tv The Last Word MSNBC January 12, 2012 1:00am-2:00am EST
are grateful and proud of them, best new thing in the world. and with no politics in it at all. and that does it for us tonight. now it's time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. after new hampshire, conservatives now fear that if they don't stop mitt romney, president obama will. >> the more americans who succeed, the more america succeeds. >> the country already has a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy. >> i think it's about envy. >> are there no fair questions about the distribution of wealth without it being seen as envy, though? >> i think it's about envy. >> romney said it's a question of envy. he's embracing this rhetoric. >> i think it's about envy. >> we can't criticize someone for these get-rich-quick schemes. >> that's not a sustainable form of capitalism. >> there's a real difference between venture capitalism and vulture capitalism. >> rick perry is going to be
very embarrassed. >> i think it's about envy. >> i just wonder whether they'r totally ignorant of economics. >> i like to be able to fire people who provide services to me. >> i think mitt romney's biggest problem right now is mitt romney. >> there were a couple of times i wondered if i was going to get a pink slip. >> the great middle class, the 80 to 90% of us. >> he's got to reduce the line where he seems a little out of touch. >> poor george. he was born with a silver foot in his mouth! >> this is a real kamikaze mission to try to stop mitt romney. >> other campaigns were firing at me very aggressively. >> south carolina is the place where we'll make our stand. >> you're getting hit by newt gingrich on social issues already in south carolina. >> the down and dirty in south carolina. >> it's a good boost going into south carolina. >> newt gingrich, rick santorum,
and jon huntsman have a single strategy. >> he's going to get just shellacked. >> south carolina as good a place to draw that line in the sand as any. >> this is going to be fun! ha-ha! mitt romney is on the glide path to the most easily secured nomination a republican presidential candidate has ever had while being one of the weakest major candidates either party has ever seen. those are not my words. that's the opening line of conservative column today. last night mitt romney, who eked out a statistical tie with rick santorum in the iowa caucuses, and could not even hit 40% in new hampshire, a state where he owns a home and has been campaigning for president for five years. the campaign now moves to the primary state that has consistently voted for the eventual republican nominee.
>> a lot of people in south carolina who are hurting tonight. there are people who a few years ago were thinking about where they might send their kid to college. now they're wondering whether they can put a meal on the table. these are tough times for americans across this country. it's a tragedy. it's a real tragedy, in the wealthiest nation in the world. and i'm going to go to work to help the american people, because i know that dream is still out there. >> also today, a super pac supporting newt gingrich released its much-hyped 28-minute online film that dismantles the central argument for romney's candidacy, that his business experience will make him the best candidate to face president obama in a weak economy. >> romney and bain's cash rampage would ultimately slash jobs in nearly every state in the country. like popular children's toy seller, kb toys. ♪ where you going to find all the hottest toys ♪ on the planet mars? >> no! >> on a mountaintop?
>> romney and bain bought the 80-year-old company in 2000, loaded kaybee toys. romney called it creative destruction. >> createi destruction does enhance productivity for an economy to thrive, as ours does, there are a lot of people who will suffer as a result of that. >> romney and other top executives take $120 million. by 2009, the debt accumulated under romney was too great. kb toys was no more. >> south carolina has the most conservative republican electorate of any of the early primary states. the latest poll of south carolina shows 37% ready to vote for mitt romney. and 63% wanting someone else. 19% are for rick santorum. 18% for newt gingrich. 12% backing ron paul.
5% for rick perry. and 1% favoring jon huntsman. that leaves 6% undecided. newt gingrich and rick santorum will speak to a tea party convention in myrtle beach this weekend. and on friday, 150 evangelical leaders plan to meet in texas to figure out how to stop mitt romney in a field where five candidates are splitting the conservative anti-romney majority vote. >> the fact is, we have to consolidate conservatives to beat governor romney. and so i need your help. and i would ask you to reach out to your friends and to your neighbors. because i really don't think that a moderate's going to do a very good job debating obama. we keep getting told by the establishment, you really ought to nominate a moderate, because they somehow can appeal to the middle. now, these are folks who were against reagan in '80.
these are the folks that were against the contract in '84. the way you get to the middle is simple. define how clearly far to the left obama is. >> joining us now tony perkins, the president of the family research counsel. tony, i said you may be at the meeting, because just before the show, i asked if you were, and you said it looks like you're going to be. >> i have some conflicts to work out. >> newt gingrich says you have to consolidate around one candidate in order to beat mitt romney. is that the way you see it? >> the numbers show that. i think what you've seen, though, primarily, across the country, mitt romney's not got about 25% in support. there's a consensus out there that the people would like a more conservative candidate for their nominee. and so there's going to be that discussion. is there the possibility of some consensus around one of those candidates that can help them in south carolina succeed? >> so it's really -- the choice
is really gingrich, santorum or perry. does perry -- given perry's weakness in these last two states, is there any real chance for him emerging out of a meeting like that? the meeting's in texas, so a lot of people think, hey, hometown advantage. >> i know rick perry, i like him, he's got a good, solid, record. he's got a good platform. and some people have chosen candidates early in this race and reluctant to let go of them. i think as a result of this weekend and a discussion of what's at stake and the landscape politically across this country, that you'll see people beginning moving toward a particular candidate. south carolina is key. and as you mentioned, it's a conservative state. 55% of the vote is going to be evangelical. that's more than double of what took place in new hampshire. that's higher than the national average of 45% of the primary vote being from evangelicals. it's a key state. if rick santorum, newt gingrich or rick perry are to truly
challenge mitt romney and go after the nomination, it's going to have to happen there. >> talk about success voters. we've been -- there's been a lot of speculation about what is the mormon factor in a candidacy like romney's? is there some kind of drag on it in a place like south carolina? i've had republican operatives who study these kind of polls over the years say they think there are places where it can be as much as a 20% drag, just in the republican electorate. not statewide. >> honestly, lawrence, that's not been talked a whole lot about in this primary cycle. there's really two issues here. and the primary issue -- >> is it a concern of any of the people who will be at the meeting that you're going to? >> it's not one that i hear very often. what i hear, they never get to that, because they're talking about his policy positions. >> right. >> they're concerned about what he did as governor. now, in full disclosure, he has adopted new positions, but they're untested. and people that are concerned about the issue of life, concerned about the sanctity of
marriage, they're uncomfortable in using the presidency as a testing ground for his new policy positions. >> but, there is the christian notion of forgiveness, there is the christian notion of your life starts today. and so -- >> that's why newt gingrich -- >> what is the worst fear, that you think -- that you think is a reasonable fear? that conservatives have about mitt romney and a policy they really care about? >> that's a fair question. in 2008, as he was running, he was running as a strong social conservative. articulating very strong positions on the life issue, on the sanctity of marriage and all those issues. this time he hasn't talked much about those issues. in fact, he's avoided the social community for the most part, social conservative community. so there were those critics he had four years ago who were saying, these are not genuine positions. there are many of us who are ambivalent just watching and not really taking sides, interested in him. i think he's a very good candidate. but because he has not talked about them in this cycle, and
because he's kind of avoided that segment, important segment of the voting populous, it gives credence to those critics. so there is questions out there. >> i want to bring in supporters for two candidates who are vying to be that conservative alternative to mitt romney, bob van der plots is supporting rick santorum. he's the president and ceo of the family leader and the state chairman of iowa for freedom. and south carolina state representative, peter mccoy is supporting newt gingrich. he is the chairman of the gingrich low country campaign in south carolina. peter mccoy, the actions moving to your state. what case do you think newt gingrich should be making to become that candidate that conservatives consolidate around? >> lawrence, thank you for having me on the show tonight. i hope everybody's doing well. i knocked on 7,000 doors for my election when i ran in charleston. the main concern that we're looking at right here in south carolina right now is unemployment.
our unemployment rate is at 10%. you look at iowa, you look at new hampshire, their unemployment rates are at 5%. jobs, jobs, and more jobs are the key concern of what the people are talking about here in south carolina. and i believe speaker gingrich has a proven record, when he was speaker of the house, in creating the environment for companies to build jobs and he created 11 million jobs while he was speaker of the house. >> all right. let's see what newt gingrich is talking about in south carolina in his television advertising. here's what he's saying about mitt romney and abortion. >> what happened after massachusetts moderate mitt romney changed his position from pro-abortion to pro-life? he governed pro-abortion. romney appointed a pro-abortion judge, expanded access to abortion pills, put planned parenthood on a state medical board, but failed to put a pro-life group on the same board. and romney signed government-man dated health care with taxpayer-funded abortions. massachusetts moderate mitt romney, he can't be trusted. >> i'm newt gingrich and i approve this message.
>> bob van der platts, why hasn't rick santorum been able to consolidate conservatives around him? he's been very clear on all of his positions, it seems to me, of the candidates still standing, he's been the most consistent over the years on all the positions that this group seems to care about. >> well, he did. and he did in iowa. as a matter of fact, we've seen this for several months in iowa, that the conservatives, the pro-family conservatives are basically fragmenting their support. as long as we did that, we would evaluate a mitt romney to the nomination. and that's why i went out two weeks before the iowa caucuses and endorsed rick santorum. you see a coalescing, it was kind of a perfect storm, it was a coalescing around rick santorum. and, you know, basically, it came down to a split decision between rick santorum and mitt romney. i believe right now, heading into south carolina, the numbers prove it. the conservatives are still fragmented. if speaker gingrich, who's a good friend of mine, i like him a lot. if he really wants to beat mitt romney, i believe he needs to
consolidate his support into rick santorum. i think rick perry needs to go back and be the best governor of the country, the governor of texas. but we need an alternative to mitt romney to go one on one. romney doesn't want a one on one, and i think santorum could be that person. >> bob, i want to just go in reverse order here, quickly, on this question. if mitt romney emerges as an unstoppable front-runner, will you be able to support him? and what kind of support do you think he will get from your allies in iowa? >> well, i think what it is, our allies and myself included, i mean, we're very concerned about defeating barack obama. we would definitely go in and vote against barack obama? but mitt romney needs to come to our base. and he needs to have -- rebuild that trust gap that tony talked about, so that not only do we go and vote against barack obama, but that we're willing to work, knock on doors, make phone calls, and put an all-out effort to vote for a mitt romney.
but right now, we're in a primary. and our goal in a primary is to find that alternative. that's why i think we need to do a coalescing around rick santorum right now. >> peter mccoy, how much do you worry that the damage that is being visited upon mitt romney right now could just be something that is harmful to the eventual nominee of your party? >> i'm not concerned about it at all. and we have a lot of great candidates that are in race right now. a lot of things do come out in a primary situation that need to be discussed, and there are issues with every candidate. and i'm not concerned about it. i think whoever wins the nomination here, and i firmly believe that newt will come into south carolina and win here, but whoever does win, all republicans need to gather around that opponent, because bob and tony are exactly right. what we're concentrating on here in south carolina is making barack obama a one-term president. >> tony perkins, quickly before we go, it sounds to me what you're saying is mitt romney can save the right things to you that can get you to be a real
supporter of his. >> i think he's got to prove that these positions -- >> how do you prove it? >> well, it's going to be difficult, because he's not been talking about it. but i think as we move through this process, i agree with bob. i think this is far from settled. south carolina will tell us a lot. but there are many of us out there that want to see a true conservative who has been tested as a conservative emerge as the nominee. after south carolina, after super tuesday, then we'll see if we have to come back and talk to mitt romney as to what it's going to take to get social conservative support. >> tony perkins of the family research council, bob vander platts, thank you all very much for joining me tonight. >> good to be with you. >> thank you. coming up, mitt romney says his great grandfather fled to mexico to escape persecution. the uncomfortable truth is that he fled to mexico to escape prosecution for polygamy.
nbc's mike taibbi found mitt romney's mexican relatives. he joins me, next. and later, the rewrite i never thought i'd do. the republican candidate who first served as nothing but an object of ridicule on this program will be rewritten tonight as the republican candidate we should now be most grateful to. that's in the rewrite. [ male announcer ] the inspiring story of how a shipping giant can befriend a forest may seem like the stuff of fairy tales. but if you take away the faces on the trees... take away the pixie dust. take away the singing animals, and the storybook narrator... [ man ] you're left with more electric trucks. more recycled shipping materials... and a growing number of lower emissions planes... which still makes for a pretty enchanted tale. ♪ la la la [ man ] whoops, forgot one... [ male announcer ] sustainable solutions.
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look, i've been poor. i've been poor. i've worked from the time i was 12. my parents were driven out of old mexico when i was only 5. my people were revolutionary refugees. they had to be fed by the united states government and housed by the united states government. i know what poverty is. i've been up through it. >> that was from monday night's "rock center" with brian williams.
mitt romney's father explaining his experience with poverty. while he was running for president in 1967, romney's roots is the subject of the "rock center" report from nbc news correspondent mike taibbi, who interviewed some of the romney clan, still living in mexico. mike taibbi joins me now. mike, thanks very much for joining me tonight. >> lawrence, how are you? >> mike, did you get any cooperation from the romney campaign on tracking down his relatives in mexico? >> not from the campaign, at all. in fact, once they knew the subject of our report that we were pursuing, they said specifically they were not interested in having any response whatsoever. and it kind of makes sense, when you think about it. i was listening before to tony perkins talk about the things that mitt romney has not been willing to talk about. and one of those things, obviously, has been his history with -- the family history in mexico, and his ancestry there, because it would open the door to a couple of issues that i think would be uncomfortable to dissect in detail.
that would be immigration on the one hand and a closer look at the mormon religion, which romney as a candidate, romney as a sitting governor never sought to discuss in any detail. >> well, it's right there in the family history. it's just like right around the corner from things that romney sometimes comes close to. and there you saw his father with that very defensive stance about being a rich guy, that's very similar to his son's defensive stance. but, actually referring in that case to fleeing mexico and experiencing a loss of wealth as a result of their fleeing mexico. but tell the story, mike, of why the romney family found its way to mexico in the first place. >> well, it was 1885, some 23 years after polygamy had been outlawed by the -- by the federal government, and after that ban had been reinforced and reconfirmed back in 1878. and mitt romney's great-grandfather, miles park romney, decided in 1885, he already had four wives, that he was going to leave for mexico,
because he was at that point facing prosecution for what the mormons call plural marriage. so he led a covered marriage expedition down to mexico and established the first of those colonies, and they were followed by many others, including hanna hill, who planted the romney family tree in mexico, who from which mitt on one side, and the cousins we interviewed on the other side, they stayed down. and as you heard romney say in that clip from 1968, his family brought them up because of the violence of the mexican revolution drove them out of mexico. and interestingly, if you listen to that clip, you're reminded of that george romney, mitt romney's father, a presidential candidate, would have been a poster child for the dream act, which mitt romney candidate, now opposes vociferously, and could potentially be a problem for him, obviously, with the latino voters. but it's interesting to hear george romney describe very precisely what happened to him
when he was brought back to the united states at the age of 5. >> and mike, when george romney was running for president, did the question of his birth, of his legitimate right to run for president, come up? he was born on foreign soil, claiming american citizenship. which by all records, indicate was a legitimate claim of american citizenship. >> our research shows that the question did come up, but before it became an issue of national discussion, we all remember what happened. we made the famous statement of having been brainwashed into a hawkish position about vietnam, and that brainwashing statement eventually derailed his candidacy's pursuit of the presidency, which nixon won later this issue. there was really never a full discussion about this issue or the mormon religion. if mitt romney wins the nomination, he will go further than any mormon ever has in the presidential electoral process. >> nbc's mike taibbi, thanks for joining me tonight, mike.
>> all right, lawrence. coming up, president obama's re-election campaign and what it will be like running against mitt romney. and why libertarian ron paul is running in republican primaries that he cannot win. that's coming up. and mitt romney doesn't think we should question how he or anyone else makes money in the free enterprise system. okay, mitt. how about porn stars? or the strippers who are going to entertain your delegates this summer in tampa, florida. that's in the rewrite.
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one of the republican presidential candidates is finally saying something important, something republicans need to hear and something republicans don't want you to hear. and for that, we should all be very grateful that he did not drop out way back when we all thought he would. that's in the rewrite. and with the republicans still taking swings at each other, the president returns to the campaign trail to make his case to america. that's next. where's dave? it's almost 10:00. should we get him up?
hello? hi! this is the sea calling. i'm talking to the sea? is this for real? (laughing) yeah! (laughing) what's what what what is what... i want you to close your eyes and imagine a place in the middle of me where the world revolves around you. can i go now? sure! if you're willing to work even harder in this election than you did in that last election, i promise you, change will come. if you stick with me, we're going to finish what we started in 2008. we will remind this country and
we will remind the world just why we are the greatest nation on earth. god bless you, chicago. >> that was president obama tonight in chicago, the day after the new hampshire primary, which produced not so much news as the simple fulfillment of every poll taken in new hampshire this election season. which showed mitt romney would easily finish first in the weakest republican field that has ever campaigned in the new hampshire primary. the most important news of the day actually came from detroit, where general motors reported that its sales increased 13% last year. that's 30% higher than the industry as a whole. general motors was saved by president obama in 2009 when mitt romney was advocating that the company should be left to the wolves of bankruptcy, like so many companies romney had managed at bain capital. as it was slipping towards bankruptcy in 2008, general motors was overtaken by toyota as the top-selling car maker in
the world. tonight, thanks to president obama and no thanks to mitt romney, general motors is once again number one in sales worldwide. in the latest reuters poll, president obama beats mitt romney in a head-to-head matchup, 48 to 43. joining me now is john heilemann, national affairs editor for "new york" magazine and msnbc political analyst. john, you don't mind me mentioning news from someone other than new hampshire, do you? >> no, not at all, lawrence. >> it is an important -- it's one of those things that's kind of slipping into the fact base that is going to be the general election campaign, especially if what we're talking about is obama versus romney. >> well, look, i think anything that has to do with the economy, whether that's the micro-economy, particularly industry is doing better, that president obama had something to do with. the macroeconomy. we've seen another month of decent job growth. not robust -- not as robust as
we would like to see, or as much as he would like to see in particular. but generally, a little bit of uptick in the macroeconomy. these are hugely important variables to how this election is going to be fought. even the republicans acknowledge that. this is going to be an election fought largely in the economy and those are all good signs for president obama's re-election. >> let's listen to what mitt romney is now saying about president obama saving the auto industry. >> in the general election, i'll be pointing out that the president took the reins of general motors and chrysler, closed factories, closed dealerships, laid off thousands and thousands of workers. he did to it try to save the business. we also had an occasion to do things that are tough to try to save a business. >> he's not going to say that in a debate when president obama could come back and say, hey, look, general motors, the company that i saved that you wanted to go into bankruptcy, number one in the world. >> no, i don't think he is going to do that. he's a difficult position right now, obviously, being challenged on his economic bona fides, and
particularly on his record. he's trying to figure out a way to make an argument for free market capitalism and make a robust defense of that. and that obviously doesn't involve creative destruction and laying people off. he's talking about the president there, but really addressing the republican primary vote in south carolina. >> there was an item in "the new york times" many, many months ago, so many months ago that it said they had three names on the wall in chicago at the obama re-election. it was romney, pawlenty, and the other one, maybe perry. i can't remember. but those were the -- it was definitely romney and pawlenty. they got one name up there now, right? >> well, in truth, they have had one name really on their mental walls all along. i think the president's re-election team and everyone in the white house have always thought not only that rick perry -- that mitt romney was the likeliest nominee, they in many ways have thought he was the only credible nominee in this field. long after tim pawlenty dropped out, he clearly was not up to major league standards. they started looking very intensely at mitt romney.
they think he's the only nominee, the most formidable nominee. and as much as we're seeing negative ads and negative campaigning brought against him by the republican party on the basis of opposition research, you can't imagine the amount of opposition research that the president's re-election team has done on the bain issue, on everything else from the massachusetts governorship, everything else in romney's life. it has been an extraordinary effort and it's only really just begun. >> well, we'll see what happens with it. msnbc political analyst, john heilemann, thank you very much for joining me tonight. >> you're welcome, lawrence. coming up, what do strippers and mitt romney have in common? they both don't want you to talk about how they make their money. that's in the rewrite. and what ron paul's candidacy says about our two-party system. what is ron paul really up to? that's coming up. arbucks blondet is another way to look at the bean. another way that reveals the lighter, mellower side of our roast.
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and we should all be grateful for that. i, in this very space, in the show, have marked newt gingrich. this is what newt gingrich meant to say when he was pretending to confess his sins on pat robertson's christian broadcasting network. there's no question at times of my life, specifically when i was leading the attack on bill clinton for having extramarital sex, partially driven by how passionately i felt about extramarital sex, that i worked far too hard to make sure that extra marital sexual things happened in my life that were not appropriate and what i can tell you is that when i did extramarital sexual things that were wrong, i wasn't trapped in situation ethics, i was doing things that were wrong, yet i was doing them. just like bill clinton. >> yes, i've ridiculed newt gingrich, but now the time has come to praise him.
such are the unpredictable twists and turns the on the campaign trail. newt gingrich has earned my praise for saying things like this about mitt romney to chuck todd. >> "the wall street journal" yesterday had reported on a company that he had invested -- bain had invested $30 million in. they took $180 million. that's a six to one, and the company went bankrupt. and you have to ask yourself, if you're going to give a six to one return but the company's going bankrupt, gee, what if you'd only taken three to one? >> newt is simply ask welcome what if romney had only taken $90 million instead of $180 million. would the company have avoided bankruptcy? would the human suffering involved in that bankruptcy been cut in half? or perhaps avoided completely? what if basic human decency had entered mitt romney's calculation on how much money to pull out of that company? newt gingrich is asking that question.
it would be an entirely ignorable question for republicans if i asked it. last night on our election coverage, i said the trick question for republicans like mitt romney is what legal thing would you not do to make money? i'm sure that question, as i put it, created no discomfort among republicans. provoked no introspection. but newt gingrich is now saying the same thing to a much larger audience. his comments are being carried on every news network. and newt gingrich is the second most influential conservative republican of his generation. the most influential, of course, being george w. bush, who was able to work his will on a republican-controlled congress only because newt gingrich seized republican control of that congress, from the democrats, before george w. bush was even close to running for president. a democrat, or a liberal like
me, decrying the excesses of romney-style greed changes no minds. it gets appreciative nods from people who think already the same thing. but a conservative republican, the first republican speaker of the house of representatives in 40 years, the sharp-tongued attacker of liberalism, when he says things like this, people will listen to it. people who will never listen to a democrat. >> criticizing one businessman for one set of practices is not an assault on capitalism. >> we need republicans to understand that. criticizing one businessman for one set of practices is not an assault on capitalism. saying newt is assaulting capitalism is like saying "the new york times" book review is assaulting literature when it criticizes a novel. or you're assaulting tv when you find a sitcom you don't like. what newt gingrich is saying is vitally important and would not
be heard or seriously considered in any way by republicans if a democrat said it. and what newt gingrich is saying is costing him friends. >> my gosh, that's what the people who indict capitalism say. the way newt's talking here, i've never heard him speak this way before, i must tell you. and the way he's speaking, this sounds like left-wing social engineering. folks, things happen. sometimes they happen for a reason. now, one of the things that you have to say that is happening here is, whether he intends it or not, we're finding out some things about newt that we didn't know. he sounds like elizabeth warren. >> yes, newt does sound like elizabeth warren, up to a point. elizabeth warren has much more to say in this area and has many
more substantiative policy ideas about how to regulate harmful business practices. but rush is right. there is the faint echo of elizabeth warren in what newt gingrich is saying and it's being heard by people who would never hear and consider those words if they were spoken by elizabeth warren. mitt romney and rush limbaugh are, of course, lying when they pretend to be in favor of any legal capitalistic undertaking. they are lying when they say they believe in free enterprise and that any money made in any legal enterprise has the same moral value. mitt romney and rush limbaugh do not believe that the earned income, including tips of the strippers at skin tampa, who will be entertaining republican convention delegates this summer, is the moral equivalent of the earned income of the nurses at st. joseph's children's hospital of tampa.
republicans are hearing things from newt gingrich that they have never heard from a republican before. they are hearing that in our capitalist system, the freedom to choose our occupations, the freedom to choose what we will do for money requires us to check, not just if it's legal, but if it's the right thing to do. that requires judgment. sometimes ethical judgment, sometimes moral judgment. it requires a sense of decency. it requires restraint in situations where the situation would allow you to exploit others. what we do for money and what harm we do while doing it goes a long way to define who we are. mitt romney took over businesses and among other practices, fired people to make money. not to make a modest profit that would keep the business alive,
but to make massive profits, hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. unspendable amounts of money for him and his family. so much money that mitt romney fears even showing us just one year of his income tax returns, which would be but a tiny measure of his actual current wealth. and newt gingrich is asking, how many people could have kept their jobs if mitt romney was willing to make a couple of hundred million dollar less than what he made at bain capital? if newt gingrich stops talking about this tomorrow, if rush limbaugh scares him into silence on this, newt gingrich has already done an admirable job of forcing republicans to think about something that they don't like to think about -- the difference between doing
something -- between the right to do something and doing the right thing. the last word on this, goes to newt gingrich. >> i am not saying anything that mitt romney's done was outside the law. i'm saying it may be bad judgment, it may have been an exploitation. it may be inappropriate, and i think as a potential president, you ought to look -- you know, the idea of saying, well, i was barely inside -- i was inside the law, so it's okay. no, was it the right thing to do? just because you have the right to do something doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. the "i'll sleep when it's done" academic. for 80 years, we've been inspired by you. and we've been honored to walk with you to help you get where you want to be. ♪ because your moment is now. let nothing stand in your way.
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that's one thing, they are telling the truth, because we are dangerous to the status quo of this country! >> and now to the riddle of ron paul. what does he want and why does he want it? joining me now are political columnist for salon.com steve kornacki and from washington, d.c., senior adviser to the ron paul campaign, doug weed. doug, thanks for joining us tonight. you know, i look at the ron paul candidate and i i look at the numbers, i look at his policy positions and i say, it's absolutely impossible for him to get the republican nomination. i don't see any math you can put in front of us tonight that. why is he running in republican primaries? >> let me give you some math. your own nbc/marist poll, "the washington post" poll. he's been hidden in plain sight for about six months. what the pundits have focused on are the questions like, who do you think and who do you believe? especially the electability issue.
we'll run 38, 9% in these polls -- >> no, doug, tell me what poll he's in the lead in. i look at the polls and i say there's not sanl poll that indicates he has any chance. is there any poll i missed that shows him winning in a state or winning nationwide? >> yes, every one of those polls that i just mentioned to you, when they pit barack obama against ron paul -- >> now, ron paul against mitt romney, show me a poll where ron paul beats mitt romney anywhere. >> he's within two points of mitt romney in those very polls, when pitted against barack obama. >> no, okay, that's just a poll. you're not going to -- okay, you're going to do that spin. that's not it. we saw what he got last night in new hampshire. where else is he going to get that? >> i agree with you that mitt romney is the front-runner right now, but the one lesson we've learned from this cycle is that anything can happen. >> well, not anything. >> almost anything. >> a lot of things have happened, but once we got to the ballot box, the thing that
everyone thought was going to happen happened, the guy we thought was going to be the front-runner was the front-runner. >> but as of these candidates aren't even on the ballot in illinois or arizona, where there's 24 candidates on the ballot. so we're running a serious campaign. and we're going to go all the way to tampa. >> steve, i'm told we've got a problem with your mic. what i'm going to do here while we get steve's mic working is i'm going to give you my theory that i've come up with about the ron paul campaign, doug. >> i'd like to hear it. >> i believe what we really have here -- i kept saying in our coverage last night, ignore that ron paul number, it doesn't matter, he's not going anywhere, nothing's going to happen. but what steve is going to tell us, yeah, you can ignore the number, but there is something important going on here. here's one of the thing i think important that's going on. he started running as a libertarian 24 years ago. no one mentioned his name when he did. he realized in order to get any kind of attention, you've got to be in one of the national parties' primaries, so he
started doing it in the republican primary. and what that means is what we really have here is a libertarian candidacy. it's really a third party candidacy, but he mounts it within the republican party so he can get this debate attention to his ideas, and he's hoping over a long period of time, he's in this for the long haul and he's got a son who's in it for the long haul after him, that eventually the libertarian position will be viable in a national election, and he just knows that if you're serious about this, you've got to stay with it for at least 30 years. >> that's a very good analysis. there are few little nuances that you might have missed. it's not quite libertarian. for example, we talk about south carolina. you have these evangelicals on early in your show. i'll actually be that the event in texas friday. ron paul is one of only two southern baptists in south
carolina. he polled second among evangelicals in iowa. there's a very curious change that's a paradigm shift, taking place in the republican party. and the thing that makes him different, ron paul different from a patrick buchanan insurgency or jesse jackson insurgency, it's better to describe it as constitutional. back to the constitution. and it's created a whole intellectual awakening among young people. they're publishing companies, their blogs, their nonprofits. it's something like the barry goldwater revolution and a fascinating change in the whole party. >> steve, tell me how to think about ron paul. >> i think he's both very significant and very insignificant at the same time. he's significant for the reasons you outlined. there's a long game here, and i think the long game in terms of the politics, presidential politics, isn't about ron paul, it's about rand paul. it's about the son from kentucky who has some advantages that ron paul doesn't have. he's a better communicator, he's made inroads into the conservative establishment that
ron paul has failed to make, and he's shown certain ability to be sort of savvy politically. he's modulated the way he talks about foreign policy in a way ron paul won't, but a way that makes him more acceptable to the republican establishment. if you're ron paul, you know, you make your statement now, you step aside gracefully, and you know that in 2016 or 2020, your son can run and say, okay, 25% for ron paul in new hampshire, that could be 35% for rand paul some day. so that's the long game i think they're playing. >> steve, i've got to say, i love hearing him talk to republican audiences about republican parties' overenthusiasm about war making, to put it mildly. to talk to them about the craziness of our drug laws. he is opening a dialogue within the republican party that never existed before. >> there's definitely something there in the republican party. there's something bigger in the republican party that will quash that for now. >> doug, quickly before we go, you're beginning to advise him against any third party run, aren't you? >> i will do tha