tv Politics Nation MSNBC September 12, 2012 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT
our embassy? he didn't say such thing. staring up islam. mitt romney is either to be push pushed by his own fear of his opportunity or his advisers push him. he jumps into matters before understanding them and it shows. that's hardball for now. politicsnation with al sharpton starts right now. tonight's dislead, mitt romney's crass effort to use the strategy in the middle east to assert himself and his campaign into what became a tragic, bloody situation. well, that's our top story and we'll spend much of the next be hour analyzing it. mr. romney's words were hurtful and actions unfortunate.
together they raise yet again the question of whether mitt romney has the judgment and character to be the president of the united states. this morning all of us were shocked to learn that chris stevens, our ambassador to libya, had been killed in an attack there, along with three other american diplomats, all murdered in what u.s. officials are now investigating as a possible terrorist attack on the anniversary of 9/11. while americans mourned, mr. romney saw a political opportunity. >> the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in egypt instead of condemning their actions. in my view, a disgraceful statement on the part of our administration to apologize for american values. >> sympathizing with them all,
apologizing for our values? this is rough talk and ugly stuff and president obama responded. >> there's a broader lesson to be learned here. governor romney has a tendency to shoot first and aim later and as president, one of the things i've learned is that you can't do that, that it's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you've thought through the ramifications before you make them. >> do you think it was irresponsible? >> i'll let the american people judge that. >> mr. romney was virtually alone today in making a political issue out of this tragedy. this morning, president obama and secretary of state clinton struck a far different tone. >> we condemn in the strongest terms this senseless act of violence and we send our prayers to the families, friends, and colleagues of those we've lost. >> today the american people stand united in holding the
families of the four americans in our thoughts and in our prayers. today we mourn for more americans who represent the very best of the united states of america. we will not waiver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act and make no mistake, justice will be done. >> today we learned a lot more about the time line in this tragedy. showing that mr. romney has his facts wrong. i want to go through the time line carefully, because it shows at a time of maximum stress for men and women in harm's way, mitt romney chose to make a political attack. the day began with unrest in cairo over an american-made anti-muslim video posted on youtube. at 6:17 a.m. in washington, just afternoon in cairo, the u.s. embassy released a statement about the video trying to calm
the situation, saying the u.s. condemns the efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of muslims. about four hours later, about noon in washington, the mob breaches the embassy walls. they climb inside the compound and tear down the american flag and replace it with an islamic flag. by then, conservative bloggers back in the u.s. began criticizing the embassy's initial statement. embassy officials respond on twitter saying, quote, of course we condemn breaches of our compound. we're the ones actually living through this. meanwhile, in libya, at 6:25 p. mrk in washington, the state department confirms our consulate in benghazi was
attacked. militants set fire to buildings and cars. by 7:00 p.m., there are reports that a diplomat was killed in benghazi in the violence and just after 10:00 p.m., the state department confirms those reports. and at 10:25 p.m., amidst the chaos and confusion of this breaking news, mitt romney decides to make a political statement. it says, quote, it's disgraceful that the obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who raised the attacks. but mr. romney was wrong. when he said the first embassy statement was a response to the attacks, in fact, it came six hours before the embassy was breached. and that's why it's so appalling to hear mr. romney this morning when he took his statements even
further. >> the embassy is the administration. the statement that came from the administration was a statement which is akin to an apology and i think was a severe miscalculation. it's their administration spoke. the president takes responsibility, not just for the words that come from his mouth but also from the words that come from his ambassadors, his administration, from his state department. >> and desperate candidates falling in the polls should not use a tragedy to further their political ambitions. it's not worthy of a man who wants to be our commander in chief. joining me is joe crawly, democrat from new york and wesley clark, former nato commander, now chairman and ceo of wesley clark and associates. first, thank you both for being
here. >> thank you, reverend al. >> general crawl, let me go to you first. how do you assess mitt romney's action in this situation? >> you know, the first thing you learn in events like this, first reports tend to be wrong so you don't react on first reports. it was ready, fire, aim by mitt romney. he should have waited. he should have listened. he should have taken his time. you know, this is a tragedy for the united states of america. this is an attack on sovereign u.s. soils. that's what these consulates and embassies represent. the fact that we lost our senior diplomat in libya and three other u.s. embassy personnel is awful. my heart goes out to those families, to those loved ones and our colleagues. this is terrible. and to try to convert that into
some kind of a political advantage and gainsmanship at 11:00 at night, that doesn't make sense to me. >> now, general clark, you and i ran in '04 together. we understand politics. but the timeline we just went through is what disturbs me because the first statement that was made was made before there was even a breach at the embassy in egypt or in cairo and before what happened in libya. and already he was saying that -- he being mr. romney -- that this president and this administration had attacked the people that were, in fact, the americans that put out to attack the people that had breached the embassy that had not even been breached yet. >> that's right. as mr. obama said, get your facts straight. before you make statements, get your facts straight. and at night when people are running in and out saying, this is happening, that is happening,
let's get a statement out. they did it wrong. they didn't get their facts straight. and he should tank it back and he should express condolence to the diplomats' families and the people that are over there and he should make it right with the american people. >> and certainly all of us should be praying and giving our condolences to the families of these american diplomats that have lost their lives. congressman crawly, your response to what has happened over there in both cairo and benghazi and to what mr. romney has done? >> well, thank you, reverend al. i want to join you and the general in expressing my condolences on behalf of my constituents, all freedom-loving people around the world. you know, we don't think enough about what these men and women
do every day. they go to part of the world that many of us would not want to go to. they jump at the opportunity. the more dangerous the operation, the more they want to go. ambassador stevens was an example of that. i was shocked when i heard the response from governor romney. to politicize this tragic event, i think what chris stevens would want us to do is focus on demock kra tie zags of libya. that's what his mission was all about in the first place and to get on the work of doing just that. and hope that something like this doesn't happen again. i think what we have to remember is words have consequences and that we should not be fueling any more of this type of activity around the world and
other parts of the world and as well -- congressman, let me stop you right there. because as you said, not fueling it, even after we've learned throughout the course of the day that in fact what happened in benghazi may have been, in fact, a plot and not a spontaneous action. >> right. >> that's being investigated. even with that information now out that there's an investigation, we don't know the conclusion yet, mr. romney spoke today and repeated, he doubled down. let me play something that he said and get your reaction, congressman crowley. >> for america to stand in apology for our values and an apology for america's values is never the right course, a statement which is akin to an apology, a disgraceful statement on the part of our administration to apologize for
american values, not something we shrink from or apologize for. >> i mean, congressman, apologize for america. first of all, where was an apology before the first breach in cairo there was a statement to try to diffuse and certainly not identify with this film. but where's the apology and where is him stepping back saying, wait a minute, there are new facts out here and i need to review them? >> you said double down. i like to use the word in for a penny, in for a pound. no question that he doubled down after -- you know, after these tragic events further unfolded. i think the best way to look at this, reverend al, is the contrast, how president obama and how secretary of state clinton handled this and the way in which they condemned this violence. let me be clear. nothing that was in that film -- i haven't seen it yet nor is it
written on paper -- can justify the actions that were taken, whether it's by terrorists and this very well may have been a planned event. nothing can justify the actions of these people. the president never once apologized for any of this and i think the president acted correctly and calling on the world to mourn this loss and refocus our efforts to bring democracy to that part of the world. >> now, general clark, it appears that even his fellow republicans are not going out there with him. when you look at the headlines around mr. romney's reaction from other republicans, political reports, quote, hill g ochl op leaves romney out on limb on libya. gop leaders less critical than
mitt romney in response to libya afact. then when you hear even mr. sinunu -- >> when you look at the timing of it, they probably should have waited. >> in times of great drama and heightened crisis and at a time when something violent has happened to your people, i always think discretion is the better way to go. >> so it appears, general, he's way out there by himself. >> yes. you know, the in politics is if you have dug yourself a hole, stop digging and he should have backed out of this instead of doubling down and the other members of his party recognize it. look, this is a tragedy. we've lost four diplomats.
we've seen the strength apparently of islamic rel bells there. he's shown strong leadership in this crisis and by his statements, there's no apology there and he said these people will be brought to justice. i think governor romney should reconsider his statement. >> general wesley clark and congressman joe crowley, thank you both for your time tonight. >> thank you, al. good to be with you. coming up, was the tragedy in libya a planned terrorist attack? time to kill americans on the anniversary of 9/11? we'll look at the evidence. and governor romney claims the president is apologizing for america. i think he should apologize for repeating this totally debunked talking point. plus, the 93-year-old face of the fight for voter rights
finally got her pennsylvania i.d. but we're learning just how hard it is for all those americans without a voice. our guest tonight describes the process as hell. that's why we've got to keep up the fight. you're watching "politicsnation" on msnbc. i have a cold, and i took nyquil, but i'm still stubbed up. [ male announcer ] truth is, nyquil doesn't unstuff your nose. what? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus liquid gels speeds relief to your worst cold symptoms plus has a decongestant for your stuffy nose. thanks. that's the cold truth!
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we're back on "politicsnation." u.s. officials are now investigating whether the attack on the libyan consulate was a planned act of terror and not the action of a mob that simply got out of control. and now there are other questions as well. was there a connection to al qaeda and was this planned to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11? thanks for coming on this show tonight. there are signs that this was not the actions of a mob that simply got out of control. evan dale reports that the attack was a kmom doe-style
attacks and that they were armed with mortars and rocket propelled grenades. >> first of all, if that were the case, there would be a precedence of this. a group back in june carried out an ied attack, a bombing targeting the exact same u.s. consulate in benghazi. the same group carried out an rpg attack the month before. it's certainly plausible that there would be an organized terrorist attack on september 10th, al qaeda issued the very first response to the killing of abu yahya al libi. he was a libyan national, the number three man in al qaeda was killed back in june and this was
the very first response from al qaeda back on it. calling on the libyan people saying, where are those that are going to avengs the death of your brother, your sister? where are you? come up and inspire us by killing the crusaders, by attacking the crusaders. >> so this could certainly be some form of payback? he said this two days ago and then this happens yesterday? >> look, it seems like a very close schedule time-wise. meaning the folks in libya saw it at the same time that we did and number two, this area of eastern libya, this is where jihad dist have a strong hold. this is where al qaeda has a strong hold. this is where the suicide
tacke a group called ansar al sharia have already held a press conference in libya where they more or less acknowledge that -- they said we didn't organize this but more or less acknowledge that their fighters were involved in what took place. where there was a coordinated action on behalf of al qaeda or to avenge grievances against the united states, to avenge that drone strike that killed a abu yahya al libi back in june. >> but are they capable of such an attack? >> it's not so much a question
of whether they organized this as to whether they had a deliberate plan. but they have local affiliate groups active in yemen and ansar al sharia is out there. they will rally to the cause if you have a message like this fr. nonetheless, they are there and they will respond to the calls and can carry out attacks like this is an unstable attack like this such what you found inside libya. >> evan, thank you for your time tonight. >> thank you very much. still ahead, we'll dig into the bogus history behind mitt romney's false claim that president obama is apologizing for america. plus, republicans think they
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mourning the killing of american foreign services members in libya. susan says, my heart goes out to chris stevens and the other brave americans who lost their lives in these senseless killings. lilla says her prayers are with the families. carroll says, at least ambassador stevens died doing what he wanted to do, trying to help libya. if you'd like to join this conversation, please head over to our facebook page, "politicsnation," and keep the conversation going even when the show ends. like new teriyaki grilled shrimp for just $14.99! my name is angela trapp, and i sea food differently. i don't have to use gas. i am probably going to the gas station about once a month. drive around town all the time doing errands and never ever have to fill up gas in the city.
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first, confidence in our cause, a recognition that the principles america was based upon are not something we shrink from or apologize for. >> don't apologize for american values. it's the first branch of the romney doctrine and it's one of his favorite things to brag about on the campaign trail. >> it is time for us to have a president who will not apologize for success at home and will never apologize for america overseas. >> never again apologize for america abroad. >> and never again apologize for america abroad. >> i will never apologize for american greatness abroad. >> we will never again apologize for america abroad. >> of course, these suggestions that president obama apologizes for the united states are ludicrous. but they've been brewing ever since he took office. just three months after the president's inauguration, karl rove wrote a piece called, the president's apology tour for
"the wall street journal." rove claimed president obama apologized on three con tinents and those accusations were totally bogus. the president never apologized # for the united states. "the washington post" debunked those claims last year. quote, in none of these cases does obama actually use a word at all similar to apologize. the post says, quote, note to gop speechwriters and campaign ad makers the apology tour never happened. mitt romney was never one to let good talking points get in the way but still he should offer an apology of his own. joining me now is crystal ball, co-host of "the cycle" here on
msnbc and joe madison. thanks to both of you for being here tonight. >> thanks, reverend. >> so crystal, why is romney using these false apologizing attacks on the president? >> well, in the words of his pollster, they are not going to allow themselves to be dictated by fact checkers and clearly they have lived that mantra throughout the campaign. this is the same guy who has placed a lot of emphasis through ad dollars and in his speeches on a welfare attack on the president which is also wholly untrue and i also think, as you correctly pointed out, he's been pushing this line about obama apologizing for america, trying to paint the president as unamerican throughout his campaign. you'll recall his top surrogate, john sinunu, saying that the president needs to learn how to be an american. i think when he saw the opening last night, that he thought he could jump on to push this mean, it was too much for him and it's
gone over like a lead balloon. >> now, joe, it is not only mr. romney, karl rove wrote in the 2009 article that i referred to about the so called apology tour that the president made, quote, mr. obama told the french -- the french -- that america has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive. it wasn't an apology. listen to this, joe. >> there's been times where america has shown arrogance and have been dismiss stiff, even derisive but in europe there is an anti-americanism that can be
casual and insid wous. instead of recognizing the good that america so often does in the world. there have been times where europeans choose to blame america for much of what's bad. >> now, it seems to me that president is chiding the anti-americanism in europe and saying, yes, there are times when america seemed to be dim mi dismissive but how is that apologizing for america or is this, as krystal said, trying to paint this image that he is unamerican or other than american and all that implies? >> chris, he's absolutely right and what he did was offer two perspectives. he said, look, i've got two
perspectives but let me be honest about what the united states has meant to this world and offered our perspective. that's what they missed here. but it also speaks, reverend sharpton, to, again, this meeting in which they went back and said, we're going to make sure that this president doesn't get credit for anything and that anything he does with it, whether it's domestically or internationally, we're going to make it a negative and we're going to oppose it. now, finally, i'm just going to be straight up. i'm going to be very straight up. when you run those clips of romney and him saying everything the same way, he is stuck on stupid. there's only one way to explain it. he's just stuck on stupid. here we have a crisis. all of us feel sorry for these families. we hurt. here we are attacked again you know the president, the
secretary of state, the president, the cia are meeting late at night, meeting in the oval office trying to come up with a measured response and then you get this as sa shine stupid reaction for political purposes. he does not deserve to be president of the united states of america. this man can't even speak to the english properly and he certainly doesn't know how to respond in a moment of crisis. >> well, krystal, joe is using some graphic terms but the irony of romney addressing foreign affairs when he is clearly in this area has shown that he's not ready for primetime, i mean, we are talking about mitt romney. he made multiple gaffes on his diplomacy, including insulting our latest ally and thinks russia is our number one enemy,
not al qaeda, and he's completely failed in his own address to the republican national convention to even mention afghanistan in his own rnc speech. we're talking about a guy that has been less than impressive in foreign affairs that has now jumped in with both feet last night before the facts even were -- had occurred, less known been looked into. >> that's exactly right. as you pointed out in his speech at the rnc, his failure to mention our troops to, mention afghanistan, an ongoing war, with such an unbelievable oversight that even conservatives like bill crystal were calling him out on it. his back was against the wall on foreign policy and this is a man that doesn't have experience on foreign policy with a running mate who also doesn't have foreign policy experience. it's absolutely right for
americans to be asking, is he prepared to be the public face abroad of the united states of america? and i think in this instance he had an opportunity to appear presidential, to be above the fray, to transcend the moment. it has come back to bite him. >> joe, does this give americans a comfort that this is the man that they want to get that call at 3:00 in the morning? i think if you just look at the polls, the majority of americans trust president obama to handle international affairs even before last night. the latest washington post poll has president obama 51 to 38 in a nationinternational affairs. 50% of americans think president obama is strong and decisive, 50 to 44. and i suspect that that could even become -- that could even turn into a wider gap.
>> this should give all of us a pause. there's nothing uncomfortable about what happened today about the mitt romney campaign. this should give us a pause. wait a minute. and the reality is, you have to ask yourself the question, who is advising him? what advisers told him to make these kinds of statements? because the sad thing is, they may be the very advisers who will follow him into the white house? >> and many of those advisers are -- >> go ahead, reverend. >> some of those advisers were held over from the bush administration and i suspect they may have been the ones that saw weapons of mass destruction in iraq. but i'm going to have to leave it there. krystal ball and joe madison, thank you for your time tonight. don't forget to catch krystal on
"the cycle" at 3:00 p.m. eastern right here on msnbc. and the 91 yoorld face in the voting rights has a pennsylvania i.d. but what about the millions without a voice? we're learning just how hard the process is. our guest just went through it for his 87-year-old mom and called it, quote, hell. his story ahead. and paul ryan's out with a new ad for his seat in congress. and i'm here to help. he left a few things out. that's next. [ male announcer ] truth is, nyquil doesn't unstuff your nose. what? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus liquid gels speeds relief to your worst cold symptoms plus has a decongestant for your stuffy nose. thanks. that's the cold truth! with less chro osteoarth. imagine living your life with less chronic low back pain.
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imagine you with less pain. cymbalta can help. go to cymbalta.com to learn about a free trial offer. i think we all know the romney campaign is having some major issues these days and it looks like paul ryan knows it. starting today, ryan is running this ad in his wisconsin district for his seat in congress. now, he's not the first politician to run for two seats at once but i couldn't help notice a few, shall we say, interesting things about this situation. here's how the ad starts, with seniors front in center, but mr. ryan forgot to tell them about his plan in medicare. and just listen to his big pitch. >> as americans, we deserve a choice.
you, not washington, should decide the path we take and the decisions we make. >> he is running against washington? really? mr. romney loves washington. it's all he knows. here he was 14 years ago when he was first elected. if that doesn't make him an insider, what does? and here's the other fishy part of ryan's re-election pitch. >> if we act now, we can get this right. we don't want a government-controlled society that is limited and effective. >> limited government? i think he forgot a few exceptions, like when he requested $20 million in stimulus funds and money from the president's health care law
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with 55 days until the election, millions of unregistered voters in states with new voter i.d. laws are racing to get proper i.d. but we really need to keep an eye on pennsylvania. yesterday jim cramer, cnbc's popular host, told his 500,000 million twitter followers that his elderly father will not be allowed to vote because he cannot drive. he is elderly and cannot prove his citizenship. and within seven hours, cramer's dad got his i.d. that's great news.
it's that easy, right? no. if you have a famous son it is, yes. but what about the millions without a voice? an abc news report just detailed how hard it is for pennsylvanians trying to get i.d. it can include two long waiting periods. one man helping his 87-year-old mother described, quote, it was hell all told. that is why tomorrow is so important. pennsylvania supreme court will consider whether the law is unfairly blocking the vote. court testimony suggested that the controversial law could disenfranchise over a million people. governor tom corbett signed it in march claiming it would stop voter fraud. but our top pennsylvania republican admitted what it's
really about. >> voter i.d., which is going to allow governor romney to win the state of pennsylvania, done. >> there it is. that's why we need to fight this. there's 55 days to go and we've come too far to turn back now. joining me now in philadelphia is the man who took his 87-year-old mother to get an i.d. and called the process hell. yan, thanks for being here. >> thank you, reverend sharpton. >> tell us what happened after your first trip to the dmv and what struggle incurred. tell us what happened? >> well, what initiated the entire process is back in june my mother received a notice of recall of her driving privileges and the reason given was that a medical authority reported that she suffered from seizures.
so naturally my mother being the good citizen that she is, sent everything in. she licked the stamp ten minutes after reading the letter. and when my family found out she had done that, we realized she now has no idea whatsoever and part of the irony is, that she did not drive since she was 16. she's 87 years old. she had a nondriver's license. so we called penn-dot to get to it to find out who the medical authority was that said that she had seizures at which point pennsylvania dot said that we would need a court order to get that information. >> they sent her a letter stating that she had seizures out of the clear blue. >> pennsylvania has the lowest standards for medical reporting. so anyone can fill out a form, give them the fgs name and without any vetting at all they
will revoke somebody's prifing privileges. >> i don't want to get into the driving because that in itself is terrible. she had no i.d. so you had to get her an i.d. >> right. we called several times trying to get them to rescind the i.d. because we subsequently found out it was done in error and they just kept on snding the same form asking for $30 and to repeat the regular process. so my wife, barbara, fortunately s. a school teacher. she looked at the website, looked at the dmv hours and saw that monday the photo i.d. is opened. so drove the 25 miles there and back only to find out that the dmv was closed. >> you drove 25 miles there and back and the dmv was closed? >> correct. so cumulative of 50 miles. she had to wait until wednesday,
picked up my mom, repeated the process. when she got to pennsylvania-d.o.t. -- we had two teenagers who just got licenses. she showed up with all of the proper documentation, a check because they don't accept cash, debit cards, anything of that nature. and it was two hours in one line to get the forms and then subsequently more than another two hours to get the photo taken and finally get the i.d. >> and your mother was not an activist. she was just somebody wanting to vote and had to go through all of this and if she didn't have you and others, she probably would be disenfranchised for this -- >> my mother has not -- >> for no reason. >> she had not really voted inn inner years. her quality of life is threatened if the wrong party should get in. she was adamant about exercising her right to vote in this one. >> four hours in line.
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he risked his life to stop a tyrant, then gave his life trying to help build a better libya. >> he was a role model to all who worked with him and to the young diplomats who aspired a walk in his footsteps. >> president obama and secretary of state clinton honoring ambassador chris stevens who was killed last night along with three other u.s. diplomats in libya. stevens joined the foreign service in 1991 and served in several posts in the middle east. state department officials sean smith was also killed. he leaves a wife and two children. we don't know yet the identity of the two other americans
killed. our sympathies and prayers are with the families of those killed while they were serving their country. tragedy like this, our time for unity. they are not a time to advance a political agenda. but that's the course mitt romney chose. the language he used to politicize he's theents are the same language that he's been using. he is making the president out to be difference, to be other. this language is ugly. the president said romney should get his facts straight. >> there's a broader lesson to be learned here and governor romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later and as president, one of the things i've learned is you can't do that. it's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you've thought through the ramifications before