NOW with Alex Wagner | October 26, 2012
>>> pushing economic equality , health care for all, and running on a message of change. his name, mitt romney . it's friday october 26th and this is "now."
>>> joining me today, " rolling stone " executive editor eric baits, retired army captain and author of "the other wes moore" this wes moore, msnbc political analyst joan walsh , of salon.com and buzz feed editor in chief always, always busy ben. imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. governor mitt romney triz ig to win the election as barack obama in 2008 .
>> the challenges we face are bigger than the smallness of our politics.
>> this is a big choice . this is an election about big things .
>> we need a much bolder and much bigger set of solutions.
>> given the big challenges we have and the big election we have, it's time for a big change.
>> we'll change this country and we will change the world .
>> paul ryan and i represent a big change for america .
>> we are four days away from bringing change to america .
>> on november 7th it's going to start getting better just with the news we've voted for big change.
>> the time for change has come.
>> there's time for a big change.
>> romney 's rhetoric isn'ts the only thing that has an odd de va have you quality to it. governor romney will deliver a policy speech? iowa on the economy. according to excerpts he will present a few goals that sound obama-esque. quote -- but in reality, and be off the stump romney 's economic policies couldn't be more of a departure from the current administration. phil philip rucker writes in "the washington post " -- so where does this slash and burn approach to the federal government leave the country? the cover story in " rolling stone " argues romney 's policies not only run counter to those of president obama but will unwind a century's worth of work to strengthen the american social compact . quote -- on one count governor romney is right this is a big choice eviction and for president obama it's not about hope and change. it's about the hope of keeping in place all the change that's already been made. eric, your story, your magazine. a great piece. the cover of the magazine. let's talk a little bit about you sat down with the president for this interview and the piece outlines two pretty macro visions for the country. i wonder if you think that choice is clear to voters at this point.
>> well, i think romney has done his best as the president himself says in the interview to fuzz that up and one of the interesting things when we ask him directly do you think that governor romney has lied to the american people through all his changes of position, what the president said is i think we won the argument and so that they had to change their tack. i think that's an interesting way of looking at it. we huz talking after the first debate when romney did his most abrupt about-face, but he really said we have the ideas, we have the plan, we won that. it was clear to them their plan wasn't working and they shifted and tried to fuzz it up and look like us.
>> the question is, this has been much discussed today, a comment that president made to the interviewer talking about your daughter, wasn't it, and her wishes for the the and he said he does well with kids because they have a detector for b.s.ers, the family way of paraphra paraphrasing. do you think the american public has that same level of detection detection?
>> that's always one of the problems in the election. it's really hard for substance to get lost. because we chase things like the b.s. comment, rather than diving into the real differences and the policy debate . i think this election has played out over a long enough time that it's really difficult for the romney campaign to hide all their predispositions and that's what you're seeing is all these juxtaposition clips you get day after day of where he was on abortion then and now and where he was on taxes then and now, so it's very hard over the course of that long a campaign to keep your true self hidden. and it's hard to keep your character hidden. one of the things that's clear about romney is he has been all over the map as ted kennedy said in one of his debates with him, my opponent -- i'm pro choice my opponent is multiple choice . in the old days we called that flip flopping. it's surprising it hasn't been applied more to governor romney as john kerry . he doesn't have a core and i think people want that. it's about athen tisty. people want to know what you'll stand for. they'll go for if they're not sure what you stand for is right.
>> i'm happy the president used the word we're not allowed to say on tv.
>> we really want to. can you tell, america , we want to use it.
>> we won't. children, it's still safe for you to watch the show for the moment.
>> i think it's great. he is drawing a contrast and i think that part of what happened that first debate is we lost fighting barack obama , we lost that man who emerged, especially in the last year, we saw him in 2008 , he went away and in the last year since the debt ceiling debacle we saw him. the fact that he's calling him out and using a salty term, maybe that will help with these blue collar white men who apparently are even trending farther against him. i think he's got to do that and i think we also all of us are, it's incumbent on us to call out the contrasts. in the last debate i was so disappointed with the media, he's doing a wise thing, moving to the center. he's lying. he's lying and not tells us what he'll really do and scoring points politically because that's smart to do. i mean it's terrible.
>> and i also -- it comes down to the fact that everyone kind of enjoys the political process and game of the political process but everyones also understands you know what, though, the day after the election, someone has got to govern and so it really matters what their ideas are and what people are thinking about. if you look at the endorsements the president has received from the salt lake city tribune or " washington post " or one from colin powell yesterday, it had to do with barack obama the policies of the past four years and what he wants to do in the future but the fact that they have no idea what this other person is. and they have no idea who he's going to bring into the white house with him if he were to end up winning.
>> as we talk about endorsements "the new yorker" had an extended endorsement of barack obama . not mitt romney . i want to read an excerpt. i thought they both argued on behalf of the president's record thus far and argued sort of the counter factual option which is, if the key note of obama's administration has been public investment whether in infrastructure, education or health, the keynote of romney 's candiedisy has been private equity . a democracy cannot lay off its failing citizens. it cannot be content to leave any of its citizens behind and not the 47% who romney wishes to fire from the policy. very strong words. we've gone back and forth about who mitt romney is and how the campaign portrayed him. a piece in "the new york times" saying maybe listen to bill clinton 's advice about how to portray romney as a severe conservative was a bad idea. seems like they're back on the flip flopper this guy has no core message something they bandied about at the earlier stage of the election cycle.
>> after -- as romney tacked to the center they did they suddenly said actually he has no core. the problem potentially is that to voters -- would voters -- voters are happy it if you flip flop their way. voters would rather they flip flop to them than you disagreed with them. that's romney 's best. it's a close election .
>> we're conflating being a moderate with being a flip flopper. there is a difference when you're talking about bill clinton --
>> first on abortion. like the obama campaign 's argument is mitt romney is secretly really zealous on abortion, going to go out of his way with executive orders and everything else to shut down abortion rights . i think a lot of americans probably look at romney 's record which is all over the map and think he's faking it for the right wingers. maybe -- and you know, i'm not sure which way that's going to push voters.
>> i would actually disagree on the abortion thing, i think his statements about who he would appoint to the supreme court , calling to mind scalia and thomas, his choice of paul ryan who has 100% rating in terms of pro life , there is i think now -- i would have a year ago said --
>> his policy positions, you know --
>> doesn't matter what he personally is.
>> but i thought the whole point he had no core, right. these are different arguments.
>> but again, i say there's a difference between some guy who will stand in the middle and compromise and strike grand bargains to someone who will go which ever way the wind blows and listen to the loudest voices in the room which is the contention. so much stuff we didn't get to and have to go to break. this is how the show goes sometimes. after the break abraham lincoln once said a house divided against itself can not stand. wonder what great republican would think ability today's gop. colin powell has voiced his reservations.
>> i'm a republican, more moderate mold and that's something of a dying breed, i'm sorry to say.
>> we will look at the family feud , next on "now."