Martin Bashir | July 19, 2012
>>> we begin with the dead of summer and a dead heat in the presidential race . president obama has just kicked off a campaign swing through the sunshine state as a "new york times" poll shows the race is neck and neck. if the election were held today, 45% would choose mitt romney . 43%, president obama . that's within the margin of error, but the first time romney has held a numeric edge in that poll since clinching the nomination in may. the trouble for the president, just 39% say they apruf of obama 's handling of the economy. 55% disapprove. that number is up seven points from april and today, the president introduced a new line of attack in florida, arguing that mitt romney will end medicare as we know it.
>> he plans to turn medicare into a voucher program, so that soucher isn't worth enough to buy the health insurance that's on the market, you're out of luck. you're on your own. it's wrong to ask seniors to pay more for medicare just so millionaires and billionaires can pay less in taxes.
>> meanwhile, mitt romney kept up his attacks on the president with a new ad. featuring a friday night lights mo tiff and some highly selective editing.
>> let me tell you something, if you've got a business, you didn't build that. somebody else made that happen.
>> turns out, there are a whole lot of words cut out of the president's speech there, but that didn't stop romney from adding an event to his campaign strategizing in boston, touring an auto shop in massachusetts and keeping up his distortions of the president's words.
>> there are some who think what the president said was just a gaffe. it wasn't a gaffe. it was instead his ideology. the president does in fact believe that people who build enterprises like this really aren't responsible for it, but in fact, a collective success of the whole society.
>> except the problem is, romney actually agree d with the president as the obama campaign points out, in a new ad.
>> we value schoolteachers, firefighters.
>> somebody invested in roads and bridges. if you've got a business, somebody else made that happen.
>> couldn't have a business if you didn't have those things.
>> the point is, when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.
>> good. glad we cleared that up. let's bring our panel with us from washington. msnbc political analyst, karen finney and democratic strategist, julian epstein. karen , when you look at the obama campaign ad, turns out romney agrees with the president. when you talk it all in context, so can we put this whole attack on free enterprise to bed?
>> oh, jonathan. what is it, july? we're going to hear -- please, we're going to hear this between now and election day and what it shows is the romney campaign is getting very desperate. the kind of editing job that into the attack ad was something we have not quite seen at this early a stage in a campaign. and again, it shows there's an element of desperation. they think they were able to latch on to something. my favorite thing though is apparently, he's comfortable talking about the middle class and poor people . he wasn't so worried about the poor a while ago and wasn't talking about the middle class . he was focused on the job creators. must have seen a poll that says talk about the middle class , so he's talking.
>> julian , how much mileage is team romney getting out of distorting the president's words? were they able to change the subject on romney 's tax returns ?
>> they're trying to and haven't been able to yet. when we go back to the discussions on the bain attacks, i think they clearly were. even though we're looking at a 46-46 election now, which every election is and every election in the foreseeable, i think what the obama campaign has done well is shown there is a big soft spot on romney 's credibility. they've shown he has not been really vetted as a candidate. as i hear it from republican operatives, romney is resisting pressure from his staff to actually release the tax records and third, it doesn't look like they're a particularly effective campaign. after the jobs report came out on july 6th , the obama campaign flipped the script quickly on the tax and bain issue and it has taken the romney campaign at least two weeks to try and change the subject. it's better than what they have been doing with this ad in claim ing that you know, the government doesn't have any role whatsoever in what we do in the economy. it's better than what they've been doing, but i don't think it's going to be enough to chak the suggest. what the obama campaign has done was show this is a candidate who was not vetted and a campaign that is very, very flat footed.
>> ann romney got into the whole discussion today. very much on the defensive when pressured on the issue of gma today.
>> just want to give more terrible for more attack and that's just the answer and we've given all you people need to know and understand about your financial situation.
>> all you people need to know . karen , your response.
>> oh, you people and your pesky questions. come on. we don't owe you any answers. here's the problem. that answer sounds like you're hiding something as did the answer every time they say well, there's just more for everybody to pick through. okay, you're admitting there's something in there you don't want people to find. she does sound very, very defensive and you're hearing all kinds of grumblings from within the republican party from across the spectrum of the republican party , frankly. you saw that national review article, the editorial basically saying come on, release the tax returns . so, the support for romney is a little bit soft in some of these areas where they're saying look, you wanted to run, to be the nominee. you've got to be able to handle the punches and again, i think what we're seeing, this defensive posture, makes it appear and very clear that team obama has really caught on to something and that romney folks are scared.
>> julian , what's your view of what ann romney said?
>> well, i think there's two views. this, this language, you people, i think it was ross perot that made that mistake. it always shows an us you mentality and it's very, very impolitic. secondly, it looks as if they still do not, three weeks into this debate, they still do not have a good or compelling answer and clearly, the reason you have investments in the cayman islands , swiss bank accounts , is to gain is system. brush up right against the edge of the law in tax avoidance . so, i think again, this again shows that the brilliance of the obama administration showing the very soft underbelly of the romney campaign, going after their credibility. showing it's not a campaign that's quite ready for prime time yet and showing you unvetted he has. i disagree with "the new york times" poll. obama still has the edge. if you look at what's happening in the battleground states , there is a 3% roughly increase in the minority vote since the 2008 election. if you look at the last 50 polls, about 38 to 40 of them in the battleground states show that obama is ahead. he is doing better on the enthusiasm question. still as you look at the electoral map today, there is a much easier path to victory that obama has than romney .
>> but karen , the president is facing some tough head winds. "the new york times" poll, his disapproval on the economy up by seven points. is that just a matter of timing and how much can the president do about that number?
>> a couple of things. one, i'm not too concerned about those numbers because it's july and i actually agree with julian . i think most of these polls tend to oversample white voters and don't fully reflect the diversity in a number of states. when you look at what these pathways to 270 are and the latino vote, they should have oversampled a little bit more. but that being said, you don't want to see those kind of numbers. at the same time, the fact we're still for the most part at a head to head in july is the most telling. don't forget that the team romney , their outside folks have been spending a ridiculous amount of money against president obama and he still can't seem to pull away and i think the polls also continue to show that there is still a lot of room to define romney . again, because these bain attacks seem to be working so very well, have been so on defense, i think there's a lot more mileage that the obama team can get out of this. i think what you'll see when we come back in the fall is the continuation, and probably over the summer, the president talking about his strategy of we can't wait and here the things i'm trying to do, but congress has blocked. that was their response to the romney attack. he has met with the counsel and presented legislation.
>> karen makes excellent points. quickly, the average in terms of the job approvals in about 46-46. secondly, the personal favorablety ratings, obama continues to be ahead of romney on that and favorablety will drag up that vote.
>> thank you, both.