Martin Bashir | April 04, 2012
>> it does sound like the general election bell has been wrung with rick santorum tightening his grip after a hat trick of victories and finding himself in his first direct engagement with the president. the substantial gain in delegates came with a growing perception he is starting to win over those reluctant tea partiers and evangelicals, confirming what the president and his team have been planning all along, marvelous mitt as the number one challenger. in a speech to i anews editor luncheon today romney offered a preview of general election battle lines .
>> our choice will not be one of party or personality. this election will be about principle, freedom, and opportunity will be on the ballot.
>> yes, well, lord knows he hopes this election won't be about personality. he is only down 19 points on the likability factor against the president. it was at the same venue on tuesday that the president disem boweled ryan's budget and called out romney by name with a clever uppercut in his choice of super la active.
>> you said he is very want supportive of this new budget and he even called it marvelous which is a word you don't often hear when it comes to describing a budget. it is a word you don't often hear generally.
>> ip deed. we all know mitt has a way with words and i am sure he talks about his wife's marvelous cadillacs, his marvelous friends and the owners of marvelous nfl teams and massive marvelous houses in san diego and it was curious that mitt chose one three-word phrase to describe the president in his victory speech last night.
>> president obama thinks he is doing a good job. it is enough to make you think that years of flying around in air force one surrounded by an adoring staff of true believers telling you're you're great and doing a great job, it is enough to make you think you might be a little out of touch with that and that's what happened.
>> out of touch, the president? mitt, i am pretty sure that's not a fight you want to have. do you want to bet?
>> rick, i will tell you what, $10,000?
>> corporations are people, my friend. of course they are.
>> a drive a mustang and a chevy pickup truck. ann drives a couple of cadillacs.
>> i am not concerned about the very poor.
>> i like being able to fire people that provide services to me.
>> see what i mean? unfortunately mr. romney 's renowned off the cuff speaking skills were at the floor again this morning when he made a somewhat confusing response to the question would he ever apologize as president of the united states ?
>> when there are mistakes that occur of one kind or another, you acknowledge the mistakes. this is different, however, than the president's call it apology tour which is going to the middle east and saying that he wasn't talking about a mistake that was made, he was instead talking about america .
>> yes, the old apology to align, the line that named pants on fire and named as a finalist for lie of the year. let's bring in the panel from washington, political analyst michael eric dyson , a professor at georgetown, university, and from minneapolis, anna marie cox and here in new york, political analyst and former dnc communications director karen finny, also a columnist for the hill. it is dangerous when he goes off script. when he says that the president apologizes for america , that is known to be a blatant lie.
>> the speech was filled with blat not alies, and somehow he may have forgotten this is a group of newspaper editors . that means they're paying attention actually.
>> and will fact check what you say.
>> exactly. it is so interesting that they each use this as a different opportunity. the president laid out his case, right? he laid down very serious markers. one of the things i thought he did, he reminded them that newt gingrich originally called the ryan budget right wing social engineering for which he got jumped on by his own people. he laid interesting markers. mitt seemed to think he could go in there and do the usual brain dead stump speech and nobody would notice that most of what he was saying has either already been discredited or surely will be discredited.
>> i think you will being unfair to brain dead people. anna marie , mitt romney calling president obama out of touch. is this the poodle suggesting the cat has too much hair as you write the more romney tries to seem like one of us, the more alien he gets?
>> it is true. i mean, that is where his gaffes attract the most attention. when he is talking about stuff he is comfortable with, like how corporations are people, too, i guess, and about how many cars his wife drives, you know, he seems more comfortable except that when he is trying to make that connection with people is when he really screws up. when he tries to lead a sing along , when he tries to sort of connect on the nascar level and unfortunately or fortunately for us who write about politics, he is only going to do more of that. he is only going to put in more situations where he is asked to connect with regular people , and i have to say people who are swing voters, people who will not respond to the applause lines he has in speeches like the one he gave last night.
>> we have karen saying he is a liar, you say he is an alien, and professor dyson, even as romney calls the president out of touch, one of his surrogates, nikki haley , calls the president a bully on health care . listen to this, sir.
>> what is amazing is what a bully president obama has sudden by become. here is a man that came in with hope and change, and now he is bullying his way, bullying his way on paul ryan saying he is not coming up with an adequate budget and now bullying the supreme court saying they went reverse this, they won't go against us on this. that's not how things work.
>> professor dyson, since when was it bullying to provide health care for people up to the age of 26 and preventing providers from cutting you off coverage if you have a preexisting condition? how is that bullying?
>> absolutely right, martin. the president can't win. if he doesn't stand up for what he believes, fretful and if he stands up now he is a bully. if you defend the people that most vulnerable, 40 million without health care , a disproportionate number of people that happen to be struggling people of color and poor white people, you are are not a bully. what he is bullying are the corporations that mitt romney believes are persons. what he is bullying is the citizens united supreme court decision that allowed unregulated capital to come in, but he is not -- when he stands up for people who are poor and need health care and who use the emergency ward as the first resort of their health and therefore the disease has spread widely, this is a man that found his principle, stood up for it, and continues to speak you mean for them and all i can say is bravo.
>> by the way, he is also in this plan standing up for women, making sure that being a woman or as i like to say having a uterus is not a preexisting condition.
>> that's always a problem with some of these people. the president spoke this morning at a national prayer breakfast connecting easter to an american rebirth and it was mitt romney that had a rather curious jab at the president's faith this week. take a listen to this.
>> i think there is in this country a war on religion. i think there is a desire to establish a religion in america known as secularism, and i know that based upon reports the obama administration gave this a lot of thought. are.
>> are we supposed to be pleased that romney is not calling him a muslim and now calling him an a this.
>> which is even worse than being a muslim, right? this is the new code phrase they'll try to roll out which is not to say they will do away with the muslim birth.
>> that will come back, sure, that's useful.
>> here is the thing. i think we should have a detant on the question of religion. it was perfectly fine he didn't want to answer the young man's question and get into the mormon question.
>> and interracial marriage.
>> that's right. he did answer one question and kind of moved on.
>> if you're not going to answer questions and we know that president obama has answered questions about his religion add asuseum, let's take it off the table.
>> isn't the reason that romney mentioned this a direct result he is trying to divert attention away from the issues of his own personal faith which we know is problematic with some people in this electorate?
>> you know, that's agood question and i am sure there are strategy sessions in the romney campaign about exactly how to handle this issue. i also think it is true when you look at the numbers the only thing that's worse than being a muslim is a person of no faith whatsoever and that's what he is accusing the president of, not soften of being an a theyist but no faith at all. i think it would be best if we move away from the discussion entirely. we are a largely a secular country in the way that we control our governments, and i think that why not have an election that doesn't say a lot about what our religion is because we can accept all religions and the secularist hymns aren't very good at all.
>> do you agree with what karen and anna marie is saying or unlikely given the fact they're always looking for an opportunity to attack this man's core beliefs and if they can't attack him and falsify claims he may be a mus lick, they will say he has no faith .
>> absolutely right. i think my colleagues are so smart and articulate and intelligent and describe a world that should be. in the real world he will have to fight fire with fire in this sense. if it is okay for people to charge him with being unreligious, antireligious or say he is hyperreligious because he is muslim or somehow he is not sufficiently christian, then it is fair game to talk about mitt romney and in 1978 with the morm on faith only discovers that black people were available to go to heaven and be members of the mor man faith . if you're not going to take it all off, have you to be prepared to engage in sophisticated deployment of terms and phrases and religious ideologies that make your point and that hold mitt romney accountable. if it is good for the goose, it is good for the gander.