tv Weekends With Alex Witt MSNBC October 14, 2012 9:00am-11:00am PDT
♪ reach one customer at a time? ♪ or help doctors turn billions of bytes of shared information... ♪ into a fifth anniversary of remission? ♪ whatever your business challenge, dell has the technology and services to help you solve it. hey there, everyone. it's high noon in the east. welcome to "weekends with alex wi witt." round two debate countdown. libya fallout, a political weapon? gas prices, how low can they go? breaking barriers, a freefall jump for the books and out for the count. some very dpis appointed playoff fans. we have details throughout the
hour. but first. 23 days to go until election day and new reaction from both campaigns on the tightening polls ahead of the second presidential debate. here's the senior strategist for the obama campaign. >> i think there's a lot of hype. when polls were wildly positive for us that the public polls are all over the place. the reality of the race on the ground is we're ahead. we feel good about where we are. >> i think the race is very close. the win is at governor romney's back. you can see the momentum on the trail. but the country is evenly dwited. we thought this would be a close race. i know it now ahead in it will
polls. i believe governor romney is going to win in november. >> also the republican national committee released a new web ad featuring clips from last week's vice presidential debate. >> did they come in and inherent a tough situation, absolutely. but we're going in the wrong direction. last year we're slower than the year before. job growth in september. we're slower than it was in august and august was slower than it was in july. president obama is getting star power with actor morgan freeman narrating the spot. >> every president inherits challenges. few have faced so many. four years later, our enemies have been brought to justice. our heros are coming home. assembly lines are humming again. >> and the latest poll shows along likely voters mitt romney is leading nationally by two
points. 49% to 47%. both candidates are holed up this weekend preparing for tuesday's town hall debate. ahead of that, represents from both sides held their own debate of sorts. virginia governor bob mcdonald pitching for mitt romney while jennifer granholm called mr. romney a trojan horse. take a listen. >> the president has tried his policies just haven't worked. this is a serious election about how to 20 million people back to work. he has laid down a plan of debt reduction and energy and trade and small business that i think are practical solutions. that's what people want. >> he is like a trojan horse coming in to occupy the city of d.c. who is this man? you can't say different things to all the the different audiences and expect people to
know. >> kristen welker is live with the president. with a good sunday to you, my friend. let's talk about the preps under way in the obama camp and how does it contrast with normforme governor romney's. >> good afternoon to you, alex. this is a town hall debate, so both are tailoring to that. mitt romney is sparring with ohio senator rob partman. i'm told he's already engaged in several telephone town halls. he's had several time to prep leading up to today. those who know mitt romney say this really plays to his strength. romney's challenge is going to
be match the performance he delivered in the first debate. and that gets us to president obama. he has to sharpen his performance after the first debate that many described as lack laster. the aides say they're going to adjust his strategy. they're here working on that. they will only say that president obama is again spars with senator john kerry and reading through a lot of materials to get ready for the debate. reporters who are at president obama's hotel where he's prep e preparing right now have already seen a number of advisers walking around with thick binders. so clearly preparations and practice has begun for the day. but president obama's spothers say in order to win the debate has to deliver a stronger, sharper performance. he has to answer mitt romney's attacks in a sharper way.
we heard from one of the supporters today on "meet the press" christine reid. take a listen. >> i think it's a challenge. i think the president has to step up. he wen onto win the second and the third. history remembers winners. >> i can also tell you both candidates will have to spend more time on foreign policy this time around. that will be a big top you can on tuesday. >> kristen welker. many thanks for that. i'm joined by cnbc washington correspondent john harwood and politics reporter for "usa today", jackie kucinich, daughter of the man who we spoke with yesterday. it was really fun talking with your dad. he was cool. we told him you would be on. maybe he's watching. i'll begin with you.
we heard from david axelrod. he says the polls have narrowed but they're winning in the ground game. >> well, the national polls are very close. some polls show romney up one or two. but the key is what happens in those eight or nine battleground states that are going to determine who gets the lek trorl votes. we saw it last week in our wall street journal poll in ohio. you had a huge advantage for obama in the early vote. we have seen that in other states like iowa. that doesn't necessarily mean the democrats will win the states. it could be they're harvesting the votes elier than republicans. but it's an indication that democrats put this a infrastructure in place while
the primaries were going on. they're trying to capitalize on that now. >> so they're making up lost time in the ground game, you think? >> yes, of course they are. when you have the luxury of a primary in the beginning, you can see that this is very all the techniques that they have to reach out, identity the voters. republicans are playing catchup. however, in a race in cl mitt romney has developed momentum late, you can make up in momentum what you missed out on early in the organization. jackie, i want to talk about ohio with you. 18% of ohioans have already voted. and the the president leads mitt romney, you know, pretty much
2-is there. how do you interpret this? >> well, exactly what john said. the obama campaign has had a ground game in ohio from the very beginning of the year. paul run and mitt romney have been living in ohio for a week. romney has been in ohio several times more over obama: they're trying to make this up by being there and shaking hands. a lot of money is being dumped in ohio. they're trying to make up for lost time. but they have a ground game there. it's going to be close to the end. there's a poll that suggests mitt romney is ahead with those in ohio who have not voted yet.
can he overcome often a big deficit. pretty much a fifth of the vote is in. >> two or tli weeks ago we were talking about president obama leading in ohio. this is a volatile electorate. so, yeah, of course he can. ohio is going to be close until november 6th. i can't believe that that's going to change. >> yeah, john, super pac money. they poured into ohio. is it too late to make a difference sfl. >> i really don't think advertising money is going to tilt the race in the end of the day. with so much exposure, there's so much information out there. can spent on organization can make a dig cant difference. but i don't think super pac advertising will ultimately be decided. you know, the republicans developed a huge edge in midsummer. they were outraising president obama.
then we saw president obama outraised. it's not trivial. it matters some. but ultimately you have a swath of voters, maybe 5% truly undecided and a somewhat larger group that's soft in their choice. those people will be sifting through, watching the debates, trying to figure out if they can find a reason to feel good about voting. generally speaking they're not feeling good about either party. >> do you think it is coming down to the last two debates? you think that's what will make up the 3% or 4% and the greater ones soft on the decision? >> the most important thing in the election between now and november 6th are the two remaining debates and the entire cranking up of the turnout machine from both parties. 2004, republicans did better. in some way president obama is
resembling george bush. >> how about november 2nd, jackie, when the unemployment report comes out? it's very important. if it's really bad. it will be important. if it's really good, yes, it will be important. if it's somewhere in the middle, it's a wash. the debate is that way. if it was really bad it mattered. if it was really good it mattered. if it's a draw, there's other things in play. one standard for white kids. another what your favorite barbecue sauce says about who you will pick for president. no kidding. plus, what joe has to say about president obama's chance for re-election. it may surprise you.
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superior service, best selection, lowest price, guaranteed. ♪ sleep train ♪ your ticket to a better night's sleep ♪ >> some headlines making news on the west coast. the price of gas reached an all time high of $4.61 a gallon. analysts blame the surge on a perfect storm of supply disruptions at refineries throughout the state. now how he is spending money with high-rise apartments, a new airport terminal and an amusement park. old problems like a lack of food remain. and the seattle times has a profile of u.s. soldier called
the i.e.d. whisperer. 36-year-old army staff sergeant kelly ronei said he found 150 improvised explosives since arriving in afghanistan last spring. right now mitt romney is in massachusetts prepping for the last debate. they are expecting a tougher debate fight ahead. today campaign surrogates gave a preview of what tuesday night might look like. >> where is the obama plan? he said four years. he can't get a budget passed. >> because why? you have a congress that has signed pledges not to cooperate. >> peter alexander is joining me on the phone with a good sunday to you. >> alex, you heard jennifer granholm and bob mcdonald. it's doubtful we will hear that bickering on the stage this tuesday. both the president and mitt
romney will be speaking in front of voters. what's unique about this debate is they effectively have to go in front of voters and ask them for their votes. so it's going to be more challenging environment where you can't really attack one another as simply. that said t romney folks do anticipate the president in the words will come out swinging. he is playing the role of president obama, the sparring partner in the practice debates ahead of the first debate and more recently in front ofday's debate. they were both together having a good time. yesterday we made a stop at rob partman's family owned hotel in lebanon, ohio. these two have gotten to know each other very well. >> peter alexander, thanks for weighing in. of all the indicators in presidential politics, here's one you may not have thought of.
food. the food to watch. and if you're lucky the taste is barbecue. kerry sanders explains. >> reporter: alex, it's neck and neck in the state. it's too close for either the obama or romney campaigns to claim a likely victory. it's a dispute perhaps reflective of another debate in the state. which tastes better? eastern carolina or lexington style barbecue. in the western part of north carolina there's the barbecue most of the nation is familiar with. here they call it lexington style. pork shoulder, smoked for ten hours over oak and hickory. then smothered in a tomato based sauce. but to the east here in the t tarheel state, the pig is halved and slowly roasted. >> my job to chop, chop, chop the meat. >> and the the barbecue sauce, vinegar, hot pepper, salt and brown sugar. >> it's tangy, you get a lot of
taste of the pork, but the vinegar impacts it heavily. >> like the barbecue, when it comes to poll tishs -- >> i love north carolina. i do. this is a state of two minds. >> we're going to win north carolina. >> four years ago in the eastern part of the state where vinegar barbecue rules, obama won. prior to that this was bush territory. >> we clearly need a new direction. the current administration doesn't have what it takes. >> the state is neither blue or red in part because of transplants like doug who moved here from new york. >> you're asking about the analogy with the barbecue, whether it's vinegar based or the tomato based, the thing i notice here is people are steeped in the way they've always done it.
very -- very traditional. zbr but tradition can be upended. >> you're 70 -- >> 74. >> yes. >> you're black. you saw the first black president elected. yet you're sitting here saying i'm not sure. >> i'm not sure. but head west to lexington. the politics in this part of the state is mostly red. just like the sauce. >> they know the best politics. this is where to find it here in lexington, north carolina. it's going to make it harder to do what --? >> to survive. last g around president obama won north carolina by 14,000 votes. >> who are you voting for? >> obama. >> who did you vote for before? >> obama. >> why are you voting for him again? >> because he's doing a good job. >> i think obama needs needs to put his man pants on. >> presidential politics like
barbecue, split down the middle. it will likely go late into the evening, like a midnight buffet. >> kerry sanders, thank you for that. what did that guy say? it's time for obama to put his man pants on. only you would bring me that story. now, sad times for yankee fans. captain derek jeter fracturing his ankle. the 18-year veteran was carried off the the field in the bronx. he's out for the post season. yankees lost to the tigers, 6-4. when you have diabetes...
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donors. the president's campaign has relied on small donations to boost the fund raising totals through the summer and the fall, now totalling $181 million. and the duggar family is helping todd akin. the stars will campaign for the republican politician on tuesday. he made national headlines early this year for controversial comments about rape. and yesterday we told you bruce springsteen will campaign for president obama thursday in ohio. he will campaign in another state, the hawkeye state of ohio. -- iowa. more questions today about what happened in libya the night u.s. ambassador chris stevens and three others were killed and why it's taken so long for the details to come out. when john kerry said, ask bin laden, is he better off? they're trying to spike the ball like they're kit killing bin
laden, create a false narrative, and it ought caught up with them in libya. >> keep in mind, we had not heard from anybody who was in libya the night of the event. our committee has not had a classified briefing yet. it seems early to come to certain conclusions. >> we're going through a mission accomplished moment, 11 years after september 11th, americans were attacked on september 11th kbi terrorists who preplanned to kill americans. that happened, and we can't be in denial. particularly when there are compounds all over the middle east that need to be legitimately producted at a level that security officials ask for. joining me now, michael sfooel, former rnc chairman and msnbc analyst.
michael, libya has become a leading talking point for mitt romney and paul ryan. >> i don't think they're politicizing it. i'm not saying that because folks expect me to say that. i think will are questions about the time clock here, the unfolding of events. i appreciate the view that yes, it's been brief, but why? the first assassination of an ambassador -- u.s. ambassador, in close to 40 years. going unscathed. and to have all this bubble at this moment, i think the congress needs to get up to speed. the white house needs to be more forthcoming. the white house has created this store by the way they handled it
coming out it have box. i give you the too many capsule and when the government spoke on it. but the reality is what they said initially and the facts have not lined up. they need to make it less of a story. to make it less politicized, and certainly the romney team rightly is talking about this. it's amazing tht front and center. >> to that same end, if what republicans are saying is true that the obama officials were trickling out the bad news then respect they politicizing the story as well? >> this is a ridiculous story. i like michael steele a great deal. i think he's actually sort of a democrat. >> please. >> but the truth is out -- on social issues. the truth is this is equivalent to spreading the rumor that
george bush knew about 9/11 before it happened. it's a ridiculous story. the republicans are going after the president of being unpatriotic. this president needs support on the ber national and national tragedy. and this is a disgrace for the republican party to do this. >> don't you think there is merit into saying had the white house been forthcoming, or do you believe honestly what the white house put out there is honestly what they knew. >> that is what they need. >> the white house and the state department. >> i've been briefed by very senior officials on this matter. they know i go on talk shows all the time. they're being as honest and forthcoming with the american people as they can. when dealing with intelligence matters you don't get all the intelligence in one place. the republicans certainly ought to know that. i think it's a disgrace for these guys to do this.
i doubt many votes will be changed. this president has exerted foreign poll she that brought america back into respect of the rest of the world. the republicans can't stand it. in the last two weeks of the campaign they're stooping to new lows to make marks here. we're going to win the election because the american people are disgusted by this talk. >> i do appreciate the drama, but the reality is this is a very serious matter. four americans lost their lives -- i'll go there -- due to the incompetence of the administers to put the security in place that they need to put in place. the fact trs the facts. you can say what you within the, but you cannot run from the facts. based on the hearing and public records that there was request after request to beef up the security on the the ground where the forces, knowing what was around them. it was denied. it was ignored. and lives were lost. now you want to sit here and talk about we're basing this on
the intelligence the vice president saying we only go by what intelligence is saying us. you having this different to say when george bush is talk about weapons of mass destruction on the ground. >> there were no weapons of mass zrux. >> and the intelligence is telling us there was something here to be concerned about, and you guys ignored it. the iraq war was the biggest foreign policy blunder in the history of the united states. >> that democrats supported, by the way. >> can i finish, if yo don't mind? the fact of the matter is no responsible democrat -- excuse me. after 9/11 when 3,000 americans were killed went and criticized george bush's administration for not having the right intelligence, even though there was evidence that the intelligence was there and not looked at. we don't criticize each other, republicans or democrats in a
time of national tragedy. this was an act of war. i'm sick of republicans having second guessed the president of the united states who we need to pull behind. we didn't criticize george bush after 9/11. >> i'll make a note of that. but this does not change the facts. the facts on the ground are very real. this administration has to deal with them. square it up. put the information out there. >> i'm sure they will in due course. >> yeah, due course after the election, i'm sure. >> it's what's best for the united states and the people. that's the president's job, not play politics with a bunch of hacks in congress who don't know what they're talking about. >> i'm sure elijah cummings is a close friend of mine. >> now we're going to go off topic. let's move to ohio.
it's of critical importance for mitt romney. he writes mitt romney can get to 270 electoral votes without ohio, but he would have to win, florida, virginia, north carolina, iowa, colorado, nevada and either new hampshire or wisconsin. in other words, michael, he would have to win about every other battleground state. i threw in the michael, because it's not this the quote. we learn that 18% of ohioan have already voted. 63% of whom -- basically two to one have voeed for the president. does mitt romney still have time to win the buckeye state? >> yeah, i think he does. you still have votes being cast early there. you also have election day itself. the turnout rate is lively on if ground for the republican party. dan points out a very important challenge that the romney campaign has had from the beginning. his pathway to 270 is much more narrow than the p's.
which is why the messaging is important. the ground game is very important for these guys. i understand 18% of the folks voted. the absentee requests are up particularly in the battleground states. don't stop because early numbers may point in one direction or the other. they have to keep pushing. they have to push hard. after the next two debates for the folks still making up their minds will be very important. >> governor dean, looking at the town hall debate here. the "washington post" editorial board has an op-ed called show me a policy. alas, the answer lies at the heart of president obama's re-election bid, the ab sensz of a second-term agenda. mr. obama has yet to say how he would involve the immense problem. until and unless he discuss, he can only offer the urgency of stopping the other guys. >> i think the "washington post"
doesn't get around to reading other papers. the president certainly has a second term agenda. first of all, it's to get a congress that will pass jobs bill. second, work on the deficit. third is tax reform and fourth is an immigration policy that makes sense. the reason i know these are good policies is because governor romney adopted three policies on the stage of the debate in the last debate. so i'm looking forward to the debate on tuesday night to see wh mitt romney we get. >> will you say president obama in the first debate, he didn't do a great job of establishing his policies in the first one. >> alex, i thought it was a tie. i understand most americans didn't think it was a tie and they thought president obama did not win the debate. i thought it was a tie. i think the president needs to get out there and be clear. and i agree with his analysis on the path of 270.
>> you guys will end as being friends. that's nice. >> i'm trying to help it have governor out. >> i'm sure he appreciated it. office politics morning joe style. a prediction on how this election might turn out from the hosts. many of my patients still clean their dentures with toothpaste. but they have to use special care in keeping the denture clean. dentures are very different to real teeth. they're about 10 times softer and may have surface pores where bacteria can multiply. polident is designed to clean dentures daily. its unique micro-clean formula kills 99.9% of odor causing bacteria and helps dissolve stains, cleaning in a better way than brushing with toothpaste. that's why i recommend using polident. [ male announcer ] polident. cleaner, fresher and brighter every day.
we talk to the stars of the morning crew. you won't be surprised to hear a case for. but following the strong debate performance, you may be surprised by joe's assessment of barack obama's chances. >> i this if he holds his own -- the economy is improving. the latest nbc news state poll shows that americans think the country is starting to improve. the economy is slowly starting to get better.
i think if he holds his own in the next two debates he's going o be close. it's going to be harder for him to be more aggressive in a town hall setting. you remember back in 2000 when al gore decided he was going to be tough on george w. bush. he walked over, and everybody in the audience laughed. they're going to have to be more charming, which is difficult for the president hearing from his base. you have to call him a liar. you have to punch his lights ou out. >> do you think the obama camp is effective at proving mitt romney as dishonest. >> that's just nonsense. we lost, so he's a liar. if mitt romney is lying so much for 90 minutes, why couldn't the president call him out. that's you making the statement. but how does president obama
deflect that from anyone who might stick. >> if i'm in an interview and you ask basic questions about what job you've been doing and i lie about it, instead of working, a lot of times she's just drinking on 6th avenue. >> that's disturbing that you know. so you were like in the south of france. you would be able to answer the question. most americans don't buy it. lied about my job that i was doing for # 0 minutes and i wasn't able to respond to it that says as much about me as the other guy. >> do you think this will begin at the debate? >> look at the numbers before that. i don't know if we're too into it and i'm too close to it. but it feels like the debate was
a turning point ha he needs to grab back. it could be the chamber out there in america. these polled would have tightened. >> if mitt romney wins -- if. >> if mitt romney wins, you can say it stopped the hemorrhaging. if it doesn't win the election for him, at least it keeps the race competitive for 24 days, which is great for us. >> i watched mitt romney an i felt like he was extremely comfortable. >> why is it the first time? >> you tell me. >> what are his advisers telling him? >> i think he's so calculating that he's always safe. i think we saw the real romney. look, you've said this all along. he's a terrible, terrible
politician. horrible. the most awkward i've seen in person and on stage. he's awkward in person. we've met him in times. like a goober. he's a nice guy. he's a goober. >> when he's got his political cap on, he's uncomfortable. good-b anybody who working with him says he's a great leader. i think they underestimated the guy that breezed through harvard and was a great success. that revolutionized wall street. even the liberal democrat says what he did was extraordinary. he changed the wall street model. you look at what he did as governor of massachusetts. a bipartisan governor. he saved the winter olympics in 2002. he has five incredible boys.
he has a wonderful wife that he met in high school that still loves and adores him. this guy -- >> it's impressive. >> pretty remarkable human being. next week, part two. joe and mika tackle the tea party and the women's vote and mika shares a family thanksgiving party that went tr the dinner table to the front line. and now on number four, a delay for the sky diver who hopes to break a world record today. felix baumgarner. high winds pushed back today's jump by at least a few hours. if successful he would be the first in history to break the sound barrier. wow. ♪
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report. coca-cola, mcdonald's, ibm, intel and microsofmicrosoft. many are expecting to see lower results than a year ago. we'll see if if cooler weather affected shopping last month. and a report on consumer prices will tell us if rising food and gasoline prices are driving inflation higher. the florida board of education is sparking a fire storm affecting every florida school. this week officials released a plan setting different expectations for students of different races. for example, the plan calls for 90% of asian students to be at or above grade level reading in 2018 compared to 74% of black students. similar standards apply to math. the school board aims to improve performance of k through 12 students. parents worry the students won't
be held in the same standards like they were in the real world. welcome to you. i also want to note that the state's education commissioner agreed to come on but declined late yesterday saying she had a prior commitment. so do you think the plan is racist. >> i don't know if i would call the plan racist. we need to call hout the board of education for making a concession that really just reinscribes our perceptions about race from the past the problem with this particular set of bempbl marks is it mixes concession that essentially some groups will not perform as others when they really need a cohesive statewide benchmark that cuts across race and demographics and do the work to make sure the students disadvantaged or underresourced school systems in the past can actually catch up. once you start to make it race based in terms of the
benchmarking, we're reinscribing negative perceptions about people from certain backgrounds. here's what board members argue. the new standards would be an improvement on current levels. but does setting a lower bar for certain races, does it solve the problem of poor performance? does it do anything you think, on an emotional level? does it make them feel lesser? or does it set a lower bar so success is achieved more easily? there's two ways to look at it. >> it should be statewide. the governor of florida, governor scott, not only did he remove a billion dollars from educational funding, but in the next budget he put it back in, a zero sum game policy.
so there's been a lot of confusion. what's happened with this particular story and releasing the information shows you the confusion. you need statewide standards for all the students that are there. then you have to do the work as the board of education and other entities to bring everybody up to the standards. >> the florida department spokeswoman said this. we want every student to be buck seszful. but we have to take into account their starting point. but is that's what is being addressed here? it seems like the implication is one race is inferior to the other. why not look at this from a financial standpoint? what your family affordability is. >> that may be a better way of doing that. as you read it, you see how it goes. here's the thing, we have to acknowledge the fact that there are certain districts within the state of florida that are
underresourced in the ways which the florida education system works, they don't allocate the resources across the school districts that's equitable. but when you reduce it to race in this way, you -- the complexities. what the school board needs to understand is there is a thing called perception. you're going to find limitations in what you can do with the benchmarks. >> you gave ways to be analyzed and give different benchmarks that way. in terms of improving performance, do you have any idea on what to do? >> absolutely. they're focused too much on this eflgts. how can we develop and enhance the curriculum to speak more to the people in the system. how can we provide the key support in the after hours when the children are having the most
challenge. how can we beef up support for in-school nutrition and the things we know will make students perform better? those are the thicks they need to do for the populations thooif identified as lagging behind. is this rhetoric is -- to the goals. >> a lot of questions you put out there. let's hope they get answered in florida and elsewhere. the new call to ditch the electoral college is coming up in the next hour. stay with us. what do we do when something that's hard to paint, really wants to be painted? we break out new behr ultra with stain-blocker from the home depot... ...the best selling paint and primer in one that now eliminates stains. so it paints over stained surfaces, scuffed surfaces, just about any surface. what do you say we go where no paint has gone before, and end up some place beautiful. more saving.
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presidential debate. president obama and mitt romney are preparing this weekend. here's what both sides are saying. first from the obama camp and followed by the romney camp. >> i think he's going to be aggressive in making the case for his view of where we should go as a country and a country that's built around a growing, thriving middle class. not the top down theory that governor romney has. we saw governor romney walk away from his own proposals. and certainly the president will be willing to challenge him on it. as we saw the vice president challenge. i think the governor is going to do what he did in the last debate. he's going to talk about his agendas and policies. there's a big choice election between president obama's policies and governor romney's policies. that was clear in the first debate. it was clear in the vice presidential debate. this is a big choice election. and what we saw is even if he
changes his style, at whatever political tactic the president settles on, he can't change the record and he can't change the policies. mpbl the romney campaign released a new tv spot called fiscal discipline. here's part of it. >> don't raise taxes on small businesses. they're the job creators. leaders run to problems to fix problems. mitt romney is uniquely qualified to fix these problems. >> the obama campaign is out with its own ad this weekend. >> four years later our enemies have been brought to justice. our heros are coming home. assembly lines are humming again. there's still challenges to meet, children to educate, a middle class to rebuild, but the last thing we should do is turn back now.
>> and the polls show the state of arizona in play leaving romney by two points there. let's go to kristen welker in virginia with the president. good day to you, kristen. what is the president doing to prepare for his second show down? >> good afternoon, alex. campaign advisers acknowledged they have to make adjustments after the first debate. a lot of folks said the president delivered a lackluster performance. so these are going to focus on president obama working to sharpen his performance. to deliver crisp, short answers to mitt romney's criticisms of his policies, and really to defend his own policies. here's here in virginia at a resort sparring with senator john kerry in a number of advisers looking on. counseling by reporters at the resort that the advisers have been seen carrying thick
binders. so obviously debate preparations have already gotten under way today. one thing really interesting to note alex. during the president's first debate preparations that took place in nevada, president obama held a large rally with supporters. that's not the case this time around. there's nothing on the president's public schedule. we may see him make a short trip to a local restaurant or that type of thing. here's he's just focusing on this upcoming debate on tuesday night. it really underscores how important the obama campaign thinks this debate is. how pivotal this moment is in the campaign. president obama took a hit in the polls after the latest gallup poll shows him trailing mitt romney by two points. here's what the advisers had to say. >> as i said throughout, when the polls were wildly positive for us, the public polls are all
over the place. and the reality of the race on the ground is we're ahead. it's more narrow tan the last debate. we feel good about where we are. we have a great ground game going. >> i think the race is close. dleerly you can see it on the trail and in the data. the country is evenly divided. we always felt sh would be a close election and a close race. i knew that behind in the polls. i know it when we're ahead in the polls. i believe that governor romney will win in november. >> those candidates have to focus on foreign policy. libya will come up as a key issue during the town hall debate. we have sad news to report. this confirmed from nbc news.
senator arlen specter has passed away at the age of 82. he died from complications this morning at his home in the philadelphia area. he was a man who served in the senate for 30 years. the longest running pennsylvania senator. and we will certainly miss his presence. he left the senate after being defeated in a primary. when he switched after switching in april of 2009. he didn't feel that he could win having been a relatively moderate republican. he was defeated in that primary. and subsequently left the senate. but it's with very sad news that we tell you that senator arlen specter of pennsylvania has passed away at the age of 282. we will be speaking more about his legacy right now with eleanor clift who joins us from washington. el nor and rachel is also here as well.
tell me your thoughts on arlen specter. we saw this coming. he was not well for sol time. >> right. but he fought cancer successfully three or four times earlier and wrote a book about how to keep living your life while you're facing a terrible illness. and he would play tennis and some of his colleagues in the senate would shave their heads in sympathy with him. so i think wherever you are you recognize arlen specter as a real fighter. and he does represent an earlier age in the politics. and that's somebody who was a deal maker who crossed the aisle figuratively and literally, and he was a true legislator. he knew how to operate on capitol hill. he certainly wasn't just a showman. so his style of leadership, while maybe the purists on either side would find him
compromising, his style of leadership is missed on capitol hill. he could find the center and the deal. >> he had a tremendous effect on the supreme court. he was chairman before losing that to the democrats in, i believe it was 2007. so his legacy lives on in many ways. >> eafs a pro-choice republican, which is a rare breed today. and, yes. i think you could find his influence in a number of big decisions. certainly president obama's health care reform may not have gone through without arlen specter. he lived through so much illness and yet would always show up for work. i had almost come to this believe he could survive anything. while his death on one hand is somewhat expected, it comes as a
shock. word leaked out in august when he canceled an i peerns at a comedy club in philadelphia. i mean he was doing one night stands as a comedian. so he certainly lived life to the fullest. he had many friends on both sides of the political spectrum. >> okay, rachel, i want to get to our discussion. but i'm welcomed to have you weigh in as well on senator specter's passing. >> he was a lion of the senate. expect to hear statements honoring him from both sides of the aisle. he didn't quite fit into the current political environment, but he was known in the senate for his personality. he brought the skills of a prosecutor to bear in his questioning. and in every other thing that he did there. >> jae, absolutely. i thank you for your thoughts
let's go with you eleanor, we have the president mitt romney preparing nor the debate. what do you think is beginning on in the preparation sessions for obama? >> he's trying to find the fine line between being assertive and being aggressive. i think he has to demonstrate that he had a credible four years and deserves another four years. he better have a good answer on benghazi because the republicans are going after that as a metaphor somehow weak leadership and he better connect with the people asking the questions. i think that's the key to the town hall format. making that connection. then pivoting to whatever point you want to make. and he has to draw a contrast
with governor romney who blurred a number of the lines between his position and the president's position. notably on medicare, on abortion rights. on his tax plan. i remember in mitt romney's debates with kennedy, he did the same thing. kennedy said if we keep this up you're going to be voting for me pretty soon. i think the president has to draw the contrast between the two candidates. and rachel, what do you expect from mitt romney? >> can he repeat? can he continue to deliver crisp engaged answered if we see more connected president obama show up to play this time. in large part romney won the debate because president obama lost it. he was not having a good night. we expect a much more forceful president obama this time around. the other question is how well
can you connect with the town hall voters? we'll see a different style of debate. traditionally, this is not mitt romney's strength to kwekt connect with the average american. but we've been seeing a much more personable side of him in the last few weeks. that's something he did well with in the first debate. that he doesn't give any answers that sound odd or disconnected r emphasize his wealth. there the latest gallup poll shows mitt romney leading by two points. how concern sd the obama camp about getting another boost from tuesday's debate? >> i think for all the the hype and hysteria, the national polls really didn't move that much. it's still within the margin of error. and democrats are holding onto the life raft of wisconsin,
ohio, and iowa. if president obama can win those three states, it makes it difficult for governor romney to run the table and get to the 270 needed. it comes down to battleground states. i want to focus on ohio. romney on the rise in ohio. president obama's lead in the swing state has nor rowed since the first debate. how crucial is the next three or four days? >> this is a very crucial period. mostly because time is running out. we're getting close to election day. the first thing is to appeal to the base vm this is about turnout in the election. and the second is to appeal to the small and shrinking group of undecided voters. can they move the needle with those voters in ohio and in other battleground states. >> thank you very much for your
thoughts about the passing senator arlen specter. we'll have more discussion today, everyone. one of the country's leading legal scholars says the electoral college needs to go. he's going to kel us why. and we'll talk with a former white house insider who played a key role in advising the president. wooohooo....hahaahahaha! oh...there you go. wooohooo....hahaahahaha! i'm gonna stand up to her! no you're not. i know. you know ronny folks who save hundreds of dollars switching to geico sure are happy. how happy are they jimmy? happier than a witch in a broom factory. get happy. get geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more.
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philadelphia area. he was 82 years old. he died from complications of lymphoma. his brand of politics became outzated as the senate has become more and more partisan. we have that the executive director of the dnc. we're going to get to the race for the white house in a moment. i would love to hear your thoughts on his passing. i did is the good fortune to know senator specter. i'm surprised and saddened by the news. i first met the senator on an amtrak ride when he was still in the republican party and i was working as a democrat, and we had a conversation from philadelphia to washington, d.c. about the state of politics.
a lot of folks don't know he had a very sly sense of humor. my condolences to his wife joan who i met on two or three occasions. they were looking forward to celebrating their 60th anniversary last year and to his son. just a real loss of a real leader. at the top you said his brand of politics were ouz ot favor or style. the intelligence, thoughtfulness and bipartisanship will never be out of style. >> let's hope it's not. all we hear about are fightg from the right and fights for the left. let's hope people stop and think about senator specter and try to get more into the kind of politics that he brought. but let's talk about the race, patrick, with you. because it's certainly on big time. how much pressure is onto win this debate and get us all to the last performance? >> i think from the moment that
this president was sworn into office he felt a considerable amount of pressure to deliver for the american people and to make sure to recover from the greatest recession since the great depression. i don't think he feels outside pressure in the debate. it's in a town hall performance with americans in the room. the president does well in those settings because he enjoys direct conversations with voters where he can talk to them about where we come from and where we're headed. so i think he's going to be just fine. >> how about the fact that he's spending three or four days away from the white house prepping for the debate. how unusual is that. >> it's not unusual in the course of the campaign. and unlike mitt romney, the president has a day job that has kemt him away from applying himself to the base as he would
have liked going into the first one. there suspect anyone more competitive than president obama. he's the toughest critic. he reviewed his performance in the first debate. he knows in this instance when mitt romney attempts to obscure the truth and obscure his record, the president is going to make a -- is going to define the issues and make certain that voters are aware of his deceptions. >> the romney campaign is releasing a new ad. do you think his appearance takes away from the substance of what he said? that means he knows he dominated paul ryan on substance in the debate. we saw the facts matter. the truth matters. values matter. joe biden was speaking from a lifetime of experience.
you could tell that he knows the struggles and the aspirations of the middle class like the back of his hand, where paul ryan looked like somebody reading notes. i think they're running the ads because they know joe biden come dmated the conversation. >> here's something. the "washington post" editorial board is titled show me a policy. they write alas the answer lies at the heart of president obama's re-election bid. the absence of a second-term agenda. immediately after the election. until and unless he does, the only rational is the urgency of stopping the other guys. has the president given his second term agenda, patrick? and if so, what is it? do you see a priority list? >> well, there absolutely is. p president articulated it. but clearly from this stage in charlotte, north carolina, with millions of americans watching at our convention.
the president talked about the ways in which by 2016 he'll create 1 million new manufacturing jobs in this country and we will double our manufacturing exports by 2014. he talked about all that we have to do to lift up our young people and give them the opportunities that they need by hiring more teachers in our classrooms and by making certain that we cut the cost of college tuition by half. half the increases by 2016 as well. and clearly the president made claim that we're going to use the resources that we've been spending in iraq and afgs and invest in infrastructure at home. we're going to put the construction workers back to work. and the president continues to call on the republican congress to finally pass the jobs act that will put 1 million police officers, firefighters and teachers to work today. if you go on the website, you can see the details for the tax plans where the other side has
been playing a game of musical chairs. you can't see their plans. you don't know which mitt romney will appear before you. >> many thanks for weighing in. thanks for sharing your thoughts about senator specter. >> coming up in a bit, has the electoral college become outdated? [ male announcer ] feeling like a shadow of your former self?
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tonight our guest, thomas sargent. nobel laureate in economics, and one of the most cited economists in the world. professor sargent, can you tell me what cd rates will be in two years? no. if he can't, no one can. that's why ally has a raise your rate cd. ally bank. your money needs an ally. welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." ohio senator rob portman, one of mitt romney's supporters said mr. romney could make surprise history over ohio. take a listen. >> you probably win with ohio. wouldn't want to take the risk. no republican has. we're doing great in ohio. it's dead even in ohio right now. the momentum is on our side.
i've been to a half dozen rallies in ohio in the last week alone. i've never seen this energy and enthusiasm on the ground. as president obama prepares for the next debate, vice president biden l kick off days of campaigning in the western battleground states. meanwhile, less than a week after the vice presidential debate, martha described what it was like sitting so close to the candidates. >> i think right away you knew what the strategy was. but one of the things i think joe biden did was in that intimate -- in that little intimate table, it was very small, he was too big. he was like he was at campaign event. so you could feel that especially at the table that joe biden was so aggressive. there was surprises there. i was surprised paul ryan didn't jump in more. but that was clearly the
strategy. good sunday to you, kerry. >> thanks for having me. >> are democrats expecting a more aggressive president? is that a done deal? >> the president has to be more aggressive. you heard him say the that he was too polite in his last debate with mitt romney, which is a good indicators that he knows he needs to be hard hitting. and he got cues for booiden in e debate. biden was reaching out to face democrats demoralized by the president's performance. he hit the points that the president wanted to see. he talked about the 47%. he talked about medicare. he hit on a lot of the attack points that we departmeidn't se the president. the debate paved the way for the president to come out and take aim at the same issues and make the same cases.
some would say too forcefully. >> nbc campaign carrie dann. thank you very much. we have andrea mitchell joining us on the phone to talk about the passing of arlen specter. >> a legacy in the senate. someone who changed pee ed part you know. i went all the way back. i first covered him when i first got out of school and started as a joung reporter in philadelphia. he was the district attorney running for mayor. that was the first political campaign i covered back in 1967. in 1969 he was reelected district attorney. as the only republican office holder in philadelphia, he was a real democratic machine. he came within 10,000 votes or something of winning. this was an l-1 democratic.
he ran and won a big re-election in 1969 for district attorney. he modeled himself after thomas dewey crusading prosecutor as the only republican. he initiated grand jury investigations. some based more on theatricthea. he did convict a few democratic office holders and kept rising. there were wins and losses along the way. and eventually as you know, changed back to the democratic party and never captured the support of democrats throughout the state. and lost his last election campaig campaign. >> you said he was doing so because he felt that the kind of republican that he was was not in step with the new conservative introduction of the tea party and the like. he thought he had a better chan of winning the primary as a democrat, which he then of course lost to joe sestak, who
lost to pat toomey, the conservative elected for a seat. but talk about the time in the country people were shocked by his change, but it spoke to who he was. >> he was always a moderate republican and more of a democrat. he was initially a democrat before he became a republican to stand out against the democratic machine. he was a reformer. he was born in kansas. the same small town in kansas where bob dole was born. we had a hard edge to him at times but was really much more liberal. the republican party had moved really far right. and he was no longer, i don't think, comfortable in the party. and as you recall, testifies h force against the confirmation in the judiciary committee of
the nominee -- for the supreme court, robert bjork. he went up against robert bjork, therefore lost a lot of support among republicans in the state of pennsylvania. only won re-election to the senate after the clarence thomas hearings where he was so hard edged in support of theresa hinds, the newly widowed wife of the republican senator. she did a commercial for arlen specter, and that really helped him. e came from the eastern part of the state of philadelphia. she was an icon in pittsburgh and was strongly identified as the widow of the senator who just died in the plane crash. that made him win that re-election as well. after he was so tough. anita hill lost him support among liberals and women voters.
he reached out to me in recent weeks through a former staff member and wanted to do one final interview but wasn't strong enough. he wanted to speak about the legacy of the mih and how they saved his life several times. and he wanted to speak out against budget cuts. >> andrea mitchell, you have done him a great service by mentioning what he did want to talk about and get that out there. thank you for calling in with your insights. appreciate it. so we mourn the passing of senator arlen specter today. 82 years old, dying at home in his home in philadelphia. as a result of complications from nonhodjkins. the funeral will be open to the public followed by a burial in huntington valley in
pennsylvania. we'll have more on this on our websites. now to a new article that suggests the u.s. should change the way it elects the president. it's often forgotten that the united states is a republic. not every vote counts. a new column argues they should abolish the college and adopt a direct democracy. joining me is the author of the piece, jonathan truly, professor at george washington university. jonathan, what a timely thing. i can't tell you how many conversations i've had about these things. what is your problem with the electoral college? >> i have a series problem. the most important is it no longer fulfills the purpose it was designed to do. it produces universally negative dysfunctional effects for the
country. you know, the primary reason for electoral college is not that it was clearly set in stone by the sort of republic form of government. madison admitted it would be nice to have direct election. but there was a division between the north and south on slavery. we've overcome that, but many people argue that it's needed to protect small states when there's no evidence at all to support that. what happens is all states become invisible, except a handful, and they determine the election time and time again. >> al gore has talked about this. what would ensure that it wouldn't happen the way it is happening now. we would know certain pockets of the country would lead one way tor the other. why would the candidates then go and address issues zat by state that they figured they already had?
>> right now you would have democrats with a good reason to go to small states the to pick up the votes. there's a couple hundred thousand democratic votes in utah that no democratic candidate ever goes to. so they have no reason to address the utah issues in the general election. the same with massachusetts or voth for republican. once you go to a general election, all votes are equal. right now basically half the citizens of the united states have their votes negated. so when tough the close states, half the people voting there are meaningless. once it goes to the electoral college and all the votes are handed to one candidate, it's perfectly insane. the result is that it distorts our politics. right now the entire presidential election is about a handful of states. it's like the united states of
florida. it's all the same issues that are important to floridians. >> yeah, i want to look at a map of the entire u.s. population distribution here with you. look in terms of population there. so the states there in the west rule areas, how can we ensure shast open spaces there would not be left voiceless? >> that's the misconception about direct elections ft the first misconception is many high populous states are divided. you look at california, it's relatively close. california often says that's all democratic. it's not. there's a huge number of conservative votes that are negated, are basically forgotten every year. those would be counted on the other side. but the biggest thing is that right now presidents ignore the western states if they're democrats largely. they don't go to them because they know they can't win them.
the main problem is that a voter in florida should not have ten times the importance of a voter in california or texas. we should all be able to vote for who we want to lead us. >> all right, jonathan. i'm glad you wrote the article. it's the type of thing i'm talking about all the the time with my friends. appreciate your time. >> thanks, alex. coming up next, tuesday's critical debate. how does president obama win the showdown?
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halloway. hello, you three. i'll begin with you, doug. there's a new op ed titled "show me a policy". we're going to put it on screen so the viewers can read it. is that the president's number one goal to establish a second term mission? >> i think we'll hear a lot from the president. i would refer people back to the convention speech he made where it laid out a plan for creating millions of new manufacturing jobs and $4 trillion in deficit cuts. the voters are be pushing both guys to talk about their plans for the future. i really think that's what the laid deciding voters are looking to hear. romney has a wrap for being rather vague. i think the president has been detailed, and i think we'll see voters pushing to hear more. i think we'll hear lots about the future. >> speaking of details, mitt romney and paul ryan are pressed for their plans.
specifically the 20% across the board tax cut. why are they being so vague and will governor romney get specific at this debate? >> you know, it's funny. it cuts both ways. i think the reason they're not going specific is because they don't want to be attacked. they put the romney and ryan ticket on the defense. but i've heerd governor romney say this. he says i want to work in a bipartisan way. i want to work with democrats on capitol hill. i want to do what george w. bush did with no child left behind. that's to allow the congress -- that is to allow the legislative branch to be a part of the process. and thus in the process create or draft a piece of legislation that we can all work with. so i think it's a combination of both answers, alex. >> president obama had tough reviews following the first debate. what do you think is the greatest challenge in round two? >> the white house said to make
adjustments. i think it's to make the adjustments without overcorrecting in some way. i don't think the voters want him to come out completely swinging in some kind of way that would be unlike him in this debate. he's got to somehow figure out how to be himself. perhaps to talk about some of the specifics that doug mentioned. to step up his game a little bit and to do it which will be dichb than what we saw the first time around. he'll be talking to voters, reacting to regular people. and it may require a different style. >> not someone who studied debate practice for the last three or four days. >> ann, i want to get to our next topic, strategies. both campaigns say it's going to be close. how do you see the landscape right now? >> with some remarkable as it has been close for many months. the map that you just showed and the six to nine states i would say that we've been talking about, since the outset have not changed that much. even when president obama was up, even when mitt romney has been up. there have not been new states
added into the mix. so we're going to see them in colorado and iowa and ohio, ohio, ohio. and virginia and florida, i mean the states that they have been going to, maybe the odd trip to new hampshire. >> i want to get with you on what david axelrod says. the obama camp has the ground game covered. 18% of ohioans already voted. 63% of those early voters favor the president. what reaction do you have? how concerned are you. >> there's no question that the obama campaign has done a good job in the ground game. i would not be surprised if in fact the early registration edge is probably to their favor. but let's be honest about this. let's pull back the onion and take another look at the layers here. if you look at where early voter registration is high, it's urban areas, it's in toledo and cincinnati so of course that's an area where president obama is
going to do fairly well. the question becomes whether or not rural areas of the state, southwestern ohio, which george w. bush won in 2004 is that going to come out in droves. if in fact it does it could go towards the romney camp as senator poertman said a few moments ago. >> the electoral moth is almost impossible for romney if he loses ohio. >> i don't know if you want to put every single egg in the ohio basket. but i think the campaign expected the polls to tighten like this i think one of the dangers that the democrats faced was complacency. polls were showing for a while that republicans were more energized. and the upside of the race tight tightening, i think it will energize more voters who need to turn out to vote. when you're heading to polls, it doesn't do you a bit of good unless the people vote. i think the president is focused on the fundamentals of getting out the voters who said they wanted to support the president and make sure they put their money where their mouth is and do it.
>> we'll blister through the must-reads next. [ male announcer ] wouldn't it be cool if we took the nissan altima and reimagined nearly everything in it? gave it greater horsepower and best in class 38 mpg highway... advanced headlights... and zero gravity seats? yeah, that would be cool. ♪ introducing the completely reimagined nissan altima. it's our most innovative altima ever. nissan. innovation that excites. ♪
back to the big three now for your must-reads, my panel today, anne kornblut and robert hattaway. >> a great piece about paul ryan's future. >> that is a good one. >> we've got those from the "washington post." how about you, robert? what's your must-read? >> front page of the "new york times," the obama and romney campaign know how you're going to vote before you do. >> that is a must-read. >> and how about you, doug, we're going to finish with you? >> a profile on the president in "vanity fair," a fun read and insightful piece. >> guys, i want to thank you very much for your time. i want to thank you for your brevity. we spoke during commercial and said we can't talk about this, because we did spend some time with the big news today about senator arlen spector having passed away this morning at the
age of 82, he lost his battle with nonhodgkins lymphoma. we send our kol docondolences t familiarly. that's a wrap-up of "sundays with alex witt." up next, "meet the press." we look forward to seeing you next saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. see you then. [ construction sounds ] ♪ [ watch ticking ] [ engine revs ] come in. ♪ got the coffee. that was fast. we're outta here. ♪ [ engine revs ] ♪