The Last Word | April 03, 2012
>> speech in milwaukee after sweeping ought three primary contests tonight. after two quick and easy wins in maryland and washington , d.c., nbc news has declared mitt romney to be the winner in nm wisconsin . he leads rick santorum by double digits with newt gingrich and ron paul trailing far behind . they project that mitt romney will win. romney leading santorum in maryland with double digits again with gingrich and ron paul far behind . in washington , d.c. where rick santorum is not even on the ball ballot, nbc news easily projects mitt romney will win that primary beating newt gingrich and ron paul . joining me now is chuck todd , nbc news political director, chief white house correspond he not of host of the daily rundown. what did we learn about mitt romney 's strengths tonight and the future of rick santorum ?
>> i think not only do we know that demographics are destiny one again, and wisconsin we told you is a little closer to being more like somewhere between an illinois primary electorate or michigan republican primary electorate. worse for santorum is we start to see some of his core support groups that we've been identifying tluts this primary season, most notably non-college graduates, white evangelicals and folks that make less than $100,000. they start to move towards romney . dead even among basically middle income folks that make less than $100,000. look at this one here. our next graphic here among college graduates. there it is. move too fast. a little touch screen tonight lawrence . romney won that catcategory. this is where santorum won among non-college educated republicans. not the case in wisconsin . the evangelical vote which was not large in wisconsin in comparison to ohio. look at this. santorum is going to win them, but only by two points. so what we're seeing in our exit polls , what we're seeing in the actual raw returns is that that co-lessing is starting. in wisconsin when you think about it, lawrence , there were two big popular republicans in the conservative movement who got behind romney over the weekend. one is ron johnson , the big tea party favorite and the other one is paul ryan . watching ryan introduce romney tonight and seeing how base republicans reacted to president obama targeting paul ryan today in that speech, i think there's going to be a lot of pressure on mitt romney to pick paul ryan . while that might leave some democrats giddy about it, that makes the base just as giddy for the republican party . could be a fascinating ticket preview that we got tonight.
>> the romney / ryan ticket taking shape. joining us now is rachel maddow and steve schmidt , nbc political analy analyst. rachel , these republicans just talk right through your show and rick santorum seizes part of your show and romney seizes part of your show. do you have any unexpressed thoughts on tonight's proceedings?
>> i have very many.
>> that your audience would have heard if mitt romney didn't grab your microphone.
>> thank you. you are very kind. the romney / ryan prospect is interesting. the democratic and particularly the liberal perspective on that is oh, please, go there. we had yourself even more to the kill medicare guy. that's the democrats are most enthusiastic about being able it to win on, this idea of turning medicare into a coupon system. we saw how well george w. bush did on that in 2005 . i think that is from the liberal sdpemtic perspective a very exciting prospect. seeing him speak tonight, there is no worry that paul ryan would overshadow mitt romney as a speaker and as a campaigner. i sort of -- because paul ryan is so beloved on the right i thought when he was introducing him tonight this might be a real chance for paul ryan to show off. he gave a very bad introduction. it was bad enough i cut him off and i would have let it run if he said anything useful. he said i think this guy wanted to be the uniter and not the divider, didn't he say that? that was george w. bush that said that. it was an incredibly bad introduction and speech. maybe he will pick him.
>> steve schmidt , you've been through this vice presidential selecting on the republican side . you gave us sarah palin . did you see -- what did you think of paul ryan 's audition for the vp slot tonight?
>> well, lawrence , i'm not sure that qualifies as an audition for it, but i think that he could certainly wind up as one of the people who goes through the vetting process on the list. i think that the mistakes of 2008 will have a big impact in 2012 . i think for sure that governor romney will run a tight process that results in someone who is qualified to be president of the united states , should they have to take the oath of office from day one.
>> chuck todd , is there any mathematical formula left for rick santorum to cling to tonight in the delegate count?
>> no, there's not. in fact, tonight he may not even crack ten delegates. tonight our modified winner-take-all system began in april 1 the way the republicans did their rule. if you carry a congressional district in maryland or in wisconsin the way it did, you would win, and even p if you carry it by a vote you win three delegates out of the district. it's possible looking at the results coming in the way they are in wisconsin tonight that santorum might carry three congressional districts of the eight. that would give him nine. can he get one congressional district out of maryland ? that seems unclear. there were 92 delegates at stake tonight. so i have to say, you know, this is going to be interesting to watch. i thought romney in his speech was basically giving santorum permission to stay in the race i thought at the very end when he was asking for support from folks in pennsylvania, new york, rhode island , connecticut. he was rattling off the april 24th states. you have to wonder ft pressure will grow on santorum , and whether santorum is prepared to potentially lose his home state. does he want to be embarrassed that way going out? when you look at what we saw in the demographics tonight, his core group starting to erode. he may -- i'll say in the next three days, lawrence , we have watched this a long time. wouldn't surprise me if you see rethinking going on.
>> rachel , does romney want him to stay in because he won over by 50%. he can get a couple of real big-looking wins against santorum , and maybe that's more useful than having no opponent out there.
>> if santorum stays in how important it is for romney if he does lose five, six, seven more primaries? if santorum staying in for arkansas and for west virginia and for texas and for all these places and mitt romney still is the inevitable nominee, but he has to get basted by rick santorum who has no chance in those states, does that hurt mitt romney in a way more than just hurting his feelings? does that have a material effect on his ability to mobilize people once he has the nomination locked up. i'm not sure that we've seen that.
>> steve schmidt , what's your answer to rachel 's question?
>> of course it hurts him. you saw today with president obama in the speech that he gave started the general election campaign. he's trying to seize the ground in the middle of the electorate. trying to make mitt romney own the ryan budget, trying to paint that ryan budget as extreme. i think both sides start out, lawrence , with 47% of the vote. that middle part of the electricity rate is critical. mitt romney needs to get into the general election against president obama and get out of the fight with rick santorum that pulled his favorable ratings down to 34%. plus, the came pain needs to begin the process of merging with want republican national committee off-loading some overhead and expenses to the national committee. so at this point when rick santorum has no chance of being the nominee and mitt romney for sure is going to be the nominee, it's good for this to start winding down. i think that rick santorum is going to be under a lot of pressure not to do more injury, not to do more damage in a race that he has no plausible chance of winning.
>> chuck todd , steve schmidt , rachel maddow , thank you for joining me tonight. comeing up the president was unleashed today in a sfeech in washington , specifically unleashed on paul ryan and mitt romney by name. that's next. in the rewrite tonight, another episode in the politics of religion. mitt romney knows the polls show he has a religion problem, so he's trying to create a religion problem for president obama . some of mitt's supporters might think the president is a secret muslim, but mitt is now saying that the president is a secret athei atheist. new information in the killing of trayvon martin. george zimmerman is lawyering up. that lawyer is going to explain how he can defend a client he has still not met.
>>> mitt romney still has to deal with rick santorum in the republican primaries , which is