tv Inside Washington PBS October 21, 2012 6:00pm-6:30pm PDT
>> "inside washington" is brought you in part by the american federation of government employees, proud to make america work. for more information about afge and membership, visit afge.org. >> production assistance for "inside washington" was provided by allbritton communications and politico, reporting on the legislative, executive, and political arena. >> i can tell you that if you elect president obama, you know what you're going to get, a repeat of the last four years. >> this week on "inside washington," the presidential debate. >> governor romney does not have a five-point plan. he has a one-point plan.
>> the women's vote. >> governor romney feels comfortable having politicians in washington making choices for women. >> the president's statement of my policy is completely and totally wrong. >> the brawl over libya. >> it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in benghazi an act of terror. >> he date, in fact, serve -- >> if you laughs at the al smith dinner. >> i am well rested after the night-long nap at the first debate. so much totime redistribute. captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org-- >> this is a close race. at week's end, the national gallup poll gave romney is largest lead so far.
the president is looking good in the battleground states of iowa and wisconsin, however it is on the heels of the second presidential debate. the president showed up for this one and the result was a lively exchange. >> have elected your pension? have elected your pension? mr. president, have you looked at your pension? >> i don't look at my attention to it is not as big as yours. >> they almost look like they were going to duke it out. >> how much did you cut the budget -- >> the macho stuff made some viewers uncomfortable. romney won the first debate hands down. who won this one, evan? >> obama won its slightly but not so much that it puts them over the top. >> mark? >> i agree, no knockdowns, but viewers of fox news thought by a 3/4 margin that romney won,
msnbc viewers bought by a 3/4 margin that obama wanteon. >> nina? >> it to me overnight to decide that obama won because romney became increasingly sort of agitated by the end of the debate. but our think -- there was a a clear -- there was no clear punch knocked down. >> charles? >> i like to a woman spectator who said that she liked it because it was getting near to fisticuffs. they are in a ring, literally, surrounded by spectators. i thought it would grab their mikes and hit themeach over over the head with it. i wanted the secret service to and pann into the ground and have candy crowley administer the can count.
the would've in the best television ever. unfortunately, it ended with a whimper rather than a bang. >> did we learn anything about these candidates and their positions and policies that we did not know before? >> i think voters sense they are not hearing the truth, because they are not. neither candidate tells the truth in these debates. we make it complicated, dancing around the truth. when romney comes out and says, "i will make sure you get a job, jobs.he cannot guarantee this idea that we are suddenly going to create jobs is not true and people know it. >> he says he will create 12 million jobs, and moody's says that whoever is president, it will be 12 million jobs, the way the economy's going. how would you characterize the demeanor of the two candidates, starting with mitt romney? >> this problem the president has is that he has been two
different people. and to some degree, romney, to not the degree of the present. he was passive and listless in the first debate. this time he mentioned all the things he failed to mention the first debate, whether it was romney's tax rate being lower than that of a special education teacher, or the 47%, romney clumping troops and afghanistan tonight as mergers and freeloaders because they don't pay income tax. i do think that nina is right. as it went on, romney did get peeved. he was upset. the equanimity and consistency of the first debate was not present. i was reminded of mike huckabee's line about romney in 2008 -- i want to be a president reminds people of the person who hired them, not the person who
fired them. that came through a little bit. >> speaking of the economy, who won on that issue? >> if you look at the last polls, romney was up 18% on that issue after this debate by those who watched, and in another poll, cbs poll, 31%. i agree with my colleagues to some extend -- romney won on points with a lot of jams. it was a minor, narrow victory. that overcame the one haymaker that romney landed, where he gave a great answer to the question -- >> you said obama. >> i'm sorry, obama came out on points with a lot of jabs. romney had one really good answer at the 1-4 mark to the guy who said "i voted for obama, i am disappointed," and he gave a devastating takedown of obama's record. that haymaker was extremely powerful.
overall, obama won with jabs. that is why you got this reaction. romney won on the economic issue, and therefore, since the economic issue is the most important, it will be a wash in terms of its effect on the dynamic of the election. >> in a way, obama couldn't and cannot overcome the damage he did in the first debate, because what happened in the first debate is that romney became acceptable but he did not look like a mean rich guy who was sort of thoughtless and totally unconnected from the real world. once you make somebody acceptable, it is very hard to make him unacceptable. they had made him unacceptable, and when obama did use that --
did not use that in the fourth debate, it was a serious mistake. >> i want to talk about the women's vote. >> made a concerted effort to hire women who have backgrounds that made them qualified to be members of our candidate. i went to women's groups and said, can you help us find folks, and they brought us hold binders full of women. >> that went viral almost immediately. what set that off? >> the binders. smalley, that did not bother me. what bothered me wasay, i foundt romney's people did not approach the women's groups for suggestions. the women's groups approach romney and said, you don't have any women, you don't have any women and bain, you need to to get women. >> a number of polls indicate that president obama's lead among women voters is shrinking, and i don't just mean republican
women, but college-educated women who are liberal on social issues arm moving towards romney. >> i talked to someone over the weekend said that all of this is about who you want be married to, and in the first debate, obama was so peevish that you don't want to be married to that guy, and ravi seem to moderate and reasonable. -- romney it seemed a moderate and reasonable. that is what turned around the polls. in the second debate, romney, by treating them like commodities -- "bags full of women," "briefing books full of women." >> direct your e-mails to evan thomas, not to any of us. [laughter] romney had the same effect on women in the first debate as he did on manned. obama had spent $150 million on negative ads as a guy who wants to -- a guy he was completely
indifferent when the wife of a steelworker he led off the dies of cancer and the woodmore looks in the camera and says, "mitt romney does not care about my wife or anyone." romney stands out, as nina indicated, and shows that he is a reasonable guy, not completely harmless, and all that advertising, which affected men and women together -- that is why you had this change. i don't think it is a great mystery -- >> let me hear from mark. >> the case to be made that romney essentially came out for affirmative action and said it "let's go looking for women at." that is the bane of conservatives' existence -- that is what mitt romney said, "let's go find some women." secondly, i would point out this -- romney is in a mad dash to the middle.
contraception, universally available. immigration, no roundups. add to that is affirmative action, and you have got a guy who has essentially taken positions now that if he had taken them in the primaries, he would have lost. what obama does to respond is five times mentions planned parenthood. that becomes his mantra. i don't think that abortion is the overriding issue to every woman in america. it is an important issue for a lot of women -- >> he did not mention abortion. >> he just keeps talking about planned parenthood -- he never once mentioned labor unions, he never once mentioned any of these traditional democratic constituencies. >> i don't think that for the swing voters, the ones who are really -- to get myself into a deeper hole here -- [laughter] i think it is the comfort level.
do you feel comfortable with this person -- a 4 merkley your husband -- but you want in your life or not. >> obama mentioned planned parenthood but he did not mention abortion -- let me finish could 10% or less of what planned parenthood does is abortion. what he did mention is contraception, and romney interestingly -- he did make a mad dash to the middle, saying "i am for access to contraception." he did not say it should be in your insurance policy. >> that is exactly the point is not a a mad dash to the center on contraception. it is to correct this calumny by liberals that republicans want to close pharmacies and prevent women from getting access to contraception. all he is saying that sandra fluke, who makes $165,000 a
year after graduating from an elite law school, does not need to be subsidized by the average american who makes $50,000 a household to get contraceptives. she can shell out $9 a month. there is no issue of access. it is a question of whether you want to compel catholic institutions to be included in a plan against all of their beliefs. republicans are saying no, but it is not a question of access at all. as a talking point that democrats have accepted, and romney was correcting. >> let me correct the point was made here to the republican platform for the first time costly the elimination of all abortion -- not in the case of rape, incest, life of the mother, but all abortion. mitt romney's convention, his delegates to a peak at distance himself from that blood from a pretend that he is mr. planned parenthood himself -- he cannot distance himself from that
platform and pretend he is mr. planned parenthood himself. >> the idea that anybody in my team would play politics or mislead when we lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. >> evan, how did the president handle that one? >> he won that round. he stood up to romney and seemed strong. now, the facts remain murky, and we can argue, no question that was a good omen for obama. >> charles? >> it was, because romney did not answer it, but unfortunately for obama, romney gets one more shot at this because there is a debate on monday. that was the biggest gaffe of the year the president said. he is on the record in front of 70 million people that he is offended by the implication that anybody on his team and misled the nation on what happened. this is after his u.n. ambassador goes on five shows -- not one, five shows -- and
spins a tale about demonstrations, spontaneous, about a video that becomes a viral. there is no demonstration, and nobody outside, no riot. this is a deliberate terror attack. it was not only members of his team who misled the nation. it is obama himself. he took credit for calling it a terror attack on day one. here he is a week later, letterman asked about it and saying "we don't know, we are still investigating." everybody knew at that time that the video had nothing to do with the benghazi attack, zero. he misled dramatically, repeatedly, he and his team. that is hanging out there and romney has a chance to hit it out of the park on monday. it could be a relief py -- re ally pyrrhic victory. >> charles, sadly is wrong, for
the following reason. you have to subscribe to a great master conspiracy theory for an administration that has not demonstrated the capacity for running a two-car funeral that often that this would be so well organized and constructed and stupid to put the ambassador on the five shows to be corrected. this was wrong, but let's be blunt about the politics of it. who came up and took one for the team? the most popular woman in america, hillary clinton. for mitt romney to go after barack obama, he has got to go through hillary clinton, at a time when women are the holy grail of this election. let me tell you, that is not difficult, it is an impossible task for him. >> nina? >> it seems obvious to me there was a screw up at relatively low
levels. not clear about what intelligence said right away to .he president d =preside certainly the vice president said at his debate that initially they had been told something different. there is no reason to send susan rice out to live. she was going to get exposed immediately. >> here is richard clark, who worked for george w. bush and president clinton and was in president reagan's administration. "mitt romney seems fixated on why washington did not know it better clarity and sooner what happened during a terrorist attack is the kind of question that comes from someone who has more experience terrorist crisis management or combat." >> i don't think americans will cast their vote based on this to this is the classic kind of washington talk-show, crew knew what or when. in any case, no matter what the facts are, it does not seem to me to be a voting issue. >> it is an issue because it is
about honesty, transparency, and leadership. if you want to go through the list of ways and which it hurts obama, the idea that he would have the secretary of state go out there and take the blame instead of taking it himself to 18, lee he said -- >> the -- >> he nominally did -- >> nominally? >> you just heard mark say that she said "i am the one who is responsible." yesterday the fat in it scapegoat, dianne feinstein said that the director of dni screws up your this is the first assassination of the u.s. ambassador in 30 years. it is the sacking of our embassy, huge humiliation and defeat, and tragedy all wrapped into one. this president repeatedly misled the nation about its nature and origin again and again. there was a huge issue. >> let me ask a general question
about the debates, and that is what kind of moderator do we prefer? do we want somebody who jumps in and does follow-up questions -- gov., and you have an answer, mr. president, answer -- >> look, i would argue for the most non interventionist. the ideal debate is one that is rebek -- andto now, 48 electoral votes, a question on foreign policy to you, mr. president. every sunday over the years we get over 300 years of the sunday acquisitions, the tim russert idea. here we have 4.5 precious hours where we see the two men on their own with a referee who simply keeps time and allows them to deal with each other. this is a unique way to do this. that is what the debate is about. when you had at lincoln douglas -- lincoln-douglas, you did not
have candy crowley . >> it happened in the debate between elizabeth warren and scott brown in massachusetts. all the moderator is the time. >> i think the good debate is like potter stewart on pornography, "i know it when i see it." what is fascinating is the partisan divide. liberals excoriated jim lehrer in the first debate because mitt romney 1. -- mitt romney won. service is not candy crowley because barack obama 1. -- conservatives knocked candy crowley because of barack obama won. martha raddatz escape unscathed mostly. i learned a lot from the first debate. i learned what mitt romney believed, that he was willing to tailor positions for the general electric, that barack obama did not show up and was not engaged.
the reason i did was because similar give them the time to do it. -- jim lehrer gave them the time to do it. i think candy crowley did a good job, i think martha raddatz did a good job. i don't know the formula for a good debate. >> it seems that there are two choices here. you can have a moderator who holds their feet to the fire a bit and ask serious questions and is not let them michael around, and martha raddatz was the best example of that. if you are not going to do that, just let them talk to each other and have a bus to go up for time. >> what about the town hall format? >> no, i think i.t. is completely phony. i have an impossible standard -- leave them alone, except every once in awhile where they sasay something egregiously false. >> you cannot do that. who is the judge? in the last debate, candy
crowley came on the side of the obama with the terrorists statement. when obama denied that there is a decline of oil production on anfederal lands, why didn't she intervene? it was an egregious statement when obama said "not true." you have to pick and choose. you cannot have that standard. the point is, you do that on the sunday morning shows to you have a guy one-on-one and you do not allow them to escape. here, if there is a falsehood, you have to trust that the other guy will contract and make a point. you may not get a resolution, but that is the only way to do it in a debate. >> did you feel in the town hall format that they were connecting -- >> i think the town hall format was really good first of all, the undecided voters have high- quality questions. i thought they were reflective and serious.
and even a man going through his starting, macho act -- you want to rumble in the parking lot? they did not connect in any way to the bordof voters asking the questions. >> at one asked, what rate about you is the most misrepresented, and what can you tell us about that? neither one of them basically answer the question at all. >> this is why it was so fake . the questions were fine, but they're not really engaging the people. >> you would like to have them -- >> i would, but that is not what happened at the debate. >> william jefferson clinton did. >> well, if you have his gifts. >> how about a human connection? i'm talking to you, i am talking to nina, i am talking to
charles. >> did you think that happen? >> no, it did we should not be talking to each other. there is a moderator. [laughter] >> look, you're not looking at a debate for the facts of it, for god's sake. there is no way to get that. when you get is how they interact, how they defend -- >> a journalist should act like a journalist. >> no, it should act like timekeeper and that's it. >> i am seeing reports of the inner "omba interest by catholics, romney dines with which people." >> unemployment rate is the lowest since i took office. i don't have a joke here to i thought i would remind everybody. >> romney has a new campaign slogan -- "you are better off
now than you were four weeks ago." >> we needed some laughs, mark. >> we needed some laughs, and stephen colbert is not in trouble. [laughter] what has been missing from the campaign is a scintilla of humor. neither one of them has been able to say a single self- deprecating line. these are very self-serious man, for himself out as a total stranger. it is nice to see them at least smile at the al smith dinner and thank goodness for the cardinal for bringing them together. >> but i did not think the jokester terribly funny. they really were not. president of the united states, republicans standard bearer, and you cannot get better jokes than that? >> it reminds me of the days when they would get together and
be warm and friendly from, and you we have got to get that back. >> the jokes were fabulous. obama your new was good jokes, i did not know that romney was but i think he will make a great comedian-in-chief. >> last word. see you next week. >> "inside washington" is brought you in part by the american federation of government employees, proud to make america work. for more information about afge and membership, visit afge.org.