tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC March 26, 2012 5:00pm-6:00pm EDT
ratigan. up next, "hardball" with chris matthews starts now. >> let's play hardball. good evening, i'm chris matthews up in boston leading tonight to health care games. when health care passed, the government was positive that the more people who heard about it, the more popular it would become. wrong. today only 36% of americans approve of the law according to 47% who disapprove. the law was one of the main reasons for the republican landslide in 2010, and today amid crowds of supporters and opponents, the supreme court began three days of arguments. it will determine the fate of the law and to some extent the presidential election. we'll hear from both sides. plus, could it actually be better politically to lose this case? some believe that a loss would
inspire their sons, either democrats or republicans, to work harder in this election. plus rick santorum was reamed for wait he asked a question and then he bragged about how he handles the "new york times." finally, let me finish with the high stakes action in the supreme court this week. we begin with the supreme court with nbc news justice correspondent pete williams. pete, what got done today from the observer like yourself? what could you see the court decide this first day of arguments? >> a very important piece of underbrush was cleared away, chris. if any of the justices were reluctant to decide this case in an election year and didn't want to get involved in that, they had an offramp today. and it's this question: can the case be argued now or do the challengers have to come back in a couple years? here's why it's an issue.
150 years ago, congress passed a law that says you cannot challenge a federal tax before it goes into effect. now, in the health care law, if you don't buy insurance as it requires, you have to pay a penalty. it's recorded on your income tax form, it's collected by their attack. today the supreme court seemed quite clear that none of the justices thought this was a showstopper. they're going to go on, it seems quite clear, and get tt main event, which is tomorrow on the constitutionality of the core of the law, the mandate or requirement that everyone buy health insurance. >> let me ask you about that individual mandate. if that is portrayed as a tax, isn't this a great irony here that it would give them a lot of scope to allow the immunity.
. this isn't a tax, but tomorrow you'll be back here arguing, not only is it allows during the broad, congressional, taxing authority. that seems like a bit of a head snarp. that the penalty itself isn't a tax, but that the law was passed under the broad taxing authority. that didn't go down well very well and it was hypocritical for the government to make that argument. none of the other justices jumped in to make that claim. i guess that means they're just going to wait until tomorrow. tomorrow the main argument that the government it making customers has this, but the government does also make sort of this fallback over authority
as well. >> it begins to sound like etch a sketch. yesterday it was a penalty, today it's a tax. thanks, pete, from the supreme court building. although the arguments were inside the court, the argument went outside. let's look at the scene from this morning. >> i'm only giving out tickets for today's argument only. today's argument only. and i'm giving out tickets for the first 60 seats for regular seating to hear the entire argument. >> she was one of the protestors in front of the court today. dr. ezequiel is chair in pennsylvania. he served the obama administration for health policy
and helped craft the affordable health care act which is in court today. he was inside the courtroom as well. let me go to jenny besth. what do you want them to rule? >> we want them to rule on the constitution. the government has no business, mandating, forcing every single person to purchase a product simply because we live and breathe. >> so if they do rule that it's constitutional, what would that say to you? >> that would say we have a lot more work to do and we have to make sure we educate our voters as to exactly what's in this bill so that when november comes, they vote and realize that the government now controls our health care. >> okay, let me go to ezequiel manual. it seems to be the height of the fight is tomorrow and it's the individual mandate. tell us about how you think that will stand up before at least five of the nine judges. >> i think the justices are going to uphold the individual mandate as constitutional. i think there is very little argument about that.
let's just cite two conservative experts, professor charles freed who was solicitor general under president reagan, and judge silverman of the d.c. circuit, both said there was no constitutional mandate for the claim the individual mandate was constitutional. they make a very good argument. commerce can regulate interstate commerce. there's no doubt the united states is part of interstate commerce, and section 108 says congress can do whatever is proper to implement its regulatory powers, and part of it is the mandate. the idea that the mandate violates some inherent freedom is just belied by the fact that congress has done a lot of things that can restrict the name of the population and the good of individuals. george washington required people to have a gun at home to defend the country. in the heart of atlanta case,
the justices said you can be a racist and own a motel, but you still have to rent the room to a black person. if you own a restaurant, you still have to serve a black person in the restaurant. that violates people's freedom but it's still constitutionally -- it's constitutional to do that. and this requirement is part of that same pattern. >> let me go back to jenny beth warren. do you think it was constitutional for governor romney to pass a law in massachusetts to require people to have health insurance? >> it was at the state level rather than the federal government. if that's what the people want in his state, i understand their right to choose to do that. i think the reason we're seeing that he's not the clear nominee at this point is because he passed that law in massachusetts. >> but what about if the united states congress wants something done. you said if the people of massachusetts want it. suppose the united states congress with 60 senators and the majority of house members and the president's sixth, they said they want health insurance
for the country. we can't have a health insurance that's not a democratic thing, you say. if 90% of both houses of congress and the president approved something like this, if a republican president approved something like this, you still say it's unconstitutional? >> red, i've been on -- the majority of the americans don't want it and 70% say it's unconstitutional. the congress passed it against the will of the american people. he do not want the government creating it. let me go back to something here. do you think congress rkts in 1994, should have a hotel that
runs blacks instead of whites. >> no, i think that's within the bound of the constitution. >> but they're forcing someone to sell -- it doesn't require me to make a purchase simply because i'm alive and breathing. it's much different when you choose to own something. if you choose to own a car, the government says you have to have car insurance. >> why can the government force you to sell it? >> you don't have to own a hamburger just because you're alive and breathing, but this is saying just because we're alive and just because we're breathing, we must purchase health insurance. >> let me get tough with you, zeke, i was tough with her. is there anything you see under the constitution that wouldn't be permitted under the interstate commerce clause? is it as flexible as a very long rubber band that can stretch forever. what do mimd ground saying what
he can do to your --s z it can make you so broadly. >> but it can't make you eat the broccoli, and let's just get to that distinction. the reason the government can make you buy health insurance is because we can't have a health insurance market that works without everyone being part of it. we have tried in this country to have a number of insurance exchanges where everyone could buy insurance, and the problem is, if they're voluntary, they always collapse and fail. they go into a downward spiral with prices going up and people exiting. the only stable insurance market we have is the one in man man p. broccoli is there.
>> don't bring up broccoli. >> we can use jim. >> one last shot at you, mary. this whole question, if you were in a motorcycle accident -- i always argue this with my kids, by the way. if you're in a motorcycle accident, you expect an ambulance will come with emergency people who will take care of you, first responders, into a gurney, there will be first class. who is supposed to pay for that if you don't? >> look, if you want to force this to happen. right now the majority of americans don't want it, chris. skblz. >> a heart attack or accident or bad health condition. you're expecting the hospital to do it for free. >> i am not.
and the thing is, even if you don't, you can't get health care. it's not a valid argument. you take the hip krakt oath and they care. i was still able to get care. doctors will work with you because they care about the patients. >> let's make two points. first, doctors and hospitals will take care of patients, but then you're just shifting the cost to them. because they, in the end, have to take care of it and they typically care for it by charging more. and the second point i want to make is we all expect the health care system to be there for us, and when people don't have health insurance and then go in and use the health system, they're actually getting bad care, we're not able to give them coordinated sbe graifb
care. so if we don't give them insuranc insurance. so. >> it's the worst of both worlds. someone else is paying and heir. mary bed martin, thank you very much. half the country might agree with you, we'll see. this is the american. the big issue: individual mandates, if that's what we're fighting about. >> let's. people are riled up and they want to change things in the election. is it worse to win and then you have to play defense? it's firing up the supporters out tlt in november. you're watching "hardball" on msnbc. i feel like that's normal.
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despite rick santorum's big win in louisiana last saturday, they did the polls. daily tracking polls, romney had a 15-point lead over santorum. santorum down at 26. those numbers look a whole lot like the newest polling out of california. a usc poll has romney up 19 points out there over santorum. 42-23. california votes in early june. fast forward to november to president obama with a 10-point lead over romney in a new suffolk poll of voters nationwide. obama at 47, romney at 37. that's a good lead for obama. we'll be right back. it's called ocuvite. a vitamin totally dedicated to your eyes, from the eye-care experts at bausch + lomb. as you age, eyes can lose vital nutrients. ocuvite helps replenish key eye nutrients.
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shake up the american election. what would it mean for the president and his opponents if they decided this june, perhaps, that obamacare is simply unconstitutional. could obama take the legal defeat as president in the courts? they're going up against the republican front runner this weekend, calling him the godfather of the plan. political analyst for msnbc and managing editor for proposed columnist.com. gentlemen, let me try what i think is a worst case scenario and the worst case for a particular person. mark, i think the worst of the four sets of consequences that could come out of this thing, defeat or victory on either side, would be for the president to have this declared unconstitutional for the following reasons. there's been an undercurrent in the republican right, especially the far right, that he's not quite legitimate. would they be able to take this
hammer and say, now the supreme court says he violated our constitution? >> chris, the country is closely enough divided over this that i think the real answer to who will benefit politically is who is more adept at taking the result and putting the best spin on it and deriv beiing a messagt of it. the president right now is not up to the job, he doesn't know what he is doing, he is in over his head. that's an argument mitt romney has made. he's spent a year-plus of his presidency working on this thing that proved to be unconstitutional. i also think a stronger argument will be to say, this thing has been struck down. it need to be replaced. most of the country, not a lot by a big majority, but a majority of the country wanted this replaced. who do you want to be in charge of replacing it, the guy who spent a year-plus wasting his time or a guy who was opposed to
it and will try to replace it with something different? >> so in those instances, you think it's a good help to romney? >> i do. i think right now the basics of it are in the republicans' favor. >> crystal, a quick look at this to start off the politics of this. is there any way obama wins if it gets struck down, or is it simply a winner is a winner, a loser is a loser? >> i have and will continue to treat politics like sports, chris, but if you lose in sports, you can say, well, it's a moral victory, we'll be more motivated to come out and win the next time, but you would rather win. that's just how these things work. i've heard the argument that a loss -- by a loss, i mean the court declares it unconstitutional and gets obama energized -- but wouldn't a win with the president dedicating 18
months of his first term to is justified, see, we were right, it is constitutional? wouldn't that excite the base, too? whoever comes up on the losing end of this is going to make a case for why it's a good thing, i just don't think you should believe them. >> lee, i would have said days ago david is still getting good points for fighting goliath. on meet the press yesterday, obama's senior supervisor david plouffe argued that in a few years, the president will be more supportive of this initiati initiative. >> by the end of the decade, we'll be glad we have obamacare. when the reality of health care? place, what people like you and i say in a few years are not going to matter. it will be people's experiences. >> that's not really at stake in this election because we won't know how we feel about it. as plouffe has said, time is on
our side. he doesn't have to worry about it, political attitude? >> he really doesn't. what he was doing was putting a horse in obama's bed saying if they are declared unconstitutional, they are going to agree and a lot of the media is going to agree that mitt romney's idea of health care paved the way for obamacare, whether it's struck down or put out for election day. >> you said go ahead. you said go ahead. i'm going ahead. on "meet the press" david plouffe called romney the godmarry of the obamacare plan. >> mitt romney is the godfather of our health care plan, okay? if he's president, he's running
away from our past and saying he's going to try to throw this away, we'll have a big fight about health care again. >> there you go, chris, your opening. that's quite a moniker to throw around. godfather of the health care plan? that's going to stick. >> it's going to stick and it's not going to be the only time you'll hear that, would be my guess, chris. what i don't know the answer to, the white house seems to believe and has believed for quite some time, all the way back to the signing of this bill, that they can convince people who currently do not look favorably upon the bill, that opinions are going to change, that there are persuadables in the electorate who don't like it now but they can be persuaded to like it by november. they can embrace obamacare. they can win on the issue. somewhere in the low 40% of people like the bill, high 40s to low 50s dislike the bill. those numbers really have not changed that much in the past two years.
remember, go back two years ago. it wasn't david plouffe but someone like david plouffe saying, just wait for the administration. you'll like this bill. can we move the numbers by starting a fight with mitt romney over health care? >> tomorrow the supreme court is going to hear arguments over the constitutionality, and we put together a few examples of mitt romney vigorously and effectively defending that very principle that you have to buy insurance. let's watch. >> now in this country, people who don't have health insurance go to the hospital if they get a serious illness and they get treated for free by government. >> let's say someone had a heart attack. take them to the hospital, have surgery. they aren't paying for it because they don't have insurance. the people who are paying for it are you who do have insurance. you have to have in your insurance premiums the cost of
people who don't have insurance. >> we're giving to people based on the premise that the president shows. >> if you can afford to buy insurance, then buy it. you don't have to if you don't want to buy it, but then you have to put enough money aside to pave your own way. >> i have an idea. why does s does that? >> mitt romney was for the individual mandate before he was against it, but barack obama was against it before he was for it. the individual mandate is a complicated thing. now, romney's argument is fine in massachusetts on the state level. shouldn't be imposed in washington. that is a legitimate argument to make, but it's a difficult one to make, particularly since he's said other statements suggesting it should be a national, if not a federal, model. he's going to be talking about this regardless of what the supreme court does because the obama administration will not
let him off the hook. and rick santorum is right, even though he doesn't say it particularly well most of the time, mitt romney is lessee kwipd to r-- equipped to run on health care issue even though he's got a way to talk about it that is diffused in the nomination process. >> the trouble that rick santorum is in because of this, and santorum makes the point, he's the worst possible republican candidate to run against obamacare. thank you so much more, thank you chris. up next, what "madmen" might like if it were about president obama. look at that ad executive dan draper. but he's actually barack obama. [ male announcer ] this one goes out to all the allergy muddlers.
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>> so much in that little cartoon. not exactly a smooth start for the pres or for john draper. the president was in south korea and he spoke to some university students and answered questions through a social media site. one person wanted to know if the president would ever go to extremes to beef up his own savorability. let's listen. >> one of you, maybe it was you, maybe it was somebody else -- this is true -- asked this question: have you posted yourself a supportive opinion on a web site under a disguised name pretending you are one of the supporters of president obama? i hadn't thought of this. but the truth is, i have not done this. maybe my daughters have. but i haven't done that myself. >> there was something you
wouldn't want to be caught doing, and that's what campaigns do for presidents, they make them look good on line. rick santorum may not fare so well in head to head polls with president obama, but apparently he has a leg up when it comes to something less political: bowling. our president's family ended up with a whole round of gutter balls when he tried his hand at bowling in 2008, but apparently santorum brought in an "a" game this weekend. what does the bowling alley have to do with election prospects? here's what he said on "face the nation." >> it was bowling in sheboygan yesterday with a bunch of folks at a tournament, and i threw three strikes in a row. that's a turkey. that tells you you got someone here who can relate to the voters in wisconsin just like those of us in western pennsylvania who grew up in the bowling lanes. >> actually, three in a row is damn good, but i guess three strikes is good for him.
despite losing in louisiana, rick santorum may be unraveling, actually. he cursed and used a bad word. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. [ artis brown ] america is facing some tough challenges right now. two of the most important are energy security and economic growth. north america actually has one of the largest oil reserves in the world. a large part of that is oil sands. this resource has the ability to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. at our kearl project in canada, we'll be able to produce these oil sands with the same emissions as many other oils and that's a huge breakthrough. that's good for our country's energy security and our economy. monarch of marketing analysis. with the ability to improve roi through seo all by cob. and you...rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle... and go.
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$2.4 million at the box office. that's it from cnbc. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." rick santorum scored a big win in louisiana saturday night but you wouldn't know it from his attitude. he lashd out at a "new york times" reporter from a line in his speech calling it bs. could it be time for santorum to pack it in? a prize-winning columnist from the "washington post," and david kopp the owner of a book "showdown." when talking about health care, rick santorum called mitt romney the worst republican in the country to run against obama. let's take a look. >> mitt romney agreed with
barack obama on every single thing that he did. because he put it in place in massachusetts, it's the blueprint for obamacare. don't believe me, ask obama. why would we put someone up who is uniquely like any republican in the country. he is the worst republican in the country to put up against barack obama. >> when asked about that comment on the rope line, santorum went off. >> you said mitt romney is the worst republican in the country. is that true? >> what speech did you listen to? >> right here. >> i said he was the worst republican to run on the issue of obamacare. would you guys quit distorting what i'm saying? >> do you think he is the worst republican in the country. >> on the issue of obamacare because he fashioned the blueprint. i've been saying it all along, quit distorting our words.
if i say it, it's [ bleep ]. >> he was championed for yelling at a member of the media, especially the "new york times." >> if you haven't cursed out a member of the "new york times," you're not really a rogue republican. that's what i did and, you know, look, we're out there sluging away, we're the candidates out there that is mixing it up, and we're mixing it up. >> i think he had a pretty good argument there, eugene and david, until he started dancing in the end zone. he didn't exactly ask him the right way and then he jumped on him, and then he started dancing about how great he was. >> rick goes rogue, right, chris? i'm a lodge ting time "washingt
post" guy. who hasn't cursed out a reporter? i've had enough of candidates being real on the campaign trail. >> it's really just using gross language. if he said "damn you" or something like that, you could see logical to it. was he right? >> maybe in the santorum household that's cursing out. i do think that it was quite clear that rick santorum was talking about in the context of health care. but it was very excessive l language. the interesting thing is how the romney campaign has pounced on this. i was with our good friend governor sununu and he said there is now an issue involving rick santorum's temperament? does he have the temperament? >> is this sununu talking, of
all people? >> chris, you understand. >> i get the irony. let's take a look at this. here's santorum talking about how scary it's going to be. you respond to this. this reminds me of johnson on goldwater. it's called obamaville and it's the santorum campaign painting a bleak picture of next year under president obama should he get reelected. let's watch. >> imagine a small american town two years from now if obama is reelected. small businesses are struggling and families are worried about their jobs and their future. the wait to see a doctor is ever increasing. gas prices through the roof. their freedom of religion under attack. and every day the residents of this town must come to grips
with the harsh reality that a sworn american enemy has been under repeated threat. welcome to a place where one president's failed policies really hit home. welcome to obamaville. more than a town, a cautionary tale coming soon to ri ricksantorum.com. >> is that strong enough? >> it's like a trailer for a slasher movie. you expect, you know, freddie krueger or something to come into the frame and take everybody out. it's hard to take that as seriously as maybe we should take it because the imagery really is pretty outrageous, the sort of morphing of president obama and ahmadinejad in this flickering tv image in the ad.
it is really pretty offensive. >> what does it mean, though, david, when they paint this bleak sort of post-holocaust world and global holocaust scene. what do they think he's going to do this president who is so weak? >> it's everything but "the hunger games." this is all going to happen within the next two years. so obama is going to be very, very, very busy. i mean, this is the right wing, paranoid, apocalyptic view of the world since obama got the nomination. they always run against democrats, anyway. they just now have the ability to make it more graphic. this is done by the campaign, not by the super pac, and they have no money to air this ad, which is why you get to see this on shows like "hardball" but you won't see this where you usually
see political ads. >> we're showing it in the right context, so we can have a laugh. the name of your book, "showdown." up next, new details about the shooting death of trayvon martin. tonight we're hearing from the other side about what happened that night. we'll talk to a close friend of zimmerman's who backs up the initial police report based on the interview with zimmerman. this is "hardball."
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joe is a good friend of zimm zimmerm zimmerman's and he joins us now. joe, thanks for joining us. what can you tell us right now about what zimmerman told you what happened that terrible night. >> i can't tell you much more than what's been published, especially today. this is information we've had all along but have not been able to bring forth because george has been told not to say anything about it. and because this is george's life, we've honored that as well, but the latest information that was released today shows that trayvon martin was actually the agressor in this. >> well, let me ask you about that. we know from listening to the 911 when he called in, we know that he was pursuing him at some point that evening. we know that he was told not to. we know he was armed, we know he had made many calls of this nature, 911 calls for whater reason. obviously he's very much devoted to is obviously devoted to this past time of looking out for
possible burglars. do you know if he had it in his personality to say something to this young man that would have caused him to attack him? >> no, not at all. >> why would the guy attack him? >> that is more information that will come out as part of the investigation. up with of the things that came out in the release, some of the details in the police report today was that george was not acting as a catwatch captain at that time. he was on his way home from the store, and he saw a suspicious person. >> he was in hot pursuit and went racing after him. >> hot pursuit and racing is relative. >> you can hear him huffing and puffing on the tape. >> you can, no question about
that. but what we don't hear is after that tape stops what happened, and how he met up with trayvon. and the tape today indicates that trayvon came up to george and was the aggressor. >> did you see george in the immediate aftermath? did he have a broken nose and bleeding on the back of his head? >> i have not seen george since the week this happened, and i have spoken to him for the first time this past saturday and earlier today, but i have not seen any of the pictures, which raises another question about this case, chris. historically in florida, they have been very willing to put for evidence they have, with casey anthony being an example, and we have gotten into this
discussion of race, and it was put out that george was white, but he is of a hispanic and multicultural background, and george was not the aggressor for the actual contact between trayvon and george. >> were you surprised when he used the racial slur? were you surprised he used a term like that? >> that's a term that i listen to over and over on there, and to me it's a matter of interpretation if he is saying coon or goon. there are place that's call themselves -- on the other hand, i'm a 53-year-old man, and i don't know too many people, younger than 40, that use that term as a racial slur.
as far as the other word, goon, i have been informed by my 17-year-old daughter that is is a term of endearment. >> so, let's go on. here is reverend al sharpton today with an interview with trayvon martin's parents. they responded to george zimmerman's claims that trey von was the aggressor in the incident. let's listen. >> trayvon would have defended himself. if he was afraid, i think he would have. >> i think he was confronted and doing his best to get home. if that meant defending himself, he had to defend himself. as far as being the aggressor, no. >> this is not getting to be a dispute over facts, it looks like it's just the way you look at this thing. race is the dividing line in many cases, but if he did, who
threw the first punch and who attacked who? >> from the accounts i heard, it was trayvon that through the first punch that knocked george down and broke his nose. there are not details released of what happened after that that validate the fact that this was a life and death struggle. >> was he afraid for his life? your friend? >> yes, that's why we're here. it got to the point where he said okay, there's no turning back on this. >> thank you for coming on "hardball" tonight. when we return. we're going to finish with the high stakes action of the supreme court this week. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc if you're one of them folks who gets heartburn
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we love bikes. we love riders. and most of all, we love to ride. perfect hair every time. leading the pack in motorcycle insurance. now, that's progressive. call or click today. let me finish tonight with this. i can't think of a more important supreme court verdict since the civil rights act of 1964 than this one. the power of the united states government to regulate congress is along the same lines but it is harder to argue. once you open a business, you can't discriminate on a customer based on race. so does the federal government have a right under the constitution to make you buy something that you would not
otherwise buy? this is high stakes. high stakes action with a variety of possible consequences. let's look at the possible worst. if balm care is struck down as unconstitutional, think how the republicans from romney on down will run with that one. the president accounted "unconstitutionally" he violated his oath to the constitution. this will play into the hands of the right. they will say he should not have been allowed to take office and stands as a breaker of the constitution. i think the court will rule in the other direction. give the president the victory and the hard work that he and the congress deserves. he will be delivered the elevated stat chur in history for the man that delivered, primarily because of him in the 21st. heavy stakes, ver