler to fiat. only thing you could do. the government put in billions and billions of dollars. >> obama's not taking credit for that. >> he ran an ad on it. >> take local issues like mine. investing in infrastructure. romney's talking about not investing in those things. he's talking about giving tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country. >> this is why bain actually does matter. because it needs to be used to talk about the bigger issue. bain fundamentally is about two
conflicting visions. i don't entirely agree with how you see the visions. this is about a president who thinks that private business is bad. you need bigger government, more regulation, higher taxes, all of those things and people like mitt romney who are job creators fundamentally suck the life out of the economy. governor romney has to be making the alternate view about why free markets matter, why government isn't the answer and why job creators have to be left to do what they do. >> let me get a break in here. i want to come back and talk more about if the election were held today. i want to look at some of the real battlegrounds where these candidates have been spending their time. not all the ones you might think of. i want to continue on this character question and the specter of jeremiah wright back in the news this week. more with our roundtable after this. 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.
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character question now on the president's side. here is the headline from the "new york times" this week. an article that made a lot of news. that is that gop super pac weighing a hard line attack on obama. a plan to highlight race-related sermons that focus once again on the reverend jeremiah wright. he, of course, in 2008 played a big role as he was the president's pastor. and, mike murphy, very quickly this became a storm. and the romney campaign repudiated it. is jeremiah wright a factor in 2012 in evaluating the president's character? >> oh, i think if you look at his entire biography of pluses and strengths, you can look at the rhetoric from reverend wright and say a little too much. maybe you should have said something. it's not the center of the campaign. i don't think it'll be a major issue. i got to fault "the new york times" quickly. there are a lot of rich guys
running around under the new laws who want to put money in the campaigns. this is one such case. nothing got done. inflammatory incredibly stupid campaign document got to "new york times" and they ran with it. romney was out publicly against this thing before the ink was dry on it. that's the real story. >> kim strassel, part of the difficulty, on both sides there are going to be haters. there's going to be people -- they can do it to romney on his mormon faith. one of the things that i got from talking to romney advisers this week, again, this recognition that a lot of voters like the president. >> right. >> beyond that, a lot of voters felt very proud, republicans included, about america electing the first african-american president. it seems like the romney campaign does not want to make this about the personal. doesn't want to make it about character questions. >> right. >> even as the governor complains that's what's being done to him. >> this is why wright wasn't necessarily a good way to go. not only was it 2008, the president does best on questions of likability. if you're going to go after his character it probably doesn't have a lot of juice. the thing that was amazing to me was the sort of feigned outrage
from the left on this. at least jeremiah wright had something to do with the president himself running for re-election. the obama campaign has itself been going out with these websites targeting people for simply donating to romney's campaign, smearing them, saying terrible things about them. this is the president who only a year ago stood up and said we need more civility in politics. if you're going to go out and smear romney donors, and that's the example you're going to set, you shouldn't be surprised if people are bringing up jeremiah wright. >> i think you're missing the biggest point. you're going to have two campaigns that are not always going to be pious choir boys in what they're doing. to me the issue is you have these super pacs that are going to take this fight in the gutter and try to leave it there, where they're going to be the dominant voices because they're spending millions of dollars on ad. at least note the obama campaign and romney campaign do something, fingerprints are on it. this unbelievable amount of campaign cash that's eroding, in my opinion, the democracy, more important pulling our campaigns
in the gutter, is the problem. the second point i want to make, tribute title hot tub time machine because you've got a cesspool of a petri dish pulling us back from the past. jeremiah is 2008. women's rights. voting rights. all the things we seem to be revisiting are in this campaign distracting us from moving forward as a nation. >> mike murphy, i want to talk about the maps real quickly. again, where the real battles will be fought will be in some of these swing states. look at the four that have been getting so much attention as we put it on there. iowa, ohio, virginia, north carolina. >> right. >> they're spending a lot of money there. multiple campaign stops. remember ohio, of course, where the president kicked off his campaign. let's keep that chart up there and talk me through those four states and why they matter. >> it's interesting because the map changes a little bit with the country. the president's campaign has some ambitions to do well in the border south which used to be very republican. i think virginia could be the key race -- key state outcome. what happened is the northern
virginia suburbs are not old virginia. that changed the politics of virginia. same with north carolina although i think the republicans have an edge there. that's moving our way in the polling. ohio is always the metal bending battleground. hearing about fixing the auto industry or not, that'll be a slug fest. the new one is iowa. upper midwest. could be the same into wisconsin where i think governor walker is going to hold off that recall. you can see a state that really hasn't been in play. it's been a more democratic state now in play. conversely on the map, go west. there's republican states that are looking pretty democratic now. >> i want to go around the table here on some other issues that caught our attention this week that we're talking about in the political world. as we do that, we're going to move on with gop veepstakes. a lot of talk about big players mentioned here. we'll put them on screen. rob portman from ohio. marco rubio certainly a player. paul ryan who we talked to this morning, of course. bobby jindal from louisiana. and the senator from new hampshire.
as we look at those faces it's also been interesting. rubio has been out there attacking the president. the there's something else the new jersey press club this week that was shown and featured mayor booker and maybe another potential choice for the vp. watch a portion of this. >> any problems you want me to handle? a fire anywhere? people trapped? >> no, i think we're all set here. >> what have you got? >> mayor, thank you. there is a two alarm fire on state street. yes, a little girl has lost her cat in the tree. >> i got this. >> booker. >> governor romney. governor romney. yes, yes. that was me running into the fire. yes. i do shovel snow as well. yes, you're very persuasive. i'm not a number two guy. i'm not a background singer. mitt, sir, with all due respect,
i know you need a big -- >> excuse me, mayor. i got this. >> christie. >> having fun with how active you are on twitter and running around doing things and tweeting about it. there's governor christie still being considered to be on the ticket. >> absolutely. whatever you want to say, we were talking about this before the show. chris christie is an impact player. he definitely makes headlines in new jersey regularly. if you want somebody that's going to shake it up, as you were saying i think quite accurately, in some of these battleground states if you want electricity, somebody who can go in and mix it up for the blue collar vote, he's a very strong guy. he's not boring. he's not vanilla. made new jersey politics very interesting. >> is he qualified to be president? >> i'm with him on a lot of issues in new jersey and fight against him in a lot of issues in new jersey. he's as qualified if not more than all of the other names i'm hearing mentioned. >> other items around the table.
the g8, eurozone economic woes. and jim cramer, as you heard the debate this morning on the news from the summit this week, a lot of people are going to be talking about just how central a role europe plays in our fall election. >> unfortunately huge. i'm predicting bank runs spain and italy within the next few weeks. without a coordinated policy there is going to be financial anarchy in europe. it's going to cause a slowdown worldwide, china and here. this must be dealt with. germans are in charge. they're proausterity, not growth. >> kim strassel, does the u.s. have a role here to play in helping europe or is this going to be, sorry, folks, we're out of bailouts. >> the greeks are trying to force them to renegotiate again. germans are going to have to say this is the way it's going to have to be if you want our money and you make your decision. >> interesting. final item here as we go round the table has to do with the issue of facebook. that got a lot of people talking this week. facebook frenzy. this was the headline in the "wall street journal" over the weekend once the ipo came out and the price appeared to be rather flat. that it was somewhat
disappointing. that the launch actually sputters. back to you, jim cramer, what does facebook mean? should everybody be buying? >> no. please stay away. as a matter of fact it was supported by the bankers. it was a fiasco. they still can't figure out who bought and who sold. this was just one of the worst handled things i've ever seen. sell, sell, sell. >> really? >> wow. >> sell, sell, sell. >> not even in the long term? >> i'm going to go against the guy with much more knowledge in this area. talk about a product being used by one out of eight human beings on the planet. there is so much upside on the company. >> it's so good you don't have to pay for it, you don't have to look at the ads. it's great. >> you can have a great company and lousy stock. >> if you're an investor and decide to go to singapore, beware. okay. >> if i'm betting i'm betting on zuckerberg. >> i want to be here, not bet on him. we're going to take a break here. we'll come back with our trend tracker. a look at the hot political stories trending this very morning. we'll spend our last few minutes with our round table after this break. pert like northern trust by your side makes all the difference.
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top stories people are clicking on and looking at online. the g8 summit. we talked about senator rubio attacking president obama. the lockerbie bomber dies. this is abdelbaset al megrahi. he was released as you recall on such a controversial step. there he is back in libya. he had cancer. part of his release. now he has died. we have that confirmed for us this morning. we were talking about the ve veepstakes as well. senator marco rubio in the mix considered by president obama speaking this weekend. watch. >> the man who today occupies the white house and is running for president is a very different person. we have not seen such a divisive figure in modern american history as we have over the last 3 1/2 years. [ applause ] >> mayor booker, perhaps more of a tryout here for marco rubio. but also a real shot here that republicans want to pick up on
as we get into the fall. >> you continue to attack president obama's character. the reality is america knows what kind of president they have. they like him as a man. and i think they understand the balance, equipose. he's a good leader. >> is there a price to be paid for not changing how washington works, not bringing the country together which, of course, was the great promise of president obama. >> i think you heard obama's frustrations himself when he's had to deal with things like the debt ceiling, other problems, that there's something broken about the way washington worked. the hope is out of this election comes a stronger mandate to pull the country together. what obama's talking about is not the absolutism you see on the right with people saying don't raise taxes, don't do this. he's saying let's find a way to come together. we do need to cut taxes. he put a proposal up to cut a significant amount of deficit. we also need to make an investment in things in the long term are going to bring a return for the country. >> the challenge is for political campaigns character attacks are crack cocaine. they are easy to do and the voters reward them. the problem is -- i think what would be good on both sides -- obama's out there saying romney has no cohort or demagogue in this bain stuff.
it would be good if it was not the goal to destroy each candidate. we have enough to argue about. the incentives and the voters reward these incentives are to do it. >> i'm going to leave it there. thank you all very much for a robust discussion this morning and a debate that will go on. before we go, a reminder you can download the new nbc politics app that gives you access to all the latest content including our own press pass interviews as well as reporting and analysis from me and the rest of our terrific political team. you can find it in the itunes app store. we put a link up on our website. speaking of press pass, you can watch my latest press pass interview with former secretary of state madeleine albright on our blog. we talk about her new book in which she details her life growing up in czechoslovakia. i also get her thoughts on today's foreign policy matters and what role they should be playing in this race. that's at meetthepressnbc.com. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press." press." viek -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com