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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  March 28, 2012 4:00am-5:00am EDT

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starts right now. >> good evening. thanks. for the next hour this is how america learned, this is how we all learned who won the presidential election in the year 2000. watch. >> dan abrams and pete williams are just outside and they are reading the ruling even as we go to them. pete, what do we know? is this a split decision? >> it would appear to be so. it's not signed by any single justice. the senior justice, justice john paul stephens leaves little doubt there's no room for a recount. justice suter says, we think he's talking about what could have happened. >> if there's no room for a recount, this election is over for vice president al gore. all his political aids are saying if they lose on the recount it's over.
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>> i see nothing in think way that's incompatible with that tom. >> that was how it ended. the presidential election was decided not in november, but in december of that year, more than a month after the election and it was decided at the courthouse. on election night, which had been 35 days before you just saw pete williams on the courthouse steps there, every other state in the union has turned in a defentive election result it was chaos. george w. bush won, maybe. after recounts and the republican so called brooks brother riot to interfere with recounts, after the lawsuit that went to the supreme court, ultimately what got recorded as the final result in florida was
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george w. bush winning the state by 537 votes. that's it. a nonpartisan independent count of all the votes cast statewide in florida in that election found that al gore got more votes. the independent, nonpartisan count cast statewide gave george w. bush between 60 and 171 fewer votes than al gore. instead of that count becoming the results of america's florida election that year and therefore america's presidential election, that result just became a footnote to the presidency of george w. bush. we don't talk about it much anymore. i'm not sure how clear it is whether or not america is at peace with that election result in 2000. it sort of overtook us quickly there after. if you're not at peace with it, if you think that george w. bush stole florida in 2000 and stole the presidency, it's clear in hindsight and at the time that florida could not have been
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stolen had the voting result in florida not been so close. i don't say that to relitigate the last 12 years of american politics but rather to underscore how close it was. that one really important number. the number votes between these two guys 537 votes. when florida republicans took over in 2010, they changed florida law to make it much more difficult to vote in florida and much more difficult to register to vote there. last week the group rocked the vote launched the register young people to vote all over the country. rock the vote is very mainstream, very nonpartisan. a number of republicans went to a rock the vote event to turn out to vote. this year the rock the vote voter registration efforts will
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be kicking off everywhere in the country except for the state of florida and that's because of florida's new voting law. it's a criminal offense with huge penalties to do standard regular old voter registration drives that have always been done in that state and everywhere else. it makes it so legally difficult to do them without running a foul of the law that the people whom do voter registration drives feel like they cannot do it without putting themselves in criminal jeopardy. the league of women vote ers have stopped registering people altogether even though they did it for decades. one local chapter of the naacp had the crime of electing registration forms. they got people to sign up to register to vote on the sunday of that three-day weekend and turned in the forms to the state. that was an illegal day and
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earned them the threat of prosecution for having done that horrible thing. we've covered the story before of high school teachers in florida for the crime of registering high school steen your seniors to vote. they made for a piece on the colbert report. >> this is the town of pace, florida and these are the children of pace. they're innocence lost at the haends offense their own teacher. a teacher who crossed the tlien and betrayed their trust. dawn who lured them into committing an unspeakable act they were too young to understand. >> i am being fined by the state of florida for registering kids to vote. >> some as young as 17 and so impressionable. >> i wonder what the stage direction that gave to that kid was.
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can you please look glassy eyed and tilt. that is how fraught with peril the basic task of registering people to vote. it's kind of amazing. look at this. in the months since the new law took effect more than 81,000 fewer floridans have registered to vote than during the same period before the '08 presidential election. more than 81,000 fewer people have registered to vote this year thanks to florida republicans new law that makes it harder to register to vote. they have been made illegal in florida. in the last election, here is how new voters, first time
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voters broke down between barack obama and john mccain in florida. barack obama won that group by 19 points and now this year in florida, thanks in part to the republican voter suppression law, there will be 81,000 fewer of these voters and that's by the end of march. might those numbers might a difference as to who is elected president this time around. >> i george walker bush swear. >> in 2000 it was 537 votes and thanks to ou close it was, the smaller number of votes that really counted and that was five votes. the five to four bush v gore supreme court decision. it was a stunning decision, right? all the liberals voted for the gore side. all the conserve atives voted for the bush side. george w. bush became president.
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the court was so self-conscious about the spur riness that the ruling said it could not be cited in future cases. it was not precedent. in other words, we're not making law here, we just want george w. bush to be president, okay. the bush v gore five-four decision probably did mortal damage that capitol justices would act in small c conservative ways. they were happy to take radical, lead action to depart from legal pres dent as long as it achieved a political aim that they wanted. if that idea was an entirely dead after bush v gore, it got dug up and killed again in one of the court's next high profile cases in citizens united. they went so far out on a limb that they might have had to jump onto another tree in order to stay a loft.
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that was the last time the court bowed to public interest in what they were doing by releasing audio in the oral arguments on the case. since citizens united the supreme court hasn't released audio that quickly until this week until the health reform arguments that have been taken up by the court. here is what some of what the supreme court argued over. >> all that sountdss like you're debating the merits of the bill. you ask really for limiting principles so we don't get into a matter that i think has nothing to do with this case, broccoli. okay. >> broccoli. it was justice stephen brier trying to put an end to the broccoli talk. every time somebody said broccoli in these arguments, you'd have to drink. i have to see what sort of shape
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she's in after broccoli was brought up eight times in the oral arguments. here is the overall political context for this big high profile case. heading into this big high profile, very partisan inflected court case on this big achievement of barack obama's first term in office, bloomburg news polled americans on how they would decide this case. 17% said the justices would decide this case solely on its legal merits. 75% said they thought the justices own politics would influence how they ruled on this case. 75%. in other words, after bush v gore, after citizens united, we don't expect much as a country anymore from the supreme court. we do not expect they are out there neutral, calling balls and
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strikes fairly. if you go by what people tell pollsters, we think they are partisans, at least we think the majority will do anything to help politicians who are on their side and hurt politicians that are on other sides. one bus load of anti-protesters arrived today. when they turned up in washington, d.c. at the court, it was hard not to connect that to justice clarence thomas. he previously appeared as a featured speaker for the group that bankrolls the health reforms unconstitutional. on the day that the supreme court decided to take this case skbrfs thomas and justice were honored at an event held by the law firm that's arguing the
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anti- anti-health reform case. justice thomas had to change his financial disclosure forms for the fact his wife has been a paid activist. so, today in oral arguments tipped their hand that we seem to tip their hand in questioning to make it seem like they really do want to overturn health reform. the short sided question is maybe so shortsighted is the wrong question to ask is how might a ruling against the president's health reform law affect the obama presidency and this president's chances at re-election. i think that is a short sited question and maybe not the right question to ask. no matter whether they uphold the law, they will not decide they like it.
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the bigger question here, bigger in terms of its importance of what's not going in partisan politics and our system of government and faith in it, it's not about how a ruling from the supreme court on this law will affect per seng ception of this one pres dent, the more farsighted is how this could affect perceptions of this supreme court as an institution. do they even care? thank you very much for being here. it's good to have you back. >> thank you for having me back. did you smuggle in flask and drink every time they said broccoli today? are you drunk? >> you can't smuggle in anything. they take everything off you. you can get cough drops in. there was a brief discussion of inventing a martini cough drop. >> the justices seemed like they
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are going to rule the heart of health reform, at least the heart of this legal case, the individual plan date unconstitutional. did it seem that way to you? >> i'm not sure. i think the first voices out of the court said, not incorrectly, this did not go well for solicitor don. he got thumped in the first hour. it appeared that certainly four of the conservative justices had kind of made up their minds and that justice kennedy who is that central vote that everybody is watching was awfully edgy about the individual mandate. i think it didn't look good. watching the second hour, it wasn't nearly as clear that justice kennedy was only unkofrtable with the government side. he asked some pretty pointed questions at the entds of the d he second hour and certainly
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gave some intimation that he understood ha the health care market is different from the broccoli market. i think the more important point is what happened in oral argument particularly in a case like this isn't the whole story. what's going to happen in friday at conference is going to be part of the story and even more importantly in looping back to your opening there, what the justices are thinking or justices like i think anthony kennedy and john roberts is how does this impact the court to hand down another five-four citizens united in an election year. i don't think it's just a slam dunk certainly for those two justices to pull the trigger on that. >> what sort of -- what do you watch for? what evidence do you look for to determine what justices who are have a lifetime appointment, who don't have to speak to anybody, what do you look to determine whether or not they care about
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their own perceived. how do we know whether or not that both ere ers them snl. >> i think we know it matters because each and every time they go out into a public space they say look at all our 8-1 decisions. don't look at our 5-4. look at the ways we agree. he said don't think about how clarence thomas need to rekuz. a whole book was written about how he understands the entire branch rests in the public trust. thai say it. they do say it. each of the justices across the spectrum say it loud and over and over again. you see something like today where it really looks like maybe that's just talk and you think, they act like they are anxious
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about how we feel about them and then they do something like bush v gore. do they think we don't notice or do they think we believe the words and not the action. that's the tricky part. >> we got to rely on the eyewitness testimony from you. thank very much. >> thanks. that's a very weird story. that's still ahead. coffee doesn't have vitamins... unless you want it to. splenda® essentials™ no calorie sweetener with b vitamins, the first and only one to help support a healthy metabolism. three smart ways to sweeten. same great taste. splenda® essentials™. multi-policy discount. paperless discount.
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arguments against health reform had a great day in the supreme court. they continue to make the arguments inside the courtroom but outside opinion. >> we're just big egging the federal government to leave us a shred of freedom. don't make us buy a product that we don't want to buy. is that asking too much? >> ron johnson of wisconsin speaking outside the the court speaking how wrong it would be to make people buy insurance. making you buy snurns that you don't want it, that's like taking way your last shred of freedom. here is what's awkward about that. about 100 miles south of where senator johnson was standing republicaning in another capital, in the state capital of virginia were doing exactly what senator johnson was envaing against outside the supreme court.
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amid a series of protest, republicans have succeeded in passing a law where the state will force you to have a medical procedure. the state government overriding the judgment of your doctor and forcing you to have a procedure done to you even if you do not want it. is forcing you to buy health insurance taking away your last shred of freedom, there's real question of where state mandated medical procedures fall on the republican 2012 number line of government tyranny. virginia governor bob mcdonald's signed virginia's forced ultrasound bill into law weeks ago, that's why everybody calls him government ultrasound. whether to turn an unfunded mandate like senator ron johnson was yelling about, whether to turn an unfunded mandate into a funded mandate for virginia women and they decided not to do that.
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republicans in the virginia state senate decided they would be cool with forcing women to have a medical procedure and forcing them to pay for it. an amendment to the state budget that would require insurers to cover the costs of these ultrasound failed yesterday in the virginia senate on a nearly party line vote. over in idaho republicans have abandoned their own forced ultrasound bill. a republican committee chair in the house confirming that idaho's forced ultrasound bill is dead for the year and explaining why the republicans decided to let the bill die in the house after it already passed the senate. the big problem that's been identified is the mandatory ultrasound. the whole issue was clouded because of the mandatory procedure. the whole issue wasn't clouded by the mandatory procedure. the whole issue was the
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mandatory procedure. that's why people are upset at the government saying you have to have this procedure. that's the problem. idaho republicans wanted to mandate a procedure for women and idaho women did not want that. that was not a distraction. that was the issue. one idaho republican saying he sent out 15 letters to women polling them on the forced ultrasound bill. 12 of them replied. one of those 12 supported the measure. in florida, legislature wrs trying to cram a bunch of aents-abortion measures that they weren't able to pass last year until one giant omnibus bill. the bill passed the florida house only to be killed in the florida state senate this month on a bipartisan vote. one of six republicans who voted to kill the omnibus bill telling the miami herald saying the public is calling and screaming to concentrate on bills that put food on the table and jobs.
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another anti-abortion bill, one that would ban most abortions at 20 weeks, that bill is newly imperiled this week. the original bill doctors that violated the ban would face felon charges carrying up to a ten-year prison sentence. opponents argue it would force women to carry to term fetuses that would be stillborn because of medical problems. after the house passed the bill the senate saw fit to ae mends it. the georgia senate made a change that would allow women to get an abortion if the doctor determined the fetus had a fatal defect. now because of that, the whole thing may fall apart.
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house republicans in georgia want to be able to regulate the pregnancies of women carrying babies with fatal dekts. you don't get to decide that, the georgia legislature decides that. what was that the republicans war saying at the supreme court yesterday. >> don't make us buy a product that we don't want to buy. is that asking too much? >> if the government can tell people that, where's the line of what they couldn't tell people? >> right. i know that health reform politics gets covered as a mainstream partisan thing and the fight over reproductive rights, abortion access and contraception is treated as a ladies thing, sort of a side bar issue. this is where they come together. republicans are against the government forcing you to buy health insurance.
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republicans say they want to government out of the health care business. republicans don't want government telling people what to do when it comes to their health. that's a very basic ward message to be trying to peddle when they are trying to achieve complete regulation down to specific medical procedures of every pregnancy in their jurisdiction.
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i'm about to show you a short but powerful clip from man named bryan stephen sons.
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stay tuned after i play this so i can give you the context. watch. >> we will ultimately not be judged by our technology. we won't be judged by our design. we won't be judged by our intel intellect and reason. you judge by the character of their society, not by how they treat the rich and powerful and privileged but,000 they treat the poor, the condemned, the incarcerate incarcerated. it's in that nexus we understand truly profound things about who we are. >> he presented that idea that we won't be judged by our technology, design, intellect or reason. he presented it at the ted conference. when he was threw making that
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case people who were there said that bryan received the largest ovation ever in the 28 year history of the ted conference. thank you to ted for allowing us to air that clip. i should say that he had a big impact on me in my former life when i was an activist working to improve prison conditions. bryan is here for the interview fresh off his argument this past week. stay tuned.
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number one, china. fwhourm number two, iran. number four iraq and number five, the united states of america. they're not very many lists on which we come fifth after iran and iraq but that's because the lists of which countries are killing the largest number of prisoner, that list comes out once a year. today is the day the china is first. it's difficult company, right. in all of europe and all of the countries that used to be the soviet union was belarus. japan didn't use the death
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penalty last year. didn't kill any of its prisoners. we did that 43 times last year. the number is going down for us. we may be the only modern industrialized nation that goes into our prison cells, takes people that are already incarcerated and kills them as quietly as possible. we may be the last industrialized country in the world that is doing that but we are doing that less. we killed 46 times in 2010 and 43 time last year. that's the direction that things are going for us in this field. the state of illinois banned the death penalty last year. oregon's governor adopted a moratorium on killing there. maryland and connecticut may be close to banning executions as well. there may be a ballot measure for california to decide whether it wants to get rid of its death penalty. sentencing laws only went up. a newfound shyness about the
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fallibility of those that pass judgment plus fiscal concerns but sheer wonderment at the internationally unprecedented scale of the prison and jail system we americans have built for ourselves over the past couple of decade, all of these things have combined to push things in a different direction. in 2005 the supreme court rules it was unconstitutional for us to kill juveniles, to put you to death for a crime that you committed when you were a kid. in 2010, the supreme court said you could not get a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for a crime you committed as a kid unless the crime was murder. now the supreme court is set to decide whether you can be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole when you committed that
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crime when you were a kid, before you were 18 even if the crime was murder. if it's not okay to execute someone for a crime they kplited before they were 18. is it okay to say you will be locked up for the rest of your life and you will live your entire adulthood behind bars and be locked up inside the prison. is that constitutional? bryan stephenson joins us tonight for the interview. he's the founder and executive director of the equal justice initiative in alabama. thank you so much for joining us tonight. nice to have you here. >> it's my pleasure. thank you for having me. >> the idea of kids in prison until they die sounds like a strange thing for a modern industrialized nation to commit
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to but 39 americans state do this. >> i think until very recently no one had a clue that we had children in this country, some as young as 13 that have been sentenced to die in prison. one of the challenges of the depth is it obscures other issues of severe and excessive punishment. this is still one of them. we couldn't really talk about or consider death in prison sentences. i think it's a shock to many people that we send children, nine and ten to adult prisons and some of those kids 13 and 14 get sentenced to death in prison. >> when you advocate and when you brought this case as far as the supreme court and talked about it around the country, do you get push back from people who say you are not taking
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seriously the gravity of the crimes that these young people have committed in order to earn a sentence this tough? >> well, i think our political discourse around these kinds of issues are just general conversation has been corrupted by decades of the politics of fear and anger. what that has meant is there's been very little space to actually talk about these issues in a reasonable way. yes, they are frequently times when people say but someone has committed tearable crime. that's the end of the conversation and what we try to engage people around is the fact that our criminal justice system is designed to punish and protect public safety but it has to be just. it has to have integrity and credibility. we don't see much of that. we've got to talk about these other issues. i am quite sensitive to the victimization that crime is creating.
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if i had to idea a community of people that are suffering violence and victimization unlike any other it would be many of the clients that i represent. these children are survivors of sexual abuse and physical abuse and violence and they had sibling and parents raped and murdered and assault. they know a lot about victimization and so do we. i try to get people to appreciate we're not trying to be insensitive to that. we're trying to be responsible. i think the sentences have been responsibly or just. >> that have limited the sorts of sentences that juveniles susceptible to in this country. we decided they could not be executed for crimes committed before age of 18 and life without parole was inappropriate for people that committed crimes before the age of 18. you're trying to change that to make that include murder.
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do you see a larger -- a change in legal reasoning that explains those two previous precedents for what you argued this week with the court? >> i do. i think we're becoming a little more sensitive to vulnerability, child status. children are different than adults. we recognize that in every area of the law except in the criminal justice system. we don't let them drive, drink, vote. we don't let them do a whole host of things. we deny them privileges that we extend to adults. we've always recognized that children are different. we just haven't done it in the criminal justice context in a way that's reflected in our sentences. that's one of arks. we've been trying to be more vocal about our most vulnerable people, children, the people with mental illness. the mentally disabled. i think that's part of it.
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i think the other part is that we are being forced to be more sober about our sentencing policies because of the cost with 2.3 million people in jails with states having to remove money from education and public benefits and services and redirect to jails and prisons, i think there is an openness to talking about punishment in ways that we haven't talked about previously. i guess the final thing i would mention is i think we're being forced to be a little more honest. you talked about the death penalty. i think we're increasingly having to confront the fact that the death penalty isn't a question that should be answered by asking do people deserve to die for the crimes they commit. i think we have to ask, do we deserve to kill? if our system is flawed or unequal with regard to class and economic status. if it permits innocent people to be wrongly convicted and killed then we'll get to a different answer. i think there's space to have that conversation.
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>> bryan stevenson. to see your increase national profile not just in the legal community but among people that don't think they care about these issues but are starting to care because of you, i want to say congratulations. >> thank you. my pleasure. right after the show, lawrence o' donnel has a special guest, me. we're going to be talking about this new book. we'll talk about mitt romney's sam pain sab campaign saber rattling. a secret plan to defeat president obama. here is the thick about fight club people tend to forget. the central character, the hero, the anti-hero is tyler durdin. he's a traveling soap salesman. the soap is made from human fat harvested during liposuction. karl rove thinks he's that guy. he organized a coalition of conservative groups to coordinate their campaign i stepped on the machine,
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here is the thick about fight club people tend to forget. the central character, the hero, the anti-hero is tyler durdin. he's a traveling soap salesman. the soap is made from human fat harvested during liposuction. karl rove thinks he's that guy. he organized a coalition of conservative groups to
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coordinate their campaign spending to better target congressional democrats. he called this group the weaver tearist group after the address where they held their meetings. today reports that mr. the old gang back together, reportedly for a meeting this week. and when politico's reporter started calling to find out who would be going to that meeting, the communications director for rove's group sent out this e-mail warning the people in this group not to talk. quote, for those of you who don't remember the rules of the road, a pop culture reference below. and then he inserts a link to this. >> the first rule of fight club is, you don't talk about fight club. the second rule of fight club is, you don't talk about fight club. >> karl rove thinks he's tyler durden. karl rove thinks he's the human fat-based soap salesman from
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"fight club." despite the window into karl rove's soul, the takeaway is no matter how fractured and dissatisfied the republican party may be this year over their nominating process and their eventual nominee, mr. rove is still the guy doing all the soap selling. to finance the republican campaign. we are told to expect him to be controlling hundreds of millions of dollars all aimed at destroying the barack obama presidency. and ending his second-term hopes. the money on the establishment side of republican politics is no less daunting in the primary than it will be in the general. next tuesday, there are three presidential primaries. in washington, d.c., where rick santorum is not even on the ballot, in maryland where romney is expected to have an easy night, and wisconsin. common wisdom is that rick santorum has to win wisconsin in order to stay in this thing. and so as of today, mr. santorum is being outspent in wisconsin
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advertising roughly 10-1. between the romney campaign itself and the affiliated romney super pac, they're at over 3 million romney bucks in wisconsin advertising. that's versus a little over 300,000 santorum dollars. for his part, mr. santorum is starting to sound like he realizes that winning may not be the only option for him this year. >> if he for some reason asks you to be the vice presidential canned didate on his ticket, would you even consider it? would you consider it? >> look, i would do, in this race, as i always say, this is the most important race in our country's history. and so i'm going to do everything i can. >> so you're keeping your options open? >> i'll do whatever is necessary to help our country. >> see, usually you say i'm running for president, not vice president. he could be my vice president if that's what you mean. unless you're not in the running for president anymore. newt gingrich got the same question on fox news and gave a similar answer.
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those might be the strongest indicators yet that this race for the republican nomination is ending. but there's one last mystery item tonight in 2012 news. a weird little story out of southern california. a crime story. a couple of romney campaign laptops containing reportedly detailed information about the romney campaign have been stolen. stolen out of a rental car parked in san diego this past weekend. local police are saying that they do not know if this was just a random theft or if it could have been a targeted hit to steal information from the romney campaign. as i said, a strange story, a crime story related to the 2012 campaign. we'll keep you posted on that one as we learn more, and we will be right back.
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breaking news that has just been posted by that could be a very big deal for the
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2012 race. it looks at least from the surface of this story that newt gingrich may be rolling things up. the headline at politico right now, "gingrich cuts staff and aims at tampa." tampa, of course, the republican convention. the lead reported by mike allen at politico. newt gingrich is cutting back his campaign schedule, will lay off about one-third of his cash-strapped campaign's full-time staff and has replaced his manager as part of what aides are calling a big-choice convention strategy. explain that strategy in just a moment. the background here is that the newt gingrich campaign has been a bit of an odd duck in terms of its staffing. one of the really weird things about the gingrich campaign is when you look at the roster and the resumes of the people who are at the very top-tier levels of the national campaign, the person who is running things, his main claim to fame, his main claim to expertise to be running this national campaign was that he was an old college friend of callista gingrich's. mike allen from politico has
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just been able to join us by phone. mike, thanks very much for joining us. i appreciate it on short notice. >> thank you, rachel. >> i'm talking about michael kroll stepping down as the head of the gingrich campaign team right now to be replaced by somebody else who has been involved with gingrich for a long time, is that right? >> that's right. the number two in the campaign, vince sales, who has worked for speaker gingrich in a variety of jobs for the last nine years will be coming in. now, they're calling it a big-choice convention strategy, saying that they're going to focus on tampa. but, of course, his interviewers now this is likely a strategy that we saw in gingrich's financial report last week that he had more debt than he did cash on hand. and he's, of course, third in delegates. so he's going to be doing some visits to seek the primaries, but he's not going to have a full-time schedule.
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this is a way to stop short of suspending the campaign, to shrink the campaign. and they're arguing that it's the war of ideas, tampa, but mitt romney is 160 delegates short and is not able to switch them. and if the three candidates are out there making their pitches, that that would be newt gingrich's wheelhouse. of course, that's a very unlikely scenario, but that's their last chance. >> mike, isn't there a bit of a problem with that strategy, though? because as i understand rnc rules, you have to have a plurality of delegates from five states in order to have your name put forward for the nomination. gingrich is nowhere near that. i don't think this big-choice convention idea holds water. >> the rules are a little murky. those are the requirements to be automatically put in nominations. but you're right, it's a long shot. and this is a retreat to team gingrich. they are going back to people who have largely been with him for a long time. and people have come over from his think tank. and so the normal way to campaign, of traveling states
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and going out, trying to get delegates, they're not able to do that. we have an e-book that i just finished, actually closed today with evan thomas, the second in our series. and in that e-book, we report that speaker gingrich was very surprised to find out how bad the finances were and that he was taken by surprise by how short they were of money. we're told that these 12 people that will be laid off at the end of the month, that that's roughly one-third of the full-time staff. >> mike allen, congratulations on the scoop. thank you for joining us on short notice. i appreciate it. us on short notice, mike.


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