msnbc | April 02, 2012
>> in our political panel. karen finney, susan del percio and joe williams . joe , i start with you. as we look at the big picture right now, including wisconsin, president obama is opening up a really big lead on mitt romney in the latest " usa today " swing state poll. are there deeper problems for the romney campaign to overcome?
>> i would say the answer to that question is yes. certainly the long campaign season which they had designed to try to generate excitement among the republicans, a la the great race between hillary clinton and barack obama in 2008 , that was the design. but it didn't work out that way because the candidates didn't fulfill their end of the bargain. so this long season has had a very, very sharp drop in republican approval, especially among independents and women , sharpened even more by the feig over abortion and more cultural issues which a lot of the party elders felt like they didn't need to have. that's also why you see a lot of the party elders trying to coalesce, coming out endorsing mitt romney saying, okay, guy, time to take off the individual intermural uniforms and put the team uniforms on for the general election and to defeat president obama in the fall.
>> as joe brings up women , right now, the president surging in popularity among women . the president trouncing romney amongst the female vote, more than 6 in 10 women under 50. that age number right there, under 50 years old, supporting president obama . among men, romney only leads by a single percentage point. however, president obama came out with this message praising planned parenthood over the weekend.
>> let's be clear here. women are not an interest group . they're mothers and daughters and sisters and wives. they're half of this country. and they're perfectly capable of making their own choices about their health. if you truly value families, you shouldn't play politics with a woman's health. it's why i know that planned parenthood will continue providing care no matter what.
>> so they are -- women are moms, they are sisters, wives, all that. then they are an interest group . so explain --
>> but they are, in fact, an interest group . and just like seniors are an interest group .
>> isn't that going to be a problem for mitt romney ?
>> right now, it is a big problem. no doubt about it. this has caused a big problem for the republicans. it's not just at the presidential level. it could be going down to the senate and the house seats as well as legislative races in states around the country. so the republicans need to come back from this and move on and keep their focus on the economy. i don't think it's a final thing. i think there's seven months to go. and there is, as joe mentioned, a lot of wear and tear on the republican candidates right now -- presidential candidates . but i think they can come out of it.
>> it's a long, hard slog. karen , politico has a front-page story today, the romney democrats fear the most. and they show ann romney . is she mitt romney 's secret weapon to appeal to women and can she challenge the popularity of first lady michelle obama ?
>> she's been the secret weapon so far because she's not so gaffe-prone as her husband is. the other issue is, susan and i have talked about this. with regard to women , it's -- women -- what president obama did so well in that video -- and i think this is what ann romney is trying to speak to, is women are tired of being treated as though -- as a special grinterest group, we only care about a couple of issues. there's a level of respect. we have 401(k)s, we take care of our families. ann romney has been saying, let's talk about the economy and these other issues. you've heard even romney himself saying, ann's out there talking to women about the economy. they're trying to move it back to the economy because they don't want to get on the social issues. but women want to talk about a range of issues but we wanted to be treated like adult human beings , capable of making our own decisions. that's what this republican war on women has done in terms of undermining women .
>> susan , i want to talk to you about this, with romney looking to fill that second spot, vice presidential spot, this is talk of him looking toward a woman, a hispanic american , susanna martinez, marco rubio , as we talk about the hispanic voting bloc , what is more important to get on the side of mitt romney ? is it someone that can bring a latino surge to the polls or someone like a tim pawlenty or mitch daniels .
>> there's no doubt that romney , should he be the nominee, will have to broaden his appeal to hispanics. there's no way he or any republican can win with the numbers the way they are right now. that being said, i don't think they're looking to do some kind of crazy game changer. romney needs to pick -- if he's the --
>> game changer, yeah, yeah, yeah.
>> if he's the nominee, he has to go with who suits him, too, which is someone safe and established, whether it's a mitch daniels or rob portman , someone who can show that they can lead.
>> did i mention sarah palin 's going to be on the "today" show tomorrow, 8:00 a.m .? john mccain in 2008 had problems sewing up the conservative vote which made him go with sarah palin over his preferred pick, which was senator joe lieberman . george bush picked the conservative dick cheney . bob dole with the fiscal hawk, jack kemp . as we look at the bush elder going with dan quayle , if you had a pick a top three for romney , who would they be?
>> that's a really interesting question, number one because i don't think that they're going to go especially radical because it doesn't seem to be in mitt romney 's character to try to go outside the box. he's very much a tactician, a manager, a guy who thinks very strategically. i don't think they're going to go too far off from a certain list --
>> i want a name out of you, joe . if three's too many, i want one.
>> if i were to wager, i would say somebody in the mold of mitch daniels because he brings that kind of gravitas and the conservative bone bona fides that he would need. an outside-the-box pick would be susana martinez.
>> i say rob portman because if it's mitch daniels , democrats will make the case that that's the day who is the architect of the bush budget that tanked the economy. i don't think romney wants to have that conversation.
>> susan , game changer?
>> i agree with karen . i think it's going to be someone like portman.
>> thanks to all of you. you can follow up to the minute results from wisconsin's primary election tuesday night with our team right here on msnbc.