tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC January 27, 2012 2:00am-3:00am EST
from my hometown in boston. >> thank you for having me here. >> "the ed show" is up next with more reaction to tonight's debate. liberals root for newt. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, running scared. liberals are enthusiastic about the idea of newt gingrich as the gop nominee for president. as republicans are just as terrified of that fact. the right is turning against gingrich, afraid he would wind up as the nominee and take the party down. former colleague tom delay called him erratic. elliott abrams said newt has a long record of bashing ronald reagan and perhaps most damning, the dainty ann coulter said the
best way to re-elect president obama is to vote for gingrich. ever course gingrich may not need the republican to win. his appeal is with the tea party crowd. the ones with the pitch forks and torches. while romney attracts the educated types. it's become t-shirts versus tattersall. whoever wins florida will have the inside track to take on president obama. that's a fight that looks increasingly good for the democrats. the president is gaining strength in the new nbc news/ "wall street journal" poll. his approval rating is the highest since june. americans are feeling better about the economy itself. the big question -- is this a temporary uptick or the start of something good for the country and the white house? catch this picture of arizona governor jan brewer sticking a finger in president obama's face on the tarmac in phoenix. why does the nasty right feel it's okay to disrespect this
president so much? let me finish with the joy, and i mean joy, this newt versus mitt romney fight is giving yours truly. we start with the right turning against newt gingrich. steve mcmahon is a strategist. for years he's been the republican of the house. he was a hero. a real ramrod for them in getting things done now all of a sudden, everyone from ann coulter to elliott abrams, all these big shots in the party, all the way over to the right are saying there's something fundamentally wrong with this guy. what happened to newt that they didn't notice before? >> good evening, chris. first of all, i don't know whether i'd ever call ann coulter dainty, but we'll let that slide. i think there are two newt gingrichs. the good newt and bad newt. the good newt is the visionary, the one who was speaker of the house and led republicans to a house majority for the first
time in over 40 years. and really -- >> and the bad news is -- >> the bad news, the one who came out earlier today and said he wants to have his moon base. he's the guy who was sit with speaker pelosi talking about climate change. and frankly he's the one who i think makes a lot of republicans believe that should he get the nomination, the republican party would have zero chance of beating president obama and the one that i think the establishment in the republican party is trying to stop. >> so the bad newt as you guys see it is the one who believes in science. >> no, the bad newt is -- >> in other words, there's no man-made influence on climate change. is that your belief, ron christie? are you with the -- >> let me enlighten you. i think global climate change is the biggest fraud perpetuated in this country. the scientific evidence isn't there. this is something al gore and his cronies have made millions of dollars of perpetuating a
myth. >> how are you standing on evolution these days? >> i'm feeling pretty good about evolution these days. >> do you believe in it? >> i believe god is our creator and that we all evolved from the great lord. >> so you don't believe in evolution? >> i don't believe in evolution. >> what is the troglodyte. what is the party that used to believe in things? >> troglodytes? chris, it's true. >> all the way back -- you are going back -- i don't want to just ploy -- plum the depths of the position the party has taken it so far right these days. let's go back to life on this planet here. the new nbc/"wall street journal" poll out, steve, has numbers tonight that explain why liberals would be excited by a newt gingrich candidacy. and the conservative establishment would fear it. in the poll, people were asked whether they had positive or negative feelings toward the president for president. for president obama. half viewed him, the president, positively, while 39% said negatively.
mitt romney did a little worse. but for newt gingrich, only 26% viewed him positive to nearly half the people had a negative view of him. so for whatever reason the voter electorate at large has a real problem with this guy is why the establishment is scared on the republican side. >> the establishment is scared because they understand that a newt gingrich nomination would almost certainly mean a defeat for the republicans in the fall at the white house level. they also are worried it would mean they'd lose the house and wouldn't be able to make the gains they are hoping for in the senate. so it's the prospect for republicans of a three-way sweep. the white house and both houses of congress. and they are worried. and they are understandably worried. i'm not sure, though, they'll be able to stop him. this is florida coming up. and everybody says florida is not south carolina. and that's true. but there was a guy just like mitt romney who was a moderate and glib and everybody around washington thought he was perhaps going to be a national candidate some day. his name was charlie crist. he ran for the senate and was defeated by a tea party candidate. and rick scott won the
republican nomination for governor. so this is a good sign for newt gingrich. >> what kind of a party, republican party is it in florida? a right wing party, center party? more conservative. it has moved to the right. >> i think it has. i think it's more center right than anything else. i think certainly marco rubio was elected to the united states senate based not only on conservative support but by the support of independents and democrats. i take one exception with what steve said. i do agree that should speaker gingrich win in florida that would cause a lot of heartburn for the republican establishment. if you look at the latest polls, governor romney is up. i think governor romney has the organization, the momentum to win in florida. >> okay. >> but that would position him very well for the remaining contest. >> the only question i want to know is, is the party moving to the right down there enough to actually win it for newt? and if the party has moved that right, what right does the establishment have not to vote for the guy they want to vote for. let's look at these poll numbers. it's perhaps not surprising many
republican leaders are panicked about a potential newt candidacy. politico put out it this way. it's as if the conservative media over the past 24 hours decided gingrich is for real and they needed to come clean about the man they really know before it's too late. overnight the drudge report, for example, led with a headline saying newt had repeatedly insulted ronald reagan. it linked to a devastating article in the "national review." ann coulter who has said she supports mitt romney wrote that the best way for republicans to help the president get his second term, or actually would to be nominate -- for the democrats. let's listen to what she said on fox news this weekend. >> having, you know, a candidate who goes out and calls obama a kenyan colonialist or a socialist, that's not what you need. and at the same time with newt gingrich you get the name calling for the president, very popular with the tea party crowd in south carolina. not so pop lawyer with independents but he won't put a fence on the border but wants amnesty for illegals. but $1.6 million from freddie mac.
but he attacked paul ryan's plan on social security. with newt gingrich, you throw out the baby and keep the bathwater. >> the hysterics. he wrote in the national review, mr. gingrich often spewed insulting rhetoric at reagan, his top aides and his policies to defeat communism. such was gingrich's faith in president reagan that in 1985, he called president reagan's meeting with gorbachev the most dangerous summit for the west since adolf hitler met with neville chamberlain in 1938 in munich. this is being dug up. ann coulter is smart but very radical. all these people all ganging up. they are really afraid. >> this reminds me of, you remember delaware last year when that -- when mike castle was supposed to cruise to the nomination and everyone was throwing rose petals in front of him. and then the little tea party candidate named o'donnell jumped in the race and suddenly upended
the whole thing. the establishment figured out about six days before that she was coasting for victory. they brought up all the guns. they did everything they could to stop her. guess what happened? she got nominated. that's what's going on in florida. it's what happened with rubio and crist. this train is rolling down the tracks and the establishment is trying to stop it. they may be too late. >> ron christie, i didn't know you were as far over as you were. i thought you were more moderate republican. no, seriously. i'm amazed you don't believe in evolution and in mankind's effect. i thought those were established facts. but it seems your party wants to have the wild people, the tea party people with the pitchforks help them win a majority in the congress. they love getting tea party support. the wilder the better. the more demonstrations the better. the crazier the placards and beliefs, fine, as long as they vote republican and get control of the house. when it comes to deciding who should be your nominee for president you disdain them. you have to warn them what they
are up to. don't you know you wild people you may be putting the wrong candidate up there? do you just want their votes but don't respect their votes? >> absolutely not. >> you don't respect their votes but you want their votes. >> will you still love them in the morning? >> these wild people you insult, these are patriots, american citizens who have said we are -- chris, the point is these are honest americans who -- >> you don't want them to pick a candidate. >> i want them to pick a candidate. >> i don't want newt gingrich to be president of the united states. >> he won't be. >> it's fun to laugh at people who are tired about washington being arrogant and -- >> you don't respect their votes. >> of course we respect their vote. >> but you don't want them picking a candidate. >> we want conservative americans picking a candidate. and we want a conservative. people have recognized that newt gingrich may not be the right candidate. but to suggest we disrespect the tea party, i stand with the tea party because they are sick and tired of this government the way that it's run. >> it's going on right now. the establishment of the party
and i include ron christie in the establishment, running around scared to death. trouble in river city. all of a sudden they are afraid the people they'd tlof have vote for them are picking somebody they don't like. >> exactly right. and it happens all the time in primaries that the base rises up against the establishment. newt gingrich has two things going for him. number one he just projects strength. you can disagree with everything he says but he's strong. mitt seems a little timid. the second thing is what drives independents away. and you can see it in your numbers tonight in the new poll. and that is, he channels this anger and this rage at president obama that makes the tea party folks stand up in their chair and applaud. and makes them -- >> steve come on. again, this -- >> a candidate running for the president of the united states to disrespect a president that much to wave a finger -- >> the rude thing here is occupy wall street -- >> just a minute. >> the occupy wall street people have been raping people, robbing people --
>> they aren't running for president. >> steve you haven't seen anything -- >> they aren't running for president. >> when you and chris disparage the tea party. >> i'm rooting for them. i want them to vote for newt gingrich because i think he'll shake up your party. >> can i get a word in here for a change? >> you were just interrupting steve -- >> steve interrupted me. >> go ahead, ron. >> the tea party people have been very respectful. they have been very cordial in their demonstrations. you haven't seen anything out of the tea party like you've seen with occupy wall street. i find it disgraceful the media -- >> i'm sorry, ron. >> and the tea party folks -- >> maybe you weren't at the capitol last year the they they were saying racial epithets -- >> oh, steve, name one. come on. that is -- >> maybe you weren't there then. >> actually, steve, there has never been an actual proven instance where there's an a racial epithet against this president. that's a lie. that's a proper narrative for scare democrats to throw out there. >> african-american members of congress you know it.
>> actually, i was actually at that rally, at capitol hill. so that is not true. you guys can continue to make it up. >> they've seen the posters all over these tea party meetings and they've seen them at all the demonstrations. they don't need to be told what they saw. thank you ron christie. thank you ron mcmahon. how president obama got his groove back. our new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll has pretty good news for the president. relatively speaking, he's back on track. you're watching "hardball." the republican establishment is just as much an establishment as the democratic establishment. and they are just as determined to stop us. make no bones about it. this is a campaign for the very nature of the republican party and the very opportunity for a citizen conservatism to defeat the power of money.
warren buffett had been the most prominent billionaire calling for higher taxes on the wealthy. but now he has company. bill gates says taxes should be raised and the rich should bear a larger burden of that increase. when asked about the familiar republican argument that taxing the wealthy would create jobs, gates didn't buy it. there's no correlation between jobs and taxes. according to "forbes" magazine, gates is the second richest person in the world, while buffett is number three. what a crew.
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hello, nevada. it is great to be back in las vegas. i love you back. >> welcome back. i love you back. welcome back to "hardball." president obama is on day two of his post-state of the union tour. today nevada and colorado. and the new nbc poll has encouraging numbers for the president. first, americans are feeling better about the direction of the country. this is an important indicator. 30% say we're headed in the right direction. 61% still say we're on the wrong track. that right direction number is up eight points in just a month. pollsters say that's a huge one-month gain. americans are also feeling more optimistic about the future projecting out five years from now. this is important. 53% say things in the u.s. will be getting better. that's a huge improvement from
2010 when 37% thought things would be getting better five years out. this looks like the encouraging economic news of the past six months may be starting to sink in to americans' minds. dana milbank, and cynthia tucker join us. i just want to dwell on those numbers. you know, it's not a great time. nobody is jumping up and down with noisemakers. it's not time to celebrate, but people are a little more optimistic than they were especially about the long-term outlook. the numbers when people say it's going to be better five years from now, they are basically saying, yes, we've been in a cycle that went down, but it's coming up. awhile back, people thought we're in a trend line going down things were going to be worse. a big change, i think. >> it is a big change. it's good news for president obama if it's sustained because it's happening just at the right time.
if you look back through the history of presidential races of the last 30, 40 years, what mattered was the direction of the economy at the time of the election. and unemployment may still be high and may still be over 8% in november, but if the trend continues in this direction, it's very good news for the president. and you know, he seems to be feeling more confident. he looks more confident. he looks like he's having a good time out on the campaign trail. >> we were with him for the briefing. i can't say what he said, but he looked like the guy -- not that he's floating on air but seems to be pretty confident where he's headed right now. >> yeah. it's just a matter of time. before the fired up ready to go chant. >> what's that mean? is that happy talk? >> yeah, i think this president likes to be back in campaign mode. certainly, these numbers haven't come a moment too soon for him. arguably, won't do him a lot of
good. but i was over at the federal reserve yesterday when they were coming out with the economic statistics and there is a consensus among economists that things have finally -- >> you are saying it won't do him much good that the economy is looking good right now? >> of course it will do him some good, but the forecast is still we're going to have 8.2% unemployment in november. that's lousy, but the fact that sentiment is up, and that's what you're seeing in the right direction. that's the crucial number for the president. and it has turned around. now if things get messed up in europe, there's a bunch of different things that could bring this apart in a matter of weeks. but as this trend is going, the president is looking a lot better. >> he's also trying to benefit for the comparison with who is going to be his rival. mitt romney. no matter how well newt is doing down in florida. without even saying his name today, president obama simultaneously challenged mitt romney and made his case to americans. let's watch the matchup.
>> this has nothing to do with envy. it has everything to do with math. it's what i talked about earlier. we have to make choices. americans understand if i get a tax break i don't need, and a tax break the country can't afford, one of two things are going to happen. either it's going to add to our deficit, right, or somebody else is going to have to make up the difference. seniors are going to have to pay more for medicare. or a student pays more for student loans. or a family will have to do with less. that's not right. that's not who we are. >> cynthia, he's not just saying fair taxes are good, but if you don't have fair taxes, if people at the top get away scot-free, that means a bigger debt or right now we're going to have to trade off needed services like medicare and medicaid. >> he makes a much better case for understanding the situation
that the average american is in than mitt romney does. you know, when he talks about paying for college costs, mitt romney is certainly a decent man, but everybody knows how robotic he is on the campaign trail. and his big problem is he doesn't even seem to understand how much people are struggling out there. mitt romney says things such as, i earned a little bit of extra income from speaking engagements. that was $379,000. that's not, you know, not very much. that's a whole heck of a lot of money. that is more than three years salary for most americans. so what the president is doing is drawing a stark contrast to the needs he sees out there and the way his administration would help ordinary people deal with those needs as compared to mitt romney.
mitt romney is helping the president make that case. >> actually, i did the math. it's about seven times the average median income for a family. it's an incredible advantage. compared to the money he's pulling in a year. relatively a small part of his income. but he ought to be thinking, since he wants to be president of the united states, about the united states, not about him. >> that would be helpful when running for president of the united states. i think what we're finding out here is that the president is looking a lot better in the matchups, but it has little to do with him. he's being more comfortable getting his point across, but he's benefiting from what might be called the gingrich bounce. newt gingrich has succeeded in trashing romney. >> he's doing a great job. >> far better than david axelrod. romney is down to only 30% or so view him favorably. obama is back up into the 50s. these are related things. gingrich succeeded in making romney as unpopular as newt is. >> he said a guy who makes more
in a day than most make in a year. he has his money in zurich, swiss banks, the cayman islands. he's not quite aware of life on this planet. anyway, thank you. thank you dana and thank you cynthia. up next, a slip of the tongue. are the democrats already subbing out warren buffett for mitt romney? stick around for the side show. and you're watching it right here on msnbc. ♪ he was a 21st century global nomad ♪
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back to "hardball." now for the side show. slip of the tongue. the day after president obama's state of the union address, had many members of congress on both sides of the aisle answering the question, so what did you think? it was chuck schumer's chance at the mike, he made a point about the buffett rule. if you make more than $1 million
a year, you should not pay less than 30% in taxes. let's hear senator schumer. >> we agree with the president. it makes no sense that a millionaire should pay a lower tax rate than a secretary. so it's a priority for us to act on some kind of romney -- i mean buffett rule this year. >> some coincidence. romney's newly released tax return showed he paid about 14% in taxes in recent years. it looks like the buffett rule has a new poster boy. up next, the clown show lives on. i'm not alone in using that term in talking about the republican race. here's ed rendell weighing in on the gop race today. >> the republican race for president so far has resembled a clown show. the clowns arrive in the car and keep getting out of the car. there's one clown after another.
we have seen clowns run for president totally unqualified. have one bizarre idea after another. if i was an independent voter or even a moderate republican and looked at this iwould say, oh, my god. is this what the republican party has to offer? gingrich and romney keep making one mistake after another. seem to be tone deaf to what american people really are interested in and are deeply flawed. >> by the way, all those ed rendells were actually ed rendell. he says this is a god send for the obama campaign. there's been no shortage of people weighing in on the state of the union. how about the verdict from someone less political? a body language expert. according to a piece in forbes magazine, three things were going for the president that night in terms of body language. one, his smile. according to the piece, a smile like that is an invitation. a sign of welcome. it says i'm friendly and approachable.
two, his fluid motions. in the article, he walked with ease and stood erect but not stiffly so. and his gestures were fluid and flowing. lastly, verbal and nonverbal alignment. what does that mean? apparently, the president's body language matched perfectly with the speech itself. "president obama has a model of congruent communication. his body language totally supported his message." in all matters, especially when he may be up against mitt romney. how can he beat, or not beat, mr. smooth mitt romney? take a look at this picture of jan brewer. brewer jamming a finger in president obama's face. that's how you treat a visiting president? it's the latest example of right wing nastiness toward the president. you're watching "hardball."
we're back. we were talking about body language. here's a picture that tells a thousand words. the photo captured last night of republican arizona governor jane brewer pointing her finger in president obama's face. it's an image that doesn't connote respect for the highest office in the land, does it? a white house official said the governor gave the president a letter. he thought she mischaracterized in her book a meeting the two of them had two years ago. here's the governor's response last night. >> i wanted to be there to welcome him to come and see firsthand what arizona has done in regards to our economic
recovery. he wanted to talk about the book. and i thought he was pretty thin skinned. >> wow. but as this image capturing something else, the disdain among conservatives for this president. arizona republican congressman trent franks is a newt gingrich supporter and former congressman jim davis is a florida democrat. gentlemen, let's go over the rules of etiquette in talking to another politician or anyone in private and then describing that meeting. i am stunned that people today seem to think when you have a private conversation with another politician you have the freedom to describe it any way you want to the detriment of the other person. wasn't there an etiquette not too long ago, that private conversations were not to be exploited later for political gain? >> i'm not sure i understand the question, chris. try again. >> what's complicated about it? >> i'm not sure. you said something about meeting some time ago.
>> when you have a conversation with someone on the house floor that's not on the record, just chatting with someone, can you go out and say, well, i just talked to him and he said this or i said that. >> no, i think a person should always respect any confidentiality. if it's an open discussion between policymakers, then i think they have the right to express their own perspective. but i do agree we should respect the confidentiality. but, i mean i thought you were talking about jan brewer. i have known governor jan brewer for almost 30 years. >> right. >> ever since she was a little girl. and i will tell you that she's always talked in an animated and talked with her hands. but let me say to you. i don't know of a more respectful, decent person -- >> has she ever wagged her finger at you? >> i don't know of a more decent, respectful, polite person in all of politics. no, she's never -- she's used her hands this way but she's just as kind as anybody could ever be. if you knew her, you would agree
with me. >> i'm going by the picture. here's governor brewer. wrote in her book about the 2010 meet with the president. it was as though president obama thought he could lecture me and i would learn at his knee. he thinks he can humor me and then get rid of me. well, congressman davis, your view about that kind of accounting of a private meeting with the president where you get to call the color of the game in your terms. >> it's very important that they have a relationship of trust and discretion. there could be a disaster there in the next few months and the governor and the president need to work together. this was an unfortunate incident. it was a mistake. she apparently lost her cool. you treat the president you treat the presidency with respect. and there's plenty of room to disagree within that context. that did not happen here. >> let's take a look at newt gingrich who is running hard down in florida. a lot of us are rooting for him to shake thing ups down there.
here he is at a tea party event. he laid out the choices as he sees it or wants to see it between him and the president in pretty raw terms. let's listen. >> if you are for paychecks, you're for us. if you are for food stamps, you are with barack obama. if you are for american exceptionalism, you are with us. if you are for saul alinsky radicalism, your with obama. if you are in favor of a strong america, you are for us. if you are for a weak america that tries to appease its enemies, you are with obama. >> i understand a lot of that, but a part of it gets me. i think there's some signaling going on there. congressman franks, why would you keep saying the president of the united states -- why would you always associate him with a guy named saul alinsky. what does that mean to most people to the average person in florida, for example, this week? >> i think probably the average person is not even familiar with saul alinsky and some of his community organizational tactics that are much like this
president. and i have to say to you that i think it's pretty esoteric and most people it goes right over their head. >> why does he keep doing it? >> because i think he's correct and he wants us all to begin to think about how this president became president and how the american people really never knew where this president was on anything before we elected him. not to any real degree. i think now we do. >> okay. your thoughts on that, congressman davis. if it's not food stamps it's saul alinsky with that interest interesting trotsky-like sounding name. he was no comie. i know why the name is used to confuse the voter. this guy must be some far left dangerous alien that the president has been associated with. why would the speaker keep using this name? saul alinsky. it's part -- your interpretation of it because as the congressman just said from arizona, nobody actually knows who this guy saul alinsky is. he doesn't say he was a
community organizer who has been instructive in his methods to people like dick armey and the tea party who use his tactics. he's a tactician. he's not some far crazy left winger. but the president is being charged with hanging around with radicals is what's going on here again. >> which is a pretty easy to prove charge. >> i agree with -- i agree with representative franks. folks don't know who this fellow is. i didn't know much either. and it's simply an attempt to paint the president as a radical which he's not. and newt gingrich who is fighting for his life down here in florida is railing against anybody who represents the establishment. president obama, mitt romney, the republican establishment. here today, chris, it looks like the general election. you've got every major republican surrogate in the country down here railing on newt gingrich. and he's fighting back against the establishment, including the president. >> what would the radical proposals of saul alinsky congressman franks? what were the radical proposals? >> it was some of the tactics that he espoused where, you
know, you move into the community and you pump people up with false statements and you -- >> false statements? >> with false ideals, false information and you get -- >> give me an example of a false statement? >> like the class warfare that this president uses. you know, talking about separating the country, dividing the country, trying to split the 1% from the 99%. and i think people ought to go to newt.org/answers and they'll see really what mr. gingrich is talking about. >> okay. >> i think if the left thought to mr. gingrich was going to be so easy to beat, that they'd be a little more quiet about it. >> well, i'm not quiet about it. i've been talking up newt gingrich for weeks. he puts on the best show in town. if all politicians were as colorful as this guy it would be a more interesting game. >> well, he will dismantle mr. -- >> the guy you don't like is going to put people to sleep. >> i like mitt romney. i like mitt romney. i think he's a good man. i just think that speaker
gingrich will dismantle the president in a debate and will be able to show the world all the fallacy and the left wing rhetoric he uses all the time. >> by calling him the food stamp president? >> he's saying we've gone from about 14 million more stood stamp recipients under this president than before. and this president was supposed to solve the problem with poverty, but people have gotten more and more poverty, more poor people. >> i think the unemployment rate is lower now than it was when he inherited from president george w. bush. >> we've got nearly half of all the people on this country are either poor or low income under this president. that's never been that way in my lifetime. >> and the bush administration was a dandy operation, wasn't it, in terms of the economy, the way it left us. >> i would just suggest to you if you -- this president said he would create 2.5 million new jobs. and we've lost almost that much. and you know, i have to quickly go back to jan brewer. she has seen -- she came in the same time barack obama did. the state in arizona was among
the worst hit with the housing crisis. we were 47th in job creation. and now she's balanced the budget, even though it was the highest per capita budget deficit in the country. and she's balanced it and we have a surplus. if the president would do that for america, maybe then he'd have a right to beat up on jan brewer. >> she's been a real unifier. thanks congressman -- >> she has in arizona. she's universally loved in arizona. >> universally loved. okay. thank you trent franks and congressman. thank you jim davis for coming on. up next, the republican fight between newt gingrich and mitt romney has opened up a major fault line in the republican party. it's t-shirts versus tattersall. i'll be in palm beach tomorrow at the brazilian court hotel. we're having a breakfast on an author series discussing my book on jack kennedy. i'll be signing books at the barnes & noble down there. so who ordered the cereal that can help lower cholesterol
welcome back to "hardball." the gingrich versus romney fight in florida for the nomination for president has revealed a sharp division within the republican party, across the party. as politico frames it, it's plaid, monster truck derbies versus the kentucky derby. the tea party versus the cocktail party. look at these photos from the politico article. today more wealthy and educated
crowds show up to support romney while less affluent and less educated voters to support gingrich. jonathan martin is the senior politico editor who wrote this story. what a great story. a great story. nia-malika henderson, trying to keep up with verbal genius, political reporter for "the washington post." you start, jonathan, i am stunned by this. the first guy to ever notice this. i remember watching a crowd down in texas in 2000, i could tell all the pinks and limes were with w. and i said, this crowd is too rich to be reflective of half a state. no state's got that many rich people. but you've sized it up in terms of class, if you will? >> chris, this is something a lot of republicans don't like talking about, because they have a party, frankly like democrats do too, that has a very odd coalition. they've got the auto mechanics and they have the, you know, bond traders. and everything in between. so, this is an awkward topic,
but it has come to life here in the last few weeks, starting in south carolina, and really on display now in florida. you go to a romney event and you see folks that represent upper middle class and upper class america. that is who is really into romney. it's revealed, also, chris, in the exit polls. look at these states where romney does the best. it's among the highest income folks and those with the most investigation. you go to newt events and see folks who are wearing jeans, who are wearing big american flag t-shirts, who are carrying tea party flags, sporting fanny packs even at times. it's a more down market demographic. where you see this oftentimes, chris, in democratic primaries. as you know, hillary and obama, gary hart, walter mondell, gary and gore. i don't recall a republican primary where it's been on such vivid display as this year. >> and you know, it is the republican party. nixon used to call it the mink coat party and the cloth coat
party. >> that's exactly right. and being at some of these rallies for newt gingrich, not only in south carolina, but also in florida, these are folks in tattoos, they're chanting, usa, usa! >> and they're newt people. >> i think he's running the same argument against romney that he is against obama, which is to say that both of these folks are outside -- >> what's his solution to the fact? what's his populism about? newt's? >> i think his populism is about romney and obama are not one of us. they're not regular americans. they don't get the sort of experiences that newt gingrich frankly experienced when he was -- >> but doesn't newt. i don't want to argue the politics here, but doesn't newt support the same kind of tax breaks for the rich that romney does? >> he does, but i think the benefit to him is that romney embodies that tax bracket much more so that deny. >> what do the voters think's different between the two groups, jonathan? >> chris, there are no real substantiative differences.
it's rhetorical. it's newt, who knows how to play the conservative base, like the piano. because he's been doing it for years. it's very reminiscent of pat buchanan talking about new york and washington. >> ruth bader ginsburg, i remember those speeches, yeah. >> yeah. goldman sachs, you know. he knows all the notes to play, and the fact that he lives in mclean, virginia, like buchanan did, not exactly the hotbed of populism. the romney folks have been reminding us every day, emphatically, is a flawed messenger. but the message connects with a lot of working class folks, chris, in florida. >> every time it says food stamps or the name saul alinsky, which i'm convinced, if you with asked 99% of the people with their fanny pack who is the heck -- they think trotsky, they think some communist that raged against moscow -- >> they think some foreign guy
who's a communist and reads carl marks all day. >> i envy you guys. it's fun out there. jonathan martin and nia-malika henderson of "the post" and jonathan martin of politico. when we return, let me finish with the joy i'm getting watching this fight from here between newt and mitt. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. hey guys, breakfast! ♪ [ female announcer ] if whole grain isn't the first ingredient in your breakfast cereal, what is? now, in every box of general mills big g cereal, there's more whole grain than any other ingredient. that's why it's listed first on the side. from honey nut cheerios to cinnamon toast crunch to lucky charms, get more whole grain than any other ingredient... without question. just look for the white check.
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let me finish tonight with this. how can you not love this battle in florida? here we have two candidates, one, the prince of the establishment. the other charging with his battery ram. one bereft of spontaneity, robot like in his earnest to learn how people actually behave. the other speaking from the gut of every ticked off voter watching him from the sidewalk. what a display of personal opposites. both fighting for the political death that represent the same political party. to be the champion of the same partisan demands. look, i think this is going to be a close election this november, real close. the tough economy almost dictates it. we americans are a demanding bunch, and we don't like economic failure, refuse to accept economic decline, and we're always looking for options, especially when things aren't so great. but, this demolition derby that's going on before our eyes climaxing with another ringside event tonight is just too good to be true if you're barack obama. too wildly lucky if you're watching the spectacle. how can a political party put on such a show of clowns followed
by this gladtorial spectacle we're watching now? how can a party think this is what the american people want to see? i don't know if newt has the mow mojo to keep this going, if he can land some applause tonight. i do know that the man from georgia is raising issues that the democrats will find more than handy this fall. the most important thing is that mitt romney has benefited from the unfairness in the american tax system. what the democrats need to add to this charge is that not only is he a beneficiary of this unfair system, he wants to make it more unfair. he wants to give further breaks to the guy, him, who makes more in a day without working than the average american does in a year through the sweat of his brow. he, mitt romney, wants to intervene in the affairs of man to give more to the man on top. he wants to make our tax law more favorable to the very rich than it already is. if newt isn't ready to challenge that in debate, president obama sh