Martin Bashir | October 17, 2012
>>> it should come as no surprise that the first major on-air fact check in these debates found mitt romney 's pants to be on fire because for the second time in as many months, romney missed his 3 a.m . call on libya .
>> i want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in benghazi an act of terror.
>> get the transcript.
>> he did, in fact, sir. so, let me call it an act of terror --
>> can you say that a little louder, candy?
>> conservatives in between hosing down their nominee have falsely accused the moderator of shedder her impatrtiality to save the president but that's not true because the president smacked the line of libya right out of mitt romney 's mouth.
>> the suggestion that anybody in my team, or the secretary of state, our u.n. ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we've lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. that's whatnot we do. that's not what i do as president. that's not what i do as commander in chief.
>> joining us from washington is julian epstein and matt miller , washington post columnist and also an msnbc contributor. thank you to both of you for being here. julian , this repulsive attempt to exploit the tragedy in libya occurred in front of our very eyes. we don't need six bogus studies. we saw it. and while the president stood up for the very best values in public service , defending the integrity of those who lost their lives and as secretary of state, one has to say that mitt romney was exposed as lying on the facts and exploiting the dead.
>> i think that's correct. i think the fact that the romney campaign is grasping to try to politicize this campaign tells you a lot where the romney campaign thinks they are in this election which is, as we all know, not in a good place particularly when it comes to ohio. look, the fact of the matter is this. the facts on the ground in the days after the attack on the embassy in libya , all the eyewitnesss were saying they thought the video was the major factor that sparked the protests and attacks. obama was very careful at the time to say the video may have been a factor but it may have provided an opening for terrorists or al qaeda loosely affiliated elements to exploit it. it wasn't just next day in the rose garden . it was for weeks after it he was very consistent on it. now the news reporting, new york times and elsewhere, show both things were true. the video was having -- was in some ways insti indicating what was occurring but that the terrorist elements that were there were looking to exploit it. i think this fits into the narrative. consistently the romney campaign is making these attacks that end up being very hollow, that don't withstand scrutiny.
>> yes. here is the line from the president from his initial briefing in the rose garden . take a listen.
>> the world must stand together to unequivocally reject these attacks. no attacks will shake this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values we stand for.
>> matt, no acts of terror. i'll repeat it. no acts of terror. will ever shake the resolve of this great nation. what was mitt romney trying to achieve by that?
>> one of the things that's so wonderful about this moment, it undercuts mitt romney 's image as the all-knowing ceo. one thing ceos can be expected to assure is good staff work. and staff works mean in this case, not going to the mat the way he did, obviously, expecting that he had obama right where he wanted him because that phrase wouldn't have been said for two weeks. obama knew exactly what was happening when he said, you know, check the transcript, you know, go ahead. and it really emerged with that much egg on your face when one of the things you can competently organize those around you to execute on a plan, whether it's from the economy or even to prepare for a debate lake this and be effective really undercuts one of his central claims for, you know, for why he's the guy.
>> right. julian , if anyone owned up to major politicizing during a trangdy we give you mitt romney during that 47% videotape.
>> this is really -- by the way, if something of that nature presents itself, i will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.
>> there you have it, julian . given that two parents of the deceased have plead the for their sons' deaths not be used as political fodder, isn't it time mitt romney gave us details about his taxes instead of exploiting this tragedy?
>> the important point is romney said he was looking for an opportunity to exploit a national security crisis for partisan purposes. if you think back about the republican party we once knew, under george herbert walker bush , never in a million years would you ever think the republicans would be out there trying to exploit a national security crisis for their own partisan purposes for a way that could actually hurt national security . look, this is going to be a useful opportunity. the republicans want to go in this area. as matt said, the facts will not bare them out. but it gives obama an opportunity to say, you know what, we'll find these guys and bring them to justice, one. secondly -- and obama has a little bit of contradict on that, his record on osama bin laden .
>> just a bit.
>> it's extraordinary to me the republican party can be looking to talk about intelligence failure when there doesn't seem to be any major intelligence failure . but the republican party would be talking about intelligence failures when on their watch the biggest intelligence failure in the history of this country occurred on 9/11/ 2001 .
>> if you put aside how unseemly even as exploit the tragedy as a pure matter of raw politics, i don't think anything about benghazi will ever trump osama bin laden having been vankuished by obama . they won't trump the national security credentials a reputation he has in the eyes of the public. i always thought the one foreign area romney has a point to gain traction is china, where he tried to outflank obama but they have him boxed out because of his investments. it would have been a vulnerability had he not had that profile.
>> thank you both.