tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC November 1, 2011 11:00pm-12:00am PDT
saving cain. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews. up in new york, leading off tonight, damage control. let's see how far herman cain's responses to that sexual harassment story have evolved in just one day. first from the story is false, to there were allegations but that were false, to i don't know if there was any money paid to -- i don't know anything about an investigation to,
here's the investigation tour i made that led to the allegation to, why, yes, i remember a discussion of a settlement. if you want a lesson on how to keep a story alive, herman cain just gave it to us. the abrupt turns in the cain story are just the latest embarrassment, however, to republicans thrown on the defensive. they have got rick perry's debate flubs, mitt romney's flip-flops, michele bachmann's collapse and republicans are now openly worried they may ultimately blow this thing. is it possible that this clown show, and i use that advisedly, may hand the election to barack obama? and loo who's become president obama's most important political partner, secretary of state hillary clinton. she's doing what no one else on the democratic side is doing openly and forcefully, defending the president. and if you don't have anything nice to say, former bachmann
campaign manager, ed rollins, has more harsh words for his one-time candidate. that's in the sideshow tonight. and my new book, "jack kennedy: elusive hero," which i'm enormously proud, comes out today to bookstores and to amazon. let me finish with a key lesson for president obama that he could ehrn from president kennedy. we begin with herman cain's spin cycle, if you will. alex burns writes for politico, the organization that broke this story and dana milbank is a columnist for "washington post." let me go to you, alex, first off with, this whole thing, americans for herman cain, the cain super pac, just sent out a fund-raising e-mail, there it is. the subject line, "don't let the media lynch another black conservative." now we're getting that particular spin, if you will. we're getting a little less information as time goes on
today about what were the charges. we may never get the information there. how does this evolve politically, say, if you're looking at it from the outside, as you are? right now, looking at the story, does this die of atrophy? does it not affect the conservative voters who are voting in these primaries and caucuses? what? what's your take? >> chris, herman cain has now had two full days to clear up the questions surrounding this story. and i think as you detailed just now, he has left in a lot of ways more questions than answers. so i think until we get some more clarity on exactly what kind of settlement he may have been aware of or why he first said he wasn't aware of one, then later sort of miraculously remembered that he was aware of some financial details -- >> yes, but let me get to a tougher point. let me ask you a tougher point as a journalist. i know that's the story we'd like to get information, we're curious, but let me ask you the toughest question in the business. so what? does this affect his voting base? does this affect the people on the right side of the republican party who have to pick a nominee to beat mitt romney? does this affect them, that you can tell? >> well, i think that herman cain, more than any other candidate in this race, has staked his campaign on his personality and his character. and i think we're going to see in the next round of polls and his next trip to iowa at the end of this week whether voters are still having the same response
to him that they did a week ago. >> do you think there's a character issue here, meaning, like, does it say he's a good guy or a bad guy as opposed to, he certainly did something that caused people to bring these0 allegations. would you say you're sure? is there an undercurrent of a story that reporters haven't reported yet that suggests a real character problem? >> well, a number of republicans i've spoken to in the last day have said that whatever may have happened back in the 1990s that resulted in those settlements at the national restaurant association, what raises questions for them now is the fact that cain can't seem to get his facts straight on what happened, which raises questions certainly about honesty. >> yeah, about the ability to speak in public, too. he's always been -- dana, my friend, he's always been really smart about how to use his brains. the guy's a smart guy. he knows how to get a point across. he hasn't seem to have decided
on whether he knows something that makes him look better than this story or the story right now is better than reality. that's what we don't know. >> chris, if you look through the usual prism, this has been a pr disaster. i mean, this is textbook in how you don't deal with one of these things. but i don't think that we can look at herman cain through this typical prism, and that is, the people supporting him are supporting him precisely because he's not like everybody else in this race, particularly mitt romney, particularly barack obama. that's why he's using this for fund-raising. that's why his campaign says, and i think it's plausible, he raised $250,000 off of this last night. people are going to rally -- his supporters are going to rally to his defense, simply because it's perceived as the media, as the elite going after him. >> so you're saying that his people give him the benefit of the doubt? >> more than that -- >> they don't think it's something that really brings
down his character? that he's not a sexual celly or something like that? you don't think they believe that? >> no, if he were to admit that he'd been sexually harassing men and women, perhaps, that might change things. but in this sort of story -- >> what did you just say? you're being flippant, right? >> no, i'm not, chris. if somebody were to bring out something that would question his conservative-social conservative bona fides, that's one thing. but if it's this sort of thing, the people, the 25% of iowans who are supporting herman cain do not care about these sexual harassment allegations. i think we can say that with confidence. >> we'll see. i think alex has got a good point too. let's look at the polling. i'm not sure it's going to move down or up. here's cain's story on whether or not there was a settlement, meaning money paid to his accusers, and that story seems to have evolved. make your own judgment. let's listen to what he's been saying. >> if the restaurant association did a settlement, i'm not even -- i wasn't even aware of it. i am unaware of any sort of settlement. i hope it wasn't for much, because i didn't to anything. i was aware that an agreement was reached. the word settlement versus the word agreement, you know, i'm not sure what they called it. yes, there was some sort of settlement or termination, and i don't even know what the contents of that was. we ended up settling for what
would have been a termination settlement. three months' salary or something like that. >> let me go to alex. it seems to me that he's a business man. he's like mitt romney, used to dealing with the business press, alex, not with us, okay? it's a different kettle of fish. i was just talking to karen finney, a democratic consultant, who said the business press can simply issue a statement and move on. with the political press, we're not satisfied with that. isn't that a fair estimate of this guy's inability to deal with something which has become a ball of wax for this guy, if that's the right word? >> well, sure, chris. and i would point out that for most of this year, cain has learned from the political press in his experience as a lower tier presidential candidate, that if you mess up verbally but keep talking, you can usually talk your way out of it. that's how he handled it when he said at first that he wouldn't want muslims in his cabinet and then backtracked on that. that's how he tried to handle just last month some muddled
statements he made about his position on abortion. this is a much more serious issue because it involves legal questions. it involves character questions. it's not just a matter of how did you answer a question about muslims in your cabinet in the hallway interview? >> he's smart. it's like, you can't keep erasing the blackboard and starting over. dana milbank, you're a funny guy and i read your column every day, but i'll tell you. the republican party, we're going to get it to it in the next segment. this is a revolving development for them. he's their front-runner right now. whatever else we say about the other candidates, they're not doing as well as this guy's done. he's probably the most successful republican candidate this year. and here he is in a mess that he can't seem to get out of. does he not have access to the brains in the republican party. are they watching him go downhill? are people like karl rove and bill kristol enjoying this because they want a finer, more sophisticated candidate? is that what we're watching here?
>> sure. i think a lot of people will be relieved, and i doubt very many republicans in this town think that with this scandal or without this scandal that herman cain is going to be the republican nominee. there's just too many reasons they don't want to give that gift to president obama. but this man has shown an ability to weather things, the dramatic change on abortion, the gitmo, the swapping of terrorists, the electrified border fence. these sorts of things could have killed any normal politician, and this man shows an extraordinary ability to hold on, not to the majority of the electorate, f substantial portion of it. >> it's the old question of who do you want to sit next to you on a long airplane flight? i would still like to meet this guy. i think mitt romney would be somewhat unsurprising. i think the same would be true of newt gingrich or bachmann. i think this guy would be an interesting person. let me get back to you, alex, on covering this guy and his popularity. you mentioned the polls are going to tell us a lot.
do you have any kind of horse sense or gut sense, seat of the pants estimate, are we sure he's going to go down in the polls? look at what happened today in fund-raising. this guy had his best fund-raising day ever in the last 24 hours. >> well, chris, what i would say to that is, i think we've clearly seen, since this story broke sunday night, that there is a core of herman cain supporters that is totally undeterred by whatever new information comes out. but i'm not sure that group of people is the full 20% to 25% that he's polling in places like iowa and south carolina. there's a good number of those people who probably know about as much about herman cain as they did nine months ago when he was a very, very obscure political figure, and it's those folks who are probably going to dictate exactly how much damage he takes going forward. >> well said. here cain said his campaign was being sabotaged. this is where it plays into this fund-raising letter. if he's going to be, or portray himself, let's get that straight, as another clarence
thomas, as an african-american conservative being pilloried by the politically correct press, i'm sure that's how they're going to portray it to the people on this side of the world. let's listen. >> obviously, someone is encouraging them to bring it up now, because i'm doing so well in this republican nomination. that's all i would say. why are you bringing it now? secondly, are you being used to try and help paint a cloud and help sabotage my candidacy? you and i both know why they're doing it. because someone does not like the fact that we are doing so well in this campaign and that i'm at or near the top of the polls consistently. i absolutely believe that this is an intended smear campaign. >> let me ask you this, alex. if you found out, as a source for your own organization, if it was another case and you found out that one of the campaigns had leaked this against him, would that become a political story in itself, like it was in the old days of the attack video? in the 1988 campaign? >> well, i think that certainly
if another campaign were to step forward at this point and attack herman cain over this issue, that would instantly reshape the narrative that we're dealing with. >> now what about if they leaked this story? you can't say, because it's one of your colleagues, you probably don't even know where this story came from. it was broken by j-mar, but jonathan martin, but let me ask you, do you think it's a story as to where this story came from? is that a legitimate political question to ask? who is putting out the dirt on somebody else in the republican party? >> i think people are welcome into looking into whatever kind of opposition research the campaigns may or may not be doing. but i think it's important, chris, and i want to address one thing that mr. cain said. he said this is a smear campaign orchestrated against him. one of the defining features of a smear campaign is usually the allegations are not true. and mr. cain, in this situation, has confirmed a good deal of the report. >> i'm sorry. it looks like "the post" has
grabbed this story again. this story just broke on "the washington post" website. "the post" is reporting that one of the woman who accused herman cain of sexual harassment in the late 1990s wants to tell her side of the story and has called on the national restaurant association to lift its confidentially ban, according to her attorney. dana milbank, it's your paper, it's your story now. >> well, i'm pleased on behalf of my paper. herman cain said when he was at the press club yesterday that he would not call on the restaurant association to release those. this will obviously increase the pressure to do so. we have now a hearing that herman cain's wife is going to be out there, giving an interview of her own. so clearly, this will not be the last time this probably shows up on your show, chris. >> why do you think it's relevant that his wife has something to say, if it's a workplace issue. why is that relevant? dana? >> i mean, that's just going to be part of the defense here. he's had six or seven different lines of defense here, and he's
going to keep using them until one of them works. i think the most powerful one is going to be, they are out to get me, they, the elite, they, the mainstream media, and you, my iowa supporters, need to stand up to that. >> well, we'll have an interesting witness on the table, if this woman comes forward and makes a statement based on personal experience. it's going to have a lot of power. thank you very much, alex burns, for that reporting, and thank you, dana milbank. coming up, the republican clown show. how would you like to be a major republican brain right now thinking, my god, what's happening to our list of candidates? we've got the flip-flopper, the flop, bachmann, who's gone, and now our front-runner cain who's just completely caught up in this mess. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc.
the white house is going local. tv anchors now from nine local affiliates around the country spent the day at the white house today. each one got an interview with president obama, and they all got a chance to interview another member of the cabinet or one member of the cabinet about the administration's push to create jobs. the nine affiliates shed some light on the obama re-election strategy, as everything does these days. there's an emphasis on the southwest with phoenix, denver, and houston, crucial swing
welcome back to "hardball." wasn't 2012 supposed to be the republican's big year, their big opportunity with involvement? actually president obama's own poll numbers remain low and an economy that hasn't really recovered. let's face. it wasn't it supposed to be a gop calkwalk down to 1600 pennsylvania avenue? a while ago it looked like it. well, not so fast and not lately. apparently, there's just one big, fat problem out there. the people running for president on the republican side. as we just talked about, herman cain has had a rough 48 hours, and he's giving evolving responses to the politico story on previous sexual harassment allegations. but he's not the only one who's had a bad few days. look at mitt romney's flip-flopping around climate change. that won't go away. that flip-flopping label's not going away. and last week, romney got caught making contradictory statements
about two different statements, about the upcoming ohio union vote and climate change. meanwhile, rick perry has plummeted in the polls and gave a bizarre performance to put it lightly at that speech in new hampshire friday that's gone viral now and has been parodided by late-night comedians. the best thing obama has going for him seems to be the field of contenders trying to beat him. bob shrum served as senior adviser to kerry in 2004, and ron reagan is author of "my father at 100." bob, thanks for joining us tonight. and i just wondered and wonder right now at how such an array of, well, it's a three-ring circus now with romney flipping like some act in a circus, with perry flopping and now the other guy flipping around like he doesn't know what's hit him, this is a three-ring circus from hell for the republicans, and these are their top three contenders. >> well, it's a weak field that ranges from the inauthentic to the absolutely incredible. look, romney in the last debate, in addition to being a flip-flopper, sounded like the
hall monitor that was trying to correct everybody. he's a guy who wants to run on jobs, but made his money dismembering companies and destroying jobs. herman cain, listen, i could endorse him. you're right, president obama would win by a bigger margin than he won last time if herman cain were the republican nominee. rick perry, i think z might take another look at, because of the -- of what's happened with cain. but the problem he's got, he may have left an indelible impression of incompetence in those early debates and unacceptability on social security. and as you just pointed out, he gave that bizarre speech. he'd have to become a candidate, not a comedian, if he's going to get a real serious look. >> this reminded me of a speech somebody might give after too many drinks at a company christmas party or a wedding. i'm not knocking him. i don't have any idea if he had anything to drink or anything like it. but it seems crazy. here it is, just some highlights from that speech, which isn't going to go away because of the
nature of the internet now. let's listen. >> we're kind of into those slogans, man. it's like, live free or die! victory or death! bring it! they print anymore money over there in washington, gold's going to be good. 20% flat tax, put it on there, put your deductions on there and send it in. the good news is, that little plan i just shared with you doesn't force the granite state to expand your tax footprint, if you know what i mean, like 9% expansion. >> i don't know, giddy times ten. that was exponential giddiness there, ron reagan. i don't know what he was imitating or what he was showing us about himself that was previously hooded, let's put it that way. that was the butterfly rick perry, not the caterpillar. i'll tell you. i'm not sure why you want to put this dance on. >> it's true. this was a critical period for rick perry. he was trying to kind of re-introduce himself and re-tool his campaign, and he chose this week to go off his meds? >> or on the new ones, i tell you. >> or maybe. yeah. it's extraordinary. but as you were saying before,
given the opportunity the republicans have this election cycle, given where the economy is, et cetera, et cetera, it's extraordinary to me that they haven't been able to field a stronger field of candidates. and i don't know why that is. why haven't, you know, senior members of the senate decided to run for, you know, for president this time around? why are we left with this group of people, who as you pointed out, are woefully inadequate? >> and it all comes together, bobby. it looks to me like if you put a three-ring thing up there, like an old thomas crown affair screen with different pictures, you'd have this incredible performance in front of you, all at the same time. romney picks this week to flip all over the place about one of the things he's been constant on. here's an example of romney's penchant for flip-flopping. listen to what he said back in june followed by what he said on thursday on global warming. let's watch the moves. >> i believe based on what i read that the world is getting
warmer. and number two, i believe that humans contribute to that. so i think it's important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you're seeing. >> my view is that we don't know what's causing climate change on this planet, and the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce co2 emissions is not the right course for us. >> 180. and last week, romney's opponent jon huntsman put out an ad that went after romney for some of his high-profile political reversals. let's watch huntsman do what he does best, chop the heck out of romney.
>> i believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. that i have consistently been pro-life. when he took office, the economy was in recession, and he made it worse. i didn't say that things are worse. look, i was an independent during the time of reagan/bush. i'm not trying to return to reagan/bush. which is to pursue the strategy that ronald reagan pursued. we do have tough gun laws in massachusetts. i support them. and i would protect our second amendment rights to bear arms. >> ron, it's impossible to miss the fact that this guy's made of political rubber. >> yeah, it's true. he's been on all sides of all issues, being all things to all people, i suppose. and it is going to come back and hurt him in the campaign. yet, he remains, i think, the inevitable nominee of the republican party. this guy, who is a very weak candidate for a lot of these reasons -- >> why, why is he inevitable? >> -- is the inevitable -- because everybody else is even weaker. everybody else is, frankly, just totally unacceptable.
i mean, can you really think of president michele bachmann? or really, for that matter, president herman cain? no. you really can't imagine that. romney, i don't know, like i said, if you squint real hard, maybe you can see the haircut in the oval office or something. but that's about it. >> bob, i don't get it. i mean, usually presidents, former president reagan, late president reagan explained a long sort of transition from a man who signed a pro-choice bill out in california to being pro-life. there's some kind of explanation of some kind of epiphany, something that leads you to change. but here's romney flipping on climate change without any pretense of a transformation. just, hey, things have changed politically in the last couple of weeks. i just checked the polls, so i'm changing my mind. >> i think this whole thing to him is a business proposition. he wants to pursue the presidency that way, so he's finding out what the customers want and giving the customers whatever they're asking for, but the customers are resisting him.
>> what is he, clue, on what kind of a party you want? >> that's exactly what's going on. but the problem is you've got a lot of republicans who are looking for anybody who isn't romney. and i think ron's right. in the end, they're going to have to go with romney, because the other people are so totally unacceptable. he'll mostly win because of his opponents, not because of what he does. but the problem with that is he's going to go into a general election where he's going to be held accountable on flip-flops, he's going to be held accountable on his jobs record. and as i found out in 1994 when i was involved with senator kennedy's campaign for re-election where romney was briefly ahead of him by one point, he's brittle. and when you begin to push him and he gets into the kind of thick of this, he's going to be like he was in that last debate. he's going to bristle. and i think people are going to get increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of him being president. >> i can't wait for tampa to be 110 degrees, 110 humidity, and they'll have to nominate somebody they don't want. thank you, bob shrum, what a sultry occasion that's going to be. thank you, ron reagan. up next, ed rollins strikes again. he's got even worse things to say about his candidate, the one he used to work for now, michele bachmann. stick around for ed to do what he does. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] all over the world, there's a battery
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back to "hardball." now to the sideshow. first up, fair game. it's not just cain campaign that's taken a bizarre spin this week. who will forget the speech given by rick perry in new hampshire over the weekend where the candidate came across as, well, not some guy running for president. let's see how that incident was pummeled last night on "the daily show". and let's see also who really stands to gain from these recent developments. >> rick perry, hurt by stiffness in his debate performances, seized the moment in new hampshire this weekend. >> this is such a cool state. i mean, come on, live free or die? i mean, it's like, live free or die! victory or death! bring it! >> you're overcorrecting! it gets worse. >> texas rangers after 50 years are going to win a world series! oops. >> best-case scenario, that dude's hammered. worst-case scenario, that is perry sober, and every time we've seen him previously, he's
been hammered.ç after the events of this weekend between herman cain and rick perry, i am ready for the "daily show" to unveil a brand-new segment. ladies and gentlemen, mitt romney, the luckiest motherfudger on earth. >> in this group, romney comes across as the older brother. better yet for him, the babysitter. next up, talk about a parting of the ways. here comes another string of harsh words for gop candidate michele bachmann. from whom? her former campaign manager, ed rollins. what started as beating around the bush when he first left his post with the bachmann campaign has now evolved into brutal honesty by ed. let's listen. >> why'd you leave her? >> you know, i'm an old man. >> it was a mess, wasn't it? >> it was a mess. >> it wasn't going to work, was it? >> i didn't think it was going to work and i didn't want to spend the six months in iowa, basically, at my age. >> wow. taking a step further in a separate interview ron said,
"she's still saying the same things she said in the first debate. there's no substance. she says, i'm going to repeal obama care, but she's been saying that from day one. i told her, that's your tea party speech. now you have to say what you're going to do next." there you have it, ed rollins' verdict on his former candidate. up next, hillary clinton is doing what no other democrat is doing these days, she's openly defending politically president obama. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc.
obama really needs for his re-election is a strong core of allies in this country, a loyal core of defenders who will go to the mat for him when he's right and occasionally when he's wrong. someone who seems to be standing up to that challenge is his one-time rival, secretary of state hillary clinton. though she says she's out of politics, she sure does sound like a supporter these days. here she was on "meet the press" last month responding to david gregory's question about her famous 3:00 a.m. phone call ad from 2008 and whether the republicans ads -- the republican candidates need to show foreign policy competence as they run for president. >> i'm out of politics, as you know, david. i don't comment on it, but i think americans are going to want to know that they have a steady, experienced, smart hand on the tiller of the ship of state, and there's no doubt that that's barack obama. >> well, is hillary clinton a political ally obama can really rely on right now? joan walsh is editor at large for salon.com, chris cillizza is managing editor of
postpolitics.com as well as an msnbc contributor. we want to offer our condolences to secretary of state clinton, the clinton family announced earlier today the death of her mother, dorothy rodham, at the age of 92. what a life she's had. i've had a mixed history of my political views of hillary clinton and the role she played in the last campaign. i didn't like her position on the war in iraq, and i let it be known that i preferred barack obama on that key issue to me. but i am overwhelmed, as i've been before, by her behavior. occasionally, she just floors me with her statements. like she did during the campaign at the end when she endorsed him so magnanimously. again, on david gregory's program, "meet the press," we'll show you another clip in a moment. but your view? she seems to be coming not just an appointee of the president, but a true ally. >> oh, i think she very much is a true ally, chris, and i think she's probably enraged that this president can't get a bit of credit from these republican opponents when it comes to the
realm of foreign policy. i mean, that is where he has truly shined, with her help, but on his own. they've disagreed about some thing, and he's gone ahead and has done what he needed to do. i expect to see her -- though she says she's not speaking politics, she speaks from a rem of politics and a realm of integrity. and to watch these people criticize this man on iran, on libya, not give him credit for osama bin laden, she will be there for him and she will be making the case that he has kept us safer. and that's a very crucial case to make as the election approaches. >> chris cillizza? >> well, i think joan is largely right, that this is the place where barack obama has been the strongest. you know, coming into this presidency, chris, the biggest question was is this a guy who can stand up on the world stage and lead? remember, that was john mccain's entire campaign was premised around the idea that barack obama didn't have the experience
to govern in a difficult world. now, he's had lots of struggles domestic policy-wise, but foreign policy-wise, he's had lots of successes, and i think hillary clinton's involvement in those successes does not go unnoticed. she's a huge figure, both domestically and internationally, chris. i mean, anywhere she goes, she's probably the second most famous politician in the world behind the guy she works for. so she draws attention, and she's credible. and people take her seriously when she speaks and when she advocates. >> she's always well prepared. here's more from secretary of state clinton in her interview with david gregory on "meet the press" where she talked about obama being up to the challenge in terms of leadership. let's listen. >> president obama has passed with flying colors every leadership challenge. i think this president has demonstrated that in a still very dangerous world, it's important to have someone at the helm of our country who understands how to manage what
is an incredibly complex world now. yes, we have a lot of threats, but we also have opportunities. and i think president obama has grasped that and has performed extraordinarily well. >> you know, joan, this is not a partisan assessment. republicans are better at bragging. they are really good at it. they'd be -- i mean, george w. would still be dancing and hot dogging and spiking the ball in the end zone if he had caught bin laden. he'd be doing it around the clock. >> right. >> the democrats seem to take -- they seem to have a -- what is it called? they're almost british with their understatement. >> we're very reserved and humble, chris. you know, i think there's some of that. i also think that it's very hard getting a message through in this economic situation. and i think that will be a challenge for the president as the election approaches. these are crucial issues. it's also unbelievable, now, you know, as we've talked about before, the democrats have had such an unfair and bad rap on the issue of national security.
now they really are the ones who can argue, we've turned the corner, we've kept you safe, we've been belligerent. there are some things that i haven't been crazy about, to be honest with you. but they really have the upper hand on this. and yet, somehow, it's not going to be an issue. so i think it's going to require a lot of deft handling to make sure that this president does get the credit that he deserves and that this stands out as an issue in the next go-around. because if the economy's terrible, it's going to be a little bit of a tough sell. >> i think so. chris, you studied politics every week, and you have a nonpartisan assessment, i read it every sunday. let me ask you about this. it seems what's happened in the last three weeks, we've had two options, one is the president squeaks by and gets re-elected, in a if you have re-election cycle winning perhaps north carolina, virginia, colorado or ohio, some combination that gets him by to 270, but real tight. and i thought there was another
option, which is the republicans will pull a blowout. they would just have a really bad economy to run, they'd blame it all on him, and he'd take the hit like jimmy carter did. now i think we're facing two options, one, the president squeaks, which remains the same, joan, i want you in on this, and now the republicans squeak. i think the options of a big blowout has been diminished dramatically if not completely by the lousy list of candidates in this three-act clown show i know the economy is out, and then the question is, haven't they just lost their chance for a blowout in the last couple of weeks because of their incompetence? >> i would say i still think the most likely outcome given what we know about the partisanshix in this country is a close election along the lines of 2004, 2000, not a blowout alex along the lines of 2008. if you told me there is a blowout in 2012, it's much more likely to be a republican blowout, i would say, simply because of what you pointed out.
people are focused on the economy in places like ohio, pennsylvania, florida, michigan, nevada. those would go in the republican column, and we would see a blowout. i don't see any way obama comes close, and i don't think anybody, including the obama team, thinks -- >> herman cain ain't going to win in no blowout. joan, your thoughts? i don't know which of these republicans. it still comes down to the name of the guy and they are all men that has a chance. i can't think of one right now that can win in a blowout. your thoughts? >> i can't either. i don't think there'll be a blowout, no matter how bad the economy is. i think people -- this white house is skilled. we haven't seen enough skill, but as a campaign, they were skilled at focusing on the questions that they want to focus on, and i really think that even -- if romney gets out of this, he is so diminished by his flip-flopping, and those jon huntsman ads, man, you put barack obama in, and, you know, they work in 2012. so i don't see a blowout.
>> if the clintons are gung ho for obama, that's a big plus. that's what i wanted to get to. we'll get to it later as it goes on. i think clinton's role, including secretary clinton, if she leaves office, i tell you the clintons will be powerful in pennsylvania and ohio. >> they still have a huge constituency. >> there'll be a clinton party out there. thank you, chris cillizza, thank you, joan walsh. up next, "the washington post" broke the story that one of herman cain's accusers wants to end her confidentiality agreement and speak publicly about what she says happened back in the 1990s. we'll talk to "the post" reporter that broke that story next. this is "hardball," only on msnbc. ht turn into something mo. and when it does men with erectile dysfunction can be more confident in their ability to be ready with cialis for daily use. cialis for daily use is a clinically proven low-dose tablet you take every day, so you can be ready anytime the moment's right. ♪ [ man ] tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and medications and ask if your heart is healthy enough for sexual activity. don't take cialis if you take nitrates for chest pain as this may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. [ man ] do not drink alcohol in excess with cialis. side effects may include headache, upset stomach, delayed backache or muscle ache. to avoid long-term injury seek immediate medical help for an erection lasting more than 4 hours. if you have any sudden decrease or loss in hearing or vision,
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to speak and clarence page is a syndicated columnist for "the crick tribune." thank you, james, for joining us we're back. herman cain's in damage control mode after the story broke about alleged sexual discrimination or harassment in the 1990s. cain received overwhelming support, has been hardly defended by conservatives. we heard that tonight. now comes word from the "washington post" this evening one on the women who accused cain of sexual harassment want to tell her story. both women are barred to talk about the incident because of a confidentiality agreement. james is the "washington post" reporter who broke the latest story about the accuser wants to speak. clarence page, syndicated columnist for the "chicago tribune." thank you, james, for joining us. can you tell us anything beyond the fact the woman in question here who made the complaint 12 years ago is ready to talk about what the natures of the charges she made were. >> i think we can infer from that that if she wants her side
of the story out there, it's different than what herman cain is saying. but they feel so constrained by this confidentiality agreement that they're not really saying what they would say, if they could talk about it. they're just saying they think the national restaurant association should relief them of their obligation of nondisparagement and confidentiality so that they could come forward. they mentioned both of those points. so that leads us to believe, and i think logically conclude that if you want to talk about it and tell another part of the story, it's going to be different than what mr. cain said. >> here's what mr. cain had to say about one of the accusers on fox last. let's listen. >> i do recall that her performance, it had been told to me by her boss was not up to bar. i normally didn't get into whether someone is let go or fired unless i had to because i allowed my department head to make that decision. her boss, if he didn't think she was doing the job, i said, well, you along with the human
resources department figure out what you want to do. >> clarence, let's look at this politically. this story is going to have some legs now, obviously. this is going to go on because everyone know wants to know the perry mason, you know, ending, what's going to be said as this comes to the public, sort of witness, day in court here we're going to see here. how does this go as a story in terms of campaign or the life and death political aof mr. cain. >> this has already become a problem for mr. cain. it got him off message. we wanted to talk about his job ideas and he wound up talking about sex. that's taking the spotlight. he's handling this as if he were a corporate ceo, business executive trying to keep things tight, close to the chest. here's in the world of politics. the public is going to want to know answers and fellow republicans want to know how stable of a candidate he is, how stable is his future, or have more secrets blow up on this campaign? so he really needs to get as much information out as quickly
as possible and clear the air. >> couple facts that you might have at hand, james, one is, was there more to this agreement on the departure of that employee that made the accusation than a couple months, what do you call it -- what's that term -- >> severance. >> severance. was it something else in terms of cash? >> yeah, i asked the lawyer about that. first i want to go to what you said about putting the clip up there. the lawyer says that by the statements that he has made, including the one that you just aired, that he believes that cain has waived that confidentiality. they believe they're getting whacked and they can't respond. >> got you. >> but i asked laura, i asked, so cain's out there saying it was just a severance which says there's no facts to substantiate the allegation of sexual harassment. the lawyer said, well, look, there were claims, there were claims of sexual harassle and a settlement. and that's as far as he would go. but i implication is there's more to it than we've heard so
far. >> let me think, i guess i'm going to stretch you now for your reporting. do you know if her accusations reached a level of what most people would say was really bad behavior or inappropriate behavior? in other words, was she propositioned? did he use his authority over her to get sex? the kinds of things people in an old time definition would say, that's awful, rather than the modern stance of improper languag in the workplace. that sort of thing. >> those are the questions i had since the story broke. i wouldn't have gone with the story until i knew the answer to that question. the question sort of hangs out there and could be anything from a series of inappropriate comments to, you know, strauss-kahn or something. we have no idea. >> clarence, get to the politics of this quickly. therein lies the question of the political -- what is the story in and of itself? >> what is the story? cain is in a position of where questions have been raised. he has not been consistent or forthcoming with his answers and is creating more problems for himself unless he, himself, should be getting out there asking the restaurant association to release this woman so she can talk. >> my friend, it's worse than it looks already that he doesn't want to tell us. >> doesn't help to by accused of being part of a cover-up zblast true. congratulations. the "post" regained control of the stair from the renegade politico side story we're all watching. thanks, clarence page. when i return, my book "jack kennedy elusive here r hero" came out today. i have lessons president obama can learn from president kennedy and they are big ones. let me finish tonight with progresso. it fits!
let me finish tonight with what president obama needs most politically. he needs allies, potential confederates who will get out there, who will sing his praises, take punches for him and deliver some punches themselves. not only that he needs political loyalists with strong gut ties to the people who are going to decide this election next year, not just the college crowd that got him nominated and elected in 2008, but the scared, angry people who didn't go to college.
i didn't see a lot of them out there working and speaking for him lately. word is out that obama's a transitional or a transactional politician. he cuts deals with people, but he doesn't forge bonds. when is he going to bolster his political forces, and what's the story with the people in his cabinet? where are they? do they campaign for him? do they stand up on the sunday shows with passion and stick it to their critics? i've never seen such a band of political neutrals as his cabinet. come to think of it, who does speak up for obama with any real passion these days? democrats in congress act as if they are in a different political party, not just a different branch of government. obama needs battle-ready surrogates and doesn't have them. he needs allies who will go out there and get their brains knocked in. he needs troops, and the reason he doesn't have them, i suspect, is brutal. he hasn't recruited them. he hasn't spent time enough with them. hasn't made them feel as thoughç he needs an army. there's still time for obama to build an obama party between now and next fall's general election but not much time. "jack kennedy elusive hero"