tv The Chris Matthews Show NBC October 24, 2011 12:00am-12:30am PDT
[captioning made possible by nbc universal] >> a time for change has come! caller:what's love got to do with it? mitt romney is the republican's best bet. if he's far from their dream date, he's their leading prospect to beat obama. is romney like denny's, you don't plan to go there, you just end up there. no religious text, that's what the constitution says, but what about the voters? ask for one word to describe romney, people say mormon. next year, will the democrats find unspoken ways to work the issue. finally, gaddafi's fall with not a single u.s. casualty, is more evident that republicans can't hit this democrat as soft on national security. i'm chris matthews. with us today, michael duffy, "time" magazine, cnn's gloria
borger, nbc's kelly o'donnell and "the washington post's" david ignatius. first up, with two months before voting starts, where's the excitement over the guy who looks like the nominee. see if you detect resignation on the conservative side. >> the conventional wisdom is that romney has the lead and he's the presumptive nominee. >> i would be very, very surprised right now, almost if romney didn't get the nomination. am i being naive here or foolish? >> i think if you had to bet the house on that, you'd win big. chris: this week's associated press poll has romney at 30% but herman cain and rick perry have 39%. it looks like they don't have a thrill up their leg about this guy. they're not excited about this guy, nobody is on the right. but he looks like he's creeping up to inevitability.
this may be the one year when likability doesn't matter. with housing starts slowing and unemployment still above 9%, consumer confidence worse than it was when reagan took on carter in 1980. with those forces in place, likability has nothing to do the republican party is feeling. they'll go with the guy they got. >> i compare him to the guy your parents always tried to fix you up with, and at first you said, no, no, no, but after you dated for a while, you're, like, that guy looks pretty good. chris: it's more about his prospects than your love affair with him? >> probably in the case of romney. chris: this is dull politics but the alternatives to romney, i get the sense they don't have anything to beat him with. >> one of the things i talk to, senate republicans, and do my own poll, i have yet to find one who does not think romney will be the nominee so that tells me they default to prodigious fundraiser, who was the best surrogate last time. there also seems to be more
enthusiasm about the upcoming generation of republicans. it also seems the greater the intensity against the incumbent, the harder it is for people to have two wells of fire, one against the fire and simultaneously for their candidate. chris: twhoon has fire is rick perry. he's using his big debate moment so far. here's the ad that exploits the big moment in the last debate. >> i don't think i've ever hired an illegal in my life. we hired a lawn company that mowed our lawn and they had illegal immigrants. hypocrisy. there are a lot of reasons not to elect me. chris: perry's got $15 million in his pocket, cash in hand, ready to buy real tv to pound romney. if there's more of that coming, it shows venom and gets out a couple of things besides whether he hired people to cut his lawn
or not. it sounds like he said i didn't hire illegal people because i didn't want to get caught because i'm running for president. >> it was a devastating ad and devastating moment, the steely implacability that romney has had in the campaign in that moment vanished and the bet romney has been making is that competent is its own charisma, that if he can show that, as he's been repeating, i've been there, i can create jobs, i can save the economy from freefall. chris: you thought he lost it? >> i thought his sense of control which has been his through theing debates, suddenly vanished. there was a deer in the headlights moments for him when perry dug in on him. >> he had been trying to float above it all and attack obama and suddenly in the last debate he was attacked frontally and
pow, and he gave it back but he gave it back in a very inartful and revealing way. he didn't expect that attack. >> i think they all looked pathetic and the best thing romney has going for him is that chief rival other than herman cain is perry and perry's problem is perry. ease clearly not a great debater. he doesn't have a lot of bandwidth. he opens his mouth, he's good for 24 -- two or three sentences. chris: he's good for his ads. they beat a debate performance? >> this is a primary forged on debates, these not great and he's dropping in the polls and the public is picking up on it. >> i think the ads will matter a lot. he's got $17 million in the bank and he's going to use them and he likes to get into these knife fights and he will continue doing that and what he wants to do is blunt the immigration issue which has been used against him.
chris: how? he's attacking romney. that ad on the lawn care company and the attack was about immigration. what have people attacked perry on? immigration and supporting a version of the dream act in his sewn state so he put romney on by the way, the 2008 campaign is not off limits, i'm going to rerun it and remind people why they didn't like you. chris: can you imagine being in another country competing with us economically like china and they're reading the translation of this and they're arguing about who cut my lawn? >> when you travel overseas and try to explain american politics to people, it's just a sort of what's going to. i did think that we saw in this week's debate the tough texan who can take it to you. man, he looked mean. chris: he looked menacing. >> if he can shake up and people can look at the negatives of that but if he can shake up mitt romney, he can shake up barack
obama and republicans will look at that and may say we need the street fighter this time. chris: a guy that goes for the ankle. we asked our matthews meter this week, 12 of our regular, including gloria and kelly, will perry's attacks damage romney enough to help the obama campaign next year? it's close. these things think like going after romney on having a guy mow his lawn without proper papers. >> he needs condo fees and not worry about mowing his lawn. these things actually go to the heart -- chris: what do you mean condo fees? >> then you're not hiring your own lawn care. i think the undercurrent is that these are the things that make people uncomfortable, does he change due to political expedience, has he been inauthentic and if you can put that into a perry funded ad,
people have a memory for that. >> it's 2008 all over again and that's exactly what barack obama's people are doing, too. they're reminding people of the romney of 2008, rick perry is reminding people of the romney of 2008. mitt romney is saying that's old news. i'm moving on. chris: can they use his smooth business against him? he's has wonderful elocution, he's so well educated. >> the white house talks about mitt romney the way george bush's white house talked about john kerry. perry is trickier. chris: with the independent voters say i'm back and forth on some issues. >> chris, i think, assuming the economy doesn't turn up significantly, people are going to be looking for the person who is going to be a smart, strong leader, who understands economics and can fix things. that is the sweet spot for mitt romney and it does strike me that sincere, insincere, if he
gets that going, it's powerful. chris: even if you don't love him. >> you don't have to love the guy that's the c.e.o. of the country. chris: everybody thought he was tricky and ruthless enough, richard nixon, to pull us out of vietnam. >> no one loves him. >> if republicans aren't in love with mitt romney and he becomes the nominee, will they turn out? and i would argue they will it's all about how much they don't like obama. that will be the motivator. chris: going around the table starting with your thought. can he make himself, to use a phrase from the last campaign, likeable enough? >> he is so far until this last debate he had made himself i think likeable enough so my answer would be yeah, he doesn't have to be wildly likeable, just competent. >> there's enough time and intervening event might give him a chance to be vulnerable. >> absolutely. chris: tell a few jokes?
michael duffy, you're hesitant. >> if he comes out unlikeable, it's not going to work because it's not about likability. chris: the republicans debated in vegas this past week and monday president obama heads there, too, speaking of betting. the easiest way to put your money where your mouth is in politics is at the website intrade.com. it's based in dublin, an online futures market where candidates' prospects are traded like stocks. the price per share for any candidate reflects his chance of winning. cnbc's scott coen explained. >> you buy or sell a share or contract traded in points from zero to 100 based on the percentage chance of something happening. each point is worth 10 cents so if you thought barack obama had a 60% chance of winning the presidency, you might buy one share of obama at 60 points or $6. chris: in the 11th hour betting
line, it's been more accurate than polling. it was right on the money in predicting the exact electoral college totals in 2004 and 2008. we don't know what the betting be on election eve this coming election but what is intrade showing now? romney, the odds-on republican favorite with the 66% chance of getting the nomination as of now. as for the general election, intrades split down the middle between obama and whoever wins the republican nomination. while political spectulators hope to prompt mitt romney, romney is caught flaunting his own winnings. this is a photo of romney and his capital team making the rounds on the internet. michael duffy. that looks like the 1% that is hated by the wall street occupiers, bragging about their take. >> we'll see that both in the primary and general because whether he produced jobs or simply produced profits will be one of the core critiques from
chris: welcome back. the matter of mitt romney's mormon religion has been discussed lately thanks to the dust kicked up by the pastor who said it's a cult. what is wrong with mormonism? >> well, mormonism, first of all, has another revelation, the revelation of the book of mormon. came 1800 years after christianity. it uses a lot of the same language, chris, as christianity does. it talks about jesus christ. it talks about faith.
but it's the jesus christ who came to north america, you know, in the 1800's, not the jesus christ of the bible. chris: one of the most recent nbc news, "wall street journal" poll, 47% say they're comfortable with a mormon being president, namely mitt romney. in a new poll, voters had to come up with one term or phrase that comes to mind for each leading republican. for herman cain it was 999. for rick perry, it was texas. and for romney, it was the single word, mormon. it's come to be so salient, david, and this is tricky business. i don't want to talk about religion but the old question comes back, does he have to clear the air? does he have to play offense or can he simply say it's my business, it's my religion, focus on my politics? >> presumably he'll try to say it's personal, it's none of your business, but to be honest, chris, he'll be thinking about the great example of how to deal with this successfully which is
jack kennedy in 1960 and, not to flatter our host too much, but the best account i've read of is in your new book about j.f.k. you ought to share with all, how did j.f.k. do it? how did he resolve this? chris: he basically said that the issue before the voter is not what kind of a church i like, it's what kind of a country i want to live in and he focused on entirely on tolerance and not on -- he did not go into defending transsubstanckiation or exorcism or all the exotica every religion has. i think romney's problem is that you have a whole group of southern people who have probably never voted for a mormon who do openly say so in polling they've got a problem with it. they don't treat it like racial prejudice. they're not christian and then they get into the discussion of theology which we should not get into. >> many well known evangelical
leaders on a national level have said, i'm fine with this. they're really just the leaders and we also know from the last couple of elections, three or four points, even less-than-that, can turn out among evangelical voters can make a huge difference in november. chris: and in having to choose or obama, will they say, i dislike obama, i need a change, or will they say, i can't do this? >> as people learn more about mormonism if they're not aquanted with it, one of the things i notice on capitol hill, there are 18 or so members of congress who are mormon so they get elected statewide and in their districts. interesting things about romney, he's been a leader and prominent one within the faith taking a position where he had a lot of influence on what the church was doing in massachusetts, a pastoral role, all of those things. not just someone who attended. chris: will the obama, the guys in chicago, now, the smart guys,
not just the ones with the propellers on their heads, but the real street politics in this campaign, will they find ways of saying words like he's a little weird, he's a little off it, ways of getting into his theological difference? >> i don't think -- i just think that something like that has to come from the top down and barack obama, having fought a lot of this himself, you know, is he a muslim, first african-american president, et cetera, there just can't be any of their fingerprints on it and i think barack obama, call me naive, but i do not believe he would condone this in any way, shape or form. chris: you sound like romney saying i won't hire an illegal to do my lawn work, you say no fingerprints. >> i don't think they would. >> they don't have to condone it or do it because they know other people will. chris: some of the church leaders will. did you hear what rick perry said the other day, i don't
believe in doing it but you can say what you want. >> thinking back to 1960 and kennedy and catholicism, once he got through the primaryies, it was over as an issue. i just don't see barack obama being the person who -- it would be high risk for him to raise the oddity of the religion. chris: the danger as it was with kennedy, the silent bigots, they don't say anything but they go in the voting booth. when we return, scoops and
chris: welcome back, mike, tell me something i don't know. >> president obama's relations with democratic senators are near the breaking point. they have been for months keeping their unhappiness with him to themselves. they feel unheard, ignored and now they're beginning to talk about it more and more, still privately, but not happy. it's not going to cost him the election itself. it's another -- chris: why are they mad at him? >> he never consults them and doesn't listen to them. classic and getting worse. >> watch for the administration and congressional democrats to make a push on immigration again, either in december or early in the new year so they can set up a contrast issue with republicans for the hispanic voters. maybe they'll resurrect the dream act or parts of the immigration bill. >> picking up on michael's, i've been asking senate democrats, do
you get a phone call from the president, one told me not since election night. another from an important state said i never get to talk to him. i said, does that make you angry? they said, it was disappointing. so that is really real and bubbling up. >> big surprise coming in the themiars of condoleezza rice who will tell us how close israeli prime minister ehud emerit and babies 'r' us came on getting a deal on the final issues of the last months of the bush administration. they were drawing maps and made concessions that are astonishing. it was all secret and will be revealed. chris: when we return, the big question of the week, first bin laden, then gaddafi, and complete pullo from iraq.
leave iraq this year. mitt romney suggested that decision on iraq was a result of either "naked political calculation or sheer ineptitude." that brings us up to this week's big question. will president obama be vulnerable to republican charges that he's weak on national security. mike? >> only with liberals. no, i don't think so. >> no, i don't think he's going to be vulnerable. i think the white house wishes national security were more of an issue in this campaign than it's going to be. in 2008, iraq was a big issue. >> still gets criticized on his position about closing guantanamo. he's got a good story to tell about the number of high-profile enemies who have been taken out and his leadership on iraq, but it's not the issue of the day. chris: david? >> who would have thunk it, this liberal democrat, very little
to run as, is going national security candidate and say i will take care of you, you will protect you from terrorists. he delivered on what was a pretty high risk strategy with libya. he did get the troops out of iraq as he said he would. he's still got worry about afghanistan. chris: thinks for the roundtable, michael duffy, gloria borger, kelly o'donnell and david ignatius. that's the show. and david ignatius. that's the show. thanks for watching.