Martin Bashir | September 06, 2012
>> it began as president barack obama prepares to make his argument for re-election just hours away from a high profile closing act at the democratic convention tonight where he's expected to lay out his ambitions for a second term. the president's acceptance of the democratic nomination follows a forceful endorsement from former president bill clinton , who can too the stage last night with a few hundred things that he wanted to get off his chest. the former president offering an absolute eadvieadvice -- evisceration of the republican ticket, all with a wink and a smile.
>> it went something like this. we left him a total mess. he hasn't cleaned it up fast enough. so fire him and put us back in.
>> yes, indeed, clinton systematically shattered every arrow in the republicans' quiver, including the gop's claim that they, not the president, are the job creators.
>> in the last 29 months, our economy has produced about 4.5 million private sector jobs. we could have done better, but last year the republicans blocked the president's job plan, costing the economy more than 1 million new jobs. so here's another job score. president obama , plus 4.5 million. congressional republicans, zero.
>> and if that zero sounded like it might have been aimed at one paul ryan , the former president was even more direct when he addressed ryan 's attack on president obama for the same medicare savings that ryan has in his own plan.
>> you've got to give him one thing. it takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.
>> and speaking of brass, mr. clinton also took on claims by romney and ryan that the president ended the work requirement for welfare.
>> this is personal to me. we have millions of people off welfare, and i am telling you the claim that president obama weakened welfare reform 's work requirement is just not true.
>> well, now, hang on, mr. president, because just yesterday mitt romney offered quite a different view tucked away in a hardware shop where he gave an interview to, you guessed it, fox news.
>> there's no question but that president obama 's decision to say that we're going to allow waivers or excuses from work requirements in welfare was designed to shore up part of his base that may not be inclined to go out and vote in the same kind of energy and passion as they did four years ago.
>> okay. so let me see . mr. romney lies about the work requirement in order to say that the president is only doing so to, quote, shore up part of his base. the apparently lazy, feckless, work shy voter who voted so passionately for mr. obama in 2008 . gosh, i wonder what he could be suggesting there. let's bring in msnbc's lawrence o'donnell, host of "the last word," who joins us now from the convention in charlotte and his many fans are behind him. lawrence , despite all of the expectations and enthusiasm that surrounded president obama when he was elected, it took president clinton to highlight two very important realities at that moment four years ago. first, that no president in a very long time had faced such dire economic conditions, but also no president in a very long time has had to battle against such hatred from his political opponents.
>> and, martin , those are two things that president obama could not really effectively say himself. imagine what it would sound like. there would be a cry baby quality to it. oh, no other president could possibly have done what i have done. it needed to be certified by a president who presided over phenomenal job growth , as president clinton did. it needed to be certified by a two-term president, who had really seen it all. there's only one person who could have done that. it was an invaluable contribution to this week, and it's now going to be an invaluable contribution to this campaign.
>> what did you think, lawrence , of that clip we played just now of mitt romney , saying that the only reason -- of course, it's a bogus claim the president has removed the waiver -- i'm sorry, has waivered the work requirement. the only reason he did so was to shore up his base. what could mitt romney be referring to, do you think?
>> well, bill clinton laid out the truth last night. bill clinton , as a governor, started working on welfare reform with ronald reagan and with senator moynihan in the senate at that time. bill clinton has a long history with this subject, longer than any other elected official, and he made it very, very clear what the president has done in relation to this welfare reform bill, and it's only been something that is going to help more people get to work. that's what the design of what the president is trying to do. mitt romney knows that. when you hear it now, martin , there's something really strange about watching romney trying to play the same tricks they were playing last week. the political world changed this week in charlotte. those tricks don't work anymore.
>> what do you mean by that, lawrence ? is
>> they were moving along last week in tampa in a kind of uninterrupted soliloquy that was filled with lies about this sort of thing. what's happened now is we've seen what the democratic party as a team can do in responding to that sort of thing. and there's no more powerful responder to it than bill clinton , who signed that welfare bill into law, and president obama , who knows exactly how that law is operating now.
>> indeed. the way that clinton went after paul ryan last night, did you get the sense that he's more of a threat than the man at the top of the ticket?
>> not anymore, i don't. i thought in tampa last week that paul ryan , in that environment, did a good job with his speech. but what has happened is it has been ripped apart, starting from the moment he walked off that stage. there's nothing left of what paul ryan had to say last week, martin , and that's just going to continue. he's been discredited in so many ways since giving that speech. and so now i think we're back to the analysis that held before the vice presidential selection that paul ryan would be a liability to bring the ryan plan and paul ryan 's legislative history into this campaign is liability for the republicans. that's what most of us thought before his selection. that's where i think it stands now.
>> wow. now, mitt romney was up in battlegrou battleground, new hampshire, today dropping in on a veterans event, and a reporter asked him about his failure to even mention afghanistan during his convention . take a listen, lawrence .
>> why didn't you mention afghanistan in your speech?
>> i was at the american legion the day before giving a complete address about my commitment to the military and very clear. my commitment to the military is shown here and at the american legion .
>> the only problem, lawrence , he didn't talk about afghanistan except his nine words. of course, we are still at war in afghanistan . is that supposed to register as supporting the thousands of troops who are ably serving this country?
>> martin , let's be clear why he didn't talk about afghanistan . he knows nothing about it. nothing. he knows nothing about making war.
>> that's never stopped mitt romney from talking about iran or stalking about the straits of hormuz or talking about libya or talking about yemen. the man knows nothing about those places either.
>> that's right. but in this case, the fact that he knows nothing about it and has no policy difference with the president to recommend. he has absolutely nothing to say in relation to what the president is actually doing in afghanistan . so now to have a live fire war going on and to have a presidential nominee give his speech about where he sees his country going and to ignore -- to ignore that he has people in uniform in afghanistan facing fire every day, to ignore that is, i think, the biggest owe mission that any nomination speech has ever had.
>> it is remarkable, i think. tonight's the night, lawrence . what does the president have to do to build on what's already happened in this convention .
>> here's what we look for president obama speaking at his convention . this will be his third convention speech. three conventions in a row. his first was at john kerry 's convention in 2004 . that was the best speech of that convention by far. his second speech was four years later in denver. that was the best speech of that convention by far and the best speech by a presidential nominee at a convention ever. this is president obama 's third time at this. he's always delivered the speech of the week. there's no reason to think that president obama isn't walking in there tonight with the best speech he's ever delivered.
>> lawrence , you are a master at wor words. you've written both factually and fictionally. but you know, because i heard you say it last night, that bill clinton 's speech was really impressive. and you really think the president can go one better?
>> i think, if you look at the speeches this week, let's remember bill clinton had to follow michelle obama , which was a phenomenal speech, martin . that was as great a speech experience as you could ask for in a convention hall , and people are wondering, how can he follow that? he didn't attempt to top it. he did something different. he did a completely different thing as he so obviously would. so what i think happened was we saw michelle obama hit a home run , and then we saw bill clinton hit a home run , and nobody cares whether this home run went over the centerfield wall or the left field wall or right field. these are home runs , martin . these are just incredible performances, and i think barack obama 's going to come in here tonight, and he's going to own this night. he's going to own this convention , own this group. and i really think he is now in control of the campaign the rest of the way when he leaves shar the lo.
>> lawrence , the final question to you. how does the quality of speeches at this convention compare with last week in tampa . please stop yourself from laughing, lawrence .
>> i actually think for the case the republicans were trying to make last week, i thought that the nominees' speeches were reasonable for the cases they were trying to make. now, i recognized right off the bat that they weren't trying to make truthful cases, but for what they were arguing, i thought they did a reasonable job. when they look back on it now, every single reasonable speech, there's been a lot of speeches given this week that were not in primetime coverage that have been fantastic. just incredible assistance in this hall.
>> elizabeth warren .
>> you could go on and on. there's no comparison to last week. and everyone who's been at both conventions is saying exactly that.
>> lawrence o'donnell, as ever, thank you so much. get back to your adoring fans.
>> thanks, martin .
>> and lawrence will be part of our special msnbc coverage leading up to the president's important speech tonight. so keep it locked right here. next