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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  November 21, 2011 4:00pm-5:00pm PST

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know, mr. gingrich, are clean. but i'll tell you what, newt, if we all take on extra bath, could you tell us where we go to get those jobs? where? give me the address. call me. give me the place that we go. you got the number, newt. you call me for my birthday. oh, iowa is listening. thanks for washarpton." hardball starts right now. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington, leading off tonight, veto threat, as afternoon turned to evening today it looked like president obama was caught off guard. republicans in congress were gathering momentum to block those automatic spending cuts that resulted from the super
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committee's failure to reach a deal on the debt but the president took the microphone to say no way, i'll veto any attempt by congress to undo the automatic spending cuts unless the congress comes up with a bill to replace $1.2 trillion in cuts. so is this how the debate will be framed in the 2012 presidential race? plus, when you hear republican flip-flopper, you think mitt romney, right? check out newt gingrich. his website has shiny, new explanations for why he's changed his positions on the health care mandate, on global warming, on t.a.r.p., on what he called paul ryan's right wing social engineering medicare plan and luckily for newt, all of his new positions line up nicely with the conservative republican primary voters. well, also the veto -- the video that went viral this weekend. campus police pepper spraying peaceful occupy protesters out at uc dave this california. the university's police chief was placed on administrative leave today and many students are calling for the university's chancellor to step down.
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and look who has decided to take a chance on iowa, mitt romney. he may be trying to win it all up front, but if he loses out there and loses big, it could be all over for mitt. finally, let me finish tonight with why i think november 22nd, tomorrow, should never be a day to remember john f. kennedy. we start with the super committee's failure to reach a deal today. howard fineman is "the huffing post" director and political analyst and joe williams, correspondent from politico. earlier tonight it looked like the president was trapped. it looked like the conservative republicans, the hawks, if you will, on capitol hill were going to say yeah we couldn't get a deal on the $1.2 trillion and deficit reduction but we're going to save the defense department anyway and make the president look like the dove. >> that was i think their plan, as a matter of fact, the leaders of the armed services committee and the pentagon lobby was really hard at work on that already, but what the president came out and did, i think, was a very shrewd move politically and
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tactically. he said, unh-uh. he said "no easy off-ramps." if you try that on me i promise you now i will veto it. the only thing i will sign is another bill and you decide how to frame it, put taxes in it, put budget restorations for pentagon in it, do whatever you want but it's got to add up to $1.2 trillion. >> no slip sliding away. this is firm literature. i have to say the president reacted to the committee's failure quickly blaming republicans. he said congress must still act. let's watch. >> some in congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. my message to them is simple. no. i will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. there will be no easy off ramps on this one. we need to keep the pressure up
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to compromise, not turn off the pressure. the only way these spending cuts will not take place is if congress gets back to work and agrees on a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion. that's exactly what they need to do. that's the job they promised to do. and they've still got a year to figure it out. >> that's firm leadership, joe williams. was that something that was being worked up or something that was an audio, audible called by the president late this afternoon, facing what looked like a move by those republican hawks from the hill to reinstate this spending for the pentagon? >> well, it sort of reminds me of the song from the police "strapped to the chair and the bomb is ticking." basically what he did was the early part of this so-called super committee when it was set up, there were automatic spending cuts, that was the time bomb, and the republicans had figured out that the way to defuse that time bomb was to keep pushing and pushing and pushing, knowing that nobody in congress wanted to see these
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cuts happen. so what in turn happened, when the expected happened, the white house was ready with an alternative strategy, to say okay, fine, you want the wombomo go off, i'm not going to defuse it. that gives him additional leverage to get the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts. the original goal was almost $4 trillion, the so-called grand bargain but this puts more pressure on republicans to come closer to the democrat side because the democrats were willing to go there with the spending cuts. the republicans were not willing to do go with revenue raising. >> it seems to me you said a moment ago and i want to you follow up on it, this could be the campaign for president. here is the president saying i'm serious about debt reduction. you guys aren't. >> and i think this is going to be the argument had during the whole campaign. what do you do about revenues? do you touch taxes especially for the wealthiest americans? are we willing to dial back at all on the bush tax cuts, which
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really have set the baseline for american politics for the last decade? that's the starting point of all discussions about what you do with the federal budget. are you willing, republicans, to touch that at all? if you want to keep the pentagon whole, then you've got to move on this. if we want to try to keep medicare and medicaid from substantial, from really substantial, deep cuts, are you willing to go toward revenues? give me something that adds up to $1.2 trillion. i've already shown you the way with my own bill, with my own deal that i almost had with john boehner, and this will last all year, i think, and my prediction is, that the final results of this won't really happen until after the election, in a lame duck congress with a newly reelected barack obama or lame duck barack obama, that's when they'll sign the deal. in the meantime we'll be debating it for the next year. that's my sense of what will happen. >> joe let me ask you about the politics. the president, whenever he made this decision to go whole hog
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against the republicans on capitol hill, i assume they put together a political plan as well, a public relations plan. is there any indication coming from the inner circle around the president from axelrod, plouffe or any of the others, jay carney, they have a plan to rally the democrats at least like pelosi and reid to say we're sticking with the president on this in. >> i think you've got no alternative. basically the strategy here is to put all the chips in the middle of the table to force the republicans to the democrats' side. certainly you've seen a lot of pushback by the republicans in that they're not willing to go there on the tax increase. so certainly at this point, this is leverage that the president can use to get them to come closer, and reid and pelosi and the democratic allies on the president's side have to see this as a positive, because the republicans are coming to them for a change instead of the other way around. and certainly you also have something else to talk about, which is the extension of the payroll tax holiday, which is something that would have probably gone away or would have
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had to have been fought for if the deal did not go through and certainly is going to be, i anticipate, part of whatever deal they may come up with, and also the extension of unemployment benefits. two things that democrats exactly want to have on the table, particularly as the economy is so stalled in getting along. you get money in people's pockets. it doesn't create the possibility or at least the increasing possibility of a double deficit -- double dip recession, pardon me, and it also gives them something to campaign on, on the trail. we're fighting for you. we're fighting to keep money in your pockets. we're going to do whatever it takes to get the republicans together, and by the way, we have a plan to attack the deficit as well. so i think, if anything, it's something that they can talk about. it's probably going to take a bit of a sales job to get them to rally completely around it but all the talking points you see on e-mail now are sort of creeping towards that side. a lot of progressives are happy that this went away all together but certainly if it comes back and if they get some kind of a bar ggain that includes these
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things that helps the least among american society that are still struggling it can be a positive, something for them to talk about on the trail. >> this is a done in zrags of steel on the president's part. i don't know who i'm reminded of, reagan or kennedy but something there, because the idea of simply using your authority as president and shoving it to the other side reminds me of a strong president. >> all politics is context and in the context of a congress that has just failed to deliver what they promised to deliver, calling the committee super, saying that they tied their hands behind their back, they're going to jump off the cliff, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, and utterly failing at that. >> don't put on the batman costume unless -- >> unless you're going to save gotham. the president by comparison, just by saying the word "no" exerts leadership, number one. and number two, i think the payroll tax cut is set to expire at the end of this year. unemployment benefits are set to end at the end of this year.
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the president's in the position to try to push the republicans to agree to extending the payroll tax cut and extending unemployment insurance by the end of this year. the other stuff isn't until next year and if they want to dare, if the republicans want to dare to reject extension of the payroll tax cut for average workers, and not extend unemployment insurance, and ding the economy as virtually every economist says refusing to do that will result in, then that's another, then that's another example of how the president is in a strong position right at this point. >> i don't think the republican plot to cut off payroll tax cuts or unemployment extension is going to play in peoria. >> no, it's not going to play in peoria. >> let me just show, joe, hold on for a second. here republican presidential contenders acues president obama of causing the committee's failure. this is an earlier shot, that you got to respond to. here was mitt romney today. let's watch him.
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>> some of the democrats were asked, what's the president role been to help the super committee come to consensus. the answer is he hasn't had any role. he's done nothing. it is another example of failed leadership. he has not taken personal responsibility to get the super committee to find ways to balance our budget and cut spending. >> well there he is, taunting the president to be a leader, joe. you're smiling because there was the president coming back with real mettle. he heard the taunt and responded all right, buddy, you want leadership? i'm going to veto it. >> exactly. that's the thing. hearing the president actually say no to something that the republicans have proposed is refreshing to a lot of democrats, who have pretty much accused him of bending over backwards to compromise. that strategy hasn't borkd. i worked. it's worked for republicans and not the white house. this is something new and does speak of leadership and reminds me of the fact that the super committee is the senate and the
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house, he is the president. separation of powers might have been an issue or might have been something people would have called an issue if the president had gotten involved. this is a congressional mandate that was set up. congress had to solve this problem. the president could only go so far in helping them along with this path, but certainly if a deadline like this and telling them that the cuts will happen regardless, tends to focus the mind and it's likely that they'll come up with something in the end, and that in and of itself as a leadership is demonstrated in the real time, in the real moment. >> i was going to hate to report this tonight, the president to veto, fox news network will hate to report this "the washington examiner" and "the washington times" and most importantly the "new york post." >> let's sue how the president follows it up. see if he gets his cabinet and allies. get durbin, pelosi, where is
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leon pa net ta on this, the defense department. >> i want to keep score, who comes out for the president. it's his job to rally them. they should be on the phone to the cabinet members who think they're under the hatch act to be part of his team. howard and joe, thank you for joining us. coming up, think mitt romney is a flip-flopper who will say anything to win? well now newt gingrich is explaining why he's changed his position on, well let's count, health care, global warming, t.a.r.p. and big shocker, his new opinions are just what conservatives want to hear. how surprising. that's ahead. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. you name it.
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the president leads newt gingrich in michigan by 45-40, a five-point lead and lead over herman cain is 14 points, 50-36. president obama beat john mccain in michigan by 17 points in 2008. what a difference a day, well, three years makes. we'll be right back. since i was a kid. [ man #2 ] i always wondered how did an airplane get in the air. at ge aviation, we build jet engines. we lift people up off the ground to 35 thousand feet. these engines are built by hand with very precise assembly techniques. [ man #3 ] it's gonna fly people around the world. safely and better than it's ever done before. it would be a real treat to hear this monster fire up. [ woman ] i think a lot of people, when they look at a jet engine, they see a big hunk of metal. but when i look at it, i see seth, mark, tom, and people like that who work on engines every day. [ man #4 ] i would love to see this thing fly. it's a dream, honestly. there it is. awesome.
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welcome back to "hardball." newt gingrich continues his rise to the top of the republican presidential field. "usa today" gallup poll, newt gingrich up top, mitt romney second and herman cain third. over the weekend the gingrich campaign launched a web explain to "explain" his feelings on issues. he says his words were too harsh and he thinks mandates are
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"wrong on principle." the 2007 political ad with nancy pelosi to argue for climate change, does that still work? he refers to the interview recently where he called it "probably the single dumbest thing i've ever done." so he's switching all over the place. for the latest on newt gingrich and whether conservative also buy his explanations, if you will, let's bring in mother jones' washington bureau chief david cornyn and tony parkins. of the research council. this is where he explains his position on impeachment, the gingrich answers website has this to say about newt's tenure during the clinton impeachment, he was speaker back then. actually this is a group of people described as newt, his wife and his campaign, a group of people explaining in the third person newt gingrich's behavior. even though newt co-wrote this or drafted himself but he's
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talking about himself in a third person. "opponents often try to delegitimize newt gingrich pointing out that he had an extramarital affair during the impeachment of hillary clinton. these were due to the fact that the president committed perjury in front of a sitle federal judge, a felony. as a speaker of the u.s. house of representatives newt felt we the duty to pursue impeachment for the rule of law." you have written in the third person the reference to newt with his new wife. so i don't know what to make of this, tony but i don't know how flexible you are. can you see these guys who does the jumping jacks of morality as our head of state of the united states. not head of government, head of the conservative movement but the symbol of our state, of our country? >> chris, i think what we have is a political version of musical chairs and this week newt is in the chair, he's at the front.
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i think this says more about what people think regarding mitt romney than they do newt gingrich. newt has done a pretty good job i think in the debates providing some kinz of senior statesman, elder role and provided some pretty good insights. i don't think people have been focusing on all of his past indiscretions. i will say that, as he has dealt with them he's shown a little bit more humility than is characteristic of newt gingrich which i think is helpful, but i think he's going to undergo some really, really intensive political poking and probing. i mean it's going to be worse than going through a tsa gauntlet at the airport i think when he's finished in the next couple of weeks. i'm not sure he stands up to that scrutiny. >> what do you think about him as head of state? you, tony perkins? i've watched you, listened to you for years. i understand your point of view, i think. would you like to see newt gingrich as our head of state, the man who represents, he and his new wife, our country? would you like to see that? >> i'm not completely convinced
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of a -- i know people make mistakes and they have change of hearts, and i do have some concerns about one of thes most significant pledges you make, i think, is a pledge that you make to your wife, to your spouse, to your husband, and that's a pretty -- >> he's made a lot of them. he's made a number of them. >> and therein lies the problem and i'm not sure he can overcome that especially with female voters. >> how about you, tony? where do you stand on him as head of state? i'm having a problem getting your answer. you can say you haven't decided yet. >> i haven't decided, no. i have not. i am undecided on this race. i am looking in -- i'm keeping an open mind. i think he has some hurdles to overcome and i'm trying to be -- it's not so much what i think, but what i hear other people in our constituency that are saying, and they're not convinced that he would be the right one, but they're also not settled with mitt romney. so they're looking for an alternative and right now mitt is at -- or newt is kind of at
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the head of the pack of being scrutinized as a possible alternative to mitt romney. i don't know that he'll be able to survive that kind of scrutiny but we'll see. >> the reports that newt gingrich served his dying wife divorce papers in the hospital. the gingrich site says "this story is a vicious lie. it was first reported by a left wing magazine in the 1980s based on hearsay and has survived in left wing chat rooms on the internet until today. it is completely false. recently newt's daughter, jackie gingrich cushman wrote a column to set the record straight about one, it ar. was her mother that requested the divorce, not newt and it was months before the hospital visit in question. two, her mother was in the hospital to remove a tumor but it was benign and she is still alive today. three, newt visited the hospital for the purpose of taking his two children to see their mother, no the to discuss the divorce." was that left wing magazine "mother jones"? >> it was "mother jones" in
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1984. it was not based on hearsay. it was based on named sources. in the spring of 1980 the gingriches broke up, two years after his first election to the congress. in september -- they separated. in september of 1980, newt brought his two young girls to see his mother and they asked the mother, can daddy come up and see you? while she was recovering from surgery, related to her cancer, he gave her divorce papers to review. he didn't ask for the divorce but there were divorce papers to review and who backs up this account? jackie gingrich herself, the wife. so it's not hearsay. this is what happened. >> so the gist of the story is that he was so insensitive as to serve, ask his wife to agree to various points of a divorce agreement while she was in the hospital with cancer treatment is true? >> that is true, undeniable. he and one of his daughters said it's not true without giving an alternative account. >> he and his new wife, calista are rewriting history with the
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new statement. this is a new form of life here with the candidate and his new wife put together these statements referring to himself in the third person as innocent of all previous wrongdoing. >> newt gingrich has -- >> this is self-exoneration like we haven't seen in a while. >> newt gingrich has more flip-flops than the mitt romney surf shop and not just on policy but on a lot of aspects of his life. he reminds me of a snake that eats its own tail and keeps rolling around. >> tony i like the fact you're an honest conservative and try to find the truth. i hope you don't have to be so nimble as to find in this man presidential greatness. i do think that would be a drop in the bar for the conservative movement itself. your thoughts, finally? >> well, the movement is looking for a candidate they can get behind. what people have seen in the last few months of newt gingrich is kind of a different version of newt gingrich in that he has played a role as i said of an elder statesman and provided some key insights, but again, he's going to undergo some intense scrutiny and i'm not sure he holds up to that when
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it's all said and done. >> david corn, thank you, tony perkins as always thank you for coming on. happy thanksgiving to you, sir, and happy thanksgiving to you, sir. i can do it both ways. next, rahm on romney, the side show. you're watching "hardball" on msnbc. [ female announcer ] that's the all-natural sugar she puts on her grapefruit. but is she eating sugar this week? maybe she wants the all natural, zero calorie stuff. but if you're wrong, you're insinuating she's fat. save yourself.
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something you never get to hear at the debates. governor huntsman, the first question is for you.. isn't it true nationally you're currently polling in the low single digits? >> it is true, seth. but only a few months ago he was polling at margin of error so to have any digit at all is a pretty big deal. i love all of america from dallas, texas to manchester, new hampshire, from the innovation of silicon valley to the affordable outlet malls in conway, new hampshire. i'm from new hampshire, that makes sense because you're kind and good looking, classic new hampshire. >> well he's paved the way for the rest of the field. i wonder who will be next to take the plunge to "snl." next up when you think of in are mr you're not alone if the first word that comes to mind is boring. what if romney made an attempt to be a little less vanilla. >> tonight mitt romney is going to really let loose. get ready for mitt romney, raw and unleashed.
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sometimes i open my closet i think, is this a graveyard? because there are so many skeletons inside. ha, ha. was from a sex scandal in my past? could be. could be. why don't we ask one of my former employees, deborah singer. i never made a comment about your clothing. >> you said i was a sharp dresser. >> uh-oh, over the line. man, keep me away from the ladies because i'm a real dog. bite, bite. >> it looks like the candidate himself was up late on saturday and caught wind of himself raw and unleashed. see how he brought the phrase to the campaign trail just hours later. >> today, this is me just raw and unleashed. thank you. >> i don't know, he still sounds pretty clean cut to me unfortunately. next up dishing it out chicago style. rahm emanuel's two cents on the
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2012 election. the chicago mayor blasted the gop field with a special nod to front-runner mitt romney. not one to sugar coat his opinions, this is no exception. let's listen. >> republicans are having a debate across town. i never thought i'd say this. i'm beginning to miss the wisdom of sarah palin. their debate was called "the thanksgiving family forum." fitting, because i've never seen a greater collection of turkeys. take mitt romney. he said he'd be in iowa tonight. we should have known he'd change his mind. mitt romney says he's a man of steadiness and consistency. and if that's true, then i'm a linebacker for the chicago bears. >> i'm sure we haven't heard the last of this, if romney stays on top. anyway up next the fallout from this incredible video, serious business, campus police of the university of davis, that's ahead. you're watching "hardball" on
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hello, i'm craig melvin. here's what's happening. the standard and poor's moody's agencies say the deficit cutting super committee's failure is not going to affect america's credit rating but s&p is warning congress not to tinker with spending caps put in place earlier this year. signs that the debt crisis in europe is spreading from economicic icaally weaker compao stronger companies caused the dow to plunge 250 points. a man aus couped of sfirg foo irg a semiautomatic weapon at the white house was assigned a public defender to represent
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him. egypt's entire cabinet resigned amid an outbreak of violent protest over reforms promised by its interim government. now back to "hardball." welcome back. the occupy wall street movement is back on the front-runner after a video of campus police at uc davis pepper spraying, see it all right there, nonviolent protesters and that went viral this weekend. today the campus police chief was put on administrative leave. joining the two police officers who used the 11 spray. two students were sent to the hospital. "the new york times" reports after the episode the officers felt threatened by the protesters but in the video
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we're watching the protesters do not appear threatening. they like supine and then on saturday night at the family leader and thanksgiving forum in des moines, presidential candidate newt gingrich disparaged the occupy wall street movement, listen to newt adding insult to injury. >> all of the occupy movement starts with a 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 this he don't want to pay for, to obstruct those going to work to pay the taxes to taken the bathrooms and to sustain the park. 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 reassert something as simple as saying to them, go get a job right after you take a bath. >> what a panda bear. cynthia tucker joins us, political columnist, now visiting professor of university of georgia, ryan christie,
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resident of the harvard institute of politics. ryan, what did you think of the pepper spraying and newt gingrich adding insult to injury saying they're the bad people. the good people are the guys opposed to them. >> good evening, chris. i was pretty appalled looking at that video of the students at uc davis. here these students aren't protesting. here the students aren't battling with the police. the students appear to be sitting there and i wouldn't call that pepper spray. that was a pepper hose. looks like excessive force for what the students were doing or frankly not doing. as it relates to what the former speaker had to say i understand what he's saying. i don't know that occupy wall street is necessarily 100% tied in with the left but i do agree with the sentiment that people need to get a permit to petition lawfully and occupy space where they are there legally. my wife included, who works in the financial district in new york city, of blocking people's ability to get to and from work is a little bit excessive for me.
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>> do you think newt gingrich made his career basically of lobbying, selling influence through one means or another? his notion is basically living off of his experience as speaker and exerting his influence over the government. is that a job? >> i think i found a strategy based in working in the white house and people value counsel from people who have been there and done that. it's a job and keeps me up late at night and gets me up early in the morning. >> so newt gingrich is advising people to get jobs like his, basically you know, strategic advice on how to manipulate congress. >> exactly. >> particularly in congress. ryan worked in the executive branch. he's talking about how to manipulate members of congress, supposed to represent the people. >> on top of all that, chris, i would argue it is not politically smart for any republicans to be out there bashing the occupy wall street
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movement because many, many americans, they -- americans may not identify with their tactics but many americans identify with the income inequality argument that the protesters are getting out there out front. >> sure. >> a lot of these folks, i worked at zuccotti park one morning about two weeks ago, talked to a lot of the protesters. some looked for jobs and can't find jobs in this economy. this idea you need to go get a job, tell that to people who have been out of work for a long time and can't find a job. >> every time there's a hotel job opening in any big city, ron, 2,000 or 3,000 guys waiting in line for the jobs. anyway i think the congress ought to take a bath after what they did on the super committee. i wouldn't be bragging about my white-collar job right now. republican congressman joe
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walsh, this guy is a piece of work. he's from illinois. maybe he should go back there. he criticized the occupy wall street movement at a town hall meeting on saturday night, saying the group's proposed solutions were -- this is handy little phrase -- anti-american. let's listen. >> i generally think this whole occupy wall street stuff is a well orchestrated, well funded far left effort to disrupt the american people and drive up obama's left base. young people and a smattering of other people, who don't understand this country and are advocating anti-american solutions. >> okay. they're advocating anti-american solutions out there on occupy wall street. well, the congressman then took a question from the audience about veterans who have joined the occupy wall street protests. let's listen to that. >> what about the veterans that you see protesting with occupy wall street? do you consider them anti-american? >> yes. >> you consider veterans who
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have fought in foreign wars anti-american? that's abysmal. >> i don't know how many veterans are part of the occupy protests. i can't imagine it's many. but anyone who would advocate socialist solutions to certain problems in this country, they don't understand this country. >> well, they're socialist, they're anti-american, and i don't think he handled the issue whether how many are veterans. i think that was a question he was sort of stumped by. >> well, like newt gingrich, he doesn't know much about these protesters at all. he doesn't know who's out there. a veteran was seriously injured during a clash with police in occupy oakland. again, those protesters weren't doing anything, and police came in with excessive force. but let me --
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>> by the way, he's a deadbeat dad. just to put things straight. he owes $117,000 to his wife for child support. so his idea of talking about bums and all these people, the way they talk, like they're not clean on that point. >> they're all irresponsible and trying to live off somebody else, which is what they're trying to tar them with. and it seems to me that the occupy wall street movement is very american. america is supposed to be about opportunity for all, egalitarianism. and that's what occupy wall street is protesting for. >> thank you cynthia tucker and ron christie. up next, mitt romney is all in for iowa. if he wins it could put him ahead, it could. if he loses badly, he could be damaged goods. this is "hardball" only on msnbc.
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we're back. mitt romney will give iowa a try. he spent $10 million in 2008 only to finish far behind mike huckabee. he sees an opening, a chance to possibly win in iowa and possibly end this battle early for the no nation. he opened a campaign office last weekend and planning on running ads in the state in the coming days. the latest bloomberg poll shows herman cain leading at 20, romney two points behind. david yepsen and ron klain, former chief of staff to both vice president joe biden and al
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gore. david, is it possible even if romney goes out there and wins in the caucuses on january 3rd, he still has to bat tell out with the republican right who plainly don't like him and will find somebody to try to beat him down the road. >> well, that's true but if you're mitt romney, you could go for the quick kill, as you said in the intro, chris. if he can win this here, he starts to roll up this nomination the way john kerry did in his party in 2004 or jimmy carter did in '76, so the presidency is not won by people who don't take risks. he's taking a risk but the payoff is pretty good. if he gets in and loses he's got his back against the wall in new hampshire and if he stays out, for sure he's got his back against the wall, so either way --
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>> it sounds like, david, you want him to run really hard in iowa in case because that raises the stakes for him out there and enlarges the importance of iowa, right? >> well, it -- no, chris, my analysis of this is that it's a smart move on his part. it's been an obvious one. in 1980, george herbert walker bush won iowa with a plurality because the conservatives were split up among other candidates, phil crain, john connolly and ronald reagan. mitt romney sees the same thing. if he can run the plurality here he can go on to new hampshire alleges the victor. >> the "wall street journal" reports that romney may have a good chance, a good shot because of the lack of enthusiasm for the field. as you just said, david, "in two straight surveys in the past month, veteran iowa pollster ann sselzer has noted a drop from four years ago in evangelical christians saying they would
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attend the caucuses. she chalks it up to a lack of enthusiasm among those voters. ronit doesn't look like there's a winning. look like it's a winning -- cain has been getting in trouble with the charges against him, accusations. perry doesn't look like he can handle himself on the stage. there is no huckabee. >> yeah, well, look, this isn't the pga tour where you can choose which events to enter and which to skip. he has to run in iowa and do well there. i think he's going to find it very challenging. here's the other thing, chris. even if he wins in iowa, there's going to be no quick kill in the race. david was talking about the 2004 democratic race. that went on through march. you had wes clark winning in ho oklahoma. with the republicans introducing proportional representation in the primaries this time, the fight is going to go on and on and on and we'll see what we've seen the past month. >> let's listen to iowa governor branstad on romney out in iowa. let's listen to the governor. >> i mean, romney is dropping in
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the polls and i think he thinks that he wants to keep down expectations, you know. well, his expectations may get really bad if he doesn't get a little more serious about it. i know romney is putting his focus in in new hampshire. if he gets clobbered here and comes in not in the top three, but say fourth or fifth, i think that really damages his campaign on the national basis. >> you know what, david, you've been in this business a long time. it seems to me romney only looks good on a wide field, on a platform. he seems to come alive with the seven or eight guys and women around him debating in a very formal setting. when you see him out with regular people trying to become a normal person, he fails as a retail candidate. when he hides from the debate platform or hides from "meet the press" and other sunday shows he also looks weak. it seems to me he's only strong when surrounded by a bunch of lightweights. then he looks okay. but he -- i don't see how he rolls it up in iowa unless they have a debate every two hours
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out there. >> well, in fact, the social conservative leadership in this state is meeting today to see if they can coalesce behind one candidate. >> i see. >> which is what they did with huckabee four years ago. and you're right. there is no huckabee on the stage now. that movement is chopped up among a variety of candidates. nobody has been able to pull together to be the alternative to mitt romney. i think it's very telling. not every republican caucusgoer is a social conservative. and, in fact, there's a substantial number who are not. that's potential for romney to harness that support. >> how many people in your caucuses are strategic voters? i'm not sure i've ever met one. by that i meet somebody, a man or woman, who goes in -- democrat or republican, who goes into the voting booth who says, i'm not going to vote the person i like but i'm going to vote the person i think can win. >> oh, i think there are a lot of them who are, chris.
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i think you saw that, again, on the democratic side in 2004 with howard dean. where the buttons were dated dean married kerry. these are activists, chris, people who care about their party on both sides. they want to nominate somebody who stands a chance of winning. so i think that's one of the reasons why there's so much indecision about this. you have 60% of the likely republican caucusgoers who say they're still undecided, they could be persuaded to change their mind. they want to see, they want to make this decision at the end when they can see who might be the distance runner here. >> ron klain, who do white house people fear most? >> i think they, you knows, romney is obviously the front-runner. >> why do they fear him the most? >> he's the one who's most likely to win, he's the one who seems most likely to be middle of the road. let's face it, look at that field. i mean, it's hard to look at that field and see a potential president. mitt romney looks most like a president and sounds most like a
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president. >> newt's got that knuckle ball. you never know what he's going to do. he's like a pitcher out there with a wild, crazy pitch. >> i don't think the american people are going to elect someone who wants to repeal the child labor laws and go back to the 19th century. people want progress. >> you have to keep up with the republican party. you never know. thank you, david yepsen, and ron klain, chief of staff to joe biden when he needed one. let me finish with a better way to pay tribute to kennedy, not talking about what happened tomorrow. november 22nd is not a day to honor anything. you're watching "hardball" on msnbc. ♪ i think i'm falling ♪ i think i'm falling ♪ i think i'm falling [ male announcer ] this is your moment. ♪ for you ♪ [ male announcer ] this is zales,
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let me finish tonight with this. tomorrow, november 22nd, is no day to celebrate. it's the anniversary, if that's the right word, of the date in 1963 when we lost a president. we americans had chosen and had come to love. let me recommend we find another day to remember john f. kennedy, a president so heroic that the american people chose him in a recent poll to be up there on mt. rushmore with washington, jefferson, lincoln and, of course, teddy roosevelt. i recommend that instead of marking tomorrow as we often do to remember this beloved president, that we do it as we have for other great presidents, on the day of his birth. i could think of other dates we could mark to honor the 35th president, all of whom paid tribute and honor to what he did and what he was doing when he was taken from us. how about march 1st, the day he by executive order created the peace corps which sent young men
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and women like me around the world to help developing countries make their way? may 25th, he set as a national goal the landing of americans on the moon before 1970 or june 10th when he gave the peace speech at american university which sent such a positive message that khrushchev had it broadcast throughout the soviet union. june 11th in 1963 when he gave his historic televised address to country calling for civil rights, the end of racial discrimination in the country ice restaurants, hotels and other places of public accommodation. june 23rd when he gave the speech in west berlin, perhaps the greatest speech of the cold war. october 7th when he signed the nuclear test band treaty with the soviet union. october 28th, ended the nuclear crisis and avoided a nuclear war. november 8th, the day he was elected. the first roman catholic president. or as i said, may 29th his birthday. as his navy buddy once said, i

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