tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC September 4, 2012 12:00am-1:00am EDT
for msnbc, i'm chris matthews. thank you for watching. there was a funny moment on the campaign trail today. president obama was campaigning in ohio today. he was talking to a big fired up crowd in toledo. and even though the president is a pretty reliably good speaker, there is a certainly predictability to his speeches. by necessity, right? he's a candidate, he gives stump speeches. you know the broad strokes of what you're going to hear about, the middle class, the auto bailout working when mitt romney said detroit should go bankrupt, you're going to hear about ending the war in iraq, he's going to say that thing about every american getting their
fair shot and every american doing their fair share and every american playing by the rules. if you're a fan, a fan enough to go to a speech like this, you likely know what you're going to hear in broad strokes. today, today on the campaign trail, there was this moment in ohio where the crowd totally thought that president obama was going somewhere that he was not actually going. they started to audibly react as if he was talking about something that they pretty clearly really wanted him to talk about. but he was not going where they thought he was. listen. >> now, there was one person at governor romney's convention last week who wasn't entirely on script. no, no -- >> no, no. the crowd is sort of half booing and half starting to applaud. in a little excitement that president obama is about to talk about the offscript guy from
last week, right? he's going to talk about this clint eastwood thing, but that's not what the president is about to do at all. behold an oratorical letdown in ohio. >> there was one person at governor romney's convention last week who wasn't entirely on script. no, no. because while they were busy telling folks how bad everything is, your governor, john kasich, john kasich stood up there and told everybody that ohio is now number one in the midwest in job creation. >> president obama making a substantive point about ohio's economy and how mitt romney wants to say the ohio economy is terrible because he wants to blame president obama for that. but in ohio, the republican governor of ohio is saying our economy is doing kind of great right now because he wants to take the credit for himself. of course, what the crowd thought president obama was going to do there was talk about the most memorable thing that
happened at the republican convention. although the romney campaign and the republicans have tried to put a little shine on the clint eastwood disaster, they tried to say in the press how mitt romney personally thought it was such a great speech by clint eastwood. and it was a real high point for the convention and everybody loved it, when the rnc released their inspirational recap video of the greatest moments of mitt romney's republican convention, when they released the video this week of the highlights, good old clint eastwood's speech did not make the cut. did not make the highlight reel. today in this past weekend is sort of a weird time. over the holiday weekend but between the two conventions. republicans just had their 72-hour infomercial for mitt romney and for the republican party. in this and maybe through the democrats' three days this upcoming week, the republicans are supposed to be capitalizing on what they did last week. they're supposed to be capitalizing on the momentum they built with their 72-hour infomercial.
they're supposed to be turning that into votes. this is the part where you're supposed to be campaigning a warp speed. in 1992, after the clinton/gore convention, these guys did a 1,000-mile bus tour right after their convention. in 2000, after the republican convention, george bush and dick cheney left straight from their convention to ohio and michigan and illinois to tour it by train. in 2004, john kerry and john edwards did the same sort of cross country tour through pennsylvania and west virginia and ohio and beyond. in 2008, barack obama and joe biden went straight from their convention to michigan and to pennsylvania and to ohio by bus. you're supposed to go out there and make it stick, right? it is post-convention momentum time. mitt romney today is not on a bus tour. or a train tour. or any kind of tour. when you get to be the presidential nominee of your party, you have what's called a press pool that follows you around at all times. basically a small pool of reporters who track your every
movement all day long 24 hours a day and distribute that information to the rest of the press. well, today, the mitt romney press pool was informed at 10:00 a.m. that mr. romney was down for the day. that he had no events scheduled. the press was essentially told to stand down, romney watch is over for the day. nothing to see here. you can leave, you got nothing to cover. that was at about 10:00 a.m. then, an hour and a half later, this almost never happens, the press was called back into action after being told that he was down for the day, they were informed an hour and a half later that mr. romney actually was going to be on the move. so the press pool immediately had to snap into action in order to cover this event. >> mr. romney taking his boat out for a spin. on a lake.
instead of a cross country whistle stop tour, mr. romney spent the day boating, and also jet skiing with his family in a lake in new hampshire. they reopened the press pool for that, after closing it for the day earlier. mr. romney had no campaign events yesterday. he had no campaign events today, unless something is happening on this boat, and no public events scheduled for the rest of the entire week. and you know, that's their call. they can do whatever they want to do. they can put clint eastwood on network primetime coverage instead of the candidate intro video, do what you want, it's your campaign, but it's not like they have it in the bag and can be this relaxed. before the democratic national convention starts tomorrow, so while you can still isolate the impact of the republican convention on voters' opinions about the two candidates, this right now is what the big republican convention bump looks like in the polls. see, this part right here, what that is showing there, that's the day before the republican
convention started last week. and then here's the period of the convention. running all the way through today. put this in the category of world's least exciting graphs. also the world's most imperceptible bounce. blue is obama, red is romney. those are the results from gallup's daily tracking poll. they also measure reaction in terms of what people say what they saw of the convention will make them more likely or less likely to vote for the candidate in question. on that point, there's a two-point uptick for romney in terms of people saying they're more likely or less likely to vote for him. that net plus two is the lowest recorded impact for any convention from either party since 1984. in terms of mr. romney's speech specifically, which is supposed to be the high point of any convention, even a convention that doesn't include clint eastwood scolding an empty chair for 15 minutes, the nominee's speech this year itself got the lowest rating of any nominee's convention speech since they
have been polling on nominees' convention speeches which they started doing back in 1996. i mean, the news isn't all totally bleak. there do seem to be little upticks in mr. romney's favorability numbers and his favorability with latinos. but basically, the republican convention appears to have a negligible political impact and by the broadest measures, it appears to have no impact at all. now the romney campaign is responding to that by doing absolutely nothing by trying to improve on that. i know they won't take advice on me on how to campaign, but it's a little weird. their story is mr. romney is too busy to do events this week because he's doing debate prep for next month. but dude, there he is on a boat. maybe rob portman is hidden on the boat prepping him and we can't see him because the boat is going too fast or something. is rob portman in the glove box? do boats have glove boxes? on the other side, the obama/biden ticket is not taking
time off. vice president biden was in michigan today. president obama was in toledo talking to autoworkers. >> it's working folks like you who fought for jobs and opportunity for generations of american workers. it's working people like you who helped delay the cornerstones of middle class security. things that people now sometimes take for granted, but weren't always there, the 40-hour work week, weekends, paid leave, pensions, the minimum wage, health care, social security. medicare. those things happened. because working people organized and mobilized. >> oh, yeah. happy labor day. while support for people who have to work for a living and for union rights and for unions is a democratic mainstay, excuse
me. i'm being attacked. never mind, the current democratic party has had some trouble on this issue. they have arranged for their own party's convention to be in charlotte, north carolina, this week, a place that has this number of unionized hotels. zero. i know numbers are supposed to be tough on television, right? but this one is easy. none. a totally nonunion city in an anti-union state hosting the supposedly pro union political party. look what's in their party platform. quote, the protection of the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively is the firm and permanent policy of the eisenhower administration. wait, the eisenhower administration? yes, i'm told i'm not reading from the current democratic party platform. this is the republican party platform from 1956, from the eisenhower era. okay, how about this letter from the president?
should any political party attempt to abolish labor laws, quote, you would not hear from that party again in our political history. there's a splinter group that believes you can do these things, and what does the president think? their number is negligible and they are stupid. again, that's not president obama. that's president eisenhower again. from 1954. republicans used to really like union rights. they used to think it was, and i'm quoting here, stupid to try to get rid of them. republicans used to be very much in favor of the rights of people who have to work for a living, their ability to join unions and advocate for better pay and conditions for themselves. republicans used to think that was a really good thing for the country. now, not so much. in fact, quite the opposite. the dramatic turn in republican politics toward union rights, that isn't just new symbolic, idealogical politics of the kind ike called stupid back in 1954.
it also has really practical political consequences. because democrats have tried to be the party of the people who have to work for a living and because they have therefore supported union rights and other things that benefit working people, particularly when republicans have been willing to take the opposite side of the fights on behalf of business interests, because of that, democrats have long benefits from unions, not just raising money for democratic candidates, although they do that. but also unions being a huge part of the democratic ground game. the get out the vote effort, knocking on doors, educating voters, that sort of thing. so when republicans use public policy in the states to go after union rights, to try to destroy union rights and therefore to destroy unions, they went after a core institutional structure of the democratic party that makes it possible for there even to be a party that competes with the republicans and all of the funding that the republicans get from the corporate side. this is what campaign spending by outside groups looks like in the last presidential election in 2008. the two groups that spent the
most money that year were labor unions and they mainly spent on behalf of democrats and against republicans. that's '08. look what happened in 2010 after the citizens united ruling and other supreme court rulings tearing down campaign finance laws. this is 2010. the top ten. the big money on the right skyrocketed. seven of the top ten outside spending groups that year were on the right, largely fueled by corporation contributions. the only nonconservative groups that cracked the top ten were unions. the only ones. when republicans started going after union rights in the states in the last two years, when they tried to effectively destroy unions, they knew what the partisan impact of that would be. they were willing to talk about it. for example, they were willing to talk about it in wisconsin. >> if we win this battle and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you're going to find is president obama is going to have a much more difficult
time getting elected and winning the state of wisconsin. >> if you kill the unions, you kill them off as a structural support that democrats rely on, republicans win elections they wouldn't otherwise win. today, on labor day, president obama went to ohio where republicans under john kasich also tried and ultimately failed to kill union rights. listen to the message that the president took to this union audience in ohio today. >> toledo, what you need to know is this. when they're trying to take your collective bargaining rights away, when they're trying to pass so-called right to work laws that really mean right to work for less and less, you should know this isn't about economics. this is about politics. i don't understand why these folks have the nerve to talk about you like you're some greedy special interest that needs to be beaten down. after all that unions have done to build and protect the middle class, they were standing up there at their convention saying
you're responsible to the problems we face. the good news is starting on october 2nd, ohio gets its say because you get to vote early. i'm counting on you. i'm counting on you. i'm counting on you. >> mitt romney might be running kind of a strange campaign this year. but maybe you can afford to spend the week after your convention just boating around and jet skiing around when you really do have all of the money in the world to spend on your side of the campaign. we'll see how the democrats do with their convention this week, whether they're able to get any more of a bump than the republicans were able to get. right now heading into it, this race is basically tied, and close elections are won or lost as they always have been, in the ground game. for the ground game, the democrats have never needed their friends in the labor movement more than they do this year. and republicans have never done more to help out the democrats in trying to fully capture that
audience giving how aggressively they have attacked union rights in their states. democrats need them and they're in a position to ask for them in a place that ought to be politically receptive to the argument. unfortunately, democrats will be asking unions for the help from their nonunion venue in a nonunion town where they're putting their delegates in nonunion hotels. why are democrats making it so hard on themselves? steve kornacki joins us live from charlotte, next. welcome aboard! [ chuckles ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪ [ male announcer ] now you'll know when to stop. [ honk! ] the all-new nissan altima with easy fill tire alert. [ honk! ] it's our most innovative altima
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and two pills for a day free of pain. ♪ [ female announcer ] and try aleve for relief from tough headaches. we weren't going to let detroit going bankrupt or lordstown go bankrupt or toledo go bankrupt. i stood with american workers, i stood with american manufacturing, i believed in you. i bet on you. i'll make that bet any day of the week. because of that bet, three years later, that bet is paying off for america. the good news is starting on october 2nd, ohio gets a say because you get to vote early. >> that was president obama today in front of an enthusiastic crowd of union members in toledo, ohio. the president making his case for why he should be reelected and he got specific on how he should be re-elected saying early voting starts in ohio way
sooner than i can get my head around. it starts in ohio in less than a month. joining us now from the site of the dnc, steve kornacki, the co-host of "the cycle." he's also a senior writer for salon.com. thanks for being here. >> happy to do it. >> how much does union support matter to the democrats in terms of their ground game, their get out the vote efforts, everything they need to do to convey that political messaging into votes? >> i think it matters maybe even more than it did in the past. you started to outline the reasons in the last segment. what it gets down to is the ground game because i think we're at the point in the campaign where we can say, look, if you combine the money that the campaigns have with the outside money, with the super pac money, it's clear that obama is going to be outspent by romney and the republicans, but the bigger implication, the bigger problem the democrats have is that's going to trickle down the ballot as well. you start talking about senate
races, house races, you talk about gubernatorial races on the ballot this year and state legislative races and you have seen since 2010 when republicans won control of all these state houses and suddenly, you know, all of this sort of right to work type legislation was advanced in all of these states, a lot of the action is playing out down there. you look at all those races and if you have the sort of disparity, the financial disparity in those races you're going to have in the presidential race, if you have that disparity and it's more pronounced and that's likely to be the case, then you really need something to go against them. if it's not money, the only thing you have left is the ground game. if you want to say there's a silver lining for the democrats in the citizens united decision of 2010, which organized labor has spoken out against and opposed, but the citizens united decision freed organized labor to set up actual full scale political operations like they couldn't before. the old rule for labor was in the election season, they would provide people, they would be
farmed out to work with democratic campaigns, now labor is free to set up its own organization. so you take people who have experience doing these campaigns who have experience organizing them, working on them, labor can now organize its own campaign, can target its own resources, and honestly, that's hugely important to democrats right now because if they're going to be outspent in all these races, if they have a shot, i say the action is down ballot because obama can overcome a spending disparity theoretically in the way the average house, the average senate candidate can't. ground game is a huge part of that. really that's where they need labor right now. >> in terms of -- it's an important point about how they could potentially do even more this year than they have in the past, and we know from past experience how important they have been to democrats. given that, have democrats screwed things up with the unions by putting their convention in charlotte which is an antiunion town and they gave unions the back of the hand when they made the decision to go
there over labor objections? >> there's something to be said for that, and obviously, the calculation that the obama white house had in making it as the site, they saw it as the premiere swing state, our future is winning over states like north carolina where there's changing demographic patterns and we can make inroads to a region in the south where we have been shut out for decades, really generations at the presidential level. that was the calculation. i will be honest with you, i heard when the decision to go to charlotte for the convention was announced, i heard a lot more grumbling, outrage from labor than i'm picking up here. for various reasons today, the weather included, i wasn't able to get out as much as i wanted to. but the labor people i have spoken to yes, if you ask them, should the convention have been held in a right to work state, the answer is no, they wish it was elsewhere, they don't get the logic, but when you start asking them, does that translate, are you going to sit on your hands? are the people you know who are back home going to sit on their
hands? i'm not picking up on that right here. again, these are people that the true believers more so, i guess, but i'm not picking up on it here as much as i was a few months ago. >> steve kornacki, host of "the cycle" and senior writer for salon. this is going to be fun to cover this. thanks for being with us. >> happy to do it. thanks. still ahead, absolutely nothing at all about paul ryan saying he ran a marathon more than an hour faster than he actually did. there will be nothing further on that on this show because, my god, what can you say about that, seriously? we'll be right back. you know why i sell tools? tools are uncomplicated. nothing complicated about a pair of 10 inch hose clamp pliers. you know what's complicated? shipping. shipping's complicated. not really. with priority mail flat rate boxes from the postal service shipping's easy. if it fits, it ships anywhere in the country for a low flat rate. that's not complicated. no. come on. how about... a handshake. alright. priority mail flat rate boxes. starting at just $5.15.
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mile border with mexico. we put $400 million of our taxpayer money into securing that border. but if you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they have been brought there by no fault of their own, i don't think you have a heart. >> my friend governor perry said if you don't agree with his position on giving that in state tuition to illegals, you don't have a heart. um, i think if you're opposed to illegal immigration, it doesn't mean you don't have a heart. it means you have a heart and a brain. >> republican presidential nominee mitt romney staked out a position on immigration that was far to the right of even his own party, which was pretty far to the right and he's been pretty blunt about it. >> we went to the company and said, look, you can't have illegals working on our property. i'm running for office, for
pete's sake. i can't have illegals. >> the answer is self deportation. >> you have talked about self deportation. if businesses could their jobs asking for the right documents. what about arresting? should there be aggressive seek them out, arrest them as sheriff arpaio would like? >> i think you see a model here. if i were elected and congress were to pass the dream act and i would veto it, the answer is yes. >> how does a candidate with those policies make an appeal for latino voters in an election year? he sends other people to do it for him. preferably, in espanol. >> me padre mitt romney. >> at this year's republican national convention not just his one spanish speaking son, but every state wide latino politician in the country, plus a guy who wasn't even elected, he just won a primary. welcome to primetime, ted cruz.
republican latino luminaries introduced ann romney and paul ryan and mitt romney himself. how did it go over to not talk at all about mitt romney's politics, his policies on an issue of particular concern to latino voters, immigration, and how did it go to not talk about policies at all and instead just fill primetime with latino speakers who did not talk about the policies ever but who did that not talking about it while themselves being latino? the first round of post convention latino polling is in. 62% of latino voters said the prominent speaking roles at the convention had no effect on them as voters. but, however, the strategy did actually move the polls a little. for a convention where it appears mr. romney got almost no overall measurable bump, he did get a little movement with latino voters. he moved from 26% among latinos to 30%. 26-30. proportionally, that's a pretty big jump. four points.
and yet he is still more than doubled up by barack obama. barack obama still beating him 2 to 1. in theory, republicans could be doing much better than this. theoretically, republicans have some room to move here on policy. president obama, as you know, has been very hard-nosed on border security. he's been deporting people at a really quite remarkable clip. president obama said he would get the dream act passed for immigration reform, but he was not able to do it. the democratic-controlled house passed it, but the senate couldn't get it past the republican filibuster. harry reid called it his biggest regret from the congress that they didn't get the dream act passed, too. republicans looked at all of the room to work in terms of policy and decided instead of trying to appeal to latino voters on policy, they would pass a platform, a national party platform calling for the establishment of english as the official language of the united states. they called for the arizona papers please laws to be emulated across the country, and then the author of the arizona
papers please law left the gop platform committee in order to go sue the obama administration to try to stop the mini version of the dream act the president brought about by executive order because of course republicans in congress remain totally hostile to it now even though long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, it was a republican idea in the first place. latinos are the biggest growing bloc of voters. latino voters are the reason democrats think texas is going to be a swing state as early as 2016. and to the extent that republicans want to woo those voters now in 2012, they're not trying to do it on policy. they're trying to do it on identity politics alone. it is a big gamble for them, actually, as a party. so far it's paying off in very, very, very tiny poll numbers. democrats get their chance to try to claw those numbers back this upcoming week. joining us now is victoria soto,
a visiting scholar at the university texas austin and a contributor to nbc latino. thanks for your time tonight. >> thanks. good to be here. >> what makes a bigger difference on election day. soft focus, identity politics stuff like spotlighting lots of latino speakers or policy that is of specific interest to latino voters? if you have to pick one to build a campaign around, which one would you choose? >> it also depends on what voters you're trying to reach. in the latino decisions poll, we saw no movement whatsoever with democrats in terms of being drawn to the marco rubios and the susana martinezes, when we separated it out to independents, we saw a draw with 30% of the independent latinos saying they felt they were closer to the republican party, but the identity is not going to get you enough. what republicans are trying to do is going on it with economy, because latinos were the hardest hit by the economic recession, losing 66% of their wealth, unemployment still in the double digits. highest poverty rates. what we need is for the
president to acknowledge the hardship and say this is the plan i'm going to lay out to get you back on your feet, especially because latinos are wage earners. but at the same time, the president and the democratic party has to be very careful with immigration. they have to acknowledge it but not remind latinos too much of the unbroken promise. >> in terms of the unbroken promise, the president went much of the way toward making good on that promise he could as an individual with his executive action that people are sort of calling the mini dream act. we saw the rather inspirational site last month with people lining up at offices across the country to take advantage of the program he's put in place. also, the republican author of the papers please law in arizona, suing to stop it. i know immigration isn't the only issue. on that issue in particular, does the president get credit for trying or is it the fact they weren't able to get the
full dream act passed really still the main issue? >> i think latinos are still sore at the fact that he promised the big comprehensive immigration reform, and he didn't get it passed. but that being said, i think latinos are not dwelling on that. they're shifting their focus to the economy and saying, we trust you. and we see this in the poll numbers, that they trust the president in terms of going forward into the economy. so immigration, i think, is going to go on the back burner for latinos. both in terms of democratic strategy and the republican strategy. the republicans don't want to touch it, as we saw with the rnc, and the president wants to highlight what he has done and also what he's going to do for latinos economically. >> when we see the president talk on the economy, he's been more and more bringing into the discussion the issue of entitlements, medicare, protecting social security. paul ryan and congress has a radical record on social security. are those the types of issues that have specific resonance among latinos? >> absolutely, rachel. we know from polling that over
60% of latinos support the affordable care act. 70% of latinos don't want a change in social security. latinos are progressive. they see government as being able to bring change into their lives, help them with educational policies, social policy, at the core, latinos idealogically line up with the progressive democratic agenda. >> victoria, it's really nice to have you here. thank you for your time tonight. i appreciate it. >> thank you. something that all of the pundits were wrong about, myself included, about this convention-palooza we found ourselves in the middle of now. we were all wrong about it and it matters quite a bit. that's ahead. stay with us. [ lisa ] my name's lisa, and chantix helped me quit.
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as the democratic convention gets under way, the man of the next 72 hours in charlotte, north carolina, is of course president obama. but as soon as this show is done here tonight, msnbc is going to be airing a brand new documentary hosted by chris matthews that's called "barack obama making history." it tracks the president's political life back to its beginning and up to right now. the film starts right after us at 10:00 p.m. eastern time tonight. we're all really, really looking forward to it. before that, we'll be right back here with a thing that everybody got wrong, including me, about the conventions this year. hold on, right back for that. we've all had those moments.
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we've got to think long term. we've got to think long term. ♪ at the republican nominating convention, a whole string of up and coming republican political stars, mostly told their own inspiring stories. they did not talk all that much about mitt romney. chris christie waited more than 1,700 words into his speech before he even mentioned mr. romney. marco rubio's speech was 1,700 words long. it contained a grand total of two sentences about mitt romney total. and that was the speech that was supposed to introduce mr. romney. mr. romney's big show in tampa was neat. it was mostly well produced. it was at times inspiring, particularly for people who already agree with mr. romney. but it was not really about mr. romney very much at all. but what is maybe more surprising than how little we heard of mr. romney last week, is how much we heard of the man george w. bush. we made a big deal of the fact
he was not going to the convention. we noted it, everyone noted it. it seemed important. after having left the country fighting two wars and in financial ruin four short years ago, mr. bush's party seems not ready to embrace him or his legacy, and it's true he did not go to the convention. he was not there in person. but it turned out he didn't need to be there in person. his stamp was all over the place in tampa. beyond the glossy, he was a nice guy video, substantively, george w. bush's foreign policy was the foreign policy of this republican convention. and apparently, it is the foreign policy of the republican party's presidential nominee this year. mr. bush's brother jeb, front paged his convention speech with a well received defense/celebration of george w. bush foreign policy. >> my granddad -- my grandfather and my father have been
incredible role models for me and served our country honorably. and my brother, well, i love my brother. he is a man of integrity, courage, and honor and during incredibly challenging times, he kept us safe. >> former florida governor, jeb bush, of course, not to be blunt here, but not counting 9/11 against his brother's record of keeping america safe, and not counting any of the people hurt or killed in the iraq war either. but invoking george w. bush's role on the world stage was met with enthusiastic applause from the convention floor. and in her speech, condoleezza rice bragged about the bush administration's post-9/11 decision making. >> in the aftermath of 9/11, the willingness to take really hard, hard decisions that secured us
-- >> by which she means going to war in iraq, which actually was not a really, really hard, hard decision at all for the bush administration. according to the president's own former treasury secretary, it was something they had started planning the month they took office. there was a surprising amount of george w. bush invoked at the rnc, more than anybody expected. and the tone was never repentant. there was never a lesson learned message about what went wrong during the george w. bush years. when george w. bush was brought up, wherever the bush administration was namedropped or appeared on stage, it was always celebratory or reverential. and for their first national security speech at the convention, they brought on john mccain. john mccain who drew a straight line from george w. bush foreign policy to today. >> by committing to withdraw from afghanistan before peace can be achieved and sustained, the president has discouraged our friends and emboldened our enemies. >> cutting and running. why stop at 13 years of war when
you can just stay indefinitely? senator mccain said we should not end the war in afghanistan. he also called for new american military intervention in syria and iran. because he is john mccain and that's what he does. >> that old -- that old beach boy song, bomb iran. you know, bomb, bomb, bomb. >> you seeing him there doesn't mean this is their current way of thinking. maybe they just gave the old bomb, bomb, bomb iran guy one more spin around the parking lot, because they were too embarrassed to disinvite him from their convention, maybe. maybe not. when mitt romney, the nominee himself, took the stage, his tone on foreign policy was the same kind of straight line from george w. bush that john mccain took up. the same iran stuff, right? with an extra bonus of threatening russia as well. >> in his first tv interview as president, he said we should talk to iran. we're still talking and iran's
centrifuges are still spinning. he's eager to give russia's president putin the flexibility he desires, after the election. >> remember when john mccain wanted us to go to war with russia during the last presidential campaign? >> the small nation of georgia has been subject to russian attacks that threaten its very existence. today, we are all georgians. >> that was the republican nominee for president then in 2008, essentially threatening an american war with russia. and now it's the new nominee's turn. >> under my administration, our friends will see more loyalty and mr. putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone. >> the only serious discussion of the afghanistan war at the republican convention was that clip you just heard from john mccain saying that we should stay at war there forever. we do not actually know if mr. romney agrees with john mccain on that, the way he agrees with him on threatening wars with
russia and iran. we don't know whether or not he agrees with him, because mitt romney did not say anything at all in his acceptance speech about our current war in afghanistan. which on its face is stunning. it's stunning even to the right. the conservative "weekly standard's" bill kristol just excoriated mr. romney for it, saying, leave aside the political wisdom of romney's silence and the opportunities it opens up for president obama next week, what about the civic propriety of a republican nominee failing to mention a war we're fighting and our young men and women who are fighting it? mitt romney on friday became the first republican nominee to -- on thursday, excuse me, became the first republican nominee to not talk about war in his convention speech, in 60 years. and we are in a war. we are in a hot war. mr. romney mentioned world war ii, he mentioned the mexican revolution. but mitt romney accepted the nomination to be president of the united states of america without a single word for the more than 80,000 americans who are serving right now in
afghanistan. in an attempt to explain why that happened or why everybody should be okay with it, a senior romney campaign aide, my friend, eric fernstrom, argued that mr. romney addressed the war in afghanistan just the day before his convention speech, when he spoke to the american legion in indiana. in that american legion speech, it's true, mr. romney did say two sentences about the war in afghanistan. literally, here's exactly what he said. "we are still at war in afghanistan. we still have uniformed men and women in conflict, risking their lives." that's it. that's the two sentences he uttered the day before his convention speech. and that treatment on the war is why he didn't have anything left to say about our current war the following day when he was accepting the nomination. i guess those two sentences exhausted it for him, pretty much. the day after the republican convention wrapped up, president obama went to ft. bliss, to talk
to troops returning to and deploying to afghanistan about the wind-down plan for the war there, and to announce a new executive order meant to ensure that veterans get their mental health claims taken care of. >> i know that you join me in saying to anyone who's ever worn the uniform, if you're hurting, it's not a sign of weakness to seek help. it's a sign of strength. we are here to help you stay strong, army strong. that's a commitment i'm making to you. >> the president also talked about the drawdown plan in afghanistan in his weekly radio address on saturday. >> next month, the last of the troops i ordered as part of the surge against the taliban will come home. and by 2014, the transition to afghan lead will be complete. but as long as we have a single american in harm's way, we will continue to do everything in our power to keep them safe and help them succeed. that means giving them a clear mission and the equipment they need on the front lines. but it also means taking care of
our veterans and their families. because no one who fights for this country should have to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home. >> so that first clip you saw was friday, that second one was from saturday. and today out on the campaign trail in ohio, the president highlighted the contrast between his plan for afghanistan and what we surmise of mitt romney's plans, even though he never talks about it. >> you get to decide what the future of the war in afghanistan is. you know, last week, did you notice governor romney did not say a word about our troops, who are in harm's way over there? and because of my plan, 33,000 of them will have come home by the end of this month. he said ending the war in iraq was tragic. i think it was the right thing to do. i said we'd end that war, we did.
i said we'd go after al qaeda. we did. i said we'd take out bin laden. we did. >> you know, issues of war and foreign policy are not all that partisan all the time. republican jon huntsman's campaign didn't go anywhere this year and neither did ron paul's this year, but both of these candidates were respected for and got support for running on the issue of afghanistan, for saying what a lot of republicans think, and a lot of independents think, and a lot of democrats think. which is that we ought to end the afghanistan war and leave now, not in 2014. you don't win a medal for bravery for espousing a political position like that right now. it's a pretty popular position. but mitt romney is no john huntsman. he's no ron paul. he's afraid to say the word "afghanistan" even when it counts, let alone to visit afghanistan. let alone to make any arguments whatsoever that do not flow from the george w. bush foreign
policy brain trust that he has held over wholesale from the bad old bush/cheney years of foreign policy. or does he not think they were bad old years? because of that, the debate, the pressure on the president, on the life-and-death issue of the war and the more than 80,000 americans facing in our name daily, because of that, that pressure will not come from president obama's political opponent. mitt romney punts on this one. he's pretending it does not exist. this election will, therefore, fail us as a nation, as a means of having a robust debate about a war we are still waging, while more than two-thirds of americans do not want us to be fighting it. elections are supposed to help us close the gap between what we want and what we get as a nation, because enterprising competitive politicians are supposed to recognize and seize political opportunity, when a policy is deeply, profoundly unpopular. but mitt romney is not capable of that on this issue. and so that means the pressure on this issue, the pressure on