Hardball | November 30, 2012
>>> have spent the past three weeks at least doing an elaborate and very public autopsy on the 2012 election. asking what went wrong. good question. like democrats before then after losing an election, they're focusing on the usual suspect it's, we didn't have the right candidate, didn't get our maesage out, didn't get our voters out. when you lose the popular vote of five or six elections, you have to consider the voters just didn't reject your messenger, they rejected perhaps your message. we have two strategists back with us. one democrat steve mcmahon and republican rick tar. rick, you first because you guys lost and i don't mind saying this because i'm heartened by this. i didn't know it was going to happen pi i thought the first debate as i said clearly on the air, the president said i was having a stroke over there, i thought there was an opportunity to win if you stayed on that line, we can create jobs but somehow you got into something else. what happened in this lex on issues?
>> i was telling steve earlier in the green room that i started to believe it after the first debate also. i didn't believe it all the way up. i was on this program being probably the number one critic of mitt romney and we tried everything. we tried tim pawlenty and michele bachmann and herman cain and rick perry . i think that was inverted but we tried newt gingrich and rick santorum and we arrived at the inevitable mitt romney .
>> you ended up with a weak candidate.
>> in many ways yes.
>> do you think any of the other guys or women that you passed over would have been better?
>> i don't know yet. you don't know.
>> do you actually think so? do you think michele bachmann would have been a better candidate for president.
>> i don't know.
>> you're being a real -- that'sing asimple carried very far here. i think he beat all the other candidates.
>> in some ways he was very good, but in some ways --
>> your best candidates were on the bench. your best candidates even though they had weaknesses are obviously other people that could have ran. mitch dabbniels, jeb bush .
>> there were a lot of people that could have run and didn't run. mitt romney sort of came into the race without --
>> chris christiee would have run a better race.
>> certainly would have been more interesting. what would they have done at the end when they were walking around together. but going back to --
>> they wouldn't have had poultry for lunch. they would have had a much heftier lunch than what they had. turkey --
>> going back to what we just saw speaking of turkeys, romney came into the race without a firm ideology.
>> he will evident it there. gee took a firm ideology in the primaries which made it difficult, maybe impossible, for him to win. he ran to the extreme on abortion, on immigration. he used words and created symbols for himself that he regretted later and he had, you know, people out there like todd akin in missouri who were creating other symbols that were problematic not just for him but for the republican brand, which actually are problems that endure today. mitt romney has left the stage already. all the problems that the republican party has are front and center right now which is why there's this hand wringing and soul searching .
>> let me try -- this is sort of an iq test for you. do you think most americans would like to outlaw abortion? you can't have an abortion in this country?
>> i think most americans would not like to see abortion. i think most of the left would agree with that. the question is how do you get there?
>> would like to outlaw it?
>> i think most americans are pro-life.
>> this is not the position of your party. your party says outlaw it. i'm not a pollster --
>> do you think most americans would live in a society where you have no choice?
>> no, absolutely not. even people who are pro-life, catholics who have -- of good faith --
>> the most catholic states are the most pro-choice states. let me go to the iraq war . i believe one reason --
>> abortion to the iraq war .
>> why president obama is president. because hillary clinton was wrong on the war and he was right. do you think most americans are happy we went into iraq? these are the big issues of our times, war and peace , freedom at home.
>> i think most americans given the information would say that, yes, it was the right thing to do with iraq with what we had --
>> you're hopeless.
>> you know what? he's in a tough position because he's here as a republican defending the party. he knows that the views on the iraq war which by the way 80% of america was at one time in favor of it but it was because of false intelligence and false --
>> i'm going over the issues. i guess my question -- this is a hard argument you're making. it's not the issue that is cost romney the election. it was romney .
>> i think in many ways it was romney . and as steven pointed out he came in with no ideology and no way to communicate.
>> you believe he was believed? did people believe he believed what he said?
>> that's what i think was the problem.
>> that was one of his problems but --
>> they don't believe he was saying anything more than what he thought would win the election. gee got beat by women by 14 points . you cannot win -- when you give big blocks of the electorate away which republicans are now doing, you can't win.
>> ronald reagan was elected president. he ran a powerfully smart campaign. although he was pro-life, although he was pretty hawkish on foreign policy , he focused on jobs 37 he focused on the economy. and he was disciplined. so people sort of got the message wink, wink, yeah, i'm pro-life but i'm not going to change the law. in kr he didn't sign a pro-choice position. he wasn't anti-gay. in other words, the emphasis he put on the job creation and the economy is what got him elected. your guy this time, romney , was all over the place getting stuck with positions that the public didn't want.
>> but if you watch romney , he basically talked about mostly jobs. i don't recall him being out there with a great big pro -life position. do you?
>> well, i thought he was.
>> your platform said 14th amendment rights for the unborn.
>> i think in every speech he gave he talked about jobs, jobs, and jobs. i think in the end -- a couple things happened. one he didn't have an ideology. two he ran a scorched earth primary campaign which caused people with all the other campaigns not to lift a finger for him. they might have voted for him but they didn't lift --
>> they tell us, karl rove conceded he knew a lot of the candidates he supported were doomed. he knew it even as he raised millions for them through his super pac. here is karl on the road to damascus. let's listen.
>> i was involved in a group called american crossroads. it was the worst volunteer job i've had in my life. i was in charge of raising money. we raised $324 million. and i got sick and tired of spending money in races where the moderates and conservatives had gone at each other and made victory impossible, and, you know, i'd rather have somebody who agrees with me most of the time than to do something and to send somebody there who is going to vote against my values and my views.
>> at least in the case of bernie madoff, madoff got the money. who got all this money? he didn't even get it. it was just waste approximated.
>> so he says. you really believe karl rove didn't get any money. i don't believe it.
>> we like this "hardball" here. karl rove off with the money. was this like the producer where you think we're going to win but we'll make more money if we lose.
>> the 08%, i'd rather have people who represent my views 80% of the views --
>> he meant mourdock shouldn't have won the nomination for senator.
>> they should have pulled the money back if they didn't think the conservatives could win and saved if for people who actually could have won.
>> i take it if republicans acted more like democrats they would get elected.
>> i got to tell you something that stunned me about this election. not that the president won. i knew it was going to be close. but when people like heidi heitkamp won in north dakota and the voters of california voted to raise taxes to pay for education and all the pro- gay marriage decisions and pro-marijuana decisions. the country voted very liberal this time. i was surprised by that and i don't quite get it yet. but this country is much more liberal than people thought it was. steve mcmahon , bad news for you, rick tyler . good news for you. up next, what happened to the moderates in the republican party , the so-called -- i grew up with them -- the eisenhower republicans? this is "hardball," the place for politics.