tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC December 14, 2011 4:00pm-5:00pm PST
better is i would rather have a president that sent me into the inner city that one that may send me to outer space. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. the empire strikes back. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, mitt hits the panic button. when a candidate refers to his opponent as zany you know he's in trouble and that's just what mitt romney did today, telling the "new york times" zany is fine for a campaign but not for a president. are you listening, newt? he's talking about you. mitt is also calling in christine o'donnell, remember
her, the senate candidate who famously denied being a witch? is he bringing her in because he believes that denial or because at this point his campaign needs a little dark magic? plus, do republican primary voters hate president obama so much that they are willing to lose a general election just to see newt take obama on in the debates? we'll talk to a republican ally of newt's. also, if a long and drawn out primary race was so good for democrats in 2008, why does david axelrod say it will be so bad for republicans this time around. he has to get that story straight and we'll ask him when he comes on. remember this moment from one of the republican debates? >> my question is under one of your presidencies do you intend to circumvent the progress that's been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military? >> boo! >> you heard that booing. that was gay army captain who was booed, as you just heard it.
his name is steve hill and he'll play "hardball" with us tonight and let me finish with a frightening thought for everyone watching, especially the conservatives out there. a bomb-throwinger like newt gingrich with his fingers on real live nuclear bombs. we start with panic in the romney campaign. michael steele was chairman of the republican national committee, and he's now an msnbc political analyst and joan walsh is the editor at large at salon.com. let's all look at what happened today, late today. it's the breaking story right now. mitt romney speaking for the "new york times" board, editorial board. he's making a contrast between him and newt gingrich, clear as he can, in this excerpt from the "new york times" interview he just gave. let's listen. >> zany is not what we need in a president. zany is great in a campaign. it's great on talk radio. it's great in the -- in the print. it makes for fun reading, but in terms of a president, we need a leader. a leader needs to be someone of
sobriety and stability and -- and patience and temperance, to think through issues and be careful in the choice of words he or she might express because the world listens. >> pretty strong stuff to call your opponent zany, michael. >> yeah, it is, and it's a little out in left field. i don't think it really gets where mitt wants it to go. i think it probably will wind up offending a lot of supporters out there for -- for obviously gingrich but also of his own who want a race, yeah, competitive race, but when you get to the name-calling, you're right. i think it shows some desperation. >> do you believe he's -- he means what he says? does he believe he's zany, his opponent? >> otherwise he wouldn't say it, and if you're saying you don't believe it, then that goes to the crux of the problem people have with you. >> he lacks the sobriety, the stability and the patience and the temperance, he means temperments. >> yeah, temperments. >> i just disagree with that. i think hey lot of candidates in the race have shown themselves to be sober in their approach to these issues.
yeah, moments when folks have said things out in left field, but the reality of it is when you paint with such a broad brush and you're describing yourself in such a way, he described barack obama effectively. he's been sober and some people complained about that in terms of -- >> let's get -- before we go to joan. joan, listen up here. i'm trying to get michael steele, our brilliant republican analyst, to really get this clear. >> yes. >> here are the two guys, narrowed to them. ron paul out there as a third option, of course, but really these two front-runners, an here's one calling the other front-runner, he's saying he's zany which is a cartoon character's reference point. >> yeah. >> doesn't have the sobriety, the stability, the temperament. that's a serious charge because it gets to who do you trust with, i'm going to bring it later, nuclear weapons. >> right. >> who do you want on a bad day, a bad hair day and the guy is yelling crazy things he's been saying? give him all the nuclear weapons in the universe here. >> and i don't think -- >> go ahead. joan, jump in, because i think this is a staggering charge
against an opponent. not like saying we disagree what the upper tax rate ought to be or how much to regulate in the environmental field. >> right. >> this is saying the other person lacks the essential quality to be president which is temperament. can he or she make a wise judgment under pressure? >> first of all, i'm less shocked by you guys by the word. i had a different reaction. i thought it was a silly word. it just shows that mitt is stuck in the '50s, zany, what does it mean, so inadequate with what he's saying. when he spells it out, it's a debilitating and devastating insult but the way he phrases it, golly, gee whiz, kind of a zany guy. mitt is tone deaf in a certain way so there's that. but then, you know, chris and michael, there's a bigger problem for michael's party and that is these guys cannot hit one another on the issues because they have each flipped and flopped so many times on the core issues that there's nothing for them to really have a substantive argument of integrity about. they both want to shovel more money to the rich. they both used to support the individual mandate and now they don't, and they have moved so
far away from a responsible republican party that has solutions, i may disagree, but is putting out solutions to our problems, so they are going to hit each other and assault each other and do the same with president obama and that's what is so sad. >> once you believe someone is zany, doesn't really matter what they care about specifically. you don't want them in the white house. let's go right now, i think un-zany should be the first requirement of a president. let's take a look here, the romney campaign hitting gingrich with a web ad, newt and nancy. take a look at the parting words in the shot. >> we do agree our country must take action to address climate change. if enough of us demand action from our leaders. >> together we can do this. >> well, michael, that's pretty devastating, sort of jungle music. not bongo. >> yes, that kind of, sort of, you know -- >> lionel hampton wasn't always >> yes, that kind of, sort of,
you know -- >> lionel hampton wasn't always a republican. >> it's eerie. >> look, again, i get why you want to show that and you want to try to paint newt as sort of collaborating with the enemy. >> third world stuff. >> it's third world stuff. >> reality is out there, the globe. >> what newt shows in that commercial is something that leadership has not shown in washington and that is a willingness to sit down and talk about the issues, and i think that that actually is not as much a negative as people would like it tonight. look, the bottom line right now, chris, is that mitt's problem is not newt gingrich, it's mitt romney. the problem is he can't break that 20%, 25% ceiling he's got and he needs to figure out a way to do it. >> joan says it may not be his way three days from now and we're only a weekend or so away from iowa. as woody allen would say, the key words here are gingrich is unreliable. that's the new word here, unreliable.
that's the theme in his "washington post" interview, by the way, saying of newt, quote, gingrich has been an extraordinarily unreliable leader in the conservative world, not 16 or 17 years ago but in the last two or three years. even during the campaign, the number of times he has moved from one spot to another has been remarkable. and this is mitt romney talking. i think he's shown a level of unreliability as a conservative leader today. so it's unreliable leader is the new catch phrase. i think he's latched on to what he thinks will get him above 23, by bringing the other guy down from his potential 75, where newt is headed. >> but it's not believable. >> let me go to joan. >> unreliable leader. >> it's not believable because -- because it could be levelled back at him and that's the dangerous thing. i mean, mitt has done a couple of things like this. last week he hit him for his religion, and mitt romney is already in good trouble, not for good reasons but already in trouble on religious grounds so to be coming at newt for his
conversion, something that i think people really think is kind of below the belt. even i think it's below the belt and i don't think there's much below the belt when you're talking about newt gingrich. i just want to respond to something that michael said though because i would like to agree with michael on the issue of compromise is a good thing. newt gingrich said sitting down for that ad with nancy pelosi was one of the stupidest things he's ever done in his life. he's backed away. not that he's taken brave positions and has gone where no republican has gone before. he goes there and flip flops and apologizes, and it's like the paul ryan plan and tells you don't use what i said before because you'll be lying if you do. so he has -- mitt is right about this critique. it is fair, but coming from mitt romney it makes no sense because he can be accused of the exact same things. >> here's another vulnerability of mitt romney as governor. here he was back in 1994, however, running in that massachusetts senate race, a gutsy race on his part against ted kennedy. mitt romney in that case
criticized newt gingrich's contract with america. let's listen. >> in my view it is not a good idea to go into a contract lake what was organized by the republican party in washington laying out a whole series of things which the party said these are the things we're going to do. i think that's a mistake. >> well now, here's the flop. in an interview with the "washington post" romney changes his tune on that when he says, quote, i applaud the fact that gingrich was wise in crafting the contract with america. i didn't think it was a very good political step. he was right. i was wrong. this man is so nimble, michael, you're right. he can't attack the other side for a flip-flop. this guy is doing like jumping jacks. >> was newt reliably conservative then and not now? look, this is the problem. the base gets this whole thing, believe it or not. they have decided who they like, who they want the stalking horse on the president to be, and the only way it's not newt gingrich is if newt gingrich undoes
himself. >> here he is, speaking that have zany comment, here's -- here's christine o'donnell back, the failed senate candidate from delaware. >> zany. >> check out her endorsement. i love the fact that she's endorsing mitt romney. let's watch. >> tell us who gets your endorsement. >> i like mitt romney. >> some people say that mitt romney isn't the most consistent candidate because he's changed his minds about big important issues over the years. >> you know, that's one of the things that i like about him because he's been consistent since he changed his mind. >> well, i can't beat her, but by the way, i just wanted to bring in christine o'donnell whose famous line, i've got a few myself i have to admit, but her most famous line is i'm not a witch. is it witchcraft, what possible advantage does she bring, if she has no dark powers? >> i don't know. i like christine a lot. >> of course who wouldn't like her. >> that's not issue. that line -- >> what power does she bring in?
>> that says it all, chris. i don't know what power she brings in. >> what does she bring to the campaign except a very sad unfortunate memory for her which is that she was forced to deny her -- the fact that she was a witch which is an absurd thing to say? >> and sad for the party. she actually lost michael's party a senate seat, a very winnable senate seat so it's not just kind of a flub on the campaign trail, kind of a disaster for the republican party. again, who is advising romney? i mean, it's been said that maybe this had something to do with sarah palin saying nice things about mitt, and my god, i never thought i'd say something nice about sarah palin, but christine o'donnell is no sarah palin. she doesn't have the gravitas, dare i say it. she doesn't have the following. she doesn't have the clout, so this is -- she's a punch line. she's a joke from 2010. >> okay. >> to bring her in as -- >> by the way -- >> go ahead. mitt is on the dunn side, he's on the downside of this race and clearly newt gingrich has the bit in his mouth. he's going for it. >> right. >> here's the question. do you think his brilliant move the other day of firing a staff
member for what they said before joining his staff, newt gingrich did this, for making what looked to be an anti-mormon comment though the person was saying he thinks it's going to hurt romney, that issue. brilliantly he underlines the issue, makes himself the good guy and hurts mitt romney, it seems to me. >> again, to do that, you know, says that newt understands the dynamic he's in right now, number one. >> he's ahead. >> he's ahead, and he's -- everybody is sitting there waiting for him to fumble the ball and that can play the prevent defense all day long, but it's not going to work here, i don't believe. i believe mitt and newt have their targets cited and newt right now is in -- >> explain as a good jock the prevent defense. i use that a lot. >> the prevent defense is when you're sitting on the lead and you think you've got the game in hand and you're going to play this defense, give the guy who is trying to work his way down the field as much latitude, keep everything in front of you, don't let him get behind you and guess what happens? >> you win. the prevent defense section act lit current strategy of newt gingrich. coming up -- thank you, joan.
we're learning these things with great definition. coming up, the obama campaign thinks -- seems to think a long drawn out fight between mitt and newt is a bad thing for republicans, but don't i remember people like david axelrod saying four years ago saying the long fight between barack obama and hillary clinton turned out to be a very good thing for the democrats? can both be true? obama campaign senior strategist david axelrod joins us to untangle what seems to be a contradiction. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc.
nate silver of the "new york times"'s 5348 blog is out there with his forecast for the iowa caucuses. statistical models based on state polling saying newt gingrich is just under a 50/50 chance to win iowa, coming in at 49.6. 50/50 for newt. next according to silver is ron paul with with a 28% chance of winning in iowa. mitt romney has a much smaller chance of victory, silver says, just under 10%. i guess he better not try for it
anyway. rick perry is at 5% and bachmann at 4%. newt has a big lead, still 50/50 and according to silver statistically the race is wide open. you can win it or lose it but be betting right now on newt, at least according to nate silver. we'll be right back. [ male anno] you are a business pro. lord of the carry-on. sovereign of the security line. you never take an upgrade for granted. and you rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle. and go. you can even take a full-size or above. and still pay the mid-size price. i deserve this. [ male announcer ] you do, business pro. you do. go national. go like a pro. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 there are atm fees. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 account service fees. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 and the most dreaded fees of all, hidden fees.
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you're being judged now on your performance. >> no, no, no. i'm being judged against the ideal, and, you know, joe biden has a good expression. he says don't judge me against the almighty. judge me against the alternative. >> well, newt and mitt romney are duking it out, fair to say on the republican side, looks like one guy is getting duked and the other is winning. president obama's team in chicago is preparing strategies
to run against each candidate. back in 2008 barack obama actually benefitted from a long and drawn out primary season against hillary clinton, but will a similar scenario on the republican side hurt newt or romney, depending who wins the number nation? david axelrod is the much beloved senior strategist for the obama campaign. he's out there in chicago. you're looking grim. this is called friendly territory compared to other territories, mr. axelrod. so let me ask you and give you a chance to talk about one big thing. many people, myself included, like barack obama not just because we were thrilled by his love of this country and what he said about his country in his very being and also his words, he was against that damned iraq war, and now he's bringing it to a conclusion. is this going to be a big part of the fight next year against a candidate, either going to be newt or mitt, both of whom were hawks on iraq, both would have loved to have start that had war, is the issue of that war going to be a campaign issue again next year? >> well, it certainly is true that the president ran on a very solemn pledge to bring that war to an end, as you know. it was an integral part of his
campaign, and today, as you -- as you've reported, he's seen that through, and the troops are -- are home as of this month. so it is a big deal in terms of following through. he also said that he was going to redirect his attention at al qaeda, the people who actually attacked us in afghanistan and along the board they are in pakistan. >> that's right. >> and now osama bin laden's been brought to justice. most of the leadership of al qaeda has been destroyed, so he made -- he made commitments to the american people. he's kept those commitments. i think that is going to be important, particularly against candidates who are so unsteady and uncertain about where they are from day to day. >> okay. so he's done some great things. he's put points on the board, as we say, in sports. he's achieved historic health care reform.
it has to be implemented but like one of the things ronald reagan said he was going to do something and he did it. this president said he was going to do health care, fdr, jack kennedy, lyndon johnson, all tried to do. he did it and he caught the worst fiend in american history, osama bin laden. he's done specific things. as you go into next year's election do you expect the president will lay out some mission goals with the same kind of specificity for a second term where we can judge him? in other words, will he say i did health care in this first term. i'm going to do something else that i'll point to in the second term. will there be that kind of scoreboard setup as there was last time? >> yeah, there will be, chris. let me just say before we move on to that on health care.
just today there was a new report out that shows that 2.5 million young people between 19 and 25 have health insurance now who wouldn't have had health insurance because of the -- because of the health care reform, the affordable care act, so it's just one more indication of -- of the impact of that law, the positive impact of that law as it's begun to be implemented, so that's going to be important, certainly for those kids and those families but for the country as well. look, you know, i think this president's done some enormously positive things. you named some of them, saving the american auto industry is another ending. don't ask, don't tell. there's a whole range of things we can talk about. >> that's true. >> but the fundamental issue that drove him in 2008, it's what drove him in 2004 frankly, what drove him way back to when he was working in the shadow of closed steel mills, is how we get the economy working in such a way that people can feel like if they work hard they can get ahead, that hard work will be rewarded, responsibility will be rewarded. everybody will play by the same rules. that's what the american people are hungering for, so we need not just to recover from this recession, but we need to
restore the economic security that so many americans have lost and build an economy in which people can get ahead again, and there are things that we have to do to do that, and the president addressed some of that last week in kansas relative to education, relative to research and development, innovation, relative to rebuilding the physical plant of our country. he'll have more specifics in the state of the union about that, be a i think we'll have a big debate about that in -- in 2012 because as you know the republican prescription is pretty much to go back to doing business as usual. >> i agree. >> roll back the rules on wall street, cut taxes at the top. i think it's a great and important contrast. we ought to have a big debate about this. >> what i liked about the kansas speech and i thought it was fine because it got to a lot of attitudes most americans have. most americans like people getting paid for what they work. if you get paid at a factory you ought to get a good wage and if you're an entrepreneur and created something like steve jobs, steven spielberg, something that you make, lie ike "k." they don't like people who make money off money, how do you reinforce that so kids don't go to law school and kids actually go to engineering schools where
they make things? how does he as president create a society where people are rewarded for creating things? how does he change that, really? >> i think can you change that by really emphasizing education in a way we haven't. >> engineering? >> by working with business, business -- well, certainly we need to create more engineers. we've got -- we're graduating one engineer for every four openings, and -- and so you've got a lot of good jobs that are going wanting because we're not preparing kids -- people coming in from other places to take them. yes, there are things that we -- we can do there. we also need to create high-end jobs, and that's where research and development. you know, you mentioned steve jobs, but -- and -- and an incomparable genius in america and the world has benefitted from his genius, but the fact is that it was government investments and research and development that led to the internet, that laid the -- the groundwork for things like google and gps and -- and he wants to double down on that and really keep america on that cutting edge so we create those high-end jobs and then train people to fill them. the republicans have no such strategy.
they want to withdraw from that fight. they essentially want to run up the white flag and let all those jobs go elsewhere, and we can't afford to do that in the 21st century? in the last campaign president obama thanks to your good offices was able to come to a really good college campus in westchester pennsylvania. had him for the whole hour talking to students. do you think you can commit here and now doing that soon for his re-election, we'd like for him to talk to the students and creating jobs and not going into the i bank kind of world. do you want to do that right here right now? >> and do you want to do that right here now? >> chris, i'm having this incredible sense of de ja vu. i feel like i had the same discussion with you about this time four years ago. >> successfully. and i think it was a good
experience for them. i don't have the authority to commit to you. i will commit to you that i will make the case for you. >> every university in this country is hoping that it will be them, so we have a great opportunity to choose. thanks to you where to go with the president. if he's ready, many schools will be ready to receive him. david axelrod, good luck in the campaign. i mean, that thank you, sir. >> joe kleine covers politics for "time" magazine and one of the great reporters in the country and i'm always fascinated by his thinking. look at the polling. i understand through the grapevine, you don't think newt has this locked. polling is showing that newt has problems in the general but we look at our polling at the "wall street journal" and nbc. he looks really good for the nomination. >> we've reached a stage in the campaign that i really love because every day you have a week's worth of events happening, and today you -- you're beginning to feel a little bit of ron paul boom. you had that one outlier poll
yesterday that had paul one point back of -- of gingrich. you have the romney attacks, the zany stuff and so on now, and -- and also in the gallup tracking polls over the last week nought's been, you know, sinking a little bit. if -- if he's not increasing, you know, the fever may be abating just a little bit at this point. it's not that romney is coming on, but i think that we're getting to real crazy time in iowa where you're going to have some of the secondary candidates moving out. i mean, you've got rick perry starting a -- a road trip for ten days of intensive, intensive, you know, campaigning, the kind of thing politicians used to do. >> i think newt's got the horse under control here. let me ask you about bill clinton, the most fascinating and most popular politician in the country, bill clinton. will he come in and play attack dog? i don't mean dog negatively, will he go on -- we know he'll say nice things on the president
that. won't have as much impact. is he willing to come out there and do the tough job of pointing out a now zany candidacy of newt gingrich? will he get tough like that the way mitt is getting tough on the front-runner right now? >> well, bill clinton isn't as reliable as he used to be and certainly isn't that reliable as far as barack obama is concerned. i'd much prefer if i'm the president to have clinton focusing on the republicans and on their policies than praising him because he knows something might leak out, you know, that -- that, you know, reminds us of 2008 a little bit, but, you know, clinton -- clinton is an excellent and really important tool when it comes to making economic arguments. if he can keep it at that and do some of the border states like virginia and north carolina
where the president is now leading the republicans, if -- those are the areas where clinton can be very effective. >> do you think he's more effective going after republicans for the very reason that people doubt his love affair with barack obama? they doubt that -- that it's a fully requited love between these two, but they are willing to believe when he pounces on the republicans? >> yeah, especially when he makes -- the times when he's learning over the lectern and starts leaning down home and makes very simple arguments on the economy. that's when he's at his best. you know, he might stray off the reservation a little bit when it comes to talking about the president. >> let me ask you about the president right now. do you have a sense that -- that he really wants to run against mitt romney still, and really -- i'm sorry? >> no. >> he wants to -- he still wants to run against newt? >> yeah, i think he do, and, you know, the point that you were raising before about whether a long republican campaign is a really interesting one because those of us who are covering
this crazy primary race are kind of like locked on to one of newt's moon colonies, in a hermetically sealed world where all of a sudden people can talk about privatizing social security as if it isn't the most ridiculously controversial idea out there. >> yeah. >> and the longer that the republicans hold center stage, the more those ideas may become acceptable in the mainstream, so i -- >> i love it. >> i think that there is some danger to a really long republican campaign. >> in other words, the more they talk in their world, the more dangerous it gets to the outside world. >> thank you. >> newt talking about, you know, going to -- regime change in iran. this is nuttiness. >> yeah. >> well, zany. that's the new word. thank you so much, joe kleine. we'll be right back. top
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the house has passed $660 billion defense spending bill that passed after the white house dropped the veto handling for terror suspects. the obama administration is considering a tax on millionaires but harry reid says it's dead at the arrival of the senate. the president has also threatened to veto. when it comes to marriages,
compared with just 51% today, the data also shows more people are waiting longer to g hitched. veronica. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." there's no denying right now that newt gingrich has a solid lead in the republican primary field right now, winning in all the numbers games right now. look as the latest nbc/"wall street journal" poll. he almost doubles the support of his closest rival right now, mitt romney among republican voters. gingrich has benefit the, of course, from strong debate performances in a weak republican field, but can he sustain the lead into iowa and beyond, and if he were to win the presidency, what would a newt gingrich white house actually look like? there are many republicans who worked with him when he was speaker of the house in the 1990s who aren't eager to find out -- aren't eager to find out, but there are critics out there who worry about his tenure as leader. he found it troubled, erratic and self-centered and he was prone to creating crisis all by
himself and he does have defenders, among them former congressman walker who served with newt in the congress until 1997. mr. walker, you used to be on the other side and i'll give you a full responsibility to explain your long ago colleague. i'm kidding you, the blues brothers are back. you and him are coming back into power, right? >> used to do a pretty good performance on c-span and so on and did pretty good by it. >> i want you to be his best friend and explain some of the things he said. here he is talking about that terrible situation where obviously a disturbed mother killed her two kids by putting them in the car, locking them in the car and backing them into this pond. the mother was convicted of murder after she did so. here's what newt said after that. i think that that mother killing the two children in south carolina vividly reminds every american how sick the society is getting and how much we need to
change things. the only way you get change is to vote republican. what does a statement like that mean? >> well, i think what he's saying is that we have a lot of problems in our society at the present time and that -- that there are conservative concepts that would help the society to deal with those. >> how would the defeat of democrats in the election of republicans stop a disturbed mother from killing her two kids in such a deliberate and awful way? >> well, i don't think -- >> do you really subscribe to that thinking? >> i don't think that that's the point that newt was making at all. i think the point that he was making was that these crimes of passion and the things that we see happening in society that are horrible to all of us, whether it's the penn state problems and so on, are symptomatic of some problems in society that we believe that there are some conservative concepts that would help to -- to deal with them. >> so you think that was a fair comment, to blame it on the democrats?
>> no, i don't think it blames the democrats at all. i think it was simply a statement on his part that voting for republicans gives you conservative government. >> let's take a look at this one. this was newt gingrich. he had this to say about the president in an interview with "national review" laugh year. when is obama is so outside our comprehension that only if you understand kenyan, anti-colonial behavior can you begin to piece together his actions. that is the most accurate predictive model for his behavior. this is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works works happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president. now, the president as we know, whatever we think of his politics, left, right or center, was not raised by his kenyan father. he never met him until he was an adult. what is this anti-colonial kenyan behavior that he ascribes to our president?
>> i think what he's referring to is the fact that the president has been very much a president that has moved around the world apologizing for the united states. >> yeah. >> and he -- he believes at the bottom of that that we have acted too much like the british empire and that we ought to back away from that as a stance. >> do you think the president has a kenyan point of view? that's what newt says. >> that's newt's point. >> how would he get a kenyan point of view? >> i think it's an anti-colonial point of view is the -- is the point that newt was making. >> and that's a predictor of this president's thinking and behavior that he's a kenyan and he's -- by the way, we americans are anti-colonial, by the way. >> he didn't -- he didn't say that he was kenyan. what he's saying is that the -- the way in which the british empire was responded to is -- is something that we ought not emulate in this country. >> let me ask you about your personal experiences with newt gingrich. do you find him to be a steady
leader, that people have complained about him from the other side, the critics have found him to be erratic. they say he'll have one good idea, you can listen like a fire hydrant coming at you, have 20 or 30 ideas. one of them will be good, and you better grab that one but a lot of them are best left to side. what's your experience working with him on ideas and his basic temperament? >> i think that what he is he's very disciplined and very focused. he took a party that was a basically a -- a non-activist party, a very passive party in the early '80s and -- and made it into an activist party. he developed a set of concepts and policies for the republican party that led us to a majority. >> yeah. >> he used that majority in order to transform the dialogue in this country from center left to center right, by balancing budgets, by reforming the
entitlement programs and by practicing growth economics and creating new jobs. >> why did you dump him after the -- >> the fact is i didn't dump in. >> the party did. he had just gotten into office. you described how he got you in power but by '98 you had dumped him. >> but the fact is that there were a lot of tough things done in order to achieve those successes. there were people who were denied committee chairmanships. there were people who -- who didn't get their particular policies included as a part of our agenda. >> so he wasn't a uniter, he was a divider. >> no -- >> he created so much animosity your party got rid of him. >> again, that's your interpretation. >> what other interpretation could there be? >> my interpretation is that he achieved the goals that he set out. let's remember that the contract with america was largely a document that he ran on. 70% of that contract was enacted. >> are you saying he left the leadership, the speakership of the house on his own?
you guys were in power another six years. i mean, had you him as a leader and you said better without him. why was that decision made, better without newt? >> well, i think in part he made that decision, too? >> he did? he was reprimanded. >> the fact is, if you take a look at what he was reprimanded for. he was reprimanded for not hiring a tax lawyer and for -- for providing the -- the committee with documents that they regarded as perhaps inaccurate which later on the irs ruled were totally accurate. >> right. so you would say based upon your firsthand experience he was a calm helmsman. >> no, no -- nothing around newt is ever calm. i said what he was is disciplined and focused and he brought around huge successes. >> all right. >> but the fact is there are people who have grudges to bear since that time that we're hearing from now. >> are we going to hear from dick armey some day in this discussion? >> i don't know whether we will or not. >> i keep waiting to hear from him. >> but the fact is that dick and newt were a pretty good team for
a large portion of that time. i think it's also well to realize that those successes came at some price and newt paid that -- paid that price in many ways, including some of these phony ethics charges that were leveled. >> do you think he'd be a calm temperament as -- as commander in chief? >> i think he's a much different person now than he was in those days. >> okay. >> that's what i want to hear. >> you've said what you wanted to say. your best case is he's not what he was. >> i think he was very successful in what he did. >> okay. >> but the fact is that -- that his temperament is different today, that his -- >> he's a grandfather. >> and conversion to catholicism, happy marriage to calista. bob walker, thank you. >> we'll have you back a lot. we need apologists for newt. >> i don't apologize for him. i support him. >> i accept that. up next, the iraq war veteran booed by the republicans at that republican debate for being gay basically. captain steve hill joins us after the break. this is "hardball," only on msnbc.
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♪ that's good morning, veggie style. hmmm [ male announcer ] for half the calories -- plus veggie nutrition. could've had a v8. we're back. in a year of memorable republican debate moments, none spark as much shock and outrage, i'd say, as the audience booing a gay soldier in the field who submitted a question on don't ask, don't tell. let's take a look. >> in 2010 when i was deployed to iraq, i had to lie about who i was because i'm a gay soldier. i didn't want to lose my job. my question is, under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that's been made for gay and
lesbian soldiers in the military? >> yeah, i would say any type of sexual activity has no place in the military. >> that's a first. that soldier, army captain steve hill returned from iraq last month. he's with us tonight to share his reaction to the response that night. thank crow so muyou so much for. on. i don't have a lot of time. withdr ewe have a lot of it. take some time, tell us about the whole experience. >> basically when i submitted the question, i've been in the army about 20 years. i submitted the question because i've had a lot of times in the military where i'd go to the fireworks and be sitting there and they'd say, we want to put a shout-out to the troops. it made me feel like i should be really, really happy at that moment. i'd all of a sudden realize i was fighting for everybody's rights except my own. when i heard the republican
candidates say they'd repeal the repeal of don't ask, don't tell, i felt inclined to ask them, is that true, and is that what you would do? because so many people said they might come out. i was, you know, fearful for them to come out then have that happen. and i was pretty surprised when the boos happened. you know, it was shocking to me mind gut kind of dropped out. i thought i'd done something wrong and was afraid i'd done something wrong. i think worse is probably mr. santorum's response got so many cheers where, you know, he said it's a special privilege for me to be in the military. and i can't tell you so many times that people have come over to my house, fellow soldiers, and i'd have to run through my own house and hide pictures of me and josh, my husband, that i'm married to. that's not a special privilege to me at all. >> what has been the general reaction? my dad told me, he was in the navy, he said there was no secret there were gay guys working with him, it was just accepted. this period where you couldn't say who you were.
now people know who you are because you say who you are. >> the military has been 100% positive. everybody in the military has been awesome about this. because i think when people know you as a soldier, they know you're a soldier and that's what matters to them. as a matter of fact, the new hampshire representative i think had made some comments about me coming out and to the republican debate. he said i'm glad they booed him. my fellow soldiers were really, really angry at some of those comments. he basically said we wouldn't protect him in the field. they said, no, that's not correct at all. we'd always protect a fellow sole swrdier soldier. it would be horrible for anybody to think a soldier wouldn't protect another soldier, gay or strategy. the military has been awesome. >> captain, thank you for your service. i'm flood this country gets better all the time. the fight for rights always wins eventually in this country. progressive ought to know that. it takes a long struggle.
the good guys eventually win like you. thank you, captain steve hill. we'll get you back again when this heats up again in a positive way. when we return, let me finish with a frightening thought. here's a frightening military thought. newt gingrich with his hands on a nuclear weapon. all of them. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro. premier of the packed bag. you know organization is key... and so is having a trusted assistant. and you...rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle...and go. you can even take a full-size or above and still pay the mid-size price. here we are... [ male announcer ] and there you go, business pro. there you go.
think about newt gingrich with tens and thousands of nuclear weapons at its disposal. interesting thought, isn't it? a man known to be a bomb thrower with real life bombs in his hands. you know, as i do, the genius of our constitution is making the president the commander in chief. it ensures that the top position in the military is the person the american people themselves elect. the other part of this constitutional requirement is we the people elect as our president and make commander in chief someone who has the temperament to handle this extraordinary power. newt gingrich throws around words that are bomb throwing and criticizes the palestinians dismissing them as an invented people, that they are all terrorists. what do you think about having this guy out there in the middle east debate, throwing bombs around like that against people on the other side, in a region where certain people who are not our friends talk much the same way, throwing insults and accusations around for the single purpose of taunting the other side? newt gingrich would be at home in this world of crazed wildly
agitating rhetoric where words are meant to anger, to insult, to enrage. newt would be good at stirring things up and causing trouble and lobbing grenades over walls and into the narrow, winding streets of the midwest. he threatened, show them that a wild western could be just as crazy as the craziest of them. newt is asking republican voters to give him the presidency, to give him not just the bully pull pu pulpit but the army, navy, air force, marines, in the world's greatest arsenal. his oldest associates say he can receive results even if he is erratic, yet when they had him as speaker, he was out long before they were. newt was hardly this individual you'd give license to over the world's greatest stock pile of nuclear weapons. you don't give wmd in a crunch