Morning Joe | November 21, 2012
>> a beautiful shot. what is that new york city .
>> washington, d.c.
>> mark halperin with us. joining the set, former adviser to the romney campaign, dan senor is finally back with us.
>> good to be back.
>> nice to have you back in the family. how are you?
>> i'm good.
>> we've missed you.
>> missed you guys.
>> dannor. richard wolfe is also here.
>> you aren't nearly as excited to see richard .
>> no. we want to get this out of the way so we can leave. richard wolfe is here. your work on the website is just great.
>> thank you. check it out.
>> looking good.
>> morningjoe.msnbc.com. there you go.
>> what's up?
>> nothing. hanging out.
>> just hanging out.
>> hanging out with the wife.
>> we can talk about campbell bags. want to do that?
>> i overheard the other day, she was planning our trip.
>> christmas holidays we're going skiing and i overheard her planning to ship all the kids' stuff ahead of time. i said isn't that kind of expensive to ship ahead --
>> i bet she said you're going to --
>> not as expensive as the stress associated with flying for three and a half hours wondering if our bags will be there.
>> or having to replace everything.
>> because dan kind of messed that up last christmas.
>> we move on.
>> we have a lot to talk about. what happened?
>> in the election?
>> no. why happened with the blue jays this past year? what happened in the election? what happened? lot of republicans went into election night thinking they were going to win. we heard mitt romney did and ann romney did.
>> paul ryan .
>> paul ryan did. did you believe on election day you were going to win?
>> i thought between the end of the debates, the debate season and the onset of the storm, we had tremendous momentum.
>> we saw it in our internal data, saw it in some of the external data, the public data and saw it on the ground. we would go to rallies, people standing in lines, thousand for hours.
>> what happened? why was your internal data so flawed? why was it so wrong?
>> i think a couple things. one, there is a -- some kind of systemic crisis today in the world of polling, i think on the right of center polling. the modeling was way off. how pollsters on the republican side -- although not just the republican side . gallup polling, rasmussen made similar mistakes. the understanding, the electorate looked like was way off.
>> first of all, you know rasmussen is a republican poll.
>> gallup? i'm not letting anyone off the hook. i'm saying there is -- look the republican establishment needs to do an audit and figure out how our understanding of what the electorate looked like was way off. truth is, not just this election. we faced similar dynamics in certain parts of the country in 2010 .
>> we got poundeded in 2008 , 2012 . wasn't as much of a shock as last time and this time. we talked about this during the campaign, do you think -- as david from says accurately and i don't agree with everything that david says -- the conservative entertainment complex , these websites, talk radio shows, certain tv shows , that just tell their viewers day in and day out you're going to win, you're going to win, you're going to win. obama, he's going to lose and may be impeached before he's lost. you're going to win, you're going to win. don't you think that severely hurt the cause?
>> i think it -- i think it reinforced some of the worst overly optimistic instincts. i don't think that's why we lost. i think it was part of the problem. it was, you know, it created these unrealistic hopes and expectations. it's not why we lost. look, you could -- people -- reporters across the political spectrum , pundits across the political divide, believed this race was too close to call. i'm not defending the conservative entertainment complex , but i'm not saying they're the only ones that believed romney had a real shot at this. anyone covering our events between the end of the debate season and onset of the storm believed that romney had some momentum. we can debate the degree of momentum, the depth of the momentum, but there was a sense that romney had begun to turn the race around.
>> i hear you on that. what do you think -- and i think the conservative entertainment complex dynamic is a part of this -- what do you think the bigger problem is?
>> look, first of all, i think there's a tendency after these races to award the winning side with the label of being the smartest guys in the business and they were genius and the losing side, you know, the biggest doorknock knobs and ju screwed everything up. watching some of these republican officials now.
>> trashing mitt romney . everyone's going out trashing mitt romney .
>> i agree with you on this.
>> it is stunning. these are -- i will tell you, ice just talking about this with richard , the friday night before the election we were in cincinnati, tens of thousands of people, you could feel the energy, 100 top tier surrogates at the event, i'm back stage with some of them, won't mention their names, talking about like he's reagan. the debate performances, the best of any republican nominee and presidential history. this guy is iconic. talking about him because they believed he was going to win in four or five days. some of them were already talking to our transition, to position themselves for a romney cabinet.
>> they're the first to jump.
>> i won't say who they are, they were on television, the body was -- it was unbelievable, five, six days lately, absolutely eviscerating him.
>> that's the bigger problem. i want to go back to the first thing you said, there's this temptation to think that the winning side is the smartest. i actually think no, romney should have done better.
>> we picked up 400,000 votes --
>> the whole thing should have been a better match.
>> if we had picked up 400,000 votes in a handful of swing states --
>> don't go there. mitt romney would have been a genius.
>> you're doing the john kerry if we picked up a basketball -- are we going to say if we picked up a mow to speed cross way attracted baja --
>> dude --
>> the winners are not the geniuses that the press set them up to be and our losers and fellow republican officials are not like the reject disaster campaigns --
>> man --
>> they're labeling mitt romney as. i'm struck by the unleashing on him.
>> first of all --
>> i am too --
>> first of all, mitt romney , if he had gone quietly into that dark night , would not have been pounded as hard.
>> of course.
>> but mitt romney comes out and doubles down on his 47% remarks, when he confirms everybody's worst suspicions, including small government republicans who were distrustful of huge corporations.
>> he doesn't help his cause.
>> i believe you are right in that he doesn't help his cause. however, be all these guys, let's -- i'm talking about the ones i'm most struck by are the republican office holders who were -- i'm not going to. i'm not --
>> hold on. republican governors. why don't you say republican governors.
>> republican officials who were in discussions with the transition about a cabinet position.
>> many of these officials i might add, chose to stay out of it. they chose not to run.
>> can i --
>> and let me -- and they chose to stay out of it because they believed that this race was unwinnable.
>> point taken. we got a lot to get to here.
>> it is part of the bigger problem.
>> i have to though, i have to take exception with you not saying the obama people aren't the smartest guys in the room.
>> very smart. ran a fantastic campaign.
>> they are the smartest in the campaign. they are what ken mehlman was to 2004 . light years ahead of the time, light years ahead of your team.
>> i totally agree that they ran a fantastic campaign and they're very sophisticated team. i felt the same way in 2004 about ken mehlman . i'm simply saying, the chorus and the peanut gallery would have been sijing ken mehlman and karl rove in 2004 had ohio gone slightly different way.
>> what do you think of chris christie ?
>> i think he's a fantastic governor and he's been on the front lines -- obviously the disaster relief he's performed well.
>> are you glad he did what he did during the disaster relief ? do you think he went overboard?
>> i'm not going to get into chris christie 's handling -- he was dealing with a crisis. a difficult crisis. the last thing i'm going to do is judge someone who's managing a crisis.
>> very good.
>> in real time .
>> that is the correct answer.
>> i agree with you. i think the response to mitt romney , whatever his mistakes.
>> the response to mitt romney just piling on is not unseemly but unhelpful to the republican party . they have to do serious thinking about why they did not connect with the growing, changing nature of this country. so your two cents, what does the republican party need to do on policy at this point, just a couple things, to position it better next time around?
>> first -- look, i'm no longer professionally spinning for mitt romney . okay. let me just -- can i -- because it answers your questions. i think he got a couple things right and they have been eclipsed by the pile on. okay. one, he took on as a candidate entitlement reform in a way that no national candidate from either party has. ever. he didn't just touch the third rail, he hugged it. not only did he advocate a serious medicare reform agenda he did something everyone said he shouldn't do including the public establishment, pick paul ryan . everyone was saying, you know, we're going to try to attach the ryan budget to mitt romney and then the democrats were thrilled. steve israel , the chairman of the dccc put out a fund-raising e-mail saying that paul ryan . they planned --
>> however good you think that is, it didn't work. what did he --
>> let me address that. he actually won the seniors vote. i think he has opened up the possibility both for president obama and congressional republicans , and you saw this in this poll that came out, center left organization, talking about people are open on entitlement reform in a way they haven't been in the past and i think romney /ryan broke through a little bit on that. other policy areas. look, republicans have to do a better job over the next couple years, particularly the republican think tank community, has to do a better job of thinking through about how to talk about middle class economics and go into the r and d business. i'm a supply sider, i'm as much of a believer in, you know, pro growth supply side economics as anybody, but the anchor for every one of our debates about our economic future, cannot simply be about marginal tax rates as much as i support keeping marginal tax rates low. we have to spend meaningful time over the next several years developing a policy agenda that reflects our principles but is modernized and i understand there's a range of issues and the demographics we need to deal with, young people , obviously immigration, i've been very, you know, progressive on immigration issues for years. worked on the issues in the '90s. republicans need to do a lot more there. but unless we address the core issue of middle class economics with innovative ideas.
>> women. this is not a minority question. losing women by a mid margin, especially reproductive rights .
>> let me stop you there. republicans , this is important, we can have the debate about this, republicans won white young voters, they won white women . the majority of the electorate --
>> the fact it continues to be a minority problem for the republican party .
>> do you think the problem is young or single people or women? i think the point you're making you won many female demographics.
>> the kinds of issues that surfaced very strongly important in terms of value to the particular, reproductive rights , abortion, never mind the extremist stuff about rape, the party is not where clearly according to exit polls where people are when it comes to abortion rights . most or all cases the majority thinks it should be legal. is that -- do think that there's something on reproductive rights that the republican party needs to think about there?
>> i think we have two issues. one, we got invested, our side got invested in an idiotic debate about contraception during the primary. was not pushed forth by mitt romney , but put forth by some of the other folks, leaders in the party, including one running for president, that took on a life of its own and allowed it to feed the narrative you're talking about, this war on women and that hurt us. and obviously when we have top tier , you know, nrsc recruited senate candidates, actually fomenting a discussion about rape, this is not healthy.
>> this is not.
>> in the areas i talk about all the time.
>> the candidates they recruited they both won on their own.
>> the establishment got behind them. they were targeted races. the establishment --
>> one thing more disturbing i think for republicans , mark, really quickly is the fact that mitt romney , he can't just blame it on mitt romney . mitt romney outperformed most republican senate candidates.
>> yes. in most places.
>> what does that say about the republican brand?
>> it needs some working over. go back to immigration. obviously marco rubio has been outspoken although he failed to come forward with a big plan during the campaign. who are the other republicans you think can or should step forward and be partners with the president on economy xrooe hensive immigration reforce.
>> i think ted cruz . lindsey graham and john mccain . i think people like paul ryan in the house. people who come out of a sort of reagan-esque, kemp-esque pro growth camp within the republican party . i think there's a big opportunity for them to weigh in on the debate.
>> when people talk comprehensive reform the big issue, a big issue, probably the biggest, is there a path to citizenship for people who were here. governor romney was firm on that point. did he leave the party on immigration in a bad place ?
>> i think the party has been suffering on the issue of immigration for years. i think the problem transcends mitt romney . i don't think his position helped the -- helped the republican problem but it predates him. the failure of mccain/kennedy was something republicans got blamed for. in the 1990s there were some really nasty debates and very few, you know, very few republican voices willing to stand up on the side of immigration reform . we've been suffering -- look, there is a nativist, isolationist protectionist strand within the republican party that has been very active in republican politics across the country for about 20 years. i'm sure joe saw it in pensacola in the pan handle . it's across the country. and we have failed to deal with it. so i think romney 's position added to it, but it was not the root of the problem.
>> it's hard to find people in politics who are true to the people they commit to politically, and their convictions consistently. you are. that's why we like you so much. i don't agree with anything you say, almost anything you say --
>> she always has to put that.
>> and even this interview -- be.
>> they won't let it go --
>> it's completely -- it's consistent and honest and transparent. you look for that in people. it's hard to find it. dan senor , really great to have you back.