The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/30/12
ED SCHULTZ, HOST, “THE ED SHOW”: The RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
And I don`t have to win the lottery to hold a few bucks off to the side to
buy that book trip.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: That`s very nice of you to say, Ed. I got to tell
you, my birthday is this weekend. And I got my birthday present early from
Susan. And it is flies from 1930.
SCHULTZ: There you go.
MADDOW: Mosquito flies to get me ready for fishing season.
SCHULTZ: It`s the hook that counts. Keep those flies tight.
MADDOW: That`s right. Thanks. Have a great weekend.
SCHULTZ: Have a great one, Rachel.
MADDOW: And thanks so you at home for stays with us for the next hour.
The city of New York has a population of about eight million people. So,
quick math. If one in eight people were going the turn out to hear the
president speak because he was visiting New York city, that would mean one
million New York city residents turning out for a President Obama rally. A
Now, New York city is a pretty democratic place. Capital D, democratic
place but a million New Yorkers probably are not going to turn out to hear
anybody. That, however, is the equivalent, the mathematical equivalent of
what happened today in the beautiful city of Burlington, Vermont.
The total population of Burlington is about 40,000. The total number of
people who turned out to see President Obama today in Burlington, was 5,000
people which means, about one in every eight people who lives in Burlington
was at this rally.
And they have to pay a lot of money to get in. This was not a free, come
on down sort of thing. General admission tickets to this were $100. And
the reduced price that they aimed at younger supporters was $44.
So, with a $44 minimum ticket price they turned out roughly one out of
every eight people in the city.
Next, obviously, Vermont is the opposite of a battleground state. After
the president spoke in Vermont today he went onto speak in Maine which is
slightly more of a battleground state but still really not a battleground
But, you know, one thing for president, running for re-election means as a
sitting president means not just winning over purple states that might be
undecided about you, but also raising money from and speaking to an and
energizing what they call the base. The people who already support you but
from whom you would like more. More enthusiasm, more donations, more
volunteers to work on your honor campaign.
And when a candidate is speaking to his most enthusiastic supporters, when
a candidate on either side is speaking to his or her base, the energy is
important. And you can see it operating in both directions. It`s a two
way street. You can see the way the candidate not only boosts his
supporters and excites them very much by being there but his supporters
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And today, GM is back on top
as the world`s number one automaker, reported the highest profits in a
hundred years. The American auto industry is back and it`s making cars
that are more fuel efficient so that`s helping the environment even as
we`re putting people to work.
OBAMA: Yes, change is the health care reform that we passed after over a
century of trying.
Already, Americans can`t be denied or dropped by their insurance companies
when they need care the most. Already, they`re getting preventative care
that they didn`t have before. That`s happening right now. Change is the
fact that for the first time in nine years there are no Americans fighting
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama, today, very much feeling it in campaigning in
Vermont and Maine. You can see the president energized not only by what
he`s saying and by the very, very, very enthusiastic response he was
getting from that very supportive crowd.
Here is what I think though, it was the most under reported 2012 story of
this week. The biggest and, I think, most interesting political move by
any of the candidates. And it really got no coverage at all which
surprises me given how much attention this has received more broadly.
On Wednesday this week, President Obama released this video. It`s a video
recorded at the White House in which he specifically addresses supporters
of Planned Parenthood. And yes, it`s interesting that President Obama is
addressing Planned Parenthood supporters specifically. But it`s not just
the fact that he did this, it`s what he said in this video that I think is
really newsworthy. I certainly can`t believe this didn`t get more
attention this week.
OBAMA: Over the past year you`ve had to stand up to politician who is
wanted to deny millions of women the care they rely on and inject
themselves into decisions that are best made between a woman and her
Let`s be clear here, women are not an interest group. Their mothers and
daughters and sisters and wives. They`re half of this country and they`re
perfectly capable of making choices about their health. When some
professional politicians casually say that they will get rid of Planned
Parenthood, don`t forget what they are really talking about, eliminating
the funding for preventive care that millions of women rely on and leaving
them defends for themselves.
That`s why last year, when Republicans in Congress threatened to shut down
the government unless we stopped fund Planned Parenthood, I had a simple
But, we know this debate is far from over. We must continue to send the
message loud and clear. If you truly value families, you shouldn`t play
politics with a woman`s health. That`s why I know Planned Parenthood will
continue providing care no matter what. I know you will never stop
fighting and protect the healthcare and the choices that America`s women
deserve. As long as I have the privilege of being your president, neither
MADDOW: As much attention as this issue about Planned Parenthood and
contraception and reproductive right on the campaign trail has received
over the last few weeks, I`m kind of amazed that statement from the
president to Planned Parenthood supporters this week, did not get blanket
In any case, I mean, as Democrats have supported legal abortion and
contraception acts and women`s health in the past even as they have
supported those thing for a long time, Democrats have been a little bit shy
about campaigning on that.
But as you can see there from the president`s remarks, they are not shy
about it anymore, not when Republicans put these issues front and center
into 2012 politics. Democrats and the president, himself, now very much
taking advantage of what the Republicans have done there.
And so, we are starting to see the contours of the Barack Obama re-election
campaign. You see it in the way they are going after Republicans for what
is seen as the Republican agenda. You see it in the way that President
Obama is very enthusiastically engaging with his most enthusiastic
supporters. This is the way the president will run for re-election.
We`re also seeing a little bit of how Mitt Romney, the likely Republican
nominee is going to run against President Obama. We`ll have a little bit
more on that later in the show. But, of course, before Mr. Romney can
fully jump into a general election campaign against the president, he still
has to dispatch his rival for the Republican nomination.
And at this point in the campaign that means Mitt Romney has to be showing
that he`s consolidating his lead, showing he is locking up the Republican
establishment. So, pretty much every single day now that means that Mitt
Romney rolls out another high profile Republican establishment endorsement.
Last week it was former Florida governor, Jeb Bush. This week it was
Republican senators Mike Lee and Marco Rubio then former president George
H. W. Bush yesterday. Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, today.
But getting endorsements like that, having high profile surrogates you can
go out and talk to the media on their behalf, for Mr. Romney that`s been a
double edged sword this year. On or staff and our blog at monoblog.com, we
have talk about this as Mitt Romney`s surrogate problem. Right around the
time of Michigan primary, you may remember that Mr. Romney picked up the
endorsement of Michigan Republican Congressman, Fred Upton. How did Mr.
Upton express his own rival enthusiasm for Mitt Romney? He told the
Michigan press how wrong Mitt Romney was on the auto bailout on one of the
biggest issues in his state.
Early on the race, Mr. Romney also got the endorsement of Republican
congressman, Joe Heck of Nevada. How does Mr. Heck express his unrivaled
enthusiasm for Mitt Romney? He informed the Nevada press core that Mr.
Romney was dead wrong on the biggest issue in his state, housing.
Down in Arizona, Mitt Romney gets the endorsement of a former chairman of
the Republican party there, Randy Pullen. How does Randy Pullen express
his unrivaled enthusiasm for Mitt Romney? He tells reporter, quote, “my
guy has a hard time connecting with people.”
Yes, sir. You`re not helping. Former Republican governor Jon Huntsman of
Utah drops out the presidential race, himself. He endorsed Mitt Romney.
And how does Jon Huntsman express his unrivaled enthusiasm for Mitt Romney?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON HUNTSMAN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Gone are the days when
the Republican party used to put forward big bold visionary stuff. We`re
going to have problems politically until we get some sort of third party
movement or some alternative voice out there that can put forward new
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And by the way, vote for Mitt in the meantime until we get the
third party that we really need because the Republicans are such disaster.
Mitt Romney also got the endorsement of former Republican congressman, Tom
Davis of Virginia. How does congressman Davis put into words his unrivaled
enthusiasm for Mr. Romney?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM DAVIS (R), FORMER VIRGINIA CONGRESSMAN: He may not be Mr. Personality.
He gives the fire side chat and the fire goes out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: With friend like those. This week Mr. Romney got the high
profile, big time endorsement of Marco Rubio, Republican senator of
Florida. How does Marco Rubio express his enthusiasm for Mr. Romney? He
told a conservative media outlet the following day, quote, “there are a lot
of other people out there that some of us wish had run for president, but
they didn`t.” So, I guess vote for Mitt.
Yesterday, Mitt Romney received the endorsement of former president George
H. W. Bush and former first lady, Barbara Bush. How did Barbara Bush
express her feelings towards the 2012 Republican campaign which is poised
to result to Mr. Romney`s nomination?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: I think the worst campaign I`ve ever seen
in my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: For those you have keeping track of the Bush`s there year, Mitt
Romney now, has the endorsement of George H. W. Bush, former first lady
Barbara Bush, the former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, his son Jeb Bush
Jr. and all of that, of course, raises the question of what`s going on with
the other notable Bush`s family son.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Governor, have you met with George W. Bush
while you have been here and have you sought his endorsement?
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE; You know, I have haven`t met with
president George W. Bush. We speak from time to time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got to get out of here.
ROMNEY: Now you see why.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You speak all the time.
GEORGE W.H. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITE STATES: Has he endorsed
BARBARA BUSH: We will talk about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Not helping. Nobody wants to talk about George W. Bush with
endorsements. This is not helping the reporters are still there. Just
talk about that later. Don`t ever talk about that again.
Nobody knows exactly how hard it is going to be for a Republican to try to
beat this president. But beating a sitting president is never easy. Is
this sort of par for the course what Mitt Romney is dealing with when it
comes to his supporters, his surrogates? Does Mitt Romney sort to have to
worry about a battle not just with the sitting democratic president but
with sort of weak his own flank? Does he have to worry about the sort of
litany of outright anti-Mitt Romney talking points that are coming from
people who he`s presented as his own team?
For observing campaign over the time that I have observe campaigns. This
does not seem to me to be a normal problem that should face a front-runner
for Republican nomination. I don`t know if it`s normal. It doesn`t seem
normal to me.
But joining us now is a guy that knows whether or not this is a normal sort
of problem to have. It`s Steve Schmidt, former senior strategist for the
McCain-Palin campaign in 2008. He is now an MSNBC political analyst:
Steve, thanks for being here.
STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Great. Good to be with you,
MADDOW: You know, when you line up all the different off message things
that Mitt Romney`s endorsers have said, often very close to the time that
they were getting press attention for endorsing him, when you line them all
next to each other, it seems like a problem.
Am I making a problem where there isn`t one? Does this sort of things that
happen all the time?
SCHMIDT: You`re kind of making a problem where there isn`t one. But this
is – this is a good week for Mitt Romney. You see, the establishment of
the Republican party is now coming to acceptance that he`s going to be the
nominee of the party. That he has made Newt Gingrich`s effort to Santorum
effort looking increasingly detached from reality. So, he`s in the final
stages of wrapping this up. It`s been a long contest, hard contest. You
know, it`s drained the support levels in the middle of the electorate from
all the Republican candidates. But we`re starting to get into that
transition part of the race now. So, all in all – it`s been a good week
for Mitt Romney.
MADDOW: In terms of the endorsement question though, it has been
interesting to watch former first lady Bush, former President Bush, the
senior, Jeb Bush and also Jeb Bush`s son for that matter, all endorsing
Mitt Romney, all implicitly raising the question of whether there will be a
George W. Bush endorsement that was made explicit by the senior president
Bush in the photo op with Mitt Romney in a way that made everybody very
visibly and comfortable.
How much does the question of the George W. Bush endorsement loom at this
SCHMIDT: Well, I don`t think it`s - I think it`s certainly in a Republican
primary. President Bush is highly regarded and thought of it won`t be a
factor in the general election. The record that`s going to be front and
center in this election is not President Bush, it`s President Obama`s.
But, you know, certainly if he endorses in the Republican primary it`s
helpful to Mitt Romney. I suspect as Mitt Romney gets to the next stage of
closeness to wrapping this up, you`ll ultimately see president George W.
Bush weigh in as well. That will be a good day for Mitt Romney.
MADDOW: You really think that wouldn`t have a downside. I mean, one of
the things we are going to be talking of her later in the show is Mitt
Romney seemingly try to pivot to attacking President Obama on foreign
policy. It seems to me like a huge liability for Mr. Romney that he`s got
as all of his foreign policy advisers all of these George w Bush foreign
policy guys. That seems to me like sort of thing that you would be
embarrassed for somebody to point you. Do you really think it wouldn`t
have a negative effect even in the general?
SCHMIDT: Look. I did a poll out last week, the chair of the former
president, the approval numbers have come up to about one to one even in
between favorable to unfavorable. He`s been out of public eye for four
years. People tend to - they would get former presidents, they rise in
esteem as time passes between they are out of office. It`s obviously a
contentious momentous period of history that he served in with a lot of
division in the country.
But, look. Elections are always about the future and not the past. And I
don`t think we`re going to have an argument about the term of the 43rd
president in the United States. I think the argument will be around the
term of the 44th president of the United States. And what we do going
forward from here. I just don`t think it`s going to be a big deal in the
political calculus of this election.
MADDOW: Steve, you can talk me into a lot of things about the Republican
way of looking at politics, I have learned a lot from you. But the idea it
will be a good day when George W. Bush endorses Mitt Romney. That I
finally found the thing on which you and I are living in totally opposite
universes and can`t see the same facts as they like.
Will you come back the day that happens and we can talk about it?
SCHMIDT: Absolutely. It will happen. It will be a good day for Mitt
Romney in this election.
MADDOW: And it will be one of those days when we realize there are two
different Americas and two different ways of seeing these things.
MSNBC political analyst, Steve Schmidt. Thanks for your time tonight,
Steve. Really, appreciate it.
SCHMIDT: Good to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right.
The Wisconsin primary is coming up fast in the Republican race and there`s
a lot the Republican candidates should understand from the way that
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has decided to govern and from the way
Wisconsin has reacted to it.
Also, coming up on the show tonight, for the first time ever on this
program, news from KISS, the band, the KISS with the make-up. That should
make the five of you really, really happy. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: A federal court ruled today that parts of the union busting bill
that turned Wisconsin inside out and led to a recall effort against
Republican state senators there and against the Republican governor, Scott
Walker, parts of that bill was ruled today are unconstitutional.
Today`s federal court ruling strikes down parts of the Wisconsin law. It
orders that some union rights that governor Walker has stripped in the
state be restored by May 31st of this year. And on that same day of that
of that ruling, Wisconsin election board voted unanimously today to make it
official, that governor Scott Walker will face a recall election in
Along with governor`s recall, the Wisconsin election board also ordered
recall elections today for the state`s Republican lieutenant governor and
for four Republican senators.
Now, in Wisconsin, Republicans have already lost majority control of the
state Senate in part because of the first round of elections held last
summer in which two Republicans were ousted. Before their decision to
strip union rights in their state, Republicans had a big majority in the
Wisconsin state Senate. But thanks to those recalls last summer, and to
the resignation of another Republican senator facing a recall, Wisconsin
state Senate is now tied. They have split control between Republicans and
Democrats. There`s not a majority leader, there are co-leaders.
And with four more recalls to come in Wisconsin, Republicans might yet lose
more seats in the Senate and they may lose the lieutenant governor and they
may lose the governor.
This is the red hot political context in Wisconsin for the republican
presidential campaign that is happening in the state right now. The
Wisconsin presidential primary is on Tuesday. It`s thought of as the most
important of Tuesday`s contest. In part because it`s probably Rick
Santorum`s last chance to make a convincing argument for his campaign to
But competing in Wisconsin means competing in state where Republican ideas
are being received in the streets like this.
Do the Republican presidential candidates see the ballot of Scott Walker in
Wisconsin as a cautionary tale. Are they treading lightly on the issue of
stripping people`s union rights? Are they keeping their distance from the
guy poised to become the first governor recalled from office in Wisconsin.
History and only the third governor recalled from office in American
No. The Republican candidates are not doing that. They are definitely not
doing that. Rick Santorum, for his part, give a special Scott Walker shout
out every time he speaks a loud in Wisconsin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Joined with another courageous
governor, we follow Scott Walker`s lead.
Stand up and fight for freedom. You did it with Scott Walker.
You have to stand up and fight hard to make sure that governor Walker is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Of course, when he says reelected, what Rick Santorum actually
means is, you need to fight hard to make sure governor Walker is not
recalled before he`s even allowed to finish his first term in office. It`s
not quite the same thing.
But Mitt Romney isn`t about to let Rick Santorum walk out on that limb all
by himself. Mr. Romney talking to Wisconsin supporters in a tele-town hall
this week, made sure to throw his support behind governor recall as well
calling Mr. Walker excellent. He called him an excellent governor.
Mitt Romney is even planning a trip this weekend to a don`t recall Scott
Walker campaign call center. Rick Santorum telling a supporter that he may
try to do that this week, too. And while that might sound like a fun time
or even a political necessity if you are campaigning among the Republican
base in the Wisconsin primary, think about what this means down the road.
A brand new NBC Marist poll out in Wisconsin shows President Obama beating
Mitt Romney by 17 points in Wisconsin. It shows the president beating Rick
Santorum in Wisconsin by 13 points.
Now, at this point in the campaign, Rick Santorum losing by less to
President Obama might be important to Republicans deciding between these
two guys in the primary. But if the best case scenario for the Republicans
is losing the general election by 13 points, if that`s the best case
scenario, the big picture for Republicans in t state looks bad. The reason
Scott Walker is facing a historic recall election this year is not just
because some of his political opponents don`t like the cut of his jib.
It`s because tons of Wisconsin voters are out raged by what Walker was done
in governor especially in conjunction with his Republican legislature. The
recall Walker forces needed to come up more than half a million signatures
in order to trigger the recall election. They turned in nearly twice that
number. They turned in more than 930,000 signatures.
And after a lot of fussing about fact checking and due diligence, after the
Wisconsin Republican party even launched a special Web site where people
could report recall petition fraud which they were sure existed, surely
that many people don`t want to get rid of Scott Walker after much
Republican consternation that those numbers couldn`t possibly be real,
there could not be possibly be more than 900,000 people in Wisconsin who
want to throw Scott Walker out of office.
After all of that it turned out that, yes, more than 900,000 people do want
to throw Scott Walker out of office. Only about three percent of the
signatures that they turned in were thrown out. And only a handful of
names were thrown out because they were fraudulent names which Republicans
promised there would be a ton of. Actually it was less than a handful that
were thrown out. A grand total of four, four signatures of the more than
930,000 were thrown out.
One of the names that was thrown out was from being a fake name was the
name I love Scott Walker, thanks. That turned out not to be a real person.
First, they thought they had five fake names out about 930,000. They
thought a they had Adolf Hitter, Mick E. Mouse, Donald L. Duck, Fungky Ven
Den Elzen and I love Scott Walker, thanks. They thought they had five fake
names. But it turned out they Fungky Ven Den Elzen is a real name in
Wisconsin. So, there were only four names out of more than 930,000 cast.
I should note that Fungky Ven Den Elzen got an apology from the election`s
board attorney today. “We`re sorry we thought you were fake.”
And no matter who wins the Republican primary in Wisconsin on Tuesday, that
presidential primary, come November, all of Wisconsin is going to know that
whoever the Republican nominee is for president, that Republican was a
Scott Walker guy and in Wisconsin in 2012, that`s not good.
MADDOW: There was a day when they enjoyed the rock and roll all night and
the party every day. They were KISS. The costumiest of the costumes
rockers of the 1970s. The awesome face paint bee. Sky triple platform
boots the unapologetic massive chest hair. They were band who understood
the psyches of preteens during the Carter administration in way that few
others have ever understood anyone`s psyching.
Nowadays, the members of KISS are of age when most people mainly want to
rock and roll for part of the afternoon, then happen now early dinner along
order with run some cable that maybe bedtime. And not KISS, not KISS, no
KISS maybe ageing but they are not aged. They are still touring because
they are KISS. And KISS is hiring and who KISS is hiring, turns out is an
awesome story. And that is coming up at the end of the show along with the
best new thing in the world tonight. Stay tuned for that.
MADDOW: “Wall Street Journal” published a big investigating page one story
yesterday morning about what appears to be a bit of a tax shelter set up by
Bain capital. A tax steal that lot of employees of Bain do invest using
tax deferred accounts in roundabout and potentially tax-evadish ways.
Basically, the story raises questions about whether Bain capital came up
with a way for its employees to benefit from them devaluing assets in order
to avoid paying taxes on them.
In this election year it also, of course, raises questions about whether
Mitt Romney, the former head of Bain capital took advantage of said
questionable tax practices. The Obama campaign responded to the `Wall
Street Journal” investigation by calling on Mitt Romney to release his tax
returns dating back to the `80s. Mr. Romney has so far released just two
years of tax returns. That, of course, is in contrast with say, his own
father who released many more years of his taxes when he ran for president.
The Romney campaign said it`s outraged by the Obama campaign`s latest
request for Mr. Romney`s taxes.
And here is how the Romney campaign responded in particular. I think this
is strange. This was their response to the Obama campaign asking for Mitt
Romney`s tax returns. This what that Romney campaign said. Ready?
It said, quote, “Obama should release, Obama should release the notes and
transcripts of all his meetings with world leaders so the American people
can be satisfied that he`s not promising to sell out the country`s
interests after the election is over.”
Seriously? In what universe is the response to release your tax returns,
the statement that the president should release all his notes and
transcripts from all his meetings with world leaders? Why would you think
it would be a good idea for a president to do that? Why would you think
that would be good for the country? And why would you bring that up?
What`s the connection? Right. This is the new Mitt Romney campaign thing
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your mission is simple, Mr. Obama, win one last
election to gain unchecked flexibility, weaken our defenses and
fundamentally transform the world. Dmitri will transmit the information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Starring Barack Obama as president flexible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s the new ad from Karl Rove`s dark money group. It pairs
with this new Mitt Romney op-ed in foreign policy magazine which he says,
quote, “in his dealings with the Kremlin as in his dealings with the rest
of the world President Obama has demonstrated breathtaking weakness.
And here is the reason why the Republican have all these new foreign policy
talking points all of the sudden. According to “Washington Post,” the
Romney campaign is thinking this is their new thing. This is their new
approach against President Obama. Economy thing maybe not working out so
well, so they are resetting the Romney campaign as a foreign policy
Now, whether or not you are fan of President Obama`s approach to foreign
policy, here is the hiccup for the Romney campaign with this new approach.
They can`t just generically say, President Obama is wrong on foreign
policy. They have to also make it seem like Mitt Romney would be better
and that`s hard to do when your Mitt Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I also think we have learned that
our troops shouldn`t go off and try and fight a war of independents for
another nation. Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan`s independence from
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: For the record, this is an Afghani. This is an Afghan. So, it
lacks several of them. OK. Money - Afghani is money. Afghan is person.
It`s not as bad as when Rick Santorum called the people of Afghanistan,
Afghanstanis, remember that one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Iran is a country that has
killed more American men and women in uniform in Iraq, in Afghanistan than
the Iraqis and Afghanstanis have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Rick some solve sloppy Afghanistan, it`s the Afghanistanis. Mitt
Romney calling the Afghan people, Afghanis as if you would call the
American people dollars. It`s not as bad as Rick Santorum, but it`s not
And yes, the words Afghan and Afghani are very similar, but come on. Mitt
Romney is running for president. More than ten years into an American war.
In a country that is called, Afghanistan that is filled with people who are
called the Afghan people. Pretend to care about that enough to get it
right at a debate if you`re running for president or at least correct it
when you get it wrong.
But Mitt Romney says it over and over again. Whether or not he memorizes
his flash cards well on this subject or not, Mr. Romney has a larger
problem in trying to run a foreign policy base campaign. In a larger
problem is that he does not, himself, appear to have a foreign policy.
Here for example was Mr. Romney last April arguing against troop
withdrawals in Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: We witnessed a weakening of our military and a decline of our
standing in the world. President Obama`s troop withdrawals in Iraq and
Afghanistan were quite apparently based upon electoral expediency, not
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mitt Romney against troop withdrawals in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Here is Mitt Romney arguing for them in June.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: It`s time for us to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly
can consistent with the word that comes our generals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mitt Romney on a timetable for exiting the Iraq war in 2007.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Do you believe there should be a timetable
in withdrawing the troops?
ROMNEY: Well, there`s no question but the president and prime minister
have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak out.
But those shouldn`t be for public pronouncement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They have to have a set of timetables. This is what he said in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I do not support and have never support a time withdrawal. I`ve
never talked about a timed withdrawal with a date certain for us to leave.
That`s not the case. Simply wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Actually, simply, totally correct. You have to idea what your own
policy is, do you? And when it comes to Libya, whatever you think was the
right thing to do in Libya, trying to figure out what Mitt Romney would
have done, has baffled anybody that has tried.
ABC News did some great reporting on this in October of last year because
last March, Mr. Romney said he supported military action and in Libya.
Then in April, he literally fled down a hallway at the Venetian hotel in
Las Vegas to avoid answering reporters` questions about Libya saying
instead, quote, “I`ve got a lot of position on a lot of topics but walking
down the hall probably isn`t the best place to describe those.”
Then in April he pended an op-ed in which he accused the Obama
administration of mission creep and mission muddle in Libya. But once the
mission was successful, he said he was very pleased with how it all gone.
And in response to all this back and forth and back again, laid out step by
step by ABC, the response from the Romney campaign, remember the guy who
said the etch a sketch thing. This is what that same guy said about Mr.
Romney on Libya.
He said quote, “Mitt Romney has responded to the situation in Libya as it
has developed.” Pivoting quickly then to “it`s the president who has been
completely unclear regarding what his intention was with respect to our
military`s involvement in Libya.”
Whether or not you agree with President Obama on foreign policy and I think
that most Americans find his foreign policy largely uncontroversial, it`s
hard to imagine that Mitt Romney is going to be able to portray himself as
the guy that makes more sense on foreign policy.
And if this is the new Romney campaign plan, this is particularly awkward
timing for them to re-launch their campaign around the idea of a Mitt
Romney foreign policy genius strategy.
All this week, the Romney campaign has been making all lovey dovey with the
Paul Ryan budget but Mitt Romney says he absolutely support and say would
like to be pictured next to as such as possible. When people think Paul
Ryan, Mitt Romney would like them to think Mitt Romney right there behind
him. The Paul Ryan`s budget has a big foreign policy problem, which is
he`s just accused all of the top U.S. generals of lying to congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Why did the committee choose to go against
the advice of the generals?
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We don`t think the generals are giving us
their true advice. We don`t think the generals believe that their budget
is really the right budget.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: You don`t believe the generals? This is not
an Obama defense budget. We saw all of combat commanders. We saw all of
the service chiefs stand up and say this is actually what we need. And
this would not be first time. This would not be odd for a defense budget
to decline after conflicts.
RYAN: I agree. What I believe is that this budget does hollow out
defense. I believe it goes beyond where we ought to go to have a strong
national defense to keep people safe. I think they are using budget
gimmicks as well. So, I think there`s a lot of budget smoke and mirrors in
the Pentagon`s budget. It`s not a true, honest and accurate budget.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It is not a true, honest and accurate budget. He said the
generals did not give their true advice. We don`t think the generals are
giving us their true advice. We don`t think that the generals believe that
their budgets is right budget.
Here is how general Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chief of staff
responded to congressman Ryan. He said quote, “there`s a difference
between having somebody say they don`t believe what you said versus calling
us collectively liars. My response is I stand by my testimony. This was
very much a strategy driven process to which we mapped out the budget.”
Romney campaign is, obviously, looking for a new wagon to hitch their
campaign to. They are having problems with the old line which is the
economy is a disaster, blame Barack Obama. And so, they are looking for
Mitt Romney, trust me on foreign policy. I`m the guy who you should look
to for foreign policy genius. That`s their new plan. Give it a go. You
never know. I think this is a bad idea for them.
Joining us now is David Corn. He`s author of the new book “showdown, the
inside story of how Obama fought against Banger, Canter and the tea party.”
David is also the author of the book “Hubris” with Michael Isikoff which
told the definitive story of how the last president sold the country a
decade ago on why he thought it was great to invade Iraq.
David Corn, thank you so much for being here tonight.
DAVID CORN, AUTHOR, CHIEF, MOTHER JONES DC BUREAU: Good to be you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I was talking earlier with Steve Schmidt about whether or not the
George W. Bush legacy hangs over the Mitt Romney campaign in a positive or
negative way. He said it would be great day for the Romney campaign when
they inevitably get the George W. Bush`s endorsement. I think it already
looks bad for Romney that he has the George W. Bush foreign policy
advisers. Do you think that the Iraq (INAUDIBLE) and the George W. Bush
presidency`s still resonate when people look at Mitt Romney.
CORN: I`m not sure people make the connection when they look at Mitt
Romney. But the more he talks as if he comes from the 1970s and 1980s when
it comes to foreign policy, they will put the connection that he`s looking
back ward and not forward.
I mean, I think you are right that he`s a hard sell, that his foreign
policy, whatever it may be is better than Barack Obama. But when he gets
out there, and he`s been doing this for a good coupling of years and calls
the president an apologizer and an appeaser, I don`t think that just rings
true. I don`t think it hits the mark.
In my book, I tell the story of what the president did on Egypt, Libya, the
bin Laden raid. And I think again and again, he came across maybe not
every minute of those crisis, but at the end as the guy who is
deliberative, decisive and got pretty damn good outcome without a lot of
expenses being paid by the U.S.
So, I think if the Romney campaign chooses to engage on that level, the
president can just start telling that story, people have to read my book if
he wants, and I think he has - he will make a pretty damn good case. Mitt
Romney will have a hard time refuting with just his empty rhetoric that you
always - that Republicans always throw against Democrats as being weak on
MADDOW: Do you see it that way? Do you see it as sort of a generic
Republican versus democrat template that they are trying to apply here
whether or not it fits Mitt Romney or whether or not it fits Barack Obama.
They are just hoping people associate Republicans in a positive way with
foreign policy strength? They associate democrat with weakness even if it
doesn`t fit these men very well?
CORN: I think that they`re going back to playbook 101 for the GOP, which
is just call the other side, weak. There`s a new book out now called
“drift,” you might have heard of it. And in it, you talk about Ronald
Reagan losing the first primaries in 1976 against General Ford and then he
came out and started talking tougher on national security and starting
saying things that weren`t necessarily true about the soviet military being
bigger and having more money spent on it than the U.S. military and presto,
all of the sudden he started winning primaries. Not enough to get the
nomination in `76, but it helped him in 1980.
So, I think they just see the same old playbook, that you get up there and
you say things that might not even be true like the president wants to
apologize or the president is an appeaser and just say I`m going to be
What does Mitt Romney have to do to show that? Really, nothing, except
make the charge.
MADDOW: Is it going to hurt Mitt Romney to have taken a stance for
withdrawing the troops from Afghanistan and against withdrawing the troops
from Afghanistan, for a timetable in Iraq and against a timetable in Iraq
and for having taken every position under the sun on Libya while it was
happening before it and after it?
I mean, that – his inability to be identified with any particular foreign
policy position, does that make it a harder place to throw the punches
CORN: You mean to be a flip-flopper? Let me think about that one for a
moment. I mean, I do think if he tries to engage that level of detail, he
can be blown out of the water because he doesn`t have a strong position.
He has been back and forth. And I can just see if it rises to the level of
the presidential debate, the president being out there and able to say,
hey, what happened in Libya, my friend? You said this. You said that. I
was the one that got the rest of the world to join together to get Gadhafi
out of office. It didn`t cost us a single U.S. troop. It didn`t cost us a
lot of money either. I was leading from behind, as the saying goes, but I
was leading from behind the scenes in a collective manner that worked much
better than anything that happened during the Bush years. You remember the
Bush years. Those people that were advising you from the Bush years.
So, I think again and again and again, Obama will have a very compelling
argument on the details. The only question is if he`s going to really be
have to engage on this if it will become an issue during the campaign.
MADDOW: David, in your book, “showdown,” you said the name of my book,
I`ll say the name of yours.
CORN: Fair trade.
MADDOW: But one of the things that you go into a detail is the Arab
spring. And the way that the president handled the issues of the Arab
Spring. And the wave that the president handled the issues of the Arab
Springs, both the length of time that he spent on them and the foresight he
had about them and the way he decided to position the United States, not
against the Arab Spring as a whole but specifically based on what was going
on in each country.
Do you get the sense the White House think they have an election year
narrative to tell about the spring given the fact it`s still ongoing, that
it`s still unsettled in so many places that Americans worry about?
CORN: What`s great about doing this book is going back after the fact and
looking at episodes that you and I were debating by denounce seconds as
they were happening. And in that time period images were being or
impressions were being established for the president.
I think on Egypt in particular, a lot gone his back for dithering because
he didn`t call from a barrack to leave right away. But if you go behind
the scenes like in the book and let him in the meetings, he was both
nudging Mubarak and nudging his own government which a lot of people had an
interest in preserving the status quo and try to sort speak to the
aspirations of the people in the streets of Egypt and elsewhere who were
looking and nine months prior to that he had already talked to people
within his administration about looking forward to the changes in the Arab
world. So, I think Mitt Romney once he gets settled and start telling that
story, it will be very compelling and I think Mitt Romney will have a very
difficult case to make against the president.
MADDOW: David Corn, Washington Bureau chief from mother Jones. The new
book, again, “Showdown” is in stores now.
David, thanks for your time. Nice to be with you on a Friday night.
CORN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Far be it from me to advise anybody how to spend his or her
weekends. If you win the lottery today, I would say call me Saturday,
let`s get drinks, you`ll buy. But in the unlike the event that you do not
win the lottery tonight, and you live in driving distance of the great city
of Tucson, Arizona, I do actually have some great advice for your weekend.
It`s something that Tucson is doing that the whole country have an interest
and not allowed. It`s the best new thing in the world today and it`s next.
MADDOW: I have a question specifically for any military veterans watching
Do you, by any chance, want to rock and roll all night and party every day?
You may get your chance because KISS is hiring a roadie. The band KISS is
touring this summer and they`re looking for a set carpenter to assemble
their stage, to operate special effects and to help take it all down when
the show is over. It`s a hard job. They say you don`t need to be a
trained carpenter, but you need to be prepared to work hard, long hours.
KISS also has another request. They say they want to hire a veteran to do
this job. KISS is putting out the call for their new set carpenter through
hiring our heroes program. That is a big deal here where we work in part
because it is sponsored by NBC News.
The idea of hiring our heroes is to find as many jobs as possible for the
estimated one million unemployed veterans in this country. We have a link
on our Web site where you can send your resume to KISS if you are
interested in this potential gig.
That is a great thing for someone who occupies that sweet overlapping spot
in the Venn diagram between the U.S. military and the KISS army.
But great as that is, that is not the best new thing in the world. This is
the best new thing in the world. Tomorrow, Tucson, Arizona is going to be
looking at something like this. Maybe with different architecture in the
background, probably with fewer people wearing warm gloves and hats.
These are pictures of the first-ever parade in the United States to mark
the end of the Iraq war. To say welcome home and thank you to Iraq war
veterans. The Iraq war ended in December. This first parade was held in
St. Louis in January which is why everybody looks cold. A hundred thousand
people showed up in St. Louis. It was a huge success. A homerun.
Tomorrow – this is a big deal. Tomorrow, the second big parade in the
United States of America to mark the end of the war. And this time, it
will be held in Tucson, Arizona.
As was the case in St. Louis, this isn`t the military or the government
coming up with this idea. This is just citizens, just regular folks,
regular Americans, civilians who wanted to say thank you and welcome home.
The organizers of tomorrow`s Tucson parade said they were inspire inspired
by what St. Louis did.
So, if you are in driving distance of Tucson, events there start early,
7:00 local time tomorrow, that will be the start of a memorial service in
which the names of all of the military personnel who were killed in Iraq
and Afghanistan will be read out loud. That service is likely to go on all
day. People are invited to drop in whenever they want and stay as long as
they wish. But the parade itself in Tucson starts at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow.
Downtown Tucson 10:30. Organizers are asking folks to wave flakes and
homemade signs. They`re inviting parents, and spouses and children of
veterans to march alongside their loved ones.
Details are on our web site which is metalblog.com. it started in St.
Louis continues now in Tucson and there will be more to come. Mark my
words. Best new thing in the world today.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday night. Until
then, you know where you have to go, you have to go to prison.
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