tv Meet the Press MSNBC November 20, 2011 11:00pm-12:00am PST
is now leading the republican field in a new poll out this morning as the 2012 campaign figures prominently in the debt fight on capitol hill. it is countdown time for the super committee, with a wednesday deadline for a vote. the bipartisan committee has until tomorrow to present a deficit reduction plan to congress and the congressional budget office. we've got two key members of that super committee here live with us this morning. can they reach a deal within the next 36 hours? joining me now, two members of the super committee, senator john kerry, democrat of massachusetts. senator jon kyl, republican of arizona. welcome to you both. senator kyl, let me begin with you. deal or no deal? >> well, there's no deal yet. but, as both senator kerry and i are certain we're that going to quit until the stroke of midnight. >> but where is there potential for a breakthrough? anywhere? or is this going to fail? >> it's been very hard so far. i think it's illustrated by the last offer made by the republicans. we have not been able to do entitlement reform or tax reform and so republicans say let's see if we can salvage something here? let's take the areas where we've had some agreement in our
meeting, put those together and it adds up to about $640 billion tat we could actually save in increased costs or in some cases, some revenue from asset sales and that sort of thing. my democratic friends said no to that offer because it didn't raise taxes. and i think it tells you a lot. and i think in washington, there are some folks that will not cut a dollar unless we also raise taxes. >> all right. well the other side of that is how republicans feel about taxes. and it is the heart of the matter. the question is whether grover norquist, the anti-tax crusader in washington, who if you hear critics, holds sway over all republicans on capitol hill, this is what he said to the hill newspaper this week, the headline, gop leaders promised me no new taxes. i've talked to the house leadership and the senate leadership. they're not going to be passing any tax increases. so was this really a good faith offer to raise taxes? >> well, he's not happy with it obviously. it was a big step for republicans. and i think it's the only news that's really come out of this. if you look at the democrats'
position, it was we have to raise taxes. we have to pass this jobs bill, which is another almost half a trillion dollars. and we're not excited about entitlement reform. the only real breakthrough here, and the word breakthrough was used by my colleague, democratic whip dick durbin, was the republican offer to actually increase the amount of revenues -- >> let's talk about -- >> let me just finish my sentence. through the tax code which would largely fall on the upper two brackets of taxpayers. that was a big breakthrough for republicans. >> but let's talk about the full balanced picture here. which is that republicans wanted to have a conversation in the course of trying to lower the deficit, about extending the bush era tax cuts. which the congressional budget office would say has an impact of $3.7 trillion on the deficit. so, in the name of lowering the deficit, you want to extend those tax cuts, which increases the deficit, and would not be offset by the tax increase that you were talking about. >> how did the super committee get created in the first place here? when the president asked us to
increase the debt ceiling, we said we're not going to do it unless we can reduce the cost of government. and so we reduced the discretionary side of the budget by over $900 billion. and then the committee was created to come up with the other $1.2 or $1.5 trillion. supposedly on the mandatory side. this is where two-thirds of our spending occurs. on everything from medicare and medicaid to food stamps and ag subsidies and the like. and we focused on that. and our democratic friends were never willing to do the entitlement reforms that would have reduced the costs -- >> senator you haven't answered my question. >> i'm getting to the point here. this was not about extending the bush tax cuts. it was about trying to do entitlement reform on the mandatory side of the budget. now, when our democratic friends made it very clear that they weren't going to do anything without raising taxes, we then turned to what is the best way to derive revenues? is it to allow the current code to expire and have the biggest tax cut in the history of our country? no. >> you mean a tax increase is your point? >> a tax increase. i'm sorry. we thought that the better way to do that was to limit the deductions and credits, the so-called loopholes, derive the
revenue that way and in doing so you could both reduce some of the rates and have enough revenue to actually apply it to deficit reduction. that amount was $250 billion. >> the bush tax cuts, though, i come back to, because real deficit hawks, many of them happen to be republicans, alan greenspan, former fed chief, michael bloomberg, now the independent mayor of new york, and democrats like peter orszag who ran the budget office for this president said let them all expire for everybody. for the rich, for the middle class, if you really want to get serious about the deficit, let the bush tax cuts expire for everybody. >> if you really want to get serious about the deficit, our country has to grow economically. we have to put people back to work. that's what creates wealth that can be taxed. we're not going to tax our way out of this. we need to grow. and you can't grow if you raise taxes in the middle of a recession. that's what president obama said when unemployment was at 9% a few months ago. he said don't raise taxes in a
recession. and he's right. that impairs job creation by taking more money from the very people, primarily small business folks, who will create most of the jobs coming out of the recession. >> let me ask you this, is there any potential deal that's still possible, even if it's smaller? >> well, as i said, after wringing out the larger deals that tried to focus on entitlement reform, on tax reform, so we could have more of a pro-growth economy, we finally said, is there anything that our democratic friends would be willing to cut? and we turned back to those items that we had discussed and had pretty good agreement on. but they weren't even willing to reduce that spending unless we also increased taxes. and as i said, they didn't want to do the revenue increases the way the toomey plan, as it was called -- >> senator toomey. >> -- would have provided. the reason we did it that way was so that it wouldn't affect the tax code that goes right to business decisions, investment decisions. leave that alone so there's some certainty in the private sector
and instead focus on eliminating the loopholes, the so-called tax expenditures. >> is there a basis for anything there? >> i hope that -- hope springs eternal. >> i want to come back to this one point. the other side of the political spectrum, democrats would say look, this is not bipartisan failure. this is intransigence by the right. an unwillingness to stop protecting the wealthiest americans. everybody would have their taxes extended under the bush tax cuts under the president's plan, making more than $250,000. there's about $800 billion for the wealthiest americans that he wants to raise rates on. even your deal here, the republicans wanted, would have protected rates, would have brought down rates on the wealthiest americans, and democrats argue, it's simply not fair, you've dug in your heels, you're not really negotiating. >> under our plan the wealthiest americans would pay more taxes than they do now. they would pay more taxes to create $250 billion, which comes from the itemizers, and that's primarily people in the upper brackets, that money would go to reducing the deficit. in addition, everybody could potentially have their income
tax rates reduced a little bit by the elimination of those -- or reduction in the value of those so-called loopholes as they apply to anybody who itemizes their tax. just make one more point. nothing new came out of this from the democratic side it was the same thing. raise taxes, pass the president's jobs bill, no entitlement reform. on the republican side you had the one true breakthrough and that was this new concept of tax reform, which could generate revenue, from the upper brackets, for deficit reduction. >> lower the upper brackets, do far less than democrats wanted on new net tax increases, and extend the bush tax cuts. and by the way, house republicans were probably not going to vote for that anyway. >> david, yes. in fact, i think this bill, the toomey proposal would even pass the united states senate. which is controlled, as you know, by the democrats. hear what we were saying. there would be a net new amount of revenue, $250 billion of which would go toward deficit reduction.
that was our offer to the democrats. in addition to which there was other revenue, you know it, total about $500 billion. this had never been proposed by republicans before because it would mean that people in the upper brackets, whatever their tax rate was, would be paying more taxes because their loopholes, the deductions and credits that they take advantage of, would no longer exist. >> i want to ask you quickly where we go from here. so the question is, if you fail, ultimately, there are automatic spending cuts that happen. one of the big ones is on defense. secretary panetta has said the following about the impact of that. sequester, he said, which is the process by which those automatic triggers go into place, will lead to a hollow force that in effect invites aggression. he also said in a letter to senator mccain of armed services, the impact of these cuts would be devastating for the department of defense. as a result we would have to formulate a new security strategy that accepted substantial risk of not meeting our defense needs. would you support a workaround of some measure that would not -- that would prevent the
automatic tax cuts from going into place. excuse me, automatic spending cuts from going into place. >> spending cuts. what people should know is that one way or another we're going to have $1.2 trillion in reduced spending. it could either be done the ugly way, which would happen if our committee fails. or we could do it more intelligently. but we do have the opportunity, even if the committee fails, to work around the sequester so that we still have $1.2 trillion in savings over ten years. but it's not done in the very draconian way that secretary panetta is referring to. now that will require work on congress' part, and some agreement. but i can't imagine that, knowing of the importance of national defense, that both democrats and republicans wouldn't find a way to work through that process so we still get to $1.2 trillion in cuts, but it doesn't all fall on defense as secretary panetta pointed out. >> so you don't think the defense cuts will happen? >> well, i think there's a way to avoid that, if there's goodwill on both sides. again, i think when the reality sets in and even those democratic friends who would like to see more defense cuts,
when people like secretary panetta says this would be extraordinarily bad policy for the national security of the united states, we'll find ways to work around that. >> do you feel some urgency to get this done? what about the potential of another downgrade of america's debt? >> again there's going to be $1.2 trillion in savings, whether the committee agrees on a method of doing it or it happens automatically, as you say. this shouldn't foster a downgrade or run on the market or anything like that. $1.2 trillion in savings occurs one way or the other. >> i want to ask you before you go about presidential politics. newt gingrich as i mentioned at the outset is on top of the polls. you've known him a long time. since you both were in the house together when he was speaker. would he be a great president? >> i know all of them. i served with rick santorum. i served with newt gingrich. sorry i don't know governor perry but i know governor romney and so on. all of these candidates are going to have their moment when there's a spotlight on what they have done and what they would do. and i am -- i'm not going to endorse anybody. i'm waiting to see how that
process works. >> my point is, you know gingrich. do you think he can get the nomination? >> i don't know whether he can. and i think one of the things that this demonstrates is that you do have a group of republican candidates who are united around one principle, and that is that another four years of barack obama as president would be very harmful to this country. >> i want to ask you this, the occupy wall street movement, and protests around the country, have become a political issue. and as we talked about, income inequality, we talk about america's debt, this was the scene in northern california, u.c. davis, pepper spray being used an protesters. newt gingrich was very critical of this moment. i want to play something he said and ask for your view on it. this was newt gingrich in iowa. >> all of the occupy movement starts with the premise that we all owe them everything. they take over a public park they didn't pay for. to go nearby to use bathrooms they didn't pay for. to beg for food from places they don't want to pay for. to obstruct those who are going to work to pay the taxes. now that is a pretty good symptom of how much the left has collapsed as a moral system in this country and why you need to
re-assert something as simple as saying to them, go get a job, right after you take a bath. >> do you agree with that? >> well, i think it expresses the attitude of a lot of these folks who somehow think money grows on trees and they're entitled to it and they don't understand how wealth is produced in this country. it's produced by people who work and who invest, who take a risk in a small business, for example. they hire people. and that produces wealth to the government that they can then take advantage of. but it doesn't seem to me that they have an adequate appreciation of how our free market system works to produce the wealth that's really made us the envy of the world. >> you're retiring from the senate. are you embarrassed at what congress has been unable to do on the toughest issues facing this country and this government? >> the frustration of the american people at our inability to tackle these tough problems is very real, and i absolutely agree with that frustration. it is -- their representatives in congress ought to do a better job than congress has been able to do. and i'll just go back to this.
when our democratic friends are unable to cut even a dollar in spending without saying it has to be accompanied by tax increases, i think that tells you all you need to know about our runaway spending. >> we're going to leave it there. senator kyl, thank you very much. we will turn now to senator john kerry. also of the super committee. senior senator of massachusetts. let's start right there. how do you respond? >> well, i'm glad we're starting right there. because what jon just said is patently not true. we just cut $917 billion without one dime of new revenue. he knows it. we just did it. we cut $550 billion in the health care act from medicare. we didn't raise -- you know, this is just nonsense. look, david, if this weren't so serious, i might laugh. but you know, the united states of america is in a position right now, with europe, financial system crumbling, you ask about a downgrade a moment ago. the downgrade may -- they may look at the $1.2 trillion of sequester but jon just talked
about how they're not going to do that sequester. he just talked about how they're going to get out from under it. there is a real threat that not only will there be a downgrade but that the market on monday will look again at washington and say, you guys can't get the job done. and just the political confusion and gridlock is enough to say to the world, america can't get its act together. >> but is there a path for something to get done? >> absolutely. >> there is? and what is that path? >> we could have a deal in the next two hours. we could have an agreement, the solution to this problem. we could cut $1.2 trillion and we could do it tomorrow morning, we could put it before the nation and get this job done. and there are only two things blocking us from doing that. one, and i've heard this from republicans in the senate and in the house, who say to me, the calculation politically has been made by many that they think they're going to win the senate, win the presidency, and they want to wait until next year and just write their own deal.
and the second and most important bloc that's doing something right now, tomorrow, is their insistence, insistence, insistence on the grover norquist pledge and extending the bush tax cuts. we are not a tax cutting committee. we're a deficit reduction committee. and everybody out there has said to us, go big. do $4 trillion. we democrats put a $4 trillion deal on the table. and it included huge, hard, tough, horrible reductions on the sacred cows and things that we have been accused of not being willing to do. we put it out there. i've had demonstrations outside my offices in boston. i've had people screaming at me because we would even dare to think of doing this. but they wouldn't accept it. they wouldn't accept $1.3 trillion cut, $1.3 trillion revenue. >> you just heard him talking about the toomey plan, tax reform, yes it would lower top rates, because you close
loopholes and what not, you heard senator kyl say, it would raise revenue. senator durbin said it was a breakthrough. senator durbin said it was a breakthrough. >> and senator durbin retreated from that when he saw the numbers. grover norquist said this of the toomey plan. he called it a unicorn and he laughed and said, as you know, unicorns don't exist. the toomey plan doesn't exist on paper. it's an idea. i was at the meeting when it was out there. we got excited. we said maybe this is a way to get something done. we actually went to cbo. we had the numbers looked at from joint tax committee. and guess what we came back with? it is regressive. it is regressive and reaches down into middle america, and requires them. listen, now even if you strictly limit -- if you strictly limit the deductions the way that senator toomey suggested. you don't get enough money, david. you can't get to a 28% which loses you a huge amount of revenue, and wind up with the money you need to be able to
fill the gap. this is the most important thing of all, the toomey plan is the still results in the biggest tax cut since the great depression. it would be the biggest tax cut since calvin coolidge and we all know how that turned out. now we didn't come here to do another tax cut to the wealthiest people while we're asked fixed income seniors to ante up more. people on medicaid, who are poor, to ante up more. >> this is where i want to challenge you. the question of the democratic commitment to taking on entitlements is something that the other side of the aisle says is not there in the way that you say it is. i want to challenge you on this point. you were on this program back in august. this is what you said about the debt deal at the time. >> and the real problem for our country is not the short-term debt. we can deal with that. it's the long-term debt. it's the structural debt of social security, medicare, and medicaid, measured against the demographics of our nation. >> in the "the wall street
journal," editorializing the conservative "wall street journal" editorial page wrote this on friday, how can democratic leaders defend deep reductions in the military and cuts in the domestic programs they say are vital investments when they block reforms that would reduce the growth rate of the major entitlements which even under the house gop plan would still grow by more than 50% over the next decade. sooner or later democrats must confront the reality that their unwillingness to slow entitlement spending will require shrinking everything else the government spends money on. senator, my reporting tells me that, in fact, republicans offered democrats to means test social security and medicare as part of this discussion, that would actually hit the rich and democrats said, we don't want to do that. >> not true. not true. we accepted. we not only accepted that, david, we put every single sacred cow on the table. they know. they know that they could have had many things. a lot of us, you know, hate to even talk about publicly because we're going to get -- people are going to say, what? you guys were thinking of doing all those things.
but a whole bunch of things were on the table for the right amount. if people wanted to do a $4 trillion deal, there were discussions about dealing with the major sacred cows of our side. i'm just telling you, every one of them was on the table, and they know it. and it will be documented, ultimately, in papers that i know will come out of this. but i don't want to get stuck there right now. the answer is, every one of them are on the table. they would not do the revenue. look, put it in a perspective. simpson bowles, worked for thousands of hours. bipartisan, republican, democrat, people outside of the senate and elected politics. they came out and said, in order to do a deal you need $4 trillion, and you need $2 trillion of it as revenue. domenici, $2 trillion in revenue. the gang of six, which is currently sitting senators, democrats, and republicans, said you need about $1.8 trillion to $2 trillion in revenue. so our first offer to them was not $1.8 trillion or $2 trillion in revenue. we caught hell from our side of
putting an offer on the table of $1.3 trillion in revenue. and everybody said why did you give up $800 trillion? because we knew we were dealing with real bullets here. with real votes, with a real moment. not paper that you put out in a proposal. and guess what? they said no. no, no revenue. no, wait a minute. that we put $1 trillion on the table. they said no, that's too much, we won't do it. we put 950, no, too much, we won't do it. 650. no, we won't do it. then finally toomey sort of floats this concept which, as we said, the numbers don't work. so we said, okay, we'll take your money. we'll take the 250, we'll just do it in a way that's real. that actually measures by cbo that it's real revenue. and guess what? they backed off of that. in fact, they've all said, oh, we got too much pressure. we got backed. that's grover norquist keeps pushing back and he has said
there won't be revenue. let me repeat this. i want america to understand this. there's one thing standing between us and avoiding a sequester and doing $1.2 trillion. and that one thing is the republican unwillingness to not push for the bush tax cuts to be extended now. we've even talked to them about guaranteeing them a fast track for tax reform. we'll do tax reform before next december. we'll do tax reform for business. we could lower the corporate tax rate. we could wind up with a major initiative to create jobs, avoid the sequester, show that america works, if they will just back off insisting that the bush tax cuts be extended now. >> i want to ask you about presidential leadership. the president, after the debt debacle of the summer, said this to the american people. >> i realize that after what we just went through, there's some skepticism that republicans and democrats on the so-called super committee, this joint committee
that's been set up, will be able to reach a compromise. but my hope is that friday's news will give us a renewed sense of urgency. that committee will have this administration's full cooperation. and i assure you we'll stay on it until we get the job done. >> hearing that last portion, even though it wasn't on the screen, is very important. the president saying we will stay on it until we get the job done. republicans i talked to, democrats i talked to, say the white house has been hands-off when it came to the nitty-gritty time on this. >> they were asked to be hands off. the republicans said don't let obama come into this, because if he does, it will make it political. we've been in constant touch. i personally talk to the white house perhaps once a week. to see, you know, if there was something else we could add. how could we do something? they've been intimately involved, but carefully so they didn't politicize it. i think they did the right thing. can i just say something? >> hold on. it is going to be politicized. we have a presidential election next year.
there are four different panels, including the one the president started, simpson-bowles that was not acted on, all have failed to take on the biggest problems. does he, the president, not face a political cost at the polls for the fact that washington can't get the job done? >> this is congress. this came out of congress. this is an idea that came from the leadership of congress. and congress is supposed to do this. you know the other day, david, i drove through -- i went to arlington cemetery to visit the grave site of a college classmate of ours. i went with a bunch of my college buddies. as i was driving in there and i went by that new, flat area that's full of the graves of kids from afghanistan, and from iraq, some of whose funerals i've gone to over there, i've watched it grow, and i asked myself as we're going through there, you know, are we living up to the sacrifice, to the level of commitment these guys made for us? are we willing to put our political lives on the line for our country, do what we need to
do because we know it's right? and then i hear about this pledge, a pledge to a lobbyist that gets in the way of our living up to that sacrifice and doing what's right for our country. the fact is, i took a pledge. my pledge is to the constitution of the united states. to defend it. my pledge is to well and faithfully execute my duties. and that does not include living up to a pledge to a lobbyist for a deficit reduction committee that is now hung up because we won't do the bush tax cuts permanently, even though we could have accelerated tax reform by next year. i just want to say this, i say to jon kyl, i say to my republican colleagues, we're here all day. we are ready to do $1.2 trillion. not less than it. that's what we were told to do. that's the law. we're ready to do it. if they will give up their insistence of the bush tax cuts, we can get this done. >> all right. you made that point. quick political question. you have a white house now that
is trained on a former massachusetts politician in mitt romney saying that he has no core, preparing to go after him as rahm emanuel did in iowa last night on flip-flopping. a lot of people saying this is basically the same election playbook that then-president bush used against you successfully. is it going to work this time? >> well, i don't know, david. i've been so focused on this deficit reduction, i honestly have not been following the ins and outs of all of that. you know, let them choose their nominee and we'll see where we wind up. >> does romney have a core politically? >> you know, again, there are a few people i've met in public life who have changed on as many issues as he has. every major touchstone of american politics from abortion to guns to war to god to gays, you name it. so people will make their own judgments about that. i was accused of voting once for one thing and another. i did it as a matter of principle. i said, if this plan doesn't have -- if this bill doesn't have a plan about this war, then i would oppose it.
so i opposed it as a matter of principle and i'll defend that till the day i die. and he's going to have to defend his positions throughout this race if he's the nominee. >> senator kerry, we'll leave it there. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. appreciate it. >> thank you. >> coming up, more on decision 2012. newt gingrich rising in the polls, as we reported. is he the new comeback kid? plus rick perry gets personal, attacking president obama. but did he distort the president's words? we'll talk about that, and how this deficit fight plays into the 2012 race. our political roundtable weighs in on it all. republican strategist mike murphy and ed gillespie will be here. democratic strategist dee dee myers and eugene robinson of "the washington post." teamwork. when it comes to preparing for your financial future, it helps to have a team that performs well together.
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coming up, a new leader at the top of the republican field in the race for the white house. our political roundtable is here, and weighs in on the newt gingrich surge. mike murphy, ed gillespie, eugene robinson and dee dee myers will break it all down right after this brief commercial break. well, i wasn't "supposed" to need flood insurance, but i have it. fred over here chose not to have it. ♪ me, i've got a plan. fred he uh... fred what is your plan? do i look like i have a plan? not really.
we are back with our political roundtable. joining me now, columnist for "the washington post," eugene robinson. republican strategist, former chair of the national republican committee and adviser to george w. bush, president bush, ed gillespie. democratic strategist and former white house press secretary for president clinton, dee dee myers. and republican strategist, los angeles resident, mike murphy. welcome to all of you. i just like to point that out, because they're, you know, paradoxical to a lot of people. and you are that. >> exactly. >> here we go. this is the latest poll. this is how it looks in the republican race for the white house, why you've got to follow this day in and day out. newt gingrich is on top at 24%. romney, 22. cain at 12. this is reuters. here's the copy of the "weekly standard." get ready america, because, is newt gingrich the new comeback kid?
it is worth pointing out that back in may, gingrich starts, he comes on "meet the press," and gets himself in a lot of trouble on the right when he was reacting to the paul ryan plan to reform medicare and the budget. this is what he said then. >> i don't think right wing social engineering is any more desirable than left wing social engineering. i don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate. >> he later said he didn't mean it. backed away from it. mike murphy, is this surge real? >> well, the belgian navy as i once referred to the newt candidacy, they've got the corvette going full speed. and he's surging now. he's leading the non-romney silo. and so it may come down, we'll see, these surges go up and they go down. because the media is a little bit like the jurassic park dinosaur. it notices movement in the polls and moves in to kill it. i think newt would have it very happy to have a romney and newt race. i think the democrats are giggling about newt in the general election. you've got to give him credit,
with debates and no real campaign mechanics, he's conducted a surge when you want to have one near the iowa process. though i'd be very surprised if he's the nominee. >> ed gillespie, what is the theory of the case for an anti-romney candidacy? what is the package you've got to put together? >> i think it's, for those who are concerned on the conservative side of the primary electorate, which is the vast majority of the republican primary voters, that governor romney is not consistently conservative enough. so if newt gingrich can demonstrate that he would be conservative on these issues, more conservative than governor romney would be and he could consolidate, you know, the perry vote, and the bachmann vote and the others, that that would be, you know, could give him a shot at the nomination. i think it's a legitimate theory. one thing about it, though, this process is different for republicans this time. in that we're going to have proportional delegate allocation throughout a lot of our process which we haven't had. there's not going to be much incentive for michele bachmann or rick santorum or rick perry or ron paul to drop because they'll be likely accruing delegates along the way. >> that's interesting. gene robinson, part of this is
newt gingrich realizing he's got some baggage, he's got some time in washington to account for. he's got a website that is about answering the attacks, setting the record straight, newt's positions on the issues and his record. it includes his personal life, having extramarital affairs while he was in congress, even during the impeachment matter saying that, when he was doing all that, it wasn't about his affair, it was going after clinton because he lied under oath. will this be enough? >> does the internet have enough band width to really go into newt gingrich's past? it's a long past. he has taken positions on issues that are anathema to conservatives right now, including, for example, the health care mandate that is the heart of what conservatives call obama care. something he used to advocate. and as for his personal life, that's something he has to deal with with social conservatives. i think this is going to be a heavy lift for newt. you know, these sort of non-mitt candidates rise and then they fall. some lucky non-mitt is going to rise at the right time, when the
voting starts, and perhaps is going to emerge. >> he's going for experience. the experience should count if you're going to take on the mitt romney or if you're going to take on president obama. >> yeah. newt has a lot of experience in the public eye. and he's tried on almost every ideological position that there is. he's sort of a political sociopath. he constructs arguments to defend whatever he's doing at the moment. if he's working for fannie and freddie, or you know, the publicly financed mortgage companies, then he has an argument that defends why him taking money for that is different than president obama taking money from people who work there. it's fascinating and it goes back to when he first ran for the house in georgia in the '70s all the way through this career. he constructs these very elaborate arguments that will support whatever he's doing at the moment. and there's absolutely no consistency. >> so mike, he gets a lot of money from freddie mac to be a strategic adviser, none other than jack abramoff told me that this is exactly the stuff that people don't like. watch. >> he's doing, he's engaged in
the exact kind of corruption that america disdains. the very things that anger the tea party movement and the occupy wall street movement, and everybody who's not in a movement, and watches washington and says, why are these guys getting all this money? >> you can watch that whole thing on presspass.msnbc.com. doesn't the tea party goes nuts about something like that? >> newt is right they hired him to work on his try. the problem was it was a history on how the hell do we get this bill passed? it's a gray area in washington. newt's strength is his doesn't the tea party goes nuts about something like that? >> newt is right they hired him to work on his try. the problem was it was a history on how the hell do we get this bill passed? it's a gray area in washington. newt's strength is his quirkiness. he's done a good job in the debates of being intellectually formidable and interesting. the problem is, does he have voter appeal? or is he just somebody who can shape an argument? and how well will he take the second look now? i think only one thing if you step back has really happened in the last four months in the republican process, which was rick perry, the guy on paper who could have beat romney, did that debate and changed everything. because now it will be one of the weaker candidates becoming
the opposition. looks like it could be newt. it's still a long time, 40, 45 days to the caucus. >> look at the peaks and valleys. real clear politics put to the this compilation that at first blush may look complicated. look at where the pictures are. those are the high points for the candidates, and then the steep fall. so if it looks like a mountain in utah, it means you've been up and then you've been down like perry. then you look at romney in that fuchsia, i'm not sure of his line. it's pink. so it's been relatively steady. and ed, isn't that sort of the thing? here you've got these debates. you've got people kind of taking a look. republican primary voters flirting, yeah, i kind of like this guy. not really going after the media or going after obama and that seems to work and you have wild fluctuations. >> incredible fluctuations. but as you said, romney's remained pretty stable throughout. and that's the one question. >> honestly, what do you give him, except that a lot of conservatives don't seem to like him. >> the worry, is there a ceiling? that's his question. is there a ceiling? and are folks shopping, but are they willing to at the end of
the day buy when it comes to governor romney? that's the big question in this primary right now, and we're not going to know until people start actually voting. that's the beauty of what we do. >> go ahead. >> well, i was going to say, i'm not quick to rule out a possible comeback by rick perry. simply because he's got a lot of money to spend. granted, he doesn't show signs of this revival that i'm tentatively predicting. but i think he has the best chance of any of the others of dislodging gingrich. >> something doesn't ring true about the gene robinson hug around rick perry here. >> i love the guy. i just love the guy. >> let's come back and talk about perry. let's talk about herman cain and the rest of this field, and also the president's prospects in performance right now. more with our political roundtable right after this. the world needs more energy. where's it going to come from? ♪ that's why right here, in australia, chevron is building one of the biggest natural gas projects in the world. enough power for a city the size of singapore for 50 years.
we are back. gene robinson's pick for president, rick perry is, is on the trail trying to revive and he's running an ad getting personal with president obama. this is what it looked like. >> we've been a little bit lazy, i think, over the last couple of decades. >> do you believe that? that's what our president thinks is wrong with america. that americans are lazy. that's pathetic. it's time to clean house in washington. obama's socialist policies are bankrupting america. we must stop him now. i'm rick perry. i approved this message. >> dee dee, this was a distortion of what the president actually said and who he was calling lazy. >> right. >> at this apec meeting. he was asked, how do foreign investors look at the united states right now and his point was that, you know, we've been lazy selling america to this foreign investors. the ceo of boeing who was asking that question was nodding his head at the time, yet that's the
direction that perry's going. will it work? >> right. well he's trying to break out of the pack. he's trying to drive some attention to himself, and, you know, it will work with some voters. he still has a lot of money, as gene pointed out in the last segment. so there is a possibility that he could revive. the problem is once you get off the 30-second ad and get him in a conversation about real events in realtime, he can't answer the question. he has not shown himself up to the job of being engaged at the level that a president needs to be engaged. and that is still his achilles heel. >> ed, you know texas politics pretty well, and certainly know perry from back in, you know, the bush days. he was the one who -- he had the money. he had the tea party credentials. the anti-establishment stuff. to put it all together against romney. is it possible to come back at this point? >> yeah, i think it's a very fluid race. i don't disagree with gene on that. i think there's still time for people to rally and fade. i will say this. i think it's a fair shot. and you can see that the president made it specifically about our ability to track foreign investment, but he said we've gotten a little lazy.
it's our fault. it's not the fault of a 35% tax rate versus -- which is higher than any other industrialized nation except japan. he's also said that we've gotten a little soft. and he has said that we've lost our ambition. the president has said a number of things that put the onus on the american people as opposed to washington and his leadership or policies. i think that was a fair shot. >> you know, i actually agree that he should have chosen a different word. it is a distortion of what he said. but it left him open to this attack. but rick perry's problem is, as dee dee said, that he doesn't seem to be able to put together sentences. he had a good line the other day, if you want to see god laugh, tell him your plans. and somebody responded, if you want to see god cry, show him this republican race. >> i want to come back to this point that ed's making. do you agree with that, mike, is the president really open to this idea, this narrative of, as mitt romney says, apologizing for america? is that fair? is it not a distortion? >> my view is that the tape in the ad was out of context. therefore i think that particular ad was hard to defend. but the tone of the president's
remarks on many things has skated close to jimmy carter malaise speak. so i think the argument about that tone, and some of his earlier remarks is legitimate. it's hard to defend the use of that tape and that ad. and let me just quickly echo. i think perry's got one more shot. we're about 10 to 15 days if the big media spending has done anything to bring him back to life. if not i think it will be really tough. >> herman cain, if the topic is libya, this is his answer. >> so you agreed with president obama on libya, or not? >> okay, libya. president obama supported the uprising. correct? president obama called for the removal of gadhafi. just want to make sure we're talking about the same thing before i say yes i agree or i know i didn't agree.
i do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason. no, that's a different one. >> dee dee, if foreign policy were the dominant issue for republican primary voters that may be, you know, the end of the campaign. it's not. he's still hanging in. >> well, but his support is declining in the reuters poll. he's down eight points. these things sometimes take awhile to catch up with voters. but i think the sexual harassment charges opened him up to deeper scrutiny. these kinds of things, i think, are ultimately disqualifying. you cannot have a president who says things like i'm going to be elected to lead, not read. as if you don't need to be able to read and to listen and to do all the things presidents can do. i think he's -- his 15 minutes have now passed and newt gingrich has ascended. but his 15 minutes only lasted what, like four weeks, five weeks? so that tells us it's entirely possible we could be on to the next republican by the time the iowa caucus is on january 3rd. and that could be newt gingrich. but i'm here to say that i think it will not be. >> i resent that you think we in the media have a short attention
span. >> i know. >> mike, you wanted to make a point. >> i saw the video and i thought, hell, perry's found a running mate. they can run together. cain is a force of personality. i don't think he's going to be the nominee. i think the legacy of herman cain is going to be the discussion about a consumption tax when we have the big train wreck about how we're going to pay for all this staff in 2013 after the failure of the super committee. >> another break here. i want to talk about occupy wall street, its political impact in 2012. we'll come back with that. plus our trends and takeaways. a look at what was said here today and what to look for in the week ahead and the hot political stories trending this very morning. right after this. your hard w. and you want to pass along as much as possible to future generations. at northern trust, we know what works and what doesn't. as one of the nation's largest wealth managers, we can help you manage the complexities of transferring wealth. seeking to minimize taxes while helping maximize what's passed along. because you just never know how big those future generations might be. ♪
the politics on both sides, for republicans and for the president, had to take a hit after another failure. no? >> i think probably. i think, you know, approval rating for congress will go down. the approval rating for the president will go down. i think this will be seen -- this will reinforce an era of a lack of leadership on the president's part. he literally phoned in a call to the chairs of the committee, was not engaged at all, and i think they both take a hit on this. pushes the debate into the presidential election where it probably belongs. >> let's look at our trend tracker here. gingrich brushes off baggage. he's got that new website that we talked about already. the iowa religious forum. and it gets to the point about whether mike murphy, mitt romney, is going to make a play in iowa. governor brand says he better. >> governor brand needs him to. we've got to keep the franchise of the iowa caucus alive. i think there's one number in the race which is important, rick perry's negative in iowa. as long as romney beats perry and perry can't get started, romney can take a second, maybe
third place finnish iowa. any kind of secret campaign is now not so secret. but the hand is still on the throttle and with perry diminishing, if the ads don't buy perry back, romney may not be able to invest all the way in iowa. >> new hampshire senator ayotte key endorsement there. dee dee myers, want to ask you about occupy wall street. we talked about these pictures out of davis in northern california with protesters being hit by pepper spray by the police. and of course, just you've seen the movement from new york and around the country. is there an identifiable movement still? is there a message that's actually going to resonate for democrats in 2012? >> i think the movement is amorphous and unclear where it's going. i think there is a message coming out. all of a sudden we're talking about the huge growth in inequality in this country over the last 30 years. how all the benefits for 30 years have gone to the richest of the rich. the top 1% have seen income growth 300% while the bottom has seen an income growth of 18%. the tax rate, lowest percentage of the gdp that it's been in a
couple of generations. how has this happened? how have we gotten to this point? i think all of a sudden the wall street movement and the republican primary, quite frankly, has thrust this question into the center of the debate and i think we're going to hear it through 2012 and i think it's a good thing. >> the week ahead here is interesting to look at as we get towards the holiday of thanksgiving. still a lot going on. we mentioned senator ayotte endorsing senator romney. that's going to happen today. cnn national supreme court cnn policy debate will play out on tuesday and the president is going to be in new hampshire pitching jobs on tuesday, as well. a lot to follow. we're going to leave it there. thank you all very much. have a great thanksgiving. we'll still be thinking about politics and talking about it next week. and to all of you, we wish you a very happy thanksgiving and holiday week. we, however, will be back next week, because if it's sunday, it's "meet the press."