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tv   The Last Word  MSNBC  October 4, 2011 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT

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perry and definitely won't be the republican nominee for president. >> now is not my time. >> his heart remains in new jersey. >> so new jersey, whether you like it or not, you're stuck with me. >> new jersey is stuck with chris christie, so republicans are stuck with everyone else. >> what they see is what they get. >> the press conference that lasted nearly an hour. >> he's been saying he's not going to run. >> blunt, open and engaging style. >> i am who i am. >> he doesn't sound full of crap. >> jabs at reporters and the president. >> making sure president obama is a one termer. >> nobody else is going to jump into this race. >> we are now pretty much looking at a settled field. >> general width of ne-- >> good news for mitt romney. >> they love the idea of beating barack obama. >> the president is stuck with a congress that doesn't work. >> all we got from them is no. >> speaking today in texas. >> won't even let this jobs bill
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have a vote. >> dead on arrival. >> our republican colleagues seem to be willing to tank the economy. >> would like to see a little bit more economic justice or social justice. jesus stuff. >> i'd like mr. cantor to come down here to dallas. >> nobody gets everything they want. >> i got 98% of what i wanted. i'm pretty happy. good evening. i'm chris hayes in for lawrence o'donnell. the dream is dead. once again. chris christie the man that many republicans have been pining for to enter the race, their much wished for savior, once again took time out of his busy schedule as governor of the state of new jersey to loudly in front of the cameras with great relish put to bed speculation that he will run for president. >> in the end, what i've always felt was the right decision remains the right decision today. now is not my time.
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i have a commitment to new jersey i simply will not abandon. so new jersey, whether you like it or not, you're stuck with me. >> increased national profile for christie surrounding his decision seems to have conferred some local political advantages in the governor whose declining poll numbers have sharply reversed as he's become the target of cascades of valentines from conservative donors and activists. christie's approval rating in new jersey stands at 54%. during christie's press conference today he also provided his thoughts on the current president. >> i think the kun thricountry better by making sure president obama is a one termer. unfortunately though there are areas as you know that i support this president in, overall he's failed the american people because he's failed that absolute litmus test to be president of the united states. that's to know how to lead and decide and he hasn't done that. >> christie then flattered himself by suggesting that calls for him to run for president had
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nothing whatsoever to do with the weak republican field. >> i don't think it says anything particular about the field. i'd like to think it says something about me. >> there's no better proof christie is wrong on that score than this breaking news. herman cain is now polling at the top the presidential republican field. a just released cbs news poll of republican primary voters shows cain polling at 17%. up 12 points from just 2 weeks ago. that ties him with mitt romney whose support held steady. rick perry's support plunged from 23% to 12%. good enough for third. the rest of the field polls in the single digits. as for which candidate is most likely to beat president obama, a plurality of republican voters pick romney who polls at 32%, 11 points ahead of rick perry. in third, in third, herman cain. 8% say he's the party's best chance to defeat president
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obama. here to discuss where does christie's decision lead republicans, is analyst jonathan alter. also former chief of staff to republican congresswoman michele bachmann, roy carey. thank you both for joining me. >> hi, chris. >> roy -- ron, sorry. i'll call you by the right name. how about that? ron kercarey. there's a conventional wisdom among liberals like myself this roiling discontent says something about the weakness of the field or the ideological rigidity of the tea party's elements of the base. which of those do you think are accurate? >> you have to look back at history, chris. look back at 2008. rudy giuliani and fred thompson were atop the republican field and faded very quickly. you're seeing a good debate. this is what a process is supposed to do, supposed to test every candidate under pressure and see which one really has the strength to take it all the way. i don't think we have to worry about the republican field being
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weak. actually it's the democrats that have to worry about having a weak candidate. i showed a poll today that showed 46% of american s definitely will not vote for obama. 23% would definitely vote for obama. the remaining 30% out there, obama has to run the table if things stand as they are. it's really the democrats have the weak candidate they should be concerned about, not the republicans. the republicans are going to unite behind whomever emerges from this field. >> in terms s of that polling, e thing that's interesting, as low as the president's approval ratings have been recently, jonathan, he remains incredibly personally popular and remains much more popular than the republicans in congress. i wonder whether you think that personal popularity, who on the republican side is sort of best equipped to go toe to toe with him on that? >> well, you know, he is the underdog as he said this week, but, you know, right now basically the only plausible candidate in the republican party is mitt romney. i mean, perry is cratering.
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he could make a comeback. stranger things have happened. somebody else could get in. i think there's a decent chance that rudy giuliani will get in this race in the next couple weeks. but the field is a weak one which lends a kind of paradoxical quality to this election year. because the republicans have a very good chance to take the white house, but they have flawed messengers. >> i think the sort of conventional wisdom coming out today with the chris christie announcement is this was a good day for mitt romney. that romney currently occupies a position that christie would occupy were he to enter the race. you said something to me interestingly a few moments ago off set about why you think that's not the case. what you think the problem for romney is. >> well, he's got quite a number of different problems in a general election. but i think today was very good news for romney because christie would have very possibly beaten him. and it would have at a minimum it would have helped perry by
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dividing the nonextremist vote to the republican party. so basically a net plus for romney that the christie decision. but what's going on on wall street and in close to 150 other cities and college campuses, this two-week-old occupy wall street movement has the potential -- we have to say just the potential -- to be kind of a tea party of the left. and this would be potentially very harmful to romney for this reason. in the same way that the tea party focused the enormous frustration out in the country on the government and an obama, this occupy wall street movement, if it grows and doesn't get hijacked, which are big ifs. there's a lot of ways for it to go wrong. if it actually keeps going, this occupy wall street movement could focus resentment and anger on wall street and on romney
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who's kind of a poster boy for wall street. remember, there was a point when the tea party was close to 50% favorable rating even though it's essentially, you know, a right wing movement. but many americans were so frustrated that they expressed a lot of support for the tea party. i think you can see maybe not quite as many, but a pretty significant number who are very frustrated with wall street who might express some support for this movement if it doesn't go in a crazy direction. >> ron, in terms of the polling that's out today from cbs and from a few other sources that show herman cain surging, i wonder what you make of the herman cain surge. i find cain to be a fascinating figure. i find the energy he has stoked to be remarkable and fascinating to observe. is it surprising to you that herman cain who i will admit is not someone i was at all familiar with just eight months ago is now polling atop the republican field? >> i think you've seen quite a turnover here.
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you look back in june it was bachmann. then in august it became perry. now it's cain. i think all the republican conservative candidates are really being pressure tested by the voters and they've been found to have weaknesses. herman cain is a solid conservative. will he meet the test? i don't know about this point in time. i am concerned as a conservative the fact he seems to be losing a lot of key staff and seems to not have the experience politically that i'd like to see. because even though he's a very distinguished person from a business standpoint, he doesn't have political experience and political experience is not overrated when it comes to the rough and tumble presidential politics. i am discouraged of the fact he's on a book tour right now. if i was him, i would be on the phone with all 99 county chairs in iowa trying to solidify their support while the iron is hot. instead he's on a book tour. i'm concerned about his direction. does he have the advisers around him to keep him on track? i wouldn't count rick perry out. he's raising a lot of money. he has a lot of gravitas as
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governor of texas and the experience that somebody is going to emerge, i think, from the more conservative part of the field to be the counterbalance to romney and those two will duke it out to the end. question is which conservative is going to be able to become the alternative to mitt romney and really enter iowa and new hampshire and south carolina as the real alternative? it will come down to the battle between two major candidates, romney being one of them. >> you mentioned herman cain losing staff and the woman you once worked for, michele bachmann, lost a pollster, senior adviser, congressional spokesperson and scheduler left her campaign recently. she told reporters, this is what she had to say yesterday -- okay. she says "this has been in line with our plan all along. this isn't a shakeup." is this the michele bachmann master plan having worked for her before to shed staff as the campaign goes on? >> well, it's, you know, when
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you're in politics you're good at spinning sometimes when things aren't going well, but, you know, unless you're the government, you can't spend money you done have. she simply does not have the money and she's taking draconian steps at this point from all i can see to try to reduce her overhead so she can stay in the race and hopefully survive the fight in iowa. so i think that's -- i think everybody can see through maybe some of the spin in that she -- people don't invest and send money to a candidate if they don't believe they're going to win. she's gone from being on her peak in august after the ames ballot, but quickly fallen. and people -- the money's just drying up. she had high overhead. >> can you tell us now, ron, since you're no longer working in that campaign, a little bit of candor here. is part of it she's just too flaky and when you get close to her you recognize that? >> no, no. she's a very strong individual. there's a lot of substance there. people undersell her a lot, but, you know, she's very demanding
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and has -- she has some of the characteristics herman cain may be suffering from that they want to be the smartest person in the room and sometimes don't want to listen to people who maybe have a broader and more experienced background that she could benefit from. i hope herman cain is going to listen to smart people. i mean, there are certainly advisers out there that just want a paycheck. there are people out there you can bring to your campaign that can make you a smarter and better candidate. some of these political candidates haven't learned to let go of some of the controls and look to people who can add value that's needed in a presidential politics. >> that was a very polite way of answering my question. anybody who can't listen to smarter people in the room who always has to prove they're the smartest person in the room by definition should not be president. >> that's msnbc contributor jonathan alter and ron carey, former chief of staff to michele bachmann. thank you both for joining me tonight. >> thanks, chris. >> thank you. coming up, republican opposition has a new name now. eric cantor goes on the attack and president obama struck back.
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that's next. it's day 18 for occupy wall street which meant among other things a big lawsuit filed on behalf of arrest protesters. unions joining the growing movement tomorrow. we'll have the latest. look, every day we're using more and more energy.
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coming up, president obama gets specific when talk about recalcitrant republicans. he name drops eric cantor. and the eloquence of an occupy wall street protester didn't fit fox's fair and balanced image so they cut what he said. when you hear what they cut,y. the exceptional take on occupy wall street is coming up. he day. unlike ordinary toothpaste, you feel a deeper clean. you're also protected. with new crest complete, you know you're covered.
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we've had folks in congress who've said they shouldn't pass this bill because it would give me a win. so their thinking about the next election. give me a win? give me a break. that's why folks are fed up with washington. this isn't about giving me a win. this isn't about giving democrats or republicans a win. this is about giving america a win. >> that was president obama this afternoon just outside of dallas. again pushing congress to pass his jobs bill. along with some campaign stayle rhetoric, we heard the now familiar campaign style slogan. >> pass this bill. pass this bill. pass this bill. pass this bill. let's pass this bill.
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>> along with the pass this bill refrain, the president did something different today in texas. he didn't just talk about republican opposition to his jobs plan in vague terms, his opponent wasn't just a sea of faceless republican lawmakers on the other side of the aisle. he gave the gop opposition a face and a name. >> yesterday the republican majority leader in congress, eric cantor, said that right now he won't even let this jobs bill have a vote in the house of representatives. this is what he said. i'd like mr. cantor to come down here to dallas and explain what exactly in this jobs bill does he not believe in? what exactly -- what exactly is he opposed to? at least put this jobs bill up for a vote so that the entire country knows exactly where members of congress stand. >> president obama no doubt focused his remarks on cantor
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after the number two house republicans said yesterday the chamber would not vote on the president's bill in its entirety saying the american s jobs act was dead on arrival. this morning congressman cantor told reporters it's the president who has a problem reaching across the aisle. >> the problem is the policies being promoted by this administration that are sending the signal that we're not open for business in america. so if the president would join us in trying to do some things and actually help people that help create an environment for growth, i think we can all see a way to work together to actually produce a better future. >> the majority leader's office put out a statement today directly responding to the president's speech in texas that called cantor out by name. that statement read in part "president obama needs to understand it is my way or the highway approach" -- i'm laughing because this is the guy who rallied the votes.
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"his highway or the my way approach isn't going to work in the house or democratic senate in light of his abysmal record on jobs. the american people have gone with it far too long. people trying to work together despi despite our agreements." there's a report tonight from the associated press that democrats want to swap out some of the way president obama proposed to pay for his jobs bill for 5% tax surcharge on millionaires. senate majority leader harry reid predicted don't when the bill comes to the floor almost all democrats will get behind it. joining me, political analyst, alex wagner. am i wrong eric cantor is a very unappealing politician? is that a loaded question? >> to each his own i would say. eric cantor, a lot of americans don't know who eric cantor is. >> let me ground this in some date data. a cnn poll in july shows 46% of
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americans have never even heard of him. >> right. and i think given that, there are some question marks around the president's strategy to single out eric cantor by name. this is after all the commander in chief, this is the president of the united states. talking about someone who half the country has never heard of as being the sort of the log in the middle of the road preventing a huge sort of signature piece of legislation from passing. and i think, you know, obviously this is the white house on the offense. we've seen a very sharp pivot in the last few weeks. they of courbviously feel like are ready to name names and kick butt. >> here's what i think is interesting. you know, the republicans did the same thing with nancy pelosi who i think in the beginning a lot of americans had never heard of either. americans are not like super, super up on who is necessarily running things in congress. >> right. >> and they manage to "a" increase pelosi's name recognition by a tremendous amount and destroy her approval
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rating. by the time the midterms rolled around, her approval rating, 10%, 12%. every swing district in the country had an anti-nancy pelosi ad. i wonder what we're seeing the early part of a con tantor stra of that nature. >> if i were in the white house, you can see john boehner, somebody they singled out before, mitch mcconnell has had his sort of day in sun. i think there is some, i think, some hesitation on the part of the left in terms of the strategy because it does -- it sort of -- it doesn't denigrate necessarily the office of president but some people think, look, he should be bigger than this. there's a lot of anger and frustration. >> you're saying this is punching down. >> yeah, it's playing in the sand box. >> if you're the president of the united states, there's nowhere to punch but down, right? >> certainly this is a white house that has had their fair share of -- come on, guys. the rhetoric of, if the president stops his my way or the highway is frustrating.
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i do think it speaks to a certain frustration and almost a knee jerk reaction that i think in some ways may not seem presidential to some americans who don't really understand the dynamics of what's going on in congress. >> they've been going back and forth. of course, the problem the president faces on the american jobs act, first and foremost before you get to republican opposition houses, the fact they could not unite democrats in the senate around it. you had mary landrieu talking about, oh, we shouldn't go after the oil companies. you had senator webb from virginia casting aspersions on it. now looks like as i noted before, harry reid has managed to unify the caucus around a surcharge on millionaires. >> a buffet swt surcharge. >> do you think that's a good play? >> look, i think he has to do whatever he has to do. there was a certain amount of embarrassment, not embarrassment, but an uncomfortable moment where obama is in texas today saying, go to congress, let's have a vote on this and mcconnell's in the senate, saying, all right, let's have a vote on it harry reid. harry reid has to double down
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and say, not right now but later. it muddies the message. and i think, you know, speaks to a caucus that's, if not in disarray, there's a lot of -- people are unsure, i think, as to what they want to do with the jobs act and sort of where the president is and how need to play themselves against him. >> what's interesting, right, is if you go -- there's a really good piece in the "new york" magazine about eric cantor and one of the points he makes in that is talks about cantor being the mastermind being republican unity in opposition to the recovery act. this was eight days after the president was elected with the huge electoral majority. it was sort of shocking. in some ways the lesson you learn from that is unity confers its own advantages, right? that if the democrats would unify around this bill that produces sort of increasing gains, politically, which they seem incapable of actually understanding. >> yeah, but i think that's a testament to the weakened power of the president right now. there's some sense there's blood in the water and that going against the president or at least sort of hedging your bets is not necessarily a bad thing. and, again, look, mary landrieu
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speaking about her own backyard, oil and gas. >> she actually has an oil derek in her backyard. >> yes, she does. it's humongous. >> alex wagner. msnbc political analyst. great to see you. >> always. coming up, new ground swell of occupy wall street as unions join the occupiers in the street the tomorrow. first, fox news forgot the first rule of bringing a camera to a protest. everybody has cameras now. an extraordinary interview cut by fox but caught by someone else. we're america's natural gas and here's what we did today: supported nearly 3 million steady jobs across our country... ... scientists, technicians, engineers, machinists... ... adding nearly 400 billion dollars to our economy... we're at work providing power to almost a quarter of our homes and businesses... ... and giving us cleaner rides to work and school... and tomorrow, we could do even more. cleaner, domestic, abundant and creating jobs now. we're america's natural gas. the smarter power, today. learn more at
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the occupy wall street movement has now grown so big even fox news finds itself forced to pay attention. when fox correspondent griff jenkins went down to lower manhattan last week to give the demonstrators a taste of fair and balanced reporting, he instead ran into a rather eloquent protester named jesse who calmly explained what the occupy wall street movement is really all about. shockingly, fox never saw fit to put the video on air. fortunately, someone else captured it on video. >> i see that we didn't take our cue off anybody really. it became a more spontaneous movement. as far as seeing this end, i wouldn't like to see it end. i'd like to see the conversation continue. this is what we should have been talking about after 2008 when the economy collapsed. we basically patched a hole on the tire and said, yeah, let the car keep rolling. unfortunately, it's fun to talk to the propaganda machine and
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the media, especially conservative media, such as yourself, because we find we can't get conversations on the department of justice's ongoing investigation of news cor corporation which you an employee. after 30 years of having our living standards decrease while the wealthiest 1% had it better than ever, it's time for maybe, some participation in our democracy that isn't funded by news cameras and gentlemen such as yourself. >> let me give you this challenge, jesse. >> sure. >> we're here giving you an opportunity on the record with greta van susteren to put any message you want out there. give you fair coverage. i'm not going to in any way be biased about it. >> that's awesome. >> there's exception to the case. you wouldn't be able to get your message out without us. >> no, certainly. take for instance when glenn beck was doing his protests and he called the president a person who hates white people and white culture. that was a low moment in america's history. you guys had a big part it n it.
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i'm glad you're coming around paying attention to what we're paying attention to instead of the fringe that would love to destroy the middle class entirely. >> you have a voice and reason to criticize myself, my company. let me ask you this. in fairness, does this administration of president obama have any criticism as to the financial situation the country's in? >> i think myself, as well as many other people, would like to see a little more economic justice, social justice. jesus stuff. as far as feeding the poor. health care for the sick. i feel it entertaining people like to hold up their bill of rights when screaming at gay soldiers but can't wrap their heads around a for-profit health care system can work. if we want the president to do more, talk to him on a level that reaches people instead of asking for his birth certificate and total nonsense. >> so good. producers always have more video than they have air time, of course.
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greta van susteren tells the media her team was doing a two minute story about economic issues that prompted the protests. apparently that did not include jesse. coming up, more on today's protest as unions plan to join in and capitol hill gets into the conversation. and rick perry's opponents find an opening and keep hits him on it. between the slur, a rock and a hard place. those first young men.
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tonight's spotlight, day 18 of the occupy wall street movement and there are no signs it's going away. the "new york daily news" is reporting a class action lawsuit was filed this afternoon after the arrest of 700 protesters at the brooklyn bridge on saturday. in the complaint, a lawyer for the demonstrators accuses the police of entrapment. yesterday hundreds of demonstrators dressed up as zombies as they marched past the new york stock exchange. they were joined by a nationwide show of support from los angeles to chicago to boston. today's protest was a bit more
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subdued as supporters plan for the biggest rally to tomorrow when a coalition of unions and other supporters will descend in downtown manhattan at 4:30 p.m. as one organizer says an a authentic collaboration. the co-chairs of the progressive caucus endorsed the protesters commending their peaceful approach. during a hearing on the economy, fed chairman ben bernanke was asked what message he is hearing from occupy wall street. >> i would just say very generally i think people are quite unhappy with the state of the economy and what's happening. they blame with some justification the problems in the financial sector for getting us into this mess and they're dissatisfied with policy response here in washington and at some level i can't blame them. certainly 9% unemployment and very slow growth is not a very
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good situation. that's what they're protesting. >> joining me now, john samuelson, president of transit worker union local 100 here which is showing solidarity with the protesters. what did you think of the clip from ben bernanke? i thought it was remarkable. >> i think it's remarkable as well. he indicated the exasperation that working families across the country and new york city are feeling right now. >> i want you to take me through your personal and your union local sort of awareness of what was going on in wall street and at what point you sort of felt this was something you as a union wanted to support. >> we have had activists down there from day one. activists in tw local 100. we believe that many of the complaints and many of the protests that are going on at wall street we have in common. we're local 100. and that's absolutely true. particularly in terms of the affairs of new york state. we have a situation where the
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tax on the wealthiest folks in new york state is set to expire december 31st. and working families are suffering. so we view that as an unacceptable situation and we're railing against it. we're fighting against it and we believe that the protesters on wall street have that in common with us. >> are you -- your union is going to participate tomorrow, my understanding is, that's what the reports have been. >> absolutely. >> how does that -- i mean, this is just a sort of a logistical question. i'm sort of fascinated by it. is there someone there you're interfacing with? how does that work organizationally? >> organizationally -- >> actually, i'm sorry, i'm going to cut you off one second. breaking news. amman amanda knox is in the airport. sea-tac airport has touched down. i'm going to go to it right now. >> i'm having problems with that. i'm really overwhelmed right now. i was looking down from the airplane and it seemed like
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everything wasn't real. what's important for me to say it just thank you to everyone who's believed in me, who's defended me. who supported my family. i just want -- my family's the most important thing to me right now and i just want to go and be with them. so thank you for being there for me. [ cheers ] >> all right. that's amanda knox. just recently returned from italy where her conviction for murder was overturned by the italian courts. she's back with her family in seattle. just addressing the press right there. i have with me here to make a very difficult segue from the amanda knox story back to john
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samuelson who is here. we're going to bring you more from amanda knox if she's going to speak again. i think that's it for the evening. we were talking about occupy wall street and your union's involvement in the big march that's going to happen downtown tomorrow. i was asking you how exactly you go about logistically supporting this movement that is leaderless that has an organizational structure that seems completely different from the kind the union has. >> there's an organizational structure among the occupy wall street protesters. we've established a committee that deals with the protesters on a day-to-day basis to entrap with th interact with them, to plan with them. by in large, therewe've been coordinating with them. >> a lot of people i think have looked at what has happened the last few years. right? the financial crisis in 2008. the bailouts. the intensity of the recession. the way in which the impact of the recession had such different
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impacts for those folks who are working at the investment banks and your membership and other working people around the country. they said to themselves, why is no one in the streets? i've heard this question a million times. have you asked yourself that question? what is the answer you've come to before now? >> i think what you see now on wall street is the final exasperation of folks that just aren't going to take it anymore. decided to take it to the streets. it is perhaps what the trade union movement should have done several years ago in 2008, 2009. it wasn't done, but certainly we are joining the protests now. there's a value in the protests and bringing attention to the fact that there's a great wealth disparity in this country. greater than it's ever been before, perhaps. and i want to two back to new york state for a quick moment -- >> yeah, please. >> the elimination of the millionaires tax in new york state which is of great importance to my union and the rest of the unions in new york that are involved in that protest tomorrow, if you make a million bucks a year in new york state, january 1st you're going to get a $408 a week raise take
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home by. compared to the statistics we're facing now. for instance, in areas of the bronx a 49% childhood poverty rate. 49% childhood poverty rate. at the very same moment folks in state government think that that's okay but they want to give the wealthiest folks a tax break. we reject that, oppose that and tomorrow that will be a centerpiece of our demands. >> you'll be down in wall street tomorrow at 4:30 with a bunch of other unions protesting along with occupy wall street. john samuelton. local 100. real pleasure. thanks for the hat. >> thank you. >> john samuelson, president of transit workers union in new york city. coming up, the controversy over the name of rick perry's hunt camp isn't going away yet. ♪ ♪ chips from here, boards from there ♪ ♪ track it all through the air, that's logistics. ♪ ♪ clearing customs like that
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i follow it from afarm you know, i think it's offensive. most people recognize it's offensive. and with regards to what involvement the perry folks had with this, with this situation, well, that's something to address to governor perry obviously. >> that was republican presidential candidate mitt romney, finally giving his take on the controversy surrounding the name of the hunting camp once used by rick perry's family. the "washington post" first broke the story over the weekend about the hunting camp. leased by the perrys until 2007
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saying it was, "a place known by the name painted in block letters across a large front rock standing upright at its gated entrance. n-word head it read." can i say, n-word head is not a phrase i thought i'd be uttering during this campaign. perry's campaign immediately responded saying the rock had been painted over in the early '80s but sources say they saw the source on the rock in the 1990s. new jersey governor chris christie gave his opinion on the perry controversy during his press conference today. >> i don't know, because i don't know enough about the story about what it says about governor perry or not. i have no idea. i don't know enough about that. just the use of the word, i think, is something that troubles most americans because i think that that's a phrase of a long away past. that shouldn't have been part of our vocabulary then and
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certainly shouldn't be part of our vocabulary now. >> only african-american running in the republican presidential field, herman cain, was the first to speak out and arguably the most vocal candidate on the story. he was asked about it again on the "view" today. >> i will say i still stand by my statement it was insensitive for it to be there up until 1983 and the statement that had been issued by governor perry's campaign, i accept that. i do not believe that that represents how governor rick perry feels about black people in america. it was insensitive to leave it there as long as they left it. >> not sure how this will eventually play out for tea party favorite herman cain who we mentioned at the top of the show is tied for first place among republican voters. immediately after cain's initial comments on the insensitivity of the racial slur at the hunting camp, conservatives bashed cain. "the way things seem to be shaking out, the biggest loser
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from the revelation that the property bore the name n-word head is not rick perry. it's the black guy. joining me, if i might flatter you for a moment, folks should be reading you all the time. i read this story when i got off the air on sunday and i just did not know what to make of it. the reason i wanted to talk to you about it is because you write so well about the ways in which we sort of are constantly telling ourselves we've broken free from our racial history and the way our racial history keeps sucking us back in. what went through your mind when you saw that story break in the "washington post"? >> i don't know how much it says about rick perry. i can't read rick perry. i don't have any particular insights about how he feels about black people or african-americans. i was thinking about the clip you played from governor christie where he said this was a word from a long ago past. if you actually read the story and look at the people in the story who know what the camp was
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called, what they say is, i don't understand, what's the big deal? all these quotes all through the story. it's just what it's called. i don't understand why it would offend anybody. it's quite clear, it's not, we'd like to be from a long ago past, if you read the story it's actually not. >> it's interesting he put that in. it's important and curable toth that all behind us. there's this tremendous disquiet when something like this emerges precisely because it seems to invalidate that whole story. >> right, right. well, i think when your constituency is made up and is predominantly white as a conservative movement is right now, you have to answer some pretty ugly questions you wouldn't want to face. >> the perry story has sort of continued. today a "washington times" article from june 2001 reported that then lieutenant governor rick perry wrote a letter in
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2000 to the sons of confederate veterans saying, although this is an issue, i also believe that communities should decide whether statues or other memorials are appropriate for their community. >> right, but again, i don't know how much that says about rick perry. i would venture to say that's probably true of any republican governor. i think it says a lot more about the constituency that rick perry represents. i think we often comfort ourselves by focusing on politicians. and so the question is, what does it mean about rick perry, what does it mean about rick perry? the bigger thing always for me is rick perry represents actual people. there's a constituency for this sort of thing. there are people who have as their interest having a flag of trees and have a prominent place in the united states of america. i would be focussed on what it says about the citizenry rick perry represents. >> one of the things that was interesting, we played herman cain on the "view" and he was forceful on what he said. >> calling it insensitive
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forceful. >> i guess that's right. >> it's insensitive. >> not as forceful as one could -- i think what's interesting also is -- >> herman cain can only be too forceful. >> that's right. what's interesting about it is that it is -- there is this catechism in the republican among conservatives when they're talking about racial politics in which citations of grievance by african-americans is seen itself as something that aggrieves the white majority. >> as racist. >> as fundamentally racist. i'm curious to see how this plays out. he walked it back in tone if not in substance because that dynamic is always sort of lurking there off stage in the republican primary field. >> i think the interesting thing about herman cain when it comes to speaking of race, i mean, he's only really useful in that he can offer some sort of deflection from the charge of racism. i'm sewure he has a variety of interesting things to say about other positions. when it comes to race, frankly
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he's not there to tell the truth to the republican base. that's not why he's there on that issue. if he's going to speak on it, it's to offer some sort of deflection away from the issue, not to, you know, be some sort of bold truth teller. >> cain's -- the way in which cain has managed to stir the fire of the republican base is fascinating to me precisely because we have had such a contested argument in this country since the emergence of the sort of palin town halls in 2008 and the tea party that came after it about the degree to which racial politics were the sort of fundamental engine -- >> he's there to soothe you. if you want to support the tea party and not feel like there's any sort of racial populism, white racism or anything like that involved in the movement, regrettably you can turn to herman cain that will tell you, no, no, no, it's that african-americans are brainwashed. that's why there are no black people at this rally because they're brainwashed. in supporting them, what did he call himself, you can actually support a real black man. he lets them invert the
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narrative and be comfortable in their own assumptions. >> when the word which i cannot say on air because of our standards and practices -- >> can i say it on air? >> i don't think you're supposed to. let's err on the side of caution. >> all right. glad you told me. >> here's the reason i raise that is because i think there is -- it has such an unbelievable force in american life. randall kennedy wrote a great book about precisely this. i think what's interesting is when he gets dropped into the conversation, this sort of taboo bomb goes off and everybody tiptoes. myself, going through the copy, what are we going to call it? >> i wish people didn't. i really wish people would just say it. i think if i say, you know, if i call you a fool, i think you understand that is a direct insult. there are ways i can use that same word, fool, you know, and it not be insulting. we have to get to a point where we're mature enough to understand when someone's saying the word as an insult and when you're actually just quoting
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something else. those are actually two different things. >> the philosophy majors, that's the use mention distinction. that was going to be our whole block tonight. finally, we have a few seconds left. finally, then, is it the case the argument made by the folks in that article who basically say, look, this was drained of any semantic content as an insult because it was a place name. is that then an accurate thing to say? >> it was drained of inany contt for them. i don't know if it content for them to begin with. the one african-american they quoted in the story said she was called that all her life and absolutely hated. it wasn't drained in any content for the people it was directed at. >> ta-nehisi coates. read his book "a beautiful struggle" which is a well written memoir. i can address your pros forever. thanks for coming. >> pleasure. >> herman cain will join lawrence on thursday. you can have the last word onli