tv The Ed Show MSNBC January 3, 2012 5:00pm-6:00pm PST
it is now 8:00 p.m. on the east coast, 7:00 p.m. in iowa. at this hour the results of the iowa caucuses are too early to call but based on early entrance polling, ron paul, mitt romney, and rick santorum are competing to win in iowa tonight. chris matthews is at the convention center in des moines, iowa and joins us now. how quickly do you expect the caucuses to move from this point? at this point too early to call but those three bunched at the
top? >> i'm hearing it's going to take a while tonight, rachel. i think that's a statement in itself. too early to call can be misinterpreted to meaning it's going to be a close race. i'm taking it that way because romney is not racing above this pack or out in front of this pack. the fact that he's being challenged by someone so limited in their political appeal as rick santorum who was defeated in pennsylvania by 17% for re-election shall the fact that ron paul is able to challenge him in a serious race for president, with all his baggage, tells you that the republicans are not lining up behind mitt romney yet. now maybe late tonight i'll change that view but i've watched this thing and watched this polling now for weeks and what you see is a romney problem. although he's defeated his main opponent tonight as we see newt gingrich is not in this top three. he hasn't sold himself. now, he can keep trying to convince the right that he's a part of the right but of course that would be dishonest because he isn't part of the political
right. he's a pragmatic business guy who would like to see taxes probably lower than barack obama would. perhaps believes in less government than barack obama but only marginally. he is much closer to president obama in his temperament and who he is politically and in his political history than he is to the right. he doesn't fit really with santorum. and certainly doesn't fit with ron paul. and they all know it. i think that's it. they know what's going on. they know he is not a right winger. he is a man roughly of the center right. perhaps the way obama is a man of the center left. they're not ready for him. >> chris, i think that the important thing to note here is that it is too early to call. we can't say it's too close to call. your point about how strongly mitt romney -- >> that was my judgment based on history. >> i think it's right to be precise about that but i think your point is well taken about
whether or not mitt romney can speak clearly and with a strong voice about where he stands among republican voters after tonight. i think a lot of people think mitt romney, that he has no risk tonight but i think people start to look like they think other candidates are either worth considering looking at even if they are not viable or that somebody else might be viable if enough of them can coalesce around them it does say something important about mitt romney. we'll watch this closely. at this point too early to call. with the caucuses under way let's get a look inside one of the big sites, and nbc's ron mott is northeast of des moines at johnston, iowa at the summit middle school. rick santorum was speaking earlier. what's going on there? >> reporter: they have not called this caucus to order officially. let me step out of the way and show you what's happening right now. kentucky senator rand paul is making one final pitch for his father, congressman ron paul. already tonight before this caucus is officially open we
have heard from rick santorum himself trying to get those undecideds sitting in these chairs behind me to pull for him when they open the polling part of this session. jc watts the former oklahoma congressman and sooners quarterback is at the back of the room. anita perry is here expected to stump for her husband as they try to close the deal after a long time, a lot of foot work on the ground. one thing rick santorum said to this crowd was that he learned very quickly when he got to iowa that you cannot buy iowa. he says they like to meet their candidates, want to shake their hands personally. he went around the room and shook a lot of hands. we are expecting to hear a lot of applause lines as we go forward tonight. we are still not officially open but once we get open they'll make formal pitches again to this crowd. then all those blank sheets of paper will go out to those folks behind me. they'll sign the name of the person they are supporting and they'll start counting the votes. >> let me just ask you if you are seeing visible signs of real organized support there in johnston. are there people who are wearing
a lot of campaign re gagalia wh are trying to make it be known this is a place that should be seen as leaning toward their candidate or is this pretty low key? >> i think it's pretty low key. there are some campaign signs that you might see around the room so some of the campaign workers were here before this all got started putting the signs up. i get the sense that some of the crowd here clearly in support of one candidate or another but there seem to be a lot of folks whose body language would suggest they are open to hearing the messages coming from the surrogates or the candidates themselves as you see going on behind me. a lot of folks like to keep their options open. that's what we've been reporting all weekend long. a huge number coming into the weekend. undecided. 41% of voters in the latest des moines register poll. a lot of folks wanted to hear these folks make one final pitch to earn their support tonight and at the end of the night they hope their candidate is the one who is the leader of the pack. >> ron mott, thank you very much. where ron is is in johnston, iowa, not that far outside des
moines. des moines is the largest city in iowa but it's only a couple hundred thousand people. there is no metropolis in iowa. there is a number of cities that have tens of thousands of people. des moines is the largest in the state. nbc news political director chuck todd has been looking for us tonight. overall he is the guy looking at things by the numbers. in particular he has been looking at the various areas of strength for the particular candidates tonight. chuck, what are you seeing so far? >> rachel, a few things and a few caveats about our entrance polls. one thing i want to remind people and the reason why we're characterizing it, just those three as we are with no order is that four years ago mitt romney was ahead on the first wave. mike huckabee of course ended up winning by nine points. so the most enthusiastic supporters get to these sites early and so sometimes that's where things mess around and we are confident in what the top three, which three candidates have the shot, actual shot at winning but i just wanted to get that caveat out there.
if you look at this map, this was the 2008 map and it was huckabee, romney, paul. here we have two of the three folks that were one, two, three the last time, are sitting up here. what's interesting is romney did very well on iowa's coasts. the dubuque, cedar rapids, waterloo but did not do well in des moines. he only one won county in the des moines media market sort of right outside dallas county. and that's where for instance mike huckabee got a huge bump. two other counties that we're paying a lot of attention to have to do with where iowa city is and ames, iowa state and iowa, two places we expect ron paul to be able to, quote, run up the score. but one other area to look for is on the western side, sioux city and in the omaha media market. that is a more conservative area. romney did surprisingly well there the last time. a lot of evangelicals. we'll see if he can equal that
and surpass it. one thing to keep in mind on santorum, rachel, as a devout catholic the eastern part of the state the dubuque area in particular a lot of catholics. maybe he cuts into where romney did well four years ago. so it's nice to have apples versus apples at least with mitt romney and considering that all of a sudden rick santorum is the social conservative so we have a lot of ways we can look at the results and see where romney's over performing and under performing. chuck, in terms of the ways that mitt romney campaigned in 2008 versus the ways that he has campaigned this year, do you think that he is actually targeting different groups of voters related to the rest of the field in 2008? he did try to run as perhaps the most or at least one of the most conservative candidates even if people didn't end up seeing him that way. he's not made that same kind of pitch this year. does that mean he'll be trying to appeal to different individual iowans? >> no. i think in this case when you look at iowa the more fascinating part of his campaign this year versus four years ago, for instance, he only had one
office here in iowa this time. in des moines. and it was that sort of how they ran everything. they made a decision, last minute, to do this. four years ago they had offices everywhere and they bussed people in to caucuses. obviously we're hearing some of the state party events starting to go through over the head there. but they bussed people in. we're not seeing that this time. romney didn't spend that kind of on-the-ground money to do that. ron paul did. >> chuck todd for us in des moines. thank you. again, the iowa caucus is too early to call but based on early entrance polling, ron paul, mitt romney, and rick santorum are competing to win tonight in iowa. lawrence, when you look at that too early to call obviously that is -- says nothing about what the margin is going to be let alone who is going to win. but able from the early entrance polling able to single out these three candidates. does that say anything definitive to you yet? >> you know, what this outcome is going to give you is a
reluctant expression by iowa caucus goers. to have that big an undecided going into tonight means when they do decide they will decide reluctantly. it will be the lesser of two or three evils that they are ending up with. and so it's going to be very hard to come out of here as a winner or even as a top three player representing some sort of serious threat to president obama. >> if you're rick santorum and you win tonight don't you think you're king of the world? >> here's what i wonder about rick santorum. steve, you have to tell us this. take us inside a santorum campaign headquarters tonight because all the pros are saying, if rick santorum wins, he still doesn't have what he needs to go all the way. explain to america why a rick santorum win tonight won't be something that he can launch off of. what does he need that he does not have? >> well, he's going to have to develop very quickly the capacity for among -- starting with being able to count the
money that is going to flood in over the internet. the ability to cage that money, spend it, start buying television time with it, to make a decision. is he going to go to new hampshire where the family values message i think is tough for him to get traction with the new hampshire -- is he going to south carolina? i think you have to look at these contests now in a bracket of four with florida being a decisive contest. does he have to win new hampshire? rick santorum doesn't. can he perform well in new hampshire, come up a little bit, then go to south carolina, go to florida? he's going to have to make a lot of decisions very quickly if he comes out on top of this tonight but he's going to have to scale up very quickly and have the challenge. he is going to have to be drinking water out of a fire hydra hydrant. >> are there enough people that can help him scale up? everybody is sort of committed aren't they? >> i think he's done it with a skeleton staff, a lot of his kids are working on the campaign. they don't have a lot of people who have done this professionally. so i think that he is going to have a lot of challenges over
the days ahead. but he may well emerge after tonight as the chief alternative to governor romney. if you look back four years ago, in south carolina, the single most important thing that happened to john mccain in terms of winning the nomination was the fact that fred thompson didn't get out of the race after a disappointing finnish iowa. he took enough energy out of mike huckabee that allowed john mccain to squeak by in south carolina. it will be very interesting to see after tonight. i don't think rick perry has a plausible path. michele bachmann doesn't. but the other social conservative candidates that ed referred to earlier tonight, they're staying in the race. do they take enough points away from a rick santorum, head-to-head match up against mitt romney that puts romney over the top in south carolina or florida? >> don't you think that santorum is going to have to target like perry and bachmann saying i'm the guy they don't have a chance we showed well in iowa now let's go to south carolina?
>> i think that's perfectly logical but i don't think that these politicians operate out of a sense of atruism. you know? >> that's right. >> steve, do you grab the phone and put it in your candidate's hand? you put it in santorum's hand and say, here, speak to michele bachmann tonight. speak to rick perry tonight. do you put that phone in their hand? >> i think it's tough to do that because you don't want to create any offense there. people have invested their time. it's an emotional time. it's going to be emotional in the rick perry suite tonight. it's going to be emotional in the michele bachmann suite. you could see her earlier today standing there with her mother. there is going to be a lot of disappointment. no one wants to be the first person on the phones saying hey this is over for you. you know, come on my team. you have to let people work it out. >> you don't want to be the second person who makes the call. >> you have to let people work it out for a day or two. >> you go campaign to campaign and you say, okay, campaign person who i know who isn't going to hate me you tell your candidate to get out.
>> great example of that happening four years ago was rudolph guiliani when he got out of the race and instantly, you know, supported john mccain in a way that was really big for mccain. but i think it's very difficult how did that get worked out? >> it got worked out at the top levels of the campaign. it was a close relationship between the senator and the mayor and the mayor coming over, took a lot of wind out of mitt romney. you know, there was a price to pay four years ago. >> it helped that everybody hated mitt romney back then. >> absolutely. there was a lot of offense, you know, taken by these candidates with all of the negative ads in iowa four years ago. that hurt mitt romney with his fellow competitors going forward. he doesn't have that problem this time. >> could we go back to romney for a moment? mitt romney has issues in rural iowa and if these evangelicals come out at anywhere near the level they did in 2008, it's going to be a long night for mitt. >> yeah. >> one thing we'll be looking at and the moments ahead here on our msnbc iowa caucus coverage is what iowa caucus goers are
willing to tell pollsters about what was motivating them, what was important, what they were looking for in a candidate. sometimes while it is still too early to call in terms of what is going to happen for the individual candidates you can tell a lot about the way the night is going to go based on what electorate turned out to caucus. again, results tonight, it is too early to call based on early entrance polling. it is ron paul, mitt romney, and rick santorum who are competing to win the iowa caucuses. coming up we will be getting our first results from our entrance polls soon and also hearing from nbc's david gregory. you are watching nbc's coverage of the iowa caucuses. [ male announcer ] wouldn't it be cool if you took the top down on a crossover? if there were buttons for this? wouldn't it be cool if your car could handle the kids... ♪ ...and the nurburgring? or what if you built a car in tennessee that could change the world? yeah, that would be cool.
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iowa. we have our first results from our entrance polling and for that we go to tamron hall. >> hey, rachel. here's what we're hearing from some of the first republicans who arrived at their caucuses tonight and our nbc news entrance poll. age is turning out to be an important factor in tonight's close race. in fact, take a look. 13% are under the age of 30. a majority. get this. 55% are between 30 and 64 and 32% are 65 and over. as in recent caucuses those older voters out numbered younger voters by at least 2-1. but the younger voters are going for ron paul in a big way. he gets 58% of the people under the age of 30. you see there mitt romney at 15%. and 10% are going for rick santorum. and romney is among the top three or top tier of the three candidates and that's because he is winning a substantial 28%
share of that over 65 crowd. santorum trails among that group by ten points with 18% and paul gets 14%. so it remains certainly a close race and we'll keep an eye on what these key groups are doing as the night continues. >> tamron, thank you for that. let's go back now to chris matthews in des moines. chris, just hearing there about the proportion of voters by age group. 58% of voters under 30 at the iowa caucuses tonight supporting ron paul but of course they are vastly out numbered by those who are over 65. >> yeah. i could see that, rachel, in the rallies yesterday. certainly that was the crowd. i didn't see anybody really beyond over 30s. david gregory is with us from des moines. david? >> from these entrance policy think one of the things that is striking to me is what rachel and the panel are talking about
a couple minutes ago. the number of social conservatives, self-identified evangelical voters, that number is going to be pretty high tonight. as it was four years ago, the feeling was there would be far fewer, would be significant but fewer. that's not the case. it's matching about where it was four years ago. that would be good news for rick santorum who no doubt has been making that pitch to iowa voters. you had been talking about it which is, you know, don't settle. don't go for a moderate candidate. vote with your heart. be bold he said in an event i saw him at yesterday. and faith is such a big part of his campaign and his campaign appeal. and ron paul, look, you heard mike huckabee who won on the republican side four years ago say that if ron paul were to win tonight it would confuse the campaign, that it would in many ways be a bad sign because he said in no uncertain terms that he can't be the nominee. a couple of very important things to look at tonight. >> let me ask you, david, about the numbers again.
i was looking, as we all know, huckabee won last time in these caucuses. he had about 38%. and i remember from looking at the polling that 60% at that time said they were evangelical and of the 60% of the electorate basically in the caucuses that yielded a 38% win for huckabee. you know, going into this thing tonight people were telling us as you said that only about a third of the voters were evangelical. if that number pops up as you say to around the 60% level that could explain why santorum is in the early running here and maybe even the winner. >> i don't think there is any question about it. and if, you know, four years, interesting in terms of issues, immigration was the most important issue. you have to imagine the economy is going to out pace that tonight but, again, if family issues, keeping the family together, that -- an article in the "new york times" today, for a lot of families life is getting tougher. to live, raise your family.
iowa particularly evangelical voters could be sending a much different message. they may not be in a pragmatic mood. they may be in a much more message sending mood. that could be somebody that helps a ron paul, helps rick santorum, may not be quite as good for mitt romney who is talking in the last couple of days about perhaps winning here with 22, 23% of the vote, you know, depending on that evangelical turnout. it could be a higher margin. >> you are going to have such an event next sunday morning. you'll have, we are looking at possibly the victor among the evangelicals, the victor who would be santorum, the victor among the libertarians that would be of course ron paul and perhaps the victor among the d moderate and business republicans. you'll have all three of these guys in a three ring circus come next sunday morning. that is going to be one morning to watch. >> well, it's going to be an important debate because it is a couple days before the new hampshire primary where somebody
is going to have some momentum coming out of here. i've been saying all the time now that mitt romney is still setting the tone for this. if he were to be able to win here tonight that's very important. to go into new hampshire, a state where he is favored, no republican has won both iowa then gone on to win new hampshire. it's tough to do. if he does and if there is some blood in the water you might have a legitimate number to a socially conservative alternative to romney. it's been a constellation. not one candidate yet. as you've been talking about, a libertarian wing of the party. isolationist, libertarian wing of the party. no real faith in government. these are powerful forces within the republican party. this could be a longer contest than we might think. >> yeah. thank you, david gregory moderator of "meet the press." let's bring in the former chair of the republican party michael steele now an msnbc political analyst. i'm looking at the map we just saw. tell us about the map. two coasts and ed schultz jumped
on this, the evangelicals in the middle not buying romney at this point. >> they're not. that's been the story from the very beginning. it has not changed. it still surprises me that people are surprised by that. the base has made it very clear that this individual, mitt romney, has not sold them on him. and so this is an opportunity for them to send out a message tonight on that very point. this is the first time the base gets to put their voice in the mix here in a legitimate way that people have to pay attention and if the trend lines, you know, of course these early entrance polls, you have to be careful with them but if the trend line is as tamron pointed out and you've discussed continues santorum could be the beneficiary in a very big way tonight. >> then if you look ahead to next weekend which i and every junkie in the world is looking ahead to next saturday night the abc debate and the meet the press debate the next morning it is a double header of incredible fire because newt gingrich we all know will get back in almost like a revenge killing.
>> he'll light it up. >> the other two candidates, santorum, whoever comes in short tonight, will try to get back in the lead. if romney comes in short tonight he'll try to get back in the lien. ron paul may not be big in new hampshire but i'm thinking about where this is heading for, perhaps, is an incredible fight with newt gingrich trying to get back in the lead again. >> yep. >> romney perhaps sitting on victory tonight. perhaps santorum on a victory tonight. this is going to be one incredible weekend of politics. >> it really is. you think about the runup to new hampshire, exclusive of the face to face they'll have in the debate what they'll be doing on the ground, the momentum that will come for rick santorum even if he doesn't win, he comes in a strong second, that's going to be an incredible push for his effort. not just the evangelicals but conservatives who have said in a very principled argument that we want someone who reflects our values. those guys are going to galvanize and begin to coalesce and that is something the romney people have always been concerned about. newt represented that. that's why they took him out.
now you have someone like santorum has an opportunity to bring those various factions if you will together and coalesce around him which is why i go back to what i said on your show and others have they had a meeting yet? have the conservative members of this team who are running for president had that meeting? looks like the members, the grass roots are having that meeting for them. >> i wonlder whether romney can be as devastating in putting together the baggage of santorum as he was with going after gingrich. >> that's going to be tough. you can strike that, you know, at that rock once and maybe you get some gold or water. i don't know about hitting it twice. >> this fight is only beginning. thank you. back to you. >> thank you. i have to say i'm sort of having a little cognitive disdense here. what we're talking about is a race that is too early to call and there are three contenders. it's not just mitt romney and rick santorum. there is this guy ron paul. and he is out there and nobody, it's like he's a -- he doesn't have form in the room.
there is never discussion about whether any other republican candidate will ever try to compete for his voters. ron paul voters are human beings. >> you have to did depart from republican orthodoxy to go at them in any way. you have to become more of a peacenik than gene mccarthy ever was. you see what santorum does with that. he goes after them. actually ron paul pushes santorum to the point of saying i will bomb iran. i'll do it. >> i'll tell them which button. >> so if ron paul ends up pushing these guys in the other direction i've said it before. the obama campaign needs to study that 58% that tamron was talking about of the voters under 30 who are going at ron paul. those people are available to the obama campaign. >> i think that republican politics, it's being seen as more inflexible than it is because there's a reason why ron paul is not running as a libertarian. ron paul is running as a republican. >> it's a debate. if he was running as a
libertarian we'd never speak of his existence. >> he is running as a republican and might be about to win the iowa caucuses. the result can't just be that the republican party says not our politics. >> sure it can. mike huckabee. it's the iowa caucuses. >> with mike huckabee don't some people end up taking the politics and at least making a play? >> i think the issue positions of the paul base are not reconcilable with main stream republican orthodoxy and there is no way to reconcile them. i think the danger for republicans is that ron paul would run as an independent candidate. i think the reason he won't do that is because of his son senator rand paul. and i think that if he were to run as an independent, hand the election to president obama, there would be devastating political consequences and retribution on senator rand paul. i don't think he would do that to his son. >> so he wins iowa tonight and the republican response is everybody who voted for ron paul for the majority winner tonight in iowa go vote for obama? >> i think that there is a view, conventional wisdom view that a
national security issues that the republican party is monolithic. i think ron paul points out after a decade of twar is not. there is a statistically significant percentage of people participating in these early contests that are part of the republican base that are tired of, quote-unquote, the military adventurism abroad. i think that debate, that fissure has been opened up in the party and i think it is something that will play out over time. >> jon huntsman says he wants afghanistan. >> i think that gives an opening in these debates this weekend that chris and david were talking about for gingrich. if i'm gingrich, on the stage like i was in '04, i walk in that debate and talk about the extreme positions of ron paul both on the right and the left because he is as extreme on the right with some of the stuff that's come out on him as the left and say, but mr. romney, you said you would vote for him. mr. santorum, you said you would vote for him. i'm the only one on this stage that said i wouldn't vote for ron paul.
i would use it as a stick so as much as rachel is right, they'd seem to divorce themselves but when they were asked the question would you vote for ron paul, santorum, and romney said they would vote for him extremist baggage and all i would hang that around their neck like a medallion. >> ron paul has tapped into something that the republican party hasn't had -- young people socially liberal fiscally responsible and they don't want anything to do with war. it's almost like a movement. and when i was down in iowa his stump speech is almost exactly what he says in the debates. he never talks about the iowa manufacturing or the iowa farmer or the small town health care. i mean, it's all this big talk about how bad america is and what we've got to do with the fed and everything else. you know the routine. but young people are gravitating to him. i saw that in the room in newt in iowa. it's the socially liberal fiscal responsible kids that don't want to pay for anything else so they
don't want to go to war. how big a tent is that with the republican party? only time will tell. >> we've got some first numbers. >> no one cared. no one knew he was doing it. running as a republican puts him in televised debates and people talk about what he thinks. that's why he's doing it. >> let me interrupt for a moment. we have a couple of our first numbers, very small numbers but here is what we've got in terms of our iowa results thus far. 9, 4, and 3 are vote totals right now 43%, 19%, and 14% the division of labor between ron paul, rick perry, and mitt romney. this is only 1% of the vote in so extrapolate from this at your peril. at this point the nbc call on this is still that this is too early to call and that the three candidates contending to win in iowa tonight are ron paul, mitt romney, and rick santorum. i want to go to chris matthews in des moines. chris, on the issue of whether
or not ron paul's supporters are available to be courted by any means in the republican party or if they are seen as a species apart. what's your view on that? >> well, i think the republican party has, unfortunately, for it, built itself over the droppings of the democratic party for about 50 years. they picked up all the segregationists who went from the democratic party after the civil rights bill of '64 and the voting rights act. they all became republicans because the republicans were seen as the more rightist party. then of course you've got the moral majority who left after the prayer decision. they all moved over there. then you've got the neo cons who are formally liberal some of them all moved over there. they are so junk laden with these droppings for the democratic party they can't think. if they could think, if they were a dynamic political party, they would listen to ron paul because they would hear in him the voice of barry goldwater, the old conservative party that took a reasonable view toward foreign policy, that wasn't crazy about this religious zeal
to go to war in the middle east over and over and over again, that wasn't moved around by the neo cons. it would be a party that could think about foreign policy. the republican party today can't open its mind to ron paul's reasonable question how can we keep over extending ourselves in the world at no cost? because there is a cost. it keeps driving us into more and more involvement in foreign policy. more and more defense spending because of more and more involvement. and yet they can't think. i think everything tonight -- their mind is closed because of these droppings they've picked up from the democratic party. the neo cons have closed down their mind just like the segregationists closed down their mind about civil rights and the moral majority closed down their minds about social issues. the party is dying of this intake, from the democratic party. that's my thought. >> chris matthews, what you are saying about the republican party and its avail iblt at least its openness to hear the
foreign policy message is part of the reason that i think jon huntsman even if he is only starting in new hampshire is worth listening to because part of jon huntsman's core message is let's get out of afghanistan now. he also is mixing that message by saying we should have stayed in iraq longer but at least he is making a gesture toward this idea that some of these wars got to end sometime. i think that may actually make him, may resonate at least if ron paul does very well tonight in iowa and jon huntsman is there to collect some of that feeling in new hampshire. >> well, he's half right. >> he's half right. >> ron paul is a disastrous vehicle for the anti-war message in the republican party because there are so many other reasons why republicans should not in favor of him. he is to the right of every republican on medicare and social security. he would abolish them. you know that he is to the right of everyone in this country on the civil rights act, segregated restaurants were okay with him. you had that interview with him which will last forever. as one of the biggest reasons
why republicans have -- should stay away from him. i think it's fantastic that there is someone who delivers an anti-war message in those debates to those republican audiences who would never hear it otherwise. but he's got all of these other serious defects in his candidacy. >> and so jon huntsman. maybe. >> the tractionless jon huntsman. >> doesn't have the civil rights baggage and the other baggage but that's why i said he is extreme right and extreme, he is left when it comes to war but how are you going to vote for a guy that says the civil rights act of '64 is wrong and government shouldn't interfere with privacy which is antiwomen's rights, immigration rights. i mean, he's to the far end on both sides and i think it does open the door for huntsman but according to what tamron is saying he may appeal to a lot of young people. the question is, can he bring them out? and so far tonight we haven't seen that. >> well, he also brings up these outlandish proposals, saying how many bases we have around the world and asking the question of
the crowd how long have we been in japan. how long have we been in korea? i'm going to end all that and bring them home and shut them down. you can't do it. how could the republicans ever embrace something like that? he has an isolationist attitude that's on steroids. and the republicans will never be able to embrace that in any way, shape, or form. >> i'm telling you it's all jon huntsman. the only person in america who believed this. all right. iowa has more than 1700 precincts action tonight. we will look in on one of them. that is just ahead on msnbc's coverage of the iowa caucuses continuing in just a moment. [ male announcer ] the more you lose, the more you lose,
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but based on the early entrance polling we can say that ron paul, mitt romney, and rick santorum are the three candidates who are competing to win tonight in iowa. let's check back in on one of the caucus sites. some middle school which is in johnston, iowa, just outside of des moines. nbc's ron mott is there. ron, how are things going? >> hey, rachel. they have just voted to suspend any further stump speeches from the campaigns, themselves. they are now voting. they're taking those presidential preference polls as i speak. already tonight we have heard from rick santorum and making a final plea to these voters himself in person. anita perry came here to stump for her husband texas governor rick perry. j.c. watts was here speaking on behalf of newt gingrich. josh romney was here to speak on behalf of his father and former governor mitt romney. and there was a surrogate here for michele bachmann as well. so the voters have heard from these folks. they are investing a lot of time tonight to listen and now they are about to be heard. they are going to write down the name of the candidates they support on a simple piece of paper.
all the little pieces of paper will end up back at the front of the room and then they will count them. the candidates will stand over that process to make sure every vote is counted and at the end of this process announce those results. everyone xuries home to turn on the television and then they're hoping that at the end of the night their candidate is the leader of the pack. as we've been reporting all weekend so many voters are coming into these caucus meetings undecided or in a position to say they could be swayed at the last minute by the stump speeches. there were some emotional moments. rand paul talking about his dad and really emotional terms and how hard he has worked on the ground here. rick santorum talked about how you have to come to iowa. you can't buy the vote here. you must earn it. that got a lot of applause here in this middle school cafeteria today. so we should know here in relative short order how they are preferring their candidates here at least at this precinct. >> let's check in now with the romney campaign and with the santorum campaign. nbc news correspondent peter alexander is at romney campaign headquarters in iowa and nbc's
kelly o'donnell is at santorum campaign headquarters. kelly, let's start with you. what are you hearing tonight from santorum's folks and how optimistic are they? >> well, they do feel good about it. one of the biggest ways they can identify that is they say fund raising has gone up about 350% in the past six days. as ron was telling us rick santorum is out talking to voters in the final hours tonight. he and his wife karen each hitting about four of the caucus sites. they feel good about it because they think they did it the old school way. he's done about 380 town hall meetings in iowa, spent more than 100 days in the state, and much of that time went largely unnessed or was a very intimate setting very different than what we've seen on the campaign trail within the last few days where there has been not only enormous national media presence but international media as well. that struck me when i was out on the road with him. so what they hope to do is to be able to consolidate not only the
support of people who have had a chance to meet him but reaching out to the christian conservatives who might have had interest in rick perry or michele bachmann who have also done so much to try to reach that evangelical vote. consolidating that. they're also ready to jump ahead to the next couple of states saying they will have him on the ground in new hampshire tomorrow evening with events in south carolina trying to make this more than an iowa moment for rick santorum and trying to show that retail politicking the old way of meeting people and talking to folks without as much money could make an impact. rachel? >> kelly, you've seen a lot of campaigns up close i know. what is your assessment of the scaleability of the santorum campaign about whether or not they can actually handle the increased capacity necessary from them just organizationally if they are now expected to compete as a top tier campaign both in new hampshire and in south carolina and beyond? >> well, what they talk about is the help from volunteers. here in iowa they have about
1300 precinct captains to help steer people's support at all of these caucus sites. they've got about 169 lined up in new hampshire. what happens is when the money flows so do the support and help of professionals in the republican party but it is a huge transition. watching lots of campaigns in the past that don't have all the infrastructure. it can be difficult. it puts an enormous strain on the candidate who will be tested at every turn and on advisers to make sure events look right. for example tonight we've seen them change the sign at least three times trying to settle on what they want the podium to look like tonight. i suspect they booked this room long before they knew they would have this sort of surge. it's smaller than you might see for a front-runner so might be another intimate night here with santorum supporters. >> nbc's kelly o'donnell at the santorum campaign headquarters tonight. thank you. we'll be checking back in with you as the night progresses. appreciate it. joining us now is peter alexander at the romney campaign headquarters in iowa. peter, there's a lot of talk
about what the romney campaign is trying to do to manage expectations. what's the latest from them in terms of what they want people to expect about mitt romney's performance tonight? >> that certainly is the case to give you some comparison. it was this time four years ago that the romney camp had completed 77 days in this state. this time around just 16 days. but the expectations are growing here for strong performance. a campaign official telling us a short time ago they feel good about tonight and that whatever happens here they believe will be considered a victory as they move forward. we were speaking about some of the other candidates and how they've been going out to stump on their own behalf in these caucuses tonight. the romneys have sent out four sons to do it for them as well as ann romney who just intersected with rick perry at one of those caucus sites a short time ago as well as the republican senator from south dakota john thune speaking on mitt romney's behalf as well. the campaign here though they're also trying to flex its muscles in a unique way and the last week this is the only campaign
that has campaigned both here and in new hampshire. overnight the candidate himself will stay here. the governor doing the morning talk shows. then he flies to new hampshire heading to south carolina just a day later and while there are other candidates who are doing that, mitt romney today announcing in an effort to sort of show his strength that he has his new ad buy in the state of florida. consider this, rachel. in that state 370,000 voters, 370,000 gop voters have already requested absentee ballots. that's more voters than voted in both new hampshire and in iowa in the caucus and primary in those states four years ago combined. >> nbc's peter alexander at romney headquarters tonight. that is stunning. thank you. appreciate it. newt gingrich is making plans to fight back against what he says is an onslaught of negative ads against him. that's what he blames his fall in the polls in iowa on. for the latest from the gingrich campaign and their strategy we turn to nbc's andrea mitchell who hosts "andrea mitchell reports" week days here on
msnbc. what are you hearing? >> we are hearing, and this is reporting by michael isikoff and others and people close to the gingrich campaign that they are really preparing to fight back. newt gingrich told us on msnbc today he was going to fight back and mitt romney would have a target on his back. they realize that they really made a mistake, a tactical mistake in not fighting back against that romney supporting super pac which issued a barrage of really nasty campaign ads. the negative advertising here, there were $17 million of advertising. nearly half of it negative. a lot of it directed against newt gingrich. so he has decided to fight back. we hear that there is going to be in the new hampshire union leader a full page ad describing him as the only reagan conservative and that his super pac is going to go on the air with really tough ads against romney. first of all targeting romney on abortion policies and on gun laws. now, it remains to be seen
whether they have the money to really compete. they had raised about $9 million in the last quarter and spent a lot of it in iowa. whether they have the money to really go up against mitt romney on the air head to head remains to be seen but newt gingrich is certainly indicating that he's not backing out. this is also a preemptive shot because early indications are that he is trailing badly at least that certainly is the indication from what we're hearing, the early reports, too early to call. we know the top places are held by ron paul, mitt romney, and rick santorum not newt gingrich. >> andrea mitchell, thank you from des moines tonight. i appreciate that. thank aut home for staying with us. it is interesting to note when we start thinking about iowa's role not just in picking winners but losers and winoing people out who do poorly in iowa, any candidate tonight who was talking about what they are going to do next is not talking about dropping out. and so anybody who is not in what we now know expect to be the top tier, mitt romney, rick
santorum, and ron paul tonight in terms of the people we're watching contending for the win tonight in iowa, these too early to call caucuses at this point, anybody outside that group talking about what they are going to do next is emphatically not talking about dropping out and i think that's as much as a message from them as we may get tonight. tonight rather than conducting exit polls from the caucuses we have entrance polls. what people say they are going to do when they go into the caucuses. up next more of what iowa caucus goers are saying matters to them tonight. we'll have more from the iowa caucuses with msnbc straight ahead.
at about six mints before 9:00 p.m. on the east coast nbc is now characterizing the iowa caucuses as too close to call. but again, based on early entrance polling ron paul, mitt romney, and rick santorum are competing to win. rather than calling this too early to call it is now being described by nbc news as too close to call. rick santorum, ron paul, mitt romney all in contention to win tonight in iowa. we have now more from our own entrance polling and for that we go to tamron hall. >> we've now interviewed more than 700 republicans arriving at the caucuses tonight and our nbc news entrance poll, we're starting to get a clear picture of why ron paul, mitt romney, and rick santorum are competing
to win. ron paul is winning 52% of voters under the age of 30 48% of whom call themselves politically independent and 40% of those who say the most important quality in a candidate is that he is a true conservative. now for mitt romney electability is key. he is getting 48% of voters who say the most important quality is that he can beat obama in november. romney is also winning, 36% of voters with income over $100,000 and 36% of those who say working in business better prepares a candidate for president than working for government. the factors helping rick santorum, voters who say abortion mattered most in their candidate. 48% of them went to him. he also did well among voters who said the most important candidate quality is strong, moral character. 27% of those who call themselves very conservative. so those are some of the reasons iowans are choosing these three candidates and the top tier that we're seeing tonight, we'll have
much more from our polls as the night goes on. >> tamron, thank you. again, the entrance polling, the way this works is that nbc is speaking with republican caucus goers as they are walking into the caucuses. they're talking to people about what's important to them and what they intend to do once they are inside that caucus. it's not the same exactly as an exit poll where you talk to people coming out of someplace where they have just voted and they tell you what they have done but it does give you a sense on whose turning out to vote, what matters for them, and what is driving their decisions. to see 31% of people who decided today going to rick santorum is very interesting. 41% in the latest des moines register poll said they were undecided as of this weekend. watching the late breaking decision. it's going to be fascinating.