msnbc | October 16, 2012
>> lawrence o'donnell is in the spin room right now.
>> i want to go right to the last question and the last response that the president gave where he brought up mitt romney 's 47% comment made on a video that he didn't know was being recorded. was it a strategic decision of the campaign to save that 47% reference for the last minute of this debate tonight?
>> well, i heard what steve schmidt said and i would love to take credit for strategic brilliance, that's the way the debate fell. i know the president wanted to engage on that. i think he was unwilling to accept governor romney 's explanation that this long explication in front of a closed-door audience on the 47% was some sort of a misstatement. it clearly wasn't. it's a statement of philosophy. it's a philosophy that animates all of his policy and positions. and it does -- it is disdainful of large numbers of people who are working hard, who have worked hard. so it goes to the core of this whole race. so the president was determined to raise it, but it wasn't clear where in the debate it would come.
>> on the tax side of the debate, where they started to get into the deductions, the president tried to get into the deductions that mitt romney is not specifying, what is your reaction to mitt romney 's sudden proposal, to raise it specifically in this environment seems like a much more deliberate act. the notion that maybe everyone will get a $25,000 deduction and you can just take whatever you want within your current package of deductions as long as it fits under the 25, that's what you get. obviously higher-end taxpayers have bigger deductions than that, they can have bigger property tax alone.
>> i think that was an offer made in panic because there were other places where he said maybe 17%, 17,000 and other places maybe 15,000. but here's the deal. the numbers don't add up. you're an expert on these issues. you used to work on this side and on these issues. that simply wouldn't --
>> i could be the candy crowley here. i could referee and say that's correct. they do not add up.
>> they do not add up. and that's his problem here. it is a scam. it is as the president said, a sketchy deal. and what happened tonight on this and so many other issues is that governor romney got called and he got exposed. and he looked like it. he looked like a man who was back pedalling all night long.
>> i had an occasion to ask senator marco rubio this morning if he could name one tax deduction that he would eliminate in order to pay for this giant tax cut , he could not name one. was there any reluctance on the president's part to go civically into mitt romney 's mysterious tax returns and ask him if there was a single deduction in his tax return that he would be willing to eliminate?
>> well, the one thing we know and the one thing he's been specific about is he will not touch the tax break that is the key to why he pays such a low tax rate , capital gains . won't raise it at all. and that's of course how he saves millions of dollars on his taxes. so we know the answer to that question. what he needs to acknowledge to people is that either he's going to explode the deficit or he's going to sock it to the middle class . i don't think the american people are going to buy a $5 trillion pig in a pope and governor romney tonight was exposed.
>> we saw a very different performance from the president tonight in this debate from the first debate. you would acknowledge that?
>> oh, yes.
>> what was different in the preparation for this performance?
>> well, i think it was more of a matter of the president's determination. he knew that he had not made the case aggressively enough in denver.
>> when he left the stage in denver, what was the first conversation that you're aware of that indicated that the president wasn't satisfied with what he did.
>> i think fairly quickly. but he also had a chance to look at the tape himself and that was clear. and then there were people who, there were some gentle criticism from people like chris matthews and others.
>> did the president hear chris matthews .
>> he didn't have to watch tv, he could hear chris without the tv. but there were others as well. but he was aware. but listen. ultimately the president was responding to his own desire to make the strongest possible case for where we need to go as a country. the strongest possible case for a strong middle class . the strongest possible case for why we can't go back to those policies that tore down our economy and tore down the middle class in the first place. and that's really what this race is about.
>> knowing that you have a foreign policy debate coming up, in the approach to tonight's debate, were you hoping that the audience questions would stay away from foreign policy so you can compartmentalize.
>> no. we didn't expect governor romney would try to deny what is a fact which is the president stood up the day after and said this was an act of terror. and the president spoke eloquently to this. i know him so well. this guy is aware every single moment that he's responsible for the lives of the americans he sends overseas, diplomats and service people. and he feels that intensely. so it is offensive that somehow he would play politics. he wants to get to the bet om of it, make sure that we take the steps necessary so that it doesn't happen again. and we didn't expect that that would wait for the next debate.
>> did you have a chance to speak to him after this debate?
>> i didn't. i'm dying to speak to him.
>> given that you know him so well, how do you think he's feeling right now about what happened up there tonight?
>> i think he's feeling great right now. i'm just guessing, not because he scored political points, but because he made the case that needed to be made for where we should go as a country.
>> thank you lawrence. in terms of that last point that david axelrod was mentions there