tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC September 19, 2012 4:00am-5:00am EDT
ability to alienate himself to the middle class and has not been able to communicate any kind of a plan of how he's going to give them a road map to a better country and better life. he's so disconnected with the middle class it's amazing. that's "the ed show." good evening, rachel. >> thank you, my friend. thank you for staying with us for the next hour. this, as you know, is a nuclear bomb. this is what a nuclear explosion looks like. this is a nuclear bomb. okay? this is not a nuclear bomb. this is something called a dirty bomb. actually, technically, that's just a regular bomb. but it could be a dirty bomb. any bomb could be a dirty bomb. doesn't look any different. a dirty bomb is a bomb you have put radioactive material in. it's not a nuclear explosion. there's no mushroom cloud.
dirty bomb is a regular explosive bomb packed with radioactive material so when it goes off, it sprays radioactive junk everywhere. the dirty bomb explosion is a metaphor for what's going on in the presidential campaign and it specifically is one of the next things that the romney campaign is going to have to deal with out of this tape of mr. romney speaking at a fundraiser, which has just been published in full by mother jones. let me explain. last night after mother jones posted about five minutes of the tape from the fundraiser, mr. romney convened a press conference in california at which he did not apologize for the remarks he made at the fundraiser, but suggested that maybe the editing was making him look bad. if you could see the whole thing in context, it might be better for him. he called for the whole tape to be released. >> we don't even have the question, given the snippet
there, nor the full response. i hope the person who has the video would put out the full material. >> want to know how bad mitt romney is at running his campaign? if you want to know how bad his campaign is right now, period, what he said there about not having the question released, the question had already been released. and at that point in the evening, the people who published the first five minutes had already said in print and on tv that they were about to publish the entire tape of the entire evening. and so there he is at his press availability calling for the question to be put out there and it's already out there. and he's calling for the tape to be released and the whole tape is already being released. and today mother jones magazine released the full unedited tape of his appearance at that fundraiser. because of that, the adage that in politics bad tends to get worse has never felt more true for mitt romney's campaign
today. now we have the whole tape. there's the dirty bomb thing. this is what mr. romney said in response to a question about the threat posed by iran. listen carefully here. >> we can add to the list of foreign policy worries about a possible presidential mitt romney that he doesn't know what a dirty bomb is. it's not a nuclear explosion. it's not a mushroom cloud. you don't need to have a nuclear program in order to make a dirty bomb possible. you don't need material from a nuclear weapons program to put together a dirty bomb. it's just a regular bomb that explodes the regular way except packed with radioactive material.
it can come from medical waste. it can come from nuclear power plants. it could come from smoke detectors. every country in the world has plenty of material to make a dirty bomb if they wanted to. so by singling out a nuclear-armed iran as a threat to the u.s. in terms of what it would take to make a dirty bomb, he's displayed profound ignorance on a profound subject. he doesn't know the difference between a dirty bomb and a nuclear bomb. therefore, foundationally, he misunderstands what is important or not important about iran having a nuclear program. that's one of the reasons he says he's running for president, is how important he takes this threat. this is an important issue. this is not a gotcha moment. no one was asking about dirty bombs. he brought that up himself. reporters really do need to ask him to explain if he knows what
a term like dirty bomb means. because if he does not know, then we are dealing with a whole new fundamental problem with his candidacy that was unknown before these tapes were released. also asked about the conflict between israel and palestinians, mr. romney said at that fundraiser that to h mind, the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish. he said, these are problems and they are very hard to solve, all right. these are thorny issues that i say there's just no way. so you move things along the best way you can. you hope for some degree of stability, but recognize this is going to remain an unsolved problem. kick the ball down the field and hope something will happen to resolve it. that's the plan. this is a hard issue. i'm going to hope it gets better.
i don't want to work on it. mr. romney currently trails president obama by 45 points among jewish voters. he has tried to narrow this gap by saying that mr. obama has not been a strong enough leader on the issue of israel. now we know what mr. romney is pledging to do on israel, which is to hope everything gets better because it seems like it's too hard to work on. just to round things out in terms of this international house of wrong, this united nations of wrong, mr. romney also attempted to make a funny at this event about how much better his life would be if only he were mexican.
>> it would be helpful to be latino. take it from mitt romney. mexican are the ones that have it easy in this country. all of these new statements are in the rest of the videotape from that fundraiser in florida, which mr. romney called for the release of in full last night in his first attempt to tamp down the firestorm. but all this means is that he has a whole bunch of new problems to add to the problem that he got yesterday from the first clip of these remarks that was released. he's got a whole new list of problems to add to the problem he got yesterday that he's likely to drag with him all the way to the election.
>> mr. romney last night was asked by reporters if he wanted to retract any of that statement and he said no. he said he might have put it differently if he weren't speaking off the cuff. >> well, you know, it's not elegantly stated. let me put it that way. i'm speaking off the cuff in response to a question. i'm sure i could state it more clearly and in a more effective way than i did in a setting like that.
>> what does it mean to say it more elegantly? top hat? would that have made it? i don't know about elegant, but in terms of saying what he said more effectively, he's right. as a candidate, mitt romney has said this thing more effectively in the past. because it is the policy platform of the republican party this year. it's the policy of the republican party to pursue the kinds of policies he described there inelegantly or not. it is the policy of the republican party and throughout the party. >> i think it's a real problem when you have half of americans that are almost half of americans not paying income tax. >> it's a mitt romney position in this campaign. it's a republican policy more broadly for the whole country that people who have less money in this country are not paying enough in taxes. and the republicans would like to raise taxes for those people.
senator o'ren hatch, it's abysmal that the bottom 50% do not pay income taxes. and we have to question whether that's fair. as you saw, mitt romney, i think it's a real problem when you have half of americans, almost half of americans that are not paying income tax. that's a problem. that's an economic problem in this country to mitt romney and the republicans. and that is a real problem that his tax plan would fix. the romney tax plan would, quote, result in a net tax cut for high income taxpayers and a net increase for middle income taxpayers. that's from the tax policy center. cut taxes for the rich, raise taxes for the poor. that is what mitt romney's tax plan would do. it's also what republicans have pursued in the states since they took over the governorships in so many states in the 2010 elections. earlier this year, the
republican tax reform bill in south carolina proposed raising taxes on the poorest families in that state and cutting taxes for people who are well off. because i guess republicans believe that south carolina poor people have too much money. in wisconsin, when the republicans took over there, what got the attention was the new law to strip union rights, which is now tied up in the courts. but the budget introduced in wisconsin would have cut taxes for everybody in the state except for poor people. the wisconsin republican budget would raise taxes on the poorest people in the state. because republicans there also think that poor people have too much money. in kansas where the republican takeover has gotten much less national attention than it ought to have, the republican governor signed a new bill into law. it takes poor people's taxes and raises them. they have an anti-tax brand. they like to be seen for cutting taxes and against raising taxes,
but they really only believe that for upper income people. republican budgets like mitt romney's and like the republican budgets in the states, they don't ignore the poor. they target poor people for higher taxes. the approach to poverty is to say they have too much money. and the government has to fix that by taking some money away from them. as a matter of policy what was spoken at that fundraiser this spring that's now turned the campaign on its head, this was a gaffe. not an error. this was not a misstatement, it was a blunt statement. there's a reason they didn't take what back what he said on that tape. they are restating it, but it's their world view and policy. that's why this has been like a nuclear bomb, not a dirty bomb. joining us now is dan rather, the anchor on access tv. thank you for coming back and joining us again. let me ask your blunt reaction
when you heard mr. romney's remarks at this fundraiser yesterday. >> my first reaction was, can't be true. the tape must be edited. he can't possibly have disparaged almost half of the population with seven weeks to go in the election campaign. alas, it turns out to be exactly what he said. when you have a dedicated republican such as bill crystal, one of the real powers in the party, describing this as, quote, arrogant and stupid, unquote, that tells you a lot. this is a deep wound to romney's chances. i think disastrous, but i'm not prepared to say catastrophic yet. he has to have 30 to 45 days playing errorless campaign politics and have a very good first debate in early october. otherwise, i don't see how he can win. >> we have seen a rift on the right over this issue. ed shultz was covering this very
well in the last hour talking about how the romney campaign didn't take it back, but there are elements on the right led by talk radio, people saying this is what we believe. we ought to take this as an opportunity to articulate that 47% of the country that doesn't pay income taxes. we ought to be targeting ourselves to the country in a way that does not pay attention to those people and speaks to the creators and not the moochers. >> absolutely true. the solid base for romney, they love this. and they also detest obama. they will go to the polls. the problem for candidate obama is that the election is going to be won in about seven or eight swing states with independent and sometimes up and down voters. i can't believe this appeals to them. one doesn't have to come out every day and speak up for the hungry, the homeless, the helpless and those who think they have lost hope.
but it's not in the american character to say, to hell with them. they need to work harder. they are there only because of their own purposes. i can't find anything comparable in american presidential campaign history, at least for the 50 years i've been covering it, that's anything comparable to this. mcgovern had difficulty and problems. but nothing i've ever covered compes to this. everything else pales by comparison. having said that, the next six to seven days are absolutely critical for romney. either he can steady his operation, either he can get some momentum going forward on his core issues, which are jobs and the economy, either he does
it in the next week and gives him a chance for the following 30 days, including that first debate, or he doesn't. it will be interesting to see how it goes. >> the sleeper issue in these tapes, and i think it's interesting chronologically that we have the libya and egypt gaffe right before this happened. the sleeper issue is foreign policy and national security stuff. to have made comments that blunt and reckless about the palestinian/israeli peace process, to come out while the embassy was still being attacked, and to have displayed, nobody has been talking about this at all today, but to display basic ignorance about nuclear national security in terms of a nuclear bomb and a dirty bomb in the context of iran, i feel like that stuff makes me hyper ventilate a little bit about this campaign in a way about how close this man is to the presidency with
some real serious weaknesses on national security. >> you can bet a lot of people are asking that question. it's less the specifics about his foreign policy. than is he really ready for the presidency? he already suffered the image of being brittle, awkward, inauthentic. not quite ready to be president. now when he makes these gaffes one after the other, what was said about the 1960s, many republicans are asking themselves now about the romney campaign. is there anybody that can run this? it's the effect of these things saying, i'm prepared to consider romney, but he doesn't strike me as leadership material. we said in this program before. it's less what he says about a specific policy than it is how he makes people feel. and i think what he has shown over the last couple weeks
beginning just before the republican convention is he makes people feel a little uneasy when they try to imagine him as president. >> in terms of the actual tax-related statement he made that's gotten him in so much trouble, the reason people don't pay federal income taxes is because mostly of deductions and exemptions in the tax code because mostly that's been a preferred republican way of legislating social policy, to reward work and reward childbearing and education and democrats have done it too, but it was championed by republicans over this time. are we seeing an ideological shift around taxation? their basic ideas about the legitimacy of taxing people at all. that's allowing them to essentially criticize the results of all of their own policymaking that created deductions for people in the military, education, that made possible this 47%. >> the short answer is yes. you had this change within the
party, especially with those who are most active in the party coming for some time. it's now come full. the obama campaign is out with a new ad today that says, get this clear, people. candidate romney wants to cut taxes for the wealthy, increase taxes for the middle class and those below. now the romney people have their answer, but this is an effective argument given what the candidate has said. >> and what the republicans have done in the states where they have control, which i thinis overlooked in terms of sort of making intentions here. this is just mind boggling. dan rather, so great to have you here. anchor of "dan rather reports." the latest show airs tonight at 11:00 p.m. eastern. there may be a more elegant way to say this, but where are mr. romney's tax returns?
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dan rather compared it to barry goldwater talking about extremism in 1964 and other historical presidential collapses. there's something important embedded in the video. in the way he talks about taxes and morality, i think it's going to be driving the next news cycle. it's not the part he says he's not going to worry about 47% of the country in trying to become president, it's about what he says is wrong with that part of the country. listen.
>> personal responsibility and care for their lives. he's not just saying they are a lost cause for his campaign, which is how he tried to spin it in his remarks late last night. he's saying there's something. there's something bad about being a person who doesn't pay income tax. he says people who don't pay income tax are victims who do not take responsibility, who feel entitled. mr. romney is making whether or not you pay federal income taxes a moral issue. "i'll never convince them they'll take personal responsibility and care for their lives." making it a moral issue is an awkward case for mitt romney to be making. he's taken great pains to try to move the national conversation away from the discussion of his own tax returns. which he refuses to release to the public. paul ryan released ten years of tax returns to the romney campaign because according to his standards, that's what it
takes in order to vet a vice presidential nominee. and he's responsible for vetting the nominee from the republican party. he's the one who mitt has to make that pick. in order to make that pick responsibly, he said he needed to see ten years of tax returns from paul ryan. the people who are responsible for vetting to be president of the united states, that would be us, and we are not allowed to have ten years from mitt romney. we are only allowed to see one year of mitt romney's tax returns and a summary of the second year, at least so far. the question of why mr. romney will not release more tax returns has dogged his campaign. over his summer, a laundry list of republicans called on him to release the returns. that followed more republicans who did so during the primaries. harry reid went on a tear loudly and publically accusing mr. romney based on a hearsay source of having paid zero taxes for ten years.
mr. romney denies that. he says he's never paid less than 13% in taxes. he does just say that. we're supposed to trust him that that's true. the problem with us just trusting, the problem with us not seeing the evidence of what's in his taxes is that the last time mr. romney asked voters to trust him about what was in his taxes that he didn't want to show, we just had to trust him, was when he told massachusetts voters in 2002 when he was running for governor that he was a massachusetts resident and you could tell this because he never filed taxes for the state of utah. it turns out he did file taxes the romney campaign said, you're going to have to take my word for it. and it it turned out anybody who did take their word for it was a sucker. >> the democrat's point to romney's house in utah which was listed as his primary residence
to support a challenge. they also want to see his tax returns. >> we have now learned from his own lips this afternoon that mr. romney lied yesterday when he said he filed resident tax returns in both massachusetts and utah. >> reporter: romney acknowledged today he amended his 1999 and 2000 tax returns to make him a resident here. >> so when he says trust me about what's in his taxes, his record about trusting on taxes says we cannot trust him. during the republican primary when the question was someone else's tax policy, mr. romney said something more revealing about his own taxes than he's ever said when faced with direct questions about them. >> mr. speaker, is the tax on capital gains also 50%? >> zero. >> under that plan, i'd pay no taxes. >> he's trying to criticize other tax plans.
guys like mitt romney don't really pay income taxes. he's essentially admitting that he does not pay income taxes. >> under that plan, i'd have paid no taxes in the last two years. >> his personal tax burden has been an issue in this campaign all along. but now that he declared people who don't pay income taxes as victims and don't care for their lives, now there's an even more pressing interest in knowing whether mitt romney himself is one of those people.
a lot of people are pronouncing mitt romney's presidential campaign doneesville. today mitt romney lost the election in bloomberg news. "huffington post," why romney's video comments have killed his candidacy. mr. romney's comments at the fundraiser in may disqualify his claim to the presidency. i know, know. those are liberals. but there are conservatives. david brooks calls mr. romney, thurston howell today. more importantly, he says mr. romney's comments at that
fundraiser are a country club fantasy. it's what millionaires say to each other. david brooks goes on to say, while he likes mr. romney, he quote, says stupid things because he's pretending to be something he's not. and he ends it all, he ends the column by asking, when will the incompetence stop? when you get even more conservative than david brooks, the comments get even more devastating. here's a taste. this is referenced earlier this hour by dan rather. this is bill crystal from "the weekly standard." the headline is, a note on romney's arrogant and stupid remarks. he goes on to half jokingly suggest that mitt romney quit the race that he drop off the ticket so he can, quote, get the ryan/rubio ticket we deserve. this is what it looks like for the wheels to come off.
but wheels have come off in other campaigns too. sometimes after the wheels come off, the campaign crashes because there's no wheels, but then the candidate and campaign scramble around in the underbrush and find the wheels and bolt them back on and sometimes even win that race. do you remember how john mccain won the presidential nomination? during the primaries in 2007, john mccain's campaign in the primaries just bottomed out. it was over. he laid off dozens of staff members. his fundraising collapsed. what was left of the campaign ordered up a recovery plan called living off the land, a plan for financial viability. it called for mccain to scramble for the free press for looking good in new hampshire where the campaign would work the press to convince reporters that john mccain was still in it. so reporters would write stories saying he was still in it. so he would seem like he was still in it when it was really all made up.
but it worked. john mccain won in new hampshire. then he rolled out victories in virginia and kansas and on and on and he was back and john mccain won the the nomination after having been declared gone the previous summer. in the 2008 republican primaries, john mccain was a phoenix that rose from the ashes of the campaign he previously burned down. he came back from somewhere much worse than where romney is right now. at least mitt romney still has his donor billionaires, right? mccain was able to win the nomination. now i should also note that 2008 john mccain also provides us the opposite political science case study of how to burn down your campaign in a way you can't recover from. so he got the nomination, but once he had the nomination and was running for president, the burning down again started this week. it was the third week of september, 2008. that was the week that lehman collapsed and the crater of the american economy began.
the fundamentals of our economy are strong. it was john mccain who invented the blackberry. then his surrogate said john mccain was not capable of running a company like hewlit packard and neither could sarah palin. then the campaign said carly would disappear for awhile. then they were talking about the sipc. then he sold his drill baby drill plan by saying that fish love oil rigs. and then sarah palin hailed the dawn of a new administration. then mr. mccain said he would fire the head of the securities and exchange commission.
but in trying to make that point, he named the head of the fec, which is a totally differently agency that's totally unrelated. that was this week. that was one-week period this year four years ago in the campaign for john mccain for the presidency. even though he had risen like the a phoenix, he did not come back in the general election. that was this time in the campaign mid-september. by october the campaign was collapsed symbolized by sarah palin being trashed in the press by staffers of her own campaign. that was still a live campaign at that point. that happened and then we voted and honestly it wasn't even close. all campaigns have low moments. barack obama and the reverend wright stuff. mitt romney's dad way back in the day saying he was brainwashed by the military. some of these things are
survivable and some of them are not. is it just the timing? is it needing enough time to recover before people start voting? is it the type of error and how close it is to the candidate's weaknesses in the campaign. does the history of campaigning tell us anything about whether mitt romney is likely to survive this or whether this is the end? whether, like everybody is saying, this is door nails at this point. joining us is a scholar of modern presidential campaigning, thank you for being here. >> happy to be here. >> i was thinking, i wonder what steve thinks about previous collapses. what makes the difference in terms of whether campaigns are able to pull out of a tail spin and pull off a win? >> some of it has to do with the basic structural factors at work. is it a year your party has a chance to begin with president bush that gives you a margin of error it screw up and still recover. the good news for mitt romney is
this is the kind of year where because of the structural factors, the economy, the state of the economy, barack obama's vulnerable. there's an opportunity for romney to win the election. the closest analog i can find is john kerry in 2004. if you can think back to the trajectory of that campaign. in the summer months, it was tied in the polls. kerry was even ahead for a time. bush went second with their convention. had a much better convention than democrats. labor day on for the entire month of september, bush was ahead six or seven points in the national polls. in that month, there was loud public second guessing of the kerry campaign. people were saying he's blown this perfectly winnable election. what changed it for kerry was the first debate. september 30th of 2004. he outperformed bush in the first debate. the gap was erased overnight.
from that point on, you had a neck and neck election through election day. now because he lost, we say here are the things that kerry did wrong. but critics were silenced and it looked like he was running a competent campaign. the the lesson is that race was about as winnable for kerry as this is for romney. so romney needs to go into this debate and clearly have a better performance than obama. >> one difference is that the reason that kerry fell behind at the time that you're describing in the '04 race was not because of big screw ups. he was getting a lot of criticism, but george bush ran a good convention and an aggressive campaign. the things that were hitting kerry were attacks organized by the george bush side. in this case, the romney campaign, it's all self-inflicted. democrats would like to believe this has been orchestrated by the obama campaign, but it hasn't. it's mitt romney talking on his own terms and people hearing
what he's saying. does that make a difference in terms of the recoverability factor? >> they were hitting him on the security stuff and he talked about fighting terrorism as a police issue as opposed to a military issue. the bush people hit him hard on that. probably effectively. but i was looking for a precedent where you have something like an open mike incident that reenforces a candidate's prime vulnerability. domestically, i can't think of one. the only thing is international. 2010 in britain with gordon brown. you remember gordon brown, his biggest vulnerability was the perception he was cold and arrogant. he met with the working class voter and the mike was still on and he talks about what a bigoted woman she was. it came at a time when his campaign was struggling. that's the closest parallel i
can find in a major election. >> the romney campaign came into the week saying they were going to sharpen the the message and start providing specifics about policies. that was before the open mike incident. that was when their biggest problem seemed to be the open venting of fighting within the campaign to politico and a lot of news outlets. is that still in the works? should that still be in the works as a potential way out of this? it seems to be irrelevant because them getting specific about tax policy would make this 47% problem much worse. >> that's it. pick your issue. whatever he's going to get more specific on, there's a reason he hasn't been specific. it's not that they have forgotten to be specific. usually you'd do that in your convention speech. the more specifics you get, the more the divide where the republican party is today, a party that mitt romney has been totally and completely responsive to at every step of the way. and where the audience is. this 47% thing is a perfect
example. this is a mean that's gospel on the right. it's become gospel. if romney starts preaching that gospel like he did on this video, that's poisonous to the rest of the electorate. but if he moves away, they are saying this is what we believe in. this is what we nominated you for. you can multiply that, because that's the story of the obama era. the republican has tried to win elections by papering over the big differences they have with swing voters. >> steve, the thing that the romney campaign is doing to try to move out of this, rather than what they say they are going to do has gone almost completely unnoticed while everybody has been fixing on this screw up. we have it as our feature next. thank you. steve's show is called "the cycle." it airs here on msnbc. you're exactly right about how this is going. it's great to have you here.
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so the mitt romney campaign this week had to add chris is management to that to-do list, but they still need to work on the big problems they've got in the polling. after their convention, they had been gaining in polls among latino voters but they're back to where they are before. you cannot win the presidency with that few latino voters. the woman show him losing florida women by 14. he's losing virginia overall by 5 points but virginia women by 14. he's losing ohio by 7 points overall, but he's losing ohio women by 16 points. nationally in the new nbc news poll just released tonight, he's losing women across the country by 10 points. so it is awful among women nationally but it is worse in the swing states. and that's not just a liberal take on the numbers, those are the numbers. they're just terrible for him of the so even as he's dealing with
all these other new crises, this most recent tape of him, even as he's dealing with these new problems, mr. romney still has all his old problems to work on, too. and one of his worst old problems is women. so today in the midst of everything else, the campaign very quietly started airing this. this is mr. romney's new hello babies add. the phrase hello babies was coined by one cat.com, but it's less awkward language than the language which this ad actually starts. >> dear daughter, welcome to america. your share of obama's debt is $50,000 and it grows every day. welcome daughter.
>> to this obama hell scape. don't with you wish you could go back to where you came from. >> is she a foreign baby? maybe she did a trimester abroad? hello, foreign babies. welcome to america. vote for mitt romney? the romney campaign is in serious trouble. but you do what you've got to do in these situations you've got to put one foot in front of the other and they have decided the way they're going to get out of these problems and the way they're going to take these steps is going to be baby steps. welcome to america? seriously, who's making the decisions in this campaign right now.
thing in mitt romney's world today. it was a chance for him to get on television without having to answer questions about what he said at that fundraiser. he got that chance through the magic of time travel. also known in the tv world as a pretaped interview. >> so as you know, we have a huge show today. >> yes. >> we taped an incredible interview with presidential candidate governor mitt romney and his wife ann which we're going to show you today. >> that is a person named kelly ripa and a person named michael strahan. they are teasing forward with mitt and ann romney which they taped last friday but they aired it today. because they knew they were going to pretape it and air it later, they conducted it as an ever green interview.
that's tv talk when you don't want an interview to sound dated if news events happen to change before you get a chance to air this thing. so the happiest of happy republican accidents today. the damage control headlines of the romney campaign got interrupted on network television today by something else from mitt romney that was not about his campaign collapsing and why. instead, it was about this. >> this is the most serious question. all. honey boo-boo or snooki. >> do you know who either of those two are? >> i'm kind of a snooki fan. >> she has a baby now. >> look how tiny she's gotten. she's lost weight and she's energetic. her spark plug personality is fun. >> isn't it awesome how tiny? weird, right? also sweet relief in the darkest hour of this campaign when everything is about what's wrong and other shoes keep dropping every day, when mitt romney's