NOW with Alex Wagner | May 21, 2012
>>> a word of warning to surrogates who go off message this campaign cycle. you are being watched and there will be questions later. a word of warning to mitt romney , this is bain thing ain't going away anytime soon. it's monday may 21st , and this is "now."
>>> joining me today, msnbc contributor, jonathan capehart of the " washington post ." retired army captain and author wes moore, msnbc political analyst joan wal ksh of salon.com and the indutiable, from the new yorker. new york mayor cory booker found himself in hot water after making this comment about the president's campaign on "meet the press" yesterday.
>> i have to say from a very personal level, i'm not about the to sit here and indict private equity . this kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides.
>> hours later, booker posted this video on youtube walking back that criticism.
>> mitt romney has made his business record a centerpiece of his campaign. i encourage it for the obama campaign to examine that record and to discuss it.
>> if the president's advisers were pressuring booker to mitigate his criticism, here's why. this morning obama 's campaign released a new five-minute web videotape highlighting an indiana paper company shuttered after it was bought by bain .
>> to me romney takes from the poor and the middle class and gives to the rich. just the opposite of robin hood .
>> jonathan capehart, on the heels of all of this, there is a new rnc web ad saying it's a petition launched by the rnc called stand with cory . is there -- is there something wrong with saying something the white house might disagree with?
>> well, no. in a democracy and especially ours you should be able to disagree with the president, disagree with the administration, disagree with the reelection effort. but on the other hand, when you're a surrogate for that administration, for that re-election effort, you should be a little more careful in how you talk about certain things. i mean, cory booker is a man of principle. he believes firmly in everything that he says. so i don't fault him for feeling the way he felt. but he shouldn't be surprised by the amount of pushback and reaction he's gotten from both sides.
>> it would seem like cory himself pivoted rather quickly. that video out hours after he made his appearance on "meet the press." beau biden is joining us now from north carolina where he will be campaigning later today on behalf of the obama / biden ticket. it is always a pleasure to see you on our air.
>> thanks for having me on.
>> so mr. biden , sharing the last name biden with a vice president named biden , you're familiar with the events of recent weeks, which is to say folks going off message. how do you think the administration has handled this? how would you grade the events of the last 24 hours in terms of managing the message?
>> i let you and the great roundtable have you there assembled, great grade people. i'm here to talk about in north carolina , i was in virginia to the talk about a great grassroots organization called veterans for obama . we're laying this out. it's grace roots organization with 10,000 people strong. and talking about why veterans i being one among many think. obama should be re-elected to a second term. that's why i'm here in north carolina .
>> we will be going back to the bain question in a second. but the last poll that we had shows between president obama and mitt romney on veterans , obama 's winning 44% of the vet vote. romney is winning 37%. that's a change from 2008 when president obama lost the veterans vote to john mccain by 10%. what do you think accounts for that change? we still are fighting two wars and the fact that we're still in afghanistan is definitely a subject of much debate and discussion.
>> i think number one, it's a -- it represents the fact that this president has been a strong and decisive commander in chief. you know, he's done the three things you need to do. one, he knows when, where and how to deploy our forces. he's done just that. done it exactly the way he said he was going to do it as a candidate and now as commander in chief. he authorized the missioning that eliminated osama bin laden from the face of the earth and gone about decapitating al qaeda . number two, as commander in chief he knows when, how and where to redeploy our forces. he ran as i an candidate who was going to responsibly end the war in iraq , and done that. he's on a path to handing over authority in afghanistan to the government there. thirdly and this is very important, he understands his mission as commander in chief doesn't end there, it's taking care of veterans . from the moment is he became president of the united states , he's increased veteran spending more than nel president hases in 30 years on behalf of veterans . that's why you see a 10%ers budget increase in the va and that's contrasted against what mitt romney did in his four years as governor for veterans .
>> attorney general biden , you have former service member to my right nodding in agreement with everything you're saying. wes moore, i want to bring you in here. in terms of veterans ' attitudes towards this war and their conception how the president handled it. a lot of us have the mistaken impression if you're in the army you're pro-war. a lot of veterans believe in very specific and very thought through use of force and that the fact that president obama has had a light footprint which we'll talk about later has been very good for this country and sort of not using the military in a broad sense but using it in discreet measures has won him support among those who have served.
>> understanding these aren't just numbers we're talking about when we're deploying brigades. these are lives. it is also about the people serving and their families. not only do i completely agree whale beau biden was saying but in addition to that, you look at the passage of the new gi bill , one of the most aggressive and assertive plans in making sure veterans are taken care of educationally when he they come home and the joint forces worked with the first lady and mrs. biden , has not gone unrecognized by a lot of veterans . specifically on this area, the president has a great foot to stand on. we'll be using that during the campaign as well.
>> the president seems to have a few things to stand on this election cycle. i have to bring it back to the bain question because there is that new ad out and what is fair game . joan , we didn't get you guys in when we first started talking about that. david axelrod said this weekend it's not fair to talk about mitt romney 's mormonism but talking about his record at bain is fair game . what do you make of that?
>> it's absolutely fair game . he has set himself up as a job creator. he has used various figures, 10,000, 100,000 several thousand jobs created. he's brought it in and we get to talk about it. that's what was so painful about what cory booker did. i'm going to disagree with jonathan , that never happens, i do fault cory booker for what he did. i think what he did was all about cory booker , making himself the new wall street democrat. i'm going to be nice to these guys. he did two things wrong. he will -- the president has never bashed private equity . he's talking about the bain experience. it's not as though democrats demonize all private equity . that was wrong. he did something that people haven't pointed to very much. he managed to equate reverend wright ad which was racist and horrible and also from a super pac potentially with the obama ads which are for the most part from the obama campaign , which zillions brave, which is absolutely what we're supposed to be doing. these are not the same things. it's not an outside group throwing dirt at mitt romney . it's the campaign saying, we think you should look at this. we think this matters.
>> mitt romney came back saying this is character assassination.
>> we've reached some amount of kind of metaumbrage war when we're nauseated by cory booker being nauseated by a campaign ad .
>> and the rnc has i'll stand with cory petitions.
>> and cory booker as far as i can tell was responding partly to that 30-second ad about a worldwide grinding systems that is accuses bain of coming in and they said if we lose money, bain makes money. if we make money, bain makes money. it made it sound like the producers. this company going around and buying companies and shutting them down and somehow magically making a bunch of money. it's true if you watch that an, you don't necessarily get an accurate viewpoint of what the private equity does. i think that debate is a bigger debate than you can probably have in a 30-second campaign ad .
>> if i can just ad, i completely agree. the idea of paralleling putting reverend wright and the work of bain is inaccurate. but also in fairness, i think there's a certain context we need to think about mayor booker's remarks. one thing i think, i think we can all agree, the president he probably does not have a more effective surrogate than cory booker . he has done a great keel to support the president up to this point and will continue to do so. the important thing is this. what he said about bain in terms of its effect in newark is factually correct. it gains revenues for the city. it invests people's pension plans. however, it is not a job creator. that is not in its business model . that's where mitt romney if he wants to talk about he's a job creator, that's not accurate and that is worth examination.
>> mr. attorney general, are you in north carolina . i, we have to wrap it up. i want to ask you one last question, is president obama and is vice president biden , is that ticket going to hold on to north carolina come november this year?
>> 100%. and they've been an incredible team, but the president has along with the assistance from my father, the vice president. yes, yes. but can i just say one thing, alex? you know, the issue is not private equity . it's mitt romney . joan has it right. he doesn't have a record to run on as a job creator. he was 47 among 50 states notice job creation in his four years as governor of the commonwealth of massachusetts . and private equity , i have no problem with private equity . it's a very important part of our economy. but it's a question about you can't run as a job creator if you're in private equity . i've never met any of my friends in private equity who say that's what their business is about. that's what's mitt romney tried to tell the american people as a qualification why he should be president of the united states . it doesn't add up. that's the point that needs to be made.
>> and in fact, his record as a an job creator as governor of massachusetts is not something that we would call i think sterling. we haven't heard that much about it. perhaps we will hear more about it.
>> you won't hear him talk about it because there's no record to run on. can i say one thing alex? he wants to return to a policy of george w. bush . this president has created 4.2 million jobs, more than george w. bush did in eight years as president. his advisers are telling us that he wants to return torn the george w. bush economic policy in that's a debate i want to have every day.
>> thanks again to attorney general beau biden . holding it down for us in north carolina . we hope you see you again sometime soon, sir. coming