tv MSNBC Special Coverage MSNBC October 16, 2012 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT
surely a night to remember, a night even more to matter. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. right now, msnbc's coverage of the presidential debate continues with my colleague, rachel maddow. political common wisdom say debates don't move the needle. >> in my state, when people lose their jobs, there's a good chance i'll know them by their names. >> they may be compelling, they may be revealing, but supposedly they don't change the state of the race. so much for that. tonight, round two. obama versus romney. after round one shocked the race. >> what are the major differences between the two of you? >> romney got no lift from picking his running mate. romney got the opposite of a lift from his convention. romney got buried after the other side's convention. nothing was working, until that clear win in the first debate.
>> i don't have a $5 trillion tax cut. >> now, after the president's muddled first night, saving his best shots until the morning after. >> the fellow on the stage last night, who looked like mitt romney, said he did not know anything about that. >> after his vice president pulled no punches -- >> that's a bunch of malarkey. >> tonight in a way that the common wisdom says it never should be, tonight the race hangs in the balance. msnbc's coverage of the second presidential debate starts right now. rematch! round two, everybody. the second presidential debate tonight from hempstead, new york, on long island, at the
campus of hofstra university. thank you for watching it here with us at msnbc. i'm rachel maddow, at msnbc headquarters along with al schultz and al sharpton and chris hayes. we'll be joined by our friend, lawrence mcdonnell, who's reporting from the very overcrowded spin room at hofstra. both campaigns putting literally dozens of surrogates out tonight to spin each candidate's performance. we'll be joined by chuck todd for poll analysis tonight. we'll be joined by ezra klein for policy analysis. and from hempstead, long island, at the site of the debate, it is right now the one and only chris matthews. chris, has another incumbent president had stakes this high in a second debate? >> rachel, no. and the reason is so deep into the soul of president obama himself. what's missing in the obama campaign right now is not a couple of points on the scoreboard or the polling or even a couple of states that are getting tricky right now, it's a spiritual loss. this campaign, the obama camp needs a spiritual revival, and
only one man can bring it. it needs to see the leader out front. it needs to see the man they're fighting for, and what does he win? out there bringing the fight to the enemy? they need him playing strong defense tonight, saying my record is good. i saved the american auto industry. i brought this economy back from the brink of collapse. i gave women equal money for equal time. i saved a lot of things, especially the honor of this country, to not have 40 million people sitting in the emergency room among all the industrialized countries, we were the last to do it. i want to bring a lesson which comes from military war, which tells you what i think obama has to do tonight to regain that spiritual leadership. you know why the idf won the six-day war in israel against all its enemies? because the israeli tank commanders ride with their heads out of the top of the tank. that exposes them to the enemy. but it also gives them the most wonderful, clear vision of the land in front of them and the enemy. they expose themselves so they can do a better job leading the army. obama tonight has to take some chances.
he has to risk being hit hard by romney, by sticking his head out. he's got to stick his head out on the two fronts, defending his record as a good record, not something to hide from, and hit romney from his squirm and hiding and from everything he's ever said this entire campaign. that's what he has to do tonight to restore the spiritual leadership of his campaign. >> chris, in terms of that spiritual element and the sense of, i guess the colloquial sense of spirit, showing spirit in a debate, did joe biden do anything to sort of lay the ground for president obama to be more aggressive, to have a more spirited presence in tonight's debate than he did in the first one? >> well, we all, i think, agree. left right and center agree on what happened in that debate. joe biden won sheerly because of his energy level. he didn't win clean, he didn't win without getting some scratches on him. it was almost like joe frazier beat muhammad ali, but he couldn't show his face for two
days because he got beat up winning. joe biden fought a tough fight, but won because of one thing, his spirited nature of his soul in that fight. he believed in what he was doing, he believed in president obama, and the other guy was an intellectual who believed intellectually in thing, but he didn't have that gut, visceral connection to the fight. and that's why biden won. he can certainly teach that to obama. i always say, he's the guy who put the apostfree in obama. give him that fighting irish spirit. the first debate this year, pretty cleanly went to the republican side. and while that sounds like it would be exciting, at least for mitt romney supporters, the other hard truth about the first presidential debate this year, which we should be very honest about, is that the first debate this year was deadly boring. and that was thanks in part to the format. that was thanks in part to the
moderator's lighter than light touch. the candidates mostly just spun their wheels, deeper and deeper, all night long, in the same mud, on a very small number of topics, from which they did not move on and the moderator gave them no reason to move on. one of the reasons the second debate was comparatively riveting and exciting was because it moved quickly from topic to topic. vice president biden and paul ryan covered a lot of politically potent ground that the presidential candidates never touched, from the war in afghanistan to the issue of abortion rights, to the consulate taattack in libya, th mitt romney's remarks on 47% of the country being victims. all of those issues came up between joe biden and paul ryan, but we have not yet heard from president obama or mitt romney on any of those yet. nor have they been asked about in any detail on immigration, on china, on gay rights, either repealing don't ask, don't tell or the issue of gay marriage. they have not been asked about global warming, they have not been asked about mitt romney's refusal to release any tax returns from before 2010 or mr.
romney's offshore investments or mr. romney's career at bain capital and his offshoring history through that company. and after one of the longest wars in history was ended by this president, and with the longest war in our history set to wind down over the next two years, there has been zero discussion from any of these candidates at the presidential level or the vice presidential level about veterans, about keeping our promises to the 1% of the population that we have had fighting in our name for more than 11 years now. ed schultz, when you look at what has been covered so far and what hasn't been covered, what do you think the president most wants to get -- wants to get to tonight that hasn't been covered so far? >> i think it's a lot about emotion, rachel. you know, the first time ed and wendy schultz ever met barack obama, we went in his office in january of 2007. he had been on my radio show a few times, but we had never met. so we had the opportunity to go in his office, and he had a huge picture of muhammad ali, standing over sonny liston.
and when we left, my wife said, what was that all about? and i said, that's the fight, honey. he understands the fight, he understands the struggle. barack obama's at that moment tonight. there's a lot of people in the arena who are certainly rooting for him. i think joe biden set the tone last week. the president tonight needs to come out. and this guy has lied so much. i don't know if the president goes so far to label mitt romney that, but he's got to use the word "dishonest" and he's got to let his people know that he's not going to let this guy get away with it. the supporters of president obama tonight just want to see some attitude. they know he's got the chops, they know he's got all of the facts on his side. there isn't any fact that president obama is going to put out there tonight that his supporters aren't going to know about. they're following it closely, they know what he's done, now they want to see a guy who really wants this job. >> so you don't think it's specific to any particular topic. you think it is style that's going to -- >> i think the way that this campaign has unfolded for the conservatives and the flip-flopping and the different
stories that have come out about them and the exposure that the media has given all the missteps that they've made, president obama doesn't need to focus tonight so much on what mitt romney says. focus on where he wants to take the country and regain the momentum and regain the support and the heart and spirit of the people that are supporting him. i think that's really important. >> i think in order to show the kind of aggression that you're talking about, that people are looking for, he's going to have to talk a lot about mitt romney. we'll see how much he -- >> and not to hog too much time here, but i think that the liberal left is going to give the president a little bit of room tonight. we're going to move the boundaries a little bit. if he has to get aggressive, don't worry about whether he looks presidential or not. we know he's presidential. go right for it. go for the jugular. >> steve schmidt, senior adviser to mccain/palin in 2008. obviously, a second debate is sort of necessarily awkward. it's not the final word, but you do have to sort of answer for the mistakes of the first debate. where do you think each side is going to want to steer the discussion tonight to the extent they can? >> well, look, since the first debate, mitt romney has had all
the momentum in the race. and the impact of that first debate can't be overstated. it's essentially a tie race. the polls now for the first time in the averages have mitt romney in a slight lead. we went from before that first debate, where mitt romney was behind in every one of the swing states. now he's leading in a number of the important swing states within striking distance of the others. so for mitt romney, it's more of the same. it's talking about growing the economy, connecting economic growth to middle class families, and the president has a very difficult challenge tonight. he can't be too hot. he can't be too aggressive. he can't not be presidential with that small sliver of voters, which shrinks every day now, that's making their decisions, that's going to the polls, that's voting in the early voting states. you know, so the president tonight needs to articulate where he wants to lead the country. where does he want to take us? what has been absent from the obama campaign for much of the fall is an articulation of where he wants to lead. and that's going to be his challenge tonight. is there going to be anything new? is there going to be an
articulation of policy about where he wants to take us and is he going to be able to juxtapose that against, from his perspective, where mitt romney wants to take us? >> totally different approaches towards the question of whether or not the president can be hot, can even risk lacking nonpresidential tonight. where do you come down on that? >> i think that, first of all, it is very important, which you outlined, most of the critical issues has not even been discussed. and i think what the president has to do is broaden the ring. if you're going to use the ali analogy, let's fight with the whole ring tonight. mr. romney fought in the corner last time. if we talk about women's issues, if we talk about really revealing and being transparent with our economic policies, our personal finance, broaden the whole debate, romney can't win standing up there talking about he really wants to revoke roe versus wade. he can't win talking about same
equality, in terms of marriage equality. he can't win if we get into all of the issues. he can be presidential by really just stating what he's always did, go to lily ledbetter, that ryan voted against, go to what he's done on women's issues, go to what he's done in terms of economic policies, deal with the fact that every month, he's creating jobs. and let romney answer that. press him, but press him with his agenda and with his record. it is presidential to say, i have done this, now what are you going to do? and the record shows that you won't do that. last time romney got away with arguing about 10% of the policy, and he looked good. if we have 100% match tonight, romney cannot possibly walk out of -- >> is there different terra firma for the two candidates? >> the big omission to me so far sim gra is immigration. you have 12 million people watching with bated breath what's happening. and it's one of the issues where mitt romney took not the most
substantiative position, but the most rhetorical positions during the primary. and nassau county is the 12th wealthiest county in the country. and one thing i think is interesting to see is the questions coming from this populous. i day dream what a town hall in the bronx, where i grew up, would look like, and the issues that might come up in that setting versus the issues that might come up from the voters in nassau county. >> the second presidential debate is nearly upon us. we've got the obama campaign's robert gibbs standing by. this is msnbc's live coverage of the second presidential debate. stay with us. are you better off than you were four years ago? welcome aboard! [ chuckles ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪ [ honk! ]
guy who lost a high-stakes debate. but there is oneti teeny, teeny tiny benefit for the guy who lost as he is now heading into the rematch. and that is, ahh, reduced expectations. this is the pew poll on who people expected to win before the first debate. it was very obviously, very lopsided for president obama. but now, that second set of columns there, that is who people expect to win the second debate tonight. the president is still favored, but only by four points rather than by 22 points. of course, the numbers the campaigns are really focused on tonight is not about who's going to win the debate, but about who's going to win the election. for that we go to chuck todd from the debate site. chuck? >> reporter: well, rachel, you know what's been interesting about watching all of this, is that we've been witnessing a shift. first, right after the debate, it looked at if, okay, mitt romney had a good night, and he was consolidating sort of soft republican, soft leaners. but there seems to be something else going on, and you talk to
both campaigns and they do sense that this debate sort of has an added sense of urgency, that this may be the last time you can change the trajectory of the race. it's not to say that the next debate, being a foreign policy focus, isn't important, but it almost is too late in the process to change the conversation, particularly since that is a one subject matter debate, not like tonight, which could be run the gamut. and in talking to both campaigns, they all point to the same group of voters, that both of these candidates are going to try to have a conversation with tonight, besides the people asking questions and all of us viewers. and that is, suburban women. and what's been interesting is, i know that the campaigns have found that romney -- you know, suburban women have been sort of the demographic firewall, if you will, for president obama. there's different ways to look at it on the states. but demographically, he's been overperforming with suburban women, targeting them on issues like contraception and abortion. well, the romney folks believe that they've seen some improvement and the polling
bears it out, among these voters on his favorable rating and on the economy, but they haven't seen a shift in the ballot, meaning obama versus romney. that's the -- that's their goal for tonight, to come out of this, moving these voters and talking pocketbook issues, and that's the concern for team obama, which is, keeping them in their column, and be on the lookout for all sorts of buzz words and issues that are used by both candidates to have this conversation with this specific group of voters. think northern virginia, think the suburbs of colorado. yes, it's abortion, yes it's contraception, but it's also sort of other issues like education, paying for college, all the sort of pocketbook issues. and there are going to be different ways they both try to navigate around this. >> chuck, when you talk to both campaigns about this, the targeting makes sense, but i wonder, what's your gut feeling? what's your instinct about how well each of these campaigns understands the right message for that group of voters? which one of them -- which campaign seems like they've got their finger on the pulse in terms of how to reach these
voters? >> well, you know, if you'd ask med thr ed me three months ago, i would have said, the obama campaign's being much more sophisticated about their targeting, and almost having separate conversations in the same households with women voters in a household versus male voters in a household, and targeting them in different ways, using cable television, using tv advertising, buying time on cable in a way that frankly the romney campaign is light years behind on that front. but, what happened -- sort of the change that happened all of a sudden, it was this, romney was talking about the front burner issue, and the president never brought any of the other stuff up. never brought in the social issue conversation. biden did a little bit. and i think that's what will be interesting to watch for tonight. can he have it and do it in a way that doesn't look too ham-handed. doesn't look like he's also not talking about pocketbook issues, not talking about college tuition, education, paying for -- you know, dealing with
kids nervous about how they're going to pay for school. issues on that front. so, look, overall, i look at this debate, and the campaign is on a knife's edge. if romney somehow came out of this debate in a similar position, that he came out of the last debate, he could put this -- you could see numbers move very hard for an incumbent to get these numbers back. it just is. like once you start losing these folks, is there enough time to get them back? meanwhile, for the president, the opportunity is there for them to -- can he shift it? reset it, and get it back to where it was pre-debate? you know, that's the extreme scenarios for both campaigns. the question is, what happens if it's something in the middle? right, if they both sort of accomplish 55% of what they're trying to accomplish tonight. then it sounds like we're in a grind-it-out situation until election day. >> chuck todd, thank you very much. i appreciate that. you know, specifically, that timing issue that he is talking about. the timing changes from election to election, as early voting times and voters' preferences
for early voting change so much around the country. the idea that the election is over for a significant proportion of the electorate, that date on which the election starts to be over changes every year, so we don't have much precedent for understanding by when these campaigns need to reach the voters they most need to reach. chris matthews on the debate site at hofstra. what chuck was just saying there about trying to reach suburban women, trying to reach suburban women voters and how you target those messages. i feel like i've never seen democrats campaign as sort of easily and as openly on the issue of reproductive choice as we are seeing this year. i wonder if you see that as key to that vote? >> well, look, i think that the vice president laid it out. he's roman catholic, and it honors the church's views on that, the teaching authority on moral issues of the catholic church. he said, yet, i'm not going to impose that on a population of very different religious views. i think it's the hottest issue that's not been exploited. and i use that positively, exploited. i don't know how this president
can't bring it up tonight. because there's a grand canyon of difference between obama, who's very pro-choice, and, for example, the republican ticket this year, which would give 14th amendment rights, whatever that means, life, liberty, and property rights, to a fetus that had just been -- or rather, an egg that had just been fertilized, right after sex, if you will. and to have that notion that that would be a person under this personhood thing that ryan's pushing, and under the 14th amendment rights, the platform that romney's running on. this is extremism! i say center right tonight, it's almost like sharia. you're saying to the country, we're going to operate under a religious theory, under a religious belief. we're going to run our country this way, to the point of making a woman's decision to have an abortion, her reproductive rights, perhaps criminal, perhaps murderous, because this is a person. i guess mr. romney was flagrantly open about his disappearance on this. romney has been slipsliding away from it. but if you listen to romney,
he's running on this platform. he picked ryan, who has a very extreme position on this issue. and for women not to be alerted to the fact, you just can't vote on the basis of what tax bracket you're. you have to vote on the basis of what gender god put you in, and think about the various way you balance those. and the president never gave them the chance to balance those two choices that i have, which as i say, are grand canyon differences. >> i think that having watched the evolution of the obama campaign on this issue this year, as they've run at least six ads now in swing states, tv ads, not just web ads, focusing on this issue, the president taping an address to planned parenthood and putting all of those abortion rights advocates on stage in prime-time during their democratic convention, i think that you see an ease with this, as a political issue for the democrats, in even presidential campaigning that we've really never seen since roe. and chris, i think you're right to say that that is going to come up tonight, and if it doesn't, the obama campaign is not really campaigning. all right? one of president obama's key advisers, robert gibbs is
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wisdom comes from age, experience, and intelligence. and if you have some of each, and i have some of each and some experience, and some intelligence, and that adds up to wisdom. >> i can only tell you that i don't think senator dole is too old to be president. it's the age of his ideas that i question. >> great moments in presidential debate history. the perfectly timed throat clearing on that one. msnbc's lawrence o'donnell is in the spin room tonight with obama campaign senior adviser robert gibbs. lawrence, over to you. >> robert, there's been a lot of talk about the issues that people want to see come up tonight. we've been talking about it a lot. we just heard chris matthews talking about reproductive rights and the abortion issue.
in this kind of debate forum, where the questions are being asked by the people in the audience, if they never ask about reproductive rights, how would the president bring that up? how would he get it in? >> i think you could probably get into it in a question about health care, which would get you also into a health care bill that covers contraception. look, i think it's been remarkable that in this -- in the debates thus far, you know, we haven't had really good discussions about abortion and immigration. two, i think, really important issues that are on the minds of a lot of voters and worth having a good debate and discussion about. no doubt about it. >> the hofstra faculty has put out a statement, some of the hofstra statement, put out a statement about what they want to hear about. they want to hear the president and mitt romney discuss poverty, peace, and human rights. i'm struck by this, because the poverty population is that segment of the 47% that i don't hear any candidate talking about. i hear the president talking about the middle class. they're included in mitt romney's 47%.
but is there something that the president should be saying here tonight about what has now become politically the forgotten population? >> well, look, i think you're going to hear the president talk extensively about what we need to do to strengthen the middle class, but what our real goals should be is, let's lift people out of poverty into that middle class. let's give them the very same hopes and opportunities that i had growing up as a middle class -- in a middle class family and that millions of other middle class families want. you know, i think there's -- there should be good range and topics of discussion on that tonight as well. >> i want to pick up on something the president said in the last debate, that left some confusion for some people listening. and that is, on social security, he just, in a quick aside said he agrees with mitt romney on some social security reform proposals. what did he mean? >> i would have to go back and look at the exact transcript. >> he didn't specify anything. that's why i'm asking you. >> i thought the context of that was in discussing the fact that
you've got long-term fiscal issues in social security. but it's not a medium or short-term driver of our debts and our deficits. and so, look, i know -- >> can i talk specifically to privatization. >> i was going to mention -- >> they have a privatization proposal. is there anything in the privatization proposal that the president finds interesting? >> no. and the president was opposed to privatization when george bush tried to do it in 2005, and i think watching what happened to the stock market four years ago during these debates, going down 700 points in a day, the idea of putting your nest egg, your whole nest egg into that is not a smart way to reform social security. >> and on debate prep, john kerry once again played mitt romney in debate prep. did he have to adjust his performance at all based on what he saw mitt romney do in the first debate? >> well, i mean, look. obviously, we've gamed out different scenarios like mitt romney suggesting he doesn't have a $5 trillion tax plan or suggesting he's got a health care plan that covers
pre-existing conditions. all of which we know, and knew that weren't true. and look, if all we did was try to keep mitt romney from walking away from his positions and keeping him honest tonight, it would be a full-time job, but it's part of what the president will do. >> i want to talk to you as someone who used to work in the white house, as you did. there's no one i know who has worked with the president in the white house thinks that presidential debates reveal presidential skills. presidential debates reward memorization, which is utterly meaningless in the presidency. it rewards your ability to make a statement without consulting anyone else. presidents are never without their staff and cabinet secretaries and others to consult on these things. how would you suggest people watch this debate, given the incredible artificiality of it and its performance irrelevance to the actual job of the presidency? >> i think the best thing to look at is the core values behind the messages. it's not the performance art of it, as you say. it's not the memorization or the snappy one liner.
it's what really, what's the foundation of the policies that they're advocating? and i think that's why i think barack obama has the best case to make tonight and i think he'll do well. >> robert gibbs, thanks for joining us. >> rachel, back to you. >> thank you. listening to robert gibbs talking there about how the obama campaign assesses the first debate and how they're looking ahead to the second, do you feel like they got the right lessons learned there? >> i think they probably have got the right lessons. i don't think gibbs is going to tell us all what they learned. and i think that's probably wise. but i think that they got a wake-up call from a lot of their supporters. and i think that they were legitimately stunned by how shameless romney got up there and changed all of his positions. having said that, i think the president should not fight romney's fight. he should not just react to romney, even correcting him. he should cut him off and say he's telling falsehoods or lies, or whatever way he wants to, but
he should drive home what i've done and i need to continue and i need to finish the track. he needs to major on obama, not on romney. romney is not the president. the issue ought to be, this president and why he should continue and why this guy is a political fraud. >> jobs in the economy. the president needs to get in the wheel house early on. he's got a lot to tout and his base is going to love it and no one can deny the fact. 31 months of private sector job growth, the millions of people that have found work, where we were, remind the country how bad it was. we are better off today than we were four years ago. there's just a lot of good things to talk about that the president left on the table in the last debate. just be brilliant on the basics and life is going to be good. >> we saw the obama campaign pivot to positive adds on the economy just in this week before tonight. i think that was probably pressing that line of argument. one thing that is important to keep track of on nights like tonight, whether or not they keep track of it a to the podiums is truth, facts.
ezra klein will be providing some for us in just a moment. this is msnbc's live coverage of the second presidential debate. we'll be right back. we have a question right here. >> yes, how has the national debt personally affected each of your lives? >> if the question -- if you're -- maybe i got it wrong. you suggesting that if somebody has means, that the national debt doesn't affect them? >> what i'm saying -- >> i'm not sure i get -- help me with the question and i'll try to answer.
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in the first debate, president obama clearly came prepared to attack mitt romney's proposal that we should spend $5 trillion to give new tax cuts that would mostly benefit the wealthy. mr. romney countered that attack at the first debate, not by defending his proposal, but by denying that that is what he has been proposing. he said at the debate that he doesn't want $5 trillion in new tax cuts. he says he doesn't want tax cuts that go to the wealthy. and that is neat, but that is also new. those were no positions for mitt romney unveiled just for the debate. that is not what he had been running on up until that night. president obama's efforts to hold mr. romney to the policies he had been running as opposed to what he said that night he had been running on, president obama's efforts to that end largely fell flat during are that debate. but the whole exercise raised questions about whether it is possible to effectively fact check the other guy live during a nationally televised debate. and the test case tonight, everybody thinks, is likely to be what mr. romney is proposing
on jobs. joining us now to assess that case is msnbc analyst, ezra klein. ezra? >> thank you, rachel. the romney campaign has been making a very specific claim about jobs. they say he would create 12 million jobs during his first term. at "the washington post," my colleague asked for the numbers to back that up, and what he got back from them was actually a little hilarious. the romney campaign referenced one study that said a tax plan like mitt romney's could create 7 million jobs. the only problem was that study was looking over ten years, not four, and the study also assumed that romney's tax plan would be fully paid for on the front end and the economy would be at full unemployment, we would be full of jobs, when the tax plan was put into place. that is not likely in a romney first term. the romney campaign also says 3 million of the jobs will be energy remitted. they cited this study from citigroup, but that study covers eight years, not the four romney is promising for his results, and the study wasn't evaluating
any of mr. romney's policies at all. it was actually looking at current trends and current policies, which is to say president obama's policies. finally, the romney campaign says we get 2 million jobs if china would just stop violating our intellectual property rights, that would be great, but no one seriously thinks any u.s. president can make that happen, just by sort of cracking down on china. so when you ask the romney campaign to back up the claim of 12 million jobs over four years, it turns out what they really mean is 7 million jobs over ten years of an economy that is already at full unemployment when we start, which our economy will not be, plus 3 million jobs over eight years, which have nothing to do with any particular policies that romney is proposing, and 2 million jobs if businesses in china suddenly became very respectful of u.s. intellectual property laws. which is to say, as has become sadly common with the romney campaign, that whatever you think of their actual policy ideas, the numbers are giving us to sell them don't add up or even really come anywhere close to it. >> ezra, just to be clear on the energy numbers, specifically, so
that citigroup study, that the romney campaign is citing says not over four years, but over eight years, we could come up with three-point something million jobs, but that's for the obama policies. hasn't romney pledged to revoke some of the obama policies on energy that are credited with those jobs? >> exactly. so one of the major policies in that study they're looking at is fuel economy. so obama raised the fuel economy standards to an historic level. romney says he'll take that away. i don't know the innards of that study well enough to say what that will do to their long-term job protection. but when romney says that study shows how many jobs they've created in energy, again, those are obama's policies. romney says he has a different way of going about it. so, again, the underlying numbers do not come from any analysis of romney's actual plans, which are vague at best. s that one actually comes from an analysis of obama's plans, which is only to say that in theory, a lot of what romney's offering here, if obama was just re-elected, he would get the same number of jobs, and you would see that in a lot of private forecasts, which say, we're going to get 12 million
jobs anyway. it has nothing to do, really, with the policies of the next few presidents -- the next president puts into place. >> ezra, thank you. chris hayes, looking at that, it is hard to do -- it's always a bad idea to do math live on television. does the president have to do math live on television in an interesting way insider to make substantiative points about stuff like that, or is there a way to tell it that's a more sort of story telling way to do it. >> here's the way i would approach it if i were doing it. mitt romney said, he said in the last debate, look, you can't just decree this stuff from the white house. the reason i'm not giving you details on my tax plan is because you get in, you work with congress. he also said this year he would have voted for the ryan budget, he would have signed the ryan budget if it landed on his desk. he owns that. so whatever he wants to get up on stage and tell you tonight, i don't have a $5 trillion tax plan, or i'm in favor of lowering the tax rate on student loans, maybe he'll say that. the point is, you belong to the republican party and to the congressional republicans who
are on your ticket and who you have said you would sign their signature piece of legislation. talk about that. that's a concrete thing. that has real numbers. that's been evaluated by the cbo. don't talk about the romney plan, the romney plant doesn't exist. the romney plan is whatever you want it to be, whatever you want to hear. so don't talk about that plan, because you cannot win talking about his plan, because his plan will be whatever he wants it to be. >> steve, what do you think would happen if president obama said, listen, your plan, as far as i can tell, is whatever you want it to be at any one moment. you said you would sign the ryan plan. let's talk about that. are >> i think the way you score points in a presidential debate is on issues of character. what you're talking about here is making a character attack. you say one thing, here you say something else entirely different over here. that's something that the people in the middle of the electorate, who are undecided at this very, very late stage. i mean, think about that. all that we have seen, all that has occurred over the last year is there are people out there who have not yet made up their minds, between these two very
different men. the notion that you're going to make an argument to them that is a math-heavy, policy-dense argument, i think is ludicrous. i think it's about the candidates and their reasonableness. does the plan make sense? does it pass the smell test to people watching? in fact, are they able to paint a narrowtive that because of my policies, you at home watching this are going to be better off. and that's the space that the president needs to be in tonight, not into a math debate, not into a debate that you would see between aei and brookings, because i think he's the net loser on that. >> i think what the president tried to do in the last debate is say, what mitt romney is saying he will do will have this consequence for the deficit, which he says he doesn't want, so then he will have to do something that will hurt you at home. i can't even follow it without the numbers. >> if you go back and look at the debate, the president gave some pretty detailed answer s o the $5 trillion. >> he did that with numbers. >> here's some math that i think
could work tonight. a record number of filibusters. we have put millions of jobs out there and your party, mr. romney, hasn't helped us out a bit. this has been a heavy democratic lift. so our policies are working. so i think that that's one part of the math that could work, and that's something that was left on the table. >> people who are removed enough from politics, they haven't decided yet, do they even know what filibuster is? >> well, yeah, i think, look, there's going to be people out there who want the whole arena to be played tonight, as i was talking about, part of it is obstruction. that's a fact. that's not personally attacking anybody, if you say, look, everything we put up there, we passed 260 bills in the house and the senate doesn't do anything on it. but you know what, despite all that, we've been able to do this. you didn't give me the jobs bill. we have a totally different view when it comes to investing in america. i want to invest in infrastructure. you don't. what do you think? >> i think he needs to say, they obstructed, but i was able to get this done. i would have gotten more done
had they not obstructed. so it's not just a blame game. i did this, could have done more. now, mr. romney, if he does what chris says and says, i'm all for student loans. that's great. i agree with you, mitt. but that wasn't the mitt that said this. which mitt are you? you said this. why did you believe that then? i'm the same barack obama that said this, this, this. which mitt romney are you? i would not go through the math i would raise his contradictions and ask, which one are you and who will you be tomorrow? i'm going to be the same guy. >> chris matthews, jump in here. >> yeah, you know, this gets to the very heart of why romney did so well in the first debate. he was able to suggest an identity between him being a business guy and creating jobs, somehow businessman economics. that's not the case. most businessmen will tell you the reason they've had a jobless recovery in the last few years and have done so well in the stock market is because they've managed to rebuild their business with less workers. that's what romney specialized in. recovery without workers. now he's coming from the very
part of the world, the business community, where they do that as a specialty. it's called cost cutting. it's equity. cost cutting, laying off people, getting rid of management-level people, middle-level people, cutting down the costs so you make a bigger profit level, then flipping the business. that's what romney did for a live, all these years. it's how he made $250,000. why would you bring a guy who's an expert at jobless recoveries and jobless politics and jobless economics, bring them in and make them president of the united states when that's the very problem we have right now. businesses that specialize, as ed knows, in creating more profits by less employees. and here's the expert at it. bring him in. >> well, there's a story unfold right now in freeport, illinois. sensata is being outsourced to china. china's built the facility for bain, and mitt romney has not stepped up for those employees. this is his model for the economy. how are you going to rebuild the
middle class when you send middle class jobs over to china and only a few people are going to gain, and that would be romney and a few investors. >> there has been no discussion of mr. romney's business career, his time at bain capital, at all, in either of the debates thus far. we'll see if that changes tonight. a reminder that msnbc will of course carry every minute of the debate uninterrupted by us, and then we will be here to recap the debate until 1:00 a.m. eastern tonight. this is msnbc's live coverage of the second presidential debate. stay with us. to compete on the global stage. what we need are people prepared for the careers of our new economy. by 2025 we could have 20 million jobs without enough college graduates to fill them. that's why at devry university, we're teaming up with companies like cisco to help make sure everyone's ready with the know how we need for a new tomorrow. [ male announcer ] make sure america's ready. make sure you're ready. at devry.edu/knowhow. ♪ turn billion of bytes of shared information...
is a thrilling, dual-flavored ride to mouth fun-town. but it's not like everyone is going to break into a karaoke jam session. ♪ this will literally probably never happen. ♪ well, if itmr. margin?margin. don't be modest, bob. you found a better way to pack a bowling ball. that was ups. and who called ups? you did, bob. i just asked a question. it takes a long time to pack a bowling ball. the last guy pitched more ball packers. but you... you consulted ups. you found a better way. that's logistics. that's margin. find out what else ups knows. i'll do that. you're on a roll. that's funny. i wasn't being funny, bob. i know.
it's not only what's your philosophy and what's your position on issues, but can you get things done? and i believe i can. >> george w. bush and al gore in 2000 in one of the delightfully, physically awkward moments that is made possible by this type of format for a presidential debate. the town hall. to give you an idea of just hold up different the town hall is from other debate formats, one of the things that happened at hofstra today to prepare for tonight is that the audience went to rehearsal. seriously! the audience is so integral to what's going to happen tonight is that the audience has to rehearse its role. the gallup organization was tasked with casting the audience for tonight. they were asked to come up with about 80 people who are likely voters from nassau county, but they are undecided as to who they will vote for in the election. the audience is also supposed to be relatively demographically representative of the country as a whole. it is those carefully selected
audience members who will be asking the questions tonight. they submitted their questions in writing to the moderator, cnn's candy crowley, and she picked which questions will be asked. she will call on the member of the audience who gets to ask their question. after they ask it, their microphone will be cut, so they cannot ask a follow-up question. each candidate gets two minutes to respond and then the moderator gets an additional two minutes to ask follow-ups or to lead further discussion on the same topic. there will be no opening statements, there will be no closing statements. a coin toss determined that the first response for the first question tonight will be from mr. romney. but the biggest difference you will notice tonight, as soon as this thing starts in a couple of minutes, is that the candidates are allowed to move, physically. at the first debate, the rules specifically instructed the candidates that they were not allowed to move from behind their podiums. at the next debate, the third one, the one coming up, the rules say the candidates will not be allowed to move from their designated seats at a shared table. but tonight, let the awkwardness begin. because tonight in the free
wheeling town hall format, here's the rule. quote, each candidate may move about in a pre-designated area, as proposed by the commission and approved by each campaign." "the candidates may not leave that predesignated area while the debate is underway." and here's the kicker, the really important part, "the predesignated areas of the candidates may not overlap." so these guys are pledging to stay out of each other's areas, even as they move about their areas with carelessness -- >> how is that going to be enforce e enforced? >> right, exactly. when you're planning for something like this, steve, you've been intimately involved in this with mccain/palin, and bush and cheney too, how do you prepare for this? >> it's like anyone with young kids, the set of rules you come up with to try to keep them apart when they're fighting with each other. but it is a strange environment, this town hall meeting. and when you look at the format, the format is a big player.
in the first debate, that's like simple math. this is like advanced calculus. and so the candidates have to deal with how they engage either other, how they engage the moderator, how they engage the camera, but most importantly, how they engage the audience. so tonight, it's a challenge for mitt romney. he's had a lot of awkward moments out there on the campaign trail, over the last couple of years. so he's going to come face to face with some questioners, real people, who ask questions that all of them have been prepped for, but these questions are not formatted in the way, necessarily, that a journalist would present it. not formatted in a way that chris matthews would present it. sometimes the simplicity of the statement and the value statement that it seeks to evoke are totally surprising and so, i think if this was a football game tonight, i think we're going to see some turnovers. i don't know how many. i don't know who's going to make them, but i'll be shocked if i don't see it. >> because this plays to president obama's strength. let me go back to his early years, community organizer. the man knows how to consume the
room. he knows how to relate. he's a very relatable person. and he is going to be very sincere, as he always is, naturally. he's a very sincere person. on the other hand, mitt romney has been kind of a stiff shirt. this is going to be the heavy lift for mitt romney tonight, to show that he can relate to people, and how quickly he can do it on his feet when he's given a question. this plays right into the president's strength, i think. >> let me say this, though. in these situations, discipline really matters. there's a certain amount you can't prepare for. but one thing mitt romney has been is disciplined. he has been -- you know, he was very disciplined in the first debate, he was very well prepped. he stayed on what he wanted to stay on. and i don't put it past him to be like that in this debate. i think mitt romney's a pretty good debater. he showed that last time. i expect him to be good in this format. >> when i was in the '04 races, you can't plan the same way for a town hall meeting. because you're not talking to experts that will ask you a question based on some expert background. you don't know what the question
is, and you're trying to satisfy the person that raised the question, because the audience is watching you there. you're trying not to rile up your base. you're trying to appeal to the undecided. and you're dealing with the moderate. you're dealing with five different things at one time. romney, who has not been good at dealing with two things at one time -- >> spontaneity. >> and he has the sixth added thing. he has to remember the falsehoods he told last time. so he has to remember the lies, he has to innovate, connect, and deal with the constituency there. so it's a whole lot for him to juggle. >> this is msnbc's coverage of the second presidential debate of 2012, set to get underway momentarily from hofstra university in hempstead, new york. i'm rachel maddow here at our headquarters in new york. chris matthews is at the debate site. chris, in light of the challenges that this format aforesaid, what do you make of the fact that the romney campaign has really been bragging about how much they have been prepping mr. romney on stagecraft? they've been talking about him like he's been embedded in the actor studio for the past week.
>> right. and the great old hollywood rule is, the key is sincerity, and if you can fake that, you've got it made. i'm looking at, why did they leak the fact that they taught him to lean into the person in the format of the town hall. to lean in physically, to lean forward, like we do here, but in a different way. to somehow suggest an earnest interest and empathy for the person. if it's that mechanical, that robotic, he's not going to do too well. >> we have seen challenges for both incumbent presidents and challengers at debate formats like this. obviously, george herbert walker bush, ostentatiously checking his watch. we saw the very awkward intersection, and i'm not sure which man came out the better for it, between al gore and george w. bush, with the encroachment of personal space. we've also seen bill clinton, his best moment of any debate the entire time he was running for president, and serving as an incumbent, when he did have the "i feel your pain" moment, the incredible empathy for his questioner. chris, do you feel like the thing