NOW with Alex Wagner | October 23, 2012
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>>> what's the best way to answer a question about the ouster of former egyptian president hosni mubarak ? talk about energy and education.
>> we've done experiments in nation building in places like iraq and afghanistan. and we've neglected, for example, developing our own economy, our own energy sectors, our own education system and it's very hard for us to project leadership around the world when not doing what we need to do.
>> throughout the night both candidates took a page from the same playbook and pivoted from forren to doughic affairs using any chance they can get. a trade war with china turned into a debate about romney 's 2008 op-ed let detroit go bankrupt.
>> if we had taken your advice governor romney about our auto industry we'd be buying cars from china instead of selling cars to china.
>> i'm a son of detroit. my dad was heard head of a car company. i like u.s. cars. i would doing nothing to hurt the industry. my plan to get the industry on its feet when it was in real trouble not to start writing checks. president bush wrote the first checks. i disagree with that. these companies need to go through a mgsds bankruptcy.
>> the candidates got off track so many times one point moderator bob schieffer had to remind them about what they were supposed to be debating.
>> let me get back to foreign policy .
>> listen --
>> i need to speak a moment.
>> let me, bob.
>> with only 4% of the american public ranking foreign affairs as the most important problem this election, sometimes when life gives you hosni mubarak , you have to turn him into solyndra aid. i worked hard for that pun, joy.
>> i like that.
>> timed it out at 9:30, they began at 9 and by 9:30 on to domestic affairs. i will say, to put the cynic in the closet, richard house of the council on foreign relations made the point on sunday -- i mean, foreign policy is in many ways tied to domestic policy . that said i am deeply disappointed these debates are over, there has not been any substantive discussion about energy, climate change, immigration, drug trade which is a foreign policy problem.
>> the eurozone.
>> or that place called europe.
>> the world was very small last night. the middle east and there was israel, and the middle east , china and that's where the world ended. we didn't get into so many of the issues that have a much more direct effect on our economy and what happens in europe has a direct effect on what happens here. that wasn't discussed. as you said issues with mexico, the drug trade . they become more about sort of each of the two candidates' agendas going in, consultants pivot to the economy make the debate about this and the moderator that has a narrow set of issues they want to cover and so much of the rest of what matters to voters at the end of the day don't get covered. the debate was limited in.
>> governor, did you think when they did talk about domestic affairs, the auto bailout and some bit of gas prices and so forth, that resonated with the american public osh just campaign --
>> i think a little more so, although again, governor romney has consistently in these debates shown a wanton disregard for the facts. he said his plan was a managed bankruptcy and that he did favor some form of government aid . he talked about loan guarantees. guarantees are only valuable if someone's willing to loan you the money.
>> and the point of it is and where president obama saved the auto industry nobody was willing to loan them the money or to invest, not bain capital not anybody else. only government intervention could have saved the auto industry and the government had to write a check. i thought it was interesting governor romney said he balanced the budget of the olympics. he balanced the budget because the federal government wrote him a $1.2 billion check.
>> keep in mind he kept hammering the president on sequestration which is i think one of the great -- of the many whitewashes, how somehow sequestration is a problem for the white house and hammered him on the fact he wants to cut government spending on defense spending . it's okay to cut spending across the board for the poor and working class but nor to the defense sector.
>> don't you think the president was very effective when he said that the ten biggest spenders in the world don't spend more than we do on defense. i think the american people have to hear the truth on that.
>> sorry, alex.
>> these are two guys who managed to turn a question about gun control into a discussion about the importance of two parent family. so they're going to talk about what they want to talk about. you're right. their consultants say people care about the economy, pivot, talk about the economy. romney was told, hug the president as much as you can on foreign policy .
>> or quite literally.
>> also told women, women, women. right in the first minute.
>> the very --
>> we learned last night governor romney 's principle aim for foreign policy is to bring pes peace in the world. he used that phrase talked about peace. he's not going to start another war. he's not george bush . we're not going to go into the middle east . very much aimed at women, dissociating himself from the failed republican foreign policy misadventures prior to president obama 's tenure. look, at the end of the day , be you get the question that the moderator wants to ask and then you get to answer it however you want.
>> aim to it not being scary. remember he comes out of this republican primary process in which a lot of voters in the middle, a lot of moderate swing voters were where did these people come from. we're shocked it took him this long to pivot to the center but he had to say i'm not scary not michelle bachmann or herman kaine. if you looked at everything he said in the subtext it's i am not a scary alternative.
>> tommy franks and john bolton advising him on foreign policy . i can almost see "whatever happened to baby," i almost felt like --
>> one opportunity the president missed, to link him to the bush foreign policy because of the same advisors.
>> he should have name dropped tommy franks directly. this was a genius who thought disbanding the iraqi army was a good idea and the people advising mitt romney are interested in a much more militaristic attitude towards iran and syria. we have to presume voters come in virgins. they haven't seen anything they know nothing and some who may be in that camp but you literally have to know nothing about mitt romney to not understand what he was saying a week ago.
>> should have pulled a scooby - doo .
>> coming up president obama releases a new add that conjures memories of a certain ronald reagan spot. will the message move the needle? we will ask the obama campaign 's ben labolt when he joins us