NOW with Alex Wagner | September 11, 2012
>>> the romney campaign is telling supporters not to worry about a slew of discouraging polls. quote, while some voters will feel a bit of a sugar high from the conventions the reality of the obama economy will reassert itself as the ultimate downfall of the obama presidency. for governor romney two problems, the ghost of romney 's future and the ghost of romney 's past. the governor's secrecy strategy on future policies begin to agitate conservatives. romney said there are a number of things he likes on health care reform but refuses to define what he would replace that with prompting "the wall street journal " to write -- this morning, our very own joe scarborough excore rated his own party.
>> why is it that republicans as a party is getting more conservative than ever, have selected a guy that has decided as a " wall street journal " editorial page says, i'm not going to tell anybody what i'm going to do if i'm president.
>> and conservative talk show host laura engram minced no words. if you can't beat barack obama with this record, then shut down the party. shut it down. start new, with new people, because this is a give me me election or should be.
>> democrats unsurprisingly are seizing on the romney ticket's lack of specifics.
>> romney 's been asked, ryan's been asked, what loopholes do you want to close. they will not say. it's part of their fictitious math because, see, when they start talking about how fast they run a marathon, or holes they want to plug, they have to actually give facts. they refuse to do that.
>> in an attempt to decipher what exactly is in mitt romney 's tax plan, citizens for tax justice calculates that even if every loophole was closed under the romney /ryan plan, millionaires would still get a quarter million dollar tax break . and for team romney , no discussion of the ghosts of taxes future is possible without dredging up the ghost of tax's past. while the campaign maintains it will release romney 's second year of tax returns by mid october the calls for additional years aren't likely to fade confirming the suspicion, the secret service is investigating an anonymous ransom letter sent to romney 's tax team at price waterhouse coopers . the letter claims that romney 's tax returns will be released unless a payment of $1 million is made by september 28th . also jumping in the tax frenzy, larry flynt , offering $1 million to publish romney 's tax returns in hustler magazine because, hey, why not. frank bruni .
>> you can't make this stuff up.
>> you can't. an ad, he's taken out an snead who knew taxes could be sexy, taxes and hustler.
>> only mitt romney 's obfuscation could lead to that. it is the tax stance is tricky. it's tricky for anybody, right? it's tricky to explain to elouis date your policy in an election year. he has gone so far in terms of the obfuscation, they don't want to talk about anything at all relatesd to taxes because it's a problem for the campaign.
>> they don't want to be specific because as soon as you get specific, about what he would do with loopholes and he hasn't said, as soon as you give specifics you give ammunition. what i find so fascinating about this, it's the way you play the game if you're protecting your lead. and he doesn't have a lead. i actually think that he could really change the dynamic of this campaign if he said, i'm going to be the candidate who's more specific because there is a window of opportunity. if you listen to obama 's speech, at his convention, it was wildly inspecific. it only doesn't show that way in comparison to the vagueness on the op sid of the aisle.
>> makes president obama looks like he has a power-point plan for the economy.
>> what if romney said we're going to seize his opening and be bold and specific.
>> but the math fundamentally is not really on romney 's side because he's making all these assertions we're going to lower the rates for top income earners but taxes on the middle class aren't going to be raised and no deficit. i want to read this from michael gerson in "the washington post " with less than two months until the election romney is left with dwindling opportunities to reshape the dynamic of the race. this places extraordinary pressure on him in the presidential debates . early voting has started in some states.
>> it has. look in the debates the president has put forward his jobs plan, put forward ideas. when you're at the table and the president is able to speak in some degree of specifics and mitt romney kind of blusers with his rhetoric, that's not going to, you know, stand up, stand the test. one of the things i find so surprising, you know, mitt romney came into this race, what was one of his fundamental character flaws, people don't trust him. his own base didn't trust him. you reinforce that every single time when you say we can't release our tax records because if we you'll just attack us. okay. clearly there's something you're hiding. the fact that he fundamentally didn't understand that flaw was going to be dog him throughout the whole campaign and that all -- everything he's doing is only reinforcing it not making people feel better. their convention was an attempt to try to make his own base feel a little bit better and that's not working.
>> and also, don't pick the dude that's been the architect of the republican budget plan if you don't want to get into specifics. it's like -- and we now are hearing that romney chose him much more because he has an affinity for paul ryan less than it was line in the sand .
>> that's whatter ers ggurson gets to, it wasn't so much picking paul ryan because he's the architect of the path to prosperity and road map to america's future. he picked paul ryan because well, he likes paul ryan .
>> and, you know, he's not going to talk specifics. paul ryan can't talk specifics because as the little graphic shows he's got a whole book of them there. they don't want to talk about it because they're not popular. it would be great if he got specific but once he got specific those numbers the balance would go --
>> not even about popularity. the numbers don't add up. i'll call everyone's attention to ezra klein , wonking out in the best way possible went through mitt romney 's guy's analysis of how to make this all work and the sort of take away i got was the only way you make romney 's plan work it might be mathematically possible to make romney 's plan work by sharply increasing taxes on people making between 1 thunz $00 to $200,000 so you can cut them on very rich taxpayers. there are families making $100,000 with four, three, two kids that are decidedly middle class , going to pay more taxes so the top earners can get a 20% cut on top of the bush tax cuts .
>> here's the jam that romney is quickly getting into. they were planning to be the nonspecific candidate. the goal of the romney campaign was to be the generic candidate and you would have all this economically anxious swing voters who wants to vote obama out, go with romney he hasn't offended us with anything. he needs the republican party to cooperate with him. the republican party will cooperate as long as they think they're going to win. the conventional wisdom is hardening this week romney is behind this race. with every poll that comes out from this point forward that shows obama ahead, two, three, four, five, six points the pressure will grow from the republican party , the panic will grow and you're starting to see it now. george will , trent lott , "the wall street journal " editorial page saying you need to get specific and spell out details. when that noise starts coming within a candidate's party it's more credible to the average swing voter than scrutiny from the media because it sounds like that's what breaks through the noise. romney may be pressured by his own party which thinks he's not being specific.
>> laura engram saying shut the party down if we can't win this.
>> when you are the challenger you have the higher burden of proof period. part of the reason bill clinton was able to win in addition to the ross perot piece, here's my vision and that way people look at that and say that i can see myself in. that makes sense to me. people under economic duress now, when you say to them, no, just trust me, just trust me, it's going to be fine.
>> when trust is a big issue that you have, that's the dirt --
>> you're saying with this guy i know what my taxes are. with you, i don't even know what's going to happen. that's not going to fly for people.
>> it's amazing, all people that we quoted here, were republicans or conservatives or conservative outlets, the ones yelling at mitt romney . the question is, can he make a pivot in the time that he's been allotted? he is going to have to --
>> not a lot of time left.
>> spent a lot of time being the warshack candidate. he wasn't that worried about the flip flop image because in that flip flop image people could decide whoever they wanted to decide he was. almost an advantage to that. even the obama administration or the obama campaign said that's not a great thing to go after because it reinforces the idea he's malleable and can be whom ever you want him to be. but now that warshack candidate is coming back to haunt him.
>> i would like to see mitt romney do a recordshack ink block psychological profile .
>> he what does he think of the ink blots. that's another conversation for another time. after the break survival of the fittest . is the gop losing the bid to take control of the upper chamber this november. we will discuss