NOW with Alex Wagner | January 09, 2013
>>> chris christie is charging into battle under the banner of bipartisanship. if he just sees an opportune moment to push the message, but either way , the man of the hour for the republican party .
>> you're in politics to win to get your ideas. we lost two national elections in the row. we need to think about doing something different.
>> there's plenty in new jersey in politics, as well.
>> a lot less than there used to be.
>> a new poll confirms christie winning support from both sides of the aisle. 73% of new jerseyans approve of him, including 62% of democrats. last night christie delivered his state of the state address , which was chock full of calls for cooperation. we don't have that sound. the washington post dana milbank paints christie as an anomaly. americans are crying out for an end to ideological warfare. that has developed into christie 's signature in new jersey. a poll found support for the tea party is at record lows, while the poll found 24% called themselves tea party members in 2010 , 8% see themselves as one now. evenly between democrats and republicans , that changed this past year. currently, 47% of americans identify with democrats compared to 42% who align with the gop. last night on "hardball," crusader dick army diagnosed the problem as mistakes made by candidates on the trail. his prescription, however, isn't to change the fringe positions that got them into trouble, but rather to conceal them.
>> i got this years and years ago from the head of the texas right to work committee, which was take your position on this issue, then keep your mouth shut about it, talk on the campaign trail about those issues that don't upset people where you can find agreement.
>> in the end, this may not be just a tea party problem, it maybe a republican party problem. newsweek writes, it may be the republicans aren't very good at politics anymore. other sees republicans drawing lines in the sand , i see them drawing gas to choke them later on. a visceral image, but talk about that dick armey choice sound right there. basically lie to everybody. put up a smoke screen, then once you get in there, you can do all the fringe stuff you wanted to do. we keep saying the first step is admitting you have the problem. at certain points in this year and the last month, okay, the republican party is getting close to understanding they need an overhaul, not just in terms of branding, but in terms of policy. then you see stuff like that and it throws conventional wisdom to the wind.
>> i think one of the key things to understand about chris christie , which is really the other side of the dick armey part of the republican party , when he first came into office, he was slashing education funding at a time when it's essential to rebuilding a middle class america in new jersey. he was giving out hundreds of millions to corporate tax breaks to donors and ideological sort of counterparts. that's the governor he was being, and it was nasty in new jersey, and his approval ratings are nowhere near where they are now. once he started doing the business of government and showing the american people and his voters that government can be a force for good in people's lives, that it's an essential for solving the problems we can't solve on our own --
>> the democratic argument.
>> his approval ratings went way up. the fundamental thing is if you are a politician who's antigovernment, there's going to be a limit to what you can accomplish to how sort of coherent you can be, and how truthful you can be. that's where you're not going to be able to say all the things that you really believe, because it's fundamentally at odds with the idea of democracy and dpovt.
>> state governors have a very different understanding of the role of government than the, dare of say, maniacs of some republicans on capitol hill . what i see, my vantage point is skewed at best, but the idea is there are two faces of the republican party , there's the national party and the regional party . i want to play this sound from tom cotton . he sort of encapsulates the hell no party, as politico calls it. let's hear what he has to say.
>> i think the congress as a whole has to say hell no to barack obama more. i wish we had people in 2009 and 2010 saying that as obama care was passed, stimulus was passed, ed dodd -frank bill was passed.
>> opposite of what chris christie is saying. he has a district supportive of him that's largely republican.
>> you have some, you know, state and local republicans like mike bloomberg , like christie who could represent a future for the party. the problem they are running into is a problem of the party's own creation. it's redistricting. you just said it. basically, congress has been locked into districts that can't be budged, so people like cotton thinks the world looks like their district. what they've learned election after election on the national stage is that's not true. they are not able to embrace that reality and change course and nothing's going to change the course of the house in that regard until those districts get redrawn into competitive districts.
>> part of me just wants to be a soothe sayer to the republicans who are leaning towards moderation and say be free from fear. let them be crazy. you don't have to be like that. then you hear news mitch mcconnell , parts of the party, outside groups, we're going to primary you, mitch mcconnell , you made a deal on the fiscal cliff. jonathan, what are these erstwhile moderate republicans to do?
>> run in fear, which is what they've been doing. if you're mitch mcconnell coming up for reelection in 2014 and you have seen more than one of your fellow senators and some folks in the house go down in defeat, not in a general election , but in a primary, people have been sitting on capitol hill for years, go down in a primary because they weren't conservative enough and have a 100-plus rating by the conservative union or whatever grading operation is out there, your moderation, whatever, you know, things you have to compromise, are going to go completely out the window. mitch mcconnell is going to fight for his political life , and the idea that he made this deal with vice president biden on the fiscal cliff, that's great. i can't wait to see what he's going to do on the debt ceiling, on the sequester, and on the continuing resolution as we get closer to his d-day.
>> the thing, though, is in terms of national brand management , when you look at the polling, right, the approval rating , john boehner 's approval rating on handling the debt ceiling negotiations, 31%. his disapproval rating is 51%. the president's disapproval rating 52%, disapproval, 37%.
>> that's what i found hysterical. john boehner 's office put out this dramatic statement that he would no longer sit down at the table and be part of the negotiations as if that's been a path to victory or he realized he had no role in this, no effective role. the problem with the republican party is they don't know who they are. they can't figure out who they are. you mention tom cotton . i know another interview i read from him recently, he said, i'm ready to take my medicine. he's not taking any medicine, it's the american people , the people getting their health care cut, their education funding cut, and it's like get out of washington, get in an rv, drive around, figure out what the american people are talking about.
>> look at the national polling, it's not good. if you look at the rest of the country, it's not okay. the final point here, heather, there's a lot of tough talk about the continuing resolution ,questratis equestration, about the debt ceiling. those are issues that will hurt the business community , the defense industry , which they are loathed to antagonize. the contention that somehow republicans are going to sit this one out and not be hurt is wildly misguided, at best.
>> it's absolutely -- i think right now we can see that all of the weakness in the economy is the responsibility of the republican party , right? i'm just going to say it, right? there are so many things we could have been doing to rebound this economy, put americans directly back to work, the american jobs act, uncertainty on the investment side, but really the bread and butter of people getting to work, money going into communities is not happening because of the republican party . when we look back in history, that's the big tragic moment in history.
>> the banner of blame, i salute you, my friend.
>>> coming up, a former fed official likens aig's suit against the government to a patient suing their doctor for saving their life. we will examine said patient and others cured by bailouts when ezra klein joins us just ahead.