Martin Bashir | May 11, 2012
>>> today mitt romney is having to perform day two of damage control on the story of hit bullying past. the " washington post " story of mitt targeting a classmate and forcibly cutting the boy's hair has forced an apology from romney and stopped him from using his usual talking point of ironically, a president who goes around apologizing.
>> i don't recall the incident myself. i've seen the reports and i won't argue with that. there is no question that i did some stupid things when i was in high school .
>> the problem isn't so much the story itself, bad as it appears to be. the problem is that it feeds into a large he portrait of romney romney , the political bully. this is what mitt's former classmate, philip maxwell said about participating and now call a haunting memory. the boy was pinned down by the state champion wrestler, the captain of the football team . this was bullying supreme. other people did the real work but maxwell said it was romney who wielded the shears. match that with how newt gingrich describes the onslaught from romney 's super pac buddies just after gingrich's primary win in south carolina .
>> he has a basic policy of carpet bombing his opponent. he doesn't try to build up mitt romney . he just tries to tear down whoever he's running against.
>> indeed it seem romney has relied on super friends on pinning his enemies down. the story has carried an additional resonance, given the president's evolution and endorse many. romney has tried to take the air out of this momentous event, trying to characterize it as a flip-flop.
>> we don't change positions to try to win states or certain sub groups of americans. you have the positions you have.
>> so when asked, will i preserve and protect a woman's right to choose. he make an unequivocal answer, yes.
>> i believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. i believe cynic row v. wade has been the law for 20 yearsering with should sustain and support it.
>> mr. romney , you may want to rethink that flip-flop line of attack.
>> back with us, and joining us for the first time, rick tyler . head of the assumer pac that supported newt gingrich throughout the primary campaign. karen finney and of course, professor eric dyson with me in new york. rick perry , excuse me, mr. tyler , you've just come off one of the most ferociously contested primary seasons. i wonder if you could share with us something of the experience. immediately after your success in south carolina . when the romney campaign suddenly turn its fire on newt gingrich as you were preparing for the primary in florida ? what was that like?
>> well, we wanted to keep the momentum going. in retrospect i wish we had not spent any money in florida at all. we wanted to see what they had done in iowa and we were prepared for them to do the same in florida . we were a little surprised the degree to which they ran negative ads. 99.9% negative ads. nothing about mitt romney at all. all about newt gingrich .
>> mr. tyler , i think you're not really giving due credit to what romney did. your own candidate said he was carpet bombed. he was relentlessly taktd. personally attacked. every single element of mr. gingrich's past was thrown up in relentless advertising against him.
>> that's true. that is the past. we are now in the future. we are now in a new campaign. we won't litigate the old primary campaign because it's moot.
>> we're not but here's the important thing. would you say that your candidate was in effect, bullied as he approach that primary?
>> no, look, i don't think what mitt romney did at cranbrook has any relevance.
>> i'm not talking about cranbrook . i'm talking about what happened to your cat in florida where you yourself have just said, you could not believe the ferocity of the attacks. did that feel as though your candidate was being bullied during that primary?
>> i wouldn't consider it bullying. i would say barack obama bullying the supreme court . epa bullying business owners. bull yig the romney campaign. that's what bullying is. when they have an effect on private citizens. not people running against them. people who disagree with them.
>> you're obviously still very loyal to mr. romney . professor dyson, you recall what happened. newt gingrich that it was carpet bombing . it looks as though he was severely attacked by mitt romney during that period.
>> two bullies bullying each other. except in this case, romney had the deeper pockets and the bigger bully pulpit . so this bullygate is a pattern being established here as he said, carpet bombing and the unprincipled assault that is involved there. also the flip flopping that he is accusing the president of. trying to bully the president into a narrow definition of beliefs when the evolution has been made clear and he has been transparent by it. mr. romney on the other hand, flip flopping constantly for political gain and expediency, never acknowledging it. i do think the cranbrook situation reveals a person who is capable of engaging in activities. then having plausible deniability. you know i don't remember that but if you say i did, all of the accumulated empirical evidence says you were there. so it is easing in the back door of truth as opposed to standing up and being honest about it.
>> karen finney, what does this incidence tell but mitt romney 's character?
>> call. things. number one, this is a period where we learn a lot about a person's level, ability to have empathy.
>> to see someone who is a little different than themselves. rather than bullying that person, maybe i'll make a friend will what i find interesting about the way this campaign has handled it. bullying is one of the top issue concerns for parents today. it is an issue that outside of politics, people are talking about it all over this country. we just had a major film out about it. flfs an opportunity for this campaign to use that and use it with a way to connection with people. empathize with people. that was not their first instinct. it was to say we don't remember. we'll brush it off and say kids will be kids rather than saying, this actually still is a real problem. let me be a part of how we talk about this problem and move past this problem.
>> mr. tyler , finally, what do you think of the story in the " washington post "? what is your reaction to the coverage of this incident in mitt romney 's past?
>> i think it would be fine and it is fair game . the romney campaign is a victim themselves. every time they try to make mitt more relatable, they make him less relatable. it would be fine if the " washington post " dts due diligence and looked at barack obama who said admittedly in his own book, wait a minute. for two years, his senior year and junior year in high school he barely went to class. he used to get high on the beaches of hawaii.
>> wait a minute. we spend a whole week last week talking about his college girlfriends.
>> not four years ago we didn't.
>> four years ago we talk about that.
>> i'm afraid we did.
>> mr. tyler , i think you've got that wrong.
>> i said has the " washington post " --
>> mr. tyler , are you sure you haven't been affected by mitt romney 's selective amnesia ? i don't think you can remember what happened four years ago.
>> i think it is interesting. what are you going to do when the president starts carpet bombing mitt romney ? are we going to have the same discussion about mitt romney ? i don't think so.
>> of course we will. well, rick tyler , thank you for joining us. professor michael eric