tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC February 11, 2014 11:00pm-12:01am PST
good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let's start tonight with this report out of new jersey that says the christie administration will keep the governor's staff from testifying before legislative committees. does this mean governor christie is claiming some sort of executive privilege, that he is asserting the right to have his staff refuse to testify before committees, even those digging into the scandal involving the deliberate jamming up of traffic on the george washington bridge? while a spokesman for christie denies this is his claim, would this be christie's ultimate move to protect himself, by claiming his right to keep his top staff people, especially his chief of staff and counsel from answering questions from the democrats investigating him in trenton, to resort to richard nixon's defense that even in a case involving possible criminal charges that the papers and communications of top government officials are beyond the reach of the law. well, tonight we look at chris christie's latest gambit. his administration's declaration of independence from those in trenton, even those investigating the infamous bridge scandal. new jersey state senator robert gordon is the democrat who chairs the oversight committee. and bob ingle is a reporter for "the asbury park press" and the co-author of "chris christie: the inside story of his rise to power." a remarkable story hit the new jersey press today, a local news outlet called nj spotlight ran this report. the christie administration informed senator robert gordon, chairman of the senate legislative oversight committee that it is christie administration policy that no
members of the governor's office are allowed to appear before legislative committees. well, in this particular case, it was christie's office stonewalling the state's legislative oversight committee which wanted access to hurricane sandy officials inside the governor's office. but what this means for the state's super committee, which is leading the investigation into the bridge scandal itself is the much bigger question. we reached out to christie's office today and got a response from colin reed, the governor's spokesman who said, in part, quote, it doesn't exist. it would be inaccurate to say this policy exists. so we're getting crossed signals here. let's go to senator gordon. this is strange. we're getting in our reporting you have a very clear declaration from the administration in trenton saying they're not going to let staff people testify before your committee. and now we're hearing from the spokesman for the governor, oh, no, there is no such policy. how do we put that together? >> well, chris, i don't know about a policy.
i was told clearly through my staff that no one from the governor's office would be available to testify on the sandy restoration program, which we were investigating today. i should say weer told that a cabinet member would be available. >> right. >> but no one from the governor's office, particularly the person we wanted, who is the czar of the sandy recovery program. >> well, according to the article that came out today in nj spotlight, it says the christie administration policy is that no members of the governor's office are allowed to appear. is that what they told you? your staff people? >> i didn't hear the word policy. i was just told no one would be permitted from the governor's office to testify. i can tell you -- >> permitted, okay. >> -- in the corzine administration, members of the governor's office did testify before legislative committees. >> so there is no precedent for this kind of executive privilege, if you will, denying your -- i mean, you're the
oversight body. in any government, you're the legislature. you're supposed to do oversight. that's how democracy works. >> right. >> how can it work if the legislators who are elected by the people can't oversee the works of the executive branch which is the way our governments perform in this republic. >> this is all about checks and balances. >> yes. >> we're exercising our constitutional obligation to provide oversight over the executive branch, which in the case of the sandy recovery money for the people who have experienced losses to their homes, this program appears to be a major screw-up. >> well, let me go to bob ingle, we've had him on before, to get the culture here. you have written about this. is this another bully exercise where the governor's people, the governor perhaps overseeing this, i bet he damn well knew this happened. a report comes out today, they're not going to let anybody testify from the governor's office before the legislature. well, certainly that would preclude any kind of performance under oath from mr. o'dowd, his chief of staff or mr. mckenna, his counsel.
the only two people, according to christie he even talks to. so he would be protected then. everybody else takes the fifth. his top two people take executive privilege. what a sweet deal that would be for keeping the truth away from the public. >> my first thought was is this another one of those memos that went out without the governor knowing about it, or is this something that he was actually in on. it sounds like they just don't have their act together. the wheels are coming off this communications effort. my guess is, just based on my reporting experience over the years, every chief executive would like to have some kind of immunity for the people around him. but we live in a democracy. we have three arms of government to keep an eye on each other. and what happens when the legislature wants to ask somebody from the executive. i guess you go to the third and ask the courts to decide. >> well, let me just go to real political reality here. senator, we've had all day with
this report in hand. the christie people know it's been in hand. you know it's been in hand. this statement by nj spotlight that they're not going to let any staff people testify for the governor's office before your legislative committee, which is looking into sandy money and things like that. if that's been sitting out there all day today from what i understand, and not once has anybody apparently called your office and said, no, no that's not true. we're going to let our people testify. as anybody called you and said there is no policy stopping us from doing this? we're going to let you have our witnesses come out of the governor's office. heard that today? >> have i not heard that today. >> well, does that tell you something? >> but there is no such policy. and if there staff can testify, we would welcome hearing from marc ferzan to learn about how this recovery program failed to provide funding to the people who deserved the money. >> how do you find out? when are you going to find out whether you can get witnesses coming from the governor's office, whether there is really an executive privilege being
claimed here? when does the clock run out? you found out this morning they're not going to do it. we all found out. when did you get the word through your staff that they were not going to give you any witnesses from their office, from the governor's office? >> well, the hearing was at 10:00 this morning. i heard late yesterday afternoon that no one from the governor's office would be coming. we did hear that the commissioner of community affairs would make himself available at a date that worked for him. he is a -- he had a tough schedule today. and i spoke with him, and we are going to work out the scheduling so that he can testify. and i would say that he probably knows more about this problem than the folks in the governor's office. so i'm confident we're going to get the information we need. >> but you're not going to get it from the governor's staff people? >> probably not. not unless we decide to exercise additional powers. >> let me go back to bob ingle. here is the problem.
it seems to me we've seen this before. you know how politicians say i'm totally responsible, but i'm not guilty. mistakes were made, all that blah blah blah, both parties do this left and right as a way of sort of skirting away from responsibility, but somehow seeming noble. in this case, i want to show -- i want to watch this for our memory here. january 9th or january 14th in his state of the state where christie again said i'm going to cooperate with everybody here in getting all the information. then we're getting this first seed of information here last night. oh, yeah, i'm going to help. but by the way, don't count on any of my staff people coming over to the legislature to testify on anything. let's watch. >> i'm the governor. and i'm ultimately responsible for all that happens on my watch both good and bad. and without a doubt we will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries to ensure that this breach of trust does not happen again. >> so does the governor decide, bob, which are the appropriate inquiries affecting his
administration? does he go, well, this is inappropriate, so i'll get somebody over from the cabinet. but i didn't get anybody near me these days because they could ask about anything. once those people set foot up before the committees, all of the sudden senator jordan may not ask the question but they'll be asking about me and the bridge. go ahead. >> well, i think they should take him up on it. instead of making a phone call over there, i think they should make it a formal invitation. tell him who they want to talk to, and let's find out what they say back formally. and then we'll go from there. >> how do we find out, senator, gordon, how much veracity. i sensed that she was telling the truth. but i'm not a lie detector. i watched the mayor of hoboken, ms. zimmer, dawn zimmer. she seemed to be very fluent on what went on between her and guadagno, the lieutenant governor. about them holding her up and saying if you don't support this real estate deal on the waterfront, you're not getting any help from us on funding. you're investigating sandy funding.
this something you would like to know whether it was a strong-arm tactic used down there in hoboken by the lieutenant governor on behalf of the governor? >> chris, i have seen no evidence of any kind of strong-arm tactics or politics. i think this was just managerial incompetence. >> wait a minute. the charge for the mayor issue is caught on a parking lot on shoprite and told on the parking lot it shouldn't be this way, but the governor wants you to know that he is saying if you don't support this real estate deal, forget the money. you're not getting it. that's not about managerial incompetence. that's a charge to me of extortion. what do you take it as? it's not managerial incompetence. >> the situation with the sandy recovery money that we're investigating. >> what do you think? you're looking at the money end of this thing. are you curious what went down in hoboken that afternoon in that parking lot, or not? aren't you curious than? >> i think every new jerseyian is interested in knowing what happened. know one would approve of strong-arm tactics like that.
we just want to rebuild our towns and cities. >> is this the behavior you would expect of christie or not? >> well, this is an administration that plays, as been known to play "hardball." i've had some personal experiences with it myself. >> anything like this? where they say you don't play ball with us on this, you're not going to get something you would normally get? anything like that? >> well, you know, chris, i'm not sure how much we would get done if elected officials did not use the levers of power. lyndon johnson wouldn't have gotten the civil rights act through congress unless he threatened some southern senators with withholding federal money. but when you do things like shut down lanes on a bridge that put people at risk, that's something totally different. and you've crossed the line with that. >> well, what about going to a mayor and saying if you don't back my buddies and all the people that work for me that are now lawyers for this operation, this rockefeller institute deal, if you don't back this real
estate deal, which is a privately funded money making operation, if you don't do this, because i want it done because of my pals, you're not going to get the money you normally should get from the government, that to you a strong arm or simply "hardball"? is that fair game? >> that is strong arm. i mean, i was a mayor. and if someone had threatened me with that, i would have told them to go jump in the passaic river. >> well, that's what i think would be a nice thing to do. thank you robert gordon for coming on the show and bob ingle about your wisdom about the way things work up there. coming up, bully pulpit. it seems to be the christie administration's m.o., say something critical, ask the wrong question or write a negative story and they go at you personally. the latest target, a conservative favorite, "the new york times." plus, the health care law has come a long way since the days of the botched roll-out. but that's not stopping republicans from keeping the heat and the hatred going all the way through the 2014 election.
guess what? no matter how truthful or untruthful what they're saying. and a family is supposed to be offlimits in politics, but then there is ted cruz's father, rafael. his obama hatred is even more extreme than the senator's own. and ted cruz's senate campaign has been paying the old man's expenses. finally, when marco rubio was asked whether he had ever smoked pot, he didn't say yes, but he never inhaled, not exactly, but almost. who cares? anyway, this is "hardball," the ? wake it up with olay regenerist. formulated with a skin energizing complex, it penetrates 10 layers of the skin's surface. because energized skin is younger looking skin. ♪ [poof!] [beep]
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welcome back to "hardball." the christie administration's strong arm tactics extend beyond executive privilege. if you write or say something that offends the christie administration, the pushback is swift and often in the form of a publicized memo. well, today's target, kate zernike of "the new york times" for comments she made on "morning joe." a few minutes after noon eastern today, an e-mail with the subject line "setting the record straight again on the new york times" landed in inboxes, like the pushback on david wildstein, with bullet points going all the way back to high school. well, this one came from the governor's communications office. the e-mail calls the comments myths. and among other things, takes issue with her characterization of moves by christie's attorneys as threatening. kate zernike of "the new york times" and the subject of that christie e-mail blast is here with us now. and we're also joined by "new
york" magazine's john heilemann, the co-author of "double down" and an msnbc political analyst. kate, thank you for joining us. i recognize sort of the rubric here of generalized pushiness and strong arm tactics. maybe i'm willing to believe what christie is really doing here and the flak surrounding him is to try to focus on something besides scandal. everybody is out to get me. everybody is out of step but johnny, or in this case, chris, the governor. you know, i think it's always smart politics to start a fight. george sr., president started a fight with dan rather. you know, i think these kind of things are sort of interesting sparring matches. your thoughts and experiences in trying to cover a tricky story which keeps growing. >> well, i think, chris, we've seen this before. the governor first tried to attack msnbc when the story about hoboken and the sandy aid. then they went after dawn zimmer, and then after david wildstein and the governor said
his staff had sent out the memo. "the new york times" is not the story. the story is why did the christie aides order the lane closings on the george washington bridge and then engage in what appears to be a cover-up to try to make it look like a traffic study. who knew what when. that's not a story about the "new york times" or anybody else. >> john heilemann, in terms of m.o. here, if this is all the way it seems, which is pushback or whatever the term is, i call it riding the ref, like in a football or basketball game. guys who get the courtside seats and yell at the ref all the through the game, hope thanksgiving can reduce the number of fouls on their team and get a couple on the other side. whatever their game is, it's obnoxious, but it's done in flackery. that's what flakes do. your thoughts. >> well, it is. i think there is something more specific going on. i agree with kate that the story
shouldn't be "the new york times." but it's what the christie administration would like it to be there is no -- it's hard for people who watch this network and for most people in america to understand the extent to which "the new york times" is the bete noire of the right. they are hated among republican grassroots voters. it symbolizes everything that is wrong with the liberal media environment. >> they hate all local press? >> no, they don't hate all local press, chris. this is the national liberal establishment and the view of republican regulars. so you've seen republican administrations going back 10, 20, 30, 40 years, pointing at "the new york times" when they are desperate, and trying to change the story, change the subject. and chris christie right now, beyond all the myriad political and legal problems he has, he has a problem within the republican party which is he doesn't have that many supporters on the right among his own people. and one of the ways in which he is trying to rally the right to his cause is to make this story about someone they all despise, which is in this case, earlier it was msnbc.
now in this case it's "the new york times." and they think they have at least some kind of an advantage in trying to wage that war. >> well, let me go back to kate. i don't know you, kate. i've seen your record and how many big stories you have covered. you have covered maybe bigger stories than a bridge closing. but what is interesting about this is the hard work and my colleague rachel maddow has pointed this out. other people pointed out, the hard work that has been done by local reporters up there who don't make a lot of money, who don't get their name on television, who are not showboaters, are hard workers, they're workhorses. they went out there and dug up the story from the beginning starting with the managing editor of the bergen paper, the publisher which is unusual. he had something to do with getting this story going. and then the executive editor and then the reporter on the beat who covers traffic. and then it's going into the bigger papers. and it seems to me this is a story that is going to be decided by the evidence like watergate was, not by the yelling on both sides or the pr, and not by the flackery. it's going to be decided as evidence grows or doesn't, that the governor was involved.
>> right. that's absolutely true. and we have several investigations going on right now. we have the u.s. attorney's investigation. we have a legislative investigation, and theoretically, the governor's office is doing an investigation too. the governor's office has said it will investigate, it will do an internal investigation of who in their office knew what, and how this ended up happening and how they can prevent it from happening again. >> do you see any reporting that has been done on the progress of the governor's investigation? you know, nixon hired -- i think he had john dean to investigate watergate. i'm a bit of a skeptic about internal investigations. are you? >> well, you know -- >> internal investigations like o.j. says i'm looking for the real killer, you know. i shouldn't be making jokes about things. you hear so many people who have obvious reasons for saying things, and oh, we're really trying hard to get to the bottom of this. what is the first tidbit of information we've gotten from the governor that wasn't already published in one of your papers? nothing. it's called rolling disclosure. >> he has hired randy mastro, and we know very little about
what is going on. he was hired to do an internal investigation at the governor's office. but what we have seen is he is seeking e-mails between the new york times and hoboken officials about the story there. we know he has sought to interview dawn zimmer, the mayor of hoboken and sought to find out what kind of documents she is turning over. what we know publicly about this investigation is they're looking at other people who have made accusations against the governor and trying to suss out what they have. >> are they trying to find out who leaked? >> i don't know about that. i mean, they may be trying to figure out in those e-mails between "the new york times" and the hoboken administration who, you know -- obviously, what kind of communications were going on. i don't know the answer to that. >> what is mayor zimmer's feeling about being told she wants to -- the lawyers, these big-time lawyers for the governor want to talk to her? is her reaction they want to strong arm her, they want to intimidate her? or is her reaction they just want to get some discovery here, it's normal procedure. how does she read it?
>> no. she is not responding. but her lawyer, who is a very seasoned new jersey lawyer has responded and said this is not -- it said essentially this feels like an attempt to strong arm and we're not going to fall prey to it. we're involved in other investigations. >> john heilemann, one minute here, i have to take some time. you had some very informative storytelling, a fact of discovery here about how governor christie behaved when he pulled mitt romney, who is running for president into a back room at drumthwacket and said buddy, you're not taking a nickel out of this state until i say so. coming out of the meeting you guys in reporting had a feeling like this is a "the sopranos" moment, this is muscle. i've never heard of a politician, a governor, senator, whatever, whether they live in new york, new jersey, california, puerto rico or anywhere elsewhere money is raised, texas, you can't touch this state unless i give you the okay or else you're dead. what did you make of that story?
you broke it. >> it was certainly a very vivid story and a story that really struck people from governor romney down in his organization as kind of an extraordinary thing. they were shocked by christie's behavior. >> did they think it was mob behavior? >> they felt it was like there were those who made "the sopranos" parallel in our reporting when you talked to people around governor romney. what was extraordinary about it from their perspective is governor romney had run for president in 2008. he had raised tons of money in new jersey. it's one of the biggest republican or any other donor states outside of places like new york and california. so governor romney had a bunch of donors in new jersey who had tapped in 2008, and now governor christie was saying you can't even go back to your old friends, to people who gave money to you last time until i say that it's okay. they thought that was pretty bold and pretty brash on governor christie's part. and i can tell you now they point to that story, that when you talk to these people now
that. >> point back to that story and say it was -- it kind of foreshadowed some of the style that we've seen from chris christie in some of these stories we've seen more recently. >> as well as the jukebox in your diner or you're not going to be around next week. thank you, kate zernike and putting the story on on where it belongs on the story. john heilemann, great reporting in that book, "double down." up next, marco rubio's creative dodge when he is asked if he ever smoked pot. this isn't the biggest story in the world, but it is interesting. this is "hardball," the place
>> earlier this week joe biden was asked if he was planning to run for president, and he had this to say. >> there may be reasons i don't run, but there is no obvious reason for me why i think i should not run. >> well, that statement set the tone for biden's first presidential campaign ad, which was released online just a few hours ago. check it out. >> joe biden has served this country for over 40 years. so when he says he is not uninterested in seeking the presidency, it shouldn't be a no-brainer to refuse to disbelieve him. biden won't just not undermine the economy, he will oppose reversing all efforts to negate unemployment. joe biden. no compelling reason not to vote for the opposite of his opponent. >> i guess you could say that was -- well, it wasn't unamusing. next up, the genie is out of the bottle when it comes to pot and politicians these days. the issue has been more or less moot since bill clinton notoriously said he didn't
inhale way back in '92. senator marco rubio became the latest politician to confront that famous question now that florida is considering a referendum on medical marijuana. and while his answer seems reasonable and well thought out, it is still a dodge. here he was at a q&a at an event yesterday in miami. >> young voters have asked me and they're curious to know, have you ever smoked marijuana? >> you know why i never answer that question? i'll tell you why i never answer that question. if i tell you i haven't, you won't believe me. if i tell you i did, kids will look up to me and say i can smoke, because look how he made it. he did all right. i can do it too. >> pretty smart but it wasn't an answer. the republicans are hoping to keep up the heat and the hatred on health care, all the way to a senate majority next november. anyway, you're watching "hardball," the place for
politics. i'm milissa rehberger. here is what is happening. snow is coming down across parts of the southeastern u.s. as a powerful winter storm is barreling through that region. it is expected to be much worse than the storm that crippled atlanta just two weeks ago. forecasters say ice and widespread power outages are a major concern for parts of georgia and the carolinas. and president obama and his first lady are hosting a state welcome back to "hardball." republicans like their chances of winning control of the u.s. senate in this year's midterm elections. and just as in 2010, they have a one-trick pony to ride their way to the majority, health care. republicans want to use health
care to sow the seeds of distrust against all democrats. according to the hill newspaper, republicans want to convince voters that vulnerable democrats are liars. they also want to make every senator into the 60th vote that helped pass health care reform in 2010, and make every democrat personally liable for health care failures. well, the goal according to the hill newspaper is to erode voters' trust in respected members, not just hit them on the law's problems. eugene robinson is a pulitzer prize winning columnist with "the washington post," of course. and msnbc political analyst. and sam stein is senior politics editor for "the huffington post" and an msnbc contributor. gentlemen, i want to talk about the phenomenon that is going on. not the old story we're used to of the problems with obama, roll-out and this stuff that goes out in anything, especially government programs. but this sort of festers heat. they keep fanning the flames of hatred, the ideological fury, you must hate obama because you hate obama care. you must hate all democrats because his promises weren't fill filled. >> yeah. well, they think they've got something there, right?
they think they've got something that works, that works to destroy trust in president obama and democrats who supported the health care law. and so they're going to push it. they're going to continue pushing it as hard as they can, regardless of what actually happens with the law that becomes kind of irrelevant. it is just the narrative that they want to push, they're going to continue to push. >> it reminds me in a weird way, and nothing is ever the same, but it seems like the early cold war when there really was a soviet threat out there in the world and in eastern europe and around the world. everything was a cold war issue. >> yeah. >> the republicans let nothing be talked about. >> anything else, jobs, unemployment, education, health care, forget all that the cold war and you're the wrong side. and it seems like it's a character issue, you know. >> yeah. >> helen douglas, you're in bed with those people. you know, you're pink right down to your underwear.
in this case, every single democrat has a character flaw. >> sure. >> because they voted for health care. and therefore they're part of the big lie or whatever. it's pretty rough stuff out there. your thoughts. >> you picked up on a funny trend too, which is every one of these senators casts the deciding vote, that it all hinged on so and so from alaska, even though if you followed the debate it was pretty clear who the deciding votes were. i think you're absolutely right in your analysis. you can see it today on the vote on the debt ceiling, for instance. house republicans, the republicans in general don't want to talk about anything else. they don't want to make a fuss about things they traditionally made a fuss about because they put all their chips on the obama care wagon. and they assume it's going to go to their benefit in the next election. the only thing i would say, this is different than 2010. in 2010 it was an amorphous legislation they could run against. no one was truly familiar with the product. none of the benefits had accrued. in 2014, yes, there was an incredibly rocky roll-out. it was incredibly mismanaged there is a political downside for the white house.
>> can we skip ahead here to something. i want to make your point for you with the numbers. you say it's not the same. we know that health care is not favorable. unfavorable for 50 and favorable is only 34. but when you say should we get rid of the program. >> of course. >> it is so fascinating, only 38% of the country want to repeal it. it is so fascinating. i want you to pick up and then gene to pick up. you're laughing because if they really hate so it much, dump it. trash can it. move on the something else. but they don't want to do that. what do you think that differential is? >> there is a broad recognition that the system prior to obama care was a huge disaster. that's one. two, you're starting to see some of the benefits accrue, people who can keep their kids on their parents' plans until 26. the ending of the discrimination of people with preexisting conditions. the fact that millions of people are actually getting coverage. those are all benefits that people recognize and they don't want to take away. now if you were to reverse the health care law, you would actually be taking away insurance from people who never got it before and got it for the
first time. where as in 2012, 2010, that wasn't the case really. people hadn't gotten those benefits. so it's a totally different dynamic. i still think it's a liability in some respects for the president, but it's not like 2010. >> this is something that has been sort of customized for every democrat. we're watching ads. according to kantor media, the americans for prosperity funded by the koch brothers says it has spent $27 million over the past six months attacking the affordable care act and vulnerable senate democrats. here is a sample of the ads they're rung. they customize it to whoever they hate that week or in that locale. >> kay hagan told fuss you like your insurance plan and your doctors, you can keep them. that just wasn't true. >> those individuals who like the coverage they already have will be able to keep their current plan. this is a very accurate description of this bill. >> but now louisianans are finding out they lied. >> basically, you said what the president said. any regrets?
>> no, wolf, whatsoever. >> you can keep your insurance if you like it. >> tell senator shaheen it's time to be honest. obama care doesn't work. new hampshire families deserve better. >> who is that forbidding voice? it's always like black and white pictures. newspaper headlines. and then there is this forbidding, grim voice. >> yeah. >> like the devil talking. >> i'm thinking of going into that, a second career. >> voiceovers. >> right. but, you know, that's very smart on their part, because if you -- if you argue on the merits of the legislation and what it's actually doing, it's letting you keep your kids on your policy until they're 26, people like that. it's borrowing people from being denied because of preexisting conditions. they like that. so make it the moral issue. make it -- >> character. >> did kay hagan lie? did mary landrieu lie? >> why is it necessary the
democrats can't just have made a mistake and had a bad week or got something wrong. why do they have to be evil? why is that important? >> well, because this is politics. >> okay. but character. anyway, thank you, gene robinson, thank you, sam stein. it ain't funny, but it is ridiculous. ted cruz saying his obama-hating father and birther father doesn't speak for him, except he is paying the bills for this guy to go around and say this stuff. this is "hardball," the place for politics. looks like another fault ma so that was our first task, was getting him to wellness. without angie's list, i don't know if we could have found all the services we needed for our riley. from contractors and doctors to dog sitters and landscapers, you can find it all on angie's list. we found riley at the shelter, and found everything he needed at angie's list. join today at angieslist.com
line is opening up in the republican party. rand paul's recent attacks on bill and hillary clinton aren't sitting well with the architect himself, karl rove. here is what rove said about paul on fox today. >> frankly, rand paul spending a lot of time talking about the mistakes of bill clinton does not look like a big agenda for the future of the country. i'm not certain again that beating up on bill clinton and monica lewinsky is a particularly good thing to strengthen your skills. >> well, for a long time now, i've thought rand paul is the one to watch on the republican side. he has gone on the attack early as he has tapped into the idea that people on the right are angry, and they want to see someone hit the other side hard, and that's what he is doing. that's just what he is doing with the clintons. and late today senator paul went on the attack against president obama. he is planning a lawsuit against the president, the director of national intelligence and the heads of the nsa and the fbi
we'll be back after this. we're back. rafael cruz, that's senator ted cruz's father has become a political celebrity of sorts to the far right thanks to his unfiltered comments about president obama. here he is back in 2012. >> we have our work cut out for us. we need to send barack obama back to chicago, back to kenya, back to indonesia. >> send him back to kenya. he has also called the president a marxist, looking to destroy all concept of god.
let's listen to that. >> we have to unmask this man. this is a man who seeks to destroy, destroy all concept of god. and i'll tell you what. this is classical marxist philosophy. karl marx very clearly said it. marxism requires that we destroy god because government must become god. >> well, the elder cruz right there regularly compares president obama to fidel castro, and he has said this administration, that's obama's, has put the country on the path to being a third world country. that's just the beginning, by the way, of a very long list of extreme statements from this fellow. when asked about some of them last october, a spokesman for ted cruz protested that they were taken out of context. but also said cruz sr. does not speak for the senator. well, the only problem there is that he does, and frequently. the associated press wrote this week, quote, in comments to the
associated press, ted cruz and his staff acknowledge rafael's place as an occasional political surrogate when asked about more than $16,000 in travel expenses his senate campaign paid the elder cruz in 2012 and through december of last year. well, the conservative national review last year described the elder cruz as a power broker in his son's office. quote, his son trusts his father's political instincts. and instead of hiring a big name republican strategist to shepherd his dissent, he uses his father for the kind of guidance you would expect from a consultant. in otherwise, rafael cruz, the guy slinging birther comments and accused of being a marxist is part of ted cruz's political team. wayne slater, and john feehery is a republican strategist. let me ask you. what is this guy's name? his name is the same name as his son. he is a cuban immigrant. fair enough. we like cubans. here is the question.
conflate the cuban experience with a larger anti-communist and subsequently anti-gay marriage, anti-obama, anti-democratic philosophy and politics and it works with the folks he talks to. >> the only time i've seen his son go full moon like that when he was on after hagel with the mccarthy crap. he's picking the guy's tab up when he travels for him. is he his surrogate or not?
>> absolutely he's a surrogate. he's a very charismatic speaker. he's someone who appeals strongly to the republican base, the conservative base. >> your base. >> well, the conservative base. especially -- >> okay. let's talk about the republican party. >> the ted cruz base. >> is the republican party include people who believe obama was born in kenya? a significant number of people who won't to hear that crap? >> i think there's a proportion. >> 5%, 10%? >> a number of folks. he has his personal story. ted cruz learns from it and is animated from it. rafael is a better speaker than his son. >> his father distorts the facts to attack president obama. take a look at this one. >> if you have heard him recite the pledge, he skips "under god." never says those two words. "under god." >> well, that might be a good applause line if it happened to be true, but it's totally false. all it takes is a quick google search to prove it's false. let's watch.
>> we pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america. and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. >> and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god. >> one nation under god, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. >> we have been and always will be one nation, under god, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. >> there you have it, proof he's never said "under god." who is this character? this guy, rafael cruz. he says something we can prove thanks to production and videotape is not -- i hate to say the word lie, but it is. >> he's taking the greatest hits from the internet and putting it into one stump speech. >> where did this come from? he must have gotten it from some school. i don't know where they learn this stuff. >> look, the key here is not
whether this is encumbered by facts or not. the key is that the audiences that rafael cruz is talking to believe every word of this. when rafael cruz says obamacare is currently constituted, does have the death panels, we should never have beat up on sarah palin, then the audience says yes. when he says obama is a marxist, they say yes. the key to ted cruz, he understands, although the birther marxist, anti-marxist element, and the republican party may be relatively small, it's a large constituency among those 60% of christian conservatives who vote in the iowa caucus and 50% of christian conservatives in south carolina. >> the two major parties are not equally crazy. thank you, wayne slater, and thank you, john feehery. anyway, we'll be right back
after this. let me finish tonight with a smash. the feelings and excitement of 50 years ago, when a college freshman, that would be me, witnessed the coming to this country, perhaps, the most welcomed group in american history. it helped that the beatles arrived a winter after kennedy was killed. it was a gloomy time. especially in massachusetts where i was a college freshman. that sunday night in the dark of february when the four young guys from england showed up on "ed sullivan show," everyone on our floor at holy cross gathered in the r.a.'s room to watch. here we were in an all-men's school watching young girls scream as the beatles sang "i
want to hold your hand" and "till there was you." this was the early beatles before they became important to those of us dealing with vietnam and the draft and generational struggle that was only fun if you were looking at it from the outside. fighting with your father, having him angry with you for going to anti-war rallies is no fun at all. the thing is, millions of us went through this. the new frontier morphed into the '60s, the beatles led the way and seven years they never stopped. there is simply no other group that's matched what this group did. consider the sheer numbers of their songs that live in our heads today. when i think of the '60s i think of the record shop in chapel hill that blared out "i'm a walrus" during my grad school years at the university of north carolina. i think of "hey jude" the song my peace corps outfit in swaziland. and "imagine," the haunting rebuke to all the reasons people invent for killing each other