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tv   The Last Word  MSNBC  November 23, 2011 1:00am-2:00am EST

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thing in the world today. that does it for us tonight. it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" recapping the foreign policy debate. have a great night. the republican debate just ended. now equal time for the truth. >> the republican candidates are facing off. >> the candidates get set to debate foreign policy. >> not exactly been their strong point so far. >> cover your ears. >> we'll be in danger for the rest of our lives. >> don't be willing to sacrifice liberty for security. >> who would be profiled? >> obviously muslims would be someone you'd look at. >> they want to kill all of us, so we should use every mean possible to kill them first. >> okay for muslim americans to get more intensive pat-downs? >> no, blitz, that's oversimplifying it. >> i agree with ron paul.
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>> terrorism is a tactic, it isn't a person, it isn't a people. >> we're fighting a war against radical islam. all the radical islamist leaders are saying is just wait america out. >> this is not time for america to cut and run. the commanders on the ground feel that we should bring down our surge troops by december of 2012. i stand with the commanders in this regard. >> people listen to the generals in 1967. we heard a certain course of action in southeast asia didn't serve our interest very well. they have america's best interest in mind, i would not send them one penny. >> i think that's highly naive. these are nuclear weapons all across this nation. and potentially al qaeda could get ahold of these weapons. >> libya. >> i would not have intervened. >> if you look at china, they >> um, you know, i would say, i don't know whether venezuela's getting any money or not. >> well, as president, you're supposed to know everything. no, you don't. >> i don't know, and i can't say
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i know that answer. >> no. that's a different one. >> russia, china, burma. >> ubeki, ubeki, ubeki, stan, stan. the latest republican presidential primary debate focused on national security just wrapped up in washington, d.c., tonight. the newt gingrich went into the debate leading the pack with 24%. mitt romney has 20%. herman cain went into the debate with 17%. rick perry 11%. in a cnn poll. everyone else is in single digits. there is even more good news inside that poll for newt gingrich. when asked who was most likely to understand complex issues, 43%, very overwhelming number for gingrich, said gingrich is more likely to understand complex issues.
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the next one down, 18% said romney. 12% of misguided republican voters thought cain has the ability to understand the complex issues the best. and 11% said ron paul. and when asked who is most qualified to be commander in chief, 36% gingrich. again, a commanding lead for gingrich on that question. only 20% said romney. 12% said perry. and a lost 10% said herman cain. in the politically most loaded exchange of the evening, newt gingrich and mitt romney sparred over the problem of illegal immigration. ç >> i'd staple a green card to the diploma of anybody who's got a degree of math, science, master's degree, ph.d. we want those brains in our country, but in order to bring people in legally, we've got to stop illegal immigration. that means turning off the magnets of amnesty, in-state tuition for illegal aliens, employers that knowingly hire
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people that have come here illegally. we welcome legal immigration. this is a party. this is a party that loves legal immigration. >> i don't see how the party that says it's the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century, and i'm prepared to take the heat for saying, let's be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship but finding a way to create legality so they're not separated from their family. >> joining me now are howard fineman, editorial director for the aol "huffington post" media group and msnbc analyst. and former chief of staff to congresswoman michele bachmann. ron carey, first of all, did you see anything in this debate tonight that would change the lineup as we now see it in the cnn poll? >> i don't believe so.
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really there are two races going on now. there's mitt romney who has a stable 20% to 25% support. mitt romney did a fantastic job tonight. every debate he does incredibly well, looks presidential and says the right things for the republican conservative electorate. three out of four republicans don't trust mitt romney and that's probably not going to change. the other battle, the non-romney candidate that's going to emerge and get down to a two-pym=9ñ race between romney and somebody else. newt gingrich did a fine job tonight. it was interesting to see michele bachmann is the one person who did take a swipe at him on the immigration issue and challenged him going down the same path that torpedoed rick perry's campaign a few months ago. newt took a body blow. i'm interesting to see if that makes movement in the polls. overall newt had a very grasp of the issues and he's going to probably stay solid in the polls at this point in time.
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>> ron, let me stay with you on this immigration question, because it seems to me that newt gingrich found a new way of talking about it. perry's way of talking about it was obviously disastrous within republican party politics. but you heard some new sounds and some new angles from gingrich on this. has he found a way to make this more open notion about what might be possible in immigration policy, acceptable to the republican primary audience? >> well, certainly he brought -- he packaged his position in a much more palatable mode. whether or not, there are a lot more republicans who believe we need to enforce the law and if you're here illegally, you're here illegally and that's the bottom line. it will be interesting to see if those people who maybe have that belief and going toward gingrich are going to start looking for other choices. gingrich does -- it's interesting to see his rise, because he has taken some very controversial positions on mandated health care, on global
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warming and on immigration. really outside of conservative orthodoxy. the republican electorate at this point in time is gravitating to him. the question is, is it gong it be a short-term date or long-term romance? so far we've had short dates but nobody has had the sustaining power among the non-romney candidates. we're getting down to the fourth quarter here.ç will anybody else have a time to rise up and gingrich basically because he's doing well at this late stage in the game, be the winner by default if nothing else to go against romney because we're so close to the beginning of the iowa caucuses. >> howard fineman, how do you score the debate tonight? >> well, let's take newt first. this is his first appearance as the new front-runner in the race. you saw a different newt, an avuncular, thoughtful newt that complimented the commentator, blitz blitzer. he said, excellent question,
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wolf. newt clawed his way to the top by spending the previous 11 debates attacking the media and moderators. today he was the nice purring like a kitten newt gingrich in his new front-runner status. i think a measure of his confidence now was his willing ness to take on the immigration issue as ron was saying. that's what killed rick perry. newt is a superconfident guy who thinks he can explain it better. i think he backed away a little bit in the middle of the debate 25 years, et cetera. he did use the "h" word, humane. he said, i'm willing to be humane. that's a measure of his confidence. mitt romney came to the conservative line on most points, but always in a mechanical way that never convinces the conservatives but manages to keep them at 20% to 25%. rick perry interestingly had a chance to say to newt gingrich, hey, you and i agree on immigration, but rick perry is
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so flumixed at this point that he didn't do it. he stayed away from it and stressed making ultraconservative points on foreign policy which i think were designed to impress the questioners such as david addington and paul wolfowitz. i half expected dick cheney to ç ask the last question and talk about war policy. and i think the exchange between jon huntsman and mitt romney on e limits of what we do in afghanistan was very interesting. that's the most involved in a debate that jon huntsman has been. ron paul is ron paul. he makes a lot of sense on a lot of things but then usually says something a little squirrely toward the end. he did that again tonight. >> ron carey, tell me something about the people who are in your republican debate audience and who are voting for ron paul. when he says the war on drugs is a failure and comes as close as you can get to just saying, you know what, legalize the stuff.
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he's got to problem with medica marijuana. he's got no problem with just stopping the drug war. and he gets big applause in your republican debate halls when he says that. who are those republicans who are clapping for that? >> well, ron paul attracts a crowd who may be nonpolitical. it's largely an under 30 male crowd that follows ron paul. they're good people, but there is a very finite number of them in the republican circles. ron paul is going to be at 8% to 12% in the primary, and that's -- he's not going to fall below 8% but he's not going to go above 12% unless there are unique circumstances. they're very dedicated people. they will show up to vote. they go quite far in the political process simply because the world belongs to those who show up. they show up in the process. so they have influence above their numbers, but, again, it's a very finite group and he's somebody who's going to basically park roughly 10% of the conservative libertarian votes under ron paul and take them off the board.
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he's not going to be a factor at the end. >> lawrence, it occurs to me that ron paul is the last hippy in america.ç he's the anti-war, let's legalize pot candidate. it's really amazing to see him pop up in the midst of the republican nominating process. >> you know, lawrence, if i can -- >> howard, mitt romney delivered his standard debate performance tonight, but is that still good enough? he's now in second place, and it is not just a close second place. he's now in what is a distant second place to newt gingrich and newt gingrich is polling as the candidate who would be the best commander in chief. he's polling as one who understands the complex issues the best. doesn't mitt romney have to find some new moves now against gingrich? >> yes, he absolutely does. see, now, everybody's waiting for newt to blow up. you know, newt's capable of losing his temper. he's capable of overplaying his hand.
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there's always interesting battles in newt's entourage. as we saw when his staff quit back in june. but it's all about debates, he's got the gravitas to win these debates. also the notion that it's got to be a governor who handled a loyal economy doesn't seem to be holding water at least in this election cycle. and newt gingrich can go back to the days of the '90s which ironically bill clinton's out there inferentially touting. newt's got a lot of strength here, and i think that mitt romney needs a new rationale of some kind. he needs a new strategy. what's going to happen is his people, he's got very experienced people on his campaign. they're going to look for dirt on newt. they're going to go after newt with all kinds of opo research and all kinds of stuff. newt is kind of predisaster, to use the phrase from the john irving book. first of all, because all the other candidates who came before him are deeply flawed, whether michele bachmann, herman cain or
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rick perry. newt's flaws look moderate in ç many respects by comparison. also, newt has been gone over so many times. nothing about newt is new except maybe recently the stuff about fannie mae, which he should have been asked about tonight, by the way, and wasn't. and all the money he got from health care, the health care industry, which he wasn't. the rest of the candidates are going to have to attack newt. i didn't see any of that tonight. they're really going to have to go after him if they're going to try to stop him. that means talking about his lobbying ties, about fannie and freddie, stuff about his personal life the opo guys will try to slip to reporters. it's going to get really nasty very fast. i think mitt romney has to confront him and say, newt, you're the old story, you're the story of the old washington, i'm from outside washington. mitt romney doesn't read as an outsider. when you watch mitt romney, he seems like the ultimate insider in terms of the establishment, if not washington.
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>> seems like he actually won a senate campaign a long time ago and has been in washington ever since. >> exactly. right. >> howard fineman, editorial director for the aol "huffington post" media group and msnbc analyst. ron carey. thank you for joining me tonight. >> thank you, lawrence. >> thank you. coming up, more on tonight's debate. and president obama is heckled by occupy protesters in new hampshire. and another republican tv commercial means more lying about president obama. and in tonight's "rewrite," newt gingrich gets rewritten by a broadway musical. ♪ [ male announcer ] sometimes, a hint is all the wrapping a gift needs. is that what i think it is? ♪ [ male announcer ] the lexus december to remember sales event is here, but only for a limited time.
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in the "rewrite" tonight, the new republican front-runner newt gingrich figures out a magical way to solve the twin problems of overpaid janitors and poor kids. in one plan. and later, the "daily show's" resident expert john hodgman joins me with his debate
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irresponsible. as a matter of fact, if leon panetta is an honorable man, he should resign and protest. >> that was rick perry criticizing president obama over the failure of the congressional supercommittee on deficit reduction, which has set off a $1.2 trillion in triggered spending cuts that will, or we should say, might, go into effect on january 1st, 2013. half of those spending cuts, roughly half, will come from defense. joining me now are general wesley clark, former nato supreme allied commander and former presidential candidate. and colonel lawrence wilkerson, former chief of staff to the secretary of state colin powell. general clark, this was the foreign policy debate tonight. what did you hear that gave you any confidence that one of these candidates could actually handle the job of commander in chief?
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>> well, i thought it was a good debate. i thought it was well moderated. i thought each of the candidates tried to demonstrate command of the facts and the appreciation for some of the nuances of the issue. so i thought it was a measurable step way up the ladder beyond what i've seen in the past. that having been said, you know, there were the sort of ritual empty rhetoric hits at our president.ç what i saw was it was pretty hard for the candidates to get beyond the very centrist, strong, robust foreign policy that the president's put in place. they had a pretty tough time doing it and it took some -- it took some ancillary issues like immigration to show some extreme positions out there. beyond that, i think the president could mostly count on strong support from these republican contenders. >> let's listen to mitt romney and jon huntsman talking about afghanistan. >> i stand with the commanders in this regard and have no information that suggests that
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pulling our troops out faster than that would do anything but put at great peril the extraordinary sacrifice that's been made. this is not the time for america to cut and run. we have been in for ten years. we are winding down. the afghan troops are picking up the capacity to secure their country and the mission is straightforward. >> at the end of the day, the president of the united states is commander in chief, commander in chief. of course you're going to listen to generals, but i also remember when people listened to generals in 1967 and we heard a certain course of action in southeast asia didn't serve our interests very well. >> lawrence wilkerson, how do you referee that one? >> let me say, lawrence, first of all, echoing general clark, that previous republican debates, and it's my party, i've been either chilled to the bone or stunned at the depths to which my party has sunk. this debate was different. this debate was more sober, more reasonable. this issue that you've just brought up, though, is one that concerns me deeply because although they seem to understand
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that the real problem facing this country, national security problem, spiritual problem, every problem you can conceive of is connected to this, is the fact that we are virtually bankrupt.ç by 2021, the interest payments on our debt will equal the defense budget. so talking about all of these things, iran, afghanistan, newt gingrich wants to invade pakistan apparently. talking about more wars, talking about big defenses and talking about a robust and professional and well-funded military, all depends on this economic strength. and so the rhetoric of defense, rhetoric of national security, is attacked immediately by the fact that they don't seem to have a good plan, don't seem to be able to talk about the plan they have, for restoring the american economy. i just don't see it. and that worries me more than anything else. >> general clark, you've been out there on the presidential trail.
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as a practical matter in presidential politics, what is the likelihood that the republican nominee will spend a lot of time on foreign policy, on defense issues, going after the president who got osama bin laden? >> well, they would like to, because this has traditionally been an area of strength so the old canards are democrats are soft on security. you heard some of that empty rhetoric tonight, but the truth is the president is carrying a majority support of the american people on national security. so it's not a very good line of attack for the republican party. our president has a good, strong, national security policy. >> colonel wilkerson, it's hard to predict where presidential campaigns go, and if we find ourselves a year from now in the thick of a foreign policy or defense policy debate between
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the parties. do you think this president will be work'ráháu)ength in that kind of debate? >> are you talking about president obama? >> yes. >> yes. the only person i listened to tonight that i thought would resonate with me in the national security area was jon huntsman. i thought his answers were carefully articulated. i thought they reflected some deep thought about the issues. and i was particularly struck with his not willing to jump on the national security wagon instantly. i agree with general clark that all of them are going to have an extremely difficult time on this issue. foreign policy or the bigger issue of national security. against president obama. because his record is not that bad. his record is pretty darn good. and i think that if newt gingrich winds up being the candidate, i think the obama camp is probably going to be very, very happy, because i
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think newt gingrich is very beatable. >> general clark, is there anything that you would recommend to the white house to strengthen president obama as he goes into a re-election campaign where he will be at some point questioned on defense policy and foreign policy? >> well, first of all, i keep many of my recommendations private to the white house, but i will say this. one of the issues that didn't really come out tonight was the importance of economic growth. and it was only herman cain who actually mentioned economic growth in this debate tonight. and when you get right down to it, america's strength is the strength of our economy. this is an economy that when it has to can grow in incredible spurts. when we reorganized out of the ç great depression and got ready for world war ii, we grew at 8%, 17%, 18% per year in real terms.
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and if we did that, we'd have all the resources we need for national security, for our entitlement and social programs. we'd be right back on track, and i think, i think what we're going to see is a lot more discussion of growth going forward. >> colonel wilkerson, if the trigger actually goes into effect that is the result of the supercommittee not coming to an agreement, and we see these rather sudden defense cuts in a sizable amount, the likes of which we haven't seen in any time recently, what do you think the effect will be on our military preparedness? >> i think we can handle it. remember, i served with chairman powell when he was chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and we cut the defense force by about 25% at the end of the cold war. i think we can handle it. there are places where defense can be cut. i go back to what general clark said and what i said in my
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initial answer. i don't see a plan to do that right now. the failure of the supercommittee and the failure of the congress in general indicates to me we're not making much progress on this. this is the real problem we've got right now. and i'll also say i agree with general clark about the way we grew post-world war ii, but look at the gdp post-world war ii. it was 70% manufacturing and 20% services. it's 76% services now and much less manufacturing. somewhere around 12% to 15%. we've got to restore that and start making things again that people in the world want to buy. whether they're high-tech, low tech, or middle tech, i don't care.ç we have to restore this economy if we want to have a powerful, professional and ready to go military. it can be cut, but we need to look at the bigger problem and the bigger problem is restoring the economy on which our national security power is based. >> and general clark, quickly, before we go. your reaction to -- go ahead, go
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ahead. >> it doesn't necessarily mean more government spending in the economy. it means setting the conditions so that the money that corporations in wall street have on hand can be productively invested in things like energy and infrastructure, airports, schools, all the things we desperately need in this country. right now we can get those going. >> general wesley clark and colonel wilkerson, thank you very much for joining me tonight. >> thanks for having me. >> thank you. president obama was heckled by occupy wall street protesters. eugene robinson joins me on that one. and in the "rewrite" organ annie rewrites gingrich. and john hodgman joins me with his take on the republican debate. ustralia to a u.s. lab to a patient in time for surgery may seem like a trumped-up hollywood premise. ♪
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mitt romney's first television ad is out today. like rick perry's ad last week, it is based on an outright lie. on what president obama said. eugene robinson will join me to discuss that. and the "daily show's" john hodgman will drop by with his reaction to the republican debate. since john is an authority on everything, he will correct every one of the candidate's mistakes. t's relied on to help g children holiday joy, and while it doesn't travel by sleigh or reindeer, it does get around...
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♪ that's logistics. ♪ so congress has a very simple choice next week. do you want to cut taxes for the middle class and those who are trying to get into the middle class or do you want to protect massive tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, many of whom want to actually help? >> that was president obama speaking in manchester, new hampshire, today, challenging congress to approve the part of his jobs bill that would extend the payroll tax cut which is set to expire at the end of this year.
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in anticipation of the president's visit, republican presidential candidate mitt romney welcomed him with an open-letter ad in three new hampshire newspapers saying, welcome to new hampshire, i would like to lay out for you some of what i will be saying on the campaign trail if i am fortunate enough to become my party's candidate. your policies have failed. romney continued that theme in his very first television ad of the campaign. >> thank you. thank you, new hampshire. how are you all doing tonight? i am confident we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. crisis. crisis. who's been in charge of the economy? we need a rescue plan for the middle class. we need to provide relief for homeowners. if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose. ç >> if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose. now, that last line would be a very big blow and embarrassment to the obama re-election campaign, if those words
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president obama said were his own words. but they're not. mitt romney's campaign deliberately did not play that sound bite in context, in full. here's why. >> senator mccain's campaign actually said, and i quote, if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose. >> and so mitt romney's first television ad is simply and entirely a lie. the two republican candidates with the most money to spend on television ads so far spent it all lying. recall rick perry's campaign ad last week did the same thing that mitt romney has done. surgically removed the president's words from context thereby turning them into lies. that's what they are being -- those lies are being called fair rhetoric by some republican
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commentators who, themselves are lying when they say everyone does this sort of thing in political advertising. joining me now is eugene robinson, pulitzer prize winning columnist for the "washington post" and msnbc political analyst. gene, perry's ad was a lie, romney's ad was a lie. that's their first shot right out of the gate. they are testing the media. when they do lies like that, they are sending them out there just trying to find out what we're going to call them and the truth is most of the media is going to allow those things to fly as if they are the standard issue spin of campaigns. >> well, you know, i got to say, i hope not because this is anything but the standard issue spin. this is not regular spin. this is not even, you know, out of context, that's technically true, but this is pure mendacity. this is just untrue when you
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take somebody else's words and pretend they were president obama's words. that's just way beyond the pale. i guess some conservative leaning media will just repeat it, but i think it is encouraging others have called romney on this ad today. >> someone who didn't call him, someone who complimented him on it was his former rival for the republican nomination last time around, john mccain. john mccain complimenting romney on the ad because romney has cleverly used a quote from john mccain spoken by barack obama to pretend that's president obama's actual words. i mean, these guys just have no shame about this at all. >> no. no shame. and not much game, frankly, because this is obvious. so why do they do this? is this an attempt to slip this past everybody, because somebody
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i was going to look at the clip? do they really want us to be talking about this processed story as a way of getting romney back in the news and everybody's talking about newt? so maybe he wants us to talk about him. or maybe it was more bone headed than that. maybe the campaign just went ahead and did it not fully realizing people were going to catch it. >> let's take a look at how the president was received in new ç hampshire. we're going to go back. we saw some of that tape earlier which smoothly but it wasn't smooth for the president, as smooth for the president in new hampshire as he might have liked. let's take a look. >> that's okay. so a lot of the folks who have been down in new york and all across the country in the occupy movement, there is a profound sense of frustration, there's a profound sense of frustration
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about the fact that the essence of the american dream, which is if you work hard, if you stick to it, that you can make it feels like that's slipping away. and that's not the way things are supposed to be. not here. not in america. >> gene, is the occupy movement earning its nonpartizan credentials by heckling president obama? is he going to expect more of this? >> i think he will hear from the movement. it was an interesting moment because what he said, at one point he addressed the demonstrators and said, well, you know, you young people are the reason i ran for president. you're the reason i did this. and it was -- he's walking a line between fully identifying with and embracing the occupy movement which he doesn't want
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to entirely do. but he wants to endorse some of the aims of the occupy movement and, frankly, he also -- when he looks at a bunch of young people, he sees a crop of potential new voters and that's one of the things the obama campaign has been doing is signing up new voters the way they did last time. it's a key sort of leg of theirç strategy this time around. and he certainly doesn't want to be out of step with this potential, with this constituency. >> some people might be surprised to see the president in new hampshire since there's no democratic primary, but it's an important general election state that the president won in his election last time around. he's trailing mitt romney in the polls in new hampshire. now. so this is actually the president going straight into general election mode in new hampshire, isn't it? >> it's him going into general election mode. it's him going into the lion's den, really. it's a state where romney has a
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house where he's way ahead in the polls. it will be very difficult, i think, in a general election for obama to be confident of taking new hampshire from romney, but it's kind of an in your face. and romney reacted to it by coming out with his open letter. obama's saying, you know, this isn't your turf, you don't have turf, i have turf, and i'm coming to see new hampshire. >> eugene robinson, thank you for joining me tonight. everyone should be sure to tune in tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. eugene is going to guest host martin bashir's program. eugene robinson and me working hard on thanksgiving eve. thanks for joining me tonight. >> great to be here, lawrence. newt gingrich's plan to abolish child labor laws actually gets him in the "rewrite" tonight. and the "daily show's" john hodgman is here to react to tonight's republican
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in tonight's "rewrite," historian newt gingrich at harvard's kennedy school of government on saturday. >> i take seriously that every american of every ethnic background in every neighborhood has the right to pursue happiness. and that is was endowed by their creator. that means you're going to see from me extraordinarily radical proposals to fundamentally change the culture of property in america and give people the chance to rise very rapidly. the core policies of protecting unionization and bureaucratization against children in the poorest neighborhoods, crippling them by putting them in schools that fail has done more to create income inequality in the united states than any other single policy. it is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children first of all in child laws which are truly
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stupid. okay, you say to somebody, you shouldn't go to work before you're, what, 14, 16 years of age, fine. you're totally poor. you're in a school that's failing, with a teacher that's failing, i tried for years to have a very simple model. most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. the kids would actually do work. they would have cash. they'd have pride in the schools. they'd begin the process of rising. >> and, of course, that caught the attention of the biggest union in the country that represents janitors, american federation of state, county and municipal employees.ç they rewrote gingrich's vision of an army of children janitors pulling themselves up by their janitor boot straps in this video. >> most of the schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitor, have one master janitor and pay the children to take care of the schools. ♪ it's a hard knock life for us
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♪ >> during his speech on friday, gingrich suggested a plan to get rid of what he called truly stupid child labor laws. basically he wants to fire unionized school janitors and replace them with unfortunate schoolchildren. >> with kids. >> he's talking about schools that are in -- >> economically depressed areas. >> thank you. and poor sections of town. doing away with the janitors altogether and hiring the kids, paying them basically servitude to clean up the schools. >> i'm not sure someone in middle school should be cleaning up after their classmates because what sort of message does that send to that child? ♪ don't it feel like the wind is always howling ♪ ♪ don't it seem like there's never any light ♪ ♪ the day when you want to throw the towel in ♪
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i think i will probably teach a course when i'm president. i think i will probably try to do something that outlines for the whole country what we're going to try to accomplish and offer it online sort of like the university of phoenix or kaplan so anybody in the country who wants to could sign up. it will be free. you wouldn't have to pay. although, given the news media's assumption about me we'll probably charge $100 so we can get rich, but no, it will be free. >> joining me now, the only man i know who would learn absolutely nothing by taking president gingrich's online course. the "daily show's" resident expert john hodgman, author of the new book "that is all: the final installment of his complete world knowledge series" in bookstores now.
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john, i want you to take a look at mitt romney's very first by in the debate tonight. let's roll that. >> i'm mitt romney and, yes, ç wolf, that's also my first name. and i'm a husband, a father, a grandfather of 16. i love this country very much. >> john, you are the fact checker, our official fact checker on this debate. >> yes. >> what's wrong with that? is he really a grandfather of 16? >> as far as i know, i think he's actually a grandfather of 37. but, no, mitt is not his first name. am i not -- willard is his first name. >> well, there's that. >> mitt is -- >> so he -- >> mitt is not even a name. that's just a noun that he uses. >> it's the candidate who lies about his name. as a way of starting a debate. >> it was a very strange choice. should have just been called blitz. >> right.
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right. what do you make of herman cain? he's already, you know, it's very presidential. george w. bush used to create nicknames for people upon meeting them. and so herman cain seems to have that kind of executive touch. >> i think -- i think when paul wolfowitz stood up then herman brain -- herman brains -- i'm doing it now. i think cain's brain probably exploded there. which one is this? wolf wolfowitz? what's a wolf? i think herman cain looks relieved to no longer be running for president. i think that he is tired. and i think that he is ready to stop. >> everyone thought this was going to be the really tough debate for herman cain because it's foreign policy, but it sounded to me like the man showed up prepared. let's listen to herman cain on the issue of iran and nuclear weapons. >> i would first make sure that they had a credible plan for success.
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clarity of mission and clarity ç of success. remember, when you talk about attacking iran, it is a very mountainous region. >> yeah. >> he's got a point there. you do want to remember the mountains. >> mountains are a very potent shield against nuclear weapons. there is no way that you could ever attack a mountainous region. if it has mountains in it, forget it. yeah, no one has ever won such a war. >> won't the nuclear weapons somehow have to go over the mountains? >> i've lost you out of my ear. i'll just make it up -- >> i was saying -- >> yes? >> we have a little delay here. this is like one of those ancient overseas phone calls. >> yes, you're far away from me. >> yes, i am. i'm way up in boston. >> are you afraid i'm going to take my shoes off? >> do the weapons have to go over the mountains to be effective? >> that's what elephants are for. we conquered mountains before. >> and then of course there was newt gingrich on afghanistan.
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let's listen to that. >> you want to keep american troops in afghanistan? you accept hot pursuit, you say no sanctuaries, change the rules of engagement, you put the military in charge of the military side, you overhaul the state department so they get the job done and do it for real and do it intensely. >> yes, this was -- >> newt gingrich is pitching a much better afghanistan movie than any of the other candidates. >> yes, this was a terrible debate for newt gingrich. i mean, on saturday, you had him repealing child labor laws. i mean, that was his 9-9-9 crazy moment. you know what i mean? he was well positioned to be the anti-romney.ç he's coming off this vaguely credible and very informed and in particular in talking about immigration, almost humane. you can't be the anti-romney and be a sane candidate. that's crazy. maybe he's out-crazying the crazy.
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if he wants to continue to be the anti-romney and hold this positions he's going to have to start get rid of, we start putting children in afghanistan. how about that? child soldiers. >> john, it must be difficult for you to watch these debates since you know everything there is to know in human knowledge and watching these people just, you know, fudge this stuff. >> well, yes, i think the problem is they're not making it up with enough brio. do you know what i'm saying? >> yes, i do. >> you know, like when newt gingrich says, there was a lot of mention, weird mention of apple computer tonight. did you notice that? not really sure what the agenda is there. michele bachmann suggested steve jobs told obama we need to import more skilled workers from afraud so our children could be janitored or something like that. and then newt gingrich additionally said that apple would design defense systems much quicker than private