tv Inside Washington PBS February 18, 2012 6:00pm-6:30pm EST
>> what do you think of when you tree? a treatment for cancer? alternative fuel for our cars? do you think of hope for the environment, or food, clothing, shelter? we do. weyerhaeuser, growing ideas. >> two months ago i said it don't pay attention to the polls. >> this week on "inside washington," the remarkable
surge of rick santorum. can he take romney in michigan? >> i remember going to the detroit auto show with my dad. >> general motors racks of the biggest annual profit in its history. >> he got on his of millions of dollars from labor bosses for his campaign. so he is paying them back in everyone he knows how. >> miracle -- republicans and democrats, together for the payroll tax cut. >> we would not allow democrats to play political games and raise taxes on working americans. >> china's future leader price for a friendly visit. >> when i look at this panel, i don't see a single men. -- a single woman. >> the birth control debate on capitol hill. was not settled last week? captioned by the national captioning institute
--www.ncicap.org-- as of this weekend, mitt romney has more delegates, but rick santorum has as many wins. if you believe the most recent polls, santorum is leading in michigan. michigan! mitt romney was born in michigan. his father was governor of michigan. how can romney be in trouble in michigan? >> unlike at governor romney, we have a track record of running as an authentic conservative. >> an authentic conservative. at the cpac here in washington last weekend, romney went to great pains, 24 times, to define himself as a conservative. he also said he was "as a really conservative governor of massachusetts -- a severely conservative governor of massachusetts."
"the atlantic's" molly ball wrote that romney "made it sound like a disease." nina, what happens if romney loses michigan? >> if he loses michigan, he is in such dire trouble that i don't know what he dies. there are not really many alternatives. santorum is there. he cannot get on the ballot in most places anymore. it is too late. the republican party really has an interest in having him a win in. if he does not, they are stuck between santorum, paul, and gingrich. >> if romney loses at michigan, charles, then what? >> he is not going to leave the race. it will be a blow. a lot of people said that the primaries and caucuses last week, in missouri, minnesota, colorado, didn't count because there were no delegates.
well, it didn't count because it showed how weak romney -- it did count because it showed how weak romney is. santorum ran unopposed i essentially against romney because gingrich was not on the ballot. it showed he was the remaining alternative. it will continue, it will be a tight race, like reagan and ford, hillary and,. -- hillary and obama. >> colby? >> it depends on how he loses in michigan if he loses at all. if it is a narrow loss, it is not a fatal blow. if he gets blown out, he has a problem on his hands. he has a problem generally would like ability. -- with his likability. with his super pac, negative ads, it will hurt romney over the long haul. >> mark, as i recall, early in the season romney seem to be
running a smart campaign. what happened? >> what happened to his campaign is that romney it really has never connected with voters at an emotional level or given them a case as to what the vision, mission, the emotional connection as to why he wants to be president and how he is going to be a different kind of president. the others have at given times established an emotional connection with the voters. before they to vote for you, and they have to like you. that is, frankly, romney -- romney's campaign has always been a concept. he has the best campaign, has more money, he is the most electable, most likely to win. there was never a sense that he is going to be president and he is going to do these three things and that is going to make america better or satisfy my urges. >> earlier in the campaign you
had eight candidates and they were going after each other and romney was the one who was left untouched for a long period of time. as soon as the field narrowed and they could concentrate on romney and romney's record, or lack thereof -- >> the flip side of that is that it is sort of a case of whack-a- mole. mr. shields will remind me, because i cannot remember what happened in the muskie campaign. he was supposed to be preordained candidate, and he got out early. >> well, he cried in new hampshire, and at the time, men and didn't cry. today, they cry all the time, and all too much, if you ask me. [laughter] >> alan alda for president. >> there is a lot to cry about. >> be that as it may -- >> rick santorum has emerged as
this interesting, appealing figure, he has made the connection bread but there are a couple of things about santorum that have gone unnoticed. he served in the house of representatives for two terms, served in the senate for two terms. during that time in the house, there were 229 house republicans with him, 89 republican senators with him. how many of them have seen fit to say, "this is the man i want as president"? zilch, nada, zero. those who know him best -- endorsements mean something to the person doing the endorsing and being endorsed. they don't matter to voters, but they tell you something about the individual. >> that is not what is going to hurt him. i agree with that, but what is hurting him is the fact that he seems to want to talk about contraception. that is not a burning issue in
the minds of the american people. it is a settled issue. yet he says "other presidents want talk about it, i will talk about it," and he goes on and on about how it hurts women, causes disillusionment in society. he ought to say, "as a catholic, i believe in the doctrine of the church and i believe it teachings on this, but i'm not running to be the pope or a bishop. i'm running to be president of the united states," had to shut up about these issues, which are going to destroy him if he ends up in the general election. >> something i never thought i would say -- it is and deeper than that, charles. this is a man without perceptible joy. there is no choice about it santorum, there is no optimism, -- no joy about santorum, there is no optimism. >> i don't agree with you.
>> i saw him at the detroit economic forum this week. it was a different rick santorum. it was not the rick santorum of social issues who brought up contraceptives. he talked about the economy. it was a well balanced speech. what t -- one speech does not make a candidate but it is a different rick santorum on display. >> he actually gives a good speech, a somewhat optimistic speech about america. but we in the media have not examined him carefully yet and that is about to happen. >> it is at coming. general motors, and democrats and republicans have a deal. amazing. >> last fall the reason we were even talking about the extension of the payroll tax rate and unemployment benefits was because the president's
economic policies have failed. i still believe that to be the case to daty. this is a fair agreement and one that i support. >> what turned him around, mark? [laughter] >> the man with the toughest job in washington. every day john boehner has to put together a new coalition of republicans. he did it, and he forced -- imposed his will upon it, because he understood it was nothing but a killer for his party, and it went down to the last minute again. this was done almost two weeks before it was going to expire, which is miraculous by washington standards. it was something that had to be resolved, and he did it. >> i don't think it was a hard sell at all. i think republicans realized they could not have a repeat of last year. the polls showed it. >> not if you like your job.
>> the approval rating for congress is 12%. >> the last gallup is 10%. >> they had to do that deal. >> tell that to the republican house caucus. >> it was a raucous caucus. >> raucous caucus? >> it was not the power of the speech. >> raucous caucus sounds like a rock band, charles. >> everybody here is so delighted that we finally have a bipartisan agreement and are celebrating it. over what? $16 trillion in debt. we just added $100 billion, on a payroll tax cut that every economist will tell you will not have any influence on the creation of jobs are helping our economy.
you know how we are paying for some of the goodies in there? we are auctioning off the spectrum. you ought to auction off spectrum anyway. the idea that we are going to do that -- this is a priceless commodity and the government is selling it off, selling crown jewels to buy crack. the payroll tax cut has no effect on what is going to make -- all want a minute -- -- hold on -- it will make people smile for a few months and we are selling option to do that. that is the state of our politics today. >> everybody agrees that the best thing to do it economically and that does actually have an effect on the economy is to keep going with the unemployment stuff, and they cut that down a bit so they can do what charles calls crack. it is still politically untenable position of for republicans to be opposed to this. >> i want to talk about general
motors. they had a great year last year. mitt romney in 2008 published an op-ed in "the new york times" called "let detroit go bankrupt ." he had a fall in "the detroit news" this week. -- a follow-up in "the detroit news close with this week. >> santorum says the same thing. >> it is a primary, but who art they talking to? >> timing is everything. $6.7 billion profit, general motors. at the brink of bankruptcy, what was the intervening again? the bailout by the taxpayers, the citizens of the united states. now it is the most profitable auto company in the world. who oppose it? the native son of michigan on the eve of the michigan primary. >> he says that obama sold out to the union bosses. how does that help him in this primary? >> it doesn't.
>> well, look, i supported the bailout, i thought it was a good idea, had to be done. the bush administration said it up so it would allow obama to make that choice, and it was the right decision. i supported tarp as well. the romney argument is a separate argument and it is complicated and he is losing on it because it is complex. he is idling that it should have gone to preprogrammed bankruptcy and the government interfered in a way that was quite lawless. the bondholders got screwed and the unions benefit. what it is a distorted the settlement so that you did not get the radical changes that would really have made it healthy. but that is a complicated argument and it is not going to work and and will hurt him a lot in michigan. >> it is not as if the unions have not given back a lot. >> he said that he had recommended a managed bankruptcy is what he called it.
>> that's right. >> he cannot have it both ways even though he always tries to have it both ways. he was opposed to that bailout, and everybody knows he was opposed to that bailout. the success is not his, is of the administration that supported it. >> one thing that every voter in michigan and knows, gm went to a third shift. >> we had a visitor from china at this week. >> we want to work with china to make to that everybody is working on the same rules of the road when it comes to the world economic system. >> rules? what rules? the vice president, xi jinping, was in town this week. what rules, colby? >> there are some rules that observed in some rules that stretched. the thing that underlies this relationship with china is a
trade. there is the trade deficit, but the united states exports something worth of $30 billion in exports to china last year . buick is big in china. general motors' profitability in large part is because of the market in china. the united states has a lot going on with this relationship with china it is beyond just foreign policy, and defense policy -- those are key areas where there are troubles. but the trade relationship is really the underpinning between these countries. >> what could be more american than that an "inside washington" coffee cup made in china? couldn't they make these in maryland or toledo? >> they could and should.
>> you would pay more. >> we are more than consumers, we are citizens -- i hope. this conversation seems to take place every time there is a chinese leader with an american leader. we talk about currency, intellectual property. but this time as well they have let us down in china, in the un, and they with russia vetoed the resolution on syria, the u.n. security council. i just wonder when they are going to take their place as a real full liter up the planet -- leader of the planet. >> never. their conception of their place is to promote china, a civilization a lot older than ours. they think they are older, wiser, more civilized, and they are going to outlast us, and their conception of the world is not to follow the american lead, and to expect it is naive. why should anybody be surprised
that china would act on its interests vis-a-vis syria and iran? it is the equivalent of germany in the 1900's, and the europeans did not handle the rise of the industrialization of germany well in the 20th-century. >> nina? >> this is, i have to admit, not my field of enormous expertise, but across the board, obama has gotten pretty good marks for his handling of the relationship with china. my fixation is about the whole question of intellectual property, because if they copy everything you do and then have a population that can produce it en masse and put your companies at a disadvantage, you are out of business. >> there is a whole list that we don't have time to get into. the birth control debate is
still with us. >> what i want to know is where are the women? when i look at his pal, i don't see one single woman -- when i look at this panel, i don't see one single woman representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventive health care services. >> we are here at looking at government's bounds -- not is it a good idea or does it say for cost money. how does it impact religious organizations and people of conscience and faith? >> congresswoman carolyn maloney, congressman darrell issa. when we last met, we mentioned that the white house was announcing a plan to accommodate religious employers on the birth control issues. this satisfies some but not all of the president's critics on this issue. the hearing this week was a matter of great asset to carolyn maloney and also eleanor holmes norton -- upset to carolyn
maloney and also eleanor holmes norton. >> it is not a new thing to have a cited congressional hearing. however, it was not a stroke of genius to have all men talking about contraception that involves principally when it. they can get it over the counter any time they want. >> let's talk about the president's deal. you had a column about it on friday, charles. it is a compromise, so to speak. >> it is not a compromise, it is a fake, an accounting trick and a catholic hospital, like a catholic charity or public- school, is required by law to engage an insurer -- like a catholic charity or school, is required by law to engage an insurer that will provide contraceptives. i have no problem with contraceptives. it is not about access to contraceptives. it is can the state compel a religious organization to do
something, to engage an insurer was required by law to provide something that is against the doctrine of that church? the answer is nothing has changed in a moral cents. however, it was a political stroke. obama got away with a. before, he had been opposed by rick warren, a pastor who had supported him, opposed by tim kaine, the former dnc chairman, and now it is the opposition who are split so it succeeded. but it was an absolute fraud. >> there are people on both sides of this controversy who want to go to war. the fact that they did win back the catholic health association is not insignificant. but as long as this debate is over religious freedom, obama was losing. as long as it is over contraception, which it became in the house hearing, the other side wins because it is and 95-5 issue on the issue of
contraception. religious freedom is different. >> colby, the first amendment guarantees freedom of religion. doesn't it also guarantee freedom from religion? >> yes, and this is an area where the church has to tread carefully. it is one thing to talk about the government intruding upon religious institutions. it is another thing altogether to say that contraception is that anything that supports contraception we are against. and they will lose -- >> nobody is -- >> if they tried to make that argument -- thank you. >> nina, is this debates to was in november? >> it could be. it would be bullish for republicans to continue to make -- is the it would be foolish for republicans to continue to make this the issue. a substantial amount of
contraceptives are for health reasons. they do not involve not having a baby. you are depriving a woman of health services if you don't cover this. >> how did we get bogged down in this if the economy was supposed to be the number one issue? >> the religious liberty issue is an important one g. what may happen, what could happen, is discussing contraceptives -- rick santorum decides he wants to talk about contraception and make it part of the conversation. that is a separate issue. if he does that, it becomes a political issue. >> a couple of weeks ago e.j. dionne of "the washington post" said that the president through people who supported him on health care bill under the bus. >> yes, i to the credit of, among others, nancy deparle at
the white house, the health honcho, made the case against the best wishes of planned parenthood and other powers in the white house that these are people who stood up with you, were crucial, and when the bishops opposed to the health care plan, the catholic health care association did stand with you. you cannot disregard them, ignore them. the reality was the obama administration came out with an incredibly strict constructionist, narrow definition of religion and what religion -- it can only be sectarian activity within the sanctuary. >> it is actually a legalistic definition. but it is illustrative of a greater obama problem, i think, because they had a, sort of, within the white house. they did not go outside the white house. this is what the obama administration does over and over again. it has this little circle of people. >they never go beyond it.
>> mark, you are right. the original offense here was this narrow definition of religion, that it only is what happens in the church. the church itself is excluded from this requirement. but the catholic hospitals, charities, etc. are now included. but nothing has changed with this so-called -- that definition of a catholic hospital as being non-religious remains. that is the offense, that is the problem, that is the imposition of a liberal secular idea -- hold on a minnick -- a liberal secular idea is that it is only what happens in the church and not outside. that is why it is such an offense against religion and religious liberty. it is exercise not just in the church but in the good works
caring for the sick and needy. >> colby, sleight of hand at, is that what this is? >> no, the administration always had that definition available to itself. it satisfied a number of people, including the governors, watim kaine, who criticized the position, because they no longer have to provide this coverage. insurance companies have to provide the coverage. it is not just contraceptives -- mammograms, etc. it is an acceptable compromise for a number people except at those who want to make an ideological argument against it and want to bash obama. >> last word. see you next week.
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