NOW with Alex Wagner | May 09, 2012
>>> has work to do to win over independent voters, he may actually have more to do to convince members of his own party. this is a challenger who claimed over 40% of the vote in west virginia in the democratic primary against president obama . keith judd, who doesn't even live in west virginia , is a convicted felon serving a 17-year sentence for extortion at a federal prison in texas. judd declares himself a member of the federation of superheroes and listed his religion as rastafarian christian. again, he took more than two-fifths of the votes from west virginia democrats. joining us now is the host of "hardball" here on msnbc, the great chris matthews . also author of "elusive hero," the best book ever written by the kennedys.
>> thank you. it's out now. by the way, it's rough when you lose to one of these characters, 40%.
>> it is. this is what i want to ask --
>> well, this is student voting, stupid voting.
>> he didn't quite lose, but it was a semi- open primary . i think it's a bellwether if if not angry, how apathetic voters are.
>> but answer the question.
>> this is my thesis.
>> it seems to me that --
>> raise the iq level.
>> it's not serious voting. but i do see a pattern out there of angry voting and it's polarizing. it's not just in indiana, where they showed no sympathy for lugar, but in pennsylvania, the governor people like altmire lose, people are polarizing. we grew up in a world, the governor and i, where people split their tickets. who's splitting their ticket anymore in this world? it's all left or right, no room in the middle, we don't like the other side. and this sort of, obviously, immature voting and people voting for this guy.
>> would that happen 20 years ago, a arres rastafarian christian inmate?
>> he would probably vote for lassie if he could.
>> and governor, you guys are sort of lions of the industry. i mean, would this have happened 20 years ago?
>> no, probably not, but i think chris is right. i wouldn't take this too seriously, although if i was president obama , i wouldn't spend much time in west virginia .
>> yeah, i think that's fair. that will help with his strategy.
>> when mike nutter in the primary last year, mayor of philadelphia who was very popular, he ran against a guy who was literally out of federal prison for two months, who owed $500,000 in city taxes, and that guy got 26%, 26%.
>> to a tax cheat. that's different.
>> in the general election , mike nutter got 81%. so that's number one. number two, look, i think president obama is going to do very well among democrats. if you look at the polls, he's got 92%, 93% of democrats already supporting him. there were independent voters in this primary. that's a little bit of a problem. but independent voters in west virginia are different than independent voters --
>> across the country.
>> and democratic voters in west virginia are very different from democrats in the rest of the country.
>> there is no liberal or even centrist --
>> sure, hillary clinton --
>> very conservative. hillary won --
>> 31 points.
>> and i think she had already dropped out of the race by then.
>> no, she was still in it. [ everyone talking at once ]
>> down here. bang on the pipes, make some noise. show them you're animate, you're alive and you're mad. it's like the movie.
>> how many votes did colbert get, though?
>> that's another part.
>> let's talk, though, about another sort of --
>> when goldwater was running, used to have a bumper sticker, gillespie for president.
>> miles davis for president. chris , what about north carolina ?
>> well, that's a trouble sign.
>> it is a trouble sign.
>> what was interesting is, in the press conference this morning, you see that north carolina 's behind catching up to the other southern states , that every southeastern state now has got a ban on same-sex in their constitution.
>> same-sex marriage.
>> which really shows how serious this challenge is for the president. if he says something in this interview this afternoon that goes too far. he has to be very careful, i think.
>> and what's interesting --
>> despite what the governor says. see, the governor's not running this year, nor is hillary clinton running. by the way, hillary clinton hasn't stated a clear position on this either. so it's not like everybody's out there jumping up and down saying same-sex.
>> the same-sex marriage amendment sort of outlawing any kind of civil unions between same-sex partners passed. if you unpack the numbers and look at what happened in largely black communities, in hartford county , 60% black , 70% of the black population supported the amendment. halifax, 53% black , 68%. we've talked a lot about the president on gay marriage , and there's been a lot of talk about the political calculation there and whether or not a full endorsement of gay marriage alienates him from black supporters.
>> well, it happened in ohio last time in 2004 . look what happened. don king and karl rove got tied into the black ministers up in cuyahoga county in cleveland, got like 76% of the vote against the black candidate on this issue. it's very smart to go into the conservative black communities and make this case. there's a lot of worries about marriage in those communities, just stable marriages. they'll say this is one more threat -- of course, you can argue it's ludicrous, but this is one more threat to the marriage in this situation.
>> i don't --
>> why are you laughing, governor? you know what's going on.
>> because i actually don't think this is going to hurt obama tremendously if he comes out in favor of gay marriage . but i'm just trying to elevate the iq.
>> ooh! maggie , maggie , let me tell you, you're wrong. i'm telling you.
>> no, let me finish. here's the thing. i think this is becoming a political problem about leadership for obama that transcends the issue of how swing state voters feel about this. i think it's equally problematic for the president. i think he looks most like mitt romney than he has the entire cycle, and i think that's what hurts him.
>> in the end, the argument's in november, how people vote.
>> north carolina is a high- wire act for this president. he won by 14,000 votes out of 4 million cast. he has no room for error, no room for risk, really. and so, i understand why they are just not even ready to dip a big foot in that water, let alone a toe, because --
>> but there's --
>> -- there's no room for error here.
>> they're summoning the abc news reporter to the white house at the last minute --
>> robin roberts will be sitting down with the president.
>> the interview is set to air later today. it's interesting, the president could not avoid putting out a statement on this. said. "the president believes the north carolina measure singles out and discriminates against committed gay and lesbian couples, which is why he did not support it. president obama has long believed that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and legal protections as straight couples and is disappointed in the passage of this amendment."
>> i think we're forgetting one thing. let's examine single-issue voters. there are very few of us in the country that are single-issue voters, and the only people who are single-issue voters on the gay marriage thing are gays and lesbians who are for obama , no matter what. and the other side are people who never would have voted for president obama to begin with, on a whole host of different issues.
>> that's right.
>> so i don't think it loses people. independents, chris , are not voting on this issue. they're voting on the economy, they're voting on, as maggie says, leadership.
>> wait until republicans get to spend six months making this into the biggest thing you ever saw.
>> i think if they do that, they make a big mistake .
>> they turn him from the independent that he painted himself to be in 2008 to the liberal that they want everyone to believe that he is, and i think that something like this will help --
>> this will help --
>> this will help in virginia and --
>> we have a poll out this week that said 54% of the country thinks obama is to the left. this will help make that point.
>> that's exactly right.
>> also there is a poll that 50% of the country says gay marriage is okay.
>> they live in states that democrats are going to win anyway. not all.
>> on the accusation of obama being a liberal , this is what mitt romney is saying on the campaign trail.
>> president obama chose to apply liberal ideas of the past to a 21st-century america. liberal policies didn't work back then. old-school liberals saw a problem and thought a government-run program was the answer. the liberals of the past raised taxes. old-school liberals envision government guiding and providing every need of every citizen.
>> and there you have it, liberal , liberal , liberal , liberal .
>> but that's liberal fiscal policy he's going toward. this is liberal policy with the independent, i think. i think that's what the point is here. i don't think that's about gay marriage , per se . you can certainly say that's on the fringe of it. i think there's a real risk for romney if the republicans make this a huge issue to try to bank votes on. i think that it ends up alienating under age 40 voters and independent voters, potentially. and you know, the thing is for romney, the flip side is that evangelicals are not that excited about him anyway. if he is now going to have to start continuing to go hard right in a general election , that's not a winner for him. tell me i'm wrong. chris agrees with me. pursing his lips.
>> i also want to know what the white house does.
>> i wish you were wrong. that's what i'm saying.
>> do you think the president needs to come out one --
>> better angels . maggie 's right, believe in our better angels and --
>> i don't think they exist. the point is they don't exist. [ everyone talking at once ]
>> i will take you to --
>> can i just tell you, if this goes wrong, hillary clinton gets to run against a republican in four years. that's not the worst thing to ever happen.
>> that's true. that's very true.
>> chris , i will tell you --
>> but you'll be at the right side of history because four years from now, this issue will be more popular.
>> that's right.
>> i will take you to any restaurant you want in the world, chris , and i'll fly you there --
>> -- if barack obama gets less than 90% in any african-american precinct.
>> wow! okay.
>> let's look at cuyahoga county this time and north carolina where 70% is stunning to me. but i'll tell you --
>> they'll vote barack obama .
>> i think pennsylvania is endangered by this issue. in danger.
>> there is nobody on this issue that was voting for barack obama to begin with.
>> how can you go to break when you're flanked by --
>> let's see how the president decides with robin roberts this afternoon.
>> indeed we will. everybody will be watching right before they tune in at 5:00 p.m . --
>> why is he with an old philly pitcher, anyway? what's he going after?
>> chris matthews , ladies and gentlemen . catch n msnbc every evening at 5:00 p.m . and 7:00