tv The Chris Matthews Show NBC September 2, 2012 10:00am-10:30am EDT
>> this is "the chris matthews show." >> ask not what your country can do for you. >> tear down this wall. >> i can hear you. >> the time for change has come! chris: the battle is on. the challenger chose his weapons. the question, can the president respond? the contender has thrown his first big punches. let's see what the champion has got. the all irish fight card. paul ryan is 27 years younger than joe biden. he has youth going for him. does biden have the speed and accuracy. finally, not like the old days. look look back at some real television history. 1956, john gets arrested in 1964 our own dan rather gets bounced
in 1968. hi, i'm chris matthews. welcome to the show. with us today, john heilemann, katty kay, helene cooper and joe klein. first up, mitt romney may not have been the love of their life, now he is out in the arena has the republican's champion, a political gladiator who has now thrown down his gauntlet. >> this president can ask us to be patient. this president can tell us it was someone else's fault. this president can tell us that the next four years he'll get it right. but this president cannot tell us that you're better off today than when he took office. chris: john, that is it, that's the gauntlet, can the president and what will he do to answer that charge that he has not made things better? >> is a perennial questions in elections and the case of romney against obama. explicitly and implicitly, the president has to answer that char. they have tried in chicago for the last year to say this isn't just a referendum on us.
it's a choice. you're going to hear that framing throughout this convention in charlotte. i will say, i think they're going to do more to try to go back and litigate his record that people now expect or that they have done previously. i think you're going to hear more about, again, about how bad things would be now if he hadn't done the things he did. chris: the republican nominee who has accepted the nomination, mr. romney, governor romney, did he sell, in all of the talk about business, we need a businessman. did he sell his superior ability to fix the competent, do you think this week? >> the speech was light on policy details and towards th end, he did start talking about a plan to create 12 million jobs in america. some economists will say that's was going to be created anyway over the next few years. he talked about a needo make america energy independent and drill more oil. that got a massive round of applause in the hall. almost as if some of these policy issues were the emotional
touch buttons of that audience, reducing the deficit, reducing taxes, drilling more oil, those are intensely emotional issues. chris: why did he mention any specifics? >> it was the least substantial major speech that i think i have ever seen at a presidential convention, but he did the thing that he needed to do, which was to ask the four-year question. and the actual answer to that is yes, we are better than we were four years ago because four years ago g.d.p. was collapsing by 9%. we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. but the president is in a real bind here because he has to go beyond that. he can't just relitigate. i suspect that john is right, that they're going to try to relitigate more than we expect they will, b obama really has to come out witsome perspective to say this is why you should extend my contract. jose: so the question to you, you're going to start with this
and this one, are we better off before or after having heard from clint eastwood this week? >> oh, god, you make me start on eastwood. >> chris: still the chatter. >> i'm not sure how far that got them. when you're asking just now, joe, about specifics from mitt romney thursday night, one specific that i was really shocked to hear him not mention was an entire acceptance speech with no mention of 70,000 american troops in afghanistan, no mention of afghanistan at all. >> or the veterans who have come home and committing suicide at a rate of more than one a day. chris: will there be any lost votes or lost branding for the republicans because of eastwood's performance or a one-week story. >> it might be a one--week story. this is an element of malpractice here. it's the last hour of totally
scripted, no, he is under your control this hour prime-time. they let this guy, anybody, it doesn't matter who it is. it doesn't matter if the person is political, hollywood, superstar, brad pitt, angelina, you don't let anybody get on the stage without a script in the most hour you still have under your control. i will say it looked like dada dinner theater. bobcat goldstein. >> getting back to substance and clint eastwood, to the extent that you can understand what he was saying, he wasn't total on republican message. there he was saying about afghanistan, get out of afghanistan, bring the troops open and the president on air force one, why does he have such a gas guzzler. i'm an environmentalist, he shouldn't be using so much energy. it doesn't sound like the republican message. chris: let's get back to the essential theme which was aiming at the people that were disappointed with president obama. a lot of people are. they had a big happy hunting ground for the people that are
disappointed. how do you the democrats respond to it? can this marriage be saved? what do you say when they say he ain't the guy when he was running? >> they say he is the guy who cares about you. they say mitt romney does not care about you. mitt romney cares about the rich people and president obama is out there fighting. this is what he is saying now. this is what you're going to be hearing for the next two months. they very much, i think john is completely right. they are going to go back and try to represent the last four years, but they're also going to try to present the last four years and go systematically through what obama has done. >> what is happening here, what both sides are finding in their focus groups is that people are disappointed in the president. that's the big word. they don't hate the president. they kind of like him. that's why you heard that tone from romney. they have very, very grave doubts about who this romney guy is. that's why the obama campaign has been all about that. that's why it's going to
continue to be all about that. >> by rights, the white house should not be in the position it's in given the state of the american economy, right. ck o suld not b rug even in this race because of undeployment and because of the trajectory of the economy. he is doing that because hes mo likle. xteek, he has to do exactly what joe was saying, restress his likeability over mitt romney's distance, but also the lack of caring for the middle class. you keep reminding them of what romney's policies would do for middle class and working americans. >> there are places where this becomes an emotional thing as much as it is a political thing. the people in chicago, the obama campaign, they looked at that convention last week and they saw a pack of lies. that's what they feel is happening. they feel like the other side is not just fighting hard or even fighting dirty but is propagating systematically falsehoods that are objectively are not true. the fact checker on welfare,
medicare, a lot of the things that paul ryan said, they want to fight that. they feel like they have to win some of those fights. they don't think the media is policing it anymore and no one is paying a price for lying. they want to try to impose a price on the romney campaign. that what you heard last week, it's just not so. that's going to be a big theme in charlotte. the other thing is they have to make sure, for mitt romney to win this election, he has to get a lot of people who voted foroohar barack obama last time to vote for him this time. he has to keep reminding people as joe said, but this over here is a bad future, a much worse future and people can't be trusted to tell the truth. >> it's a tricky sell. in the end in politics, emotion wins over facts. you can seep saying we were right, we were right, they were lying, they were lying. they have to make him as someone that people don't trust. chris: in "time magazine," if i'm a plain white insurance man, salesman, i look at the democratic party and say, what's in it for me. the democrats must reach out to those who are currently excluded
from its hoyt." that's interesting. the democrats need to get 40% of the white vote for them to win. that's the margin. how do they do without offending the groups they have been trying to help along the way? >> by saying we're all americans. i think that what you're seeing now is a level of bitterness and anger that is increasing among white voters because they sense that the country is changing into a different place. the place the country is changing into is a place that i prefer, but for people out in the middle of the country, it's scary. i think the democrats have to reach out at this point and show those people that they are included. >> has the president have the ability to do that with working with noncollege, working class white guys and women, clinton has been able too did it, has this president been able to do it? >> it's difficult for him to do it. chris: what will the republican
convention be remembered for this time? you first, john. >> paul ryan maybe -- chris: a star is born? >> a star is born. chris: katy. >> the first convention that made a pitch to women. this was the mom my's convention. >> it doesn't matter, facts might not necessarily matter as much as long as you know that the people you're talking to are going to accept what you say no matter what. >> it won't be remembered. it will not be remembered. chris: let's talk about past ones. they have cut way back on convention coverage. it wasn't like 1956 and gavel to gavel televising got going. >> it wasn't until 1956 that television figured out how to cover a convention when a couple of pioneers named huntley and brinkley sat and just made conversation about what was happening.
brickley even made jokes about it. >> it was 12:31:15 chicago time when we first heard the words will the delegates take their seats and then we found as always they did not at 12:52. chris: they found this on their chairs. it says you're on tv. tips on how your behavior can win democratic votes from our tv audience. one tip, get into your place well ahead of time. the hall can't look good with late comers drifting in. another tip, pay no attention to the cameras. you'll really get wiped out but fast if you insist on playing lens mugger, hand waiver. television's big role was resented by republicans in the goldwater year when he took the podium at that 1964 convention, former president eisenhower got this huge reaction by criticizing the networks. watch the delegates pointing their fingers up at the press
box. >> particularly scorned the divisive efforts of those outside our family including sensation seeking columnists and commentators. [cheers and applause] chris: wow. and the war with the press at that convention got so hot that nba's floor reporter john chancellor was arrested by the local police. there he is. >> i formerly say that this is a disgrace that the press should be allowed and the radio and television should be allowed to do their work at the convention on television. if static begins to interfere with my signal, it's because i'm taken down off the arena now by these policemen and i'll check in later. this is john chancellor somewhere in custody. >> john, call us when you can. chris: and in 1968 at the democratic convention in chicago, floor reporter dan rather got manhandled while he was on the air with walter cronkite. >> don't push me, take your
hands off of me unless you intend to arrest me. >> these are security people apparently around dan obviously getting rough to him. >> someone belted me in the stomach during that, sorry to be out of breath. chris: 27% of americans were watching. and this week 27% told the rasmussen poll they were still watching. ryan is 27 years than joe biden. will he be outfoxed? plus "scoops and predictions." be right back.
starts with ac/dc and ends with zeppelin. chris: welcome back. that was of course 42-year-old paul ryan accepting the g.o.p. nomination for vice president. vice president biden at 69 is about as far from ryan's political generation as he could be. john heilemann writes, request with the spotlight trained on ryan, biden is there too. the card matters. with the toe to toe debates from the number two's from a side show to a marquee event." after ryan was picked, the poll came out. voters under 35, those who have decided to vote breaked sharp for obama. can ryan the younger guy pull them away? >> i don't think so. it's partly because the president's numbers with young voters are pretty firmly baked into the cake now. i think that vice presidents don't actually move votes that
much. what paul ryan brings to this ticket is an element, not just of vigor, but of intellectual and ideological heft. he is making a bunch of arguments. the argument on medicare that we're waging, no one thought that republicans could get the better of democrats on the issue. last week in tampa, he made a strong argument that makes it much more politically volatile. joe biden has to get in there and make that argument that retaining the democratic strength on medicare, go after ryan on that. chris: isn't the strength comes not from his knowledge of the budget, but from the claim that the democrats were trying to cut $700 billion from medicare and they can point to that? >> again, it's a very misleading argument and ryan has a problem on that because he wanted to take $760 million out of medicare also. is it politically salient to say that barack obama is taking money out of medicare to fund obama care. yes, it is. chris: a real debate for v.p. and president. are the people i chicago who
are worried about everything out there and thinking ahead of everything, are they worried about the older guy 69, going against the younger guy 27 years younger? >> i think they're definitely worried about that. it's going to be really interesting with the democratic convention coming up this week. biden is not speaking on the same night as obama. in fact, he is going to be presenting obama to the group. he doesn't have his own night as paul ryan did last week with the republican show. he is not going to be in the attack mode this week. bill clinton the night before, birdie is talking more about the obama legacy, the last four years. i know this guy as a president. you're going to see him slipping over right after that and then going out on to the campaign trail and taking on that traditional attack. >> if you go to ryan, he is a number cruncher. he might intimidate birdie? i don't think so. this is exactly the fight that chicago wants. ryan is an upper middle class kind of lace curtain guy and
biden is a working class guy. if you're the democrats, you always want to prove that you're on the side of the working class and that is the constituency they have had the most problem with in the past. chris: yes or no, will the vice presidential line matter who wins for president? >> the last time we got excited about a vice presidential pick was sarah palin, a huge improvement for john mccain's numbers. and the final poll suggests she wasn't that positive for john mccain. yeah, there is a risk for mitt romney. down in tampa, everybody was speaking about the next generation within the republican party. they were speaking about paul ryan more than mitt romney. chris: we're among the greats right here. when we come back, "scoops and predictions" write from the notebooks of these top reporters. tell me something i that fridge in your kitchen may have crossed this bridge. your new car probably rode these rails. that shipment you just received was tracked by satellite. we build and maintain. we invest and innovate. so we can deliver what america needs.
were so high. we thought he was going to kill her. he had to worry about being condescending for her. it was a challenge for him. this is a new debate. he relishes the notion. he is the underdog. it goes back to the time when he didn't think he could beat bob bjork. he declined his clock. >> katy. >> there was the video on the life of mitt romney. it was incredibly touching, lovely pictures of ann and how they got married. most successful in prime time, they didn't. >> you're hearing how the pentagon might prosecute this navy seal who has come out with this book, "no he is day" about the osama bin laden raid. the reality is this is the last thing they want to do. they realize the political peril of going after one of the guys that killed osama bin laden. chris: what is the crime? >> divulging classified information. >> we move from four-day conventions to three-day conventions. we're going to be moving quickly
chris: welcome back. i interviewed vice president biden for an msnbc documentary on president obama which airs this monday night. i asked the vice president about the president's reaction to racially continuinged political talk. >> the thing about barack, i'll get mad when someone implies something or sounds to me, wait, slow up, man. slow up. this is him telling me, don't get angry. don't get angry. it's a really small minority, man. it's a real minority. don't worry about it. >> the big question, will the president ignore what he sees as the dog whistle or racially tainted talk. if he hears it, will he react to
it? >> the dog whistle, there will be a real impulse on chicago's part not to play it up. >> don't they react to welfare cheating -- >> they're reacting on the facts. they push hard on the issues as a matter of policy. part of the promise in obama in 2008 for a lot of voters is we're moving back divisive arguments of race and racism. for them to cry that there is a racial motivation, it introduce as a conversation that a lot of americans don't want to have. they know that. chris: so you agree they'll try to ignore it? >> there is not much political gain. >> four years of barack obama, he does not play the race card not in a negative way. >> he hates it. he hates it. he won't. he probably should, though. he probably should address it because the bitterness out there is really becoming marked. chris: the documentary, by the way, "barack obama making history" airs this monday night at 10:00 on msnbc. thanks for a great roundtable here, john heilemann, kaye kaye,