tv Hardball Weekend MSNBC November 27, 2011 4:00am-4:30am PST
getting close now, the big january political fights. let's play "hardball." i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, january madness. we've got big republican caucuses and primaries coming in january. we're going to look at them like a big ncaa elimination tournament. iowa, new hampshire, south carolina and florida. who has to win and where? mitt romney can survive a loss in iowa, but can michele bauchmann? newt gingrich can afford a loss in new hampshire, but for mitt it may be win or go home. the win or go home january races. next, president obama's chances of beating the nominee.
where does he stand in the crucial battleground states? historically, how have other presidents done with approval ratings in the mid-40s one year out? and that's where he is. plus we'll looking potential running mates. could marco rubio seal florida for romney? could we see a gingrich/cain ticket? and most interesting of all, would president obama ever consider dumping joe biden for hillary clinton if things looked really bad? what about a third-party run? an independent candidate would almost surely throw the election to one side or the other. but which one? this is no fantasy, we'll be joined by someone who is making sure a third candidate will be on the ballot in all 50 states. finally, amateur hour, we'll go to the videotape for the campaign low lights, if you will, in the gop race so far. there are a lot of them, as you know. we start with january madness. david corn is an msnbc analyst, and mother jones washington bureau chief. political columnist cynthia tucker who is now a visiting professor at the university of georgia. and john heilemann national political columnist for new york
magazine and an msnbc political analyst. first of all, the iowa caucuses january 3rd. mitt romney's making a push in the hawkeye state. according to "the new york times" today. romney is now playing to win the iowa caucuses, television commercials are on the way, volunteers are arriving, and a stealth operation is ready to burst into view in the weeks leading up to the caucuses. that's according to "the new york times." let's go to david on that. is this going to happen out there? first get to him, is he entering? >> well, yeah, he's entering, taking out ads. he's opening the campaign office. they didn't have a grand opening, he's trying to have it both ways. he wants to compete, he wants to do well. maybe even -- >> why is he doing this? why doesn't he take a breather? he's not a cultural conservative, he's questionable on abortion rights and other issues. why didn't he just wait until new hampshire? >> my guess is he sees an opening for an early strike. there's no non-romney candidate that's really come together that has materialized, that has money, organization, can survive scrutiny. it's all as you say a pack of circus clowns. and i think he's -- >> i've noticed that. cynthia, does he have to win out there to win?
in other words, is it really win or lose for him? >> in iowa, i don't think anybody really expects mitt romney to win in iowa. he's not conservative enough for the people who traditionally caucus. >> why does he want to start his race with a possible loss? >> well, it doesn't hurt him at all. it shows he's paying attention to social conservatives. he doesn't want to start off looking as if i'm ignoring you, i don't need you, and if he places second, it gives him a little bit of momentum. >> you're right there. how far down in the polls does he have to -- how far badly does he have to do in iowa to hurt him? suppose he pulls a fourth out there, john? >> well, i think actually once they've decided to go in, i think they raise the bar very high towards actually having to win. i -- look, i think that you are the front-runner in the race, you have sat out on the iowa sidelines the entire year and have tried to convey to people you're not going to compete there. now at the last minute you decide because the field is split among the social
conservatives that you have a chance to win that state, win new hampshire, and put this away quickly. if you go out there as the front-runner and you're playing in iowa, i think the national media narrative is going to be quickly become, is mitt romney making the same mistake as he made in 2008 when he tried to do this same strategy, win iowa, win new hampshire, put the race away. i think he's raised the bar, he's going to raise the bar very high for himself, it's going to be very hard to lower expectations the way they think they can. >> that's what we call a dynamic. because he says i'm running, i can win. we know he doesn't take chances. the national media which leans a little to the left, i could argue, could smash him. >> i think the national media narrative knows that iowa is different. you know. we've seen in the past but also don't forget, there's a general election, and iowa may be a swing state in the general election. he's going to need these same voters to come out. >> bottom line, who has to win out there? or leave the race? >> who has to -- listen, i think >> if bauchmann loses, santorum loses, if they have any more claim, should they be in the race? >> santorum peters out if he
doesn't do well. newt gingrich, herman cain have this noncampaign campaigns. they can keep going on fumes. >> two people who have to win. bachmann and santorum, one of the two has to win? >> rick perry. i mean for heaven sakes. rick perry -- listen, rick perry has claimed his supporters that he has money, he has organization in iowa and retail politics will make the difference for him. that, you know, forget how he's done in the debates -- >> he won't be able to compete in south carolina if he loses in iowa? >> no, he can still play there, but i think his supporters start dwindling even faster. >> let's start with the bottom feeding here, bachmann and santorum. if they can't win among christian conservatives, where can they win? >> nowhere. i think you're right, if they lose there, if they don't win out there, they may try to continue campaigning, but their campaign also be the walking dead at that point. i think rick perry, if he finishes strong second in iowa and still holding out the hope of south carolina with the amount of money he has been able to raise so far, he would still be alive.
>> is that right or wrong? >> i agree with that. >> let's go to new hampshire right now. this is a hot one. it's always been the decider. hillary clinton came back on the democratic side last time and won there. here's the latest bloomberg poll in new hampshire, mitt romney holds a commanding lead over his rivals. the only place in the country he gets 40% i think. most of his opponents are trailing way down in single if not double, but including huntsman at 7%. other polls show a closer race between romney and gingrich up there. you first agai >> or else what? >> well, he can still stay in the race. >> if he can't win at home -- >> well, then i'm here. this is the thing, the media can try to drive him out of the race, but he'll still have money and at this point it's really unclear who can see the one big surprise in new hampshire might be, i hate to say this, ron paul. you know, new hampshire's moving more libertarian direction on the republican side. >> i agree. he always has been a granite state. does huntsman have to win to stay in this race? >> he has to come in second,
third, or fourth. >> i say bachmann's out if she can't win in iowa. i think santorum's out anyway if he loses out there, and probably will lose. i think if huntsman can't win where he says he has to win, he loses. >> well, you know, for heaven sakes, huntsman isn't going anywhere anyway. >> if he wins new hampshire. >> if he wins new hampshire, then we're talking an entirely new dynamic in this race. >> let me go to john. what do you think? let's talk about the two moderates. mitt romney and jon huntsman. one of them will probably win up there, it's probably mitt romney. what happens if that doesn't happen? >> well, i think it depends on what happens in iowa, chris. if mitt romney wins iowa and then somehow new hampshire does what it does often and hands new hampshire to someone other than mitt romney because they don't want to coronet him, i think rid romney could still survive that. i think if mitt romney loses in iowa and doesn't come in first and then loses new hampshire, he will be fundamentally crippled and won't be able to be the nominee. jon huntsman i think must win in new hampshire for the reasons you just said.
maybe it's possible that a very, very, very, very strong second place keeps him in the race. but he has put all his chips on the table there and he's bet it all on black. >> let's go south with you. you pick it up here, john. south carolina's been the king maker for the republicans ever since the party went south and become a southern-based party. who has to win down there and stay in the race? it seems to be perry and cain have to do incredibly well or they're not relevant among the baptists. >> especially since neither one of them is going to be competitive in new hampshire, i don't think. i think for both of them, south carolina, they're regional based candidacies. if you can't win the first southern primary if you're a candidate who is going to win the nomination based on regional strength, you're in significant trouble. mitt romney looks strong in florida, coming up right after that. so you need to -- one of those guys -- >> so everybody agrees that perry and cain is too southern, more conservative candidates. >> perry makes it that far. but i'll disagree with john on one thing. if mitt romney doesn't happen to
win in new hampshire, i don't think it drives him from the race because the field is so weak. you can say it should in normal circumstances. but who is there to pick up the mental? so far nobody. >> who has to win south carolina? >> i think it's absolutely again, rick perry. rick perry is the one again who has raised enough money to try to persuade people that he is a serious candidate. >> okay. >> he doesn't win south carolina, it's done. >> let's take a look at this, going back to ronald reagan back in 1980, south carolina has always picked the eventually republican contender. that's a forceful fact there. and i just want to go, let's go to florida right now and finish this up. does everybody agree you have to win something in this first three? can you be in this race if you haven't won anything, john? or are you out of this race? if you haven't won anything, are you a contender? >> you're not. no, you're not. you must win to survive. and david's right when he says that the race is fractured in a lot of ways. people will continue to stagger on, but i think the question of who picks up the pieces is who wins in iowa and new hampshire. if mitt romney's lost in those two places, someone will have won those states --
>> i have an argument. let me try this argument. we go to florida, i think two people get a bye all the way to florida, they don't have to win anything until then and that's romney and newt gingrich. let's go back to florida with you. florida, can that be the one for romney to prove he can win? this, by the way, the first national state, representative state of all the ones we've talked about, is that the one that really decides this thing, florida? the guy who wins or woman who wins there is, in fact, the key front-runner? >> i think if romney doesn't win florida and rick perry has not had a miraculous revitalization, then the party starts to come in and says what else can we do? it's known in the field who anybody is going to want to see get the nomination. >> you see an intervention then? >> i see an intervention of some sort. >> i love this. i love this. does florida make or break having a nominee that's a front-runner. having a front-runner? >> well, it is, you know, a big pile of delegates, that's certainly true. but if mitt romney has lost new hampshire, i don't see how
florida helps him very much. so assuming he's won new hampshire and then florida, he's looking pretty good. >> what about the intervention thing he just mentioned? the party says we're not getting anything done here. >> well, if they've got three different nominees by the time they -- three different winners by the time they get to florida, yes, i think there's going to be a lot of angst among the establishment. >> i hate to keep pushing this. there's so much to do here. john heilemann, do you think there could be an intervention by the party grandees? such as they are? >> unless herman cain is about to be nominated i think the answer to that is no. >> okay. everyone staying with us. >> coming up, we're talking about the president of the united states, barack obama, what are his chances? of beating whoever wins this republican roundabout here we're talking about? and where does the president stand right now? and how does he stack up to past presidents with approval ratings like he has now in the mid-40s? you're watching "hardball" on msnbc. i'm just a piece of dirt stuck here in a rut. ever since that ol' broom dumped me here... oh, oh. oooh! will love ever come my way? oh my!
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welcome back to "hardball." now we want to compare president obama's approval rating currently one year away from election day with that of past prepzs. we also want to look at the unemployment rate of past presidents' quest of reelection. what does the past tell us about president obama's future? i love this stuff, obviously. our panel joins us again. david corn, cynthia, tucker and john heilemann. let's look at this. president obama's most recent weekly approval rating average, this is gallup poll, averaged for the week of november 7th through 123th is 43%. remember that number. and that number has been on the rise. let's look now to how obama compares to past presidents in
the november of their third years in office. george w. bush's approval rating was 52% at this time and just starting to rise. that's george w.'s, he, of course won re-election. bill clinton's was 53% and rising too. he won re-election. george bush 41's was 55% but dropping. he lost his re-election bid. ronald reagan's was 53% and raising. he won re-election. jimmy carter's approval rating in november of 1979 was 40% and rising although he got a spike in popularity when americans were taken hostage in iran. by november of 1980, his approval rating was back in the 30s and he, of course, lost re-election. richard nixon's approval rating was 49% and rising, he won re-election. so, cynthia, read the tea leaves. what do you see there? >> not only is obama's approval rating closest to jimmy carter's which republicans are ever fond of pointing out because they want him to repeat that trajectory. carter, of course, was a one-term president. but i think one of the most telling things was that you
mentioned an episode far outside of carter's control which greatly affected his re-election chances, and that was the taking of hostages in iran. we have no idea what is going to happen with the euro and the european union. >> nothing good, though. >> exactly. >> it's a wonderful serendipity going on there. >> and that will greatly affect the economy here in the united states that is something outside forces that could have a big effect on obama's re-election chances, and perhaps bring his approval numbers back down again. >> should we say we found the real bin laden again. we killed the wrong guy, we got him again. let me go to john heilemann. you write these historical books now like teddy white did. when you look at the pattern, mid-40s, sort of gaining but minimally. it's not fair to say obama's getting better off, the economy's not really substantially improving, but he's sort of inching up a little. how do you read that in terms of history? >> one of the most obvious but
also important historical points is that incumbent presidents get on election day, they get what their approval rate something in the vote. you don't deviate very much. we have a pretty good idea of what we think about presidents and track that closely. right now he's on track to win about 43% of the popular vote, that's pretty far from what it takes to win. and the second thing that's true historically is that the trajectory question is almost what matters most of all. and this period of time in the fall and winter leading in to an incumbent re-election tells you a lot about what's going to happen. if you can get the polls moving in the right direction and that obviously is premised in the economy moving in the right direction. if you were headed in the right direction right now, you can be pretty sure you're going to get re-elected. if you're either stagnant or dropping from a low point, you have a lot of problems and that's where the president's in trouble. >> john, i've got to stick with you. you said something very evocative there. you said the president's number is his number. at the same time, you say the next several months are critical. suppose he beats -- using a figure of speech, he beats mitt romney, the front-runner purportedly over the head with a
frying pan for the next five months. does nothing but bash him, negative, negative, negative, bang, bang, bang, is he still at 43% even though the other guy looks worse? >> well, the relevant president there is george w. bush's rating. his rating rose a little bit while he was taking john kerry out in just such a fashion. you get a little bit of reflected approval rating bump from seeing your opponent -- by mashing your opponent and making him unacceptable. but it's hard to do that starting at 43. that's the difference. you can move those numbers if you're at 47%, 48%, creep over 50%, hard to get from 43% to 51%. >> that's what i'm worried about. that's something we'll talk about later in the though which is the third party. it seems obama can beat the heck over whoever's the nominee, but he's not making himself likable. >> whatever obama does, if he wins a year from now, it will be historic just on the basis of the numbers we see. he's going to have to use that frying pan again and again and turn this election into what the consultants call a choice election where it's me and the
other guy. usually elections are referendums. particularly on incumbents. people decide they want to keep the guy there -- >> but there's another choice beyond that, looking for a third alternative. free will and free choice, someone in a philosophy choice described to me, free choice is limited in the options. that's why i like free will regarding abortion, because there are other things you can think about doing besides having sex, maybe, if you can. but how about free will? free will. free will. >> well, obama certainly has to worry about the so-called enthusiasm gap. he did extremely well under young voters last time around. this time a lot of young voters don't have the enthusiasm. because a lot of them don't have jobs. >> what happens if he's stuck at 43% and he beats the brains out of whoever runs again? what happens to the vote? does he just stay home? >> we'll have to see who voters are most scared of. are they most scared of obama again or most scared of whoever -- >> can you imagine a 22-year-old kid, african-american or white or whatever, a regular 22-year-old, which i have
experience with, my kids, you're telling the kid, he's not always going to vote. he'll vote most of the time. you've got to get out there and vote against mitt romney. does that work? >> i don't think it works for that 22-year-old. >> up next, from herman cain on libya to michele bachmann on the founding fathers and their hatred of slavery, to rick perry's oops. we've got the campaign low lights coming so far. if you just want to enjoy this for the silly season, here they come again. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. congratulations. 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. [ pneumatic wrench buzzing ] [ slap! slap! slap! ]
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back to "hardball." ready for a look back? it's still over a month until the first votes are cast, but one thing is well under way for the 2012 campaign season. you know it, the republican clown show i've been calling it. and we've got a special highlight or lowlight reel of all the moments which left us thinking, did i just hear that correctly? well, here's some fun. watch and remember.
>> our founding fathers never meant for washington, d.c. to be the fount of all wisdom. we fought the revolution in the 16th century. >> okay. libya -- >> you owed between $250,000 and half million dollars to a jewelry company. what was that about, mr. speaker? >> well, first of all, it's about obeying the law. >> 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 round the world at lexington and concord. >> president obama supported the uprising, correct? >> i would do away with the education, the -- >> corporations are people, my friend. >> i do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reasons -- >> commerce, and let's see -- i can't.
the third one, i can't. sorry. >> nope, that's a different one. >> we know there was slavery that was still tolerated when the nation began. we also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the united states. >> did you owe a half million dollars to a jewelry company at one point? >> any ad that quotes what i said on sunday is a falsehood. >> i'm not sure what you mean by neoconservatism. >> it was an interest-free -- >> who buys a half million dollars worth of jewelry on credit? >> go talk to tiffany's. >> i'm not with the neoconservative movement. >> men like john quincy adams who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country. >> i've got all this stuff twirling around in my head. >> i haven't had a gaffe or something that i've done that has caused me to fall in the polls. >> we need a leader, not a reader. >> oops.
>> now there's a stocking stuffer. anyway, who's the real winner in all of this? you bet, they're laughing in the white house. and he's living there maybe another five years because of that. clown show. coming up next, "your business" with j.j. ramberg. this weekend, the sawdust-makers, the hole-drillers, and the get-it-done machines all cost less. a lot less. so let's load them in our sleighs and call them by name. on ryobi. on dremel. on dewalt and makita. more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. here's what the early bird gets. an 18-volt, two-piece ryobi combo kit for just $49.88. ♪ it's cramping. go ice that thing. sorry. hand cramp... ahh... [ male announcer ] cyber week starts sunday and lasts all week. plus get free shipping on hundreds of thousands of items. the only place to go for cyber week. walmart.com. hundreds of thousands of items. i heard they found energy here. it's good. we need the jobs.
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