tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC February 19, 2013 7:00pm-8:00pm EST
>> well, it's good to be president. you can pick tiger woods to be your partner. it was a good day of bonding. much better than the last time the president picked his golf partner. you're getting better taste, mr. president. but you know it's not fair when you can get tiger woods against two. but i'm going to play the young guys at "politicsnation." as soon as kobe bryant has a free day to be my partner. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. the demolition party. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start with this. it's what the president started today, an all-out challenge to
the republicans to stop these crazy manufactured crises we've been having. every few months now we've got another deadline, another abyss, another coming government shutdown. this brinksmanship has become elemental to american politics. republicans now threaten to bring government down to a crashing halt regularly. democrats have to plead with them, practically beg them not to do it. well, this torpedo politics, if you want to call it that, started with newt gingrich in the '90s he was the first right wing radical saying making government work isn't our job, bring it down is our job. bring it to our level is. destroy it, get people to lose faith in it. lose faith in the ability of the country to do something right. today president obama warned of the casualties, a weakened national defense, the huge loss of jobs, and with it a crippling of the recovery. by the way, with that ax ready to fall, he offered a way out of the endless government shutdowns and the fearfulness and the low morale that goes with it. will the republicans respond to anything he says now? will they at least try to avoid another slam bang crash in washington? will they pull back from the brink and start climbing
mountains instead of crashing over cliffs? i've got two former party chairs with me, republican michael steele and democrat ed rendell, both msnbc political analysts. let's start with the president this morning in the stark terms he laid out for republicans. it's not just the economy that will suffer from the looming cuts next week. that's march 1st. national security will as well, and it's seriously at risk. >> already the threat of these cuts has forced the navy to delay an aircraft carrier that was supposed to deploy to the persian gulf, and as our military leaders have made clear, changes like this, not well thought through, not phased in properly, changes like this affect our ability to respond to threats in unstable parts of the world. >> governor rendell, i just wonder what you think would be the situation, the scenario, if it comes to this. we pick up our paper someday, and the newspaper said, carrier group can't make it to persian gulf for lack of funding.
i mean, i just wonder if we're ready to face something -- i don't think we ever faced that in world war ii, in korea, in vietnam where we're unable to fight the wars we're in. >> chris, overall it's an incredibly bad situation for the country, and we can argue over who deserves the blame for this, and there's probably blame to go around, but right now the republican party i think is facing a huge crisis because their refusal to move on the sequestration isn't viewed in a vacuum. it's viewed in republicans saying that they won't approve president obama's immigration plan without even knowing what's in it. >> yeah. >> it's viewed in respect to republicans having for the first time filibustered one -- a president's cabinet nominee. the american people are coming to the conclusion, again fairly or not, and i think it is fairly, they're coming to the conclusion that this party just wants to wreck and ruin, this party has no agenda other than to say no and to obstruct, and i
think it's an incredibly dangerous path, not just for the country, but for the republican party as well. >> you know, michael, this is destabilizing, and we all know that. we have numbers out there in terms of what it's doing to public morale and expectations. people are very unsettled when they see the government. the only headlines that seem to come out of this town, washington, d.c., are ones about will the government shut down, will there be an abyss, will there be a government -- what do you call it -- a lockout? will there be the end of the continuing resolution, the failure to meet our debt ceiling requirements. it goes on and on. i think there's a political purpose here. you may not agree. i think there's a purpose in this, to undermine the government. >> i don't know if it's to undermine the government, but i think there is a political purpose and a political calculation by both parties. what takes me aback, chris, is how we always get to this precipice and everyone always acts so shocked we're here. the sequestration was voted on in 2011 -- 2012, rather. it's not like it was something new that we didn't know was coming. the congress didn't do its job,
house, senate, and the white house. the democrats run two-thirds of the government. the republicans in the house, yes, they have been obstinate on spending and taxes, but the agenda hasn't changed from the white house or the senate either. where is the budget? >> but why -- you know why -- michael, you know why the democrats agree to the deals. because it's the only way to keep government going. the democrats buckle to the republicans. they're practically holding a gun on them saying if you don't -- >> oh, really? >> yeah, yeah. oh, yeah, really. why else would a democrat agree to these things? >> because they're part of the problem as much as everybody else in this town who doesn't want to get to the bottom line of solving the problem. so, you know, i get, you know, the president standing up in front of a podium talking about ships running out of fuel midway across the atlantic, but at the end of the day, i mean, what are you doing to put the agenda straight? what is the senate, the house, and the white house -- >> oh, okay, in other words -- i'll get back to the governor on this. i can't understand this argument. if you don't like the way a guy's policies are running,
bring down the government. that seems to be the tool of the republican party. >> that's not it. >> it's always an abyss, a shutdown. >> can we get some real cuts? can we get some real objectives attained in this debate instead of putting -- we get to the same point. i mean, you guys make the same argument every time. you want to shut down the government. well, yeah, maybe -- >> because you're always -- michael -- lets take a look at this, another point. the president accused republicans of looking like the party of the rich today and challenged them to make a deal if they want to negotiate a way out of the mess right now. let's listen to the president. >> republicans in congress face a simple choice. are they willing to compromise to protect vital investments in education, in health care, national security, and all the jobs that depend on them or would they rather put hundreds of thousands of jobs and our entire economy at risk just to protect a few special interest tax loopholes that benefit only the wealthiest americans and biggest corporations? my door is open.
i have put tough cuts and reforms on the table. i am willing to work with anybody to get this job done. none of us will get 100% of what we want, but nobody should want these cuts to go through. >> political damage if the government runs into trouble, governor, say march 1st it begins to creep along, the real implications where we don't have the adequate defense spending moving out through the pipeline, we really do have a lot of shutdowns and people being laid off, i guess it helps the president because he's already starting to point the finger at a leaderless republican party. they don't have a spokesman to come out and say it's not us. but overall, doesn't it bring down the morale of the country and, thereby, hurt the president as well or more so? i'm wondering how you divide this out in terms of calamity. >> i think in the long term you're right, chris, it does. in the long term it doesn't benefit the president, and michael is right about one thing. we have not had serious discussions about dealing with our debt problem for the next two, three decades, and we've got to do that.
but time is running out, and we're not going to do that in the next eight days. the president did hold out the olive branch where he said let's do a smaller package of cuts and revenue enhancements that he said wouldn't kick the can down the road, but, in fact, it would kick the can down the road, but it's a whole lot better than shutting the government down. and where the republicans are in a hole is the basic revenue increase that the democrats are talking about, is the rule that says anyone who makes more than $1 million has to pay a certain amount of taxes regardless. no more loopholes, no more getting out of paying taxes, no more warren buffett is paying a lower rate than their secretaries. the american people agree with that by 75%, 80%. >> but, governor, we just did that. >> it's an untenable position. >> didn't we just do that? >> no. >> didn't we just raise taxes on the top 1%? >> you did -- >> oh, okay, i thought we did. >> but, michael, but with good accountants, and you know this, with good accountants -- >> we got to really stick it to
them. >> they wind up paying 15%. >> michael, do you think we have a fair tax system? are you defending our tax system? are you saying we don't need tax reform? >> chris, i'm all for tax reform, but none of this is serious right now. this is the same old crazy blame, blame, finger point, finger point. no one is getting the job done here. >> okay. that's your assessment. >> tax reform, revenue enhancements, spending cuts, those are the things that need -- where is simpson/bowles part two? they laid out a good plan today. we're not talking about it. >> here is boehner talking for boehner. here he is responding to president's remarks saying once again the president offered no credible plan that can pass congress, only more calls for higher taxes. just last month the president got his higher taxes on the wealthy -- that's what you said, michael -- and he's already back for more. here is my assessment of what's going on. back in the early '50s when the cold war got started, if we didn't like a foreign government, the way it was doing things whether it's guatemala or iran or dominican republic or
chile, we destabilized it, knocked off the leader. brought it down some other way through brilliant propaganda. now we're doing it to our own country. and the republicans are acknowledging the tactics, you know. you know that's what they're doing. they're destabilizing the government. you can answer. i see it happening every couple months now. >> but you act like republicans aren't small business owners, that they're not school teachers and firefighters and policemen, that they're not as affected by these -- the impact of this government as is anyone else is. so the idea that we want to bring down the government is just silly. what we're trying to do is get the government to pay its bills, not spend more than it needs to, check its size, and basically get out of the way of building -- rebuilding this economy. that's all. >> yes, but the congress people that are shutting the government down are still making their 170 a year whether the government shuts down or not. it's not the small businessmen voting in congress. it's the members of congress who think they will get re-elected if they say no to everything. governor, we have never seen
anything like this in our lifetime. a political party which seems to be run now by people who believe that no is a policy. >> no question, chris, and it's damaging to their brand. it's damaging to the long-run future of the republican party, but it's sad because it's also damaging to the country. >> and what are we going to do about it? michael, the president says his door is open. would you go through that door or -- >> i would go in that door in a heartbeat as long as he was still in the room. >> well, i think its a safe bet he's going to stay in the oval office and wait for you. >> that room has many doors. so while i may go in one, he may go out the other. so the bottom line is they all need to get in the same room -- >> you think it's some island in the caribbean where there's just an address on it, there's nobody there? no, this is the real thing. it's called the united states government, michael steele, and some day the republicans will get to run it. in the meantime, i think they're just going to detonate it. thank you, michael steele. >> we are running a third of it anyway.
>> sometimes you have a hard case to make here. thank you, governor rendell. >> good to see you. save my seat. with democratic and republican retirements piling up and lots of democrats running in red states, the outlook for 2014 looks challenging for democrats. but 2012 was supposed to be the tough year, too, and democrats wound up gaining senate seats. well, tonight, the democratic strategist, he really exists, with the right stuff who made it happen last time. he's going to come on and talk about whether he can do it again. this is the sharpy behind the democrats' big wins in the senate. also the politics of redemption. nothing new about a politician caught in a romantic or simply a sexual affair trying to make a comeback, but few have been caught as former south carolina governor mark sanford was. yet, here he is now trying to rewrite the book of love and politics. plus, courtesy of david letterman, things you don't want to hear from a man dressed up like abraham lincoln. >> number ten. >> how about you and i form a more perfect union?
>> best in a long time on "letterman." more in the "sideshow." that's going to be there. finally, let me finish with how the republicans are doing here in the united states what they once did with governments overseas they didn't like. this is "hardball," the place for politics. ♪ [ male announcer ] why do more emergency workers everywhere trust duracell...?? duralock power preserve. locks in power for up to 10 years in storage. now...guaranteed. duracell with duralock. trusted everywhere. the battle of bataan, 1942. [ all ] fort benning, georgia, in 1999. [ male announcer ] usaa auto insurance is often handed down from generation to generation because it offers a superior level of protection and because usaa's commitment
to serve the military, veterans, and their families is without equal. begin your legacy. get an auto-insurance quote. usaa. we know what it means to serve. the good news for congress is that its approval rating is holding steady. the bad news, it's stuck at 15%. a new gallup poll finds that fewer than 1 in 7 americans approve of the job congress is doing. that's the same approval rating congress suffered with on average throughout all of 2012. 8 in 10 americans disapprove of the job congress is doing. we'll be right back. [ fishing rod casting line, marching band playing ] [ male announcer ] the rhythm of life. [ whistle blowing ] where do you hear that beat? campbell's healthy request soup
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when you look at the map. mark begich in alaska, mark pryor in arkansas, mary landrieu, max baucus, kay hagan, and tim johnson are all looking at potentially tough races in states mitt romney won as will the democrat who runs for jay rockefeller's seat in west virginia. nor is it a cake walk in the few blue states either. for example in iowa, minnesota where you have democrats running for the senate. conservatives see a big opportunity. they took a look at this front page story in the washington times today. quote, obama agenda is risky for red state democrats. guy cecil has good news for democrats. he pulled a rabbit, rather a donkey, out of his hat last year when the democrats gained seats. actually gained seats in a year that looked like a sure loser for democrats. that's his job, to pull off another miracle and hang onto the senate. maggie haberman is at politico, a senior politico reporter. this is important, although it's
a year and a half off, people want to know how obama is going to make it. is he going to put points on the board, immigration reform, something on gun safety. he likes to talk about himself being a center left version i think of a ronald reagan, meaning he wants to get into the history books. the question is can he do it with a republican house? probably not. he's hoping to switch it. let's talk about the senate, however. a lot of people in the democratic party are lucky to be in the senate because they don't match up with the way those states vote in presidential elections. is this a danger? >> well, it's always a danger. the question is how do you deal with it? >> how do you beat the spread? >> we have a road map from what happened in 2012. we don't have to guess about what was going to happen. there was no one saying we passed the affordable care act, that's an easy vote so we can move on to something else. our incumbents last cycle voted for tough things time after time and they won. we had five senators win in states the president lost. heidi heitkamp up in north dakota. the president lost by 21 points. the way you do it is you
represent the people of your state. people in north dakota are the same as anywhere else. they don't want a xerox machine as their senator that looks at where the president votes and does the same thing. they want something that represents their state, and the thing we have to learn is the lesson the republicans are trying to teach us. the fastest way to be a minority party is to have a long list of things that everyone has to check off in order to be a member of the party. if we're going to win in manhattan and in minot, we have to be able to actually talk to both sets of people at the same time, and we've got to have people that represent their states, and we have to be a party that's willing to allow people to vote their conscience. >> i'm looking at a couple of the senators who are women, kay hagan in north carolina, and, of course, mary landrieu, she escapes the vengeance of the right every six years. she manages to get re-elected down there by being careful and by being very respectful of the local attitudes about politics, especially like guns in louisiana and immigration, of course, down there. if you're the democratic leader, do you want to advise people to vote with the majority and help
them pass bills or save themselves? >> i think you're going to see a little bit of both, not to step on guy's territory here. but i think that you will see some public boosterism, and you will see people privately getting a pass. i think you have seen it in response to immigration in the last couple days with some of the senators you have discussed a minute ago who are not offering up huge stands in support of getting something done immediately. they're taking more of a wait-and-see attitude. i think you're going to see a lot of that. where i think you will see it more, however, is on guns. as opposed to immigration. i think that's going to be a much tougher sell. >> well, we were talking about it before we went on, and my concern watching politics, not being in it, is the gun people, the second amendment people who are really ferocious on that issue and fairly so. that's their position. it's democracy. they don't forget. so michael bloomberg can go into a state, and he could potentially -- he's not going to do it -- drop $5 million or $10 million. he's doing on the south side in chicago, but he's going to leave. he's going to go into other issues, wind energy or something he's interested in, and that
person is still there trying to get re-elected. >> the fact of the matter is we're not going to get 100% of all democratic votes for every piece of gun control legislation that goes through the senate. we are going -- >> if you were harry reid and you work with him and the democrats, would you encourage him to expose people like mark pryor down in arkansas and max baucus out in montana? would you ask them to vote on an assault weapons ban? >> i think harry reid will give them the same advice i give them in private, which is when you agree with the president, you should say so. and when you disagree with the president -- >> don't buckle from pressure from the white house. >> we have seen mark pryor has come out in opposition. i suspect you will see a couple others, but i would just juxtapose that against what's happening on the other side. the reason we're starting in the senate first is because john boehner and the leaders on the house side can't get anything done. they can't get a majority of their own party to support the speaker's own -- >> do you realize how their strategy could work? you and the senate will be the first cut. you are the first guys going over the top in world war i blowing the whistles, cutting through the concertina wire.
you guys could get mowed down. i'm thinking about pryor, begich, landrieu, hagan, tim johnson. they all have to vote up or down. what happens is the house, which is run by republicans, they don't have to take on issues like that because they've already been beaten. >> here is the difference. the republican party is running people like mourdock and todd akin and christine o'donnell -- >> if you're lucky again. >> they're eschewing everybody else. when dick lugar and mike castle aren't conservative enough, what does the republican party do? they throw them out. we embrace folks from louisiana and arkansas, and they're not going to vote with us all the time, and we have to accept that fact. but the fact -- >> maggie, let me ask you this. what happens when they don't have these lucky jokers in the deck like akin and mourdock? they were really gifts to these people. >> they were. >> what happens if they don't show up in 2014 because people like rove and others have culled the herd? >> i think there's no question that democrats got lucky last year.
republicans had a pretty poor crop of candidates. you had some candidates, senate candidates, republicans, who lost in states mitt romney won. so you can't only blame mitt romney. however, i also think you have to give guy and his team credit in terms of recruitment. it's not just the other side. but i think that there's no question 2014 is probably going to be a much tougher year for democrats than the last one was. i think a lot of things came, you know, were aligned well. some were proactive by the democrats, some were not. but i think that it's going to be different, and it's playing out on a different legislative climate. >> total congressional question, maggie, you start. does the president need to win the house next time and hold the senate to be a president of history? to get the kinds of bills passed that puts you up there at the top presidents? >> no. but it would help, and i don't think it's going to happen. i don't think they're going to win the house. >> i certainly think it's going to be difficult for both those things to happen, but i would agree with maggie. >> you can hold the senate though, can't you? >> we intend to hold the senate. no one thought we could hold it last cycle. not only did we hold it, we picked up seats.
and it wasn't just because we had the mourdocks. nobody was saying tommy thompson was extreme. we won because we recruited candidates that best fit their state. >> you know what i have to say, what i care about, you know what i respect in politics? people like the people on this list. >> me, too. >> anybody can come from a big city and vote 100% ada and be guaranteed a seat for life. when you're out there on the frontier as a moderate democrat and trying to get elected among moderate democrats in your state, maybe you have 50% of the state's moderate democrats, you have to prove yourself every six years, prove yourself to the people out there. and that's really gutsy. great stuff. good luck. you got great ink today. don't think it's going to stay that way. it never stays that way. guy cecil. it's like baseball managers, they have one good world series season. >> i'll take it. i'll take one. >> thank you very much, guy cecil. good to have you back, maggie. up next, things you don't want to hear from a guy dressed up like abraham lincoln. this is the best david letterman top ten i have heard in so long, and it's coming up.
this is "hardball," the place for politics. >> damn girl, you make mary todd look like ulysses s. grant. years ago, my doctor told me to take a centrum silver multivitamin every day. i told him, sure. can't hurt, right? then i heard this news about a multivitamin study looking at long-term health benefits for men over 50. the one they used in that study... centrum silver. that's what i take. my doctor! he knows his stuff. [ male announcer ] centrum. the most recommended. most preferred. most studied. centrum, always your most complete. most studied. ♪ ♪ no two people have the same financial goals.
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and invest more here than anywhere else. we're working to fuel america for generations to come. our commitment has never been stronger. [ male announcer ] a car has a rather small rear-view mirror, so we can occasionally glance back at where we've been. it has an enormous windshield so we can look ahead to where we are going. now is always the time to go forward. and reimagine all the possibilities that lie before us. an ally for real possibilities. aarp. find tools and guidance at aarp.org/possibilities. back to "hardball," now to the "sideshow." first, david letterman brought
on washington's birthday, or president's day as a lot of people call it, by showing us what happens when you send an abe lincoln look-alike to the streets of new york city. from letterman's top ten list, what you don't want to hear from a guy dressed like lincoln. >> number ten. >> how about you and i form a more perfect union? >> number eight. >> daniel day-lewis wishes he looked this good. >> that's right. number seven. >> is it true bloomberg outlawed hats over 16 ounces? >> number five. >> does the $5 bill make me look fat? >> number four. >> wow, i thought my clothing was outdated. >> number two. >> hey, where is my idiot son, abraham w. lincoln? >> and the number one thing you don't want to hear from a guy dressed as abraham lincoln. >> hey, jackass, are you going to thank me for the day off? >> i say number two takes the cake. where is w.? as we talked about earlier, we're down to the wire when it
comes to avoiding big chops in government spending, so alan simpson wants to know why the deficit reduction plan he put together with erskine bowles wasn't carried out. >> i say to people before you, you know, begin to drool at the mouth and go crazy and scratch our eyeballs out, read the damn report. people say, what are you doing to the vulnerable? i say read it. we don't do anything to people on ssi. we don't do anything with food stamps. we don't do anything with people on unemployment. get your -- use your bean instead of listening to crap all day long from the right and the left. >> that's actually pretty tame compared to some other things he said about the folks involved in deficit reduction talks. >> if you have -- if you're a politician and get up and say i know we're going to get this done, get rid of all earmarks, all waste, fraud, and abuse, all foreign aid, air force one, all congressional pensions, that's a sparrow belch in the midst of a typhoon. quit the phoniness.
quit the crap. a lot of blood, hair, and eyeballs have to lay on the floor. quit the hypocrisy. quit the disgust. quit embarrassing america. this is a suicide mission. we'll get it from all sides, the right, the left. everybody knows you don't like each other, and you're trying to pretend you do. give up the pettiness. go see the movie "lincoln." >> go see the movie "lincoln." that last bit of advice makes sense. before you can do something grand, you need to know what grand looks like. i think simpson is playing an important part in pointing to what's possible in dealing with the debt crisis. up next, former south carolina governor mark sanford is back. he fell hard after being caught having an extramarital affair. now he's seeking the daddy of all political comebacks. he's running for the congress, and that's ahead, and you're watching "hardball," the place for politics. [ male announcer ] zzzquil™ sleep-aid.
i'm page hopkins. here's what's happening. a cyber security industry reports china's military is the source of a hacking campaign aimed at u.s. targets. however, china denies the allegations. general john allen is retiring today. president obama called him a true patriot. police in belgium are looking for the suspects behind a brazen diamond heist. about $50 million in gems were stolen from the cargo hold of a plane. now let's take you back to "hardball." ♪ more recently i have experienced how none of us go through life without mistakes, but in their wake we can learn a lot about grace, a god of second chances, and be the better for it. in that light i humbly step forward and ask for your help in changing washington.
i'm mark sanford, and i approve this message. >> welcome back to "hardball." that's former south carolina governor mark sanford who is trying to resurrect his political career with a bid to fill the open house seat in south carolina's first congressional district. to refresh your memory about this mistake he references in the ad, here is a clip from his famous june 2009 press conference. >> i have been unfaithful to my wife. i developed a relationship with a -- what started as a dear, dear friend from argentina. it began very innocently, as i suspect many of these things do, in just a casual e-mail back and forth in advice on one's life there and advice here. but here recently over this last year, it developed into something much more than that. >> well, now mark sanford is trying to use his transgression
as a building block, if you will, for a revived political career telling politico, i probably have more to offer now as a human being than at any point in my life because there's an added level of reflection, of empathy. joining me is michelle cottle of "newsweek" and the daily beast and john nichols of "the nation." you're laughing, john. this is serious business. okay? let's get started here. michelle, this is interesting because the use of the word mistake is fascinating. i mean, you can do an exegesis of that word. was the mistake falling in love and going off -- he's apparently still with this woman. he's been divorced. what was the mistake he acknowledges here? i can't even figure out how to discern what he's talking about sometimes with these guys, but he's learned a lot from it, and he has much better empathy and much more reflective in life. >> that's right. >> so he made a mistake, but he's somehow better for it. explain how that works. >> you have to focus on how he's learned, chris. he's grown, he understands humility and self-reflection and compassion. this is a guy who didn't just cheat on his wife.
this is a guy who cheated on his wife, lied to his constituents, told them -- he disappeared from office and then humiliated himself and the state by rambling on and on and on about his soulmate and how he had fallen in love. so it takes -- you have to unravel this whole thing to even begin to understand kind of what he's apologizing for. >> yeah, i'm not sure the word mistake is applicable here. and i am having a little fun with this because i think it's ridiculous, not that politicians have emotions if they make moral errors and they sin or whatever, but that they had the craziest way of writing about it and talking about it with the voter. john nichols, was the mistake when he thought he was on the appalachian trail somewhere down in the united states along the mountains, he was actually in buenos aries? that was his mistake. i thought i was on the appalachian trail. that's a mistake. that's when you make a mistake. his mistake was he fell in love, fine. what did he do that he considers a mistake and what does he benefit in terms of the voters going back to d.c.? is he bringing the woman from argentina with him back to d.c.?
where does he stand on this thing? >> well, it gets pretty wild, doesn't it, because all the questions you ask are appropriate ones. and the first question really is, if he had made a bigger mistake, if he had done something worse, would he be better qualified for congress? because that seems to be the argument he's making. and, of course, the reality of it is the biggest mistake he made was lying. he lied to his own staff. he lied to the people of south carolina. and he got caught in an enormous way. >> what should he have done? now that we're doing this, now that we're mentoring him in reverse, in retrospect, what should he have done? told everyone i was down in buenos aires with this woman i met, we were having a time together and it got serious. and i guess i'm in a situation. would that have worked? >> here is a tip. if you're going to buenos aries to have an affair, at least acknowledge that you're going to buenos aries. don't claim you're out hiking on the appalachian trail. >> okay.
now, just to put this in perspective, newt gingrich is always useful in putting things in perspective. there are a lot of ways to attempt a political comeback. newt gingrich used a different approach to explain his infidelity in a 2011 interview. this is only two years ago. let's listen to the newtster because he beats the band when it comes to this stuff. >> there's no question at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately i felt about this country, that i worked far too hard and that things happened in my life that were not appropriate. >> so he was too patriotic. he cared too much about the country. he worked too hard for the country, and then things happened because he was patriotic and worked too hard for the country. that is the most -- what is that? is that a mistake or is that some kind of way of talking? >> this once again is a selling point. it's the, you see, i love my country so much i just -- i kind of lost my head and, oops, i'm
so sorry i left my wife for another woman. it's unfortunate. >> who are they playing to, john? when you say something which is as full of malarkey as that, who do you expect to believe it, that you were too patriotic, that you couldn't remember who your wife was or -- i don't want to make a moral judgment. i'll just talk politics here. i don't understand why they think people have such dunce caps on out there. oh, that's a point, he really is too patriotic to be faithful to his wife. i mean, what are we talking about with these people? that's why they don't trust politicians. >> maybe he wanted to make mark sanford look good. >> congress is running at 15% in approval because these clowns talk like this to them on camera. and they say things like i made a mistake. >> they're providing some thin veneer of cover for people who want an excuse to go back and believe in them. you know, you need some way to justify yourself -- >> you just described a criminal defense. somebody told me to take the car. i didn't steal it. >> we're not talking about politics.
>> let's talk turkey. john, you're an expert. i want to know if the guy can win. i'm hearing different reports he could easily win in a very wide field. there is a runoff though. runoffs are always dangerous for people with troubles. you eventually have to run against one other person for your party's nomination. it's a republican district, but he has to beat one republican. if it comes to that. can he be a congressman again despite everything we've been kidding about here? >> the truth is this is a very good ad. it's a well-done ad. and down in that district he has been getting a reasonably good response. now, it's a very crowded field. almost everybody seems to think that mark sanford will come through the initial primary. he'll face one other candidate, but it is possible, certainly not certain, possible that the other candidate he faces might be ted turner's son. >> and namesake. >> and if mark sanford attaches ted turner's record to ted
turner's son, yeah, i could see a moment where mark sanford might get through a runoff and get to congress. >> so an embarrassment beats a legacy. >> exactly. he's got high name recognition, and erick erickson was one of his biggest detractors, and the minute sanford started this congressional tour, erickson is all i forgive him. let's be graceful and give him another shot. >> it's not rural south carolina. it's not cotton land. it's very beautiful charleston, one of the most beautiful cities in the world i think. are those people up to this kind of level of life? this sort of way of looking at things, this que sera sera. do they have enough of that to vote for him? mark? i'm sorry, not mark, john. we're talking about mark. >> it is within the realm -- that's okay. although i hope my wife doesn't make the comparison. >> no, you're not mark. >> it's within the realm of possibility, and understand that charleston, like new orleans, is a pretty sophisticated city, and there will be some folks who may
want to try and forgive but also who may want to try and look the other way. one thing that's important to understand is mark sanford, aside from his incredible bumbles on this, you know, back in 2009, has always been a very capable politician, and by comparison to some of the other candidates, he comes off pretty well for folks in charleston. >> i think the most forgiving city in the country is new orleans. i think when you're on your fourth or fifth divorce, you go to new orleans. you have been through rehab, they say come in and have some fun. charleston can catch up with that thinking, this guy's back in. on the "today" show sanford touted his record of looking out for taxpayers. let's listen. >> the reality of our lives is if we live long enough, we're going to fail at something. and i absolutely failed in my personal life, in my marriage, but one place i didn't ever fail was with the taxpayer. >> the south carolina state ethics commission doesn't agree. sanford settled charges he broke ethics laws by using state and
campaign money for personal travel, guess where, including travel to argentina by paying a $74,000 fine. yet, the state reported the ethics commission issued a public reprimand and disagreed with his argument that he broke no laws. well, there we have it, right? >> yeah. in this way he can lump this all in with his personal transgressions and say jesus has forgiven me and so should you. >> maybe he has. that we don't know. that last thing you said. anyway, thank you, michelle cottle, and thank you, john nichols, for this serious report on an unserious man. we have much more on mark sanford's tour on our website. check it out. it's on facebook as well. up next, that sad saga from south africa where oscar pistorius, the world's most famous paralympian, has been charged with murdering his girlfriend. the great buzz bissinger says it's i'm to stop this unwarranted venn ration of sports figures we've all grown up with. he joins us next, and this is "hardball," the place for politics. weight,
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they are super on and off the field? now pistorius joins the club of other athletes who have fallen far from heaven, o.j. simpson, mark mcgwire, a-rod, tiger woods. all these sensational sensation had a hard fall for various degrees of evil you might see. joining me from the daily beast, jocks, we look up to them. jocks, from high school to college, they get training table meals. they get waited on. they get their own dorms. they get looked up to by the cheerleaders, but everybody, the fans. they're treated as special. what is wrong with that? >> when you're treated as special, you think you're special, but not in an open sense, not in a magnanimous sense you. think you're entitled. you become spoiled. you become more narcissistic than you already are. and they're not role models. we harken back to the days of
the greek olympiad. we endow athletes with special qualities which they have on the field. but by and large, they have never been role models. you know, mickey mantle was not a great role model. ted williams was very, very reticent. you went down the list. lance armstrong, now oscar pistorius. and we want them to be mythic, because they have such influence on kids. but you know what? they're just athletes. let them just be athletes. stop this role model bs. >> you know, when sport magazine came out back in the '50s, they had to pick the best athlete, they picked muziel because of who he was off the field. and ted williams did all the awful things to fans, we know the list signaling the fans he hated them and having an attitude. aren't there some great athletes that are worthy of the adoration like musiel who just died.
wonderful people. >> in anticipation of the show, i've really ilie thought about it. and i thought about it since i wrote the daily beast column. i can think definitely of one, and that is derek jeter of the new york yankees. classy, good defense, plays really, really hard all the time. i am confident of him. the second might surprise you. but i think given the exposure that this guy has gotten since he was a junior in high school, i think lebron james has come into his own and is a role model. he made a bad mistake with the decision, but he hasn't shot anybody, he is good with fans. he supports akron. and i think he handles -- he is one of the four or five most famous athletes in the world. >> he lost to dallas and came back and won the next year. >> that's right. >> i guess i want to get back to the big bad names. of course o.j. simpson, maybe in 20 years we're going to decide about this guilt. i think he did it, but a lot of people don't. i understand how the ethnic factor got in there. i understand how the police history got in there. but these guys, let's talk about
how their heads get so big. that is the thing that is so brilliant. you teach a person to be a bad guy. you say to them you're preernatural. do what you want. >> >> the age is going lower and lower and lower. good athletes are being identified as young as 6, 7. the minute you're identified as good athlete, you are put over here. you were special. you have different standards. you don't have to do as much work you. are coddled. you are coddled by adults. you are coddled by kids who want to be like you. you get too popular, and it's going to lead in too many cases to disaster. >> yeah. i just think about guys that play for the nba and have got an entourage of 15 hangers on, and all of the sudden they're out of money. and all of the sudden the entourage is gone. where were the guys that were
hanging around me at the four-star hotels. they're gone. what does that do to you? >> of course they're gone. look, it's a tragedy. there are studies that have been done. 50% of former nba players are broke. i spoke to an agent who said these guys are in such a bubble. they get these big contracts. but chris, they don't know they have to pay taxes. they have no idea. they buy four houses. they buy four cars. look at allen iverson. he is broke. >> that's what i was thinking of. >> he's got no money. allen iverson has no money. >> look at magic, a really good business guy who is going on even with his health challenges. it's chilling to think what that guy has overcome to be not only an incredibly popular figure and role model, but really go on and become a business guy in a second career. it's so hart to do that. mantle couldn't do that. >> mantle was a disaster until the memorabilia boom. listen, there are role models after sports. what about dave bing? you may not like the job he is
doing in detroit. >> i think he is doing a good job. >> johnson in sacramento, former player. dudley in oregon. there are guys that go on and have a sense of public service. >> let's not prejudge these guys' greatness. let them prove it off the field. thank you so much. the greatest around. in the early '50s, toppling governments. unfortunately this time it's our government they're trying to topple. you're watching "hardball," the place for politics. by the barr? the carful? how about...by the bowlful? campbell's soups give you nutrition, energy, and can help you keep a healthy weight. campbell's. it's amazing what soup can do. otherworldly things. but there are some things i've never seen before. this ge jet engine can understand 5,000 data samples per second. which is good for business. because planes use less fuel, spend less time on the ground and more time in the air.
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let me finish tonight with this. i think the difference between the democrats and republicans is getting as wide as the grand canyon. watch how they do it. president obama wants to keep the government going. pretty simple, huh? republicans threaten to stop it. it's relentless, the fiscal abyss, the debt ceiling. different words, different deadlines all detonate the same explosion. they threaten to crash the government if they don't like the way it's doing something. if they don't like who the american people have elected as republican. isn't what the republicans did in the old days? if they didn't like a government somewhere, guatemala, iran, chile, they just brought it down. guess what? republicans are now using the same tactic here at home. if they don't like who we have elected as president, they find some way to undermine the president. whatever it takes to destroy it. we are using in this country the same old cold war cia tactics to destabilize our own country. look at the impact this constant threats to shut down the