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tv   NOW With Alex Wagner  MSNBC  January 12, 2012 9:00am-10:00am PST

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>> it's huge. we haven't had a campaign like this since the 1970s. and in the 1970s, the dolr numbers weren't even as close as to they are now. it does two things. one, the big money is not in the campaigns anymore. the big money is in the super pacs. so the campaigns which used to control the message now has deferred some of that responsibility to the super pac. the second is, you have this sort of shell game. it's not just reporters who are calling ate shell game, advocates calling it a shell game, it's the people, i quote nick tyler who's running newt gingrich's super pac -- >> i believe that we have -- i have that quote on my card. super pacs, tyler admits, are a "horrible abomination for a freedom-loving people in a constitutional republic. doing this while maintaining an independence from gingrich as the rules demands requires," as tyler recalls, "a big shell game." the supreme court when they ruled in 2010 to allow these things to happen decided almost as a matter of fact that independent expenditures were, and this is a quote, do not rise to the level of corruption or the appearance of corruption.
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that was their sort of factual finding. and they base this on this idea that you can keep independent expenditure campaigns independent. in practice, nobody believes that right now. it's technically independent in that mitt romney does not actually design the ad or make the buy that his pac makes. but in almost every other way, mitt romney is showing up a at the fund-raiser for the pac. the pac, in mitt romney's case and rick tyler's case with newt gingrich, is saying very clearly, we are taking our cues from the candidate. we are doing what he says publicly. that is our message as well.% so in practice, you have this very strange legal construct, which is allowing the campaigns to have unlimited dollars come in from their -- >> but what's -- what -- well, what's amazing to me is how quickly the other shoe fell. i mean, even in the debates, and i want to play some sound, when the candidates are asked about this, they have no defense. it's so apparent that there is collusion, if not direct communication between those that are working for the super pacs and the objectives of the campaign. let's listen to gingrich and romney in a debate during the nbc debate sunday of last week.
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of this week. >> governor, i wish you would calmly and directly state, it is your former staff running the pac, it is your millionaire friends giving to the pac, and you know some of the ads are untrue. >> of course it's former staff of mine, and of course they're people who support me. >> well, of course, they are. wendy shiller, you were starting to say, how is this different -- >> i think we have to be very careful. the media is very good at associating the super pacs with different candidates. instead of this corruption, right now it's not that secret. we know who's giving the money for the pacs, we know who they're supporting. in a democracy, you want as much information as possible. this information is not always good, it's distorted. but in some ways, liberals have to think to themselves, wait a minute, do we want to get rid of these super pacs or do we want more and more of them. they crowd the airwaves and they compete with each other. liberals and people who support obama love that. >> we don't know where all the money is coming from. we don't know, in some cases, because you can actually, as
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stephen colbert has so m mischievously pointed out, you can give money to one group and it will give it to another, and it feels like a legal type of laundering. but it's true we could try to create çrules, congress could legislate more rules of disclosure, and realtime disclosure. the internet is available. >> i think disclosure requirements have -- i mean, the gaming of the disclosure requirements is another thing. i think when we talk about who is behind the super pacs, what is interesting to me, and if we take the example of the gingrich super pac and sheldon adeleson who came in and basically gave the gingrich campaign a $5 million infusion of capital, which is being used largely in ads in south carolina, one single person has the ability to really change the race. and that single person, sheldon adeleson, has his own views, which in some ways mitt romney sort of parrots back -- i'm sorry, did i say mitt romney? to what degree does newt
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gingrich feel like he is under the thumb of sheldon adeleson? who what degree is he beholden to that money? he is supporting his campaign at this point. >> none of the candidates like the super pacs. it makes liars out of everyone. they have to toe this line. it's very uncomfortable. and let's be honest, no one's going to benefit from the super pac more than barack obama in the general election as well. let me say this about newt, newt gingrich. newt gingrich is a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown, okay? he is scorned, he is betrayed, and he is out for revenge. he is, you know, to the prom king that is mitt romney, the scorned woman. and as a woman, let me tell you, miss gingrich, do what we all do -- >> and by miss gingrich, you will mean mr. gingrich? >> go home and eat a tub of ben & jerry's and cry in the corner in private. this is very unbecoming behavior. and it's become so personal for newt gingrich. this is no longer about winning the presidency. ìyrñ it's like a country song.
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>> s.e., to that point, i think there's something to be said for the fact that newt gingrich is launching this attack against romney, certainly his attacks against romney at bain -- >> another terrible idea. >> i think there's a flip side, though. >> which he's walking back. >> i think there are some on the right who have sort of been sitting on their hands as far as mitt romney and see romney getting attack for basically conservative principles, and are now -- >> for capitalism. >> yes. and are now rallying around romney in a way that they haven't before. >> it's the best thing that could have happened to him. >> and by being attacked so viciously, it almost engenders sympathy for romney. >> this attack is coming too soon to play as well as it could for obama. i'm not sure it's true that none of these candidates like these. the candidates were asked specifically, will you tell these pacs to stop running these ads? and both romney and gingrich stopped, you know, wouldn't go there. they don't want to go there. they say they would like to control the money, but romney
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has shown up at fund-raisers for his pac. it's not like you would show up a a fund-raiser for a pac you hate. newt gingrich was asked if he would disown these ads and say, i hope people watch the movie. >> i think you're making a good point, but there's such a tendency for the media to play gotcha over the candidate themselves. the path to reform here is passing something like what senator durbin has, the fair elections now act is bringing campaign finance reform in and having public funding. you're not going to fly the airplane and build it at the same time. you're not going to have an individual candidate, unilaterally disarm, because they technically don't like the idea. you have to have structural reform. >> and getting money out of politics, however, has proven to be if not a fool's errand, a very difficult thing. and i look at, you know, how successful mitt çromney's supe pac was, in basically just cratering newt gingrich's numbers in iowa. why would he want to -- >> but they're not making stuff up. let's remember. they're not making stuff up. newt gingrich had a pretty long past. he was getting hit on things he
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did or he was part of. and bain and the entire thing about romney in terms of capitalism, it's not just capitalism, it's a particular form of capitalism, and in some cases, we're trying to figure out whether romney's exaggerating his successes or claiming he did things for the good and they weren't good. i mean, this is not like out of thin air, right? pacs are exaggerating and they're distorting, but they are resting, basically, their ads on things that have happened or are associated with the candidates. >> and gingrich lost the capitalism argument. i don't have a movie reference ready to explain this point, because i'm not the film major. >> she's a woman on the verge. >> i'm not the film major that you are. butly say that gingrich came out and he tried to make a main street versus wall street argument. he played that out for a few days. he got hammered and he's just come back and started to back off and say, i went over the line. what line did he go over? he's not criticizing steve jobs or the retail and restaurant industry. he's talking about a slice of private equity and how it works. >> what he's admitting is it was ineffective. he's not saying it was wrong,
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he's saying it was ineffective and that's all that newt cares about. >> with $18 million spent thus far in this election cycle, we can expect that super pacs will be around until at least the end of 2012. coming up, obama 2012 is pulling in big dollars. we'll take a look at the numbers and examine where all this super pac cash could be better spent. that's next on "now." [ sponge ] the prognosis is bleak. you may need to soak overnight. nurse...! [ female announcer ] dawn power clean can give you the power of an overnight soak in just 5 minutes. [ sponge ] it's a scientific miracle! [ female announcer ] dawn does more. [ sponge ] so it's not a chore. [ female announcer ] dawn does more. i remember the day my doctor told me i have an irregular heartbeat, and that it put me at 5-times greater risk of a stroke. i was worried.
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too many obama supporters think we don't need their money or they don't need to give now. we have to build a neighborhood organization on the ground now. not in six months. and that takes your resources and your donations today. >> that was president obama's campaign manager, jim massena, in a new message to supporters. the president and the dnc
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announced raising $68 million in the fourth quarter of last year. we wereç talking about the rol of super pacs. obama, of course, has his own super pac, or one that purports to support him, priorities usa action. however, if you put the numbers up, if you comparison shop among super pacs, priorities usa raised $3.2 million as of june of 2011, which is not a small figure, but if you look at what's happening on the right, you know, store our future, mitt romney's super pac, $8.9 million. make us great again, rick perry's super pac, $3.4 million. the money in super pacs seems to lie distinctly with the right. that's not to say that the white house is not making a very big push for direct donations to obama and the dnc. >> i think that's a function, though, of the political environment that we're in. we have the nominee set on the democratic side, the white house doesn't have the real primary, is basically able to take what is an impressive small donor base, including like 200,000 new
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donors in the most recent quarter, which was a striking figure out of that larger number you said, and have message discipline. that was one of the things i remember people groaning about. i was on the plane with obama in 2008, and a lot of the party infrastructure, you know, used to be in america coming together and other groups trying to help. and they built such a machine that they consolidated it all and they cut people out and they kept more discipline. so michael talks to the white house all the time, but my sense, if you agree, is that they want to keep as much in house and on message as possible. >> for sure. >> you're talking about big donors. they can do, at this point, one of two things. they can go into their study and write a fat check and feel like they're done with it or call a thousand of their friends and raise money there them. the message definitely from the obama campaign right now, from these very wealthy supporters is we want you on the phone, we don't want your fat check, even though they specifically couldn't ask for the fat check, et cetera, et cetera. >> the limits being towards the campaign -- >> right. i think the issue with priorities usa and bill burton's group is i think probably
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romney's super pac will have more money at the end of the day. what we don't know yet is, you can write these checks at the last minute. we saw with the adelson donation, there could be a lot of donors lined up. why give now? it will come out in the disclosure reports you file and then you're just going to be hit over and over and over again. why are the unions supporting this group, et cetera, et cetera. wait until the last minute and the money will come in. burton's group has talked about $100 million as a target. that's not huge, but that's not small either. >> $100 million, yeah, it doesn't sound like a small sum of money. >> what's worth mentioning is that last year, president obama and the dnc raised $222 million. in the fourth quarter alone, they raised $68 million. interesting comparison, bush and cheney reached $239 million in 2003, at a similar point in his presidency. >> but those are small donations. that's another thing that the white house is touting -- >> 98% were for $250 or less. does that make it better? >> ask buddy roemer. he is only taking checks of less
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than $100. >> well, i think when you talk about money in politics -- >> it does make it better for the president. i think it says that this is what he really ran on in 2008, how he can mobilize people, get people involved. small donations, even if they're coming from wealthy people, suggests that people are getting more energized and starting to rally back around the president. that's at least the spin they'd like to put on the money. >> and i think it's better in the sense that if you look at the supreme court's precedent in this area, the concern is what the professor said. corruption or the appearance thereof. and the smaller the amount of money, the less likely you're dealing with someone who pooled, the way michael said, or individually, isç giving moneyo try to pressure someone for specific legislative outcome, right? the small donors tend to be people who are interested in supporting someone they already agree, going to an event, you know, to get a photo with the person, whether it's congressional or presidential. >> it's an expensive photo. >> it is, but it's something people feel proud of. your friend calls you and says,
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my buddy for congrefrom college running for congress and will you give them $100? those are the three or four ways that don't involve industrial pressure. >> and small donations are an emotional act. the reason you as a common citizen give a small donation is you're outraged about something or you're excited about something. and for obama and his supporters, there hasn't really been much in this cycle to either be outrage ordinary excited about. so the flood, when it comes, if it comes, h come later when you really have the later republican nominee and obama going head to head. when you have the convention. and the appeal will be, just go on your cell phone, a couple taps on your cell phone and that's ten bucks. >> i will say, $222 million in a time when people aren't making emotional donations ain't bad. worth mentioning, the super pac spending in south carolina has already surpassed $6 million. as a sort of reference point to that, as money is pouring into the state via ads in south carolina, there's almost $10%
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unemployment. the state cut medicaid spending by 2% and has cut $708 per student since 2008. one wonders, perhaps rhetorically, if the money could not be used for better purposes. but, of course, that is not for us to answer at this moment. after the break, is ron paul a rhino? and is he confusing an already confused republican çrace? the answer is next on "now." piro.obert
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it's pro-cool technology releases armies of snowmen masseuse who cuddle up with your soreness and give out polar bear hugs. technology. [ male announcer ] new bengay cold therapy. the same technology used by physical therapists. go to for a $3 coupon. our nominee needs to listen to some of the things that all of the candidates have been saying, particularly ron paul understanding that the federal reserve's out of control. that the government needs to be limited, and individual liberty is the core of republican principles. >> that was republican senator jim demint on "morning joe" today, talking aboutç embracin ron paul's brand of libertarianism.
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but do paul's isolationism and constitutional views run counter to the gop platform? is ron paul a true republican? willie geist is the host of "way too early" here on msnbc and our resident ron paul expert. >> am i? i just hope i can get through the segment without s.e. calling me a woman. good lord! harsh criticism over there. >> just bury your sorrows in a tub of ben & jerry's. we have ron paul on record saying he thinks he's a danger to the status quo. what do you make of that? is he a danger to the status quo? >> of course, he is. he's a danger if he runs as a third party candidate. he would re-elect president obama and the polls bear that out. if you put on paper a blind taste test that guy who won 21% in the iowa caucuses, a guy who can raise $1 million overnight if he needs to, has incredible energy around his campaign, you'd say, wow, that guy is for real. he's a challenger. then you tell people he's ron paul, and you go, oh, it's ron
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paul. the numbers tell you he is a challenger, and he is, insofar as as he run as a third party candidate. beyond that, he just chips away a little bit. but mitt romney certainly has to reckon with him. >> we talked a little bit yesterday about how does mitt romney build a house for ron paul supporters. you were out in new hampshire, i was out in new hampshire, i know you guys have experience with the new hampshire electorate. the folks that are going for ron paul are young, they're libertarian, they like his drug policy, his foreign policy, they're not that concerned about, you know, the dismantling of the fed in terms of his fiscal policy. it didn't feel like that was one of the big rallying banners under which they were rallying. but i think because he has soç much momentum among those voters for the gop, it would behoove the party to bring them into the fold somehow. i just don't know how you do it if you're mitt romney. >> it's very tricky. and mitt romney probably cannot do a convincing job without looking very transparent and sort of like a panderer.
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most of the republican candidates have acknowledged, sort of, generously, that they enjoy ron paul's fiscal conservatism, and that he has great ideas. but they have to back away from his foreign policy. because every one in the audience at the debate says, oh, what a brilliant statement, ron paul! and then it's followed by an, oh, i wish he didn't say that. that's how it goes with him. so mitt romney's going to have to walk a tight rope, courting this fiscal conservatism, this end the fed kind of ethos, while absolutely eschewing his foreign policy. >> i wonder, though, is he really -- is he a republican? we talk a lot about his position on certain things. foreign policy would seem to go counter to where the gop is at. you have folks like jon huntsman, i think, feeling pushed to say, we've got to get all the troops home from afghanistan, perhaps in a nod to ron paul supporters. but at the end of the day, shouldn't this guy be a third party candidate? >> well, he's a republican. he's a republican. i mean, he is -- he is finishing
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what reagan started. he wants to finish what reagan -- he makes look gingrich look like a pretender in terms of federal spending. he wants to starve the federal government of money so it can shrink and disappear. a lot of republican were isolationists in the 1940s and 1950s. this is not new to the republican party. i think this talk that he's not a republican is really convenient for the gop to get this guy out of the way. i think the second thing is he has to triangulate between support for him, for romney, anç what is he going to do for his son, rand paul. >> i want to see what willie says, but you know who does think he's a republican is a huge chunk of the voters in the first two states in the republican primaries. >> yeah, absolutely. >> and people who identify with the tea party put him in second in new hampshire. evangelicals put him in second in new hampshire. so it's not just this easy dismissal of saying, well, these states are representative. the self-identified conservative wings of the party are drawn to him, aren't they? >> yeah, and i think his supporters view him as more than
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a republican. he's a messenger for something. if you look at the exit polling out of new hampshire, they said, 77% said they were dissatisfied with the obama administration. four years ago, his supporters, 78% of them said they were dissatisfied with the bush administration. so it's not necessarily about whether it's a democrat or a republican in power, it's about raging against the machine if you're supporting ron paul. >> don't you find it interesting, though, and this is anecdotal, but remember, the idea around mccain is that he's so old. why isn't anyone pointing out that ron paul is like 300 years old? >> because i don't think they want to take him that seriously, because they seem him just as kind of a -- >> as a figurehead. >> to be fair, yoda lived to 420. >> you know what ron paul does that's unfortunate, the minute you try to take him seriously and look at all these numbers, he told abc last week, do you see yourself sitting in the white house, and he says, not really. >> not really. and ron paul has $13 million in the bank as of last quarter, so we will be seeing more from him.
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coming up next, the bain train rolls on. will the attacks on mitt romney help him in the long run? that's next on "now." ew. hey, mom? what? pay you? for what? for unloading the dishwasher?! kid, you need to pay me for making this delicious -- whoa. hold on there, mom. kitchen counselor. um, mom, i think what she means is "greasy dishes." yeah. in fact, check it out. cascade complete pacs are the ones with the real liquid top. they fight tough greasy messes better than the other tablet, which can leave more tough grease behind. oooh, clean. there's only one cascade. love it, or your money back.
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and that hurt so bad, to leave my home, because of one man that's got 15 homes. >> he's tearing down his 3,000-square-foot house to build an 11,000-square-foot house. >> i feel that is a man that destroyed us. >> that clip was from a newly released film by a pro-gingrich super pac. attacks on mitt romney's record and private equity are sending the republican party into an identity crisis. i do want to read a quote from dncç spokesperson brad woodhou, who said, "we'll be able to show what his rivals said about him and what workers have said about him. the fact that his own republican
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rivals from a party that talks about itself as being for the free market, are offended by about his practices in the private sector makes our case a lot easier." the bigger question here is, how much does this come into play in the general election? i mean, how long -- we've had very differing schools of thought. some folks say, get it out now. tear off the band-aid. by the time, if mitt romney is the nominee, by the time he's the nominee, american voters won't care. me, i think -- i'm not sure the american voters are paying that much attention to what's happening in south carolina. this is a great mountain of opposition research for the obama re-election campaign. >> yeah. i think -- and it goes to the painting of this caricature, that the obama administration wants to do, that the white house wants to do. the guys in chicago want to do, to make mitt romney the guy with the monocle and the top hat who lights cigars with a $100 bill and takes some perverse pleasure in firing people. >> i think it's a $10,000 bill. >> is it a $10,000 bill? >> whatever it may be.
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>> tip your waiters. >> newt gingrich and his super pacs are doing the heavy lifting already for obama. >> but you don't think this inoculates him? mitt romney's getting his shots now. when it times for barack obama to go after him in the general, he'll be immune to this. >> only if he responds well. this is his moment. this has time to say, this is my asset, you know how to run the economy, i'm good at business, i'm going to fight these charges and fight them well and hone this message so well that by the time march comes along, i will be ready. >> but he should be running towards this. saying, look, i was a successful business man. wy get to washington, you better believe i'm going to fire a ton k people. that's what you're electing me to do. he should embrace this. >> oh, s.e., i think you talk -- the quote, "i like being able to fire people," in a lot of ways, i think was taken out of context. but it was the fact that he said, "i like being able to fire people." not the idea that you can fire
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people who don't provide good services. but to go around and wrap your arms around the idea of firing people -- >> you can't be a successful man if you haven't fired people. you can't have it both ways. >> i understand that, but i think there's a pain that this country is feeling. and on the one hand, the country wants it both ways, right? if they're going to vote for mitt romney, it's because he's a very capable businessman, but you don't want to hear the fact that might mean you're losing your job too. >> most people in the united states are at-will employees. when you talk about being able to fire, what they hear is the instability in their own lives. and 16% or so don't have full-time employment anyway. so i do think, politically, it's just not the way you want to talk about it. although, i think s.e. is correct, that this is how business works and we can't pretend otherwise. >> that's how washington should work. >> the second point i want to make is we pick presidents by what they've done or what they can do, when they're non-incumbents. with obama, the campaign was all about what he can do. it wasn't that he ran a business or was a war hero.
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it's that he had special attributes, that he could bring this country together, and that he was a unique individual. and i think he sold that case pretty well. with mitt romney, it looks to me they're doing much more of a record on what he has done. so that is going to inevitably -- there was a quote in "the new york times" where his people said, we don't want to get into the hundred deals that bain did. this is what it looks like now with dribs and drabs. they'll have to go in, obama gave a couple speeches aboutç race and other big issues in america. romney's still got to give his bain capital speech and explain what he did. and i'm all ears, because we don't know all the facts. >> it was remarkable watching that pro-gingrich super pac. that is the exact message that you'll hear from the white house and you'll hear from progressives. and it's frankly, class warfare. he has 15 houses, 8,000 square feet, go into all the details of how wealthy he is. and that's coming from a pro-gingrich -- >> with a revolving $500,000 tiffany's account. >> romney needs to release his tax returns. he has to. >> nobody ever elected a poor
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president. we've got to stop out-riching people, who's the worst rich guy at the table. it's a losing argument. >> but i'm talking about bain, not his worth, not his net worth, but bain. >> but the clip we saw was of a woman complaining about his 15 houses. these are things we have to excise from the argument. >> it was a woman who'd lost her job at bain, you know, the company that bain took over, and sort of was contrasting that with, you know, the cushy life. >> his personal success. that argument. >> it's interesting that you think he needs to dub down and ari, you think he needs to embrace this. in the "wall street journal," fred barnes says, what mr. romney needs is a bigger idea to deflect attention from bain. he's treated the economy as susceptible to his personal care. that's insufficient. a bold plan for economic growth, especially a controversial plan with sweeping tax reform might work. but if not that, then at least do something that dwarfs bain and do it soon. >> no. i'm not in the advice business here. but mitt romney's problem is well known. he ran and passed a health care
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program that was in many ways the inspiration for barack obama. he positioned himself in many ways to the left of ted kennedy, explaining that he was a progressive moderate person in massachusetts. these are his words. these are facts. if he wants to override that overwhelming set of facts, he has to tell us other facts about what he's done in his life. he cannot just paper over it with this romney rhetoric and purple waves of grain and expect people to go, oh, i guess you're conservative. >> do you think he's glad that this bain story is taking the place of the real story, which is romney care? do you think he's glad for bain? >> i think this is a good period for him, because they were braced for so much worse. at the end of the day, this is a fight, as willie said, for votes and delegates, which they're winning. i don't think -- when i worked in the presidential campaign, we paid a lot more attention to delegates than what people like us were saying. >> and i think there's got to be some feeling. that to the original point that this diminishes the power of attacks by the white house, later on down the road, if, in fact, mitt romney's the nominee.
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although i think i would take issue with that, because i'm not sure how closely the american public -- >> you just did a romney-esque treatment of that romney issue. >> flip-flopper! >> but his experience is on the economy. that's why you'll vote for romney, theoretically, not obama in november. that is his strongest asset. that will be his biggest asset. he's got to find a way to package it much better. >> i set up shop outside one of the polling places in hooksett, new hampshire, stalking people as they came out, asking people who they voted for and why. the people who did not vote for mitt romney, i asked them specifically about the bain stuff, they didn't care. they talked about romney care and the flip-flopping and the idea that he had no core and he didn't seem like the guy that would be a good president. on the bain stuff, they said, i don't resent him for his success. >> the stalking poll -- >> that's what i do. >> not endorsed by a lot of news channels, but you get our ç endorsement. thank you, willie geist, for joining us, as always.
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and don't forget to catch "way too early," at a way too early hour at 5:30 every morning to get more willie geist. after the break, mind the gap. tavis smiley and dr. cornel west will join in on income inequality in america when they join our conversation, next. important phone call i made.
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and save up to thousands of dollars. call this toll-free number now. fantastic! [ man ] pro-gresso they fit! okay-y... okay??? i've been eating progresso and now my favorite old okay is there a woman i can talk to? [ male announcer ] progresso. 40 soups 100 calories or less. a new study shows growing tension between the rich and the poor, but mitt romney says income inequality should be spoken about in private. >> i think it's fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policies and the like, but the president has made this part of his campaign rally. everywhere we go, or he goes, we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and wall street. and it's a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and i think it will fail. >> joining us now to discuss this is the host of the tavis
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smiley show, tavis smiley, and princeton university professor, dr. cornel west. they are co-authors -- co-hosts, sorry, of the radio show, "smiley and west." they went on a poverty tour this summer and are hosting a discussion tonight called remaking america, from poverty to prosperity. thank you both for joining the show. i want to first, dr. west, get your thoughts on mitt romney's comment that issues of income inequality should be discussed in quiet rooms and that this is really all part of an envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach. >> no, i think that's going to be one of the subject matters that brother tavis is gathering tonight on c-span. we're going to talk about the difference between righteous indignation and envy. working people, poor people, for the most part, do not have envy for rich people. they have righteous indignation, because they're suffering. they're hurting. they're in pain. and when investment bankers were suffering and hurting, they got a bailout. that's called socialism for
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investment bankers. poor people hurting is envy. romney ought to be ashamed of 1 himself. >> wow, socialism for bankers. that is going on our twitter feed immediately. tavis, i want to ask you, there's a new pew research center poll out this morning that shows an increasing number of both democrats and republicans see conflicts between rich or poor. i was not as surprised by republicans acknowledging this, but a republican, 17 points up in terms of saying there is increasing conflict between rich and poor. does that surprise you, that the republican party understands this notion that there may be tension and strife among the classes? >> well, i'm always -- polls can be specious, as you know, alex, because people tell pollsters one thing and behave in other ways. i wish that the public policy pronouncements coming out of those, like mr. romney and others, who want to be president, were more consistent with those numbers.
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the bottom line, as i see it here in washington, at the moment, alex, there is a bipartisan consensus that the poor just don't matter. and as dr. west intimated a moment ago, if you don't speak the truth about the suffering of everyday people, then that suffering gets rendered invisible. so that poor people in this country right now are at best a political calculation. at worst, a political afterthought. >> do you think the, you know, the occupy protesters, certainly, i think, made an impact in changing the national dialogue to one that centered more on income inequality, but is it your feeling, dr. west, that the poor are still very much left out of that conversation? that it's too much of an emphasis on the working class? >> absolutely. brother tavis and i just finished this wonderful poverty manifesto called "the rich and the rest of us." and it's very clear like "the invisible man," poor people areç invisible. we do not accent their capacities or their abilities, and yet we are moving in a new era.
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the occupy movement is helping create a very new historical movement. where thing e ing ooligarchy be implode. we need democracy. >> ari, you know, we talk on this show a little bit about the census numbers we've gotten this year, and specifically the supplemental census numbers that show that one or two americans are living at or near poverty. and yet that never seems to get the pickup that i imagine that it should and could in the news media and in the national dialogue. >> i think that partly reflects what mitt romney is saying. that money is a sensitive subject, to our aversion to class in this country means that even people who are on food stamps may not talk about it. when you look at the numbers, it's actually very high. demonizing people who happen to need food stamps at one part in their life, which is part of the social safety net, isn't a good strategy, but newt gingrich said this was the food stamps president. the question i want to ask
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professor west, we were speaking earlier on this show, as i'm sure you're aware, over the past several days, aspects of basically a type of criticism, even if you think it's disingenuous, a type of criticism of the bain record and the roll of private equity in the u.s. economy has come from unlikely places. come from some of romney's competitors, including newt gingrich. you've written a lot about how ideas evolve, how ideas move around in our conversation. what is your take on that? why do you think those ideas percolated up into the republican primary and where does itç go from here? >> i think what has happened is that both the occupy movement, also the kind of work that brother tavis and others have done on poverty, we're moving more toward truth. and we want to know, what is the truth about the kind of capitalism that we have? is it predatory, is it vulgar? is it justified? is it legitimate? is it vicious? do we take seriously the suffering of working people or are they just marginal utilities to be calculated in order for
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profits to go up for shareholders and ceos. we want to know the truth about the kind of society that we live in. what kind of capitalism do we really have? >> do you believe gingrich when he says these things? do you think he's speaking his mind? >> i think he's touching on some very painful truths, but it's not just bain. there's a kind of predatory capitalism that's been at work for the last 30 years. i think his brother, warren buffett, who said class war's been going on and my class' been winning. he's got something to say there. >> i want to ask tavis, you know, one of the things we talk about in this conversation is income inequality, at which sometimes seems to fall on deaf ears vis-a-vis the gop. one thing the republicans do talk a lot about is the american dream. and yet, we have numbers out recently showing that mobility in the american society is increasingly -- well, it's decreasing. one university study said that 42% of the men, u.s. men, raised in the bottom stay there. do you think that that's something that will resonate
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more with the party that's, as yet, seems to be turning a deaf ear to the broader discussions of income disparity? >> i think, put simply, a alex, the new poor in this country are the former middle class. that's just a reality. most politicians during this season of campaigning feel that they need to speak to the angst of the middle class. well,ç if the middle class now are the new poor, the middle class now are the near poor, then the language has got to be changed. our political discourse is so bankrupt now, for even the right kind of language about how to talk about poverty in america. i hate terms like minimum wage. why not a living wage? it's more aspirational. i hate the term working poor. if you work, you ought not to be poor. i hate the term, jobless recovery. what kind of recovery is it if it's really jobless? i think what you're hitting on here is we've got to find the right kind of language, even, to talk to people, to get to their attention about how we advance the causes that we care about. which i think is poverty at the moment. we have another study that we were just reading.
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indiana university, the school of public and environmental affairs, put out a white paper just yesterday. there are two things i noticed right quick about that that were interesting. number one, and this augments your point a moment ago, alex. we now have the most significant number, the greatest number of americans in the history of this country who have been stuck now in long-term unemployment. and then on top of that, even as this economy starts to uptick, says the indiana university white paper, the numbers of the poor are still going to increase. because the anemic pace, the slow pace of the recovery, number one, because of long-term unemployment being so high, and number two, because the numbers of people stuck there are just so massive. so even as the economy starts to rebound, the numbers of the poor are going to expand. we can't go through another presidential campaign like the last, where poverty isn't discussed. >> thank you, again, to tavis smiley and dr. cornel west, for keeping poverty at the forefront of the national discussion. their special, re-making america, from poverty to
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prosperity, can be seen tonight onç c-span. thank you both, gentleman. >> thank you. thank you very much. coming up, what now? good news on housing? that's the a big question mark. what the latest foreclosure numbers reveal next on "now." i'm embarking on a journey of epic proportion. i will travel, from sea to shining sea, through amber waves of grain, and i won't stop until i've helped every driver in america save hundreds on car insurance. well i'm out of the parking lot. that's a good start. geico, fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent, or more on car insurance.
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welcome back. it's time for what now? elizabeth warren raised $5.7 4-ljt 2011 in her bid to be ter massachusetts' senator. worth mentioning, scott brown, her competitor on the right, raised 3.2 million in the last quarter. what do we make of elizabeth warren's candidacy? are we bullish? bearish? >> she's the one place progressives can go. if they're true believers and they want to really carry the flag right now, she fills all the boxes, she's saying the right thing, and she's in a very close race. it's going to be very exciting. everybody agrees. she's getting a lot of that national momentum that frankly the president is just not able to. >> and look, the senate doesn't have a lot of true progressives.
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there's bernie sanders, who's not identified as a democrat. if you're talking about progressives in the democratic party, you've lost byron dorgan, an economic populist, you've lost russ feingold, who just lost the election, and you lost paul wellstone, who died. >> even barney frank on the house side. >> but the senate, because it's statewide elections, you have so few true progressives. elizabeth warren would walk in and on day one be the de facto voice for -- >> and it was always going to be hard for scott brown to win that re-election. i'm from massachusetts, i can say this. >> are you pre-spinning scott brown's loss already? it's so early. >> that's what they do, ari. >> it's so early. >> he's going to lose. massachusetts likes elizabeth warren. she has the support, obviously, of barack obama. i think this is going to -- i think scott brown's in for a rough road. >> let's talk about housing. foreclosures were down 34% in 2011, but that news comes with an asterisk, which is to say, a lot of the reason the foreclosures were down is because some of the questionable foreclosure practices, such as robo signing, seems to have been
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put on ice, meaning they're sort of reassessing, the housing market is still not great. i feel like the housing question, as we talk about economic recovery, is the big unexplored sort çof, do you explore an elephant in the room? it's the elephant in the room. something we aren't paying enough attention to, certainly in the media, and certainly in terms of the national political dialogue. >> i think president obama has to, as part of his campaign election, he has got to put measure pressure on banks to allow people to stay in their homes. he's got really hard hit, particularly in the midwest, cleveland, places that are really, really hard hit, that can be saved in some ways. but he's got to show he's willing to put some pressure here. this is his problem with the populist progressives. people are angry with the president for not going harder on the banks and this is an opportunity to do that. >> the most important fact in the coming presidential election is where people see the economy in the next four or five months. and i think there's a downside to these sort of like almost positive headlines. you have the 200,000 jobs last month, you have this, maybe the housing market's getting better. if it's not continuing that momentum in four or five months,
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this is setting up to actually hurt the president. if people raise their expectations too early, beyond where the reality is, which is that the housing market still stinks, it plays against the president's hands. >> it would not be a full show if we did not mention sarah or todd palin. the first dude went rogue. that's sarah palin speaking about todd palin's endorsement of newt gingrich. what do we make of that? gingrich tweeted he was honored. >> can i just say, who cares? >> i want to know who trapp and bristol and willow are going to go with? i'm sure all the campaigns are on the phone right now trying to -- >> but isn't the lesson of america sort of celebrity politics, right? this woman was at the pinnacle, the top. everyone wanted to know about sarah, the reality show, her kids have reality shows,ç and w it's all gone. >> her endorsement is still going to matter. that's why she's come out to distance herself from todd's. she knows she still has some capital and she doesn't want
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anyone going rogue on her behalf. >> s.e., we'll be waiting for that endorsement with bated breath. that's all for now. i'll see you here tomorrow at noon eastern, joining the friday edition, nbc's luke russert, the sage of capitol hill, governor ed rendell, crossword aficionado, and television's dynamic duo, martin bashir and dylan ratigan. "andrea mitchell reports" is next. hello, andrea. >> next on "andrea mitchell reports," the republican primary race rolls into with south carolina, and up next, florida. we'll talk to the republican party chairs in both of those early contest states. plus, a mississippi judge puts a stop to some of haley barbour's pardons. and two years since the haiti earthquake, a colossal humanitarian failure. "andrea mitchell reports" is next, right here on msnbc. sple™ no calorie sweeteners. this bowl of strawberries is loaded with vitamin c. and now, b vitamins to boot. coffee doesn't have fiber. unless you want it to.
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