The Rachel Maddow Show | September 10, 2012
>>> out for legalizing pot. i think. at least they did it for a second before they took it back. the republican campaign had not previously been in favor of legalizing pot. paul ryan had not only never voted for legalizing marijuana, he had never voted for legalizing medical marijuana . but now paul ryan has gone to colorado and said, you know what, it's up to the states to decide. if colorado wants to legalize pot, that is colorado 's choice. woo hoo !
>> that's up to coloradans to decide.
>> so if marijuana is illegal --
>> my personal position on these issues have been let the states decide what they want to do with these things. this is not a high priority of ours as to whether or not we go down this issue. but i have always believed states should make the right to decide.
>> i realize they are behind in the polls. it is kind of a surprising development that the republican party is running their presidential campaign on a platform that states should be allowed to legalize pot. that appears to have been the republicans position as of friday at roughly 5:30 p.m . local time in colorado . but by noon the following day on saturday, they had changed their mind. quote, a ryan spokesman emphasized that mr. ryan agrees with mitt romney that marijuana should never be legalized. so the republicans were for legalizing pot for about 18 hours. but they are no longer for that anymore. that particular issue and that issue in the state of colorado has flum exed the romney campaign in the past. this was back in may.
>> medical marijuana is legal in colorado . one of our viewers asked, should marijuana be legalized for medical use?
>> aren't there issues of significance you'd like to talk about?
>> this is an significant issue in colorado . medical marijuana .
>> i think marijuana should not be legal in this country. i believe it's a gateway drug to other drug violations.
>> we're going to do marriage. those are state issues. aren't they? really?
>> mr. romney getting testy with the reporter in colorado for even asking him about the issue. which his running mate skew screwed up. he got annoyed with the same reporter for asking about guy marriage as well and that same reporter in colorado , she also created more headaches for the romney campaign nationally as well as in colorado this year when she reported on the air last month that the romney campaign had insisted on certain ground rules as a precondition for her being allowed to interview mr. romney . listen.
>> this all started yesterday morning. we got a call from a romney staffer asking if i wanted to do a one-on-one interview with romney . when i agreed, i was told that there was a condition. i not ask about abortion. i later clarified what this meant. i planned to ask about the candidate that said the woman's body shut down, but aiken was part of this stipgs.
>> it's not uncommon to try to shape the interviews their candidate is subjected to. but you're supposed to do it off the record. you're supposed to say those it negotiations are off the record so you're not giving the reporter about what your candidate is afraid to be asked about. then what the candidate is afraid of becomes a bigger story than what did eventually make it into your carefully-stage managed interview. colorado has just been tough for the romney campaign this year. it's like they are jinxed. you might remember this happening the night of the colorado republican caucuses in february. watch.
>> i can tell you this room, we talked about this a few moments ago, this room was not even half full . it's started to fill in a little bit, but this room is still not completely full. keep in mind, we're in the city of denver. this is a large area outside of the city limits you have a lot of conservative republicans . and mitt romney is not filling this room tonight.
>> not only was mr. romney unable to fill a room in colorado , the night of 9 the republican caucus , he end eed up losing the state of colorado in a very unexpected result. he had won colorado by more than 40 points the last time in 2008 . but he lost colorado this year to rick santorum , which made for a lousy romney victory party in colorado that night. here's how it looks for romney in colorado right now. the average of polls shows president obama with about a 3-point lead over mr. romney . all of that polling was done well before the democratic convention . to the extent that that convention looks to have helped president obama 's campaign, that 3.4% gap might get bigger. broadly speaking, it does look like there is at least a preliminary convention bounce helping the president in some key swing states . in ohio he's increased his lead over mitt romney from three points to five points. in north carolina which hosted the convention , mr. obama had been behind in the polls. he's not got a 1-point lead. in terms of national polling, after the republicans did their convention , mr. obama and romney were tied in cnn's poll of likely voters. but today the new cnn poll came out and shows obama with a 6-point lead. the gallup poll shows the same thing. while romney experienced no bounce, mr. obama has opened up a 5-point lead. the president's job approval rating also spiked to its highest level since right after the killing of osama bin laden . knew mer kl speaking, president obama seemed to have the more successful convention this year. mr. romney did not do a post convention campaign tour as candidates almost always do. instead he took some time off and went boat iing in new hampshire. he was pretty much off the campaign trail. it indicated he was debate prepping or maybe retooling his campaign message. mr. romney did resurface this weekend to unveil a new stump speech in which he mentioned the evils of an imaginary plan republicans have made up that president obama is somehow secretly planning to take in god we trust off our coins. he's not planning on doing that. they also had romney endorse the far right, birther congressman king. and they had romney do a photo op with pat robertson at an appearance in virginia. when buzz feed pressed the romney campaign about this sudden culture can war shift in the campaign, a spokesman insisted, quote, the subject has been the economy, it is the economy, and it will be the economy. so then why do you have him a appearing with pat robertson ? there's the issue right now of the romney campaign's focus. what issues they are trying to get people to decide the election on. but there's also the issue of the campaign's message. this very simple issue of whether or not the candidates know what to say when they are asked basic questions about what they are running on. i mean they almost accidentally started running on legalizing pot this weekend. for about 18 hours, they were running on that. conceivably, that might work, by don't think that's what they meant to do. on sunday romney went on "meet the press" and said that republicans made a big mistake when they voted in congress for the sequester. the big debt deal that entails a lot of defense cuts. mr. romney said republicans who vetoed for that made, in his words, quote, a big mistake . one of the republicans who voted for that was his running mate, paul ryan , who then later had to go on a network show and deny he cast the vote for those defense cuts, which he definitely did vote for.
>> you voted for the budget control act. in fact, i went and looked. you put out a statement the time it was passed. you called it a victory and called it a positive step forward. so you voted for defense cuts and now you're criticizing the president for the same defense cuts that you voted for.
>> i have to correct you on this. i voted for a mechanism that says a sequester will occur if we don't cut trillions in defense spending .
>> you voted for it. you voted for it.
>> i voted for the budget control act. you're mistaken.
>> actually, nora o'donnell factually was not mistaken. paul ryan voted for a bill that his running mate mitt romney is now calling a big mistake . that's what they were talking about and that he voted for. they undermined the campaign message that obama care is a terrible, horrible thing for america and that he, mitt romney as president, will get rid of all of obama care. all yearlong he's been pledging complete repeal of obama care. that's been his language. complete repeal. until this weekend.
>> i'm not getting rid of all of health care reform . there are a number of things i like in health care reform that i'm going to put in place. one is to make sure those with preexisting conditions can get coverage.
>> romney is going to keep the part with preexisting conditions. that's a whole new policy. that's awesome. that's a whole new plan for him that they waited until after the conventions to unveil? it's weird timing. but actually it turns out they took it back. they didn't mean that. the romney campaign later that day said that there's actually no change in mr. romney 's long-held position on health reform . he was not proposing to require insurance plans to offer those particular features. an entire week off to listen to the democrats arguments about you. you had a whole week and what you came up with is i kind of like obama care and paul ryan has a horrible voting record? but when we're pressed, we're going to -- also legalize pot for 18 hours and then quickly pivot back to ban pot everywhere everywhere. either this is such high level campaign genius that we don't understand what they are doing here, or they don't have any idea of what they are doing here. joining us to help decide which is dan rather , the anchor of " dan rather reports." thank you for being here.
>> always a joy to be with you.
>> is it possible there's some secret genius at work here, that you're telling broad audiences or even specific state audiences like colorado voters on the issue of pot, you're telling them something they might want to hear and hoping they don't hear the correction? is this intentional?
>> anything is possible, but i don't think so. i think the romney campaign is in a bad stretch. they are having a terrible week post the democratic convention . frankly, i thought the republicans and candidate romney and his running mate came out of the conventions okay. the the democrats had more energy. bill clinton who could talk the legs off a chair did a masterful performance. i don't think they are in all that bad shape . but you pointed out governor romney did not go out on the campaign trail. he disappeared after the convention . he appeared in an interview with david gregory . when the obama care thing came up, i'll keep some obama care and he says, i didn't mean it. here's his basic problem. we talked about it before. does this man know what it is he believes? is he willing to stick to it and fight for it? whatever the truth of it is, the perception has been there from the beginning. this guy may not know really what he wants to do. these last few days have fuelled that. if he wins, he has to win on jobs and the economy. he can't seem to keep the focus there. and you can't run a campaign with more twists than a pretzel factory and expect people not to catch up. not in the present day . i think future historians and politicians and people who cover politics will be looking at this campaign and studying it for a long time to come because the center of gravity has changed with facebook, twitter and the immense amount of coverage there is of a campaign. there's a time not long ago, you can say one thing to one group of people and another thing to another group of people and it wouldn't catch up. those days are gone. now either the romney campaign doesn't understand that, or they are having a bad few days. i have said to you before that i think romney has a good chance to win. i still think he can win, but the odds are longer on him today than they were even ten days or two weeks ago. certainly, the obama camp is going to jump on these poll numbers that show a bump from the democratic convention and post convention . they are going to jump on those. however, we know historically from campaigns in the past that the bump you get out of a convention at this time in the campaign frequently evaporate. by the time we get through the first debate on october 3rd , the campaigns may seem as far away . we just have to see. i do come back to this. the reason bill clinton is so masterful is he didn't talk at people. he talked to people. and he had a conversation with the audience, with the american people . and he had a respect for the audience. even some respect for the other party. this was powerful stuff. now neither frankly has seem to have gotten that message fully. but it's time, let's cut the bull feathers here. let's cut the business of saying one thing to one group and really talk to people and not at them and talk seriously. and the press has a big role to play in this. the press needs to hold candidates accountable. when they flip-flop, not just the appearance, but when they flip-flop, that needs to be drichb ho driven home. there's a tendency in the press, on the one hand this isn't true, but the other side says this and try to give a moral equivalency. that's not the way to cover a campaign. and i hope the press can do better.
>> i think the extent the press has gotten better about that. and i thought you saw sharp elbows at paul ryan for some of the thing its he misstated in his acceptance speech. it's because we have been pushed by people who are existing as their own fact checkers and sharing their information and able to do the research themselves.
>> let me ask you, rachel. you get paid to ask the questions. are you as surprised as i am that paul ryan has thus far proved to be as unstead sdi a candidate? i expected paul ryan to be mr. cool, nothing shakes him, have an answer for everything. you saw in the interviews, he's not very well prepared or he clutches during the interview and doesn't have very good answers. i'm surprised he hasn't been more reliable as a running mate.
>> he was a high performer running in his 700,000 population congressional district . that was actually a challenge. it was not a republican-leaning district. he's been a high performer among the conservative media that sort of loves guys like him in congress and he's never been tested anywhere beyond that. he's never run an election where he has to face more than 700,000 people. you can see it in his eyes when he blinks on his own voting record and lying about his marathon time. you know you can't get away with lying about it. dan rather , i could talk to you all night. thank you for being here. dan is the anchor of " dan rather reports" on access tv . his latest episode will be at 8:00 eastern tomorrow night.
>>> the romney campaign's plan a is experiencing some unexpected turbulence. that's making republicans nervous and democrats slightly less. plan b is proceeding forthwith. it's making democrats nervous and republicans less. that's coming up. stay with