PoliticsNation | July 24, 2012
>>> developments in the 2012 campaign. new poll numbers and new ad from president obama . in which he's defining the choice in this election. and articulating his vision for the middle class .
>> governor romney 's plan would cut taxes for the folks at the very top. roll back regulations on big banks and he says if we do our economy will grow and everyone will benefit. you know what? we tried that top-down approach. it is what caused the mess in the first place. i believe the only way to create an economy built to last is to strengthen the middle class . asking the wealthy to pay a little more so we can pay down our debt in a balanced way. sometimes politics can seem very small. but the choice you face, it couldn't be bigger.
>> how do voters feel about this choice? the president has a six-point leafed over mitt romney nationwide. 49%-43%. and as advantage grows on the all-important question of who is looking out for the middle class . 49% of voters say the president does a better job on that compared to just 33% for romney . the new poll also suggests that romney has been hurt by all of the questions about his taxes and his time at bain capital . questions that he's repeatedly failed to address.
>> single meeting or single participation an investment decision by bain or personnel decision. you know understand the opposition research people at the obama campaign want more information if they can try to dig through it. i put out as much as we are going to put out. once i added this year. that's the information.
>> 32% of americans now have a more negative view of romney after hearing the reports about his tax returns . just 4% have a more positive opinion. and 23% now have a negative view of bain capital . just 12% have a positive view. from the beginning, romney has tried to make this election simply a referendum on the president. but the polling shows voters are viewing it as a choice between two candidates and two very different ways of seeing the world. joining me now is democratic strategist bob shrum w.o thank you for being here.
>> thank you.
>> bob, are you surprised to see the attacks on bain and romney 's tax returns , having an effect?
>> no, i always thought they would. they had a huge effect in 1994 . i thought the beltway dismissal of them at the beginning was entirely wrong. look, there are a lot -- lot of polling noise out there. but what this poll, which i think is the gold standard , incomes/" wall street journal " poll, romney had a bad month. the problem he is not the dog on the roof of his car. it is bain on the roof of his campaign. it is not just bain . it is a combination of bain , offshore tax haven , swiss bank accounts , refusal to release the tax returns . now, those are all going to be around as issues through the rest of the campaign but they are part after larger narrative which as you pointed out a minute ago is a basic question. who stands up for the middle class and who stands for the few? so you are going to on medicare, the president is going to go after romney and say supports a plan that would privatize and it voucherize it and medicare as we know it and cost the average senior $6400 more a year. owe -- i think that the president's campaign against the economic head winds and against a lot of the beltway advice has done a very good job to this point of setting the definition of this campaign as a choice. who is for the middle class ? who will stand up for the few?
>> dana , when you hear the choice bob is talking about, let me play the clips from the president and from governor romney . one promoting economic fairness and the other economic freedom .
>> i think we grow the economy by making sure everybody has a fair shot. everybody is -- doing their fair share . and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.
>> we have to restore economic freedom in this country. let me -- you see, america 's economy runs on freedom. it is not driven by government.
>> now, when you go and play both sides, this is their message, when you test the message, are you more likely to vote for a candidate who fights for fairness, strengthen the middle class ? 80%. restore economic freedom and small government , 68%. that's what this poll reveals, dana .
>> yes. that's right. i think when you -- listening to what the tea party has been doing for the last couple of years, you would think that america and our founding principles and culture is only about sxrepeople and liberty. it is about community and cooperation and that sense of fairness. it is not at all surprising that that sort of -- number would be coming out now. and i agree with bob that it is not at all surprising that these kind of attacks would be working because it is not just about some abstract company called bain . it is not just abstract notion of where your tax havens are. it fits very closely with the -- vulnerability of romney and that he's perceived as being a rich guy and he was out of touch with ordinary americans with the middle class . if it is strictly referendum on the economy, obama loses the election. the fact that he's doing so well at this point despite the economy being so weak shows that this line of attack works quite well.
>> now, when the -- question was raised, bob, about who was better on dealing with the economy, president obama , 37%. mitt romney , 43%. how does the president deal with this number?
>> he is going to have to keep working on the economy. he's going to have to hope it gets better. he is not relying on hope. that's why there is an alternative definition to this race. mitt romney wanted this race to be simply the following. if you kind of feel bad about the economy, if you are kind of dissatisfied, you might as well try me. i couldn't do worse. but the problem he has is as this shifts, at least to being in part the question of who fights for the middle class , romney has no narrative. he hasn't created any kind of story about himself that would tell people he cares about them or identifies with them. dana is absolutely right. he's not only of the rich, he seems to be by the rich, for the rich, and doesn't understand ordinary people in the middle class . you know, you can be rich. jack kennedy was rich, franklin roosevelt was rich. but people thought they understood what was happening in the lives of people. that's not true with mitt romney . he has a real problem, i think, going forward here.
>> i was surprised because a lot of people give the president good marks on foreign policy after bin laden and other things. but today, mitt romney spoke to the veterans for foreign wars and came on very tough, came really after the president on foreign policy . watch this.
>> the president has diminished american leadership. we are reaping the consequences. president obama is fond of lecturing israel's leaders. he was even caught by a microphone deriding them. this is very simple. if you don't know america to be the strongest nation on earth, i'm not your president.
>> yet, when you look at this new poll, brand-new poll, who is better at handling foreign policy ? 47% to 32%. now, is that the reason governor romney is trying to come on so strong against him on foreign policy ? or -- i mean, what are we looking at here? it would seem to me that would be a weak area for romney .
>> you would think so but he needs to do the speech because he is heading off on this foreign trip and needs to draw? distinctions that aren't necessarily there. i think the thing that struck me about the speech that's breathtaking level and suggesting it is obama that wants to go and devastate defense spend when that's been brought about by the refusal on governor romney 's own side to increase taxes. i think it is important for romney to draw distinctions on foreign poll is because he's not known for having any sort of a foreign policy record. he needs to build up his credentials in that area. hard to see that this is going to be a defining history when the election and to the extent it is that -- the guy who finally got bin laden is going to be at a disadvantage with voters in november.
>> bob shrum , dana millbank, thank you for your time tonight.
>> thank you.
>> thanks, reverend.
>> ahead, the day before a major hearing rallies against pennsylvania voter i.d. laws today. now we are learning pennsylvania made a big revelation in court documents. big story . plus, how one tough 80-year-old and some