NOW with Alex Wagner | October 05, 2012
>>> he's the invisible man of the gop, his endorsement a brief i'm for mitt romney came as a pair of elevator doors were closing. despite being the last republican to occupy the white house he was nowhere to be seen at the republican national convention but is mitt romney now embracing a little bit of w.? as the republican nominee moved toward the center of wednesday's debate was he he trying to wrap himself in the blanket of compassionate conservatism .
>> we have to work on a collaborative basis not because we're going to compromise our principle, but because there's common ground and the challenges america faces right now, look, the reason i'm in this race, is there are people that are really hurting today in this country.
>> here to unpack that now is msnbc's chris hayes , host of "up with chris hayes " here for a segment we like to call up now. chris, we talked about --
>> everyone at home get that.
>> up now.
>> howard was talking about compassionate conservatism as we went to break. your thesis on this?
>> russ dellfit at the times wrote a smart blog post . if you look at how george w. bush ran in 2000 he had all this baggage, a plutocrat, the son of a president, out of -- he could very easily be caricatured as an out of touch person. very early on they picked a few issues, education was one of them, and a few linguistic troeps they would repeat to signal to voters i am not an out of touch plutocrat. mitt romney because he had to worry about shoring up his base through the duration of the primary and the right got trapped in its rhetoric never did that. instead of playing against type he played to type. this we built this stuff, just spit on you -- all the -- all the we built this stuff you saw at the convention, was him embracing the idea of himself as this kind of titanic job creator figure as opposed to playing against. the first time we've seen him try to try to play against type was in the debate last night when he said i'm in the race because people are hurting. he started running for president like 90 years ago --
>> the reason he doesn't play against type because he's not a good politician. when he talks about football it's cringe worthy to hear him talk about football where george bush was good about talking sports.
>> had more facility but it was strategic. they could have picked an issue to say we're going to get to the left on this issue.
>> the heart, the heart feel, you know, even sin tactically mitt romney sounds like he's a character from either the "wizard of oz" or " leave it to beaver ," why? i don't know why. you almost expect the sentence to end with auntie m. he could channel this emotional core.
>> two aspects, the style and performance of compassion and then a choice of how do you defend your policies. what we saw him unveil in defense of the tax cuts on wednesday night was identical to the bush defense of the tax cuts which gave paul krugman an aneurysm writing two clumolumns a week saying this is bs. george bush would say are you kidding? cut taxes for the wealthy that's not what i'm interested in doing.
>> sort of the explanation of mitt romney is more what andrew sullivan has said, that he's just a salesman. so if he's in front of audience a, the sell is this. if he's in front of audience b, the sell is that and he's doing marketing proposals for whatever audience is in front of them because the real mitt romney is just a businessman and willing to sell the product to whoever it is, whether left, right, thought of being an ultraliberal would get him to be president he would say that. i just need the 51% i need, get me what i need.
>> now he cares about the 100% and channeling the specter of h.w. bush and adopting the trickle down government line which to me, howard, you can explain this to everybody, to me that was do i end up with the department of homeland security in my spare bedroom? what does trickle down government mean and isn't this just the right trying to take a weakness the notion that the failed theory of trickle down economics and sort of shove it on to the left?
>> it's the conservative critique that progressives and democrats use government as a means to create jobs, they spend money on government and create government created jobs through federal expenditures. that's their argument.
>> and -- i don't understand the physical metaphor. the vision is gray suited bureaucrats dripping out of a faucet.
>> but weird when, you know, half of the republican party or more than half is saying don't cut defense because it's going to cost us so many jobs.
>> and that is their -- right. defense is spending of 4% of gdp --
>> trickle down government would be wars, right?
>> we have to leave it there, unfortunately, my friend, but you are going to be continuing this conversation.
>> oh, yeah. tomorrow on up a.m. we have great sound putting george w. bush and mitt romney side by side to see how much they're taking -- they're playbook correctly from him.
>> i never get tired of george w. bush clips.
>> we will be practicing our love tomorrow. deep cut .
>> oh. practicing our love. yeah.
>> coming up, the air up there, former vice president al gore comes up with a unique excuse regarding president obama 's debate performance. we will ask our debate panel for their best debate whoppers, that is