NOW with Alex Wagner | October 12, 2012
>>> governor mitt romney 's back on the trail right now speaking at a campaign rally in richmond, virginia. let's take a listen.
>> what's happening in scranton, pennsylvania. and the unemployment rate there has gone up to 10%. and we were -- recognize this is unacceptable. the fact that we have 23 million americans out of work, this is not just something that is a statistic, these are real families, people with a real life and are concerned about their future and that's why paul ryan and i care about each and every american that's out of work and we're going to do everything in our power to get americans back to work again. now the vice president defends the status quo . we're going to fix the status quo and make things better. yesterday i raised some questions about benghazi and the tragedy that occurred there. there were more questions that came out of last night because the vice president directly contradicted the sworn testimony of state department officials. he's doubling down on key denial. we need to understand what happened as opposed to people brush this aside. when the vice president of the united states directly contradicts the testimony, sworn testimony , of state department officials american citizens have a right to know what's going on. and we're going to find out. and this is a time for us to make sure we do find out. now i must admit i also enjoyed my own debate about a week ago. that was a good experience. like last night, it was a debate of substance and i got to ask the president some questions that people across the country have been wanting to ask the president. i got to ask them, why was it with 23 million americans struggling to find a job, why was it that he focused his first two years on obama care? which makes it harder to create jobs. why was it with gasoline at about twice the price as when he came in, that he cut in half the number of permits on -- for drilling on public lands, why he said no to the keystone pipeline . i asked more questions like why was it with a trillion dollar deficit, he found it in his -- in his heart to put $90 billion into green energy companies that in many cases were contributors to his campaign. at least the owners of those businesses were. and why was it with what he had promised during his campaign, that health insurance premiums he would bring down by $2,500 a year, instead they went up by $2,500 a year. you know, i know we've heard his answers over the campaign. had he says look you can't fix washington from the inside, only do it from the outside. we're going to give him that chance, all right.
>> that was mitt romney at a rally in richmond, virginia, karen finney some sharp words.
>> not unexpected.
>> not unexpected at all.
>> i'll start first with benghazi , which we didn't talk about earlier and which we will talk about now. mitt romney clearly sees an opening here, foreign policy wise to hit the president. said that president is doubling down on denial in his remarks just a moment ago. let's talk about how the vice president handled that last night. let's play actually a little bit of sound vis-a-vis the benghazi question.
>> this lecture on embassy security , the congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for, number one.
>> they wanted more security there.
>> we weren't told they wanted more security again. we did not know they wanted more security again.
>> okay. there are two things that are happening here not in service of the white house 's agenda. one the white house i don't think has been good at delivering a message or transparent and the other is that the romney campaign is using their or e to muddy the water.
>> they regrouped after romney 's disjust truss statement and see an opening. the problem with foreign policy matters there's a lot going on that's classified that we can't know about. this week we learned perhaps the republicans in their hearing may have just outed a cia operation on national television. when you're the challenger it's always easier to poke holes and when you are the incumbent there are a lot of things you can't yet talk about. i believe the vice president when he says we followed the facts. why were the facts so off and so wrong for so long? in the context of a political conversation, it's a lot harder to get to the truth i think than if we were actually able to take a step back and investigate.
>> ben, in talking to some of the folks from the national security team, they pushed back and say look, the -- if there was any security it would have gone to tripoli, wouldn't have gone to benghazi , wouldn't have prevented the attack from happening or the number of guys could not have overpowered the terrorists effectively who went and eventually killed chris stevens and members of his group. that said, there's enough kind of confusion around this that i guess my question to you is, how much of this is an issue going into november 6th ?
>> i mean i think it will certainly be an issue. that was joe biden 's finest moment when he didn't know about it. maybe he and obama didn't know about these questions. it's clear there were more requests into the state department . even if they might have been met they would still have been overrun. they have not come to an answer of what went wrong basically. one of the things about the foreign policy issues going into the election, it's going to be under the microscope. remember in 2004 the days before eat lex consumed by the discussion of this ammo dumbp in iraq , this weapons depo that had been raided and weapons stolen. after the election i don't think anybody heard about that again. it was not the central issue of foreign policy the kerry campaign said.
>> important underlying substance here. we had an ambassador in a dangerous situation left vulnerable. also a pseudo scandal in that you don't expect the vice president and the president of the united states to know about a security request at every embassy in the world. so while i think that people are right to be frustrated and to raise hell about this, i'm not sure it's fair to pin a whole lot on biden or obama .
>> and how -- but the other thing, this is a little weightier than the ammo question from 2004 also because of the 9/11 piece, which stokes a lot -- it's a weighted just saying 9/11 invokes memories and the fact that this happened on 9/11 although again, the white house is saying this actually had nothing to do with the anniversary of 9/11, this is because egypt was going up or the embassy was being attacked and a catalyst for this group of terrorists to attack the u.s. consulate.
>> it's a serious issue, a real issue and will come up in the context of this campaign between now and election day . take a step back, what i find amazing is the extent to which foreign policy benefits the democrats overall in this election. when you listen to joe biden talk about the fact that, you know, our troops are out of iraq , we don't know where romney really stands on that, our troops are coming out of afghanistan, we don't really know where romney stands on that, and bin laden , of course, is dead, those are --
>> he is? i mean could they say it more?
>> you know they're going to say it adinfa my tum, these are all popular positions with the american people . romney really is on the wrong side of iraq and afghanistan. the president is really fulfilling the promises he made in the last campaign and doing what the american people want him to do. it's very unusual to have an election in which the democrats have the advantage on foreign policy but we got one right now.
>> particularly i thought it was good that biden pushed him on syria. are you saying you want troops? are you saying you want troops? howard is right. there's an advantage people don't want to send more ground troops anywhere. we don't want to get involved in another war somewhere in the middle east . reminding people when we have this saber rattling there would be a real cost to that.
>> couple that with the defense spending america does not want more war and you're the party supposed to be trimming spending and want to establish a 4% floor for defense spending .
>> totally critique for obama somehow he's soft. feels in the end that they're still pandering to their base when they talk about foreign policy and agree, martha raddtz pressed him on syria and iran he wasn't able to propose any real alternative to the administration policy and that's pretty damming omission.
>> the logic of their position is more troops but they can't go there.
>> they're kind of stuck in this limbo.
>> it's semi illogical. coming up, it was the first question of the night, will it continue to be a thorn in obama 's side. how does the u.s. -- the attack on the u.s. consulate factor in in the next three weeks. we will ask chris hayes when he joins the