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tv   Weekends With Alex Witt  MSNBC  March 18, 2012 12:00pm-2:00pm EDT

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hi noon in the east. 9:00 a.m. out west. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." first five stories trend thing hour. gop battle. walking dead finale. peyton manning decision. gas prices, again. and new details on the afghan master suspect. all those stories throughout the next couple of hours. but first, we are going to front page politics. and rick santorum making a bold prediction about tuesday's gop primary illinois. >> this is the pledge. if we are able to come out with a huge or surprise win, i guarantee you, i guarantee you, that we will win this nomination. >> the latest polls show mitt romney with a lead in illinois but santorum is working to fire up the republican base in more rural areas outside chicago. romney is campaigning hard in i will and i will host ad town hall last night in collinsville. stressing his business
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background. >> we are going on have to nominate someone that's not an economic lightweight. someone who has experience in the private sector and has the credibility to go up -- against president obama and post up against him in those debates and point out how what he has done has hurt the american people. >> and primary vote sing under by that puerto rico right now. 20 delegates are at stake. heated moemgs at one gop caucus in missouri saturday. clay county, ron paul supporters squared off against the rest of the crowd. the republican chair even threatened to throw people out. official missouri results are not expected until april. joining me now is political writer for "the new york times," john hardwood. editor of citizen politics, patricia murphy. hello to the both of up thanks important being here. >> happy sunday. >> hey. >> to the both of you. rick santorum says if he wins
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illinois he will win the nomination. pretty bold assertion. what do you make of that, though. >> he has to make something happen. can you not guarantee there is absolutely no guarantee that rick santorum would be the nominee if he wins illinois but i guarantee you if he doesn't he will not be the nominee. he has had a series of just this close losses to mitt romney and as a matter of fact big midwestern states. yes, he has won in the south and yes, he has won out in the plains. he's got to break through in order to do something to break romney's momentum and sort of overcome this inevitable delegate math argument rom my is making. >> okay. patricia, john's colleagues at "the new york times" have an article today about the delegate totals and a possible brokered convention in which it says, quote, party leaders, activists and campaigns are for first time taking seriously the possibility that neither mitt room any nor anyone else will get to that total. so, pa trish a goal for newt
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gingrich and rick santorum is not to accumulate enough delegates to win the nomination. is it just to get enough to keep romney from getting nomination? >> well, i think -- of course they would love to get enough delegates to win the nomination but that doesn't look like it is going to be possible. what does look like it is possible, it doesn't look likely but possible is that there is a way for mitt romney not to get 1144 delegates to wrap this up before the convention. then it would go to the floor of the republican convention. just crack open a bucket of chaos so big nobody seems know quite what to do about it. but every campaign is preparing for this. santorum and gingrich have both hired several delegate specialists and know where all the delegates are. the unbalance studded bound, the bound, those that could change their minds and those obligated. know where the votes are. they want to, yes, keep romney from getting across the line so they can push themselves over it at later date. >> this article also says, quote, mr. santorum has hired a delegate specialist to come through the patchwork of state
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by state rules and define unpledge delegates that can swing to him in a floor fight. effort mr. romney's campaign says it is prepared to counter. if this can happen, john, what is the point of primaries and caucuses? does this cheat the voters? >> well, if the voters don't speak with a clear voice, that's what you get with a brokered convention and floor fights over delegates. we saw that in 1976 with reagan and ford. of course, in -- in many conventions before that. i still think that it is very unlikely. as a matter of fact, i was thinking of saying that -- that's about as lyingly brokered convention -- as lose duke losing in first round of the ncaa tournament. wait, that just happened. it hurt me really bad. >> yea. >> no. >> uh-oh. i am hearing something there. >> sorry. >> we are not going to get ncaa right now because where is usc? i'm just saying. patricia, there are different interpretations, though, on whether this prolonged fight will help or hurt the party's candidate. does any side make a more
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compelling case? >> yeah. i think it depends on the candidate. i think that the longer it goes on it can be to the benefit of the candidate. it can be too their detriment. if you look at hill nil 2008, i think that's a great example of when the campaign went on longer. she became a better candidate and more in touch with her voters and became bet other the sometime and is a better candidate. opposite seems to be happening to mitt romney. he is more closed up and seems less relatable than ever. i think that it cuts either way. just depends on who you are and what your campaign is doing with you. >> you want -- >> yeah. >> once mitt romney -- if he does lock up the nomination, as i expect he will, once that happens, all this stuff is going to be fairly quickly forgotten. yes, accumulated baggage. i do not think this extended process helped him. people are going to look at him in a different light and compare him to obama in a different way than they do right now. so -- i think that to some degree, the damage has been exaggerated although there has been so. >> can i ask you, also, john, as we talk about the president who has been taking on big oil,
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let's take a listen to what he said. >> we are going to put every single member of congress on record. they can stand up for the oil companies or they can stand up for the american people. they can either place their bets on a fossil fuel from the last century or they can place their bets on america's future. >> john, this may be a popular message for all those folks out there who are angry gas prices. are there potential pitfalls? >> well, the pitfall for the president is that his energy policy is more likely to be successful if gas prices are higher. this is something that republicans are attacking him for. romney said this morning on one of the sunday shows that president obama wants higher gas prices. some of this goes back to an interview i did with him in june of 2008 and i asked him when gas prices were high then, is this good for u.s. energy policy? he said i would have preferred a gradual increase rather than something so sudden. he didn't say no. but, of course, everyone who
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looks at u.s. energy policy, who thinks we immediate to curb what president bush called our addiction to oil knows that the best way to do that is to make other sources of energy more economical. mitt romney's -- one of his chief economic adviser has favored substantial increase in the gas tax for that purpose. the president is facing the reality that he wants a transition that is more ambitious than what republicans are for and that that transition would be helped by higher gas prices but at the end of the day, this is an issue that the american public has become quite accustomed to. i'm not sure how much that is going to cut against the president in the fall. >> patricia, before we let you go, a soft launch it seems like this week with the president to his 2012 campaign. he had five fund-raisers. give me your sense of the early approach as we head to early move. >> yeah. i think it is very clear what their approach will be. i think we heard it from the president and joe biden as well. it is that this election is going to be a choice and it is a
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choice for the middle class. the way they frame it and their speech cess to say that you can either choose a system that's rigged or system that's fair. joe biden said that if you pick even the republicans they are going to bankrupt the middle class again. so it is very clear that they are -- going after the republicans on the economy, economy cut either way for obama but want to tell voters it may be bad but a lot worse if you put republicans in charge. >> good to see you both. thanks so much. >> after today's primary in puerto rico illinois holds its primary tuesday. then louisiana primaries are on the 24th. moving to april, washington, d.c., maryland, wisconsin hold primaries on the 3rd. connecticut, delaware, new york, pennsylvania, rhode island hold their primaries on the 25 24th. let's go now to new calls for justice. shooting death of florida teen trevon martin. a captain who has not been charged with any crime. the 17-year-old victim was
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unarmed. good afternoon. >> good afternoon, alex. we are hearing reports this morning that the shooter was, quote, an avid 911 caller. neighbors describe him about -- describing him as being passionate about security. one neighbor said that george zimmerman would circle the block and circle it. that it was weird. on january 1 on new year's, he called 911 46 times. clearly he volunteered for this job. something he was passionate about. now that raises questions about his -- i-can't say motive -- but raises questions about everything surrounding the shooting. the reason why he has not been arrested is because he claimed that he fired in self-defense. police say that they don't have any evidence to prove the contrary. martin's familiar sly challenging that and asked what could have been so threatening about a 17-year-old boy walking back from a convenience store
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unarmed. when police found his body he was carrying no more than a bag of skittles, some money, and a can of iced tea. now we have these 911 calls. all the calls that we will listen to in a knew seconds, first call is george zimmerman talking to a 911 operator. the operator urges him not to follow suit. not to get out of his car. not to follow this allegedly suspicious person but clearly he ignored that operator's request and proceeded. then what we will hear is some descriptions from neighbors who were calling as their altercation was going on some calls we will hear some from cries for help. martin's family says that those cries came from trevon martin, george zimmerman told police he was the one crying for help. let's listen to these calls. >> are you following him? >> yeah. >> okay, we don't need to you do that. >> i heard someone yelling help, help, help or something like that. my gosh, there's something. moaning and moaning.
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then i heard a boom. >> why do you think someone has been shot? >> in the backyard. a gun went off. they said call 911. now there are people coming with flashlights. get inside. get inside. get inside! >> i'm looking out my window. my backyard. someone is yelling and screaming help. and i heard like a pop noise. they are out there right now. i don't know what's going on. >> i can tell you right now you are not the only person calling. we have an officer on the scene. >> i see the person right now. i see him like walking. there is man coming up. people coming up with flashlights. oh, my god. i don't know what he did to this person. >> so you think he's yelling help? >> yes. >> all right. what's your -- >> here's what witnesses have come forward to say. >> my point was that i feel it was not self-defense because i
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heard the crying. if it was zimmerman that was crying, zimmerman would have continued crying after the shot went off. if zimmerman was hurt. however, with the boy crying, once the gun went off, he was unable to continue crying. >> it was 7:00 at night. chirp are riding their bikes. it is a very quiet neighborhood. children are riding their bikes and playing along that sidewalk. >> now his family claims that martin's family claims that his death was a result of racial profiling. they are getting incredible support from the community, from the mayor. there is a service being held today at a church and the reverend al sharpton from msnbc already said he will be in orlando to support them this week. >> i have to tell you listening to this, chills when you hear that shot. there is going to be a lot of discussion as to whether or not that voice was, indeed mr. zimmerman or martin's. and that i think is going to be the $64,000 getting that sorted out. we will speak with you again. here's what we have been
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asking all of you today. will there be justice in this case? here's some of your responses. people are slowly opening their eyes to this injustice. we stweentd for it. vickie, 571 tweets hate to say it, there will be no justice. zimmerman is not talking. already concocting some bogus self-defense case. fred says the law and justice are very separate i shall news the u.s. matt ken thinks no, i don't believe that there will be justice unless the federal government gets involved. keep talking to me. we are getting a lot of responses on both face book and twitter. i will be reading more of your tweets later on. we have new details today about the u.s. soldier being held in solitary confinement. he will soon be charged in the killings of 16 afghan civilians. sergeants rob -- he had problems in the past. he was having money problems and getting frustrated over not getting a promotion.
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miguel almaguer has the latest this. good day to you. >> reporter: good day to you. from what the word we keep hearing here, there's one word that describes the small military town shock. so many people here wondering how a happily married father of two could be accused of such senseless murders. today 38-year-old staff sergeant robert b last es is in solitary confinement held in the immediate security section of the army's prison in kansas. accused of killing 16 afghan civili civilians, mostly women and children, he could face the death penalty. 1800 miles away, not far from seattle. >> it is horrible. wouldn't want to be over there. >> his wife and two children have been moved from their home to a military base for their security. neighbors knew robert bales as a family manning a doting father, and they called bob. >> he was always happy. happy guy. full of life. i really wouldn't expect it.
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>> reporter: two misdemeanor charges as a civilian dropped in the last decade including assault on a former girlfriend. after enlisting in army, the decorated soldier who was also a sniper was said to be a strong leader in combat. said to be injured twice during three tours in iraq, bales was quoted in a 2009 military publication saying i have never been more proud of this unit. we discriminated between the bad guys and the noncombatants helping people that three, four hours before were trying to kill us. >> the high school friend says he received this facebook message from the staff sergeant while he was deployed two years ago. quote, overseas is boring this trip. pretty dumb. giving money to expletive instead of bullets just doesn't seem right. his attorney says he never expected a fourth deployment to afghanistan. >> i know that his would tours in iraq were horrific. he saw people killed literally standing right next to him. and there was an incident right
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before these allegations where one of his fellow soldiers was mortally wounded. >> reporter: though bales was injured twice, he never received a purple heart. his wife reportedly blogged about her husband being passed over for promotion. it is very disappointing after all the work bob has done and all the sacrifices he has made for love of his country, family and friends. after more than a decade in the military, bales spent most of his time at joint base lewis mccord, coffee shops and diners, today the headlines and talk are about one of their own. >> i'm sympathetic to all the soldiers that's over there. last night we spoke to a former battalion lead their led him into battle. served three tours in iraq with him. he said bales a heroic soldier. of all the hundreds of men he led football war, bobby was the
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last man he expected to be accused of something like this. the executives of "mad men and how they treat women. a new article with a unique take at the office place in the 1960s and now it is next here on "weekends with alex witt." [ male announcer ] this is lois. the day starts with arthritis pain... a load of new listings... and two pills. after a morning of walk-ups, it's back to more pain, back to more pills. the evening showings bring more pain and more pills. sealing the deal... when, hang on... her doctor recommended aleve. it can relieve pain all day with fewer pills than tylenol. this is lois... who chose two aleve and fewer pills for a day free of pain. [ female announcer ] and try aleve for relief from tough headaches.
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>> in one week, i will be sitting here telling you the popular and much anticipated season premiere of the tv series "mad men" airs tonight. that's not until next sunday. today, however, i'm here to tell you about a fascinating new article that seizes upon the success of that show and takes a look at working women in the 1960s world of "mad men." it shows stark difference prosecutors the workplace then and now. and it is the cover story of this week's "newsweek" magazine "mad men and working women." the article's author and "newsweek" contributing ted tore and owner is joining me today. hello. about to say this morning. that's when used to do. good to sigh, eleanor. >> good to be here. >> you say that don draper would have felt right at home at news week in the 1960s. why is that? >> well, i started at "newsweek" as a secretary in the 1960s. so i know of what i speak. and the -- smoking and drinking
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and i will say carousing, i don't know if we use that word anymore, that happened at "newsweek" as well. the cigarette smoking, i think -- people today look at it and can't believe it. but in the '60s before the surgeon general's report, people thought smoking was good for you. in fact, the public high school i went to in queens let us out for a smoking break. >> wow. >> drinking, i interviewed one writer who was at "newsweek" during that period and he described the martinis being served in glasses the size of birth baths. it was -- it was a very different culture. it was quite a bit of fraternization. >> that's interesting, very delicate way to phrase it. let me ask you specifically your role as a secretary at "newsweek" magazine, you say you can really identify with peggy olson. were there specifics about the way you were treated as you sat there outside? presumably some man's office? >> to be honest, i was not
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filled with frustration. i came from my -- my parents were immigrants. lived in queens. i-didn't graduate from college. and i was thrown in with a group of women who were researchers at news week and they were all graduates of the seven sisters colleges. i remember they had all been to your open. and they would talk about their therapist. it was like a world i had never seen. they were very frustrated. they ultimately brought a lawsuit against the magazine for gender discrimination. that would be several years later. so i, frankly, have said many times over the years that i was just grateful to be where what i typed was interesting. i didn't really realize that there were all these other opportunities that were about to happen and when these women who filed the lawsuit, they argued my case at the time because i was doing reporting and i was being recognized for it but they really opened -- they really opened the doors. and it was that kind of pressure that i think "mad men" shows to
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some extent that it started in very ordinary small ways and really didn't blossom for many years later. that whole decade of -- of the early '60s led to these -- what we think of the revolution, civil rights, anti-war and certainly women's revolution. >> all of this is what is being addressed in this sort of '60s themed magazine this week which is cool 2508ly. a lot of found see. may i ask you about your discussion with matt, the show's creator, and what we can expect in terms of the show. >> he's very protective of any story lines or particular incidents. he's very good at keeping the su suspense. he did say betty draper, really now don draper's ex-wife, and who is defined by her dissatisfaction like so many women of the times she had a fine education and worked for a brief time and then she was home raising children and was unhappy and didn't know why. he says she's not going to open a book and decide she is a
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feminist but said she may enlightenment in other ways opini. i think that the -- the daughter, sally draper, who is now 12, she's now the daughter of divorced parents and is now living in a world that's changing very rapidly. i imagine she is going to provide some good story lines as they -- "mad men" echo it is coming revolution. >> absolutely. her role was being picked up last season so i can see that coming as well. great chatting with you. good to i so you. thank you. >> same here. thank you. swing states hit hard by high gas prices. how big of an issue will this be for the president 're-election campaign? [ male announcer ] to the 5:00 a.m. scholar.
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manning's big decision expected to announce which team he is suning with by tuesday. his choices are down to three. tennessee, denver, san francisco. manning, who turns 36 on saturday, missed all of last season because of neck problems. he was cut by the colts earlier this month. manning stands to get a five-year $90 million contract. ♪ [ male announcer ] juice drink too watery? ♪ feel the power my young friend. mmm! [ male announcer ] for excellent fruit and veggie nutrition... v8 v-fusion, also refreshing plus tea. could've had a v8. the passat is one of nine volkswagen models named a 2012 iihs top safety pick. not...that... we'd ever brag about it... turn right. come on, nine. turn left.
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[ male announcer ] nyquil cold and flu relieves your cough 50% longer than tylenol cold multi-symptom nighttime. [ snoring continues ] [ male announcer ] because snoring sounds better than coughing. if you can't take a sick day, here's a cold hard fact. alka-seltzer plus cold & cough may cause marked drowsiness. try dayquil cold and flu for non-drowsy relief of these symptoms. ugh! [ male announcer ] so you can save the day, not worry about falling asleep. ♪ welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." we have more evidence today that the killing of 16 civilians in afghanistan may have a profound impact on the future of the u.s. mission there. in afghanistan this weekend, more protests stemming from the shootings a week ago allegedly by a u.s. soldier, many afghans are now calling for americans to leave their country now. joining me from chicago, former
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pennsylvania congressman joe sestak, lee-star admiral in the u.s. navy, welcome. nice to see you. >> good to be back with you. >> i know that you so muched in the war? afghanistan. a run the navy's anti-terrorism unit during the global war on terrorism. if the u.s. were to leave afghanistan, does that damage our terror fighting abilities or is our national security job done in afghanistan? >> it is done in afghanistan. it would only have an impact on our global war terror efforts if it were to have an impact on our finishing the eradication of al qaeda in pakistan. they are not in afghanistan. and second, if somehow it were to impact the government of impact of afghanistan, because if they were to fail, there are 2,000 scientists that built the nuclear weapons that are in that country. and if they came under the hands of a taliban, once got within 60 miles of the capital of pakistan, then the war of terror would exponentially grow. all that said, whether four
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years ago the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said that the representing the administration's position, and iraq we do what we must. but in afghanistan, we do what we can. it sealed our fate within afghanistan because when you are in war, you must do what you must do. not what you can. and so that's why i think that we would not have an impact within afghanistan if we were to do o withdrawal. >> so there is a difference then in the approach. i'm curious about your experience in afghanistan. and as horrible as this incident is, can you imagine any scenario under which you would think that -- oh, this was bound to happen? >> no. i served for 31 years with thousands of service members. and i was on the ground for a very, very short period of time in afghanistan. no. not at all. our service members are so unique. this speaks to a higher issue.
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the most destructive thing about war is what is our most precious resource. human capital. and when a few years agohar varde university did the study that said the war in iraq would not cost $600 billion or $800 billion like the office of management budget said in terms of what we buy for bullets, they said it would be over $3 trillion because of the impact on our human capital. not only loss of lives of our service members but over one-third come home with post traumatic stress disorder. what occur order this rampage is inexcusable. we must hold it accountable. but that said, these wars are different today. this soldier who had served in iraq three times and once now in afghanistan was asked to go outside the wire every day. and then come back in for 15 months. then go back out home for 12, back out into a combat-like
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situation. not knowing 23 the afghani soldier next to him is going to blow himself up. there is unremitting pressure. i think that's why you can see that that trillion dollar which is has to do with the cost of post traumatic stress dissxod the rehabilitation and the impact on productivity is something that this nation has to understand when the leaders take us to war. the full dimensions of the consequences of war is upon our human capital. >> how does this potentially change the american tactics? do you think that we may leave afghanistan sooner than expected and planned? >> i hope it does. focus solely on pakistan. it is the only reason to be in afghanistan and in fact, secretary gates when he briefed us in an offsite in congress on the surge said the primary purpose of the surge was to help seal the border between afghanistan and pakistan so that pakistan would go after the
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taliban and their sides and crush them if they tried to flee. and eventually with our drones and their efforts get al qaeda. we were promised metrics to measure that. but if it is not working, then an exit must be brought about. this exit is not easy. you and the viewers remember blackhawk down in somalia where we had our special force dragged through the streets. we had 18,000 troops. only one-fifth the number of troops now in afghanistan. that's all we had in somalia. when president clinton said we would withdraw it took us six months to do it safely. because to exit is one of the most challenging military operations to be done and we can't exit this country through pakistan because we don't bring anything in through pga stand because they ambush our convoys there and pakistan now doesn't even allow it. we are going to have to go through kazakhstan and uzbekistan upon the last few weeks and months have we even begun to let contracts out to permit an exit. this will take time because they will know how we will exit and
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it must be done safely and well for those who are saying get out tomorrow, no. it is about our service members getting out safely and inputting the correct strategy to continue probably from a distance of eradicating al qaeda and pakistan. >> valuable insight. former representative joe sestak for which we thank you so much. appreciate them. >> thanks for having me. for more on the afghanistan shooting and its fallout you can head to our website. from there now to strategy talk. news about some key swing states this year. back in the 2008 election, president obama took home all eight of the year's most likely swing states. all eyes will again be on ohio and florida come november 6. the democrats will be laying groundwork in north carolina, the site of the dnc convention. but where else are the president and his re-election team focusing? joining me is chip, republican strategist and former mike huckabee campaign manager and crystal ball, democratic strategist and msnbc contributor. hello to both of and you thanks for being here. >> hey, alex. >> i will begin with you,
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crystal. 2004, we saw the importance of even just one swing state when president bush won ohio and 20 votes that gave him the election. do you envision a similar scenario this year? >> i don't know that it is going to be quite that tight. one thing that's interesting as you look across the electoral map, all the different path it is president has, where he could possibly get to victory, so many of these swing states have large and growing hispanic populations. i think that's going to be really critical in this election. one statistic that blew me away is that since 2008, the number of registered hispanic voters in north carolina has doubled. and in wait, 83% of registered latino voters in north carolina actually showed up and voted. when you look at the fact that right now let's -- voters say they have 73% of them approve of the president's job on the flip side only 14% say that they would -- approve of mitt romney and it looks like things are headed in favorable direction important the president. the republicans have to find a
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way to move back to more compelling message for the latino community. >> interestingly you bring up that. chip, both parties are holding their convention in swing states. it is a tactic the democrats used four years ago in colorado while the republicans were in the left leaning minnesota. what do you think that the gop strategy are in florida and picking up on what crystal is saying, are we taking about marco rubio as the nominee? >> i certainly like the sound of that. i wonder if he does. i guess that's the bigger question. i have known marco a long time since he was speaker and then our state chairman in florida and one thing about marco is -- even though you think he good, when you meet him he's thoolly better than who you think. i think crystal is right. some of those key states, a lot of hispanic growth. i think of rubio would help that but more importantly as once the gop focus on jobs and the economy and the record of barack obama on those issues, i think that will give as you chance to make up ground in those key graphics. >> i don't want to litigate the barack obama economic message but i really appreciate actually
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what chip said because i think it is very simplistic to say if we put an hispanic person on the ticket that will bring over latino voters. no. that's not the case. >> that's not what i said, crystal. >> i said i appreciate that you didn't make that point because i think that's a very simplistic view and that's a -- point that's made frequently. and it is a mistake mccain made in a lot of ways in 2008. putting sarah palin on the ticketed thinking that women voters would vote for her just because she's a woman. there is a lot more that goes into it. it is the economic message that's going to count as you said. >> can i ask you if there is a simplistic way to go back looking at the state of north carolina because the fact the democrats are holding their convention in charlotte, will that bring -- is there an assumption that's going to bring north carolina to the democrats? >> i think -- >> i -- >> sorry. >> i think it does bring excitement to charlotte and north carolina as a state. but certainly that's not why you vote for somebody because they brought their convention to your state. it is a good idea for the democrats to do it into a swing
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state. i think it is a good idea for us to do the same. excitement and buzz and shows off your state and little pride there. at the end of the day these are votes on issues that matter to each individual state and each individual voter. >> what about the overall tossups? three of which are in the south this year. what's the president's southern strategy? >> well, i think the president's southern strategy is very similar to a strategy across the country which is to focus on what we need to do to continue to move forward. what we are going to do to continue to get the economy back on track. and also to highlight the record of accomplishment he has had in his administration. you know, i watched him give a peach to -- at a fund-raiser in atlanta, georgia, on -- i believe friday night. and i was listening to it and that was targeted at his base but i was thinking that this is a message that really would resonate across the country and connects with american values. in a way i think the republicans are still, frankly, searching for their pack doing the game chip, could i ask you about the poll sieve a floor fight sf we see more and more articles about
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and it discussion about it. and if that happens, how much would that damage the party? >> well, i still think it is possible but not probable. i know folks like crystal get very excited about talking about a floor fight. i think from the heed yeah point of view it wouldn't be a lot of fun. i'm not sure it is good for the party to do that. i think at the end of the day we will learn a lot. we say the next week we will learn a lot. i think if mitt romney can do well in illinois and april 3, winner take all states. on the reverse side if santorum pull as big win in illinois on tuesday and then wednesday -- winner take owl on april 3 except for d.c., this thing may go to a floor fight. >> okay. we shall see. thank you very much. chip and crystal zbshgs to see you both. >> thanks, alex. we will get now to today's list of number ones. harvard leads the list of the world's most reputable universities for the second straight year. based on a survey for "time's" magazine. second. the university of cambridge,
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third. a new j.d. powers survey says the iphone out rates all other smartphone force a seventh i'm. what makes the iphone stand out? long lasting battery power. here's why burger king has done away with its king in the commercials. new e-poll study names the character the most disliked brand mascot. my gosh, i so agree with that. 60% respondented had thumbs down mr. mucous, he is gross. geico caveman. fourth most disliked, ronald mcdonald made the list of the most hated commercial mascots. >> she has taken great pains to hide the monster she has become. if you acknowledge it that brings the monster forth. >> that's the scene from the hit show "modern family." now the top recorded show on tivo. kelly clarkson takes the lead
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spot on billboards pop song list with her hit single "stronger." those are today's number ones. >> who is entrepreneur of the week? anna open ed scrble press. she opened another location in new york city. managing from 3,000 miles away has been a challenge but she has helped with a group of moms that invested in the store. for more watch "your business" sunday mornings at 7:30 on msnbc. hello, i am chef boyardee. i make real italian ravioli. filled with hearty italian seasoned meat, in a sauce made with vine-ripened tomatoes. and no preservatives. 80 years of real great food from a real great chef. who have used androgel 1%, there's big news.
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i wonder how she does it. that's why she's the boss. because the small business with the best technology rules. contact the verizon center for customers with disabilities at 1-800-974-6006. in today's then and now, fallout two decades ago from silicone gel breast implants. in 1992 dow corning announced it would quit making those implants. here's part of the report from "nbc nightly news" 20 years ago today. >> reporter: dow corning has been by far the largest manufacturer. make being 80% of silicone implants on the market. $18 million worth last year. tomorrow dow corn willing say it will no longer manufacture the devices. it will set aside $10 million for research into the health fegs of devices already implanted in 1 million american women. and it will pledge financial aid
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for implant removal important women who require removal for medical reasons and can't afford to pay for the operations. >> what happened next? in 1998 a settlement was reached. dow cornation greed to pay $3.2 billion to an estimated ed 170 million women who say the implants made them sick. in 2006 the implants were reapproved when research ruled out health concerns. right now three companies make them and women who get silicone implants are urged to get an mri every two years. to number two, get ready to scream. season finale of "the walking dead." it is the number one show on cable. it is followed by "pawn stars," "american pickers" and "swamp people." today, we stand against the tyranny of meager travel cards.
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fuel prices are up again today. president obama rejected any claims of an easy solution. >> easy to prom ace quick fix when it comes to gas prices. there just isn't one. anyone that tells you otherwise, any career politician who promises some three-point plan for $2 gas, they are not looking for a solution. they are just looking for your vote. >> not everyone was impressed with the president's remarks. mitt romney spoke about it at a campaign event yesterday. >> the president has -- now endured what we might call an election year conversion. with people suffering and with the mums collapsing in the polls, he's looking for something to do. so he's saying now he is for lower gasoline prices. i'm glad. i'm -- not sure we can count it bag true converse version but i'm glad at least he is saying it. >> gas price could become a major issue in an election year with an already troubled
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economeconom economy. thanks for being here, coral. >> good to be here. >> i'm looking at this article you wrote last week saying that president obama's in full crisis mode on the gas prices and national average up again today. and if you take on look at the prices in the swing states the voters are getting hit hard, voters rather. on big of an issue do you think this is for the president's re-election campaign? >> as long as prices continue to go up this is going to be a huge issue. high gasoline prices, slow economic growth, and every voter feels them and historically the polls show voters place the blame for gasoline prices on the president. we have sceneries enpolls that have shown that and -- so obviously this is something republicans are going to capitalize on and have made it a centerpiece of their campaigns. and it also offers republicans an opportunity to attack president obama broadly on his energy agenda, on -- you know, his efforts on green jobs and on clean energy.
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and, you know, it is a great opportunity for them to bring back the solyndra controversy. so president obama is -- definitely going on the offense on this. we will see this front and center in his campaign efforts. >> you talk about voters placing the game blame on the president and it is -- becoming a talking point and campaigns and newt gingrich is the one calling himself the $2.50 a gallon president. and barack obama the $10 a gallon president. >> the irony, voters place the blame for high gas prices on the president. and more than any other entity. both newt gingrich and president obama know that the president is almost powerless to have an impact on gas prices. gas prices are set by the price of crude oil which is set on a global market, by global forces that are largely beyond the control of the u.s. president and it is -- it is reply and demand and it is increasing demand in china.
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and it is unrest in the middle east. it is to some extent financial speculation that takes place in financial markets all around the world, not just wall street. so these are all -- the basic supply, demand, political unrest, other countries, all, you know, those are what are driving the prices and u.s. president can't really change any of that. >> can i ask about what -- reporting last week that the president met with british prime minister david cameron during which time they discussed tapping strategic petroleum reserve. they denied that report. before that happened the oil price has dropped considerably. so where do high prices have to go? how high before the government does tap sbr? >> the strategic petroleum reserve which congress voted to create in 1975 is not than meant to be a quick fix for high gasoline prices even though politicians will talk about it that way. it is actual -- it is a 30-day, you know, physical reserve.
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if it is meant to be if we have a severe supply cutoff. times in which it was used in the past, president bush used it after hurricane katrina when we had a physical supply cutoff. and it is really being changed in the debate. it is not meant to say prices are high. you know, turn on this -- you know, let's put some of this oil in the market and they will go down. it is -- so it is being talked about but -- it is not really meant to be a quick fix for high prices. >> from the national journal, coral davenport. many thanks. >> thanks for having me. >> office politics and writer john heilemann on what could derail president obama's re-election plan. [ female announcer ] with swiffer wet cleaning better doesn't have to take longer. i'm done. i'm gonna...use these. ♪ give me just a little more time ♪ [ female announcer ] unlike mops,
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17-year-old. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." it is 1:00 p.m. on the east coast. looking at 10:00 a.m. out west. new details emerging about the shooter. neighborhood watch captain who has not been charged with any crime. a family and community are demanding answers. good afternoon. >> good afternoon to you, alex. three weeks after the death of trevon martin, local police released 911 calls. calls from the shooter himself and from neighbors that were witnessing the altercation. and calls that may hold the answer to the greatest question surrounding this case -- did george zimmerman, in fact, fire in self-defense? 17-year-old trevon martin was walking to family friend's home in a gated community any sanford, florida, when he was shot dead by a neighborhood watch captain. the shooter, george zimmerman, called police because he says the teen looked, quote, real suspicious. >> this guy looks like he's up to no good. >> zimmerman also told police
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that the man was walking towards him with his hand in his waist band. police. >> are you following him? >> yes. >> we don't need to you do that. >> reporter: he ignored the police and the two engaged in an altercation. several neighbors called 911. >> they are wrestling in the back of my porch. the guy is yelling help and i'm not going out. >> reporter: shots rang out. >> help! >> he is yelling help? >> yes. >> what's -- >> oh, my god. there's gunshots. >> reporter: when police arrived they found trevon martin face down on the ground. he was carrying only a bag of skittles, money and a can of iced tea. zimmerman was questioned but has not been arrested and holds a lines to carry a concealed weapon and claims he fired in self-defense. the teen's family disputes that claim. >> that was my baby. he was pleading for his life. and i just don't understand how that is self-defense.
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you can clearly hear him yelling for help. >> reporter: martin's family claims the shooting was as a result of racial proceed piling and local authorities are protecting zimmerman. a 28-year-old white hispanic. >> this is a racial profiling started when george zimmerman recorded a suspicious person because trevon was walking slow and had a hood i don't. >> reporter: zimmerman's father disputed the claims in a letter to a local newspaper. martin's familiar sly calling on the fbi to investigate. now the family is counting on federal authorities to get vochd in this case. they say local police seem to be protecting george zimmerman and in some way or another. they are getting a great deal of support from community members, from local politicians who have already said that they will meet with the department of justice sometime this week. and even msnbc's reverend al sharpton said he will go down to orlando at some point this week
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to participate in the rallies that will take place. >> absolutely. which means this network is going to continue to follow this case. thank you very much. at the bought on. hour we are going to talk to the florida reporter about the controversy surrounding the police department's handling of the shooting. coming up at 1:30 eastern right here on "weekends with alex witt." let's go to front page politics now. and a bold prediction by rick santorum about tuesday's gop primary in illinois. >> this is a pledge. we are able to come out of i will will a huge and surprise win i guarantee you that we will win this nomination. >> santorum is trailing romney in the latest illinois polls but counting on republicans in the rural areas outside chicago to show up at the polls for him. at the same time romney is working the crowds in i will will an event saturday and more today. >> the course we take in this
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country is going to be defined by the choice you make in the next couple of days. and the choice made in november. >> puerto rico is holes its gop primary today with 20 delegates at stake. republican caucuses were held saturday in missouri. official reports not expected until next month. scuffles broke out at a few locations. police were called out to at least one caucus site in st. peter's. joining me now msnbc many contributor and chicago columnist for "the new york times" james warren. reporter for real clear politics erin mcpike. thanks for joining me. >> thank you. >> i will begin with you. you heard him. santorum guarantees he will win the nomination tuesday. >> way to raise expectations. you know, i would tell you that newt gingrich said the same thing about winning with south carolina. and it doesn't look like newt gingrich is on a path right now to win the nomination himself.
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unless he gets to the nomination. my reaction is simply that rick santorum wants to win i will and i will knows it would be very good for him. i don't think that means he will win the nomination by next week. >> do you see it there in chicago? how apparent is that difference? >> pretty vivid, particularly one you look at cable news television ads locally and after the flood of romney ads bashing santorum, economically -- a creature of washington, supporter of the bridge and to nowhere. it is interesting on a lot of levels because in theory, this should be a state where romney does very well -- and precisely because of a pretty rich tradition of moderate republicans. however, the same problems dogged his image, his campaign up to now are showing themselves here.
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it showed 47% of self-described republican voters this tuesday do not like the candidates on the ballot for president and the largest element of in a 46% were self-described likely to be rom any voters. >> as you hear all of this, do you think illinois is make or break for any of these candidates? >> i don't. we have been saying that about each state in the process and yet, we still have four candidates still in the race who are still all vowing to go to the convention and i -- we have to take them at their word on that right now. >> okay. jim, there is an article in today's "new york times" in which it talks about the current battle for the delegates and says this -- mr. santorum has hired a delegate specialist to comb through the patchwork of state by state rules and to find unpledged delegates who have been swing to him in a floor fight and effort mr. romney's campaign says it is prepared to counter. so if this is the case, you
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know, the primaries and caucuses, you have to wonder why they are held and would this cheat the voters? >> not necessarily. a reminder, every four years, modern ear a it seems, there's some slice of news the media and certainly a fair number in the consultant class who have this notion of things being decided at a convention. we forget that the great brokered conventions of long ago are predicated upon nominee gaining 66 or 2/3 of the delegates. now 50% plus one. which means it is unlikely that it is -- you know, going to be decided there. and i just don't think it will happen. do i not think any of the primary voters will have been cheated. >> okay. both president obama and vice president biden gave a -- hint of their 2012 election strategy this past week. let's take a listen. >> america is coming back. workers -- worker by worker. home by home. and community by community.
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this country is coming back. because of you. >> i'm a little grayer now. it is not as trendy to be involved in the obama campaign as it was back then. some of you have -- you know, rolled up those hope posters and they are in a closet somewhere. >> self-launching their campaign publicly. tell us about the president's organization there. >> it is huge. they have at least 15 staff others the ground in ohio which dwarfs the republicans. they have ten campaign ochses throughout the state where volunteers go in every single day to make voter contacts already and it is only march. you know, they have had a state director on the ground for three years. which is a very long time. they have contacted over 650,000 voters since the president launched his re-election in april. they are very far ahead of the republicans right now in ohio. >> okay.
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jim, glur chicago. that's for the president's election headquarters. you know the operation there. howard dean told me that david plouffe, president's top political adviser, knows where every vote is. is that an exaggeration? is the president's organization really that good? >> assisting david axelrod and mussina in overseeing an impressively data-rich social media savvy organization probably does know where most every potential voter is, for whom they voted and a variety of local and national elections in recent years, what websites they prefer, do they watch "weekends with alex witt," what they had for breakfast yesterday. that said, all that data in -- you know, treasure-trove they are seeing aside, they are not clairvoyant. the economy, how the debates play out, that they do not know. and they have little or no control over. i suspect when it is all over,
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president obama wins and -- our obsession with the consultant class will probably result in mr. plouffe and axelrod getting too much credit and if the president loses probably a little bit too much blame. >> okay. good to see you both. thank you so much. all of you be sure to watch "meet the press." today's guests include actor and activist george clooney. arizona senator john mccain. don't miss the re-air of "meet the press" at 2:00 p.m. eastern. right here on msnbc. we are going to get an update on today's new information on the american soldier who will soon be charged with shooting 16 afghans a week ago. army sergeant robert bales passed misdemeanor charge against him that were dropped and he was also having career and money problems. nbc's miguel almaguer is at join base with the latest. good day to you. tell us what you know about the new details on sergeant bales. >> reporter: we are hearing two different stories about the
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staff sergeant. one is a decorated military man who joined the service after 9/11. he was a decorated sniper and had served four deployments, lee in iraq, one in afghanistan. one of his former leaders told us this was a valiant soldier and went into the military with hopes of threading freedom around the world and protected his fellow troops to save their lives. we had a very popular career or excuse me, was beginning a career as -- a financial adviser and then -- after 9/11 decided to join the military. we heard from one of his friends in cincinnati who knew -- since he was a boy. let's hear from him. >> he was one of the better football players and captain and -- he was a heavy lifter in the weight room. very funny, outgoing. very personable guy.
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if it was a day where he flipped or snapped -- i mean, everybody is shocked about it. >> reporter: like so many families bales family is said to have had financial problems and had a house that was up for sale, short sale. apparently going to lose close to $50,000 on that sale. tonight prosecutors and bales' defense attorney are sorting through not only his military career but personal life to see what they can gather. >> okay. nbc's miguel almaguer. thank you for that update. he's down but not out. newt gingrich insists he staying in the race. does he really believe he has a shot? ♪ uhh! [ alyson ] just keep walking... ♪ oh, come on! ♪
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♪ guess where that is. guess where it is. it is chicago. it is about 75 degrees on this spring day. actually not even officially spring, is it? look at that. 75 degrees, it looks like summer. we are going to have mike seidel from the wretch join us a little later on this hour to talk about incredible weather around so much of the country. beautiful day in chicago. let's talk about newt gingrich who made another contract with america. he's staying in the race until the gop convention in tampa. >> emphasize going to tampa. it is the reason we are going to go tall way to tampa. >> all the way to tampa. look forward to getting to pam pa with your help. >> so far he has been able to keep it going with help from a billionaire back to his super pac. it is a fact he did not mention when discussing mitt romney during his speech this past week. >> sabut he -- he's -- he can raise money from billionaires.
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we raise money from middle class people. >> joining me is rick tyler, senior adviser for the pro-gingrich super p kra winning our future and former spokesman for newt gingrich. hey do you. good to see you. >> hey, how are you? >> i'm well. i know it is rude to ask but how much money does the super pac currently have? >> i'm not going say. we had adequate fund. >> adequate funding -- can you give me a ballpark figure? >> no. >> all right. well, can i ask you if it came mostly from ad elliselson? gingrich said 178,000 donors he had thus far, individuals. >> yeah. he's speaking about the campaigns -- speaking about the money that comes into his campaign. our donor base is -- much smaller. the contributions are much larger because we can take contributions about $2,500 which he cannot do. you know, in -- he's got a very good fund-raising base and we do as well.
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but it is -- much smaller. we have high dollars and fewer -- fewer donors and he has -- low dollars and a lot more don't zblors when you talk about much smaller is it like one? >> no, no. certainly not. >> okay. >> how much do you need to make it to tampa? >> it will go to tampa regardless. question now is to get as many delegates for newt gingrich as possible to deny mitt romney the requisite number he will need 1144. currently it is going to be difficult for him to get those 1144. we want on get as many as possible. because in that way we will have the most leverage when we get to tampa. >> newt gingrich said on cbs this morning yesterday that he's not dependent on sheldon adelson's donations to survive. you heard his comments last week we played there. is will a growing rift between the two? >> between which two? >> sheldon adelson and newt gingrich? >> oh a rift. >> yes, yes.
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>> no. not that i know of. not at all. i don't think there is any rift. look, people have said that sheldon wasn't going to give money last time to us and then he did. somebody is now -- has been quoted saying he has written his last check. i don't know that to be true. but i don't know it to be untrue either. we will see. >> so -- based on what you just said, prior, is your goal now just to deny mitt romney enough delegates to march into tampa the victor? >> well, yes. except that if -- if mitt romney does not get to tampa with the requisite number of delegates we go to the first ballot. if he fails the first ballot, likely to do because he couldn't -- hasn't been able to wrap up the nomination despite outspending everybody, i don't think that they are going to have a lot of enthusiasm for him on the second ballot. and, therefore the race would really be between newt gingrich, santorum and ron paul. my guess is -- in that scenario, newt has a better 507b/50 chance of getting of winning -- of
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perhaps second ballot, perhaps in the third or fourth. >> but -- when you said -- newt wanted to get something, what is that that you one to get? i mean, is it talk getting nomination? talking about getting something should mitt romney end up getting the -- delegates and coalescing behind him, does he want something from mitt romney? >> i don't think so. i mean, in terms of like a deal? >> a deal or a post, position, something in -- >> no. >> romney presidency? >> no. i don't think -- you know, i have never known newt gingrich to -- he is not a deal maker. he is not a picture in that zblens how about a prime time speech of the convention? >> well, look. the rules are quite clear about that. if you get -- plurality, five states, and then you get -- equal access to the podium. they will try to argue that. here's the fight will be over. who actually controls convention and who gets to speak and doesn't get to speak. the establishment does not want newt gingrich to speak at the convention. they know exactly what would happen.
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he would win over the delegates. these delegates know newt gingrich and know that he created 11 million vote swing in 1994. romney has sewed the -- suppressed the vote getting lower turnouts in state after state. you can't win like that. newt gingrich wins the majority in 1994 and because 9 more million people showed up and 1 million less voted democrat over the same -- over the comparable election in 1990. you immediate to create enthusiasm. nothing to create enthusiasm. no vision cast. no one is excited about it. if he goes -- if he is the nominee under those circumstances i predict he will lose as we said all along to bark. >> can i ask you about the tenor of the relationship now between newt gingrich and rick santorum? you will remember during the debates that they were -- very respectful of one another. they -- they -- there were those that suggested the two were collusion at points. they were trying to gain up against mitt romney and be some sort of a force. but now -- you have rick santorum saying he wished newt gingrich would get out of the race so that the conservative
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vote could coalesce around him. what's the tenor of that relationship? >> well, i don't believe there was any collusion. i would encourage it for santorum. he needs newt gingrich to stay in the race. santorum cannot beat romney on a one-on-one base. if newt were to get out of the race which he won't santorum loses to mitt romney. the fact is if newt stays in the race, and picks off as many delegates as possible, rick does the same thing, ron paul does the same thing, that's the only way to the nomination without mitt romney having to represent the delegates. by the way that would be the only way in my opinion that rick santorum could even win the nomination because as i say if romney fails to first ballot, i don't think that there will be a lot of enthusiasm going forward and then he would have a chance to win the nomination. i don't think it has any -- there is no mathematical equation i know of he can get the nomination otherwise. >> rick, thanks for telling it like it is. appreciate that. a huge part of the country is feeling the heat today.
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unseasonably warm weather is rewriting the record books. take a look at potential record highs around the great lakes and midwest and some cities are forecast to break records dating back more than 100 years. mike seidel is live on the beach in chicago for thus morning. nice work if you can get it. good day to you. >> reporter: yeah. march in chicago. i'm wearing a lot of clothes compared to what we are seeing out here on the running path lake shore. off lake michigan. look at all the people on the beach. playing volleyball. just working on that your tan. and notice nobody is in the water because the water temperature is 42 degrees. that's still five, six degrees above. yeah. pretty icy out there. five, six degrees above average. and in the distance you can actually see the fog caused by the warm air over the cold water. thursday when that rolled in to the loop area, temperature dropped very quickly from 80 down to the 40s. we don't think that will happen today. already, alex, today, 75. breaks the record for the 18th of march.
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that's the fifth record high in a row in chicago. more than likely this will end up being the fifth 80-degree day in chicago. up into international falls, the ice box of america. they have broken another record today. yesterday 77. breaking a record by 22 degrees. and normally snow and ice this time of the year. average high is 35. things are really insane here. we are going have record or near record warm notice atlanta, st. louis, cleveland, washington, and then for those of you in the northeast where had you a bit of a break, you will get a warmup today. through the rest of the week. records will likely be set there. certainly this coming week. alex? >> okay. hope you have your sunscreen on, mike seidel. the latest from the gas pumps and national average for regular going up just a fraction to $3.89 a gallop. aaa says that's 27 cents higher, though, than last month. gomery abigail higgins had...
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♪ ♪ ♪ that should do it. enjoy your new shower. [ door opens, closes ] welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." new questions over the shooting after florida teenager. the parents of the victim are asking police why they have not arrested the gunman. neighborhood watch captain george zimmerman admits he shot the boy but he says it was self-defense. the victim is 17-year-old trev november martin. listen to the 2911 calls. first you are going to hear police tell zimmerman not to follow the teen. here's when the 911 operator and
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then you are going to hear someone in the neighborhood who called 911. and heard an appear engunshot. >> are you following him? >> yeah. >> we don't need to you do that. >> so you think he is yelling help n. >> yes. >> all right. what's your -- gunshots. >> chilling when you hear the gunshot. joining me live from miami is "miami herald" reporter frances. thanks for being here. so many questions. i have to tell you, facebook, twitter, they are blowing up about this issue. so this is a hot button one. let's try on get all of the details as we have thus far. george zimmerman, what have you learned about him? >> george zimmerman is a guy who took his role as neighborhood captain really, really seriously. and he was trying to foster a sense of community and so in -- in that way he would go door-to-door asking about hey, you know, don't leave your door open. we had this problem with this burglary.
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so to the people who didn't know him, he was kind after weirdo. why would you take that on yourself? to the people that i met, who knew him or who met him, they thought it was fine. they thought he was very personable. i don't think that anybody knew that he was carrying a semiautomatic handgun. >> why have police not arrested him because he admits that he shot martin? >> the police department says that they don't have any evidence that would refute what he is telling the story he gave to police. they are saying that the physical evidence and the witness statements match his story. and -- >> he says self-defense. >> he says self-defense. he says he was provoked, martin provoked the argument. there was a tuesdphysical alter and in fear for his life he shot martin. the sense is that the witness statements are being molded and being molded to match
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zimmerman's story and not match what the callers were saying. >> i want to pick up that because there is a neighbor who criticized police for not listening to her and to the other witnesses. here is what she had to say. >> i am so hurt and upset because i have no reason to lie. i have -- i'm -- i don't know this family. i'm only trying to help. and i think that they are trying to cover up something they made a mistake. and they are -- honestly, i feel like they are taking the light off of them and trying to discredit my statements. and i can show you my attempts and contacting them. and their lack of interest in talking to me. >> how are police explaining that? >> they are pointing on some inconsistencies in her statement. in fact if you listen to her 911 call, there is a point where people are yelling at her and she is yelling into the phone. she is saying things she didn't see but that other people are telling her.
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she makes a mistake, key mistake in one of the things she says. mistake in the sense it does not match what she later says. >> it is something that you can tell that was said in the heat of the moment. and she doesn't even remember saying it, frankly. but to me, what was most telling, first of all, mary kutcher is not the only witness who says she what she is saying. there are several other people. and also, what she says, the core of her statement which was before the 911 tapes were released, match the 911 tapes perfectly. what everyone said was they heard howling and heard screaming. and that a -- a blast and it stops. so the question is -- who is howling? i think george zimmerman is going to tell the police, her husband is telling the police, that was him calling for help. the tapes make that hard to swallow because the fact of the matter is the yelling stops as soon as the gunshot goes off. and if you were yelling and you shot someone, you would probably keep screaming. >> i think so. that is common sense would tell you that, not here to judge him. i will saying that trevon's
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family says that is the sound of their terrified son. the voice that they hear there. they know that it is him. but this will all be proven in due time. meantime, thank you very much for speaking with us. appreciate that. >> thank you. now to this week's office politics. my conversation with "game change's" author john heilemann. we begin with the tenor of hate from the 2000 sxleks if that exist th-- election and if that exists in this campaign zone there was a moment for a week or ten days in that race that where things got a little -- too hot out in the crowds. in some of those rallies. and -- you -- it was -- evident on the obama campaign that he got a lot of -- i was with him on -- during that time where could you see increased secret service presence at the event because they were concerned about what was happening on the other side. there is no question that that was an episode. seems to have cooled down a little bit in more recent months. i think that's for the better.
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there is no doubt there has been that strain and it is not the majority of the republican party. it is a volk am minority and it is the one that i think is not a good thing in our politics and one i think republicans more responsible republicans -- would be well advised to try to keep a lid on. >> you say that you haven't seen as much of that of late. why is that? is it because people accepted barack obama? >> you know, we still see, you know, polling done in just that are -- not that long ago in alabama. still a huge number of republicans that don't talk about it. and -- there was, obviously, the birther controversy. i think the release of barack obama's birth certificate did something at least to put the lid on some of the birther talk. and i also think that the -- health care fight was centerpiece for a lot of that stirring up a lot of that motion. i think it is an open question what the presidential campaign will look like when we get to the point where we have a general election. i am -- obviously hopeful that, you know, on both sides, you know, that civility people will be passionate and engaged but
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also civil and sane. and, you know, wait and see when that is true. >> passionate, engaged, civil, sane are those all attributes you find right now on capitol hill? >> the polarization in our politics has been -- i have been doing this for 20 years. and every -- every -- fourth year it seems it gets worse. i think it does, in fact, get worse. and -- you know, i never thought i would see a president more polarizing than bill clinton. then george w. bush came along and i really never thought that i would see a more polarizing president than george w. bush. the fact is barack obama's presidency has in this period more polarized time. you think it is -- a huge problem for the country in terms of its ability to address the really big challenges the country faces. it is very hard to do when there is that degree in animosity between the parties in that common ground. >> other than having the gop bring forth a -- rock star candidate at some point, if that happens, you have written about the four things that could potentially derail a barack
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obama re-election. where do we stand on that 1234 what do you think his re-election challenges are right now? >> first of all, i think it is a close election. i don't think there is anybody on the democratic side you talked to the president's strategist in the re-election committee. they assume it will be a close race. >> they should not get cocky. >> he made a lot of progress. if the economy continues to gradually improve, that will obviously make things easier for the president. there are a lot of things hovering out there. iran is one thing hovering out there. there is the issue of goods prices hovering out there. there is the possibility the economy will stall out as it did last year after starting out strong in the first two quarters and then in the third quarter, slowing down. all of those things could be really problematic important the president. the president has 60% of the people in the country saying the country is on the wrong track. that's a real problem for the president. europe is another thing that can cause an economic downside surprise. and, you know, there is also these foreign possibilities. p there is a war in the middle east between its real and iran,
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u.s. has to decide whether to get drawn into it or not. destabilizing event. you know, i think that the president right now is a narrow favorite to win re-election. >> what's your biggest challenge, just on a personal level? i mean, you have got to be globetrotting practically, cover things. >> trying to get a decent night sleep and deese cent breakfast. >> the director's chair. >> the "game change" chair, this side we have the john heilemann thing. this is one of my most prized possession. >> did you sit in this on the set? all about me because i created this whole thing? >> i have one of those big bullhorns. backs and did you not. >> cut. things like that. why is that guy yelling action and cut? he is an idiot over there in the corner. i still like doing it. >> i bet he did. sounds like fun. they are working on a book about another interesting political
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to the sight of your tough pain. feel better? yeah...thanks for the tip! [ male announcer ] for fast powerful pain relief, use bayer advanced aspirin. it is time now for the big three, spring fever edition. spring arrives tuesday. today's topics, march madness. hope springs eternal and spring forward. let's bring in today's panel. msnbc contributor and daily beast columnist meghan mccain. former national correspondent for "the chicago tribune," jill stuckman who served as the staft to transportation secretary ray lahood in the obama administration. reporter for real clear politics, erin mcpipe. we will start with march madness, "the new york times" has a piece about the delegate count and gop leaders essentially preparing for a brokered convention. here is the quote. party leaders, activists and campaigns are for the first time taking serious there possibility that neither mitt romney nor anyone else will get to that total. so, megan, rick santorum and
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newt gingrich now are the main goals about not winning but having a floor fight at the convention in august. >> i read that article. this will be the first time this will happened in 36 years. beyond my lifetime. i pray to god it doesn't get that far and i don't understand why newt gingrich and rick santorum don't think more of the good of the party and beating barack obama in november. but if it gets to that it will be absolutely lethal for mitt romney and basically handing over a win to president obama. >> erin, we keep looking on to next primary and the caucuses to give as you clear picture of who will get the nomination. and you hear the tone in my voice because that doesn't seem to be happening week after week. i mean, are we headed to a brokered convention? >> well, we might be. but we won't know until more votes are counted. i know that to some people it is getting old having the same conversation week after week. right now we just have to do it the old fashioned way and let the people vote until we have a clearer picture. >> jill, you say if that keeps happening we are essentially
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handing the election to president obama. do you agree, do you think that a brokered convention could be the very best thing to happen? >> megan is absolutely right. if the republicans cannot agree on a nominee heading into the convention, they are losing an incredible opportunity, because these conventions are used as a show essentially to bring the country together and to generate enthusiasm and to do -- go into the final push for votes on election day. and -- if you go in not knowing who your nominee is, not able to put together that kind of a show, you are just handing an incredible opportunity over to your opponent. >> particularly because the opponent in this case would be able to put on the ultimate show. >> exactly. >> easily without any sort of challenge to that. okay. erin, i will move to the next topic here which is hope springs eternal. the president shifting into campaign mode this week. he leased a new documentary. let's take a peek at that. >> welcome home.
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>> it was part of his broader plan to refocus our efforts on those that -- >> we earlier talked about president's organization and this past week's soft launch for the 2012 election. besides this documentary, how else is the president doing that? >> using the bully pulpit. super tuesday, a couple of weeks ago, the president held a news conference where he basically shamed his republican competitors for as he put it talking too casually about the prospect of war with iran. and, you know, he will continue to use it is like presidential news conferences and like speeches to remind everyone that he's commander in chief and is in the driveries seat and making these decisions. so he can look -- try to make his republican competitors look a little bit petty from time to time. >> i spoke with howard dean yesterday. let's take a listen to what he said about president obama's organization and his talk political -- top political
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adviser david plouffe. >> he has an unbelievable team. i think david plouffe knows where every vote in america is. >> he really wasn't kidding. obama camp may be better organized than they were back in 2008. so if that's the case, how tough a fight is this going to be for the gop? whoever the nominee. >> i think like john heilemann said there's still 60% of the american public that don't agree with the direction the obama administration is taking the country. as great of an organization as they have hope and change and sort of antics and rock star things that happened in the last election aren't really going the fly this time ruined. i think that howard dean is just doing his job. >> okay. again, as former dnc chair, i know have you that one. jill, you know the obama administration, how prepared do you think they are already for the general election at this stage of the game. >> well, you can already see it by looking at where president obama travels. there's a reason he goes to ohio and there is a reason he visits florida and these are states where he needs to start getting his message across.
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to start getting his message across. this is a campaign that isn't taking any votes for granted. because they know the country is so evenly divided that they're going to have to fight very, very hard. so they're incredibly organized. >> can i ask if there's any a reason why they're in north carolina, charlotte for the convention. is it going to be one of these pivotal states? >> absolutely. one north carolina last time. he doesn't want to give it up to time. if they can win in north carolina they can win the general election. >> okay. megan, jill, erin. stand by. up next, the land of lincoln is up for grabs. who is going to take it? we spring forward with predictions.
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we are back with the big three spring fever edition. megan, jill and erin. our next topic, ladies, is the spring forward this. question is for all three of you. we'll start with you, jill, for your answer. what do you see happening in the
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gop primary in illinois and will spring fever turn into summertime blues for mitt romney and the republicans with this prolonged nomination battle? >> well, alex, i think the voters in illinois are not feeling so hot these days. they're a little dispirited. so i think you'll see a low voter turnout on tuesday. >> who does that help? >> i think that helps santorum. if he can get the voters in downstate illinois to turn out strong while the majority of the voters in the chicago area stay home, then it gives them an opportunity. but he knows that illinois is a real long shot for him. >> okay. megan, what are your predictions for the pry tuesday and how long do you think this race will affect the gop? >> i agree with jill. if it's a low voter turnout it will help santorum. i hope it ends in illinois. but, you know, we're speculating whether or not it could go on until july.
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i hope mitt romney will be the inevitable nominee and i think rick santorum will stay and ruin everybody's just because he's not prom king. >> how do you think this will impact the gop, all of this? >> i think it will be very close. mitt romney is leading in these illinois polls. ultimately rick santorum has been down in many polls and comes back to win by overperforming in rural areas. either way it will be close and the race will go on for a while. but as far as the impact, we're just going to keep talking about it. >> yeah. i guess i'll see you this time next week. >> all right. we're going to go to the must-reads from all of you. megan, what's yours? >> jessie ellison wrote an article about the soldier in afghanistan that created the massacre and sort of, you know, goes into detail about why it happened. >> it's a story we've been covering all day. wow, what an issue there. >> erin? >> mine is the "new york times"
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story, the fact that we could go to a brokered convention. >> okay. they give incredible details but they look back. meghan was talking about 36 years the convention that preceded her lifetime. but you look at the chaos that could -- i mean, it's a great article. i'm going to agree with you. they went through all sorts of scenarios. jill, i will finish with you and your must read. >> rick pierson in the chicago tribune, the smartest political mind in illinois. if you want to know what's happening in the state, in the republican primary, you have to read this article. >> that's a good one. our friend jim warren was on earlier. he will take darned good offense there. all right. thank you so much. thank you all for being here. good to see you all. and that is a wrapup of this a division of" weekends with alex witt." next subpoena a re-airing of "meet the press". wake up with me on saturday morning. when bp made a commitment to the gulf,
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