tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC March 19, 2012 5:00pm-6:00pm EDT
correlation. that does it for us. i'm matt miller in for dylan ratigan. "hard ball" starts right now. a battle of lightweights in the land of lincoln. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews. the lightweight championship of the gop. can rick santorum really win this thing? if so, he'll have to start by taking tomorrow's illinois primary. romney is terrified of another upset loss and he spent the day referring to santorum as another economic lightweight. santorum said romney would be like tweeddlum versus tweedlede.
should we stay in afghanistan? should we go? romney admitted yesterday he's not ready to take a stand. i guess it's easy to criticize president obama from the cheap seats until they come up with a coherent plan. plus oil consumption is up but it's actually down this year. make no mistake. the obama camp itself is very worried about gas prices and the potential fought this november. it was two years ago this week when president obama signed his health care into law, putting an exclamation point on the most controversial battle in congress. tonight we're talking about congress and brown do for you. i'm talking about scott brown, the senator from massachusetts and his dirty little joke about
santorum and contraception. we begin with the battle in illinois. the co-authors of "game change" as well as msnbc political analysts. likely political voters in illinois favor romney 45% to santorum 30%. paul and gingrich trail behind just barely in the double digits there. let's take a look at what santorum said on cbs this morning. >> what i'm going to do is continue to work hard to make sure there is a conservative who is the nominee of this party. we cannot win this election. we have proven in the past, when we nominate moderates and we nominate a tweedledum versus a tweedl der tweedldee, we don't win elections. >> this is going back to high school where you call one campaign petty.
you have the other guy calling the guy a classweight and then calling himself a. >> i've seen them over the last few days. they look tired and things have started to evolve the way you're talking about, chris. but i think rick santorum, though the name calling is a little untoward, he is trying to make a point, and that is that tweedledum and tweedledee are like twins, and i think he's saying the problem with romney is he is too close to the president on some issues and that the republican party would do better to have a candidate where there is a starker and clean contrast, and able to draw key items, but there are several others. >> they actually seem to be
tagging both the president and rick santorum with that label. let's listen. >> i'm someone experienced in the economy. i'm not an economic lightweight. president obama is. we're not going to be successful in replacing an economic lightweight with another economic lightweight. we're going to have to face him we well. >> that's like calling another guy that you consider a colleague and you've been on the debate stage with him for years, calling him a lightweight -- i don't know, you're frouwning at my theory here, but what does this surprise. >> neither of these guys are setting. ment has coordinated attacks breaking through, and as john
sa said. in part to make sure he wins illinois. it's been true for a while that santorum has to knock romney out to be the nominee. he's not going to beat him in delegates, yoj. he's trying to do that, and it's been. that he's resorting to trying to brg the kind of name calling you call hardballing. it's unusual but certainly not precedented. >> the idea of calling the other guy a lightweight and then you're using the term knockout. here's rick santorum defending himself yesterday -- actually, later this morning in rock ford, illinois. let's listen to his defense against the lightweight charge. >> i heard governor romney here called me an economic lightweight because i wasn't a wall street financier like he
was. do you really believe this country wants to electricity a wall street financier at. >> well, maybe everything, but anyway, the point is not -- the officer justlyrecently. everybody knows this campaign is going to end up about the unemployment rate. why would he say such a thing? >> he's trying to rebut the charge, but it is interesting, you know, to mark's point, neither of the candidates is driving much of a positive message at this point. they are trying to tear each other down. you heard romney in your earlier bite. after santorum says romney is too much like obama on a lot of issues. he's too liberal, he's like obama. you have romney returning to his
experience message. i know something about the private economy. santorum is too much like obama in that he doesn't understand how the real economy works. you have santorum responding to that by echoing democratic talking points that you're going to hear if romney is the nominee. this guy is a 1% guy. he's the guy who is a wall street week. neither job is together and one way or the other. . . it's all about this guy is worse than me, not that i have a positive message that the party should rally around. >> just to the last hour of campaigning. he doesn't care what the unemployment rate will be. let's watch.
. there's something more foundational that's going on here. we have one nominee who says he wants to run the economy. what kind of kefb active runs the economy. we tend to think the government doesn't create jobs. what the government does is crea create. i wish we had somebody translating these guys, but somewhere in there, is there a populist argument? i would just say i don't, they have something of being better off economically. two-thirds of them are not above 100,000 a year. republicans are packed with people like my parents. is there some kind of populist
anger that rick santorum can still grab and use against romney? >> there is two messages that rick santorum is trying to propel himself forward with, and they're not in contradiction but they're both difficult to make and certainly at the same time. one is the populist theory, that romney is a creature of wall street, that we need a president that understands the real lives of working people better than mitt romney does. the other message, and this is what he means, i believe, when he talks about how he doesn't care about the unemployment rate, is a message about morality. rick santorum has sort of taken on himself, and made himself the vessel of all this conservative suspicion of mitt romney. that he's a balance sheet, that he's not a flesh and blood conservati conservatism, that he's not about beating the president because the president is immoral to big government. he's trying to drive conservatism and populism. they're both pitching in
illinois, and rick santorum and his campaign with limited resources, and as good as santorum is at times and inconsistent performance on the stump, i don't think he's breaking through with either of them, although again, i know what he means and they both represent potential that both convenie haven't been able to break through on. santorum is doing well but not well enough to break mitt romney. >> are they basically challenging those premises? are they arguing that the man is authentic as a person? his character is authentic, that he is who he says he is. do they believe he's really a conservative? in other words, do they challenge the premises of rick santorum or do they simply say, damn mitit, we need a winner an this guy is a better bet? >> i don't think they challenge the premise at all. i think mitt romney's vote in illinois who is going to be mostly a northern illinois suburb of chicago, the college
counties around chicago, that's where those republicans are, they're basically moderate. number one, they're behind him because they think he has the best chance to beat barack obama in the fall, that's true. but they also, on some level, they suspect that romney is not a real conservative and they approve of that. they don't want a rick santorum conservative. they themselves are not rick santorum conservatives. the phoniness around romney in terms of his representation as a hard-core conservative, they say, yeah, he's a little phoney, but that's okay with us. he's a successful pro-governor of massachusetts. that's the kind of republicans we are in the counties. we like that. >> but they don't want to concede around his campaign? >> i think there's a lot of voters who say, he's winking to the right but in the end, he's going to come back to where i am, which is closer in the center. >> wow, it's getting too difficult. coming back, the press says obama is personally and
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when he campaigned, he said he wanted to raise the price of gasoli gasoline. he said that under him, energy costs would skyrocket. >> well, romney seems to be referring to comments the president made way back in 2008 when he was still a candidate. he actually told the editorial board of the san francisco chronicle that his cap and trade policy would cause electricity rates to, quote, skyrocket, electricity rates. the president did say that. but unlike what romney has implied here, the president was not talking, as he claimed, about gas prices. it's just one of the many myth myths the campaign has been focusing on. if he could just drill more, somehow the gas prices would decrease. romney suggested that last week. what is the reality when it comes to gas prices? u.s. congresswoman, republican from missouri and the democratic
congressman from massachusetts. i want to start with congressman markey about this. as i understand, correct me if i'm wrong, everything i look at tells us that our gasoline prices we pay at the pump are a result of global oil prices, that our prices go up and down with germany's france's britain's, everything moves up because we're all buying the same oil from the world market. if that's the case, how can we drill here at home or anything we do here at home change the price of gas at the pump? >> you're right on the mark, chris, this is not about obama, this is about opec. the price of oil is set by a cartel of opec sheikhs who determine how much oil is available on the global marketplace on a global basis. honestly, our consumption has gone down 7% in the last year during the obama presidency but the price keeps going up. we're at an eight-year high on production in the united states.
we're at a 39-year high in natural gas production in the united states. we're at a 12-year low in terms of how much oil we import into the united states. when george bush left office that year, 2008, we imported 50% of our oil, under obama we're only importing 45% of our oil. a complete misunderstanding of how the global markets work, how opec dictates the price of oil, is something mitt romney just doesn't understand and he's holding himself out as some macroeconomic maestro when, in fact, this simple fact of life on the planet is something he just does not understand at all. >> congressman markey, look at this chart. we've got this chart up on the screen now. we've passed it around. it's evidence, i think, that oil is a global product and prices are set based on factors outside the united states. the price of gas here in the u.s., at home, runs almost
exactly in sync of the price in those european countries, britain, france and germany. the difference is because of lower taxes. the only reason they're paying more in gas is a tax war. see the blue line in comparison with the red line. it's moving like a hard metre or something. exactly in sync. how can a presidential candidate say they can change the price of gas here at home if it's moving with the world market price? >> i believe it's moving with the world market price to some extent, but i believe if we were allowing more oil permits for drilling here so we can increase the supply as opposed to the demand, we could perhaps bring some downward pressure on the world price. obviously, too, we know that events in the middle east are impacting negatively the price of oil so that it keeps going up. i will tell you, this is a
hardship for people in my district. gas prices went up 35 cents from the 9th of march to the 14th of march. that's problematic, because when you're in a huge ago resultal district like i am, when folks drive traditionally 30, 45 minutes to and from work every day, it starts making a big difference whether or not they can put food on the table -- you know, it's tough. >> i understand it's a challenge, and it's true in every life. we're producing more than we have in the past. we're up to 10 million barrels a day in 2011. as congressman markey says, we're down to the crude oil at 45%. we were taking away -- we're moving in the right direction -- >> but chris, what you haven't
said is we're only producing here in the united states half of what we produced in the 19 s 1980s. if you go back and look historically, we are only producing half. and we got that information from the economic -- the energy institute, so i think that is correct. everything that we've read backs up that we were producing twice as much in the 1980s. >> that is completely inaccur e inaccurate. we produced 10 million barrels of oil a day last year, and we imported approximately 8.5 million barrels a day. we are very near right now our all-time high for production in the united states. if we produce twice 10 million barrels a day, that would be 20 million barrels a day, which would be 100% of our cop assumption and that definitely was not true in the 1970s, '80s,
into today. >> anyway, needless to say, it is a problem and i think it's absolutely critical that we try to produce more here in the united sfats. >> we accept the more we learned and the more we look at these facts, it shows we have a global price for oil and we suffer from that fact. if the united states went to anwar, it went back to pennsylvania and discovered oil in titusville again, if we went to eureka, we did it all, all that gasoline, all that oil would go in the world market and the chinese would start bidding for it against us. we don't lower our price, we slightly lower the world price. isn't that correct? slightly by a few cents lower the world's oil price. >> but chris, if, in fact, you increase supply, and if world events aren't impacting price in addition to the speculators out
there who obviously are betting on the fact that there is going to be a lot of problems in the middle east which means they're speculating up the price, it's still to our advantage to become more energy independent even in the north american continents. >> but that doesn't lower the price of gas at the pump. >> well, it certainly does make it easier for us to pay for it here in the united states as opposed to anywhere else. >> let me ask you, congressman markey, about newt gingrich. you used to serve with newt gingrich when he was speaker. what does it mean for a presidential candidate to point blank say, i can give you $2.50 a gallon gas? >> for that presidential candidate, for newt gingrich, i would say he's breaking a record for political hyperbole that will never be matched. in 1995, i assume he took over as speaker, and for every year thereafter, he actually added an amendment to the transportation
bill prohibiting the increase in the fuel economy standards of the vehicles which we drive in the united states and then all of way through the 12 years the republicans controlled the house and the senate. he put prohibition in place. we put 70% of the gasoline which we consumed into oil tanks. we've been backwards year after year in terms of our fuel efficiency. what obama has done has increased the fuel efficiency of the vehicles which we are going to drive between now and 2026 between 54 and 100 gallons. who opposed it? almost every republican on the house floor last year are seeking to increase fuel economy centers. by the way, in the ryan budget, the sacred ryan budget, they pretty much slashed wind and solar down to zero last year as
well. in terms of the future, the republicans keep looking at it in a rearview mirror back towards the oil industry as if that's our future. >> you're not even talking about a transition. first of all, i think it's unrealistic to talk about having a green -- totally. we can still cleanly develop those resources much like you would like to do. but the fact is that it's unrealistic to expect that we're going to have green energy totally in this country in the next five or ten years. and so, i mean, it's a wonderful idea to have, but let's be realistic and let's discuss what it's going to do, what can we do to help people pay for the cost of food, medicine and the energy and the gasoline that it costs for them to get from home to work, and what about our producing the crops and.
we provide the safest and most abundant food in the world for everybody in the world. the higher our energy kotsz. >> thank you, congressman. you were pointing directly at the political party faces today. the world is in a dire situation, what can we do about it? ten seconds. >> the keystone pipeline coming down from canada. my amendment on the house floor said all that oil should stay in the united states. almost every republican voted not to keep it in the united states. if we're going to build the keystone pipeline, take the environmental risk, that oil should stay here. we should send a message to iran and rattle the markets and every republican, almost without exception, voted against it. >> we could have the keystone
pipeline as it is, ed, and then the president is above raproach. what's the point if you're not going to have it? >> i don't really disagree with that notion. >> the republicans voted the wroj way when they vote not to put that off from our keystone pipeline. up next, senator scott brown. . we're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] imagine facing the day
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rick santorum was asked to weigh in on romney's decision to have shamus the dog ride a road trip to canada on the roof of a car. was he willing to cut romney some slack on this? let's listen. >> as far as shamus the dog, all i would say is the issues of character are important in this election and we need to look at all those issues and make a determination as to whether that's the kind of person you want to be president of the united states. >> ah, the character issue. it sound like rick wants seamus to be famous. i'm sure obama will, too. next up, so much for keeping it clean. senator brown spoke at an event in boston decked out for the holidays. he hasn't refrained much when it comes to politics, but he strayed from that when it came to this speech. and on the subject of
contraception, no less. what do you make of this? >> i see where both newt gingrich and rick santorum now have secret service with them on the campaign trail. in santorum's case, i think it's the first time he's ever actually used protection. >> it sounds like mr. brown may have gotten some help on that one. >> as of tomorrow, rick santorum will be assigned secret service agents. did you know that? this is historic. it's the first time santorum has agreed to use any kind of protection. >> that was back on february 27 as you saw the timeline there. perhaps senator brown should have left that to the late night crowd back in february. up next, what do mitt romney and rick santorum think we should do about afghanistan? the republicans running for president, it's easy to take cheap shots, apparently, than to come up with a real plan about life and death, war and peace. you're watching hardball only on
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the game plan is we're leaving whether we can succeed or not, then why are we still there? let's either commit to winning or let's get out. >> what's happening right now is an example of failed leadership. the president put out a specific timetable for withdrawal of our troops, a timetable for the end of combat operations. >> welcome back to "hardball." the leading presidential candidate supplying criticisms for president obama's handling of the war in afghanistan, but ask them for their specific plans and they have a whole lot of nothing. in a moment we're going to get to some of their non-answers, but the republicans have a potent issue to use against the president, and with the next troop drawdown scheduled for late summer, how will that affect our presidential race? we have a columnist for the "washington post" and the managing editor of post
politics, author of "the fix." both msnbc political analysts. three times fox news' brent bear tried to get a concrete answer from mitt romney on afghanistan. let's listen. >> president obama, as you know, has publicly said to stay the course until a withdraw at the end of 2014. would president romney do anything different, and if so, how? >> well, first of all, i would exercise leadership. and by that i mean i would work with president karzai. i would speak with president karzai regularly. >> but would you accelerate the withdrawal? >> well, the timing of withdrawal is going to be dependent upon what you hear from the conditions on the ground. that you understand by speaking with commanders there. >> so are you taking a stand here while much of your party is souring on afghanistan? >> well, before i take a stand on a particular course of action, i want to get the input from the people who are there.
>> so that's leadership. that's what that guy calls leadership. pay attention to that one. well, this week, jonathan carl tried to lockdown rick santorum on what he would do in afghanistan. listen to this. >> so what does president santorum do? do you commit to winning, and what does that take? or do you say it's time to get out? >> well, i think if you commit to winning and you change the entire dynamic in the region. you change the dynamic with respect to the taliban and you recognize that we are going to stay there and we're going to finish the job. >> boy, those guys are out of gas. this morning andrea mitchell tried to get an answer from santorum on the withdrawal timetable. let's see how she did. let's listen. >> would you accelerate the withdrawal event? >> again, my feeling is that we should commit ourselves to be successful. but if the president is not going to commit himself, i don't see any reason for us to continue to be there. >> you know what, gene, here's
an opportunity for you to show your brains compared to these guys. they don't know what they're talking about. to the horror last weekend with the killing of the 16 afghan civilians who is apparently deranged because he's been in there for his fourth tour, three in iraq and one in afghanistan, it seems to me the republicans don't have much to say here. >> what that translates as is we have no idea. santorum sounds as if he wants to say, no, let's double down on afghanistan, let's stay in there, let's finish the job, as he says. but he doesn't quite come out and say, i want to stay in afghanistan because he knows that's a terribly unpopular position. romney tries to have it both ways by essentially saying, i would do it differently than the president is doing it, but he doesn't say he would do a different thing, he would just do it differently. there is nothing substantive there that i can hear. >> you know, chris, it's just
like the people who chickened out about debating the vietnam war, they wouldn't say they're against it or for it. they would say, well, we got to win it. what do you want us to do? stay in there and win a battle which is basically a civil war. here's what the president says he wants to get done in afghanistan. break taliban's momentum. that's a hard thing to read. third, training afghanistan forces so they can take the lead and our troops can come home. these are relevant discussions. the president says we can get that done over the next two years. what are the republicans saying they want to do and over what timetable? >> well, i think gene is right, there is no plan, certainly not one i'm aware of, by romney or santorum. i think it is tied up, chris, with the fact that the politics of this is true for the president as well as romney and rick santorum. the politics are not particularly good. the post and abc news did a poll recently. the majority said we should get
our troops out of there regardless of whether the afghan troops are ready to take over. you have large numbers of people in polling suggesting that. they don't know what the ultimate goal is, they don't know if the afghanistan war was worth fighting. president obama is trying to walk a very fine line between what he views as responsible policy and the political reality of the thing. when you're a candidate for president, you don't have to walk as fine a line because the truth of the matter is, mitt romney or rick santorum is not the president of the united states right now. they can say or do whatever they like, or in this case not say or do whatever they like and not have the responsibility. >> you could call them irresponsible. they weren't willing to take responsibility for anything. and a gallup poll saying 50% say president obama should speed up troop withdrawal.
24% said stick to the 2014 timetable, and 21% they should come out sooner. if you throw that word out, it does put the whole thing in perspective. what do you think santorum means by winning? >> i don't think santorum knows what he means by winning. is it to wipe out the taliban or destroy the possibility of the taliban? the fact is, the people offal. it's not going to end there no matter when we pull out. so saying they're going to put that on it in. so he's basically suggesting, in effect, the only way around .
how do you win a potential civil war against people who just don't agree with you? it's a tribal battle. >> in some ways this is still both politicians and the american public trying to come to terms with what modern war, iraq, afghanistan and beyond, means. i think you've hit at the heart of it. what is winning? how do we define winning and is there a way that we as an american people can agree on the criteria where we can leave and say we did what we set out to do. president obama is clearly laying those things out, as you mentioned. i would say, look, the reason the republican candidates aren't leaning on it, they don't have to, and they know that picking any three things that is this means winning means that 55 to 60% of the american public probably disagrees because the issue is just so freighted with vietnam and iraq and all of that. >> and this is between the hard
hats and the long hairs and all that stuff going on, gene and i remember, this is the cultural difference of the solemn majority. nobody happy with this war. thank you chris, thank you eugene, as always. great reporting. up next, it was two years ago that president obama signed a health care reform into law. tonight how he said congress's number one goal from day one was to get reelected as president. he premiers tomorrow night his new book club at local movie theatres around the country and he features my interview with him in his back, "jack kennedy." we're now in theatre nz yoithea neighborhood. check it out.
now in tennessee, the state's house of representatives would require the state to public the name of every doctor who performs an abortion. detailed statistics about the women who have them. supporters say the bill would allow people on both sides of the debate to see how prevalent abortion is in the state. our critics say it's a dangerous bill that can put doctors at risk and be used to identify women who have abortions. i don't think it's a good idea. i'll be right back. ♪
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forward. >> it picks up with the 2010 elections, and shows what he did in the lame duck session, and the strategy he adopted with the help of his aides in 2011 and trying to get back the moral high grond. there's a lot of inside the white house strike that guising as they went through the budgets and the debt ceiling fight, and the confrontational approach that started with the republicans last september. >> i'm all for that by the way, personally i think that's a great approach. i think this campaign will be a lot about the 1%. let's look at how he might adapt and follow through with what you reported. let's look at this new poll right now about the health care law that faces the supreme court. it's very informative and scary.
42% would like to see the supreme court throw out the health care law entirely. another quarter would like the mandate to be thrown out. that's the individual mandate that requires us to participate, and another quarter would like to see the law upheld by the court. that's bad news for the president, but maybe it flips. maybe the supreme court that is a republican court, the court that put george w. bush into the white house, if they're partisan, throw out the big thing he did, will they say these guys are screwing up what we elected? >> no one knows how the courts will handle this. there is differences between judicial activists and restraint. but the interesting thing that i found talking to people involving the obama campaign for the book, they really believe they can win a head-to-head fight presenting the benefits of
the health care law. if you're mitt romney, do you want to take away free procedures from americans and take kids off of the insurance plans of their parents and letting companies throw you out for pre-existing conditions. they're willing to have this fight. they realized this and talked to me and told me time and time again that they realized they screwed up on the messaging about health care. they were so involved in the process -- >> is the messaging -- it won't matter if the court throws it out, right? they have to win in the court first. >> yes and no. this just focuses on the individual mandate. there's a lot of parts to the law beyond that, and the court can come up with a lot of types of split decisions that can make it is muddy, murky outcome with plenty of argument between obama and his show down against mitt romney. >> we're going to keep talking about your book, weeks ahead,
great inside look at politics and how it's fighting it's way into this election. let me finish tonight with the republican death march when i get back. the death march we're watching in this campaign. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. if you are one of the millions of men who have used androgel 1%, there's big news. presenting androgel 1.62%. both are used to treat men with low testosterone. androgel 1.62% is from the makers of the number one prescribed
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than the death march now proceeding in the republican party. why are the republicans moving toward the nomination of someone that elicits emotions from zero to anger management. the only people excited about mitt romney for president are those ticked off about the prospect. with even a shred of the motive for getting barack obama out of it? of course not. the one shared observation of those watching this campaign is that it runs against, not with, the national inclination. americans even want to take another bet on obama or they deeply wish the opposite. where is romney in all of this. he created the model for the balm health care plan. he is a fiscal moderate, and a
social moderate as well. when he was in office in boston, he was an old-style new england moderate. you could hardly call him a man of the right. he was hardly in the center right. now he is drawing at something that is manifestly not true and everyone on the planet can see it. what stands in his way? it's not clear. rick santorum is running a gutsy campaign based on the fact that he is not mitt romney. they're less than romney's rivals than they are his pallbearers. rick santorum now speaks to the need for republicans to simply run a conservative. him? newt gingrich is not offering himself for anything, he is not, after all, insane. so the death march