tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC January 2, 2012 5:00pm-6:00pm EST
presidents. we'll be watching this all year. thanks, keli, for kicking us off. that does it for us. i'm matt miller in for dylan ratigan. d.r. is back tomorrow. "hardball's" up right now. giving newt the boot! let's play "hardball." i'm chris matthews, the best place to be for the iowa caucuses. java joe's in downtown des moines. we've got one day to go and a rapidly changing race and no one is confident enough about who's going to win to make firm predictions. leading off tonight, the politics of destruction. mitt romney has swooped into iowa, essentially at the last minute, and destroyed newt gingrich. on the stump, romney floats above it all, reciting america the beautiful, and pretending to
remain positive, but his doctor jekyll and mr. hyde campaign has flooded the airways with a sewer full of negative ads that have been dumped on newt. you can't turn on a tv here without seeing newt destroyed. beat the only guy who can beat you, that's romney's strategy, and that's our top story. also, donald trump had his moment, so did michele bachmann, rick perry, herman cain, newt gingrich, and ron paul. and now it's rick santorum's turn, and just at the right time. three recent polls have all said the same thing. romney's on top, paul has stalled, and santorum is surging, and most important, perhaps, if you're romney, gingrich is toast. and isn't that just what mitt romney ordered? plus, mitt happens historically. if republicans lose a presidential race with a moderate like john mccain, they come back with a conservative. but the republican right is terrified its support divided among so many conservatives the moderate mitt romney could sneak in the back door and win the
nomination. and while no one was looking, president obama's surrogates out here have slipped into iowa and begun hitting romney in ways that his republican opponents haven't. it's pretty clear who team obama thinks is going to be the nominee. finally, let me finish with the victory of dollars over democracy. i've got some great people with us, all msnbc political analysts. howard fineman is "the huffington post" media group editorial director. eugene robinson is a "washington post" columnist, pulitzer prize winner, and michael steele is the former chairman of the republican national committee. yesterday at a gingrich event in marshalltown, iowa, gingrich said he'd been romney voted. so i asked the former speaker if this is the future of american politics. the lofty rhetoric on the trail by the candidate himself, meanwhile the nasty super pac anonymous ads from a front group. here's our exchange? >> no, no more than it has been in the past.
>> but you've won all these debates, and you come in here, and all i watch on television are these restore our future ads, they're legal now, with no, i paid for that ad by mitt romney, and they go out, and he has a beautiful family, but his ads are trash, trashing you constantly. >> he is assumie ining american people are stupid. i don't think the american people are stupid. >> but the polls show they're responding. the polls are reacting to this. >> i'm sure within a few weeks, every american will know this is his pac. >> he took you from the 30s down to the teens. it's working. why doesn't he do it in 50 states? >> all it did was guarantee that some other conservative emerged, and didn't help romney at all. >> but he's not afraid of the other conservative, he got rid of you. >> he just slowed me down. >> what stops him from doing this in any other state?
>> you just have to list his former staff and his donors and he can go around the country all he wants to. here's may tag line. somebody who will lie to you to get to be president will lie to you when they are president. >> but you don't have any problems with citizens united, these big donors spending tons of money for anonymous ads attacking you. >> first of all, no ads are attacking anybody. >> but his are. >> second, my solution would be to eliminate all the election laws and allow people to give unlimited personal money, after tax, and file every night and let the candidates run the campaigns and have the candidate be responsible. i think the current mess is a disgrace. i think it debilitates politics. i think it strengthens millionaires. and it weakens middle class candidates. >> isn't that amazing, gene robinson? there is a conservative republican saying, this anything-goes campaigning, where citizens united rule that a guy
with lots of money, the koch brothers or who else can spend zillions of dollars without putting their name on the ad. it's not like little league where you put the name on the back. and he's destroying newt. >> we need some regulation, so these millionaires don't take over! it's an amazing thing. >> and now here he is, the guy hosted on his own petard. they say things like corporations are people too, and dollars are votes. now he turns on the team, poor him and clalista. it's sewage coming out of the tv set, constantly. he can give a million debate performances. and romney out there with his beautiful family reciting "american the beautiful." it's like that scene in "the
godfather." do you remember? crying at the opera. >> romney's out there with the flags waving -- >> "america the beautiful." >> meanwhile, mitt romney's saying, i can't do modern politics. >> here it is. here's romney. this is a scene out of "the godfather." remember that scene? anyway, let's watch him. just a few days ago. let's watch. >> i love the words of that -- that national hymn, if you will, "oh, beautiful forespacious skies, for amber waves of grain," do corn fields paint for amber waves of grain? the songwriter said this, "oh, beautiful, for patriot dream that seized beyond the years." >> okay, isn't that beautiful? >> michael steele, former chair of the republican national committee. there you have the perfect reason why people don't like politicians.
an absolute bogus fraud show. there's the guy looking like a million bucks, praising america, while the sewage pours out of the tv set. your thoughts? >> am i supposed to be upset about that? >> i thought you might have a conscious. >> i do. it struck me, it's interesting, the tone that romney has taken in the last few days of this campaign, vis-a-vis newt, has been much more conciliatory, much more what he's saying. what his folks are doing is very different -- >> let's watch what his folks doing. >> here's my point. he reminds me of the good samaritan who comes and helps the guy up off the ground, but doesn't tell you, the people who beat you up are my guys. >> here he is, the pro-romney super pac, "restore our future," which has nothing to do with mitt romney, of course, hammering gingrich with negative advertising. here's a piece of it. >> barack obama's plan is working. destroy mitt romney, run against newt gingrich. newt has a ton of baggage.
he was fined $300,000 for ethics violations and took $1.6 million from freddie mac before it helped cause the economic meltdown. newt supports amnesty for illegal immigrants and teamed with nancy pelosi and al gore on global warming. maybe that's why george will calls him the least conservative candidate. check the facts at newtfacts.com. restore our future inc. is responsible for the content of this message. >> here's another one. let's watch the second one. this is along the same line, michael steele. this is what you call the good samaritan, here he is, another pro-romney group, the same one, by the restore our future, while destroying mitt romney -- i'm sorry. newt gingrich. let's listen. >> oops! >> every notice how some people make a lot of mistakes? >> it was probably a mistake. >> i made a mistake. >> i've made mistakes at times. >> so far, newt gingrich has admitted his mistakes or flipped on teaming up with nancy pelosi, immigration, medicare, health care, iraq, attacking mitt romney and more. >> i made a big mistake in the
spring. >> haven't we had enough mistakes? restore our future is responsible for the content of this message. >> storestore our future. they never say the word mitt romney, even though all his people and donors are involved in it. you're shaking your head? >> i agree with you. here's one reason why it's working here. first of all, the sheer tonnage. i've never seen in a concentrated space so much advertising, you know, from davenport all the way out to sioux city and back -- >> you can't escape it. >> you can't escape it. you can watch "entertainment tonight," you can choose anything -- >> the other thing here, newt is to some extent made vulnerable by the way he rose to prominentsy. >> how so? >> because he did in the debates. he didn't spend a year and a half here in iowa, becoming an iowan. rick santorum has essentially become an iowa. he speaks to iowa from the inside out. people know who he is, they know his record, they know what he stands for.
the other reason this kind of advertising works is that most people here in iowa didn't really know anything very much about newt gingrich, so this negative advertising is painting on a blank canvas. of a famous guy who is a blank campus. >> except there's a john henry aspect to this. newt gingrich earned that positive number he came in here with by live debate performances. >> right, on his own. >> he didn't do it by going from town to town. >> but he performed in the debates. look, newt gingrich knows a lot about policy, about domestic and foreign policy. >> but iowans didn't know a lot about him. >> wait a minute. i'll take that up to a point. you cannot sit there and think that the folks of iowa were totally clueless about his tenure as speaker of the house. his -- his takeover of the conservative movement and moving it into the prominence of 1994, with the historic election. so you can't paint this brush that the people here in this state had no clue who newt gingrich was. they did. they had it in context. what these ads did was take it
out of context. and that's the point of negative advertising, is to take you out of context -- but is it legitimate, necessarily? >> my sense is that all the negative ads are working. that people i'm talking to -- >> yeah, they're working. >> -- are aware about what's in all the negative ads, and they can recite all the reasons from the ads why not to vote for this candidate, not to vote for that candidate. >> that's why -- >> voting out there turned off all the candidates, so libertarians will vote for ron paul. they would have done it 400 years ago. the christian conservatives will probably go to santorum. what happens the rest, we don't know. here's gingrich lining up his attack for new hampshire. here he is going to new hampshire with this catch this line of attack. he ain't defenseless. let's watch. >> i think new hampshire is the perfect state to have a debate over romney care and to have a debate about tax-paid abortions,
which see signed, and to have a debate about putting planned parenthood on a government board, which he signed, and to have a debate about appointing liberal judges, which he did. so i think new hampshire is a good place to start the debate for south carolina. >> well, you know, it's one of those battles in spartacus, each guy has his own weapon. he'll go out there to new hampshire to propel himself into south carolina. how can you vote for romney if he signed a pro-abortion funding bill? >> new hampshire's all about south carolina for newt. and that's his staging ground to swi sweep into the south, pick up what he can there, move into florida, and leave romney battered, bruised on those issues that matter to the core of our party. >> gene? >> and what we know about newt gingrich is, you know, if he's wounded, you've got to kill him. >> has he killed him? >> no. and i think newt is going to continue. because he believes that indefatigability is the key to
success. >> also, he's a fighter. and he actually fights better from behind than ahead. that's the why he is, mentally. the other thing is, he's got the manchester "union leader" in new hampshire, which endorsed him. now, the "union leader" doesn't have quite the power it did a decade ago, but -- >> will they jump in on this on his side? >> there's no big sport among conservatives in new hampshire, no more fun they can have than attacking mitt romney. they've been doing it for years and years and years. joe mcquaid, will go nuts on newt's behalf. >> let's start with the former republican leader. okay, let me ask you this, who's going to be mitt romney's biggest opponent two, three weeks from now? will it be santorum, who's doing very well here and may win tomorrow night, or will it be newt gingrich, who will still be in the fight? >> i think it will be newt. >> still biggest threat down the road. >> i think more likely to be
newt. >> newt's better copy. it's that simple. he's better copy. >> i think it's newt. anyone, gene robinson, michael steele, and howard fineman are staying with us. could santorum end up the winner here tomorrow night? that's ahead here on "hardball" at java joe's. when bp made a commitment to the gulf, we knew it would take time, but we were determined to see it through. today, while our work continues, i want to update you on the progress:
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welcome back to "hardball." well, all the polls coming out of iowa show one thing. rick santorum has the momentum. "the des moines register" poll has romney with a narrow lead. romney at 24%. ron paul's at 22. and rick santorum's in third with 15. but don't go by that. you also got newt gingrich, rick perry, and rick perry trailing the field. but when you look at just the last two days of the polling, here's what's interesting. santorum rockets up to second place to 21, all the way from 15 to 21 in a matter of four days,
leapfrogging ron paul. we're book with our panel of msnbc political analysts, howard fineman of "the huffington po " post," eugene robinson of "the washington post," and michael steele, former chairman of the national republican committee. let's play pundit now, pure pundit, without any attitude. which is just picking this thing. what do you see in the numbers, howard? >> what i see in the numbers is s santorum coming on strong, ron paul having a lot of enthusiasm out there, and mitt romney trying to hang on, having allowed expectations to get a little bit out of hand here. now he needs a win. and i think it's going to be very close, down to the wire. but the two have the energy, the genuine energy and the genuine momentum are santorum and paul. >> gene? >> i see the santorum surge. i think he's peaking at the right time. the numbers also show that iz supporters are more likely -- say they're more likely to actually go out and caucus tomorrow than romney's do.
>> yeah, 76% say they're actually going to -- and this is cold weather out here, like it is in a lot of places. windy too. very windy. does the bad weather affect iowans. >> this is nothing. this is warm. this is warm. >> this is warm. >> well, it's not warm, but not that bad. but i see santorum. >> what do you think, mike? >> i think the trend lines are certainly there for santorum. i think the numbers, the 56% voter turnout, enthusiasm for a ron paul is understated. i think it's closer to the 76% -- >> i agree. >> but longer term. i think this is an opportunity coming out of iowa where the conservatives of the party say maybe santorum is the guy that we can begin to coalesce behind. maybe he's the one who can the meddle to go the distance. and that's going to be an interesting, i think, one-week transition between here and iowa to see -- >> huckabee won this last time with 24%.
could that happen again? >> yes, it could happen. and don't forget about yet. yesterday all the power pastors were out. and santorum has worked them to a fair thrtheewell. santorum has them, they're coales coalescing, and santorum has a lot of former huckabee people in his campaign, both in his inner staff and in what i call the power pastors in the state, all the way out in sioux city. >> do they name names? >> they don't do it from the pulpit. you don't do it from the pulpit, although some pastors think you should do it. they basically don't do it. but they have huge networks. they've got congregations of 1,000, 1,500. they put out the word. these people are active in politics. they're almost like the guys back in philly, chris, except they've got their precincts and their precincts are their parishioners. >> i heard the message at church yesterday out here, the catholic church out here, the bishop was
talking about voting your values. >> the catholics are going with santorum. >> and those values voters are really attracted to santorum. that's one reason, i think, he's going to do so well. but i think newt gingrich is likely to come out of iowa with enough support left to contest santorum for that coalescing conservative bloc, if indeed it coalesces. >> let's take a look at santorum. here he is going after mitt romney on what romney considers his biggest strength. his business background. let's listen. >> we are not looking for a chief executive officer for this country. we're looking for a commander in chief. we're looking for someone who has experience, someone who can lead, someone who can lead our military, but also someone who can lead in convincing the american public and the congress to do the things that are necessary to transform this country, and that's not what ceos do. ceos assign people who work for them. >> okay. and getting back at him, here's
romney who kept his criticism trained on president obama, but yesterday he took this delicate swipe, almost patty cake at santorum and gingrich. let's listen to what he said. >> senator santorum was kind enough to endorse me last time around. i appreciate that. and we've been friends if. i can tell you that our backgrounds are quite different. lightning speaker gingrich, senator santorum has spent his career in government, in washington. nothing wrong with that, but it's a very different background than i have. >> that is patty cake, michael steele. does he want to keep santorum in this race? >> absolutely. >> because he can beat him later? >> yeah, that's the goal. that's a very good analogy. because santorum helps do a number of things. one, it gives the conservatives someone else to look at while they still may play a little bit with newt and perry. so you're keeping that division within the rank and file. i said to michele bachmann early this morning, i said, if you guy
have ever thought about having a meet, where you pick one of us -- >> who chairs that meeting? >> what'd she say? >> well, she said no. but maybe they should. >> howard? >> i've got to say, my first reaction to the santorum video that you just showed is that he's lost every iowa state graduate in the -- he was wearing a university of iowa jersey. >> okay. here's mitt romney took a shot at president obama with a pop culture reference. by the way, it's about the kardashians. he may have written the line an lucille ball, maybe, one in a thousand chances. one in a million chances he wrote this about kardashian. let's listen. >> i've been looking at some video clips on youtube of president obama, then candidate obama, going through iowa, making promises. and i think the gap between his promises and his performance is the largest i've seen, well,
since the kardashian wedding and the promise of 'til death do we part. >> romney, i don't think so. >> if you lined up the three kardashian sisters in front of him, he could not tell them apart. i'd be willing to bet -- what's his -- $10,000, how about that? >> who writes this stuff? it isn't him. >> is he trying to be too cool? >> did he also compare the president to lucy and the chocolate factory -- >> they compared newt gingrich to that. >> so he compares obama to marie antoinette, he compares newt gingrich to lucy ricardo, and he compares his enemies to the kardashians. i guarantee you, it's not accidental. >> all women. >> not accidental. >> what do you think he's up to here. >> it's the this, it's the, you know, the culture war translated through the lens of mitt romney.
>> so it separates you, howard fineman, from the average pundit, is the ability to step back and see the common patterns of evil. >> i'm just telling you -- >> to see the malevolent -- >> i'm not saying it's malevolence, it's a strategy. >> that's why you're the best. eugene robinson, sir, you animal have a pulitzer prize. >> and i just have the suit. >> still ahead, mitt romney has a path to vaerictory, that mean republicans may elect another moderate to president, something that terrifies the right wing. you're watching "hardball" a lot java joes in des moines on the eve of the caucuses, only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] to the 5:00 a.m. scholar.
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"hardball"? that's what i like. let me ask you, are you voting in the caucuses? >> yes. >> who are you going to vote for? >> mitt romney. >> all right. why? >> i really like his policies. >> are you a moderate, conservative, right of center, where are you? >> moderate. >> that makes sense. >> he won't say that. you will. >> i'm voting for democrats. >> democrats. >> obama, all the way. >> obama. >> obama. i'm afraid this would happen. it's breaking my heart. >> obama. >> don't go breaking my heart. >> obama. >> obama. >> see, this is what i -- anybody here voting republican this year? we got one. we got a live one here. who you voting for? >> mitt romney. >> why? what's your reasons? >> i like his policies. >> how would you describe yourself? right of center, right wing, far right, somewhere near the middle, moderate? >> moderate. >> is mitt romney a moderate? >> tends to be, somewhat. >> is he willing to admit it? >> maybe, i hope. >> how come the other day when i asked if he could say, let them
eat cake, i said, can you say that in french, governor, he said, yes, but i won't. why do you think he's afraid to speak french in understand. >> probably because he knows we won't understand what he's saying. >> why won't mitt romney speak french? >> because he doesn't want to speak too french. >> but if he doesn't speak french, does that means he's eli elitist? >> he thinks so. >> so he's speaking down to iowans. >> he needs the perfect amount of scuff on his shoes for us. >> des moines is a french state. >> i love it! >> what'd you just say? >> i said des moines is a french name. >> so if he pronounces it demwois? >> loud as you can yell, democrat or republican, who's going to win the caucuses tomorrow night? one, two, three.
>> everybody who thinks it's romney, yell it now? >> romney! >> everybody who thinks it's bachmann. yell all together. all the people who think it's going to be huntsman tomorrow. one, two, three. everybody who thinks it's going to be gingrich tomorrow. one, two, three. everybody who thinks it's going to be ron paul tomorrow, one, two, three. >> ron paul! >> ron paul! >> everybody who thinks it's going to be santorum tomorrow, one, two, three. >> santorum! santorum! >> romney just won this thing. romney has just won the java joe's caucus. we'll be right back with morhardball. [ whistle blows ] oh! [ baby crying ] ben harper: ♪ what started as a whisper
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i'm milissa rehberger. here's what's happening. authorities in california have arrested a man believed to be responsible for dozens of arson fires in los angeles. they have not identified the suspect, but police say he resembles a person of interest who was caught on video. the 53 fires terrified area residents. no injuries have been reported, but the blazes cost about $2 million in damage. police believe a body found in a remote area of mt. rainier national part is that of the mt. rainier shooter. an identity has not been confirmed, but authorities believe it is that of iraq war vet benjamin colton barnes. as voters turned their attention to iowa, president obama wraps up his vacation in hawaii. and he and his family will be leaving tonight and arriving in washington tuesday morning. he'll be landing just hours before the gop presidential candidates square off. now back to "hardball."
back welcome back to "hardball." according to polls, mitt romney is seen as the most electable republican candidate against barack obama, but on the eve of the iowa caucuses, he remains flatlined with a ceiling of 25% support. conservatives in the party are trying to rally behind an alternative. the problem for them is, they can't seem to agree on who that alternative is. the result could be mitt romney sneaking through the pack and eking out a win. for some conservatives, that prospect reminds them of john mccain back in 2008, the moderate senator, who never won the love of the conservative base. could it happen two election cycles in a row? joe klein's a "time" magazine columnist and jonathan martin is senior political reporter for politico. john, you start here. usually parties correct themselves. they run a pragmatist, that doesn't work, the next time they run somebody with deep conviction.
it looks like romney is still the state-of-the-afavorite righw john mccain, someone in the senator. >> that's why you see so many unhappy republicans these days. that's why the crowds are low this time, that's why the turnout may be lower than last time. because republicans are simply not excited by this field. now, romney and mccain are two different as moderates as moderates can be. romney's a corporate moderate and mccain was an immoderate moderate. a man of passion. >> a maverick. the question you have to ask, jonathan, is this question. who's a problem for them? mccain's problem was he couldn't beat obama. but everybody thinks romney could be a pretty good opponent for obama. he would definitely fill in a lot of that center vote. >> and chris, if you talk to iowans, you hear the same response about romney. it's not because he stirs some deep passion in them about storming the barricades. it's because he's seen as the guy that can beat the president they despise. >> did you hear these two people
back here. i said, why do you like romney, he said, because they're a moderate. but he doesn't even admit he can speak french. any indication of sophistication, he has to hide. >> he's taken so many positions that you kind of expect the default position -- >> i can't speak french, i can't speak french. keep going back and forth. i won't. by the way, here it is. a little funny -- it's not important, except it's funny. here's mitt romney, he doesn't like to advertise it, but he's fluent in french from his period as a mormon missionary. john kerry had that problem. romney said president obama reminded him as marie antoinette on friday. i caught up with governor romney on the trail and asked him to speak a little french, in fact, to say, let them eat cake, the old line by marie antoinette, let's watch. >> can you say "let them eat cake" in french? >> i can, but i won't. >> "i can, but i won't."
and he didn't lift his head up. he didn't want a camera shot. >> we're in des moines. it's a town named by the french. but he's just a man of the soil, and not a very sophisticated guy. >> i look at these numbers out here like we've all done now. this is so ironic. here's a party that's largely conservative, the republican party. it's deeply conservative. 75% of the people relentlessly say, not to mitt. in the latest polling, he's only up to 23. it's almost like that roulette weal in ""casablanca." >> there's only one of him and there are like five of them. and that's what's helping him. the other thing that's helping him is the, oh, okay, factor. you hear it all the time. people have dated newt, they've dated santorum a little bit. they've dated michelle, and they say, okay, okay, he's the guy who looks like a president. we'll go with him.
remember, this is the republican party where there's a genetic predisposition to go with the guy who seems like the most likely president. >> and chris, there's not a goldwater, there's not a reagan. there's no galvanizing figure on the right who is bringing folks away from the rockefeller or the bush $41. there are a handful of conservatives, none of which have really sort of captivated the imagination of the party's conservative base. santorum was the closest thing to that. >> i don't know why they're not willing to outsource their nomination. yesterday, newt gingrich made the point that support for conservative candidates was much higher than for the moderate mitt romney. let's watch the point we've just made by one of the candidates. >> i think that if you combine santorum and perry and bachmann and me, and compare it to the romney numbers, it's going to be overwhelming that the conservative base of the party is still there and that governor romney remains, basically, a massachusetts moderate. and he's not -- he has not broken out, despite spending millions of dollars. and i think as we go on, through
new hampshire, to south glenn and florida and beyond, those numbers will ultimately prove decisive in the race. >> jonathan, when you look around the country, this is the first test tomorrow night. this is iowa. we're going to have new hampshire next and then south carolina and then florida. at what point is somebody else going to emerge as the true blue conservative alternative to mitt romney, who everybody seems to know deep down is a moderate republican, sort of, of the old school. >> that's right. if santorum wins here tomorrow or comes close to the top, he should have a case to make for why he should be that candidate. but here's the problem. when santorum gets to south carolina in january -- >> it is january. >> the 21st of january, when the votes are cast in south carolina, he's going to find rick perry, newt gingrich, and perhaps michele bachmann. >> still there? >> all down there waiting for him. it's what joe was say iing. it's math. >> south carolina will be the super bowl for the true conservative candidates that emerge. and then you're going to have
after that in florida and elsewhere, you're going to have romney, you're going to have the anti-romney, and you're going to have ron paul. and romney will have to struggle to get 51% of the votes, because this thing could go on for a while. the other thing i would say is this, looking at newt gingrich, i would not want to be on a debate stage with that man this weekend. >> he's going for the kill now. >> mccain won in a plurality in 2008. he got 30-some percent in south carolina, and that's all he ultimately needed there. so i think the same thing could happen. the next big question in the next three weeks, chris, will conservatives pressure somebody to drop out of the race. will there be pressure on perry, on bachmann, on newt to make room for santorum? >> let me get tough here. suppose this goes to south carolina in a couple of weeks, memori mitt romney was pro-choice up in massachusetts. he's also lds, which could be a problem with some people, mormon. we don't know that yet. then we have the problem, he signed a bill which basically has funding of abortion as part of it, which nobody seemed to
focus on until today, basically. all those things together, will that kill him among the evangelical south, the baptist south? he could still win south carolina, but, you know, with the others dividing their vote. the other thing is that newt could come back there. all the polls have showed him pretty strong. it's almost a home game for him. that's his advantage. >> i think a lot of freddy krueger in this guy. i think newt gingrich can come back and back and back, friday the 13th. thank you very much, joe klein. thank you, jonathan martin. up next, the invisible campaign. president obama's team has quietly slipped into iowa. president obama's here. and they've been hitting hard at mitt romney. that's ahead. this is "hardball" at java joe's in des moines. how do you pronounce that? it's french. only on msnbc. hi.
we're back. while most of the focus in iowa here has been on the republican presidential candidates ahead on tuesday's caucuses, tomorrow's caucuses, there's one other candidate participating. he's been running a well organized and stealth campaign here, president barack obama. four years ago, iowa helped propel obama to the presidency. he won here and now the obama team has opened eight campaign offices across the state. it's held 4,000 personal meetings with potential supporters and it's made over 300,000 telephone calls to supporters in advance of tomorrow's caucuses. joining us now are obama campaign surrogate, jen sake, who also formerly worked as the white house deputy communication director, and jeff zeleny, the great reporter from "the new york times."
first, let's get an objective and then from you, jane. objectively, tell me what you can tell me about the obama campaign here tomorrow and on to the general election. >> for one thing, president obama is actually on the ballot tomorrow. democrats are going to go out to voice their support for him, so one thing they're trying to do is to make sure that that number is fairly high, and make sure there isn't any trouble in places like johnson county and iowa city to get someone else on the ballot or to nominate someone else in those precincts. the real point of the democratic caucuses is sort of a test run for organizing. i've spent a lot of time with some neighborhood volunteers and organizers from obama for america, and these people have been out here making phone calls, out trying to drum up support. you know, first for the health care initiative, then for other things. but finally they have something really to organize. so the things tomorrow night is just trying to drum up support to fire up the old gang, if you will. they have a lot of work here tooed. jen may disagree, but the obama campaign has an uphill battle here in iowa over the next ten months. >> let's respond to both those
questions. how good is your organization? is it aimed at warming up the line, getting it hot for next fall? and two, how big of a challenge is it to get the president -- the delegates, the electoral votes from iowa? >> it's great to be back in iowa. this is a place that has so much history for the president and he's been continuing this conversation with the people in the state since he won four years ago and had that incredible night. you can tell from the crowd here, we have a lot of obama spott supporters in the crowd that we love. >> actually, they're "hardball" supporters. >> that's fine. >> that's bomaybe both. >> that's fine. >> how many here for obama? [ crowd cheering ] >> there are some obama supporters here. but the most interesting thing about the next several days when the republican campaign packs up their things and leave, the obama office will still be here. this is a continuing conversation. tomorrow night's a part of that. the president will be live streaming into caucuses all across the state, having a
conversation with the people. but we know that we need to talk about what needs to be done with the economy, where we're going to lead the country, and that's exactly what he'll be doing tomorrow night. >> how economy, where we're going to lead the country, and that's exactly what he'll be doing tomorrow night. >> how would you describe it as a partisan? how would you describe the need to carry iowa? how important is it, the hawkeye state? you need it? >> of course it's very important. >> do you need it? >> there's many paths to get. >>. but because the president loves this state and there's no question he wants to win in next november. >> he absolutely needs iowa. i cannot imagine the president being re-elected and not winning in iowa. that means that you're in trouble other places. >> the unemployment rate here is 5.7%. >> it's terrible which means it should be better for him. >> republicans have become more organized. they have great victories here
in 2010. i think the good thing is we'll come back to iowa between now and next november. >> if the unemployment rate goes back up to 9, that's the worst case scenario, how does the president make his case? >> you know, the case is, it's the contrast between what the candidates are running. they are running against a plan for economic security of the middle class and the president is presenting a contrast to that. i would encourage anybody to go back and read the speech that the president made when he won the iowa caucus. he promised affordable and accessible health care for all americans. he delivered on those but the journey is not done. >> so you're hopeful? >> absolutely. >> jeff, how do you bet this
state right now? >> i think it depends on who the nominee s. of course, and we'll have a window into that, into the results of the iowa caucus. if mitt romney happens to win, it will be a short nominating contest and romney owe obama will be going after a lot. i think mitt romney could actually have some strength here. he's a middle of the road conservative. although he sometimes doesn't look like it in this primary. i think iowa will be very close. >> i think he's more moderate than he's willing to admit. they do believe that he's the candidate for the past month and now they are holding events with randy johnson, a man fired after romney's company took over where he worked. look at how johnson characterized romney and his co-workers at bain capital just last week. >> i really believe and i think it's come out over the years since this time, but other bain capital directors, that they had
actually had a philosophy, a way of doing business, and it was to make themselves richer. >> and the expense of -- >> of the workers. whatever it takes to make big dollars for investors. in some cases they had both husband and wife lose their jobs. >> is that what bain capital is all about? >> the guy was working for a company whose job it was to make money for its investors. >> mitt romney is a job killer, not a job creator? >> and a benefit cutter as well. >> thank you so much, jennifer. jeff, joanie, it's great to have you, as always. dollars over democracy.
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devoted can only escape if he turns off his television set and is doing it without the fingerprints on his face or his name attached to it. he is reciting the versus from america for the beautiful. if there's been any cynical for media, it's hard to recall it. and so what exactly will tuesday nights results mean, will it say that devoters of iowa have been used for the most formidable opponent? what it looks like iowa will say, it likes the candidate who who whoed a and adheres and ron paul will libertarian bolted by the of all ages.
you may have noticed all republicans have never whispered the name w in this campaign or think that the iraq war made sense or working the rope line for them. no, this campaign fits a groove. the libertarians and ron paul and looking for someone who thinks like them and could be obama if seen their hope by a stealth campaign left them with a chance of voting for mitt romney and i bet they flinch with that. they know in their souls they are not one of them. if mitt romney even breaks 50% of the vote tomorrow night, it will be a victory of stealth over openness. cynicism over conviction. as i said, financial over quality of voters and dollars for democracy. how ironic it was that