Mitchell Reports | July 24, 2012
>> daily fix, an exclusive first look at your new nbc news/" wall street journal " poll at mitt romney begins a week long foreign policy push with a speech today to the veterans of foreign wars , that about an hour from now. our new poll shows that he still has work to do, trying to persuade voters he is ready to be commander in chief. romney trails the president on that score by ten points. but mitt romney leads the president by seven points, 43-36, on the quality that may be most important to voters this year, having good ideas to improve the economy. chris cillizza is an msnbc contributor and managing editor of post politics.com and nbc news chief white house correspondent and political director, chuck todd , hosts the daily rundown. chuck, you have gone through these numbers. these questions show first of all the distance mitt romney still has to close in narrowing the gap but he's ahead on the key indicator of the economy.
>> he is. there's another part to this question that we should reveal.
>> we were just talking about it off camera.
>> that i would argue is sort of the potential where romney either makes up ground and wins this election or he never closes the gap and it will be explained why he loses it. that's this issue of who is best to look out for the middle class . the president is ahead of romney . this is a values economic question. it's as much about a values -- about your own personal values as it is about the economy. it's a double digit lead here for obama. look, democrats usually win this question, but if you're romney , you can't be losing it by double digits . yes, he's winning the economy question but not by double digits so he either needs to win the economy question by double digits or close that gap here. so look, he's got -- he is winning the default argument right now against the president. he is not yet winning an argument on behalf of mitt romney yet. that's a finite thing to explain.
>> chris, do you think this shows some impact of the hammering from the obama campaign on mitt romney in terms of the type of business experience, the whole issue of not only the taxes but bain capital , what it does or doesn't do?
>> sure. i mean, look, the broadest measure, chuck points out that looking out for middle class , it's really a values question. it's kind of like who shares your values on the economy. i would say the stuff around bain, when did he leave, when did he not leave, i'm not sure how much that penetrates. the tax return stuff penetrated more and that speaks to again, kind of an exoticness that exists about mitt romney 's finances because he is frankly significantly more wealthy than the average american . i would say, though, that if i'm mitt romney , i look at these numbers and chuck's right, if he doesn't close down on the middle class he doesn't win. i look at these numbers and say we are not in a bad place because again, so much in my opinion of beating an incumbent is getting people convinced to fire the incumbent. getting them to hire you is a small part of the equation, though if you don't have it, you don't win. but i just think it seems clear people are dissatisfied with the way in which barack obama is handling the economy. the question is, can mitt romney say okay, you're not happy about this, i'm over here and i can do it better.
>> let me show you the way the two candidates are now, the two campaigns, are framing this today. first of all, a new campaign ad from president obama where he's direct to camera, very early in the campaign to see something quite like this.
>> over the next four months, you have a choice to make. not just between two political parties , or even two people. it's a choice between two very different plans for our country. sometimes politics can seem very small. but the choice you face, it couldn't be bigger.
>> that was like a closing argument , not an opening argument. and this is mitt romney with cnbc's larry kudlow yesterday.
>> it's a very strange and in some respects, foreign to the american experience type of philosophy. if you have a business and you started it, you did build it, and you deserve credit for that. it was not built for you by government.
>> without getting into the argument as to whether he is taking the president out of context over the build it business, he is still using the term foreign and i tell you, this is happening every day, it is a dog whistle .
>> i've gotten a lot of tweets about this, lot of e-mails. people saying what's he doing, why does he keep doing that.
>> what do you think he's doing?
>> it is about, to take him at face value , about trying to paint the president as out of touch, that he doesn't have the experience, that it's all about --
>> out of touch is out of touch. foreign is suggesting somebody who grew up in indonesia --
>> look, i hear you.
>> here's the problem.
>> people hear what they want to hear.
>> words matter.
>> it's what you would like to hear. it is hard for chuck and i to say mitt romney means x. i think that's what's hard for people to get around. i'm not in mitt romney 's head. i can't say why he is using the word foreign. i would say look, we had last week john sununu , a prime, very prominent surrogate, former new hampshire governor of mitt romney saying he doesn't understand what it's like to be an american. john sununu later recanted because they understood that was kind of a bridge too far. but the context of those things --
>> context matters.
>> one big thing, take away from the poll, is that it's this issue which is we're about halftime in the general election . he's about to go on all this. tactically the president's winning. he's not just winning by default. he's winning because he has put mitt romney on the defensive in these last 60 days. tactically the obama campaign is beatsing romney .
>> you will have more details about the poll at 6:30 on "nightly news." thank you very much. we will talk to you again. thank you