tv The Last Word MSNBC September 13, 2012 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
beyond all the chest-thumping by politicians right now about standing up for the right of free speech, the fact is no american official is not standing up for free speech. nobody's denying american free speech rights. but that's not enough. what we ought to be wanting them but that's not enough. what we ought to be wanting them to get right is not just defending free speech but explaining it in a way that makes sense to the world. time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. scattered protests continue in the streets of cairo near the american embassy and the politics of foreign policy continue to dominate the presidential campaign. >> if you want to know my position on issues, ask me and i'll tell you. >> what about mitt romney? >> ask me and i'll tell you. >> no apology from governor romney. >> i'm shocked that governor romney doubled down. >> a severe miscalculation. >> a craven attack on the president. >> a statement which is akin to
apology. >> he didn't wait long enough to get the facts. >> what this shows is a certain amount of desperation. >> a tendency to shoot first and aim later. >> this administration's policies project weakness abroad. >> it's an awful, mean-spirited claim. >> this wasn't the time for politics. >> obama commands, romney complains. >> romney didn't seem to understand any of the dynamics. >> why won't he admit the mistake? >> the administration sent mixed signals. >> i don't think it's playing well anywhere except the base. >> the trifecta of campaign missteps. >> a lot of negative 'attention in the last 48 hours. >> backlash from some even in his own party. several stepped up to criticize mitt romney's reaction. >> a lot of jittery republican this is week. >> romney looked weak today. >> the velvet hammer. >> he looks like richard nixon. >> i'm not a crook. i've earned everything i've got. >> richard nixon's too liberal for these people. >> if you want to know my
position on issues, ask me and i'll tell you. with 54 days until election day, the campaign is focused on this. you are looking at live video from cairo where scattered protests have continued throughout the night outside the u.s. embassy. today, anti-u.s. protests spread to sudan, iran, iraq and most violently two yemen where several thousand protesters gathered outside the u.s. embassy. some breached the walls of the embassy where they burned the u.s. flag before local police forced them back. the state department says u.s. personnel are safe and accounted for. mitt romney suffered another day of bad reviews for his reaction to this crisis. the "boston globe" editorial
today says this about romney's performance yesterday, "romney's timing was terrible, romney was wrong on the facts, romney was wrong on substance. romney was wrong as a matter of policy." "the lath times" editorial today says, "in mixing sympathy with specious attacks and self-promotion, romney has diminished himself." even bill o'reilly had a problem with mitt romney's criticism of the obama administration. >> the statement that came from the administration was a statement which is akin to apology. and i think it was a severe miscalculation. >> now, i'm not sure the governor's correct on that. the embassy was trying to head off the violence. being conciliatory in that kind of a situation seems logical. >> romney apparently agrees with his bad reviews and has decided to back down from a fight with the president.
>> no direct response. when the president says you shoot first and aim later. >> well, this is politics. i'm not going to worry about the campaign. >> president obama spoke today in colorado. >> we are going to bring those who killed our fellow americans to justice. i want people around the world to hear me, to all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished. and i've directed my administration to do whatever is necessary to protect all americans who are serving abroad. >> the president also praised what our embassy chris stevens was trying to achieve before he was murdered. >> we're different because we're a nation that's bound together by a creed. the idea that all men and women are created equal.
that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights snmt ] . our task as the most powerful nation on earth is to defend and protect and advance our people but also to defend and protect and advance those values at home and around the world. that's what our troops do. that's what our diplomats do. >> joining me now, msnbc's krystal ball and steve clemens who publishes the foreign policy blog, the washington note. it was striking to me that george stephanopoulos put the president's words directly to mitt romney and he simply backed down. he wouldn't dare take on the president on that. >> and it's incredible that suddenly now he doesn't want to insert politics into the situation.
i think it tells you first, one thing, how slow they were to get a handle on how badly they'd mishandled the situation. after jumping the gun, after releasing the statement, they come out the next day, reiterate the same thing. i'm so sick of hearing the word double down. but that's exactly what they did. and it's taken them this long to realize how devastating this has been for their campaign because first of all, it was just an unbelievable attack at exactly the wrong moment, as you put it, totally wrong on the facts. and second of all, this is the president that we're talking about. he is the head of our country. and he is someone that the american people trust on foreign policy. so from just a pure political standpoint, this is not the ground that you want to be fighting on. >> let's listen to steve schmidt this morning on "morning joe," steve schmidt being the republican campaign manager of john mccain's campaign last time around. let's listen to steve. >> it was a very serious mistake because we're at a point of the
campaign where these impressions start to harden into concrete. people are evaluating now on a daily basis who has what it takes to be the next president in a challenging time, who has the right temperament, who has the right character? he fell short on that with that statement. >> ari, it seems that the romney campaign, if they couldn't see this moment the way steve just described it, the stakes that were in this moment, then they're on their way -- they're posed to make many more mistakes between now and election day. >> i think steve is talking about the appraisal that happens. you can learn a lot about a candidate during a crisis. so people will take this crisis, which is obviously very important to the country, not just the election, and they may view mitt romney's behavior through that prism. but i would go beyond what steve's saying with regard to the politics and look at the diplomacy. secretary of state clinton and
the president and our diplomatic corps have a tough job out there. libya obviously is a new regime. egypt, a quasially, under a new foreign prime minister. they have a lot to chew on out there. and the problem here is that you have mitt romney's attacks suggesting that somehow it would be wrong for the united states to apologize for distance itself from this bigoted anti-islam video. well, neither our state department nor our country, nor i think if i can say so, most americans have any reason to defend this vile and previously obscure video that surfaced online from some extremist. it is frustrating for the foreign policy and the diplomacy at stake here to have someone of mr. romney's stature implying wrongly that somehow we need to defend this crap. >> steve clemens, there's a statement that the romney campaign policy director made to "the new york times" which
indicates that they were waiting for something like this, they were waiting to pounce. she said, we've had this consistent critique and narrative on obama's foreign policy and we felt this was a situation that met our critique. so, steve, she's saying they were waiting for something and they saw this and they thought, okay, this is it, here we go. and they jumped out there with the attack. and so this seems to have been premeditated even before the events developed. >> sure it was, lawrence. and i think that one of the things that's been dogging mitt romney's candidacy is the inability to define him because his views have changed so much on so many different issues that mitt romney is a bit incoate when it comes to public policy. that's why picking paul ryan was so defining. you have a case just like mccain and palin where people talk about the vice presidential candidate more than the presidential candidate.
a lot of people in the republican party fear he's a massachusetts rockefeller style. people aren't buying it. they don't believe it. i think the knee-jerk move to jump on this -- you saw it today, with all the coverage of mitt romney the man backing down, this morning, mitt romney the political machine did not. they sent out a report this morning with liz cheney in the headlines and 20 other republicans that were strongly and somewhat flamboyantly defending the position romney took against the president. so at least the machine was not connected to the candidate even though today in virginia, he clearly backed off the rhetoric from yesterday. >> our own joe scarborough, former republican congressman himself wrote this in politico, mitt romney is in trouble not because of a boring convention or a bloodless speech or a grossly inappropriate press
conference, but rather because the man refuses to stick his neck out and take a stand on the critical issues of our time. mitt romney is likely to lose and should given that he's neither a true conservative nor a courageous moderate. it's just an ambitious man. krystal ball, i have to say, i think joe captured it there. >> he nailed it. you can't think of a single moment, not just in this presidential campaign but in mitt romney's entire political career where he did not seek the most politically advantageous position, regardless of where he had been in the past, regardless of what he had said or written, regardless of the consequences or how irresponsible taking that position might be. he has always sought out what the poll tested best place for him to be is politically. and at some point -- and i think we are actually long past that point -- the american people see through that and they see you're in the being straight with them. that you don't have core values
and if you do, you're certainly not sharing them with the american people. and that sense of trust, that sense of, can we look this man in the eye and believe that he is telling us what the truth actually is, is very important in the assessment of what we ultimately want to be our commander in chief. >> let's take a look at a tv ad that the romney campaign put out today in the hopes of keeping the foreign policy campaign on the one country that mitt romney and donald trump like to talk about. let's watch this. >> this is america's manufacturing when president obama took office. this is china's. >> it's time to stand up to the cheaters and make sure we protect jobs for the american people. >> barack obama, failing to stop cheating, failing american workers. >> ari melber, what are the chances of that ad changing the subject? >> the chances are low. nobody likes cheating but nobody cares about that kind of attack in this context.
there's a narrative in at least the washington media about the partisan differences that divide us and every issue becomes partisan and isn't that terrible and how look at both parties. and sometimes it's true. i think both parties contribute to obviously some of the disputes in d.c. but this example this week, i think, is such a perfect sort of sad proof point of where a very big issue was not being politicized by both parties. it was going to be handled as it should have by our president as a foreign policy issue and nothing more or less. and it was mitt romney and some other republicans, including the ones that are still defending this, who came in and turned it into a partisan attack and a partisan issue. and there are times when it's not both parties. there are times when in this case, mitt romney and the republicans are making something -- something very ugly out of something that should have been a time for unity.
>> there's only one way -- only one way mitt romney can change the subject this week. and that would be to release his tax returns. i think that would do it. but i don't think there's anything other than that. thank you all for joining me tonight. >> thanks, lawrence. coming up, we have the latest nbc news poll of three key battleground states. and it is all good news for president obama. and there's more good news for the president today. with the stock market closing at the highest level of his presidency. and a court ruling is the only thing now stopping a voter id law that will prevent 750,000 people from voting. ben jealous of the naacp will join me. and in the rewrite tonight, you will see how bill o'reilly reacted to a fox news poll showing president obama beating
last night, we told you about a fox news poll that shows president obama getting a solid lead over mitt romney after the democratic national convention. and i wondered then how bill o'reilly would try to spin it in favor of mitt romney. turns out, he found a way. that's coming up in "the rewrite." and next, virginia, ohio, florida, the candidate who wins two of those three states will win the presidential election. a new nbc news poll shows president obama ahead in all three. we'll bring you the details next. you want to hear these numbers. i didn't think it was anything.
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as my husband has said, this election will be closer than the last one. and it could all come down to what happens in just a few battleground states like virginia. >> we're counting on you, virginia. we have to win this. get them to join our team. we're going to take back america and make sure that we remain the hope of the earth. >> first lady michelle obama and mitt romney were campaigning today in virginia. and with only 54 days until the election, we have a new nbc/"wall street journal"/marist
poll of that state and two other crucial battleground states, florida and ohio. joining me now to take us through the numbers is nbc political director and host of nbc's "daily rundown," chuck todd. what do we have to know about this poll? >> part of me wants to call these states the iron triangle of the battleground, if you will. it feels like all of the ways to 270 all go through these three states first. but let me start in virginia. this is where the president is sitting at a five-point lead. 49-44. ohio, his lead is a couple of points higher, 53 to 43. florida, on identical, 49-44, to what it is in virginia. all of these three states have the president sitting at 49 or 50. all of them have his job approval sitting at 49 or 50. and all of them for the first time since we've been polling in
these swing states have the right track/wrong track above 40%. that's the first time we've seen all of them above 40%. that's been the interest bump in all of the national polls and in what we've seen in our own state polls. and if you think about it, i've had a couple of democrats tell me, that's the clinton bump, if you will. clinton's speech was all about making the case that, hey, it may not feel good, but we're, quote, on the right track, on the right course. and that may be the bump that the president is experiencing right now. the president is, does it last? >> chuck, i noticed something in the polling, thinking about the conventions. in tampa where the republicans had their convention, president obama has a 12-point lead. >> i know. >> in the tampa area of 53 to 41. what do you make of that? >> it's interesting. i think a lot of us assumed there would be no bump out of the conventions because the assumptions was the republicans were going to put on a good convention and you'd have two equal conventions and they'd
sort of cancel each other out. that isn't the case. and i think every day that the democratic convention went on, the republican convention looked more and more like a missed opportunity. and what i found interesting about florida is i didn't get the impression in the same way that the democrats tried to use, for instance, denver four years ago, to put colorado in play. i didn't get that sense with the tampa convention. part of it was the weather. there was a lot of other setbacks. but they seemed to have a hard time making tampa sort of part of their battleground florida plan. >> and what about the women vote in these three states? >> double digits in all of them. romney's lead among men, in low single digits. and you see that he's got the widest gender gap, i believe it was in ohio. but in all of these cases, it's double-digit leads for the president among women. but only single-digit leads among men for romney. i've seen these ads. the planned parenthood ad, i
live in the washington, d.c. area. it's clear that's what he's targeting there. and the romney campaign knows it. did you take a close look at the romney rally today in fairfax here in northern virginia? he had nothing but women in the backdrop of the camera surrounding him. only women introduced him. they know they have a problem. they have to cut that gap. it cannot be sitting in 12, 13, 14 points. >> in ohio, the president's at 54 with women and romney's at 38. >> almost 20 points. >> that is just -- and that looks prohibitive in ohio, chuck. >> lawrence, ohio seems to be a special case. we've been hearing rumors about how, boy, the romney folks are really nervous about what's going on in ohio, that it seems to be, quote, unquote, slipping away. i still think there's plenty of time for them to get it back. organizationally the ohio republican party has a long history of doing well there. but romney's unfavorable rating in our poll hit 50%.
his fave/unfave was pretty good shape in florida, pretty good shape in virginia. not the case in ohio. i think this tax -- these hits on his personal wealth and the tax returns have taken a greater toll on romney in ohio than any other battleground state. >> virginia stands in the poll at 49 for president obama, 44 for mitt romney. i had virgil goode on the show the other night. he's the third-party candidate that's qualified for the ballot in virginia, popular in his -- in his congressional district, he could pull republican vote, the theory is. what do you think the possible is of virgil goode being a real factor on election day? >> i think it's a huge factor. i know that the romney folks are trying everything they could to challenge his petitions, to keep him off the ballot. they didn't succeed. it's now unlikely they're going to be able to get him off the ballot. one point changes the calculus there.
virginia is sort of demographically made for president obama. he's -- african-americans turn out at a higher proportion than they do normally in virginia when president obama's on the ballot. that's the assumption again. that's been what happened four years ago. if it happens again, you take one point away from the republicans and that's what goode would do, you make the wing number 49. then what we just showed you, that 49 is everything. and by the way, there's a third-party aspect that could impact three states in particular -- virginia's one with goode. i think gary johnson, the libertarian could become a problem for romney in colorado and nevada. and don't forget the "none of the above" category in nevada. but i think those three states in particular is where if you're the romney folks, you're not happy about the third party. any vote that's not for obama, should be a vote for romney. but if it goes somewhere else, it only helps the president because the president's base is a little more solid.
>> chuck, the poll shows a double-digit lead for the president on foreign policy in all three states. was this poll timed in a way that it would capture what we've seen develop on the foreign policy front this week? >> not yet. it was sunday through tuesday. you'd have one part of tuesday. but none of that was really taken into effect. i would hold off on making any judgments. and i would remind folks, sunday through tuesday, this is the heart of the obama bounce that he got from his convention, that we've seen matched in some of these national polls. the question is, is it going to sustain? we have a new national poll that will come out next week. i think we'll get a better idea both of the impact on this foreign policy situation and whether this national security crisis is having an impact on either romney or the president. >> chuck todd, thanks for staying up late for us tonight. >> you got it, buddy. even the latest poll from fox news has president obama leading. so how did bill o'reilly try to explain that result away?
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voters from casting a ballot is illegal. the naacp's ben jealous was at today's supreme court hearing. he'll join me later. and in the "rewrite" tonight, how fox news' biggest star presented a fox news poll showing president obama with a lead over mitt romney. you've got to see how o'reilly handled this. that's coming up. up. a short word that's a tall order. up your game. up the ante. and if you stumble, you get back up. up isn't easy, and we ought to know. we're in the business of up. everyday delta flies a quarter of million people
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and before you reduce or stop cymbaa.lt dizziness or fainting may occur upon standing. ask your doctor about cymbalta. imagine you with less pain. cymbalta can help. go to cymbalta.com to learn about a free trial offer. it's great to be here. great to be back. i miss him. >> did more people want you to come to the district now that -- >> you missed this place? >> i do, i do. >> do you miss us? >> is that a trick question? no. a lot of good memories here. >> in the spotlight tonight, good news for the economy, which of course means bad news for the romney/ryan ticket.
on the day that paul ryan returned to capitol hill. in just 54 days, congressman ryan will return to his quiet life as a rabble-rousing republican congressman who never gets any of his bills signed into law. today on his way to becoming the next losing vice presidential candidate who will never be president, he returned to congress where he learned that the federal reverse chairman ben bernanke is starting a new stimulus program in which the fed will buy bonds to stimulate the economy. that was political bad news for romney/ryan but good news for the rest of the country and especially welcome news for the stock market. today, the dow soared to close above 13,500, its highest close since the start of the recession five years ago. obviously its highest close of the obama presidency. mitt romney who gets richer every day that the stock market
goes up was not happy to see the stock market rally today on president obama's watch. >> what bernanke's doing is saying that what the president's saying is wrong. the president's saying the economy is making progress, coming back. bernanke's saying, no, it's not, we have to print more money. >> you wouldn't reappoint him if you won? >> i'd like to pick someone that i selected. >> joining me now, karen finney, former dnc communications director and msnbc contributor. and keith boykin, a democratic strategist and cnbc contributor. turns out ben bernanke's days are numbered. that's it. if he's going to help stimulate the economy, then i'm afraid president romney would have to just get rid of him. >> and it was governor perry who said it would be treason if he printed more money between now and november. don't you love how bernanke would do anything to help the
economy, help the stock market, help, i don't know, working people, is clearly an attempt to help obama? it can't possibly be for any other reason like, i don't know, bringing stability, let's say, or predictability to our markets. >> let's listen to how chuck schumer welcomed paul ryan back to capitol hill today. >> it's nice to see paul ryan back here in congress. it will be even nicer to see him back here as a full-time member in january. now, there have been a lot of controversy about mr. ryan and some of the things he says and what he states. the least credible claim of all about congressman ryan is the idea that he's a serious deficit hawk and that his budget is a serious attempt at deficit reduction. he's not and it's not. the paul ryan budget is about ideology --
>> keith boykin, paul ryan's the big star with the republicans on capitol hill today. but if chuck schumer's right and he comes back in january as just another member of the house of representatives, it's going to be a very different welcome for him then. >> yeah. i don't think he's going to be too welcome in january when he comes back. here's a guy who's basically running against congress even though he's been in congress for virtually his entire life either as a staffer or as a member of congress. and chuck schumer's right, his budget does not balance. it doesn't do anything except to cut programs for the poor and the middle class and the needy and give more to the wealthy. it's reaganomicc again on steroids. the republicans are actually in the position now of rooting against the economy. they're basically trying to sabotage the economy. they don't want monetary help, don't want the fed to do anything. they don't like ben bernanke.
they don't want to do anything to try to inject new money into the economy. and they don't want to do it with a housing policy. they're trying to get the head of the federal housing and finance agency, to prevent him from spending money or using resources to try to prop up the housing market. they don't want to provide relief to homeowners. they don't want to provide help to anybody who's in need. >> karen, in other paul ryan news today, we discovered that -- thanks to "the daily beast," they reported that the vice presidential candidate finalists in the romney vetting operation had to hand over ten years of tax returns. so paul ryan handed over ten years of tax returns to mitt romney. let's watch how he handled that question with bob schieffer. >> how many years of tax returns did you turn over to the campaign?
>> well, it was very exhaustive vetting process. it's a confidential vetting process. several years. but i'm going to release the same amount of years that governor romney has. but i have to tell you, bob -- >> how many was that? >> two. i'm going to be releasing two, which is what he's releasing. >> karen, ten years -- >> two, ten? >> you have to give mitt romney ten to prove he could be vice president. it seems reasonable that mitt would have to give at least ten to prove he should be president. >> no, lawrence, you should just trust mitt romney. come on. >> oh, okay. >> he's proven himself. i have to tell you, though, when i saw the report, i thought of you and i have to retract on your show when he first picked paul ryan, i thought this would help launch paul ryan's career. but i have to say i now agree with you. look at how uncomfortable paul ryan was there and compare that also to just the way he's had to contort himself to try to fit into the romneyesque, we're not giving any details way of doing things.
this is a guy who is the vp nominee who will never be president himself, you're right. he's just completely destroyed his reputation. >> and, keith, if the romney/ryan ticket loses as the polls indicate that it will, one of the big reasons is going to be paul ryan and the policies advanced by paul ryan in the republican house of representatives, policies that he forced them all to vote on and commit to at various points in time. what are the chances that republicans will realize how much of a problem paul ryan created for them in the last couple of years? >> i don't think it's very likely. i think the republicans seem to be in denial about what's going on. they marched into a herd to support the ryan plan. and even though newt gingrich called it right wing social engineering, they didn't seem to be concerned about it. when they lost the race in new york, the 26th congressional
district because of the medicare issue and paul ryan, they didn't seem to be concerned about that. when they lose the presidential election, maybe they'll finally start to realize their policies are being repudiated by the american people. the public doesn't want this. and i hope that they finally get it. but maybe for the democrats, it's a good thing that they don't. >> and let's not forget that paul ryan does have a democratic opponent running for his house seat. and so there's a possibility that he might not be back at all. karen finney and keith boykin, thank you both for joining me tonight. >> thanks, lawrence. what happens on fox news when its own poll shows president obama beating mitt romney? it gets very strange. you'll see it next in the "rewrite." and later, ben jealous, president of the naacp, joins me to talk about republican voter suppression efforts and what happened today when the pennsylvania supreme court heard arguments about that state's voter id law.
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fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. the supreme court of pennsylvania will decide if republicans will get away with their plan to prevent almost 1 million people from voting in order to help mitt romney win that state. that's coming up later with ben jealous and joy reid joining me. and next in the "rewrite," how bill o'reilly handles a fox news poll that shows president obama beating mitt romney. [ male announcer ] this is rudy. his morning starts with arthritis pain. and two pills. afternoon's overhaul starts with more pain. more pills. triple checking hydraulics. the evening brings more pain. so, back to more pills. almost done, when... hang on. stan's doctor recommended aleve. it can keep pain away all day with fewer pills than tylenol. this is rudy. who switched to aleve. and two pills for a day free of pain. ♪
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i have never seen this intense an effort by the democrat machine, including the pollsters. we know these polls are all conducted by people who want obama reelected, who want the obama agenda. the polls now are just being used as another tool of voter suppression. the polls are an attempt to -- not reflect public opinion but to shape it. yours. i want to depress the heck out of you. >> yes, i know, i've shown you that video before. but we had to show to it yoi you again tonight because as reported here last night, fox news produced a poll yesterday that showed president obama with a five-point lead among likely voters. and we were kind of curious how the romney cheerleaders at fox news were going to greet their own poll. they couldn't possibly accuse
the fox news poll of being the rigged creation of pro-obama pollsters who want to suppress the republican vote like rush says. now, as you've seen here tonight, when a news organization has a new poll, that news organization treats that poll as a big deal for a couple of reasons. the biggest reason is it is news. and it is treated as news by every news organization. we treat cnn polls as news. we report on abc news polls, cbs news polls, "new york times" polls. in a political campaign, polls are news. the second reason that news organizations treat their own polls as news is that they get to report on their own polls first. we get to break the news about our own nbc poll. and so when fox news released a highly newsworthy poll yesterday, how was it treated on
the most important show on fox news, the show with the biggest audience on the network? it was mentioned exactly once in one question 27 minutes into that show. >> how do you account for the discrepancy between the rasmussen poll which has it at a dead heat and the fox news poll which has the president out by six points? >> i can't account for those two differences because there are so many factor that is go into it. my general comment about these polls is that they understate the romney vote and overstate the obama vote because they are using a 2008 model of turnout. in other words, you make the phone calls, you get too few blacks, too few lat noes, too few college students because they don't answer their phones. you have to weight them up. you weight them up to, what, 13%, which is what rasmussen does. those are the kinds of
distinctions distinctions. they're using the highest, most pro-obama turnout model. >> are you still confident mitt romney is going to win the election? >> absolutely, by a good bit. >> all right. dick marse, everybody. >> that's how fox news' biggest to be stupid enough to do that himself but he knows there will always be a fox news player ready to go to say whatever the fox news audience wants to hear,
no matter how preposterous it could possibly be. a few months ago, bill o'reilly said this to his favorite fox news stooge -- >> do you realize if president obama wins, you're through? >> i'm through. >> you're going to be selling refrigerators in topeka. >> president obama is going to win. but dick morse ris is not going to topeka. he will continue to cash his fox news paycheck and continue to predict republicans victories no matter what the polls say. even the fox news polls. i i had pain in my abdomen...g. it just wouldn't go away. i was spotting, but i had already gone through menopause. these symptoms may be nothing... but they could be early warning signs of a gynecologic cancer,
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a voter id law that could make pennsylvania the largest swing state with new voter restrictions is now in the hands of the supreme court of that state. there was standing room only today as the court heard arguments on the law that could affect up to 750,000 voters in pennsylvania. >> the act does not anywhere guarantee that if you're a qualified elector, you will be able to get the id necessary to vote. >> the right to vote at its core obviously is a fundamental right. but not everything that affects that right is fundamental. and the reason for that is that unlike, say, freedom of speech or freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to vote and having elections in their nature cannot exist without pervasive state regulation.
>> people gathered inside and outside of the courthouse to protest against the law, including a rally held by the naacp. joining me now, the leader of that rally, ben jealous, president and ceo of the naacp, and msnbc's joy reid. ben, you were in the courtroom today. what was your sense of how the arguments were received by the court? >> i think we can be cautiously optimistic that this will go the right way. we've turned the tide in states across this country. we've seen good decisions in wisconsin and texas and florida. we've seen republican governors in places like michigan veto very similar bills. what you saw with the chief justice of the supreme court of pennsylvania today who's a republican and it's a court that's split 3-3, democrats and republicans, was that he seemed to not be satisfied with the state's arguments and to be somewhat hostile in his
questioning of the state. and he has broken with his party before. and so i think there's reason to be cautiously hopeful that he might do it in this case. >> it was a rather -- just that point we just heard was a rather tortured point that he made about, yes, you know the right to vote is a fundamental right but things surrounding that are not fundamental rights. >> well, and the state was like that again and again. i think what they can't really get around is that we could be headed towards a constitutional crisis in their state. florida in 2000, pennsylvania in 2012. and that's the real fear here. what it came down to today, a lot of the argument was that this is being done too fast and they don't have the capacity to do it well. georgia put a law like this in place. they took years to put in it place. and in pennsylvania, they have potentially 800,000 voters.
the d.o.t. says they are expecting to process like 10,000 ids. the maximum they could do about 60,000 in this period. so that's hundreds of thousands of people that they have no capacity to get an id, even if all of them showed up tomorrow. >> joy reid, you have to wonder what the urgency is about here when you consider this stipulation -- this is an agreement between both sides that was filed with the court. it says, there have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in pennsylvania, and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states. >> yeah, and, lawrence, that is exactly the question that was asked by each of the three democratic justices in the court arguments today. what is the rush? and there was even some thinking that possibly a compromised position that could be reached by this court would be to delay the implementation of the law, even if it's not overturned because indeed the only rush you could conceive of is that
there's a political and a partisan sort of motivation to get this done before this particular election. and ben jealous hit the exact point. to this date, they've only been able to come up with 6,000 of these ids and get people registered when there could be 500,000 people who need to be registered. what is the rush? the rush is that there's a partisan sort of imperative here on the part of one of the parties because they haven't shown that there's actual voter fraud. if i could just say really quickly, we're talking about pennsylvania here, which is the largest, most populous state in the union that has not enacted one of the four pillars of easy voting, meaning easy vote, same-day registration, online registration and no excuses abbott absentee balloting. pennsylvania is one of the most restricted voting states in the country and now they've added this. >> and let's be clear. you don't have to guess at what the motive is. the gop's leader in the state has come out and said