tv Hardball Weekend MSNBC November 20, 2011 4:00am-4:30am PST
good evening. i'm chris matthews down in washington. leading off tonight, hey, newt, how's that front-runner thing working out for you? we've now learned that in representing health care companies, newt gingrich supported what republicans now denounce as death panels. he came out in favor of an individual insurance mandate. is it possible to take anything he says now seriously? also, when did the gop decide that ignorance is not only bliss, but it's downright presidential? herman cain says americans are looking for a leader, not a reader. but how about reading the newspapers? rick perry criticizes president obama for being the smartest guy in the room, like there's something wrong with it. the days of conservatives admiring their own intellectuals like william f. buckley or richard nixon, apparently are long gone. and plus, a conversation about america and politics
tonight with tom brokaw. why, we're going to ask him, are politicians on both sides of the aisle, left and right, including president obama, having so much trouble connecting with the american people? and it was almost 30 years ago that the actress natalie wood drowned mysteriously after a night on a boat off california's catalina island. now investigators have reopened the case as of today. we want to know why. and let me finish tonight with this new republican hunt for the least-informed presidential candidate they can find. we start with the apparent gop front-runner right now, newt gingrich. david gregory is the moderator of nbc's "meet the press." and howard fineman is an msnbc political analyst and "the huffington post" media group editorial director. david gregory, great to have you on. we'll talk about "meet the press" coming up this weekend. but let me ask you about this whole thing. don't you think just in a psychological way, what do you think it can does to mitt romney, who's been running for president since the last time to realize that newt gingrich is now the preferred candidate of the republican party, with all
newt's baggage. i mean, totally, objectively, he's carrying so much baggage, serial marriages, reprimanded from the house of representativess, basically moved out from his own party caucus from the speakership. and here he is back as if none of that happened. >> i think it's troubling for romney. at the same time, i think there's a level of resignation in the romney campaign, that their campaign was not predicated on setting the electorate on fire. by being this charming historical figure. this was going to be a different positioning for him. he was going to have to run on an economic message, on a technocratic message, on a guy who could figure out what's wrong with the economy. the reality is, in 2008, you talk to top republicans, strategists and otherwise, they had a real problem with mitt romney. a lot of conservatives didn't trust him then. they still don't trust him now. and that is only amplified by this environment that we're in. the tea party has come of age politically and has made a real mark in the midterm election in
2010 and is now rearing some level of power. how much, we don't know. but certainly has some power, so there is a looking elsewhere for an alternative to more establishment republican candidate. >> but here's the crazy thing, howard. and you and i have been through this. here's the weirdest thing. the one thing the tea party hates is the individual mandate. the one thing they hate even more is the so-called death panels that bachmann made up, in fact. but here's one -- look at this. one of the cases that newt gingrich health care think tank pushed for according to the "washington post" today was that anyone who earns more than $50,000 a year must purchase health insurance or post a bond. in other words, an individual mandate. here, by the way, was a memorable exchange, howard, from a debate last month between mitt romney and newt gingrich on that very subject. how can newt run on the very things that the tea party and the republicans overall hate the most? let's watch. >> actually, newt, we got the idea of an individual mandate from you.
>> that's not true. you got it from -- >> no, we got it from you, and you got it from the heritage foundation and you. >> what you just said is not true. you did not get that from me. you got it from the heritage foundation. >> and you never supported -- >> i agree with them. but what you said to this audience is just plain isn't true. >> and you supported it in the past? an individual mandate? >> i absolutely did. with the heritage foundation against hillary. >> you did support an individual mandate? >> yes, sir. that's what i'm saying we got the idea from you and the heritage foundation. >> okay, a little broader. >> i mean, here he is, in one paragraph, denying and then admitting that he was for the individual mandate. the very thing they hate the most about obama care. >> well, the irony is on this and a few other things, newt gingrich makes mitt romney look like a rock of consistency. because at least -- seriously. at least mitt romney still defends romney care as it relates to massachusetts. whereas mitt romney -- or excuse me, newt gingrich on the topic of the so-called death panels and on the individual mandate has flipped and flopped 180
degrees on both issues. >> but he seems to do it within the hour. >> he does it with utter conviction. that's the thing about newt gingrich. >> david, i want to first show and then react to this. here it is. we have so much good elements tonight. remember the so-called death panels that republicans used to attack the president's health care plan for? newt weighed in on an end of life care article which he signed in the summer of 2009. he talks here about a company in wisconsin which happened to be a paying client of gingrich's consulting firm. here he is making the case for if you want to call them death panels. "more than 20% of all medicare spending occurs in the last two months of life. gundersen lutheran health system in la crosse, wisconsin, has developed a successful end-of-life best practice that includes community-wide advanced care planning, where o. in other words, living wills. the gundersen approach empowers patients and families to control and direct their care.
if gundersen's approach was used to care for the approximately 4.5 million medicare beneficiaries who die every year, medicare could save $33 billion a year." david, the guy's caught. here was newt gingrich a few days after that piece appeared, he was asked about the so-called death panels on abc's "this week." let's watch. >> we know people who have said routinely well, you're going to have to make decisions. you'll have to decide. communal standards, historically, is a very dangerous concept. you're asking us to trust turning power over to the government, when there clearly are people in america who believe in establishing euthanasia, including selective standards. >> well, there you go. he's advocating end-of-life directives, which most people consider living wills, which we're all used to, and most families who take responsibilities for people in their later years do have. i just don't see where you can find consistent thinking from newt gingrich on these issues like individual mandates and living wills. >> and this is a problem when you get into inconsistencies on that level.
when you try to pierce through the web of his financial dealings, since he left the speakership in washington. he made money, as he said, he was a small business man, he was a lecturer. he had various foundations and such, and associations that he created, closely tracking a lot of these policy issues, and he's going to be scrutinized on that. but let me just make a general point. i mean, a lot of voters who are not actually voting yet are evaluating candidates as an anti-romney sort of candidate. maybe they don't even say it that way, but that's kind of what the vibe is, it's what the feeling is. and you see a rick perry who can't get started and then gets into trouble. and herman cain has fits and starts. and then you see gingrich, who's performing well in the debates, taking on the media. they're not looking a to the whole composite of this. that's why if i'm mitt romney, i'm still looking at this and saying, who out there is really putting it all together to challenge me? has any one candidate really done that yet? i think it's an open question. >> i think there's still no contender in that regard. >> but here's the problem.
mitt romney is a candidate, is a human wet match. he can't strike a fire. he's been at 20% to 25% in the polls for the last year, or year and a half. and if he can't start picking up some votes here, then, yes, he can divide the field, but there's still a chance for somebody at the end to come in and beat him in a lot of these places. that's the problem that he still has. >> and if it's anybody but romney, and he's 25, there's still 75% out there. >> that's why some of these people suddenly get so much traction. if anything, it's possible that newt is peaking too early. >> a wet match. >> right. >> anyway, i like phrases like a headless nail, a guy you can't fire. i love a wet match. david, how do you match little metaphor? >> he can't. >> this is why the voting actually matters. i think howard's right. we get to a point, but there's no legitimate alternative to
romney. if republican primary voters still think that the president is vulnerable, does electability all of a sudden in the end become very important? and then romney starts to look a lot stronger if he starts picking up votes. we don't know -- we don't know whether the anti-romney, you know, he's an inauthentic conservative is strong enough to carry this composite candidates, you know, to make this a longer, protracted fight. we just don't know that yet. newt has tried to explain his past, not always very successfully. earlier this year he was asked about his past on the christian broadcast network. here was his response which i count as the greatest piece of malarkey i have ever heard in my life. let's listen. >> no question that at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately i felt about this country, that i worked far too hard, and that things happened in my life that were not appropriate. i found that i felt compelled to
seek god's forgiveness. not god's understanding but god's forgiveness. >> you know, david, this is tricky business, because it's about a guy's personal life. here he is blaming his patriotism for his third marriage. and the use of the word "passion" is so out of sorts here. it's like that word where you take the wrong adjective and apply it to the wrong noun. i mean, passion is probably the reason he got involved with calistra, if you will. and here he is saying it's his patriotism. but as a bit of logic, will anybody listening, christian or not, not think this is malarkey? >> in fairness to gingrich, i and i think others asked him about that clip afterward and he has, you know, moved away from that and not used the patriotism defense here for what he did. and you know, so i think he's tried to account for that, which is not a judgment about whether it's going to make a difference for voters. and on that point, just some reporting from this afternoon, i have talked to a prominent midwestern conservative,
somebody who knows gingrich well, and the question i was posing had to do with whether the lobbying ties were going to be a disqualifier for him. this source brought up, in fact, they were character issues that he thought were going to be the biggest problem for gingrich. and this was not necessarily somebody endorsing him but it's certainly an ally who thought that was going to be the biggest issue. so if you can see other conservatives launching on this in terms of paid advertising and the like, it could be difficult. >> thank you, david. thanks for joining us. thank you, howard. of course, david interviews this weekend super committee members jon kyl and john kerry. that's sunday on nbc. david will be back with us, by the way, later on in the program with that strange story of natalie wood and what's up with that case. coming up, herman cain says americans want a leader, not a reader. what's that about? rick perry says president obama thinks he's the smartest guy in the room, like that's a putdown. when did the republican party -- when did they decide it's good to be a little bit out of it? that's ahead.
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some people want a big hand. the thing is that the people on the cain train they don't get off because of that crowd. >> wow, welcome back to "hardball." that's herman cain defending himself in new hampshire yesterday, against critics who've said that his lapse on libya earlier in the week shows he's not up to a presidential run. here's more of that defense. >> who knows every detail of every country of every situation on the planet? nobody. a leader is supposed to make sure we're working on the right problem. we assign the right priority. surround yourself with good people. put together plans and lead!
we've got plenty of experts. and a leader knows how to use those experts. we need a leader, not a reader. >> wow. if that line sounds familiar to you, it's because the fictional president schwarzenegger said something similar in "the simpsons movie." let's listen. >> i've narrowed your choices down to five unthinkable options. each will cause untold misery -- >> i pick number three. >> you don't even want to read them first? >> i was elected to lead, not to read! >> how could cain have stepped into that? if there's a strong strain of anti-intellectuals taking hold of the republican party, could that be case the? and will voters go for that anti-intellectualism? david corn and washington bureau chief for mother jones, and ron
christie, which has a somewhat chastened look that's broken into a smile is with harvard university institute of politics, very impressed. although i'm not, just kidding. let's go now to david corn. let these people speak for themselves. first of all, leader, not a reader. what does he mean? you don't have to read the paper? you just get experts to do it for him? when is he going to know these things? my question is, when you don't need it now -- do you need briefers to tell you where libya is? >> i think that's exactly what he means. and i think the question you could put to herman cain, would you hire someone to be a ceo who couldn't read a profit and loss sheet? this whole notion that he doesn't have a thought, a single thought about the most significant military action of the past year, should disqualify him. he could have the wrong thought, he could have a opinion one way or the other, and he'd be in the arena. but to run to president and say, i have no idea what you're talking about when you ask me about libya, i mean, there should be no one on the stage behind him! he should be alone in a room
somewhere, you know -- >> let me tell an old yogi berraism to my friend, ron. there's a line saying, you know, a guy coming to a party saying, we're lost, but we're making good time. a guy would understand that. he's like the guy saying, we're lost but we're making good time. i am totally confident of where i'm going, even though i'm lost. don't you have to have a basic curious habit that you and i and everybody here has picked up over the years, you can't wait to get to the paper in the morning. you read the newspaper, you know what's going on in the world, because you're just curious about it. it's got nothing to do with running for president. now here this guy admits, the u-becky-becky-becky-stan, and makes fun of all that stuff, it's the basics. of what's been in the headlines. libya has been in the headlines for six months. doesn't he have a gut sense of that issue? you thoughts john? i mean ron. >> chris, here's one that you and i are absolutely in agreement on this. i heard that clip and i said, are you serious? are you seriously going to sit there and say that you need to get folks to surround you, that you don't need to read all that stuff?
you've worked in the white house, chris. i've worked in the white house for the president. the president is always taking in information, always sifting. always trying to figure out, how can i best lead the country? and if you're saying this now, you're not ready for prime-time. this guy is not ready for prime-time. i wish the republicans would say, look, herman, you've had a great successful run in business, good for you. if you want to run in politics, why don't you run for city council or congress. but you're going to say those sorts of things and think you should be the next president of the united states with two wars going on, with the economy the way it is, i think that it's pathetic. >> let's take a look. here's rick perry, again criticizing president obama. let's listen. >> he grew up in a privileged way. you know, he never had to really work for anything. he never had to go through what americans are going through. there's 14-plus million americans sitting out there, some of them watching this program tonight, that don't have a job. this president has never felt that angst that they have in their heart.
and we need a president who has been through the ups and downs in life. understands what it's like to have to deal with the issues of our economy that we have today in america. >> so barack obama was born on third base, right, ron? >> i mean, here's a guy with a stepfather in rhodesia, his birth father splits when he's 2 years old, never really meets the guy, his mother raised him with the help of her parents. i mean he does have sort of a bounce-around life that wasn't exactly what you'd call, you know, top drawer. >> you know, the thing, and chris, we've talked about this many times. i don't like class warfare being played. if you want to attack a politician based on their policies or their positions, fine. barack obama came from a background of privilege? his mother was even on food stamps at one point. so the guy went to columbia? so he went to harvard law school. i say given the upbringing that he had and the tumultuous past that he had, good for him that he did that. >> scholarships. >> yeah. i don't like what rick perry is
trying to insinuate here, that somehow, oh, if you come from privilege -- well, you know what, if you come from privilege, you still have to apply yourself and dedicate yourself. he still was the chairman of the harvard law review here at harvard university, and i think barack obama being the first african-american president certainly worked his tail off to get to where he is and he should be commended. i'm a hard-core right winger. >> david, this is one night we're going to let ron christie end the discussion. because you can't beat what he said. ron, five stars. thank you, david corn, thank you, ron christie. you'll pay for it with your republican pals tonight. up next, you won't believe it but michele bachmann actually says she hasn't made a gaffe ever or done anything that caused her to drop in the polls. what is this, gravity that's brought her down? that's next in the sideshow. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. ♪ ♪ walk, little walk ♪ ♪ small talk, big thoughts, gonna tell them all ♪ [ male announcer ] the most headroom per dollar of any car in america. from $10,990. the all-new nissan versa sedan. innovation upsized. innovation for all. ♪
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first up, gaffe? what gaffe? apparently gop candidate michele bachmann has taken note of the recent campaign blunders of her opponents, rick perry and herman cain, but how about when it comes to her own campaign missteps? well, let's take a listen to what she had to say yesterday on how she has fared so far when it comes to those embarrassing campaign moments. >> i haven't had a gaffe or something that i've done that has caused me to fall in the polls. >> you've had a few little gaffes. maybe not recently, but you had the historic reference in massachusetts, i think, and i think you had one here -- >> well, i got elvis presley's birthday wrong, but i don't think that's a disqualifying factor for being president of the united states. >> what?! i don't think elvis presley's birth date was quite what the host was talking about right there. more likely it was this. let's listen to this one. >> what i love about new hampshire and what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty. you're the state where the shot was heard around the world at lexington and concord. >> how can you not know that
lexington and concord was in massachusetts. she was in new hampshire when she gave that speech! wow. anyway, if it's not the gaffes, i wonder what bachmann would say was her disqualifying factor? what's brought her down? what's keeping her from grabbing this nomination? and finally, guess who. looks like rick perry has some company in trying to misrepresent president obama's upbringing. who is echoing perry? right wing televangelist pat robertson. let's hear how robertson jumped on the president's trip to indonesia this week. >> he spent four years in indonesia. i don't know if he was trained in a madrassa, one of those muslim schools, but nevertheless, that is his inclination. his father was a kenyan socialist, and he talks about the roots of his father. i don't know what his mother was doing. she just sort of flitted around. this may give him more of a perspective what needs to be done to make america the greatest nation on earth. >> if you take that guy's
advice, maybe you shouldn't even have a vote. last month, by the way, robertson advised gop candidates to lay off this birther crap. i guess he forgot his on advice. i think the guy's in his dotage. that's "hardball" for now. coming up next, "your business" with j.j. ramberg. congratulations. congratulations. today, the city of charlotte can use verizon technology to inspire businesses to conserve energy and monitor costs. making communities greener... congratulations. ... and buildings as valuable to the bottom line... whoa ! ... as the people inside them. congratulations. because when you add verizon to your company, you don't just add, you multiply. ♪ discover something new... verizon. ♪ sing those holiday songs that we admire ♪ ♪ whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh ♪ we never can give enough ♪ i got something for you ♪ and you and you ♪ i got something for you
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