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tv   The Chris Matthews Show  NBC  May 20, 2012 11:00am-11:30am EDT

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>> this is "the chris matthews show." >> ask not what your country can do for you. >> tear down this wall. >> can i hear you. >> the time for change has come. >> how low will they go? would romney play the jeremiah wright card? is he that desperate to win that he would tiegs the race issue? how about president obama? will his people hint at romney's mosmenism? how ugly will this get? bigger questions, how ruthless do we want our presidents to be? a line they dare not cross. we know they'll play hardball. but will there come a point when the truly nasty becomes political suicide? is that something we can hope for? and finally, changing faces. 20 or 30 years from now this country is going to look a bit different. we're headed for a non-white majority. how will this prospect affect voters in 2012?
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will they react? vote for the old days? i'm chris matthews. welcome to the show. with us today, "new york magazine's" john heilemann. "the christian science monitor's" liz marlantes. "the washington post's" kathleen parker. and "the chicago tribune's" clarence page. first up, this year's winner may be the one whose team goes furthest, even fights dirty to bury the other guy. today we ask which side will go the furthest? the word this past week was that at least one big money romney backer had in hand a proposal to do what john mccain did not. play the race card big with the thunder storm of jeremiah wright ads right around the time of the democratic convention. last time an independent group did flash the jeremiah wright card, late in october. >> for 20 years, barack obama followed a preacher of hate and said nothing as wright raged against our country. >> not god bless america. got damn america. >> on the other side what signs are there that the obama team
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might go ugly against mitt romney? last time, obama understandably didn't talk about john mccain's age in words. but the ads were clear. >> things have changed in the last 26 years. but mccain hasn't. he admits he still doesn't know how to use a computer. can't send an email. after one president who was out of touch, we just can't afford more of the same. >> i'm barack obama. and i approved this message. >> i approved this message. romney seems to expect something this year after those stories the other day that his superpac might air jeremiah wright ads, romney rerepudiated the idea but portrayed himself as a victim. >> i make it clear i repudiate that effort. i think it's the wrong course for a pac or a campaign. i've been disappointed in the president's campaign to date which has focused on character assassination. >> some on the right regret that romney's taken the wright ads off the table. here was sean hannity reacting
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thursday night. >> now, governor romney, i have to respectfully disagree with you. i believe that the president's relationship with the reverend jeremiah wright a. man that influenced him for over 20 years, inspired him, is a very important campaign issue. after all, it is a matter of character. chris: chris: will groups further out to the right use the race card this time around? >> i usually engage in political analysis but i'll engage in freudian analysis. you have the id and the superego. the outside groups. the conventional wisdom on the far right was barack obama was not vetted and if we can get to the bottom of who he is we can find out the truth and that's where you get into all this stuff that turns into play the race card. the romney campaign legitimately does not think it helps their cause electorally to go down that path but the question is whether they can control those groups. and the obama campaign, people in the white house, they're praying they can't control those groups because they think
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all this race stuff works to their advantage. chris: and clarence, it seems to me like we heard about this big money guy that wants to do it. he says he cares about government spending. but yet he wants to get into this stuff, too. along john's lines. they sense that it will work and also have a real attitude they want to use that stuff, the ethnic stuff, the background stuff. >> as political strategists go, joe ricketts is a great businessman. that's what he is. and he has the right to spend his money any way he wants to. but i think frankly, his political advisors pushing this line are trying to fleece him frankly. the big money bags, he hates obama and they're appealing to his id. chris: throw the red meat out there and he'll buy it. zpwhrm if you want to win. the primaries are over essentially. you want to win, you got to reach swing voters and they aren't scared of reverend wright like the right wing is. also, it's old news. if you want to attack campaign and name willie horton or any other you want to bring up, they bring something new. there's some newness to them.
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jeremiah wright is old news now. chris: kathleen, obviously it got blown out of the water, the obama people clearly love the coming out this week, right? they love -- >> absolutely. chris: and everybody jumped on it. but there are people on the obama side afraid that in the end, you can play the ethnic card, that foreign card, are they afraid that it will work against him? >> i don't think mormon is going to play the foreign card. that's -- this is not mitt romney's approach to things. and of course, he's -- he has no control over -- chris: what about the sean hannity piece? hannity -- we just saw him thursday night saying go for it. >> yeah, sean hannity wants to. a lot of republicans do and a lot of the further right people feel like we never vetted obama sufficiently. talking about us, the media. and to some extent they're not wrong about that. they do feel that we kind of pulled back on reverend wright. it was sort of like president obama will not -- candidate obama said yes, i was -- i was in his church for 20 years but
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i'm not responsible for what he says and i can't say that characterization -- >> we have to remember mainstream media, the right wing wouldn't have that story if it wasn't for the mainstream media. >> the most important part here is reverend wright is irrelevant to obama now. he's been president for four years. and he has a record that you can attack. it doesn't matter. >> exactly. most americans don't see obama as some militant black socialist. that's just not the image that they have. there might be many swing voters who are unhappen with his record on the economy. but -- unhappy with his record on the economy. but they won't buy into that vision of him. the thing that was owe sod about the furor over -- was so odd about the furor over the wright ads was the discussion of that being off-limits or things being off-limits. in this day and age, nothing's off-limits anymore. there's no such thing as something being off-limits. it's a matter of is this going to be effective? chris: you really believe that? >> or rile up the other side. chris: chris: i think there is a line there. game changer. the famous movie that came out on hbo. here we have john mccain rejecting proposals from his
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own team that they use jeremiah wright ads. i love this. >> most of these polls have us trailing five to eight points. >> so what now? >> reverend wright is still the best play we have. >> that may be true. but there's a dark side to american populism. some people win elections by tapping into it. i'm not one of those people. chris: i saw that movie three times, john. based on your book. and -- >> thank you. chris: it still gets to me. is that true? he really turned down the davis idea, the guy pushing this idea with ricketts and the same idea of going after wright? >> he turned it down. he said throughout the campaign he did not want to make reverend wright an issue in that campaign. the truth was, though, is that before the financial crisis happened, that issue was still on the table. mccain had rejected it. but who knows what would have happened if the financial crisis -- chris: when would they have used it? >> i think you would have seen mccain under pressure to use it
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if the race were close. but in the end, because the financial crisis happened, they concluded independently -- mccain had a issue of principle. the compane also completely concluded that -- the campaign also completely concluded that the ad wouldn't have worked and seen ridiculous in the context of the global financial crisis melting down. chris: and what about the same guy pushing it in the movie? >> a hobby horse on this issue. and to clarence's point, good at getting rich campaigns to write big checks to run colorful attention-getting ads and that would be -- chris: it sinds me -- -- reminds me, i want to say something about fred davis. he's very successful ad producer. but on this particular issue, ricketts saw the mccain ad. and he loved it. he's quoted in "the new york times" as saying if that ad had run, they never would have elected barack obama. so i think it's -- i don't think it's fair to say -- chris: you're saying ricketts believes that going after jeremiah wright -- >> he's trying to distance himself from that now.
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but obviously there was a conversation in which that idea was sort of embraced as -- >> and given the reaction, they realized quickly that it would be a mistake. chris: the matthews meter. 12 of our regulars including john and clarence this time, would ads playing the race card help or hurt romney? bottom line, 10 say they would hurt. and that's two of you guys, and that includes you, clarence. >> a very close call. i wanted to say that it will be a wash. but i think on balance, it doesn't help romney to go that route for a number of reasons. some of which have been mentioned. and also, well, it help to fire up obama's base. and badly needs firing up right now. there's a reason why the white house is happy with that story. a huang part of the reason. -- huge part of the reason. the president's base reacts when he's attacked and when they think it's unfair. chris: this cropped up. a republican congressman from colorado caught pushing -- on somebody's cell phone and kept coming back saying he's not
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really an american. >> and the other point, with all of these issues that the romney campaign would freely admit is they actually don't want this to come down to an election about character. they would really like to run on president obama's record. and so any time you get into these character issues, that's actually less good for romney and better for obama. chris: we keep saying there's a book out this week. drudge is pushing this thing. it is all over again. we saw this backwash, back in the sewer. >> it's an industry. it's the anti-obama delusional syndrome industry. there are so many people out there, hundreds of thousands of book buyers, who will buy any anti-obama book. either for themselves or for their wonderful grandma. whatever. >> that may be true. that there are these people. but they're already going to vote for romney. they're not going to vote for obama. chris: what do the obama people have on romney really? they talk about bain capital. everybody knows that's fair game. go after that. the mormon thing, since it is a new religion for the presidency, we haven't had a mormon president yet and he is a very religious guy, are they
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going to play that? i've heard people say things like, if you even say the word "weird" you're saying mormon. but does use strange language and he said i read "the new york times" cover story about this whole dirty ad campaign about jeremiah wright and read it on the aircraft. he talks like a conehead. like he's speaking earthling. i don't know how you run against a guy like that. is that a way of saying he's mormon? >> nobody has said aircraft in a long, long time. it will have to be very subtle and perhaps it will be the same way they treated mccain's age. there will be some way of just sort of showing him to be out of touch. chris: wagon train somewhere? how do you think they're going to go negative? what's a dirty version of jeremiah wright coming from the obama people? >> the obama people aren't going to do that. they're going to stick with the bain attacks and not touch the mormonism thing. that's their end. race card. chris: above the belt. all going to be above the belt. >> where you could see things
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get ugly from the democratic side, they have -- feel the money that's coming in from the right on the super pac side is dirty money. and they are going to want to make an argument about it being dirty money. how do you make that argument? you go after people who donated -- chris: they're doing that. >> they're going to look at the character and the background and -- chris: how do you use that? the guy had multiple divorceless. >> i don't know what the precise things are. but they are going to want to paint people who are putting money into those superpacs as being part of the dirty business. chris: let me ask you about this question. i'll start with you, clarence. who's going to play the roughest? who is willing to go the furrest and ruthless? >> republicans are wonderful at it but the democrats are no patsies, either. >> it's not going to be either republicans or democrats. as organizations. it's going to be these people, these -- chris: which side, left or right? >> i don't have a clue. chris: it looks like they have -- >> it's going to be third part groups and they have so much more money. chris: the right wing. >> the democratic super pacs
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will be nonexistent. super pacs on the right. the president's people, david axelrod knows how to run netching ads. he -- run negative ads. >> chris: the swift boat attacks on john kerry back in that campaign, those ads were patently ridiculous. and saturday night live took them even further. >> we were on a routine patrol outside donoy when we took sniper fire. three of us were pinned down. it was pretty bad. that's when john kerry turned to me and said, you know, i don't think americans pay much taxes. -- enough taxes. but lieutenant, what about the snipers? he said, i think i would tax them, too. >> kerry knows the swift boat had a gasoline engine and blew a gasket and talked about our dependence on foreign oil. that's when he threw the whole engine overboard in order -- and ordered us to complete the mission on wind power. then of course it flip-flopped and made us put the tank back
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in. >> we happened upon two viet congress sold -- viet cong soldiers and thought it was an ambush. john kerry chased after them and he returned to the boat and said these men -- he -- these men are in love and conduct add gay marriage ceremony. chris: not too far from what they say. when we come back, a majority of american babies now are minorities. does our future as a non-white country promise a conservative backlash this year? scoops and predictions right out of the notebooks of these top reporters.
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>> we must take back our cities. and take back our culture. and take back our country. god bless you. and god bless america.
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chris: welcome back. patrick j. buchanan at the convention in 1992. didn't miss words. don't vote for change. vote to go back. well, change is only accelerated in the 20 years since then. and this week, we learned our babies are now majority non-white. the last year, the census bureau found that hispanic, black, asian, and mixed race babies were just over half the births in this country. buchanan's latest book picks up on this. where his 1992 speech left off. he writes in "suicide of a super power," our intellectual, cultural, and political elites are trying to transform a western christian republic into an egalitarian democracy made up of all the tribes, races, creeds and cultures of planet earth. kathleen, the question is, as voters go to the voting booth this year, are some people worried about the changing nature of our -- many faces,
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however you want to put it nicely, our crypt is not as white in the future -- our country is not as white in the future as it was in the past, is that concerning people? >> i think it coincides with people's concerns that we are not controlling immigration sufficiently. i think that's part of it. i think there's concern that gosh, the country that we've grown up with as you said, is suddenly being transformed by people who have come from other countries and bring their own cultures and do we lose in the midst of all this? i don't think it's particularly bigoted but a sense of losing what is familiar. chris: does it make you want to vote white? >> it doesn't make me want to vote white. but does it make some want to? probably. i think that's a fair question. >> the question is who is "we"? this is a -- the -- this isn't about elites trying to make the country a different way. demography. the birth rates are rising not plus of cultural and political elites. the country is changinger. for some older white voters a cause for anxiety. for a lot of younger voters,
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white voters who are part of a more multicultural america, not a cause for anxiety and uft the same thing they feel about game marriage. it's normal and what's happening. the country is changing and changed for a long time. and if you want to fight against that demography as some republicans want to do, you may get temporary political advantage but over the long run you will lose that battle. >> i've known pat for over 20 years. and he's a friend. we agree on almost nothing plit alexi -- politically. he has been a leader of those not just standing to thwart progress as william beth buckley said, he wants to go back. he believes america has been on a downward slide ever since the mid 1950's. and before elvis appeared on the ed sullivan show. that was probably the beginning. but -- and i'm serious by the way. chris: the early 1950's is the ideal. and i've written about it and said it in commentaries. the trouble is he wants to do it ethnically as well as culturally. we have one of the candidates
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is romney who looks like the early 1950's. his family is early 1950's television. and don't have to do a thing wrong to benefit from this. let's go back. >> it really is a generational thing. chris: keep going. and who votes? >> older voters tend to vote. but obama got record number of young people last time around. and it keeps moving -- chris: what's restore our future mean? what's the pac restore our future? >> it's trying to -- thomas wolf said we can't go home again. he is saying we can go back. the future should look more like the past. and again, generational, liz is right. the question is who are you talking to? the obama coalition is younger voters, young -- college educated women, latinos, blacks, the ascendant forces on the part -- chris: we'll be right back with predictions and scoops from the notebooks of these top reporters. notebooks of these top reporters. clarence actually has his [ male announcer ] for our families... our neighbors... and our communities...
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chris: welcome back. john, tell me something i don't know. >> the forces of demography have changed the electoral map and one area of the map they thought obama would put in play is arizona. the one state they didn't win in 2008. chris: and? >> they won't. chris: a republican state. >> mitt romney's favelt ratings hit 50% for the first time in the campaign. a far cry from the 39% he had not too long ago and the trajectory is only going in the right direction. chris: ok. >> white boomers like and you me should probably be glad that
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we have these immigrants coming to this country. they've always had higher fertility rates. whites are not reproducing. and we're going to need somebody to take care of us. chris: a job description for him already. work in the old folks home. they're glad to hear that. >> chris, mayor rahm emanuel back in chicago was furious insiders say when he heard about joe ricketts going after barack obama with the alternative campaign. and many people wonder, will this have an impact on the deal the cubs are trying to make? his money owns the cubs. chris: is rahm emanuel running for president? >> i wouldn't be surprised if he did. not as confident as john is. chris: that's a story. when we come back, the big question this week for us, what will make history in the 2012 presidential election? be right back.
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chris: welcome back. this week's big question what will make history in this 2012 presidential election? >> first time in history that an incumbent president gets outspent in the general
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election. chris: liz marlantes. >> obama i'm predicting becomes the only president other than woodrow wilson to win re-election with a smaller electoral vote total than his first. chris: wo. >> republicans will spend more money than anyone has ever spent ever. >> the first mormon president or the first biracial president to be re-elected. >> you took mine. sgl thanks for the roundtable and the courage demonstrated by clarence page. john heilemann, kathleen parker, liz marlantes. that's the show. thanks for watching. see you back here next week.
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