Martin Bashir | March 26, 2012
>> wow! let's get right to our panel. joining me. jonathan capehart, opinion writer for the " washington post " and karen finney, and also an msnbc political analyst . and robert costa , political report he for the national review and a contributor to our friends at cnbc. i want to stick with 2012 . jonathan , we know that it seems the romney folks are trying to have a field day with santorum because they're hoping that pay no attention to what happened with the ballot box in louisiana saturday night . but do pay attention to what they're trying to create a hash tag. are they having any luck?
>> well, thanks to rick santorum and his anger at our colleague and friend jeff, it might work. the romney campaign has been single-minded in its determination to win this nomination. they're not so much concerned about states. as much as they would love to win states. i'm sure they would have loved to have won louisiana. time and again we hear the romney campaign about, it is all about the delegates. anything they can do to knock rick santorum off his message. we're about his expletive and about not anything that rick santorum wants to do as the republican nominee.
>> it's funny. you bring this up. you were with them early this morning. we had a report he roundtable a little bit. do you think he's having a good day?
>> i think he's having a great day and he told me that over breakfast. he had some eggs and orange juice . santorum as you saw --
>> he buys his own argument.
>> that's right. santorum wants to be in this position. he thinks romney can't camp with the conservatives.
>> you bring this up. mitt romney today is in la jolla . okay? in san diego . and his event didn't even bring up what's going on right here. the number one conversation every political junky is having, left, right or in the middle. he doesn't talk about it today.
>> not so much at all.
>> we know why.
>> we do. he is trying to do everything he can to distance himself from it. if you look at the way the calendar is laid out and where he's been winning, there's no reason for him to get out. he can still continue to make a credible argument that says, you know, if i keep going and i keep winning and i don't partner up with newt gingrich , he has a credible argument to make.
>> what do you make of mitt romney sort of trying to stay above it today. not really everybody gauged in the health care conversation. he is the godfather of the mandate. democrats will keep bringing that up over and over again and certainly santorum is. it seems to me he didn't really even address this in his one event.
>> odd that romney didn't address it?
>> considering what's happening.
>> the rest of us are having it. this is the one conversation that mitt romney just does not want to have. he will get clobbered by the democrats on this. he will get clobbered by gingrich and santorum over this. and the longer he can stay out of this conversation right now, i think from their perspective, is for the better. we all know that as tim paw lenny called it, obamanicare. for him to explain himself yet again is something they don't want to do.
>> jump in.
>> quickly, what you would have expected was some kind of doubling down on why obama care is not romney care. this argument about the states. to think that you're not going to be a part of this conversation. that's just bad staff work. you know you'll be part of this conversation. try to get something in the conversation that at least makes your argument.
>> it strikes me as this. you have the obama folks decided, hey, we'll embrace obamacare. fine. you want to call that it? we'll call it that. the romney folks haven't found that moment of embracing health care .
>> it's two different strategies. santorum was amazing. i was over at the supreme court with him.
>> it was a rally.
>> i was standing right next to him. he sees this is his opening.
>> maybe his last opening. he may not be winning a lot of states. but obama care tying to it romney , that's his spate. romney , it's all about the economy.
>> i want to switch gears a little bit. the president oversees, i'm hoping we can play this one more time. about what was caught by white house pool cameras in this conversation he was having with russian president medvedev and this issue of flexibility. here's the sound one more time.
>> this is my last --
>> i understand.
>> when the president of the united states is speaking with the leader of russia saying he can be more flexible after the election, that is an alarming and troubling development. this is no time for a president to be pulling his punches with the american people . and not telling us what he's intending to do.
>> jonathan , flexibility. why do i have a feeling we'll hear that word a lot from the conservatives and republicans, trying to say that's code for, he's not telling you everything he will do in his second term.
>> right. when will politicians learn, and especially when will president obama learn that every moment is an open mike moment. and that you can't -- you can't even whisper. just whisper it in his ear. yes. the republicans are going to use this. it is one of those unforced errors, if you will, given to them by president obama himself. how effective it will be, we'll find out as the campaign gets going.
>> let me tell what you the white house told me. hey, this shouldn't be a shock. this isn't the time to have a discussion about this. it is an election year in russia and it is an election year here. some truth about being able to get treaties and all that done in any election year. whether the president is up for the u.s. senate .
>> but wait a second. you know from covering the white house , do you really think when two world leaders sit in a room together, they're not at all talking about what their own political realities are in terms of what they're trying to accomplish?
>> i mean, that's like --
>> but the narrative that obama could have avoided. remember leading from behind. obama was being questioned from the right, leading from behind. now he is bringing a foreign policy question back into the arena when it wasn't part of the discussion.
>> russia is port to us for a number reasons. foreign policy is about a number of moving parts. it is about syria, israel, iran. it is all very different. and your rims, you need them over here and you'll use them over there. i think that's, you know. that's a stretch.
>> this is one of those that has the feel of the -- all presidents have more flexibility after a second term. right?
>> right. it's a fact.
>> the state of virginia , they don't have a second term.