'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, August 9, 2012
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
Guests: Sam Stein, James Martin, Josh Green, Bobak Ferdowsi
CHRIS HAYES, GUEST HOST: Mitt Romney enlists the departed pope in his
campaign against Barack Obama. While Harry Reid continues to press the tax
issue, signaling to his fellow Democrats, be not afraid.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Trouble in Sherwood Forest.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: The combination of
"Apocalypse" and "The Deer Hunter".
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: President Obama stepped up his critique of
Mitt Romney today.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The centerpiece of
Mitt Romney`s entire economic plan is a new $5 trillion tax cut. He
expects the middle class to pick up the tab to pay for it.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the greatest ideas,
something known as the Ran plan.
SHARPTON: Governor Romney wants a culture war.
NARRATOR: Who shares your values? Declare war on religion. Go
against their faith?
SHARPTON: What was he thinking?
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I`m not sure exactly what
the Romney campaign is trying to accomplish.
MATTHEWS: Trouble in Sherwood Forest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why doesn`t Governor Romney have the same kind of
hold on the activist wing in his party that Barack Obama does?
ANN COULTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It`s not worth fighting for this
man. If this is the kind of spokesman --
ANDREA SAUL, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: If these people had been in
Massachusetts under Governor Romney`s health care plan, they would have had
COULTER: To respond to this an ad like this by citing health care in
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Erick Erickson tweeted this, OMG, this might just
be the moment Mitt Romney lost the election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Erick Erickson all
COULTER: If Andrea Saul isn`t fired and off the campaign tomorrow --
ROMNEY: I like being able to fire people.
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: They saw that there`s going
to be a problem.
LIMBAUGH: Democrats are unified.
SHARPTON: America has a serious choice to make.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?
RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is the worst
Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama.
COULTER: If we don`t run Chris Christie, Romney will be the nominee
and we`ll lose.
HAYES: I`m Chris Hayes, in for Lawrence O`Donnell tonight.
Two national polls show President Obama widening his lead on Mitt
Romney as the Romney campaign uses a new television ad to try to make nice
But first, we have new details, I suppose, about the famous unnamed
source that allegedly told Senator Harry Reid that Mitt Romney paid no
federal income taxes for 10 years. Here is Reid`s deputy communications
director Jose Parra.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOSE PARRA, REID DEPUTY COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: All we can say is
that we`re comfortable with this person. This person is an investor in
Bain Capital, a Republican also, and somebody who, you know, who has been
dealing with Mr. Romney`s company for a long, long time. And he had direct
knowledge of this.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: After that sound bite popped up on the "Huffington Post,"
Jose Parra almost immediately he released a retraction reading, "I do not
know the party affiliate of the source, how long he invested with Bain or
his relationship to Romney, beyond the fact that he was investor with Bain
Capital, as Senator Reid has previously stated."
Since campaign observers now think Romney is committed to come hell
or high water not to release his tax returns, Democrats and the Obama
campaign are intent on making him pay the full cost of this secrecy. Mitt
Romney`s secret tax returns are the subject of a just released television
ad from President Obama`s reelection campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Did Romney pay 10 percent in taxes? Five percent? Zero?
We don`t know.
But we do know that Romney personally approved over $76 million of
fictional losses to the IRS as part of the notorious Son of Boss tax
scandal, one of the largest tax avoidance schemes in history.
Isn`t it time for Romney to come clean?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Son of Boss really has a nefarious ring to it.
As for Romney, he`s still fighting his last battle, or more
accurately, the battle he can never seem to definitively win. The one for
the hearts and minds of the right wing commentariat were convinced he
doesn`t truly love them and want to be with him.
Last night, Ann Coulter demanded that Mitt Romney fire Andrea Saul
for touting Romney`s Massachusetts health care law on FOX News. Andrea
Saul still has her job as far as we know.
Today, Republicans were still not over Saul`s remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: We conservatives don`t think
the Republican establishment knows yet what they`re up against. The way to
respond to that ad was not accept its premise and then say, well -- it
scared me that they may not know what they`re up against.
ERIC BOLLING, FOX NEWS: Here`s what I think he should do, Mitt
Romney should do. He should fire his staff. Eric Fehrnstrom, remember the
guy who said the mandate`s not a tax. You can get rid of him. Then you
can get rid of Andrea Saul.
GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS: You want to fire Mitt Romney is what you
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, FOX NEWS: Ooh!
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
HAYES: The timing of a new Romney ad released today looked like yet
another attempt to solidify the base. The ad seems pitched to appeal to
the several thousand subscribers to the right-wing Catholic journal "First
Things" with a bonus quasi-endorsement from the ex-pope.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Who shares your values? President Obama used his health
care plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go
against their faith. Mitt Romney believes that`s wrong.
ROMNEY: In 1979 a son of Poland, Pope John Paul II, spoke words that
would bring down an empire. Be not afraid.
NARRATOR: When religious freedom is threatened, who do you want to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: With 89 days until the presidential election, two new
national polls show President Obama widening his lead on Mitt Romney. An
ORC poll of registered voters showed the president up seven points on
Romney, 52 percent to 45 percent. And a FOX News poll of registered voters
shows the president up nine points on Romney, 49 percent to 40 percent, as
the president`s biggest lead in that poll since Romney became the
presumptive Republican nominee.
Joining me now, "The Huffington Post`s" Sam Stein, MSNBC`s Joy Reid,
and Father James Martin. He`s a Jesuit priest and author of "The Jesuit
Guide to Almost Everything."
We were discussing in the green room. My father was a Jesuit
seminarian for seven years. I feel like I know you already, Father, it`s
good to have you here.
Obviously, Joy, I`m going to go, this theological implications. And
to you, Father, for the political strategy right off the bat here.
In all seriousness, I want -- Father, I`m curious to get your
reaction to that ad because what was striking to me about the ad and what`s
striking to me about going on this issue was that there was a huge fight
over this provision of the Affordable Care Act and whether religious
institutions like universities would have to cover preventative care
including birth control for free. And that was a political battle that was
waged and I think actually the Democrats won that political bat until
purely political terms.
But it just seemed a strange thing to me to be trotting out now in
August in a general election campaign. Do you feel that the symbolism
there and the picture of the pope and the "be not afraid" and the rousing
music has some sort of totemic power with the Catholic voter that I`m
FR. JAMES MARTIN, JESUIT PRIEST: It might. I mean, it`s still an
interesting issue for a lot of Catholics. The bishops are certainly very
concerned about it. But I think, you know, if you bring up John Paul as
kind of someone who`s endorsing you, you have two problems. I mean, A,
he`s dead. And, B, you know, there`s a lot of things that John Paul stood
for in terms of universal health care with a particular option for the poor
that Mitt Romney may not want to be associated with.
I also like to say that be not afraid is actually something that
Jesus said, which I think goes a little missing in that ad.
HAYES: That`s a very good point. The pope was quoting someone else.
MARTIN: He was. The pope was quoting his own boss. So, yes.
HAYES: Sam, I was -- my basic feeling was once you get Lech Walesa`s
endorsement in an American election basically, the election is over. And I
say that not to poke any fun at Lech Walesa, who`s a remarkable figure in
the history of the resistance to Soviet tyranny.
But it did seem to me, again, a strange calculation from a campaign
that I think -- whose strategists recognize and the candidate himself
recognizes that anxiety about the economy is the defining feature of the
election and yet it just seems to me like day after day after day goes by
and they are somehow not talking about that.
SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: Well, first of all, thank you for not
asking me about Catholicism. I would be totally ill-equipped to answer
But I think you totally hit the nail on the head. There is something
off about this. And it`s not just contraception ad. We came off of a two-
day argument about welfare reform. Again, not a topic we thought this
election would be about, especially not from Romney, whose campaign has
been operating under the argument, under the premise that if you just keep
the conversation squarely on the jobs, squarely on the economy that he`d
And you know, in each these cases both the welfare reform ad and the
contraception ad that we saw today, you know, we`re again seeing an
exhibition of why Romney`s sort of uniquely unqualified in this election.
Because one, he obviously -- it was reported he requested a waiver from
welfare reform back in 2005 and with the contraception rule he signed a
very similar law that the president did while governor of Massachusetts.
And this is a reoccurring theme whereby the Romney campaign will
throw a punch and then it will be quickly Lexis Nexis that they did the
exact same thing. And so, it`s curious to me all the more that he hasn`t
kept this focused on the economy and I`m wondering like a lot of other
people why they`re going off on these tangents.
HAYES: In the ORC poll they ask folks -- I`m sorry, the CNN poll
will the economy get better if so and so`s re-elected. If Obama`s re-
elected. 47 percent. If Romney`s elected, 45 percent. That 45 percent I
think is down from 50 percent from May, which means he`s moving in the
wrong direction on exactly the key metric.
JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Well, the problem is that I
think that Sam kind of hit on it. The Romney campaign has been preparing
for like two years, right? To run just on the economy. The economy is
bad, elect me. That was their simple message.
They really didn`t have a second act. So now that they`re not
winning on that argument, because Americans seem to have discounted the
idea of the economy, they seem to be sort of even. That is within the
margin of error. They seem to be thinking, well, one guy, the other guy,
we don`t think either of these guys controls the economy.
I don`t think the economy is any more what the electorate is looking
at. They`re evaluating these two people. And Mitt Romney can`t win that
argument. So he`s doing this backwards thing where he`s going back and
running the primary again.
REID: It doesn`t make sense. He`s going back to re-win the primary.
HAYES: That`s what strikes me as so strange. The pitch, and not to
say -- you know, again, I`m not a political strategist. I`ve never gotten
anyone elected president. What do I know?
But it does strike me as strange that you`re pitching on the familiar
culture war territory. And then -- so here`s Ann Coulter tweeting,
"Republicans have the best ideas, candidates, TV, radios, writers,
businessmen. Why do we have the worst campaign spokesmen?"
And this is -- this is a preposterous theory of the case to me
insofar as it`s not the spokespeople for the campaign the problem. It`s
not the fact that Andrea Saul cited, you know, the health care law in
Massachusetts. That`s not the issue.
The core issue, Sam, is what you mentioned before, is that the guy
has the record he has and here we are in August and it seems to me like the
conservative commentators are just waiting for him to slip up. They`re so
anticipating some grand betrayal that any small thing that happens is taken
as finally, oh, yes, the signal is here, he`s touted Robert Zoellick to
head his foreign policy transition team. He`s stabbing us in the back.
Andrea Saul talked about a bill that he passed in Massachusetts that
worked out well for Massachusetts. He`s stabbing us in the back.
STEIN: Isn`t what An Coulter doing the definition of shooting the
messenger? That`s literally what they`re doing.
And it`s unfair to Andrea Saul in so many respects. You know, we go
from on the one hand conservatives lamenting that Mitt Romney isn`t making
a more forceful case for all his accomplishments whether it`s in the
business community, whether it`s at the Olympics, whether it`s as governor.
And then in the next case, literally one minute after they tout the
signature legislation achievement of his time as governor, conservatives
are apoplectic over it.
And, you know, I don`t think -- I have no reporting on this, but I
don`t think Andrea Saul was just going rogue there. I think the Romney
campaign really wants to talk about some of the accomplishments he made.
The problem of course, is that a lot of them aren`t, you know,
probable in a campaign against Obama.
HAYES: Because the idea that someone would die of cancer because
they can`t get treatment because they were out of a job -- the details of
the ad are a little -- it`s a little unclear what the causal mechanisms at
But the principle that people should be covered, right? Father, is a
principle that I think generally people have a moral intuition is probably
a good idea and there`s a tradition of taking care of this outside the
insurance industry in terms of charitable care that`s been offered, not
turning people away from the emergency room. But also in the Catholic
tradition, there`s a very strong Catholic tradition of calling for
something that looks like universal coverage.
MARTIN: Yes, there is. In Catholic social teaching John Paul II
called for it particularly in the rights of workers in one of his
encyclicals. But there`s a larger Catholic teaching of the common good,
just working for the common good, we`re not all individualistic.
And, you know, frankly it goes back to even further than that, to
Jesus, the guy who said "Be not afraid." Also said that we`ll be judged by
the way that we help the poor. So absolutely.
And I think it`s something that -- I`m not a politician, but it`s
something that Governor Romney should be proud of. Frankly. I mean,
that`s a good thing. To help people get affordable health care seems like
a good thing.
HAYES: And not only I think be proud of. But it is the signature
legislative accomplishment during his -- the one time that he occupied an
REID: It`s in his portrait.
HAYES: It`s in his portrait. So the idea that you can -- I mean, I
understand he`s not going to talk about it in the primary, for obvious
reasons. It enflames the base, but the point is they`ve drawn such a
tremendous no-go zone around it. Not the Romney campaign who I think
understand that yes, that`s a great argument for them to say, look, we can
be bridge builders too and we work with Democrats and we did all these
Finally, the tax issue remains. I think the contours of this are
pretty clear which is that I think people think the Romney campaign is not
going to release it. So now the point is to extract maximum cost from them
politically. Because -- no, I think that`s --
STEIN: That is true.
HAYES: That`s the fair strategic play.
But, Father, I need to get your consultation. Is it a mortal or
venial sin to cast aspersions on the tax records of a candidate? Can we
get a ruling on that?
MARTIN: That`s a very Jesuit political question.
HAYES: Yes, exactly.
MARTIN: I would say it depends on your intent. How`s that?
HAYES: Perfect. That`s a perfectly Jesuitical answer.
Sam Stein, Joy Reid, and Father James Martin, great to have you all.
STEIN: Thanks, Chris.
MARTIN: My pleasure.
HAYES: Coming up, President Obama takes a stand on an important
issue in a swing state that Mitt Romney cannot counter without a serious
flip-flop that would enrage Romney`s base, maybe even as much as Romney
defending his health care plan. That`s next.
And how much do Republicans love the idea of Paul Ryan as Mitt
Romney`s vice presidential pick? Almost as much as Democrats love the idea
of running ads about Medicare coupons in Florida. That`s in the spotlight.
And later, we have finally found a serious case of election fraud in
this country the Republicans had been warning us about. The accused are
Republican staffers. That`s coming up.
HAYES: It is rare that a candidate can take an enlightened policy
position that`s also a winner a swing state that also puts your opponent at
a total loss of a counterargument that will not anger the opposing base.
But Barack Obama has found that argument and is using it against Mitt
Romney. That`s next.
And later, one of the guys who helped land the Mars Curiosity rover
has become an internet sensation. He`s the only one with a Mohawk and he`s
joining me, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: At a moment when home-grown energy, renewable energy is
creating new jobs in states like Colorado and Iowa, my opponent wants to
end tax credits for wind energy producers. Colorado, it`s time to stop
spending billions in taxpayer subsidies on an oil industry that`s already
making a lot of profit and let`s keep investing in new energy sources that
have never been more promising. That`s a choice in this election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was President Obama today in Pueblo, Colorado, attacking
Mitt Romney for opposing a tax credit for wind energy producers.
Wind energy is an important issue in Pueblo, Colorado, home to
Vestas, the world`s largest wind turbine manufacturing facility, employing
400 people in Pueblo and another 1,600 workers statewide. Which is what
made today`s campaign event so remarkable, because when the topic is energy
policy, the politics whether they`re regional politics or interest group
politics, push politicians toward the absolute worst, most craven positions
-- protection of the incumbent fossil fuel industry that is slowly cooking
I`ll note that July was the warmest month in the U.S. in recorded
history. But the distinct and somewhat strange contours of this year`s
political map are changing the political incentives around energy policy,
at least in a few crucial ways.
In Colorado, one of the most important swing states, about 5,000
people work in wind production and nearly 37,000 work in the wind industry
Just last week in a rare show of bipartisan teamwork, the Senate
Finance committee voted to renew a wind energy tax credit for one more
year. The tax break would cost $3.3 billion and would help the wind
industry develop more wind farms and create more jobs. After the summer
recess, the bill will go to a full Senate vote.
But Mitt Romney wants that subsidy to die. His spokeswoman said
today, "Unfortunately, under President Obama`s approach of massive
subsidies and handouts, the industry has lost 10,000 jobs while growth in
wind power has slowed every single year of his term. Now, he wants to
double down for another year on this failed approach at a cost of $12
While Romney is against subsidies for wind energy, in March, he
supported a filibuster by Senate Republicans which preserved $24 billion
over 10 years in taxpayer subsidies to oil companies.
Joining me now, Howard Fineman, "Huffington Post" editorial director
and MSNBC political analyst, and Josh Green, a senior national
correspondent for "Bloomberg Businessweek."
Great to have you here.
Josh, I think the politics of this are interesting for a number of
reasons. One of which is that there is some bipartisan cooperation on
extending the tax credits and part of this is the basic geography of
interest group politics. You have folks in Iowa saying that this is a
mistake to oppose it. Iowa Republican Governor Terry Branstad, he took
issue with the Romney campaign Web site using the term windmill instead of
wind turbine. He said, "They don`t understand. You`ve got a bunch of
people that have put that Web site together that are a bunch of East Coast
people that need to get out here in the real world to find out what`s
really going on."
How do you think the politics of this cut?
JOSH GREEN, BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK: Well, obviously, it`s difficult
for Romney. I actually give him a little bit of credit for this because
it`s the only example I can think of, of him doing something that isn`t in
his immediate short-term political interest. He`s really taking a stand on
HAYES: He hates wind that much.
GREEN: -- principle.
Well, but not just wind. But if you remember, he went to Iowa. He
said he was against ethanol subsidy. So what`s interesting about this,
politics aside, is that it`s a case where he`s actually specified some of
the tax credits that he says he`s going to eliminate to bring down tax
rates, broaden the base, that sort of thing. We`ve heard almost nothing
about what he`d be willing to get rid of.
And here`s an actual tangible, although tiny example of something he
really would eliminate.
HAYES: Well, tangible, tiny, and let me just say it. What`s
interesting, and, Howard, I want you to weigh in on this, there`s a story
that Mitt Romney has tried to tell, there`s a story about crony capitalism
and subsidies, right? But that story is deeply complicated by the fact
that obviously the Republican Party took that vote against getting rid of
the subsidies for the oil companies. So, it`s hard to kind of hew to this
strict, beautiful, pristine, Randian line against government subsidy of the
FINEMAN: No, absolutely. And because he`s only specified a tiny
amount of what he would be willing to do, most middle-class voters and most
observers have no idea how they would really benefit, if benefit at all
from Romney`s tax reform. So, as a result, people want to know what kinds
of actual tangible things you could do.
And I kind of disagree with Josh here, because I think that Mitt
Romney would have a line of attack against the president, who made some big
promises about what investment in alternative energy would do, how many
jobs that would create. The president really and the administration hasn`t
come anywhere close to reaching those goals and Mitt Romney could attack
him on that line, saying you really haven`t done enough in terms of
alternative energy and he would have an open door to push on with the
Instead by taking the position he has, he allowed the president once
again, who has really actually a spotty record of job production on this,
to take the offensive and play the shining knight as he did in Colorado
today. He gave up that issue.
HAYES: And I would say -- Josh, I`m going to let you respond, but
there`s some history here, of course. Right? Which is that, you know,
Mitt Romney, shocker, surprise, as governor of Massachusetts was quite
supportive of a bunch of different mechanisms of industrial policy to
subsidize alternative energy there and remains -- the state Massachusetts
remains to this day probably one of the most supportive.
GREEN: Sure. And I should stipulate, I would favor the extension of
these production tax credits. But I mean, I think the real case for them
is if you look at what Mitt Romney claims to stand for, which is growing
jobs and entrepreneurialism. These credits have been vital, going back 30
years in the history of this country, to building the wind industry. And
it actually -- there is a tortured history of the interplay between these
tax credits and the industry going back to the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan
first killed them in 1985, the U.S. was the global leader in wind and
And what happened was companies immediately went bankrupt. The whole
industry gravitated overseas. So the reason, for instance, that Vestas is
in Colorado, that`s a Danish company. The wind industry gravitated to
So this isn`t just a matter of tax credits and Randian economics. It
also hurts the very thing that Romney claims to stand for in building up
new jobs, building up new industries, which Obama did try to do. I
actually give him quite a bit of credit for the energy bill -- or for the
stimulus and the money it gave for clean energy, despite the fact that, you
know, there`s Solyndra and a few examples of going bad and been demonized.
FINEMAN: They haven`t created the number of jobs they had hoped.
But the other interesting thing here, Chris, is that a lot of Republicans,
a lot of investment banker types, a lot of Republicans that we used to call
country club Republicans love wind energy, wind energy as an investment.
One of them is George W. Bush`s cousin Hap Ellis of New England who`s
a major, leading, early wind energy investor. So, that`s one reason why
George W. Bush had nice things to say about it. It`s actually something
that, as you pointed out, has bipartisan support on the Hill.
And once again, Mitt Romney has found a way to find something that
could be popular and turn it into something unpopular.
HAYES: Let me just also quickly note the elephant in the room, which
is, of course, climate change and carbon emissions. Wind does not put
carbon in the atmosphere. And in fact if you factored -- I mean, I would
be happy to offer conservatives watching at home, who I`m sure there are
many of, the deal that we get rid of all subsidies if we just price in
carbon, we can cap all the tax credits, we can start pricing carbon and
pricing externality and we can make a level playing field that way.
Howard Fineman and Josh Green, thanks so much.
FINEMAN: Thank you.
GREEN: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Coming up, there`s one vice presidential pick for Mitt Romney
that both sides would love to see on the ticket. The push for Paul Ryan is
And is it any wonder Republicans have been so sure election fraud is
a real danger in this country? Now, four Republicans have been charged
with election fraud. That`s coming up.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: There are a lot of reasons Republicans want Paul
Ryan as Mitt Romney`s running mate, but wanting Paul Ryan because you don`t
believe Mitt Romney can defend himself? That`s a new one. Republican Paul
Ryan fever is next.
And one of the men who ran for the Republican nomination for president is
now at the center of a serious case of election fraud that no voter I.D.
law could have ever presented. But then, that wasn`t the point, was it?
That`s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GROVER NORQUIST, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: We know what
direction we want to go. We want a Paul Ryan budget. We just need a
president who will sign this stuff. The leadership now for the modern
conservative movement in the 20 years will be coming out at the house in
the senate. Hit a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to
become president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Grover Norquist`s proposal conservatives at CPAC on
Today, "the Wall Street Journal" (INAUDIBLE) with its editorial, why not
Paul Ryan? Touting the fact the House budget chairman has put entitlement
reform at the center of the public agenda, her level proceed tax reform and
spending and restrained and provides the best opportunity to dramatize,
quote, "the nature and stakes of this election."
It`s a gross overestimation of both the seriousness and the popularity of
the Ryan Republican budget which the non-partisan congressional budget
office has pointed out the lies on the very same fantastical math that the
Romney economic plan is now being knocked for.
That is to saying, it promises a surge of new tax revenue resulting from a
surge of resulting growth resulting from tax reforms and spending cuts that
Ryan has yet to specify. It`s also an overestimation of Ryan`s political
A new CNN poll out tonight shows a plurality of voters either don`t know or
don`t care who he is. And he is not there top vice presidential pick
coming in far behind to Senator Marco Rubio.
The most curious assertion in the journal`s case is that a closer
association with a Ryan budget would be a political winner. The reason
that spending cuts of the depth and destructiveness of the cuts that Ryan
is proposing have never happened before is precisely because they`re
Romney is already tethered to the Ryan budget, do Republicans want Ryan on
the trail in the flesh and blood to serve as a constant reminder of that
Most voters don`t follow beltway politics and probably have never heard of
the Ryan plan because it has no chance of becoming law with President Obama
in the White House. But with Ryan on the ticket, the presidential
Republican nomination who had quote, "has enough working digits as Grover
Norquist says to sign the Ryan budget into law, you can bet people are
going to learn how it impacts them."
The senate on budget, impulse priorities has run the numbers on the effect,
the cuts in discretionary spending, just the cuts in discretionary spending
in the Ryan budget would have on each state in the first full fiscal year
of a Romney presidency. How long nearly $1.17 billion in cuts for 82
schools, roads and law enforcement played with voters in Pennsylvania. Or
cuts in excess of $1.3 billion in federal aid to Florida sound to voters in
the sunshine state?
That`s just the first year. The cuts get more severe over time and that`s
not counting the radical changes to Medicare Ryan is proposing about which
voters in Florida are going to be very familiar by the time Election Day
Joining me now, our MSNBC contributors Karen Finney, former DNC
communications director, and Dave Weigel, a political reporter for "Slate."
It`s great to see you guys.
Dave, OK, my understanding of the affection for Ryan, the desire to see
Ryan name in the ticket coming from the right are two things. One, they`re
constantly searching for signs that Romney really is down with them. I
mean, this is this unending set of signals that he`s sending they`re not
liking. And then he had this flap on Andrea Solem (ph), et cetera, so
that`s one. And two, it strikes me that they just, as partisans or
ideologues often do, and I have done this sometimes, overestimate the
popularity of their own extreme positions. What do you think about that?
DAVE WEIGEL, POLITICAL REPORTER, SLATE: Well, they do. You can`t really
understate how much Ryan is tied in with the conservative movement. I
mean, he worked for Jack Kemp`s empower America, he first in his 20s. He
was tipped by "the Wall Street Journal" the editorial page which is kind of
start the new wave of this, asked for him to run against John Boehner to
run the House in 2008.
WEIGEL: I mean, when he was 38 years old. So he`s very much a chosen one.
And they believe there has been, I think, a little bit of ambits (ph) strip
of every enforcement. They convinced themselves he`s popular.
They have little data points they point to, to say that - to prove he`s
popular. I mean, democracy core, the James Carville group, put out a poll
and ask voters the most positive spin on the Ryan plan. They have describe
Ryan plan and give glowing terms, fix the budget and 52 percent of people
liked it. The point of the poll was that the more they heard, they didn`t
WEIGEL: But I have heard a lot of Republicans say, did you see this poll?
HAYES: And 52 percent.
WEIGEL: Majority of American like this plan.
HAYES: And Paul Ryan also should be noted, it doesn`t have a district
that`s overwhelming Republican. So, it had some success in that area which
he does after win Democratic votes.
Karen Finney, the Ryan budget seems like the proverbial albatross around
the necks of both Romney and the rest of the Republicans, although I also
feel like it hasn`t been a central to the campaign thus far. And I think I
thought it would be, given how central the Republicans made the $500
billion in cuts to Medicare during 2010.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, remember, though, the Ryan
budget was central to one very important upstate New York race that the
Republicans should have won and of course, I`m talking about Kathy Hackle.
So, the point being, if they put Ryan on the ticket -- the reason Democrats
are thrilled by this potential idea is that, it means again we bring all
the issues that you laid out in the opening back to the fore. They`re very
unpopular. They`ve completely overestimated how popular those ideas are.
And again, they couldn`t win in a district that where they should have won
on these ideas. So we already know, there`s already proof that that`s
going to fall flat.
The other thing that`s really important though, just from a tactical
perspective. When I look at those numbers and you see this sort of how
many people don`t really even know much about Paul Ryan, what that means is
tactically, that means somebody is going to define him.
FINNEY: And in Democrats have done a very good job of defining Mitt Romney
thus far as we have seen in the poll, because as his popularity continues
to fall. So once Democrats get out there and start talking about Paul
Ryan, it won`t just hurt Mitt Romney, but I think there`s real potential
there to make others on the down ballot races, Senate and House races have
to justify why they would support such a ticket.
HAYES: I also think - I mean, I think the sort of risk averse case we`ve
heard coming out from the Romney camp of the boring white guy kind of
thing, with the bizarre racial specification bracketed for a moment, and
gender specification, that the -- the basic idea of risk aversion in the VP
pick makes sense to me. I mean, it doesn`t seem like a vice presidential
pick can`t help you that much. It can hurt you if you get a whole bunch of
stories about the Ryan budget.
But the other thing to me that I found fascinating on `the Wall Street
Journal" is that there`s a desire on the conservatives and even desire
Romney to make this election a totemic clash between alternate visions of
the role of the state and the individual.
Here -- let me read this little bit from Ryan Liz`s great profile of Paul
Ryan "the New Yorker." Ryan was reliable Republican vote policy that were
key in causing enormous federal budget deficits, sweeping tax cuts, costly
prescription-drug entitlement for Medicare, unpaid for, two wars, the
multibillion-dollar bank- bailout legislation known as TARP. All in all,
$5 trillion was added to the debt. Ryan told me recently that as a fiscal
conservative, he was quote, "miserable during the last majority" and
determined to do everything I can to make sure I don`t feel that misery
Why is it that Paul Ryan is able to get away with all that ape sty during
those years and others aren`t?
WEIGEL: I think he is reward in part because the rest of the media have
welcomed him. I mean, the fact that he -- the Democrats went in that
special election and he didn`t switch from that. that some kind appeals to
political reporters. I mean, his punishment at the end of 2011 was being
written up in "Time" magazine as one of the man of the year.
And I think the dream of any party is to find somebody who looks moderate
and covered as moderate but will do well ideologically in policy terms what
you wind. I mean, that what they believe paten with that Barack Obama.
WEIGEL: And Barack Obama was not about Barack Obama. That he was
appealing and you hear Republicans sometimes refer to Ryan as their Obama.
They have less so now because it sounds like a bit of an insult. But as
somebody who is charismatic who the media adores, who is tele-genic, but
can get away with anything basically now.
FINNEY: Yes. You know, the other thing is obviously, I mean, he`s young
and he - and they recognize, there have been a lot of stories about the
challenges the Republican party is having attracting younger voters,
energizing younger voters. So, I think there`s that.
But, let`s not forget, so we`re having this conversation the day after yet
again we saw how much trouble Romney really is in and how little support,
how fragile he support Romney has with the core conservatives of this base.
I mean, Andrea Saul`s comment should not have created the kind of firestorm
that it did. And it shows that that is such a fragile alliance. That if
they have to throw Paul Ryan`s name out there and try to gin up some more
support to say hey, we`ll do something to make you happy, that just shows
you there`s a lot of opportunity between now and the election. Again, I
think Democrats recognize this, this issue of honest and trustworthiness.
Because it`s not just do moderates and Democrats trust him? But people of
his own party don`t trust he`s a true conservative.
HAYES: I think he is setting himself up quickly for disappointment if they
don`t go with Ryan, the Romney campaign in terms of that - the base being
perpetually disappointment and frustrated.
WEIGEL: I think they will - I mean, there`s already a twitter campaign, a
#giveusRyan. To me, it sound a little bit too much. They give us
HAYES: We are full of new testament references tonight.
WEIGEL: I wanted to stick with the theme. A little bit. I mean, we look
it over at Tim Pawlenty used to be this kind of politician. But you can`t
from the time that Paul Ryan speed the Blare house, sat in Blare House and
debated Barack Obama on healthcare, they believe that he`s just -- he can
win any policy argument. They don`t have that confidence with the other
HAYES: Karen Finney and Dave Weigel, thanks so much.
HAYES: Coming up, there`s not one voter I.D. law that`s been passed in
this country that would have prevented this serious case of election fraud
several Republicans offered as facing felony charges. That`s next.
And later, one NASA scientist who helped land the Mars` Curiosity rover has
gotten an enormous share of attention and he did marriage proposals. He
joins me coming up.
HAYES: One of the totally bad ass NASA scientists who helped land the Mars
rover joins me, coming up.
And next, a former Republican presidential candidate and his staffers that
are accused of election fraud.
HAYES: That`s radio head in the control room.
In Republican-controlled states across the country, we have recently seen a
rash of strict new voter I.D. laws and voter role purges. The claim from
Republican lawmakers and FOX News, as Jon Stewart brilliantly lampooned
last night, is that there`s an epidemic of voter and election fraud in
America being perpetrated from a back from the dead zombie acorn or
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conservatives in their media division are up in arms
over voter fraud.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The national Republican lawyers only found 340 cases of
voter fraud over ten-year period in all of America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God! That`s almost 0.7 cases per state per year.
And it also includes registering fraud like registering the wrong address,
or writing Mickey Mouse on a petition, which photo I.D. would not address.
But still --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The truth is there`s allegedly a serious case of election fraud
happening in the battleground state of Michigan. There`s just one problem
for Republican legislators worried about election fraud, the accused in the
case are staffers for a one-time Republican legislator. Former House
representative from the state of Michigan, Thaddeus McCotter.
McCotter resigned from the house 34 days ago citing, quote, "nightmarish
circumstances." Those circumstances included his re-election campaign
submitting pages with invalid signatures in support of his candidacy to the
Michigan abort board of elections.
Mccotter then asked that his name be removed from the ballot in the state
of Republican primary which to placed this past Monday. And now four of
McCotter`s former staffers have been charged in connection to those invalid
election petitions. They are deputy district director Don Yaoshung,
district director Paul Seawald, district representative Mary Melissa
Turnbull and schedule Lori Ann Obrady.
In all, the four were hit with 13 felony charges and 21 misdemeanor
charges. Eleven felony charges went to deputy district director Don
Yaoshung, one to district director Paul Seawald and one to district
representative Mary Melissa Turnbull. They include election law forgery
and conspiracy charges.
Unless you happen to be Mr. McCotter, one of his loved ones or one of his
criminally charged former staffers, the nine-page report from Michigan
attorney general`s office is an amazing read.
Some highlights, quote, "employees of Michigan`s bureau of elections
concluded that the filing contained numerous duplicate and triplicate
copies of election sheets calling it quote a deliberate attempt to
circumvent the requirements of Michigan election law and hide known
deficiencies in the petitions from state election officials."
The investigation conducted revealed that petition collection efforts were
carried out by a dysfunctional congressional staff that had completely lost
its moral come pass. Staffers functioned with the arrogant attitude that
the rules simply did not apply to them.
Michigan`s attorney general is calling the four the McCotter crew. And
even though Thaddeus McCotter has not been charged with any crime, the
state Republican attorney general saved his harshest criticism for the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL SCHUETTE (R), MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Any position of Republican
trust, the elected official has a duty to be engaged and involved and mind
the store. Here, former congressman McCotter was asleep at the switch.
This brazen attitude of indifference of public service is disgraceful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: McCotter responded with a statement this afternoon, I thank the
attorney general and his office for their earnest, thorough work on this
investigation which I requested and their subsequent report.
So as it turns out, Michigan anyway, the trick to stopping election fraud
isn`t voter role purges or voter I.D. laws, it`s governor bureaucrats in
the attorney general`s office doing their jobs well.
Up next, one the guys who landed the Curiosity rover on Mars, the guy with
the Mohawk in his first live TV interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All 13 flight controller, listen up. Give me a go, no-
go for long.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Booster?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surgeon?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go flight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ecom?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: GNC.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Control?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go flight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Procedures.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FAO?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Network.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Recovery.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re go, flight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Launch control, this is Houston. We are go for launch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Seriously, if that does not give you goose bumps I don`t know
what`s wrong with you. That`s Ed Harris playing NASA`s famous flight
record Gene Krantz in the movie "Apollo 13."
Tonight, another NASA flight director is gaining worldwide attention but
cuts a bit of a different figure from the Buss Camp crams. sporting a
Mohawk with stars, Bob Ferdowsi with was the flight director who helped
land the $2.5 billion rover Curiosity on to Mars Monday. Once camera has
caught his unusual look, a frenzy broke out over the Internet, that all my
means, with a tumbler page notch, and tens of thousands more follows added
to his twitter account.
(INAUDIBLE) tweeted, @tweetsoutload, marry me. You`re my ideal man, i.e.
smarter than me with better hair.
Joining me now in his first live television interview overnight science
sensation, Bob Ferdowsi.
Bob, it is great to have you here and congratulations.
BOBAK FERDOWSI, FLIGHT DIRECTOR, MARS CURIOSITY ROVER: Thank you so much.
It`s a pleasure to be here.
HAYES: The look you`re sporting tonight as swag, as I was expecting you
would have. You have more swag than almost anyone I know at NASA.
My question to you about -- we got the first color photo from Mars today,
which is just a remarkable image. It looks like it`s taken from a desert
in California. What was it -- we saw you crying in the B roll we just
showed. What did it feel like when you actually pulled it off this week.
Something is, from what I`ve been reading, so fantastically complex, I
can`t believe it actually worked.
FERDOWSI: It was an incredible experience. Obviously the team has put
years of their lives into this moment. And we saw there was, you know,
that kind of outpouring of years of hard work finally paying off. Team
members that are friends, families that have made sacrifices to work those
long hours. And then, you saw us crying and hugging. And a lot of
emotions coming out there.
HAYES: You tweeted today, NASA inside secret, we actually practice those
really awkward high fives and seeing the landing video. Would that coming,
please tell me that`s actually true.
FERDOWSI: No, we actually have team practices. There`s two of us. We go
out for high fives. And a third guy actually guides both of our hands.
So, they missed.
HAYES: The mission of NASA seemed a little indeterminate for a period,
particularly as there was obviously some tremendous setbacks and tragedies
with the shuttle program. And once the shuttle program was tapered off, I
think there was this question of what exactly is NASA`s role. We`re not
going to land on the moon. We`re not using the shuttle to do a lot of
space station type of stuff.
The curiosity project seems to me for the first time in a while, it felt
like space exploration was in the public consciousness again in a really
genuine and exciting fashion. Do you guys feel that there - and do you
feel that there`s a real scientific project and justification for this
FERDOWSI: Absolutely. I think all of us think this is an incredible
project. And part of the thing with this part of this is still amazing is
that, this technology that we did design the sky crane which, you know,
seems so crazy and actually worked, you know, flawlessly is really the kind
of the work course we see for the decade coming out of our future Mars
And specifically with this rover, I think the science we`re going to get
out of it is amazing. I mean, the pictures are of course beautiful, but
one of the cool things is that this rover carries instruments onboard that
are really a lot more like what geologists on earth would have.
We are talking about 15 to 16 times the mass of instruments of the previous
rovers. So, I think it`s going to be absolutely amazing for the next
couple of years.
HAYES: OK. My final question for you is this, your job seems awesome.
And my question is, you also seem -- you seem pretty young. My question
is, how do you end up doing your job? Like how -- if someone is watching
this and you`re 13 years old or 8-years-old and you love space, how do you
become the next Bobak Ferdowsi?
FERDOWSI: I think you got to love what you do. And for me, I started out,
you know, in a small role on this project. But I went to undergraduate and
graduate for aerospace. And then started working there, small roles,
worked my way up, did some testing. And then finally when operations came
around, they gave me a chance to be a flight director.
And yes, it`s an incredibly rewarding experience. I think what you`ve got
to do is find what you love. And of course, I think the biggest part for
us was the team bonding experience. So they put their faith in me, I put
my faith in them. And, you know, together we were able to put a rover on
HAYES: It`s really remarkable to watch. And just the sheer complexity of
the project both from the technical perspective and also just the human
perspective. I mean, how many people worked on this to make this happen?
FERDOWSI: JPL alone, we had about 3,500 people.
FERDOWSI: And that doesn`t include all the other centers and all the
contractors and everything else. I believe I heard a number somewhere
around 7,000 people worked on this project.
HAYES: Boback Ferdowsi gets the last word. Thanks so much.
Be sure to watch the very last word on the show Web site
lastword.msnbc.com. You can follow me on twitter @Chrisohayes. Join me
for up on Saturdays and Sunday`s morning, 8:00 to 10:00.
"Ed Show" is up.
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