tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC September 12, 2012 2:00am-3:00am EDT
that weren't going to go vote. i've had people tell me it's time we had someone like you. i would vote for you but i won't vote for obama or romney. >> we're out of time. i've got to tell you if donald trump is against you, i'm with you. we need you in this race. that's the last word. "the ed show" is up next. the missing republican letter, "w." let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in dallas. let me start with this. there was a missing letter from the republican convention, stationery, missing from their lips. "w." you want to hear it louder? "w." he was the guy riding in the car with him when barack obama went to take the oath, the guy who left him with a stock market crashing through the floor.
a 4,000 point drop in a year heading toward a 7500 point drop by the following march. "w." he left the new president with a jobless number that spiked over 10% by the following year, a financial crash so bad that the republican candidate for president in 2008 asked for time out to deal with it. a calamity outmatched only by the great crash in '29. so ask it yourself, is this country better off in the direction "w" was taking us, really? we'll get to that in a minute. first, we have new poll numbers in the presidential race. let's check the "hardball" scoreboard. here it is according to the new "washington post"/abc poll, president obama with a one-point lead over mitt romney among likely voters. among all registered voters, the president's lead is six points. joining me is governor ed rendell who was leading pennsylvania through that transition from "w" to obama and douglas brinkley. the great american historian and author of "cronkite." if you think about where the country was headed in the final months of the bush administration, there's no question we're on a better path today. take a look at the stock market.
five years ago the dow closed above 14,000 before heading south. it closed around 9,600 on election day 2008 before bottoming out about 6,500 in may of 2009. since then it's steadily climbed to a little more than 13,000 today. the highest in almost five years. that's reassuring to any american with retirement money in a 401(k). private sector job growth is up. the country was hemorrhaging more than 800,000 jobs a month at the end of bush's term. as you can see in red. since march of 2010 the country has consistently added jobs month after month. the unemployment rate you can see here was climbing throughout 2008 under bush. with president obama in office it's been slowly but steadily moving down again from a high point of 10% in the fall of 20 09. in fact, a majority of americans still blame george w. bush for the current economic problems, not the current president. according to a washington post/abc poll taken a few weeks ago. 54% say that bush, that's "w," is responsible for today's
problems. just 32% say president obama. i'm going to start with doug brinkley, the historian, to look at this broad notion. it seems to me ronald reagan benefited later in his term and his second term from his economic decision making. you might argue bill clinton benefited from george herbert walker bush's decision making. there's always a time lag. so can anybody honestly blame a president for the economic conditions in his first year? when do you begin to honestly assess the effectiveness of the new policies as opposed to the policies he inherited? >> well, i think that moment usually comes when those presidents try to get re-elected. there's no way anybody can say we're worse off now than we were four years ago, as you have just delineated, chris. i mean, the country was going down the drain, people were talking about a great depression, there was a fear of stock market collapse. people were hoarding money.
it's all changed, and the stimulus was a big part of it. the question that's fair to ask is did president obama do enough? he definitely did a lot, and it will get down i think to history going back to should that have been the krugman thesis, a double stimulus, or did he make a mistake with obama care first and not more infrastructure jobs? but i think we've got to just take off the table america is much better off now than it was four years ago. it's just a historic fact. >> governor rendell, it seems to me that the only way president obama was able to do what he was able to do about $800 billion in stimulus that first couple months was with the help of former senator arlen specter. if he hadn't been willing to come over and vote for him, they wouldn't have gotten the 60 votes they needed. all this talk of maybe doing more, looking back, maybe, could have, should have, obama did as much as he could, i think it's fair to say, given what he had in terms of senate power. >> chris, i don't think there's any doubt about that. i also think doug makes a very interesting point. we forget that president obama last october came before the
congress with a jobs bill which the cbo said would have created somewhere between 1 million and 2 million new jobs, and that was a second stimulus, and it got turned down flat by the congress. the congress wouldn't even hear of it even though every component of that jobs bill had gotten republican votes separately in the past. so he did try for a second stimulus. he did care about the economy, and, look, there are individuals who are making less money than they made four years ago. there are individuals who were working four years ago, not employed now. but when you ask the question, are you better off, the key factor is what date are you talking about? are you better off now than the summer of '08? probably not if you have lost your job or if you're making less money. but are you better off than you were on january 20th of the new year 2009 when barack obama took office? of course you are. as you said, whether you're employed or whether you're out of work, if you had a 401(k) or an investment plan, you're much
better off, you're in much better shape. even if your wages have gone down, president obama has cut taxes on working people by $3,600. so you're still ahead of the game in spendable income. if you're unemployed, he extended unemployment compensation that gave you a significant amount of additional coverage. if you're family is on food stamps, the food stamp benefit went up as part of the stimulus. so it depends where you take and freeze that date, whether you're betting off, and i would contend that even people who lost their jobs are better off if you use january 20th as the starting date. >> well, last week the president was asked himself by a colorado affiliate for tv network what grade he'd give himself. he said incomplete. let's hear him explain it. >> your party says you inherited a bad situation. you've had 3 1/2 years to fix it. what grade would you give yourself so far for doing that? >> you know, i would say incomplete, but what i would say is the steps that we've taken in saving the auto industry, in
making sure that college is more affordable, in investing in clean energy and science and technology and research, those were all the things that we're going to need to grow over the long term. >> you know, the question i have, doug, historically is why do you think the democratic campaign, which is spending a lot of money making the case the best they can for obama under current conditions, why don't they blame "w"? it's not like the republicans were out of power like they were say in 1946, they've been out of power for a generation. these guys are recent departures from the city and all they have to brag about really is they lost the last election. therefore, they're not sticking around to take the blame for what they've done. that's all they can brag about. we lost, mccain lost, he couldn't win the election against obama. therefore, we're not responsible for the aftershocks and the realities of what bush put us into. >> well, that's the key question, but barack obama's personal style is not one to
name names, and i think the democratic party's taking that cue largely from the president, meaning they blame "w" quite a bit but they don't put it out there in front. one of the problems that obama has been unable to sell or articulate is it was really not just the recession of 2008, but it was the panic. and people were panicking. and i brought a cool demeanor back into government. meaning, many people in '08 at this point were saying drill, baby, drill. open up the arctic refuge, mine bristol bay, go for uranium in the grand canyon, open up the public land, and president obama said, no, calm down. during world war ii, fdr didn't go clear cut the pacific northwest just for timber even though the timber companies thought that would equal jobs during the war and we needed it. we have to manage our society, so one of the reasons obama gets an "a" in my opinion as president is that he's done a really excellent job of cooling down those sort of nativist elements, the people that every
time the economy goes down, we're going to dismantle the public lands. i mean, mitt romney went to new mexico a few weeks back and said he would take national forest and blm lands and wilderness areas and put them back to the states to decide. well, we would have a -- we wouldn't be this beautiful america from coast to coast that we all celebrate when we do the "america the beautiful." meaning he's kept us rational through a very irrational sea. >> and, chris, i think doug is right -- >> romney out there continues to mock the democrats actually, anybody who is an environmentalist for being concerned about what climate change is doing. governor? >> i think doug is right, and perhaps barack obama's most important accomplishment of all was one that wasn't very popular at the time where he continued the bush/paulson plan to save the financial industry. he could have come in and demagogued it, played to the crowd, and said we're not bailing out those guys. they're the guys that caused the problem, but he understood instinctively that this
country's financial system could have collapsed if he didn't continue that bailout, and for that matter the world economy could have collapsed. i think it's pretty clear that he did the right thing now, but that took a lot of courage and a lot of guts and, as doug said, a lot of coolness under fire. and he continued the bush policy there, but i think the bush/paulson policy was a good one ironically. the original bailout under bush/paulson, as you know, chris, was supported by congressional democrats, not by congressional republicans. >> let me ask you about pennsylvania -- >> if i could -- >> it could well be in play. right now it looks likely democrat but we know the problems with voting and the new attempts to limit voting. especially minority communities. governor, i just saw a number that staggered me, 35% of ohio republicans, 35% of ohio republicans, and that's, of course, a key swing state, believe that barack obama was not born in the united states. so this jocular, sarcastic reference to it recently by governor romney is not a joke. that this is something you can keep igniting and keep stirring up. aren't you astounded that a huge percentage of actual voters in the republican party in ohio, a
reasonable state, believe the guy wasn't born in this country? >> sure. and same percentage -- same type of percentage believe he's still a muslim, even though it's clear he never was and never has been. look, there are still warring flags out there, and to my friends and colleagues in pennsylvania, don't take anything for granted. the voter i.d. law if it stands is going to hurt us. there's no question about that, chris. i still believe the debates are going to be a factor and governor romney can recover in the debates. lastly, don't believe for a minute that they're not going to spend any money in pennsylvania. the super pac will come in in the last six or seven weeks and try to swamp the state with ads. swamp the state. >> i agree. all those points, the super money at the end using whatever facts they have and, of course, this voter photo i.d. card that may discourage people from even trying to vote. who knows. >> absolutely.
>> they're pushing every button. thank you, governor -- >> we're gearing up to fight them and there are good efforts going on to educate voters but still i'm not sure we're going to get to everyone. >> and the court meets this thursday on that in pennsylvania. i'm worried about this ohio thing. doug, what do you make of this? one last question. do you think it will play a part, this birtherism on the right that seems to have resonated with regular republicans? 35% in a reasonable, moderate state like ohio, believe he wasn't born in the country. >> well, chris, i grew up in ohio. i'm from perrysburg, ohio, i went to ohio state university undergraduate and i just spent my summer up in put-in-bay, and i have talked to a lot of people and i think obama is stronger than the polls or these sort of birther bits indicate. in a city like toledo, there would be no champion spark plug existing if general motors wasn't said.
wasn't saved. wherever the president goes along lake erie, toledo, akron and cleveland and these cities, that saving of the auto industry, what president would abandon one of our great cities like detroit? when you abandon detroit, you abandon cities like toledo and ohio. so i think the people of ohio are confused about obama. they don't really believe in the yes, we can. some of them are feeling that they're still struggling, but there's a general feeling that obama backed the auto industry, therefore, cared about their cities and the republicans don't, and that may be how he wins ohio on that auto issue. >> jennifer granholm got it right, chris. >> what? what did she say? >> i said governor granholm got it right in her speech when she talked about the fact that what barack obama did for the auto industry wasn't just michigan, it was ohio, pennsylvania, virginia, north carolina, so many other states benefited where our manufacturers manufacture component parts. >> okay. great. that's so important. thank you, governor ed rendell, thank you doug brinkley. good luck with the book. "cronkite." coming up, you listen very carefully and the sound you hear
is the republican gnashing of teeth. they think mitt romney is losing what they consider a winnable election. maybe it would help if romney would stop debating with himself about health care reform. does he want to get rid of it, keep it, keep some of it, have it paid for, not paid for? romney answers it all kinds of above. in fact, he mentions all of the above sometimes. also, when you have trouble winning over white working voters, white working class voters, who are you going to call? the big dog. bill clinton takes the flight to florida today. and on this anniversary of september 11th, we learn that the bush administration may have ignored far more evidence than we knew that al qaeda was planning an attack on u.s. soil. finally, let me finish tonight with the elephants who blame the guys with the brooms for the mess the elephants left on the boulevard. you know who i'm talking about. this is "hardball," the place for politics. olay total effects in 2001. since then, there's been one wedding, 2 kids, and 43 bottles of olay total effects. so in spite of 185 tantrums
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welcome back to "hardball." the avalanche of romney criticism, meaning criticism of romney from members of his own party, has been so huge the last couple days it's been tough picking a few examples to show you tonight on "hardball." but here are some of the best. first off, conservative radio talk show host laura ingraham gives a dressing down to the romney campaign that practically drew blood. let's listen. >> if you can't beat barack obama with this record, then shut down the party. shut it down. start new with new people because this is a gimme election, or at least it should be. >> a gimme election. we'll see. next up, rupert murdoch tweets today that romney has to stand
up to the party fringe. quote, this is rupert talking, to win romney must open big tent to sympathetic families. stop fearing far right which has nowhere else to go. otherwise no hope. well, that's murdoch talking, that's fox talking, and that's "the wall street journal" talking. joe scarborough again said something that he said yesterday. he expressed dismay at his party's choice of romney. let's listen. >> why is it that republicans as a party is getting more conservative than ever have selected a guy that has decided as a "wall street journal" editorial page says, i'm not going to tell anybody what i'm going to do if i'm president? >> well, that "wall street journal" editorial piece joe refers to reads in part, mr. romney's pre-existing political calculation seems to be that he can win the election without having to explain the economic moment or even his own policies. such vagueness carries its own political risks. i love this stuff. joining me is poe litico politico's jonathan martin and
"washington post's" nia malika henderson jonathan, it's so interesting so see, usually the democrats get involved in this, but this is the republicans going at them with their teeth showing, going at the guy they just nominated. what good does it to trash him now? he sort of is what he is, isn't he? >> two things of happening. mitt romney is facing the cruel convergence of the calendar and some tough polling. we're after labor day and the polls show president obama got a bounce from the democratic convention so a lot of conservatives are starting to get nervous. when that happens, they start to take out the weapons. and they start shooting. they don't know exactly where they're shooting, but they're firing the gun, and, you know, they blame the candidate, they blame the campaign, they blame the message, the strategy, what have you. they're not exactly sure what's going on, but they're angry, and they're sort of lashing out. look, i don't think it's totally fair or appropriate right now for the conservatives to get overly anxious.
there's a lot of campaign to go here. romney is still very much in the contest. he's not where they'd like to be ideally but running against an incumbent president he's still very much just after labor day in the game. >> well, nia, let me ask you about this whole problem. everybody knew that mitt romney, whatever you think of his brain power, which is pretty decent, is a tommy two sides. he takes two sides of everything, and now on this weekend with david gregory and "meet the press," he did it again. he said, i like all the good stuff in obama care but i'm not going to pay for it, which is integral to the success of obama care. so, i'm not going to have the individual mandate to pay for it and have everybody join to get insurance. i'm going to have all these new benes for everybody like pre-existing conditions.
i'll give you everything like roosevelt said, i'm going to give you everything the other side will give you and it won't cost you a nickel. i mean, isn't that classic romney? how can they blame him for being romney? >> that's right. and i guess the day after that he sort of backpedaled and backed away from that but in some ways the firestorm that ensued from giving some details sort of proved romney's original point, which is that the more details he gives, the more he's going to be a target from the left and the right. but listen, i think we've known for a long time that republicans have been dissatisfied with this candidate, and in some ways he is a candidate without a party. this is a party that seems to be in flux. they have many different tents in this party, the tea party, social evangelicals and he's having to juggle all this and it's like trying to wrangle cats, and he's just not been so good at it so far. sure, there's a lot of time left, but i think all of these opportunities that he's had so far, whether it's picking a vice president, whether it's articulating his vision at the convention, he's come up short. even today with his foreign policy speech i think a lot of people thought it would be a little bit more full-throated, and again he disappointed. >> chris, here's the difference -- >> a lot of it -- go ahead, john. i think a lot of this is the fact what we saw in the two conventions, covering it, you
saw obama campaign have love for him. when you got to the republican side it was really a mixed view. a lot of people simply hate obama and have to be for the republican alternative. >> right. the passion, the passion in tampa was almost entirely geared towards the future of the party and the possibility of retiring president obama early whereas in charlotte a lot of anti-romney sentiment but equal passion for president obama and the obama family. the comparison i was going to make was not romney and obama but romney and george w. bush. look, george w. bush in 2008 and 2004 had low points in his campaign. there were times where he was not faring as well in the polls as he ultimately would. what happened then, though, is that you had conservatives who held their tongue. and why did that happen? because george w. bush had a measure of goodwill with the
conservative base of the party that mitt romney does not have. and that's the problem romney has right now. he comes out of labor day, a couple of bad polls, bad buzz, and you have some conservatives spouting off because they don't have relationships, they don't have trust with romney in the way they did with george w. bush back in 2000, 2004. >> and they were still supporting his war by then. it was only a year later. anyway, the new cnn poll makes this point. it has president obama leading mitt romney by six points along likely voters but the interesting numbers show up when pollsters asked voters whether the vote was for the candidate or simply against the other. these are great numbers. among obama supporters, 74% say their vote is more for obama. two-thirds say their vote is mainly against romney. just two-thirds. 23%. among romney voters, look at this number, how even it is, 48% say their vote is for romney, 47% say their vote is more against obama. nia, when you cover this campaign, can you see that in the crowds, this -- i see it every time i hear an attack on the president, i hear the
republicans screeching in pleasurable anger. and then every time they say something about romney, it's sort of dutiful to exciting, somewhere in the middle there. >> i think you saw that on display in the conventions. even when you go to the rallies, there is an emotional attachment that obama supporters have towards this president. they linger after he's done. they cheer, they wear the old t-shirts from 2008 and they buy buttons, and i think at the romney events, it's just not the same. they obviously boo when there's mention of obama care, but they don't linger in the same way and there doesn't seem to be just a love and adoration for mitt romney, but there is a hatred of this president, and i think being at both -- if you go to these two different events, an obama rally versus a romney rally, it's very much like the difference between love and hate, and that's what the feeling is on both sides. thanks so much. my bet is on the last weekend of this election, right before you vote, we all vote, the advertising for the republican side is going to be entirely negative on obama. you won't hear too many
supporting salutes to their man romney because he's not actually their man. up next, which presidential candidate do voters say they'd rather have over for dinner? isn't that a great question? the anticipate may not surprise you but the margin of victory might. this is "hardball," the place for politics. haters best get to bloggin' ♪ in it ♪ so hot right now d esigthneatr ♪ our ♪ sunglasses be foggin' ♪ this crowd is classic ♪ so we play 'em like rachmaninoff ♪ ♪ just hooked 'em up with score alerts ♪ ♪now we're about to set it off ♪set it off like a score alert ♪ beep beep what?
back to "hardball" and now to the "sideshow." political candidates can't step off the campaign trail without one thing in tow, the stump speech. some correspondents at "the daily show" tried to nail down all the key parts of a true cloud pleaser or wannabe crowd pleaser. >> stump speeches are the backbone of american democracy if american democracy had suffered a massive spinal injury. stump speeches are not actually as difficult as they look, which is impressive because they look incredibly easy. walk onto the stage confidently
smiling and waving at people as if you recognize them even though you very much don't. >> what's popular now in stump speeches is to take some song lyrics and repurpose them for your speech. mitt romney took "america the beautiful," right? >> stump speeches also involve such things as rich white men pretending that they do such things as hunt or enjoy the local food specialty. >> who could she possibly be talking about there? anyway -- >> i got started right this morning with a biscuit and some cheesy grits. i tell you, delicious. >> that was mitt romney attempting to win over mississippians. next, heard the all important question about the presidential race? which candidate would you rather have a beer with? well, this one comes pretty close. the new "washington post"/abc news poll asks people who they'd rather have over for dinner. the results, 52% said they'd like to invite obama.
mitt romney, only 33% want him for dinner. with romney still struggling to prove he has anything in common with your average voter, this can't come as a huge surprise. one more hypothetical question. which candidate would you rather have as captain of a ship in the middle of a storm? well, obama still has the edge but by a smaller margin here. 46% want the president in charge of a ship in trouble. 43% want romney at the helm. that's a three-point difference, not a big one. up next, bill clinton hits the campaign trail in florida. there's no one better to make the case for president obama than the big dog himself. elvis, bubba, you're watching "hardball," the place for politics.
he stopped to slide into depression, we made the long road to recovery and we've got the building blocks of a modern, new, different economy. that was former president bill clinton campaigning for president obama today. fresh off his show-stopping performance at the democratic convention, the big dogs out on the campaign trail. tomorrow he's in orlando and the new york times report potential trips down the road to ohio, wisconsin, iowa, nevada and new hampshire. joanne reed is managing editor of rio.com. here's president obama paying tribute to his new best surrogate. >> president clinton made the case in the way only he can. you know, somebody -- somebody e-mailed me after his speech and said, you need to appoint him
secretary of explaining stuff. >> joy-ann, there you have it. he not only has charisma and a high number here, but we're going to go over the numbers in aminute, among various groups, but he does have this amazing ability to explain stuff. and to -- and to dis-explain some of the stuff coming from the other side. >> yeah, absolutely. chris, it's very important that he do that in florida. take the medicare issue just on its own. when you're talking about seniors, particularly in the southern part of the state, who are still a little skeptical of barack obama for a lot of reason, we can throw in demographics, a lot of reasons, who are a little uncomfortable with the president of the united
states, bill clinton is somebody who is a more trusted voice who can explain and tease out some of the myths about medicare. there are still a lot of seniors in florida who believe because of the 2010 election and the way the republicans ran that, that it's barack obama that's cutting medicare. that's the message mitt romney and paul ryan are selling. clinton can explain that. he can undo some of what they see as misinformation, and he's credible. former president, great economy, great explainer. >> well, by deploying clinton on the campaign trail as he has, president obama is poised to reap the benefits of the clinton advantage, you might call it, right where he needs it. check this out. president obama is struggling among men, among white people generally, and among seniors. his favorability rating among these people are in the mid-40s. look at bill clinton's ratings. 20 points higher among men. that's 20 points among men. 20 points among white people, among seniors, people above 55. clinton even has a 43% favorability with republicans. i don't know what good that last advantage of 43%, but those 20-some percent advantage among men, older people, white people, it's an amazing advantage to bring into a campaign. >> it's a huge advantage and i wouldn't discount his experience
as a campaigner either. he does know what he's been doing. he's been doing this for a long time. he has a lot of practice speaking, that's what he does most of the time when he's not running the foundation, and he's the best. so the fact that he's willing to go out and fight for barack obama in all of those swing states and reach out to those voter groups you're talking about is a huge advantage for the president and the president is wise to take advantage of that. >> let me ask you, you work for the grio, joy, and you're a great guest on this show. i want you on all the time. let's get into some of the tricky stuff. how does a president who is african-american, an interesting background, his father was an immigrant and all that, but is basically seen as an african-american, it's pretty simple that way, and yet he's trying now to get the white working class vote for which he had a hard time but did decently well with last time, well enough. can he bring in a guy like bubba, elvis, the big dog, whatever you want to call him, and help get that vote without hurting himself among minorities. will they understand, if you can
speak for all minorities, will they understand the politics involved. >> i think people are savvy about this. bill clinton's strength used to be he was the go-to guy that could help you with the black vote, too. he used to have that going for him as well. >> yeah. >> no, i think -- >> the first black president. remember that one. >> exactly. he was called that by an african-american author. i think bill clinton now it's interesting that his pivot is now that he is sort of the ambassador to the white working class vote and to older white voters. you look at a state like florida where one out of five voters is an independent, those are the voters that barack obama is fighting for. he's fighting to keep his share of the white vote as close to 39% as he can. they have a floor maybe of 37% because you will have actually more minority voters as a percentage of the population going into this election. but absolutely, i think african-american voters are very pragmatic when it comes to this president, and, quite frankly, so protective of him, that anything that helps him and helps him potentially win, african-americans are for it. >> you know, joe, florida is a very complicated state. florida is so complicated. we saw it during the recount. you have people in the panhandle
who are basically southerners. you have got people in the south of florida who are basically new yorkers. a lot of them are people that went down there to retire. in the middle of the state you have a lot of young people who are going to make their careers down there and build their lives and families down there. how do you appeal to them all? bill clinton seems to have something for everybody i would argue. >> well, you know, the tradition that clinton comes out of, and i think he sees himself coming out of, is the robert kennedy tradition in the democratic party where you are trying to unite the middle class and poor, working class whites, african-americans, latinos, in a broad rainbow coalition party that fights for everybody's interests. that is -- that's the tradition that he comes out of. he's very conscious of that. it's why he was proud to be called the first black
president, and it's why he is ready to cross -- make that bridge across to other voters who obama is having trouble reaching. and i think, you know, if you look at his speech, chris, a lot of it comes out of the book that he wrote last year, and it does have something for all the constituency groups you're talking about. it's about how do we make education affordable. it's about how do we make sure that medicare and social security are preserved. it's about how do we create good new jobs for young people who are just getting out of school. those are all constituencies that he can credibly address. it amazing me when i have gone out with him either on, you know, trips for the foundation or political trips, how much young people are interested in him and want to talk to him and want to hear him. it's remarkable. people who were, you know, kids, babies when he was president still fascinated by him and find a message from him that resonates with them. >> i think he talks to people with a college education very well. he's very good at talking to everybody. thank you, joy reid and joe conason. up next on the 11th anniversary today of the attacks of september 11th, new information that the bush administration may have ignored far more evidence than we thought they did that al
run-up to the attacks. last year he reflected on the intelligence failures. >> at some point in time in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, i thought about why didn't we know this. i knew we needed to figure out what went wrong to prevent other attacks, but i didn't want to start the finger pointing, you know, and say to our intelligence communities, you fouled up, you should have caught this, why didn't you know? >> perhaps one reason they failed to catch this was because his administration neglected the threat in the lead-ups to the attacks. according to an article by kurt eichenwald, the white house, quote, failed to take significant action on multiple warnings by the intelligence community. on may 1st of 2001, the cia warned that a group presently in the united states was planning a terrorist operation. the warnings continued throughout the summer of 2001 with increasing urgency leading up to a now infamous august 6th
briefing entitled "bin laden determined to strike in the u.s." eichenwald writes that officials at the counterterrorism center of the cia were so frustrated and so convinced an attack was coming, they suggested transferring so as not to be blamed when the attack took place. all told, it's a devastating portrait. roger cressey is an nbc news terrorism analyst and was deputy for counterterrorism at the national security council on september 11, shgs , 2001. michael tomasky is special correspondent for "newsweek" and the daily beast. let me start with roger. let at the start with roger. you have been on this show so often about this question, about what we knew, what we could have known. where do you think you are right now after reading this article? >> well, so, chris, the thing that was the most interesting was the reference to the may 1st presidential daily brief and i called a couple friends on the 9/11 commission and i said, wait a minute, this is the first i have heard of this. i can't believe people didn't pay attention to it. and the answer i got back was, yes, they did, they did look at it. they did analyze it. there is something missing in eichenwald's account. so, what i'd like to see is i'd like to see that pbd declassified, chris, because
that's the one piece in his article that i think is particularly interesting. but otherwise a lot of what he said was part of the 9/11 commission narrative. there were opportunities, there certainly were clues, and the intelligence community was very active in talking about a potential threat. as we've talked about on multiple occasions, the actionable intelligence we dealt with that summer pointed to an attack overseas. what you saw in the pdb was overseas. what you saw was analytic conclusions, all of which we knew but didn't have specific information that focused on a potential attack inside the states at that time. >> well, president bush's counterrism chief blamed bush for ignoring the threat from al qaeda in the leadup to the attacks. he spoke out in 2004 after leaving the white house. here's richard clark. >> frankly, i find it outrageous
that the president is running for reelection on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. he ignored it. he ignored terrorism for months when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11. maybe. we'll never know. >> michael, i have to admit i have an attitude about this so i'll hold it back, but it deals with dick cheney during the 2001 period. according to this new article, cheney continued to argue that we have to go after iraq. even when this intelligence came in, he kept saying that's not what we ought to be doing. we ought to be attacking iraq. so what did you make of that looking at it. of course, he was always the intelligence guy in the white house. he was between bush and the cia guys guys. he was using it his way. what did you think of cheney's role? >> cheney was instrumental and the administration was driven, i think, from the time it came into office by an ideal logical agenda that was based around getting get ing saddam hussein and that movement. considered the unfinished work from 1991 to go in and get
saddam hussein. so they were ideologically blinded to what the reality was here in these warnings. and at best in curious about pursuing the hints that were dropped. >> let's take a look at condoleeza rice, who i like personally. but she's saying something i'm afraid that's going to be on her record book. she's testifying before the 9/11 commission. she was quizzed about how much information she discussed with president bush about the likelihood of an attack coming. this is before 9/11. let's watch. >> i really don't remember commissioner whether i discussed this with the president. i remember very well that the president was aware that there were issues inside the united states. he talked to people about this. but i don't remember the al
qaeda cells as being something that we were told we needed to do something about. >> isn't it a fact, dr. rice, that the august 6th pdb warned against possible attacks in this country? and i ask you whether you recall the title of that pdb. >> i believe the title was "bin laden determined to attack inside the united states." >> let me go back to roger crest see. that's a damning conversation where she warned the president and did nothing about it. you were unaware until today that we knew as of may 1 there was dangers about terrorism hitting us here in the country. yet here she is allowing, i remember very well that the president was aware there were issues inside the united states. do you think that predated the august 6th knowledge that the
president got in the pdb or that referred to earlier in the year in the may 1 situation? >> i was aware that there were potential terrorist operatives. the fbi tracks people on a regular basis. what they are implying is that the al qaeda cell that committed the 9/11 attacks was identified in the united states and that was a reference in the may 1st pdb. that's why i want to see e that declassified. here's the point with the administration leading up to 9/11 9/11. the administration identified al qaeda as a threat. they didn't understand the urgency. in multiple meetings we had in the spring and summer, they accepted we have a to deal with al qaeda, but they did not appreciate how urgent a threat it was. we see the president's conversation. you had a little bit of that sense. so that was the issue. we were arguing in the counterterrorism shop. and as michael said, they came into office with a view of terrorism as a primpl through state sponsorship and the days and weeks after 9/11, there were plenty of conversations saying
you sure iraq wasn't involved in it? we wrote a memo saying we analyzed the situation. iraq was not behind this attack. >> well we're going to be digging through this for the rest of our lives. thank you, gentlemen, so much. we're going to come right back and talk about how this fits together tonight. we'll be right back. let me finish tonight with
let me finish tonight with this. did you hear about the elephants who blamed the guys following them with the brooms? you hey, you guys, you missed some of it. the republicans say, we left you with a real mess. you're just not cleaning it up the right way. they go further. they constantly suggest obama is not quite eligible to be president. that's certainly working. 37% of ohio republicans now voters don't believe the president was born here in the usa usa. and now that's what i call an effective campaign, don't you? and ohio matters. republicans can't win without it. imagine if democrats played this rough. imagine if they blamed the republicans for a failure of national security on 9/11. does anyone doubt that if democrats had the attacks occu