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tv   NOW With Alex Wagner  MSNBC  August 14, 2012 12:00pm-1:00pm EDT

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florida, mitt romneyas grilled about the ryan budget proposal, specifically, whether or not he supports the restructuring of medicare into a voucher system. later on, governor romney not only dodged the question on medicare, he wouldn't name a single issue on which his view differs from paul ryan's. >> i'm sure there are places that my budget is different than his. [ inaudible ] >> there may be. we'll take a look at the differences. >> [ inaudible ]. >> well, the items we agree on i think outweigh any differences there may be. we haven't gone through piece by piece and said here's a place where there's a difference. i can't imagine any two people even in the same party who have exactly the same positions on all issues. >> so much for the notion that this election would be about discussing big issues or discussion at all, really. it seems the debate over
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medicare and the entire ryan budget proposal will fall victim to romney's strategy of avoidance and denial. a fortress of obfuscation that has walled in his tax returns, his record at bain capital, his record as governor of massachusetts, his plans for cutting discretionary spending and his religion. mitt romney and paul ryan both said this election is about a big choice but how can this be a choice election when one presidential candidate refuses to take a stand on the concrete choices made by his very own running mate? joining me now is the grand poobah of the sunshine state, nbc's jose diaz-balart. it is a joy and honor to have you here. the first question i have is the florida one, which is how big of an issue is it for mitt romney that he doesn't know sort of where he stands on the medicare question, vis a vis paul ryan's proposals, when he's trying to win over florida voters? >> huge. gigantic. ginormous. this issue is fundamental for a large percentage of florida's population.
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they are keenly focused on exactly what each candidate's position is and is going to be in the future, if they do get to the presidency in romney's case. i think he has to be very clear, if he has any shot of keeping the elderly vote that has been so consistently supporting him in the latest polls. i think this is a key issue. there are, however, a lot of other issues that he has to be very clear on as does the president, on the economy. florida has been battered by the housing crisis. it's been battered by a number of different issues, the unemployment is much higher there than it is in other states. so there are a number of issues critical to florida voters that quite frankly, romney has to be very clear on and i think could be, could, if you ran a good campaign, make some headway in voting preferences. >> the romney campaign is confirming that paul ryan is going to florida this saturday and sunday. team obama has wasted no time in messaging on medicare. is there still -- you make it sound like there's still an
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opportunity for paul ryan to make his case among florida voters. >> he's unknown. let's be honest. people really don't know more than just a couple headlines about what the media and what the different political parties have been saying about him. but i don't think anybody really nationally knows what a congressman from a district in wisconsin is really all about other than the headlines they've gotten. he's got a chance to make his case. >> but i think what we do know is that in the ryan budget, about 60% or more of the cuts would fall on the most vulnerable americans and as you point out, florida has been a state that's really hard hit. there are a lot of poor people there. it's still under water in terms of real estate. i'm not quite sure how that can be spun in a positive way. >> there's a record number of poor people, and that is something that also could be mentioned. in other words, the increase in poverty has been over the past three years larger than it's been in other periods. so i think that's where -- >> that's the opening for romney to take it to obama. patricia, when we're talking about mitt romney and paul ryan, there's been a lot of excitement, enthusiasm, but in
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the last few hours as the dust settles, there's been some consternation in conservative circles about what paul ryan really means, what the implications for his vice presidential nomination are on mitt romney's ticket, and really, whether mitt romney can find a comfortable place in which to differentiate himself and his policies from that of paul ryan. thus far, he's done it i would not say gracefully. >> well, also, i don't know why he expects to be able to find a comfortable place between himself and paul ryan, because it's like getting pavaratti to join your band and putting him on drums. >> he's incredible on percussion. >> paul ryan is a numbers budget guy. that is who he is. he dominates washington for that reason and you're not -- you're going to try to put distance between yourself and his budget? then don't pick him. the real danger here for republicans also, it's not just about mitt romney. it is about these races down the
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ticket. there is a huge senate race in florida, huge senate races all over the country. it's a 50-50 proposition before paul ryan came on to the ticket between democrats and republicans running the senate. now every republican on the ticket, down ticket, has to say yes, i did vote for the ryan budget and here's why. here's why i think it's okay to change medicare in this way. medicare is going broke. that's true. republicans have a point. but is this the right way to fix it? a lot of seniors will say no. >> nick, when you see the press avail as mitt romney likes to call them that happened yesterday and the way he's trying to negotiate this territory, to me, it seems like there's no strategy there. to me, that says we haven't quite figured out what the differences are, you know, even within the same party there are folks with differences. but this is something again, i would point to many other things on mitt romney's record. he knew bain would come up, he knew the offshore tax accounts would come up. he knew that in picking paul ryan there would be some question about whether or not he
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supported ryan's budget. why aren't they ready? >> so far, his strategy has always been keep the focus on obama, avoid being too specific in his own policy proposals and talk about the economy. so then when he picked ryan, everyone said that's out the window, time to go on the offensive. they said we'll defend his plan, go to florida, then they preview the strategy today and the argument is obama's killing medicare. it's the same strategy. it's the exact same strategy. >> the other side of the coin is, let's be honest and fair, who asked obama three or four days into his choosing of joe biden what specifically he disagreed with senator joe biden's positions on. who asked clinton what specifically he disagreed on on gore's positions. >> but paul ryan -- >> he should have known. >> -- has become a standard bearer for a new breed of conservative and is very much, as patricia said, a lightning rod. unlike al gore or joe biden, who
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had longer careers and were less incendiary, there's more questioning about just how close to the lightning rod are you going to be standing. i want to talk about how obama is using this and specifically how it's being used on the campaign trail and play a little sound from the veep, joe biden a few moments ago in danville, virginia, talking about mitt romney. let's take a listen. >> do they mean what they say and do what they say. ladies and gentlemen, on that score, this isn't even close. the reason we're going to win ultimately, my buddy, and that's a heck of a way to refer to the president but he's my buddy, my friend has a backbone like a ramrod. i watched him never once put his political fortune ahead of what he thought was right for the country. >> that's joe biden laying the
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smack down on -- a sort of indirect smack down on mitt romney, challenging i think -- we talked about the core thing with mitt romney and we knew the obama campaign would use that as a serious messaging point, that mitt romney has no core. once again you see joe biden referring to obama's ramrod position on things. at a time when again, we are questioning just what mitt romney stands for. >> absolutely. i think that that's the clear sort of strategic reason you can see that ryan was chosen. we know what he stands for. that is going to be an issue, and how it plays i think is unclear yet. i think ryan solves to a certain extent the conservative problem but he doesn't solve the middle class problem and i think that that is still going to be a key issue in this election, the economy and how it affects the middle class. >> i want to read a quote from mark mckinnon, gop strategist extraordinaire, talking about the choice of paul ryan. he says i think it's a very bold choice and an exciting and interesting pick. it's going to elevate the campaign into a debate over big ideas. it means romney/ryan can run on principles and provide some real
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direction and vision for the republican party. and probably lose. now, this goes back to what we were talking about, consternation, although i believe that's more than consternation. that's just pure pessimism. and a really interesting analysis in politico yesterday, saying many observers believe romney must make the ryan selection less about specific policy arguments and more of a general statement about his own values, about his own seriousness, self-confidence and willingness to embrace political risk to solve big problems. not about political sort of machinery of politics but about the chemistry of a candidate. >> but this is a presidential campaign. the democrats are already playing really dirty. you are giving them so much material. there are so many ryan budgets. there's not just one. there's three or four. they're all in black and white and that was fine when the republicans were in the minority and he's just throwing out some ideas like let's privatize social security, let's change
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medicare, let's radically alter the way the government functions, but to put that person on your ticket and stand next to him day in and day out is so naive to think that you're going to be able to distance yourself from that. when he stands next to paul ryan, paul ryan does have a core. believes in these things. that's why people love him in republican circles but then it contrasts with the way romney is so unwilling to even act like he's even met paul ryan before sometimes. >> also, if you want the credit for being bold and substantive and taking risk, you have to be bold and substantive and attach yourself to the actual risk. it's just not clear if he'll do that right now. >> exactly right. >> jose, do you think there is time, 80 some days to go until the election, for mitt romney to try and position himself as a different kind of candidate? >> i don't know if he has time for that. i'm not sure. but i tell you what, i think that coming out of the conventions, both conventions, both sides have the opportunity to really fine-tune a message, a one united message, each party
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saying this is what we will do if we get to the white house. and if that message really does, removing all the clutter, come through as african-americans, you have a 14% unemployment rate, hispanics, you have a 10.3% unemployment rate, there are millions of people underemployed or unemployed and we have the formula to fix it. they're not going to get the majority of the african-american vote or hispanic vote, but maybe just one message free of all this ridiculous clutter that we have been seeing may be that they'll have a chance to do. >> we will see. that's some ground to make up in the next couple weeks. after the break, stop me if you have heard this one. a mormon and a catholic get on a bus, dot, dot, dot. we'll discuss romney, ryan and religion next. the capital one cash rewards card
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later this hour, president obama will speak in iowa, the second of a three-day bus tour through the hawkeye state. four years ago, the president won iowa by nine points. one factor that might impact his margins this year is the catholic vote, who make up a quarter of the population in iowa, roughly equal to the percentage of total catholics in america. in 2008, those voters in iowa broke for the president by a margin of 18 points, but frustration over the contraception mandate in the president's affordable care act could have previous supporters taking a second look. team romney is betting that paul ryan, a practicing catholic, will help chip away at that voting bloc but the congressman has run into his own problems
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with the catholic church. this past may, the u.s. conference of catholic bishops criticized paul ryan's budget proposal, writing to congress quote, deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility efforts must protect and not undermine the needs of poor and vulnerable people. the proposed cuts to programs in the budget reconciliation fail this basic moral test. paul ryan's opponent in this race, vice president joe biden, is also catholic but has a significantly different record on social programs and social issues. the director of policy research at catholic university of america says these candidates embody different parts of the catholic faith. biden's catholicism is the catholicism of ethnic neighborhoods and union halls. congressman ryan's catholicism is about obedience to the bishops, pro-life politics, and reflects the professional class of catholics who made it out of the old neighborhood and into the suburbs. joining the panel is msnbc contributor ari melber of the nation. the catholic question is something we have bandied about
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a lot and each time we talk about it, i try and repeat the refrain catholics are not a monolithic voting bloc. do you think paul ryan can help mitt romney make up ground among catholic voters? a pew poll out this month shows overall, president obama has a nine point lead over mitt romney among catholics. among white catholics, mitt romney has a five point lead. >> i do think ryan can help with the catholic vote. he's a very devout, almost evangelical breed of catholic. it's interesting when you say it's not monolithic. you have to look at joe biden and paul ryan, you see two different generations of catholicism right there. somebody like paul ryan will be very, very popular in suburban areas where there's sort of a newer catholicism that really is much more focused on pro-life issues, less focused on poverty issues. if it is a poverty issue, they want to solve it themselves within the church. they don't want the government to be part of it. i think that it is going -- obama already had problems with
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the catholic vote. i think ryan can help romney shore that up a little bit or even quite a bit. but again, it's very unusual i think to see the bishops come out and start to push the poverty issue because they were so aggressively involved in the health care debate on the abortion issue specifically and to see them bring in focus will force other catholics to focus as well. >> two sides of the church as well opposing the contraception mandate and on the other hand fighting for the poor and working class. i guess the question, this is what i wonder, the president is dispatched his chief emissary to suburban working voters. joe biden is out on the trail right now, tenacious as ever. my guess would be, you need paul ryan to play among that same subset of white working class catholic voters, that the evangelical sort of more formalized bishop-loving catholics, the ones that are described, are already going to go for mitt romney. where this dog fight will happen
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is among those sort of swing state i will point out white catholics dominate the rust belt. 2008 exit poll showed that in iowa, catholics are 26% of the vote, white catholics basically the same, 24%. wisconsin catholics are 33% of the vote. ohio catholics are 23% of the vote. michigan, 26% of the vote. those are effectively white catholi catholics. >> that's right. if you look at the top ten protestant participation states, 9 of 10 are red states. that's pretty much probably in the bag. the question is what can you do with the margins. i disagree with patricia's analysis because i don't think we're talking about a typical republican plan here. i think we are talking about a plan that is fundamentally cruel. you have a candidate here who is very nice, seems genial, democrats, independents and republicans who work with him say he's a nice guy. that may be. that may be. but the plan, anyone who has watched "now" knows about this from before he got the national spotlight. this plan is unusually and
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intensely cruel and the biggest cuts aren't even medicare which is going to hurt them in florida as you discussed previously. the biggest cuts are to medicaid which is for the poorest people in our country. so when you talk about religious values, you talk about life, if you get into the details here, i think it's tough to say that paul ryan reflects the values. i don't speak for the church but that's a problem for him. >> if catholics are pushed to vote between life and poverty, a significant number will go for life. >> that is something that paul ryan has touted, we will talk about that more when we get into the women's issue questions but the life question is something that mitt romney and paul ryan are sort of standing behind proudly. but to your point, ari, to have the u.s. conference of catholic bishops say your plan, paul ryan, the plan you are putting forward, is effectively not a moral plan, it's a searing in indictment. >> remember the busload of nuns that talked about this plan and how cruel it was.
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to your point about the white catholics in the rust belt, a lot of them are unemployed. a lot are men that have lost their jobs. i think the poverty thing will be a bigger issue than we think. >> briefly, there's a notion in washington that he's a budget hawk. he's not a budget hawk. he's a poverty hawk. he's a charity hawk. he wants to cut certain parts of the budget and he says it will go to deficit reduction but he doesn't want to cut other things. dennis kucinich wasn't called a hawk for wanting to cut defense spending, one of the biggest contributions to the deficit, right? there will be a big debate among people who want to talk about life and the social issues and people who say wait a minute, this is not the status quo. this is a radical restructuring and it goes after the poor. >> jose, what's also interesting about this in terms of history, you may have, if mitt romney wins, you don't have a protestant on the ticket. you have a mormon and catholic in the white house, which is very different than historical trend. the other issue is that mitt romney didn't pick an evangelical christian.
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tim pawlenty would have been a good pick on that level because i believe his pastor is one of the heads of the national evangelical association. do you think that reflects a certain confidence on the part of team romney? >> i love listening to you guys because i simply don't have an answer. i'm glad you guys do. >> that's why we're here. >> that's right. thank you for helping. there is also a third kind of catholic, the catholic of our lady of guadeloupe, who is the patron saint of mexico, the virgin of the americas. she really talks about taking care of the poor. she was spotted by a very poor man and a lot of people in this country look at how politicians talk about religion not as much about budgets and this and that. it's how they respect the institution of the church. i'm talking about a percentage of latinos, for example, that don't go regularly to church, but want to make sure that their
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politicians are respectful of the church. how they discuss politics and the church. i've got to tell you something. know who's been really good at this? biden. >> i was going to say -- >> went to mexico and prayed and wept and that said more to many people than a lot of this discussion about if you're a budget hawk or poor hawk or all of these things which are valid, but i think it's just the tone. the respect that you have towards those who believe in god and the respect that you have for those who believe that there is a dogma they must live under. >> and you talk about biden, he has woven catholicism into the narrative of his own personal narrative in a way that is totally natural and seems to be very much of a piece with who he is, and -- >> a lot of catholics do that. >> yeah. exactly. >> without bull horning it across the country or without -- which biden has done
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successfully. >> interesting to see when there is the head-to-head between joe biden and paul ryan, two different catholics of two different stripes, just how they each do it in their own style. we have to leave it there. jose diaz-balart, thank you as always. jose will be filling in today on "news nation" right here on msnbc at 2:00 p.m. eastern. do not miss that. coming up, the justice department stands vigil at a series of florida primaries. we investigate the latest electoral hocus-pocus, ahead. you know, we're a little early for this thing...
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coverage. >> we're seeing this new government activism, sort of a paternalistic arrogant political philosophy that puts new government rights in the way of our constitutional rights. it's really not about contraception. it's about violating our first amendment rights to religious freedom and of conscience. >> we'll take a closer look at ryan's potential female problem next. [ male announcer ] when a major hospital wanted to provide better employee benefits while balancing the company's bottom line, their very first word was... [ to the tune of "lullaby and good night" ] ♪ af-lac ♪ aflac [ male announcer ] find out more at... [ duck ] aflac! [ male announcer ] [ yawning sound ] who learned to fly. not with wings or jetpack. but with her new dell laptop and a little ingenuity too. ♪ her fast processor made for a smooth take off.
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the romney/ryan agenda and funding for planned parenthood's basic health care and safe and legal abortion, dismantle the medicare and medicaid women and families count on. romney and ryan really out of touch, really wrong for women. >> that was a new ad looking to
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define congressman paul ryan in the eyes of women voters. women's rights groups have declared ryan quote, bad for women and quote, extremely anti-choice. they point to his support for defunding planned parenthood and his vote in favor of the protect life act, a bill that would allow hospitals to deny abortions to women even in emergency situations. ryan's views make him so anti-choice that the national right to life committee gave him a 100% positive rating. in fact, they say ryan has voted 59 times against reproductive rights. needless to say, this could add to governor romney's problem with women voters. case in point, according to the latest nbc news/"wall street journal" poll, president obama leads romney among women voters by 15 points, 54% to 39%. rana, we talk a lot about how romney does among women. these are not good trend lines. the question is, how much women are going to be paying attention to paul ryan's positions while he's been in congress. >> i think they are absolutely paying attention. this is a core issue.
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i think that these sorts of social issues really raise the question of just how radical ryan is and that's something that's going to come up again and again. i think it will be a huge factor and to the extent they veer in that direction towards social issues in general, it's not a good thing for the campaign. >> the question also is, you know, when we talk about social issues, we have unpacked or are beginning to unpack a lot of ryan's fiscal policy positions. the social issues question is one that mitt romney seems confident is going to play well for him among the electorate. worth noting that president obama is talking about wind energy in iowa, expected to him mitt romney hard on that, but going back to the social issue question, can they stake out a very far right position and win the race? >> i'm not sure it matters, frankly. look, a version of that ad would have been run against romney if bella abzug was his running mate. if it was someone who was liberal on abortion, they would say wait, romney isn't and
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that -- it doesn't really matter. it will be the same no matter what. frankly, i think that the whole idea that somehow being, you know, pro-abortion or pro-life or whatever is like the thing, there are plenty of women who are socially conservative, who don't favor abortion rights. >> it's beyond just the choice issue, too. we're not talking about personhood amendments, we're talking about stuff happening at the state level which is far more i think extreme if we're characterizing this as far as women's rights and women's health care than legislation has been in quite some time, and the fact that so far, from the romney/ryan ticket we're not seeing any sort of sense that they're concerned about that. >> i actually agree with nick on this in that a lot of conservative women are going to go bananas for paul ryan. they appreciate somebody who is so solidly pro-life and there are a number -- >> is this about the blue eyes?
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>> the place where i think paul ryan is going to be a huge drag on the romney ticket is the medicare question and the medicaid question, because women are, when you start to unpack these polls, the only people more hostile to his position on medicare than seniors are women. >> i believe 69% of beneficiaries are women. >> they have to take care of their parents, they have to worry about their children who may or may not be on medicaid. women are the ones dealing with the issues and when you see paul ryan's budget in black and white, it is really terrifying to a number of women. how am i going to take care of this, how do i make ends meet. >> also for single women and single mothers that are becoming a more important voting bloc, that's a crucial point. >> that goes to the economic issues because single women tend to have less money, the ledbetter act goes to the question of whether you can enforce pay equity in the courts and the people who have less money and are single tend to rely more on government health care and assistance. i think the other counterpoint to mr. confessore is that
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there's also the question of romney 1.0 and 2.0. nick's right, this is not going to be the kind of social issues election we have seen in the past in a national race, but if ryan looks like this uber-conservative validation of romney 2.0, romney from the primaries, romney, who has changed all these positions, that is a connective tissue with all the other ways that he is coming down to the right. >> speaking of mitt romney, the presumptive republican presidential nominee is now speaking at an ohio coal mine, there to highlight how his energy policy differs from that of the president. it's interesting because we are talking about the big issues which is fiscal policy, budget, social programs, the american social safety net, women's issues, social issues, and the two folks running for the highest office in the land are talking about wind energy, which certainly is not an unimportant thing, but if you talk about what's on the mind of voters, i don't think -- >> well, in iowa, it's a big
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deal. there's a lot of wind farms and jobs there. >> exactly. if you talk about winning iowa, that's a different story entirely. i think ari, to your point, patricia, to yours, too, on face value, i understand how conservative women or single working women may think paul ryan is trying to clean this up, he really cares about fiscal priorities. then once you unpack the suitcase and then you have someone like mitt romney who again has not supported lily ledbetter. you have not only the contraception mandate but ryan co-sponsored a bill to give fetuses personhood rights. he's voted at least four times to defund planned parenthood. these are ways, this is not as joe biden is want to say, your father's republican party or your grandfather's republican party. >> it is standard republican fare in 2012. this is right up the middle for the republican party, the way the majority of house republicans voted on all of these issues. we have seen ryan has actually
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been loathe to take a different path from house republicans over the years and this is really no exception. but i don't think any republican on this ticket would have had to check those boxes. that's why somebody like condoleezza rice was a total nonstarter. paul ryan is just playing straight up the middle to whoever was going to be on this ticket when it comes to the life issue but i think it's the economic policies that are really going to get this ticket in trouble. >> i don't think alex is asking whether this is in line with the house republicans who have the lowest approval rating of any congress in the history of approval ratings. that's major. i think what you're getting at is does this work in iowa, in florida, even in texas, where grassroots tea party republicans buck the establishment, bucked the republican leadership and went with somebody different, somebody who is a conservative, i wouldn't diminish that at all, but i don't think he ran in texas on granting personhood to a fetus. that was not his focus. the problem with paul ryan will be this radification of all
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those questions. >> you can bet, though, that the obama campaign is using a microtargeted strategy to go at women, to go at minorities, to go at young people and this is certainly going to be a plank in that. they have as we have said a couple times on this show, a few tools in the arsenal with which to fight. we have to go to break. next monday, "now" and specifically i will host a special on women in politics. we will look at why we are underrepresented in today's government and what can be done to inspire younger generations of women. our lineup includes senator gillibrand and elizabeth warren. that is must-see tv, my friends. after the break, loose lips sink ships and sometimes campaigns. team romney's senior advisor is no stranger to foot in mouth disease. remember this exchange about the supreme court's health ruling? >> the governor believes that what we put in place in massachusetts was a penalty and he disagrees with the court's ruling that the mandate was a
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tax. >> but he agrees with the president that it is not, he believes that you shouldn't call the tax penalty a tax, you should call it a penalty or a fee or a fine? >> that's correct. but the president also needs to be held accountable for his hypocritical and contradictory statements. >> it's all well in romney land. we will ask the writers of a revealing new story, coming up next. juicy brats grilled up on a thursday. the perfect use of the 7th inning stretch. get that great taste anytime with kingsford match light charcoal. but last year my daughter was checking up on me. i wasn't eating well. she's a dietitian and she suggested i try boost complete nutritional drink to help get the nutrition i was missing. now i drink it every day, and i love the great taste. [ female announcer ] boost has 26 essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin d to help keep bones strong
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♪ power surge, let it blow your mind. [ male announcer ] for fruits, veggies and natural green tea energy... new v8 v-fusion plus energy. could've had a v8. if people had been in massachusetts under governor romney's health care plan, they would have had health care. >> that was romney's campaign spokeswoman last week defending her boss by pointing to the signature health care law that governor romney wants voters to forget. conservative columnists called for her to be fired and called it quote, the moment mitt romney lost the election. this was not the first time a romney spokesperson went off message. during the primary, eric
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fernstrom famously said this. >> i think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. everything changes. it's almost like an etch-a-sketch. you can kind of shake it up and we start all over again. >> fernstrom or fernie, as he is known, is the subject of a recent huffington post story which takes a look at his rise from ruthless tabloid reporter to top romney aide. reporters christina wilkie and jason cherkis wrote fernstrom's tactics can be felt at a granular level from the campaign bus honking outside obama events to romney's stunt press conference in front of solyndra during the federal contracting brou-haha involving the energy company. for all of his dexterity in spinning minor events into major distractions, however, fernstrom can just as easily be the romney campaign's own dust cloud. joining us now from washington, our huffington post reporters, christina wilkie and jason cherkis. great to see you guys. jason, talk to us a little about how fernstrom, who sounds a
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little wild, fits into the broader picture that we have, this broader narrative that mitt romney's team is staffed by sort of buttoned-up suit wearing data driven private sector bain employees. >> i think that he fits in the role in that he's not that way. i think that romney appreciates fernstrom sort of attack dog mode. i think that as a journalist in boston pointed out, in many ways, romney is very much in the corporate world when he was in bain, he was sort of an attack dog, you know, bottom line kind of guy. i think that's where he and fernstrom sort of make that connection, that fernstrom is often his own -- often romney's voice and i think romney approves whatever fernstrom says and does and they kind of have each other's back in that kind of way. >> christina, we talked earlier in the program about maybe a lack of discipline or strategy in tackling some of the bigger, incendiary topics in mitt romney's history and fernstrom
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himself seems to be a sort of incendiary, fiery, maybe undisciplined kind of strategist. i want to read one piece from -- a bit from your story that stuck out. it says one incident still stands out. fernstrom had been on an overseas calling with an advisor when the call abruptly dropped. he pulled out the phone from the wall and knocked down his computer at the same time. fernstrom marched out of his office with phone in his hand like a dead limb. he went to where jillson sat and quote, threw it at my wastepaper basket. this is an expletive piece of expletive. she remembered fernstrom yelling at her get rid of it, do something about this. when they inspected the phone they realized it wasn't broken, fernstrom had inadvertently pressed the do not disturb button. that kind of temper and anger, how do you think, you talk about it's present at every level of this campaign, granular and beyond. how is that reflected, sometimes when we look at the mitt romney messaging campaign, it seems somewhat undisciplined.
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is he implicated in any of that? >> i don't have any sound. >> jason, do you think that eric, his sort of by the seat of his pants mechanics is making his way into romney's strategy? >> i totally agree with that. we saw that recently when one of their spokespeople flipped out at the press and i think called them names during the overseas trip. i think that's also reflected in their press strategy, that they limit romney at various events, keep it very tight disciplined in terms of his access to reporters, and i think that they have a very antagonistic approach to the media. i think that's reflected in both fehrnstrom's long history with the media. there are few people that hate journalists more than an ex-journalist and he is certainly an ex-journalist.
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i think that his sort of antagonistic attitude is reflective in the way the romney people handle press. >> you know, what's been sort of pronounced as there have been these gaffes and foot-in-mouth disease, is it reluctance on the part of the romney campaign to chastise or criticize any members of its coven, if you will, which is similar to the white house. the obama campaign is notoriously insular. i want to read a quote from the piece. as fehrnstrom's influence rose, stafferers above and below him were concerned he was being given too long a leash by the candidate. he can be dismissive or hostile towards colleagues. once according to a high level staffer, a female job candidate complained about him and a xleeg's inappropriate behavior during an interview. the senior aide started keeping a record of potential legal liabilities related to fehrnstrom which is pretty serious.
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we think about that in the vein of rupert murdoch's tweet where he suggested mitt romney needs a new staff, he tweeted that mitt romney last week, tough old chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros, doubtful. christina, that is entirely doubtful, is it not? >> yes. all we've seen of romney thus far is that he is completely loyal to fehrnstrom, who saw him through his loss in 2008 which was devastating, but he was there for every piece of it and they have been forged in the fire and there's no indication that there's going to be any change within mitt romney's closest group. he's had the same people with him for ten years and they really know him and running for president is so trying on a person that they have his trust and he knows they have his back, and that's who he's going to stick with. >> thanks to christina wilkie and jason cherkis. check out our facebook page for more on their article.
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welcome back. time for "what now." the department of justice is monitoring five florida counties during today's state primary to ensure election officials are providing language assistance to spanish-speaking voters. ari, we talked a lot about what's going on at the voting booth and what will likely go on in the voting booths. this is interesting insofar the doj has a case against the state of florida for its -- what they deem illegal purging of voter rolls. to me this sounds like a little bit of payback, the doj is monitoring five counties where, in 1972, there may have been a violation of the voting rights act. are you bullish or bearish about the issue of voter fraud and american awareness about it and also the doj's pursuit of the
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issue? >> i'm bearish. i think it has reached a highly politicized point. i think that's because republicans started the war on voting with a lot of very restrictive laws in state legislatures which you covered and which we know about. but the reality is if you look at this from a reform agenda, look at nonpartison groups, what they find is a hire politicization of the issue so even people who might have thought of it before as a rights issue which it is, now see it as something that the parties are just fighting over. that's bad for true reform. >> then there's also the issue of winning campaigns and elections and the realities of the demographics affected by this and both parties have a vested interest in making sure that the voter rolls are either purged or not. we won't get to talk in detail about the fact that miriam webster is not today added the term f-bomb -- >> what took so long? >> also, sexting, man-cave, not
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related, game changer. >> english is such an adaptable language. we're not like the french who try and keep new words out of the dictionary. >> nobody knows what sexting is. >> no one knows -- do you know what flexatarian is? >> cafeteria vegetarian. >> she has all the answers. thanks again to nicholas, rana, patricia and ari. that's all for now. see you back here tomorrow at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific when i am joined by patricia murphy, samstein, mr. sunday morning, eric lindgren and dr. jeffrey sachs. "andrea mitchell reports" is next live from chicago. good afternoon to you, andrea in the windy city. thanks so much. coming up next, our exclusive interview with new york city mayor michael bloomberg, joining me to talk about the one issue that he thinks the candidates should be talking about but are
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not talking about in this election that would make a real game change to speak of a new word, a game change in the economy. that plus stephanie cutter and governor john sununu. all of that on "andrea mitchell reports." stay with us. across the country, we have areas of rain and today, we'll have thunderstorms on and off eastern half of the country, some minor airport delays. it won't be that bad. from boston, you look dry. new york to d.c. to philly, to baltimore, probably the best concentration of late afternoon storms into the early evening. also a chance for some of those storms in atlanta.
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the beaches are beautiful, the seafood is delicious. last year, many areas even reported record tourism seasons. the progress continues... but that doesn't mean our job is done. we're still committed to seeing this through. right now on "andrea mitchell reports" who is paul ryan? the two campaigns battle to define the new candidate across five battleground states. >> he's the idealogical leader of the republicans in congress and he's an articulate spokesperson for governor romney's views. the problem is, those views are wrong. i fundamentally disagree with their vision for america. >> what happened to iowa nice? hecklers go after ryan at the state fair. >> i think -- >> are you going


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