tv Martin Bashir MSNBC August 27, 2012 4:00pm-5:00pm EDT
>> show who he is. what's in his heart. >> all i can do is be who i am. remember that pop line, i am what i am and that's all what i am. >> extreme positions that are very consistent with the positions that a number of house republicans have taken. >> there's going to be cuts made to a lot of programs that people aren't going to like. >> this whole campaign has been about dividing the american people. >> no one's ever asked to see my birth certificate. they know that this is the place that we were born and raised. >> this was a swipe at the president. and i wonder why you took it. >> no, no, not a swipe. >> it was a joke. >> that keep shot about, i don't have a problem with my birth certificate, was awful. it is an embarrassment to your party to play that card. >> and humor, we've got to have a little humor in a campaign as well. >> this whole campaign has been about dividing the american people. >> no one's ever asked to see my birth certificate. >> we've got to have a little humor in the campaign as well. >> i'm not exactly sure what i said, but i stand by what i said, whatever it was.
♪ we begin as the republican party plays hurry-up-and-wait, getting its convention officially underway, and immediately putting it on hold until tuesday. here was the scene down in tampa, just a short time ago. >> but it's my privilege to proclaim the 2012 republican national convention in session and called to order. >> about one minute later, the convention stood in recess, with chairman reince priebus staying only long enough to set up not one, but two large deck clocks, proving that no tropical storm should ever get in the way of pumping up the optics. and not only does isaac threaten to blow out coverage of romney's latest reintroduction to voters, the romney also has to clean up the damage and debris from last week's blizzard caused by the
"legitimate rape" remarks by congressman todd akin and then worsened by romney's own ill-advised birther joke on friday, if you could call it a joke. that remark earning rnc reince priebus a political spanking from my colleague, chris matthews. funny too that romney seems to think that he's the one being subjected to dishonest, vicious attacks. telling "usa today," "i do think that the president's campaign of personal vilification and demonization probably draws some people away from me." i see, it must be the president's fault. it couldn't possibly be that romney's own campaign of lies, such as the one where he says the president removed the work requirement for welfare, are insulting the electorate. absolutely not. indeed, according to "usa today," "romney defends the welfare ads as accurate, accusing obama of offering state waivers as a political calculation designed to shore up
his base for the election." right, well, i guess romney's calculating that since he's got zero percent among african-americans, a big fat goose egg with black voters, a 35-point gap with latinos, a 10-point deficit with women, he can't even convince a third of voters that he cares about average people. he's gambling that he can rally the base, comprised largely of white guys like him and win this thing. how's that going to work out? jeb bush? >> our demographics are changing, and we have to change, not necessarily our core beliefs, but how we -- the tone of our message and the message and the intensity of it, for sure. but long-term, conservative principles, if they're to be successful and implemented, there has to be a concerted effort to reach out to a much broader audience than we do today. >> in other words, that's a big gamble. let's get right to our panel. in the belly of the beast, msnbc contributor, jonathan capehart, with us from tampa.
and in washington, msnbc political analyst, karen finney. karen, if i might begin with you. we've had mitt romney talking about the president giving free stuff to his supporters, code for black welfare recipients. we've had ryan and romney talking about a president who loves nothing more than to make americans totally dependent upon welfare. code for black recipients. last friday, he stoops into the gutter by making a comment about nobody needing to check his birth certificate. now we hear romney saying the president's welfare policy is designed to shore up his base. karen, why doesn't mitt romney come out and say it, that he believes this president exists solely to create black dependence on welfare. >> you know, martin, because this candidate has not shown much courage in anything that he said. so i think he's going to continue to dance around it and they're going to continue to try to take this half step away, so that as you saw reince priebus do this morning, when i thought chris matthews did such an
excellent job, really confronting this head-on, you know, they want to be able to continue to dance around it. but the fact remains that it was in the '70s when the neocons really took this concept of the culture of poverty, and really this idea of associating government programs and assistance with -- and it became, you know, associated with african-americans and in our minds, i guess the way the sort of evolution, the anthropology of it is, this association with people as being undeserving. and studies, as very recently, have shown that frankly republicans are more likely than democrats, frankly, to believe that people who are on these programs are less deserving. and in our minds, it conjures up african-americans. so what they're trying to do is say it without saying it. they're saying all of the code phrases that play into this the language, without being able to really say it, because they don't want to be accused of actually saying it. >> yeah, but john, karen says they're not saying it, but it sounds to me like a chorus. i mean, i'm relatively new to
this country, but it's deafening. it's perfectly obvious to me what the guy's saying. >> yes, and as "the new york times" reported on saturday, you know, the romney campaign is taking a sharp tone and a sharp turn to not so much gain the favor of voting blocs that might want to vote for him and vote for a republican, if their policies weren't so uninviting, but it's all about going after working class, middle class white voters. and, you know, to piggyback on what karen was saying, the message here is, these programs, for those people, who are taking your tax dollars and using them on those people who don't want to work, who don't want to be productive members of society, and as karen says, when you heard "food stamp president," when you hear talk about doing away with welfare work requirements, subconsciously, the image goes back to something
ronald reagan introduced to the political lexicon, the welfare queen. >> right. but, john, doesn't romney's approach reveal his own fundamental problem here. that he's essentially torn between two ambitions. he needs to convince his base that he's severely conservative, but at the same time, he needs to convince swing voters that he's not an extremist, with views like those, for example, held by todd akin. the result is a man who's literally torn two ways in his personality. >> well, "legitimate rape" does turn away -- the phrasing, "legitimate rape," is extreme and it turns away a lot of people who might think that he might be moderate. but when you have, as karen was saying, these code words, talking about welfare, talking about food stamps, talking about other things where the coding is softer, it allows people to not view what they're saying as extreme. i don't see mitt romney as being torn into two pieces. i actually see him as being someone who is held captive to the far right wing of his party. just to win the presidency.
>> but here's the broader problem, as i see it. if you give mitt romney -- this is the problem i think the party is having, frankly, writ large. if you give mitt romney the benefit of the doubt, that he really didn't get that that joke was not funny and that was dog whistle politics and that his ad on welfare reform is racist, then you have to say, well, this guy does not understand that we are a majority/minority country. i mean, he accuses obama of not understanding our country and how the economy works. guess what, mister, you've got to understand the diversity of this country and that there is a segment of the population, that's how we hear those kinds of phrases. it may not be what you intended, but that's how people hear it, and you're asking those people to trust you or to vote for you -- >> but karen, john sununu says the president doesn't understand what it means to be american. >> my point is, so either, on the one hand, if you give the benefit of the doubt to mitt romney nah he doesn't realize what's going on here when he says these things, that's one side. on the other side, which i think is more likely, they know
exactly what they're doing and they know exactly what they're saying, just as jonathan was pointing out. and i think the question is, and i think the issue that our country is facing is, we are changing. the country is not the country that john sununu and others want it to be back in the 1950s. it is a very different country. we look different, we act different, our culture is different, our economy is different. and we've all got to come together and deal with that rather than trying to continue to divide each other, which is what this strategy is all about. >> and yet, karen and john, and if i can go to john now, i keep hearing republican politicians saying they want to take america back. they want to take it back from this president. they must mean what karen's just said. >> well, right, they want to take this country back to a mythical time when everything was just fine, when, you know, moms stayed at home and dad worked and there were 2.5 children in a yard that was guarded by a white picket fence. and those days, i mean, those are the days of hollywood. those days never really existed. and i think if the republican
party wants to no longer be a regional reactionary -- a regional reactionary monolithic party, it's going to have to start focusing on the vast middle of this country, that is tired of the dog whistle politics, and really wants solutions to problems that know no racial boundary, know no partisan boundary. the economy, jobs, health care, the future direction of this country deserves, and the american people want, a leader who is going to come up with proposals and policies and ideas that will get us to that point. >> but recognize -- i think part of this, though, is what i'm saying, you have to recognize that the middle of this country is no longer white. it's not just white men, it's not just white women. it's african-americans, it's latinos, it's asians. i mean, we are a multi-cultural country. we are not -- you cannot just put people in these cookie cutter assumptions about who's going to vote for what. you've got to have a broader understanding about the demographics of this country and how people are experiencing the economy in this country as well
as the social/cultural issues in this country. >> and the fact also that people of color contribute and are not simp simply dependent. thank you both for joining us. next, mitt romney just can't get the right answer when it comes to his taxes. stay with us. >> well, first of all, there was no reduction, not one dollar reduction in taxes by virtue of having an account in switzerland or a cayman islands investment. those -- the dollars of taxes remain exactly the same. there was no tax savings at all. >> jerry, just remember, it's not a lie if you believe it. [ maouer sake cale
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it is the most obvious question that arises every time there's a discussion about mitt romney's taxes. if there was no financial benefit, then why didn't he just get rid of all those exotic foreign investments in places like the cayman islands, switzerland, and luxembourg? after all, he had plenty of time to do so before the campaign started. wouldn't it make much sense to clean the slate, if you will, and spare yourself such a chronic political headache? ♪ >> just a smart leader. >> but why, if that's the case, did mr. romney bother sending so much of his money overseas in the first place? we're joined now by "the guardian's" ana marie cox and julian epstein. julian, if i may, if mr. romney got absolutely nothing, zero, from stashing millions of dollars overseas, if he was not evading taxes, then can you
please explain to our viewers what the point of doing so in the first place was? >> well, the phrase that comes to mind is, "oh, what a tangled web we weave." >> that's not an explanation, julian. >> it's surprising that romney would go there when it's so easy to just do a google search and to find that tax experts say that the purpose of cayman island investments is tax avoidance. let's just look at the facts here. in 2010, romney had about $2.7 million in foreign earnings. he paid $54 -- he had a tax liability of $54,000. that's less than 2%. of that tax liability, he was able to use other foreign tax credits to pay virtually nothing on that $2.7 million in foreign investments. >> okay, julian, i want -- >> now, explain to me -- >> i want, if i may, we made a slight mistake in our introduction to you. i want to play you the sound from mr. romney. we are going to play it originally before you started
speaking. we're going to listen to it and then i would like you to continue, julian. listen to this. >> well, first of all, there was no reduction, not one dollar reduction in taxes by virtue of having an account in switzerland or a cayman islands investment. those -- the dollars of taxes remained exactly the same. there was no tax savings at all. and the conduct of the trustee in making investments was entirely consistent with u.s. law. and all the taxes paid were those legally owed, and there was no tax savings by virtue of those entities. >> so again, julian, what was the point? >> well, again, this is -- he's parsing and using so many words, so that he can try to explain this away, in so many different ways. but at the end of the day, he's going to keep this story alive. and as i said before, $2.7 million in foreign investments in 2010. his tax liability was $54,000, which was about 2%. of that liability, he was able to reduce that to virtually
nothing after other foreign taxes and credits. if you explain to me, he had $2.7 million in investment income, how he could get that down to virtually zero tax liability, that's issue one. if you look at what he did with his domestic income in the year 2010, he was able to, and this was reported by "the huffington post" and daily coast, he was able to claim $500,000 in tax deductions, or -- and credits, during that year, because he says he was an active participant in decisions that were being made by bain capital. now, as we've discussed on this show, he said in 1999 that he's had no activity, no substantial activity in bain from 1999 onwards. in that's the case, how is it that he is claiming active involvement in the year 2010 to come up with $500,000 in tax savings? you know -- >> it is remarkable. >> -- he is keeping this story alive by spinning it a thousand ways. and as i said, what a tangled web we weave. >> ana marie, we are learning a little more this weekend about ann romney's role in her
husband's campaign. i would like you to take a listen to her. >> do you give your husband advice? >> not on policy. >> do you give advice on strategy? do you give advice on staff? >> poor mitt, he gets advice from everybody, even me. >> i was going to say, i didn't know she didn't give advice on policy. >> yeah, i might weigh in on that too, sometimes. there's going to be cuts made to a lot of programs people aren't going to like. and it's just what the reality of the situation is right now. >> that sounds to me like a policy position, seeking to make cuts to government contributions to people's lives. i mean, what is she talking about? of course she gives advice. >> yeah, it would be be actually kind of odd if she didn't. i think the republican war on women, one of the problems with it, they do understand that once you're face to face with a woman, you can't really go to war with her, especially if it's not your wife. i'm not too disturbed that he listens to ann romney.
i think he should listen to her more. i think her policies towards women would be a little more empathetic, if he did. >> but ana marie, she just there said that she does not give him policy advice and then proceeds to do so. i'm not bothered, one way or another. but it seems ridiculous if you live your life with your marital adviser for so many years that you don't share views on politics. but she said, i don't give him any advice, and then she said, actually, there are going to be cuts. >> reporter: in that case, there's either something in the romney household's water that causes people to flip-flop. maybe there's something in the air, if you're in the zone of mitt romney, you're going to change your mind within the space of a breath. i mean, like i said, i don't mind either way. i think it's -- i think that it's almost an odd question to ask if someone does give -- if a wife does give advice or not. i mean, we want people to make decisions after consulting with all the people in their lives. i think mitt romney's problem
is, he doesn't really make decisions based on the information that he gets. he makes decisions based on what kind of, you know, what the poll numbers are and what kind of constituency he's trying to pander to. >> right. julian, mitt romney himself seems to know that he really could have avoided all of this the trouble over his taxes. take a listen. >> yeah, i could have done that, but i did live my life, and i expect that by virtue of disclosing all these things, people can look at it and see whether that's something they're comfortable with or not. i'm not going to the try to hide who i am and try to manipulate my life to try and avoid the truth. >> can you explain that for me, julian? >> yes, he's quoting popeye, i am who i am. but i think after you listen to him, he sounds a lot more like wimpy than he does popeye. you know, his father was -- you know, there is a saying, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. i think it's different in romney's case. his father, during the 1964
republican convention, refused to play the race card. romney, with his reference to the birther movement, clearly is making some pretty untoward inferences. his father was very clear about the release of tax records, to avoid questions about what somebody has been doing. romney has not followed that advice, you know. and as david axelrod says, this is the most secretive candidate we've had since richard nixon. you know, this is a guy, he wants to talk about policy, he's got no policy to talk about. we can't get away from the tax issue. doesn't want to explain the archie bunker platform on which they're running, doesn't have an affirmative economic agenda to talk about, so i think he goes into the agenda with a very curious framing. >> okay. well, ana marie describe the atmosphere down this. julian's given us the political stroke policy predicament, that the romney candidacy is in, but what's it like down there in tampa? >> i think the thing i'm noticing, when you don't have a
positive policy to put forward, what you wind up doing is simply attacking the other side. so what i'm hearing today is simply a lot of mocking of obama, a lot of mocking of obama care. i went to one of the newt you panels this morning, and it consisted mainly of just people scaring the audience with facts that were disingenuous, not even facts, really, about what might happen to medicare. i think that that's sort of the only thing that binds this audience together. this constituency together right n now. i mean, they're having a lot of problems with the base. they're having a lot of problems with the coherent message. the only coherent message is a negative one. >> i think that's a brilliant description of his candidacy, ana marie. ana marie cox and julian epstein, thank you so much. stay with us. we've got much more ahead. >> she also got me one of these three-packs of shirts yesterday from costco. they're very nice shirts. >> the kirkland shirts. he's wearing them all the time now. i'm like, hey, that shirt looks pretty good. i got it at costco. my volt is the best vehicle i've ever driven.
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after lashing florida with wind and rain, tropical storm isaac is now regaining force over the gulf of mexico and taking aim at the gulf coast. isaac is expected to reach hurricane strength today, and to make landfall as soon as tomorrow night. joining us now live from new orleans is msnbc's gabe gutierrez. gabe, we're really close to the seventh anniversary, as you know, of hurricane katrina. now, isaac is nowhere near as strong as that storm, but what are officials doing to prepare this time around? >> reporter: well, martin, new orleans is under a state of emergency, and the national guard has been mobilized. local parishes are also handing out sandbags here, and the mayor urged about 900 residents who lived outside levee protection in eastern new orleans to evacuate. but he's stressing unlike katrina, this time around, there will be no shelter of last resort. no superdome and no convention center. now, fema officials are saying
that there is some concern that some people might be too focused on where the eye of this storm will make landfall, and the fact is, they expect this storm to have heavy storm surge and heavy rainfall, along the northern gulf coast. so, if there's a focus on where the eye hits, a lot of other people might be affected too. now, we just came from the lower ninth ward, the neighborhood that was decimated, of course, by hurricane katrina. a lot of the people there are evacuating, but we did find a few that say they do plan to ride this out. they say they trust the army corps of engineers and the improvements that have been made to the levee system, and they feel that hurricane isaac just won't be as strong as hurricane katrina. martin? >> nbc's gabe gutierrez. thanks so much, gabe. stay with us, the day's top lines are coming up. we make a simple thing.
from a sneak peek of his convention speech to the literal shirt off his back. here are today's top lines. grandparents eat first. >> i like my speech. >> can you give us a little preview? >> thank you, ladies and gentlemen. >> if voters take away one thing -- >> that i believe in america and in the american people. >> he has signed up for extreme positions. >> why didn't you go to the people running your blind trust and say to them, let's get out of the swiss bank accounts. let's get out of the investments in the cayman islands. >> the blind trust is an age-old ruse, if you will. if you will. if you will. could have said, don't make any investments in any foreign countries, but i did live my life. ♪ it's my life >> the obama-bashing at the republican convention is going to be delicious. you're going to love it. >> it will be pretty wild. it will be potent. >> a little humor always goes a long ways. >> i was completely fine.
>> but long-term conservative principles. there has to be a concerted effort to reach out to a much broader audience. >> i need to get 50.1% or more. >> this week is about telling the mitt romney story. >> peanut butter on my buttermilk pancake. that is sacrilege. >> dad always goes through the line first, because he doesn't want to wait for all the grandchildren, pause it tabecau forever. >> she got me one of these three-packs of shirts from costco and they're very nice shirts. >> i've never seen such beautiful shirts. >> this is not all about me. >> read my lips. >> it gets you right here. >> all i can do is be what i am. remember that popeye line? i am what i am and that's all that i am. >> let's get right to our panel in tampa, florida. site, perhaps, of the gop convention. "time" magazine's michael grunwald, the author of the new book "the new new deal," and nbc news deputy political director,
domenico and jimmy williams. domenico, what are we going to see in this convention? is this going to be mostly about mitt romney's vision for the future, or an endless series of teleprompter jokes and maybe even birther jokes? >> i think that mitt romney and the republicans are certainly waiting out this storm to see what happens here. they canceled most of today's activities. we're going to see most of those speeches moved into the next three days. and certainly mitt romney is going to need to fix a little bit of his image issues, where he's going to, you know, try to talk a little bit of that personal story, but we're going to see a lot of doubling down on that business experience and confidence, martin. >> okay. now, jimmy, we're learning that another gop senate candidate has been caught airing his views on the issue of rape and abortion. tom smith of pennsylvania was asked how he would convince a daughter or a granddaughter to keep a child that was the product of rape. now, smith tells the reporter that he actually lived through
the scenario. that he convinced her to keep the baby. but smith totally upends his story when he tells the reporter, don't get me wrong, it wasn't rape. here's what happens next. >> similar how? >> having a baby out of wedlock. >> that's similar to rape? >> no, no, no, but -- well, put yourself in a father's position, yes. i mean, it is similar. but back to the original, i'm pro-life, period. >> having a baby out of wedlock, put yourself in the father's situation, yes, it is similar. i mean, do they really need this? this is another republican candidate for the senate, after todd akin, making this obtuse comparison between having a child out of wedlock and having a child as a consequence of rape? >> let's set up a scenar. let's set up the scenario that todd akin becomes a united states senator, and whoever this yahoo! is --
>> todd smith. >> of the commonwealth of pennsylvania, and they are two senator who is will then vote on the issue of supreme court justices in a, quote, romney administration. i said on your show last week that women in this country should be terrified at this point. under that scenario, they should be more than terrified. i have never understood why it is that men try to tell women what they should do with their bodies, considering they've never been able to get pregnant once in their entire lives. god did not give me, jimmy williams, the right to put something into my body for nine months and put it out there for the world to see and to raise. my job is easy. so for guys, men, to tell women what they should do with their bodies, all under the guise of running for the united states senate, all under the guise of voting, potentially voting for supreme court justices, and telling women, no, it's not your body anymore, it's the government's body. that's a problem for me. >> michael, what's your reaction to this latest republican, making these kinds of comments?
>> you know, i think this is going to be a real issue for mitt romney, as it goes forward, because it reaches the point where every time some republican says something idiotic, everybody's going to be running with the microphones to mitt, and saying, well, what do you think of this? what do you think of this? when, obviously, he'd rather be talking about the economy. this is sort of -- it's going to be tough for him to sort of ride this tiger, where he's got a party that's become very extreme in recent years. sort of defined itself in opposition to obama, from day one, even before day one. things that they'd always been for, like, you know, stimulus during a downturn or the individual mandate for health care, or cap and trade for energy, suddenly all that became radical socialism. now mitt's going to have to decide what he's for, and if he's running the show or if the kind of crazies that he'd like not to be associated with are running the show. >> right. we should add, mike, that the background appears to be a rehearsal for a tribute to the
troops, which is great. and that will take place at the rnc convention. domenico, romney often touts his big, bold answers. can i ask you for a response. what do you think of this answer to a question of the big takeaway from his thursday speech? take a listen to this. >> that i believe in america, and in the american people. that i believe that this nation is unique and exceptional, and that we have everything we need to continue to lead the world in prosperity and in piece. >> domenico, that's been said by virtually every person who's ever run for office, in this country. >> well, sure. i mean, i think that this is something, though, that we've heard republicans continue to talk about. this idea of american exceptionalism. you heard reince priebus today on "morning joe" talk about how he doesn't think that president obama believes in the american dream. so, definitely, a different philosophy, especially on economics and how to get up the rungs on those ladders. and i think that that's mostly
what we're talking about here, is this dividing line, very stark, between both parties, on how to move up that ladder and what can be done to help people move into the middle class or up out of the middle class. >> jimmy, the romney team appears to be getting very confident. romney adviser ed gillespie told reporters today, "if i were in the white house and saw today's polls, i'd be throwing up in my trash can. but the polls do show a tight race. we know that "the washington post"/abc news poll today has romney 47, the president, 46. but what about romney losing women, having zero with african-americans, two to one beaten by the president on latinos. shouldn't ed gillespie be the one looking for the sick bag? >> i'll be honest, i think democrats have been a little bit overconfident from the spring into the summer. and it was a pretty tough summer for governor romney, i mean, look at the polls.
so the democrats have finally figured out -- the rose-colored glasses are gone, and they realize that we're at almost 69 days out and, guess what, the race is neck and neck. both sides should be scared like crazy and both sides should be a little bit confident. i can tell you, i spoke with the obama campaign on sunday, at length, and i said, look, i'm of the opinion that i think this all boils down to ohio, virginia, and florida, and they said, yes, that's exactly right. but they said, guess what. if we win every state that john kerry won in 2004 and win nevada and win iowa, we win, and we don't have to win those three states. that is an astonishing pathway to victory, if you will. there are just as many -- not as many. there are similar scenarios for mitt romney. this is going to boil down to, though, in my opinion, to the swing states, to midwestern states. and that's where all the ad money's going. >> indeed. >> jimmy williams, michael grunwald, domenico martnaro.
and coming up, chris matthews as that special guest newt gingrich. you do not want to miss that, just ahead at 5:00. next, the real stars of the gop convention, the guys with the checkbooks. stay with us. and as we head to break, take a look at the weather in tampa, where apparently isaac has not yet said good-bye.
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tropical storm isaac isn't the only rainmaker arriving in florida this week. look at these live pictures. billionaire donors and super pacs haare getting the red carp treatment from the gop. the romney campaign is granting special access to the nominee for those they call stars or stripes. pet names for people who have raised between $250,000 and $500,000. no, i'm not making this up. perhaps new york jets owner and backer woody johnson put it best when he said, "this will be a
flagsh flagship taking care of donors convention, it sails 101." the current issue of "time" magazine takes a look at the mind of mitt. and michael isikoff is the senior investigative reporter for nbc news. mike, is this really all about taking care of donors and basically average voters, well, you can go play with yourselves. >> reporter: which mike, martin? >> you, michael isikoff, the michael i'm looking at. >> reporter: yes, what goes on inside this convention hall is primarily a television show. well scripted. this is the way conventions always are. down to the minute. all for the home audience. but what really goes on at these conventions behind the scenes are these big parties, big bashes for high-roller donors, sponsored parties for lobbyists.
all of which goes on on huge levels that are unimaginable in d.c. but, you know, really take on full steam at conventions, and the odd thing is, martin, that there were congressional reforms passed in 2007, in the wake of the jack abramoff scandals that were supposed to put restrictions on this, that barred, for instance, lobbyist parties for members of congress. well, those rules are pretty much out the window at this convention. the lobbyists, donors have come up with ever-more creative ways to skirt those rules. and we're seeing business as usual in this convention. >> now, mike, you've actually uncovered, haven't you, a clever scheme cooked up by republican lobbyists to avoid what they refer to as those pesky ethics rules and their design to limit the cash flow. what's actually going on there? >> reporter: well, what goes on is, because of those congressional restrictions, a lot of lobbyists, lobbying firms have set up these newly created
pop-up consulting firms that are the official hosts of the party. and then they send out the invites, they sell sponsorships to their corporate clients, gold level, platinum level, for up to $50,000 a pop. the corporate clients come in, lobbyists come in, they throw the parties, but it's all officially under the guise of this, you know, pop-up consulting firm. so you get consulting firms like gop convention strategies that is the host of a lot of the big parties here tonight. there's one for the transportation caucus tonight, upcoming, the western caucus, the oklahoma delegation, the energy and commerce committees. all these are special parties, for the lawmakers, sponsored by these consulting firms. the lobbyists are behind the scenes. they're funding it, but they're not the official sponsors. it's a new wrinkle for a very old game. >> indeed. mike, you did brilliantly fighting the sound in the
background. michael scherer, if i may, let's look at some new poll numbers from "time" and cnn. in the critical battleground state of florida, where republicans have gathered this week, those earning under $50,000 a year favor the president by 15 points, while those earning over $50,000 favor romney by eight points. the effort to appeal to the wealthy is something we've seen before. but have the genuine ikons of the old republican party from john mccain, even george w. bush, simply been shoved aside to make room for the extremists? >> you know, as i was coming into the convention hall today, i saw a bentley drive past. and it's true that at republican conventions with with, there's more of an embrace of wealth. the party tends to be outside the convention hall, where at democratic conventions, the party's more inside the convention hall, although both have these parties. what you said is absolutely right. it's really nice to have very wealthy friends when it comes to fund-raising, but when it comes to votes, you need to be able to appeal to those making under
$50,000, because that's the vast majority of the electorate. and i think it's actually something that will be addressed, republicans hope, over the next several days at this convention, if it gets underway. they want to be able to break that idea that the obama campaign has successfully implants in people's heads that mitt romney is out of touch, he doesn't understand the needs of those who aren't like him. clearly, he's very good at networking with this group of people who can afford to give $2,500 checks to the campaign. >> but, mike, that's going to be a bit difficult to break, isn't it? with casino magnate, sheldon adelson and his wife, miriam, who have given millions of dollars, mrs. adelson will have her own pavilion at the convention called woman up. >> she's got a pavilion, karl rove, who's been raking in six, seven-figure checks also has been all around town. it's definitely true that this year, there's a real imbalance between democrats and republicans when it comes to
collecting checks in very large amounts. it's a real shift from the 1990s, where the clintons, and bill clinton was really the master of collecting what was then called soft money checks, from donors. republicans often were playing catch-up. this time around, it really is the republican party and mitt romney that's been able to attract these sums in large amounts. and there is really no shame here in tampa, in celebrating the donors. and feeding them in these -- in pavilion pavilions, as you said. >> indeed. michael isikoff, final question to you. is this all just the consequence, the coming to fruition of what happened with citizens united? is this where all of this originally stems from? >> this is the first convention post the citizens united decision. so it has become, as we well documented, this is the year of the mega donor. this is the year that you get a hand full of billionaires who are pouring in, just unprecedented amounts of sums. and in some ways, this convention here in tampa is a
coming out party for these megadonors. sheldon adelson will be making a special appearance on wednesday at a group he funds, the republican jewish coalition. and on thursday, a special salute to david koch of the koch brothers at americans for prosperity. that's, of course, one of the big conservative advocacy groups. he'll put $150 million into this election. >> thank you both so much for your contributions and for being so patient because of the sound behind you. thank you, gentleman. >> thank you. next, how the president plans on spending this week. well, i had all the classic symptoms...
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the president's attention is on tropical storm isaac this hour. for now, we go to nbc's kristen welker, who's at the white house. good afternoon, kristen. we understand the president has just been briefed by fema director, craig fugate. is that right? >> reporter: that's absolutely right, martin. good afternoon to you. president obama was just briefed
by fema director, craig fugate, as well as the director of the national hurricane center, rick knabb. we're told that according to white house officials, he asked to be updated on the state of preparedness along the gulf coast. they're getting emergency crews and supplies all up and down the gulf coast to make sure that those areas are ready in case this does turn into a category 1 hurricane. we're also told that there are incident support centers that have been set up in jacksonville, florida, and montgomery, alabama. you know, the administration is always emphasizing this point, martin, that the lesson that they learned from katrina is that it is important for the federal government to be in close contact with state and local governments, before a strong system moves through, so that is something that they are trying to do in this instance. to that end, president obama,s after he was briefed, spoke with a number of governors, including the governors of alabama, louisiana, mississippi, the mayor of new orleans. he has approved a state of emergency in louisiana, and he has told officials there to let the federal government know, to
let fema know, what, if any, supplies they might need moving into this week. the white house is monitoring this situation quite closely. president obama getting briefed regularly on the situation. and martin, he has a pretty busy weeks planned. he's scheduled to be campaigning in iowa, colorado, virginia this week. campaign officials tell me that as of right now, there are no changes to his schedule, but, of course, if it does become necessary, he could wind up coming back to the white house to monitor the situation from here. but, again, no scheduled changes at this point in time, but the president is getting updated regularly on the storm. martin? >> kristen, so your understanding is he will embark on this college tour? >> reporter: absolutely. as of right now, he's scheduled to appear at campaign events in colorado, iowa, and virginia. he will be focusing on courting the key voting bloc, young voters. of course, he won them big in 2008. he's hoping to hold on to them
again in 2012. >> nbc's kristen welker at the white house. thanks so much, kristen. >> thanks. >> we'll be right back. ♪ i can do anything today ♪ i can go anywhere ♪ i can go anywhere today ♪ la la la la la la la [ male announcer ] dow solutions help millions of people by helping to make gluten free bread that doesn't taste gluten free. together, the elements of science and the human element can solve anything. solutionism. the new optimism. but with advair, i'm breathing better. so now i can be in the scene. advair is clinically proven to help significantly improve lung function. unlike most copd medications, advair contains both an anti-inflammatory and a long-acting bronchodilator working together to help improve your lung function all day. advair won't replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms
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