Hardball | December 06, 2012
>>> welcome back to "hardball." did republican efforts to suppress the vote backfire this time? in dozens of states they made efforts to keep people, especially minorities and poor people , from getting to the ba ballot box . they shortened early voting periods. well, it didn't work. minority turnout remained steady from 2008 and in some states it increased, like ohio. some civil rights leaders say it was those attempt at voter suppression that drove voters out to vote even if it meant standing in line for hours. what is clear is the republican party has a deeper problem right now. it's failing to attract minority voters largely due to the policies and the rhetoric some of its leaders and their cronies have been using. what's going on? what can republican party do about it? big questions. j.k. watts former u.s. congressman from oklahoma. and judith brown di an news. thank you so much. let me ask judith to start with some homework that we couldn't do but we're counting on to you do. people come up to me and said, i was so angry about some of the suppression talk and attempts in those 30-some states. african- americans would say i got out there and i voted. what evidence do you have that it really worked in favor or rather put it this way against the republicans for trying to do that?
>> well, number one, we know that they tried to do it so that they could have partisan advantage, but we do know if backfired because, number one, organizations like mine were able to stop them dead in their tracks by bringing litigation. but, two, we know that voters were standing in line. in fact, i stood in line in maryland for seven hours, and i will tell you, chris , that the discussion in that line and in an all-black precinct. seven hours. people said this is about voter suppression . they don't want us to vote. this is an old playbook. people are used to it. they see it coming and they say, no, we're in the going to allow them to silence us and take our vote away. so seven, eight hours people were steady in their commitment in places like florida and ohio where they tried the hardest to suppress the vote.
>> here we're looking ironically at a burvench of people who were white. how do you know it was aimed at minorities?
>> well, we know that the laws themselves were aimed at minorities. the early voting laws and we know in florida we already have the head of the gop, the florida gop, and former governor crist admitting they did it for partisan gain, for their own party so they could win but they didn't win.
>> j.c., i want you to respond to these provocative comments. since 2011 at least 34 states introduced legislation to require photo identification to vote in and in all but one case the legislation was introduced by republicans . in some cases there have been legal or federal challenges to the new laws. the purpose of the laws were clear to everyone to make it difficult for typically democratic constituents to vote. listen to what mike turzai said when he found out he was talking about these voters laws. let's listen.
>> voter i.d., which is going to allow governor romney to allow the state of pennsylvania , done.
>> that's pretty clear. only this year bill clinton talked about what he called the blatant voter suppression efforts in florida . let's listen.
>> how much will the vote be lessened or reduced by the fact that in florida , except for four counties, the pre-election voting, advance voting , has been cut down to eight days and doesn't include the sunday before the election is an arrow aimed straight at the heart of the african-american churches who pull up the church buses on the sunday before election and take elderly people who have no cars or people who are disabled to the polls so they can vote. in my lifetime nobody has ever done anything quite this blatant.
>> your thoughts about this whole thing. i have a lot of thoughts about this, but you are running potentially for rnc chair against reince priebus. your thoughts about suppression, dog whistle , your thoughts generally. a politician, republican, african-american. you have it all going.
>> i have seen you in the evening talk about the dog whistles and that's quite fascinating.
>> they're aimed at me. naer not aimed at you. i can hear the whistle.
>> but you don't vote republican. i think there's going to be speculation in an election year, there's going to be a lot of different things. the voter i.d. thing i really don't have any problem with that because i think --
>> who was it aimed at?
>> i think it should be -- if it was aimed at trying to suppress vote, they were doing it for the wrong reasons. anything beyond trying to keep integrity in the voting process i would disagree with, but it's going to be a lot of speculation and people use motives for why it was done and why it wasn't done. i happen to believe that in the black -- in the black community in 2008 president obama got 96% of the black vote, in this election he got 93%. so 3% -- he got three points less in this election. i don't think it had anything do with voter suppression and all that kind of stuff. that three points didn't go to republicans because republicans don't --
>> jont, judith to that, because i hear it.
>> let me continue to respond. you have had a lot of intro --
>> there's more coming.
>> the fact is i think that 3% it didn't go to republicans and it didn't go to the president, but it didn't go to republicans because i think republicans have dropped the ball in terms of trying to establish deeper relationships with these communities, and the fact that someone might have speculation about voter suppression and so forth, it tends to carry a lot more weight --
>> the problem is that there's --
>> no credibility.
>> the problem is this isn't speculation. we have admissions by governor crist. he has -- there's no reason for him to lie about the fact that the republican party in florida actually did this so that democrats could lose, and then on top of it really targeted african- americans and latinos who are the loyalists to the democratic party . and so we're not speculating about this. we know the hard core facts are this was an attempt to take the vote away from african- americans , the elderly, young people , and latino voters.
>> here is some of the elevator music for this campaign. we call this a montage. one reason so many minority voters were turned off by the republicans may be the way leaders in the party use ethnic laug whistles. listen to some examples. judge for yourself.
>> president obama is the most effective food stamp president in american history .
>> the men and women all over america who have worked hard to build these businesses, their businesses, from the ground up is how our economy became the envy of the world. it is the american way , and i wish this president would learn how to be an american.
>> people have birth certificates . he doesn't have a birth certificate . now, he may have one, but there's something on that, may be religion, maybe it says he's a muslim, i don't know. maybe he doesn't want that. or he may not have one. but i will tell you this, if he wasn't born in this country, it's one of the great scams --
>> these aren't exactly cheerleaders for black participation in the republican party . donald trump -- mitt romney genuflected to that guy in the campaign. let the congressman talk. let j.c. talk. i don't know how you react to that. i want to know.
>> chris , on the birther thing, i think that's a losing issue.
>> why do the republicans push it?
>> i can't speak for republicans . you don't hear me talking --
>> i think you want to chair the party.
>> that's the reason.
>> you're going to have to speak for these clowns.
>> for that reason. but, you know, you have to carry baggage of democrats that i have heard you over the years disagree with them.
>> i have.
>> i do think that there has to be a different tone --
>> do you agree these are dog whistles, these are signals to people we don't like black presidents, food stamps and --
>> the birther thing --
>> but the food stamps , the dependency message.
>> i think it's unfair for john -- to paint with a broad brush and say that all republicans agree --
>> sununu was one of the number one surrogates they were putting out and he was all over the place.
>> but, chris , i was critical of the romney folks. they had no diversity in their campaign, and i was critical in 2008 because they had no diversity.
>> that also plays --
>> we have to make some news. this is a news show. mr. watts, u.s. congressman watts, you have been elected to office before. will you seek the republican chairmanship against mr. reince priebus?
>> chris , you know, i have kind of gotten caught up in this whirl wind and this thing has kind of taken a life of its own. everybody points fingers and whistles when --
>> how about pointing like this to yourself and saying i want to run.
>> but the fact -- the fingers that i'm pointing, i have been pointing for 20 years.
>> i know.
>> you're like jack kemp . you're a good guy on this stuff.
>> that they have done a poor job in establishing deeper relationships and that's my point.
>> i think it starts at the rnc and they keep saying --
>> we're going to have to wait and see if you run.
>> they keep saying we're going to do better, they never do.
>> i'm waiting to see if michael steele runs. i want to see if you both ron. i don't think he's going to run but i think you may run. thank you, j.c. watts . thank you.
>> you dish.
>>> up next, jon stewart explains how republicans hate the u.n. more than they hate the disabled. this is "hardball," the