Martin Bashir | May 15, 2012
>> we begin as we await mitt romney giving an address on the deficit where he is due to describe a prairie fire of debt sweeping across the nation. and the speech in battle ground iowa this afternoon comes as new polling shows mr. romney not only tightening the race but indeed, leading the president. in the new york times head to head match-up, romney now ahead by three points against the president. 46-43%. within the margin of error. perhaps even more troubling for the president, a new usa gallonup poll shows a 9-point lead on romney on who will help the economy improve. 55-46%. issue number one for voters is clearly a key campaign concern for the president. as he admitted today there is much more work to do.
>> we were about joe biden . joe has a favorite expression. he said don't compare me to the almighty. compare me to the alternative. his theory is if you slash taxes even further, if you leave business, banks, whoever, to do what they want. then everything will be okay.
>> after that, puppishing view of mitt romney 's economic general, the president went on to illustrate his ambitions for a second term.
>> what i want to spend the next five years doing is re-creating that america where if you work hard, you can make it. regardless of where you come from. what you look like.
>> and that expansive and empowering view was a key part of the president's graduation address monday at the all women barnard college here in new york city in what could be seen as a female favored campaign excursion. but if it is no surprise that the president is targeting female voters, the result of the new york times survey of women may surprise you. their poll shows mitt romney now leading among women 46-44%. with the president down five points since last month. the obama team has questioned that poll's methodology and they may be right with the gallup poll showing obama holding an eight-point lead with women. but we have no doubt mitt romney took a moment to kick up his polished loafers, and wait for it. there's more. form he president george w. bush has at long last endorsed mitt romney very nearly outside of closed doors after speaking at a human rights forum. quote, i'm for mitt romney . bush told abc news this morning as the doors of an elevator closed on him. that's resounding, isn't it? going down, sir? let's bring in our triple tuesday panel. here with me in new york is republican strategist ron christie. former special assistant to george w. bush . in washington, political analyst richard wolff and david corn , washington bureau chief for mother jones magazine and author of the best selling "showdown." do these suggest to you the president is regarded as weak or mitt romney as strong on the economy? which of those?
>> i think the public probably has a very mixed opinion of both men at this point in time. they clearly like president barack obama but they don't like that the economy has not gotten better faster. they don't like mitt romney all that much. but they like the idea of mitt romney . mr. fix-it. a business fellow who can come in and do a turn-around like did he with staples. not gst, the steel company where everybody lost their jobs. so in other words, the bottom line here, it is complicated. and people, voters will be sorting out these conflicting feelings over the next five months which i think we will see a lot of see-sawing in the polls as they go through that process which is why it will be quite tight up until the en.
>> indeed. we're looking at pictures there of the stage in iowa where mitt romney is expected to speak. i have to point out that the polls also show that the enthusiasm gap is alive and well . 59% are enthusiastic about mitt romney . 88% enthusiastic for the president. a third of the gop say they want another candidate. why is that?
>> they need to get over themselves. we've selected our nominee.
>> i understand that.
>> why do a third of republicans want someone other than mitt romney ?
>> i think they're a third who would have wanted someone like rick santorum , someone who would have appealed to the base. conservative, pro-life. unwaivering in their conservative credentials.
>> unlike mitt romney . ?
>> their opinion, yes. however, as you note, there is a nearly 60% of republican who's are very much in favor of him. i think what will be important for governor romney is not just the republicans but the independents. governor romney and president obama are fighting for the independents. the independents, i believe, will be the judge and the decider in this race. that's who these folks are going after.
>> it didn't take long for the obama campaign to send out an e-mail, quote, bush endorses romney . romney endorses bush era policies. i guess that was already in the drawer waiting to come out.
>> they've obviously spent a lot of time trying to talk about the president that no one wants to talk about on the republican side . it is striking and ron must feel this personally as i know lots of people in the bush administration do. that their policies have been adopted, certainly on foreign policy . also on economic policy . but they have given no credit as the bush administration . because he is still the former president bush is seen as being too toxic in this environment. and alienating figure. and that i think is a difficult legacy for many people who served in the bush administration .
>> david, romney is testing his economic message today in iowa . where the des moines register reports 5.2% unemployment and 13,000 jobs created in the last year. so my question to you, why on earth would they want to go back to bush era policies as describe by richard wolff just now?
>> nostalgia? i can't -- maybe ron can tell us. i can't tell you why. this is what is kind of odd with our economy at this moment. it is really a swiss cheese economy. where there are great holes and there are also some good pockets of growth. the obama talks about this openly. not one national election but ten, 12 local elections in those swing states . right now iowa is doing pretty good. you think virginia is doing pretty well economically. some of the swing states are doing better than some of the red states . but, if you look at that, i don't know why they go to iowa and view this doom and gloom. i guess they think the iowa voters, still the bob dole type of republican who hates deficits. that's so not what happened during the bush years and romney 's policies don't really address this, as you know. maybe it is the best he has at this moment.
>> does it hurt you at all having been involved in the bush team? that the romney campaign steals bush era policies on foreign affairs , steals ideas on the economy, but gives you no credit what so ever?
>> i think imitation is the best form of flattery. i'm sorry. i do. it? what's the problem with admitting that actually, they're taking policies that george bush and yourself crafted with the rest of your team and why would they admitted that publicly?
>> now you give me credit. i think it is very clear that in foreign policy , much of what governor romney has spoken about would be a continuation of what my former boss has done. if they want to give him credit, give him credit. ? so plan wars that run paid for?
>> no, come on. making sure the united states after 9/11 hasn't been hit again.
>> sorry? what has the president done?
>> i give barack obama full credit. it is a continuation of the bush administration . so barack obama , actually --
>> actually ceased the war in iraq . that's not a continuation.
>> it is a failure. if you see sectarian violence in afghanistan is back up. that's a failure.
>> i think we have drawn down over snowe i think if you accept if the american military were there for a millennium, there would be sectarian violence .
>> i would be the first to tell you given the violence, we should get out. it's been a failure. get out.
>> we know mitt romney talks about a prairie fire of debt and how he will lead us out of this debt and spending crisis. he never, ever mentions taxes. he never mentions taxes. i know he's being consistent with his guru mr. paul ryan and he has tied him with speaker bain here of course will be allowed a congressmen to be raised anywhere. does that mean the only way the deficit gets resolved is by hammering the poor and people who rely on government assistance in some form?
>> he does talk about tax. he talks about --
>> cutting them.
>> cutting them on top of the extension of the bush tax cuts for the wealthy. cutting further on the wealthy. people like himself. he is stuck with the ryan play book, the tea party play book. they can't get off a dime on revenue so they can't do something like the simpson boles commission. or these moderate plans. if he is be going to talk about any of that in material of deficit reduction and he wants to expand the military, basically he will have to shut down the epa and the fbi and the fda. the " washington post " said this about the ryan budget. eventually there is no government left except the bloated defense department . and i think this is something we'll see debated more fully. maybe in the fall. the white house will not let this policy disagreement escape voters' notice.