Martin Bashir | November 19, 2012
>>> while mitt romney was off with his wife ann taking in the new "twilight" movie, his running mate paul ryan is back in washington ready to have another go at it with the president this time over the fiscal cliff. we go to capitol hill and nbc's luke russert . it's great to see you again. you're not on capitol hill , you're in our studio, but that's okay, i forgive you.
>> good afternoon, martin. how are you?
>> great. explain this to me. mr. ryan fails to help mitt romney skaur enough votes to implement an austerity budget so now he's back to help john boehner secure enough votes versus the president to press for an austerity budget, is that right?
>> yeah, that's correct, martin. it's interesting, there's a lot of criticism saying paul ryan 's vision for an american budget was routinely rejected flat out by voters a little more than a week ago. so why will he have such an impact in terms of the fiscal cliff negotiations? and the reason is that paul ryan , despite the presidential loss, continues to be the ideological godfather of the current republican budget --
>> but, luke, he just got ripped to shreds. he just got pulverized in the election. in fact, so many of his ideas, he had to go quiet on because they were so deficient and attacked during the presidential campaign . yet there you are now telling our audience he's back and republicans have him as their -- one of their main stakeholders.
>> he's very much still an important player within the house republican conference . so much so that speaker boehner when it came to having a daily meeting about the fiscal cliff situation made the decision to bring in folks that had a committee in terms of jurisdiction over the matter, so that put paul ryan in with budget and energy and commerce and upton. what you're going to see is going forward is paul ryan 's fingers will be on any potential deal that could emerge between speaker boehner and president obama . and that's actually very important for speaker boehner because despite the loss that paul ryan had on a national level, he still has a considerable amount of clout within the house republican conference where a lot of folks will look towards where ryan goes. if ryan votes yes, that gives them enough cover to vote yes on a deal.
>> the republican house conference seems to be operating in an alternative universe because mr. ryan told abc that the president didn't have a mandate. rather, he and his house gap gop have one. he said i think the ideas we talked about, i think they're popular ideas. did the election not happen?
>> when they say they're popular ideas, they believe that --
>> that the electorate dismissed them and did not vote for them.
>> but they believe that the issue of the debt is still one that they're very strong on, that people do not like to have the $16 trillion debt, that their policies are the best moving forward. but, look, martin, if anything else what you are seeing here is a very smart political ploy by speaker boehner trying not to allow what happened in august of 2011 to happen again, which is one of his lieutenants not having his back. we saw that with eric cantor back in the summer of 2011 . a lot of folks said that eric cantor was not brought in the circle enough with john boehner and was going to scuttle any deal he could have made with the president. so john boehner is doing some sort of, i would say, pre-emptive keeping his friends closer that time around than the last negotiation in the summer of 2011 .
>> luke russert explaining the inexplicable to our audience. thank you, sir, so much.
>> take care.
>>> the only subject on which republicans may be more disingenuous than the fiscal cliff is the subject of benghazi. we bring in clarence page , columnist for ""the chicago tribune ."" welcome back. thank y
>> thank you.
>> you had the republicans on the sunday talk shows trying to peddle benghazi into something bigger.
>> they are pushing it by raising questions and saying we need answers, we need answers, and they aren't going to wait for answers. they're going to imply or speculate that there was a cover-up of some kind in order to bury the idea that this was a terrorist attack and play up the anti-mohammed video. this has been the narrative that republicans have been pushing in order to raise suspicious.
>> but, clarence , to your point about raising questions, i'm sorry to interrupt, but one -- the republican who heads the house intelligence committee , mike rogers himself, has used that tactic. take a listen to this.
>> you think the president should have been told before election day ?
>> i'm not sure the president was not told before election day .
>> you think -- that's news, that the president knew before election day .
>> i didn't say that. i said i don't know. i find it -- we just have to ask the question. i hope he'll come out and talk to us about it.
>> there we are, clarence , he's only asking questions. for instance, some people may wonder if mike rogers fit for his position as intelligence committee chair as he seems to be using it purely for partisan gain. i'm not saying he is, i'm just asking the question, clarence .
>> just asking the question. doesn't this sound a lot like the whole birth certificate scam when donald trump and others were saying i'm not saying that he wasn't born in hawaii, but where is the proof that he is? and can we believe that birth certificate ? you can go around and around the mulberry bush on this for days and weeks and i think a lot of president obama 's opposition wants to do that, but they still haven't come up with any evidence of a cover-up or even a reason why a cover-up except to say it was order to help his re-election chances. that is, you know, standard paranoid style of american politi politics, sort of a tactic, but it doesn't pin anything down. i think what we're finding though evidence shows that there was some change made by somebody. dianne feinstein says that she's convinced it was not the white house and that the only change made by the white house was very minor, had nothing to do with this question of whether it was a terrorist attack or not. and the problem is when a terrible tragedy like this happens, information comes flowing into intelligence circles and the state department like water into a fire hose and you're trying to take a drink from it. there were reports related to the video at the same time there were reports of a terrorist attack coming in. at the end i think that's what this is going to shake out to be, a standard bit of early fog of war confusion.
>> absolutely. clarence page , sir, thank you so much.