Tuesday, January 31, 2012

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
video 'podcast'

Guest host: Bill Press

watch whole playlist

Florida primary coverage:

# ...with Eliot Spitzer, David Shuster
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)

# ...with Alan Grayson

# ...Romney's speech
YouTube (courtesy of C-SPAN)

# ...with Craig Crawford
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)

# ...with Eliot Spitzer, Steve Kornacki
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)

printable PDF transcript

On the show: , , , , ,

BILL PRESS: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

Singing in the Sunshine state.

(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: America! America! God shed his grace on thee.

PRESS: Romney serenades supporters as the polls show him ahead by a wide margin. But Gingrich whistles a different tune.

(Excerpt from video clip) REPORTER: So how close is this to being over?

(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: I would say probably six months.

(Excerpt from video clip) REPORTER: Six months?

(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: I would say June or July, unless Romney drops out earlier.

PRESS: The polls are now closed, and the results are rolling in. With analysis from Eliot Spitzer, and live from Florida with Craig Crawford, "Countdown's" David Shuster and Alan Grayson. "Countdown's" coverage of the 2012 Florida Primary begins now.

(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: From sea to shining sea.


PRESS: Good evening. It's been an exciting night. It's good to have you with us. Thanks for joining us. This is Tuesday, January 31st, 281 days until the 2012 presidential election. I'm Bill Press, sitting in for Keith Olbermann. And this is our "Countdown" Coverage of the 2012 GOP Florida Primary.

And what you want to know?

At this hour CNN, FOX and MSNBC have all called the Florida primary for Mitt Romney. No surprise there. Maybe they don't need surprises, they called it so early.

Romney started the day leading his chief rival, Newt Gingrich, in all of the polls released in the past week, scoring double digit-leads in most of them. It looks like that's how it's going to turn out. And now with just 43 percent according to the Associated Press, not just - that's a big block of votes in.

Romney is ahead of Gingrich by 48-31 percent, 17 point spread. Rick Santorum and Ron Paul trailing as expected. Santorum with 13 percent of the vote at this point and Ron Paul with seven percent of the vote. Last week's campaigning saw a brutal ad war dominated by Romney, who outspent Gingrich nearly five to one, along with buys of personal attacks from both men, of course.

Gingrich accusing Romney of being a pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, pro-tax increase, liar and liberal. It's hard tell which of those two is worse - liar or liberal - for some Republicans.

And Romney, who seemed to enjoy unhinging Gingrich, attacked the former Speaker of the House as a desperate Washington insider with more baggage than the airlines, who was, of course, forced to resign as Speaker in disgrace for ethic violations while he was in office.

So in this hour together, it's going to be a moving target. We'll discuss the outcome, we'll look at the numbers, hopefully, we'll hear from some of the candidates, we'll examine the issues and we'll talk about where we go from here with our crack team of analysts tonight, including former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, "Countdown" correspondent David Shuster in Tampa, Florida, former Florida Congressman Alan Grayson, politics blogger and author Craig Crawford and Salon news editor Steve Kornacki.

On set with me for the entire hour, Governor Elliot Spitzer. Good to see you, Governor.

ELLIOT SPITZER: Pleasure to be here. Thank you.

PRESS: All right, so there it is. Mitt Romney's the winner. Marco Rubio, senator, today said - early today - that whoever wins the Republican Primary is the Republican nominee. Do you agree?

SPITZER: Not only do I agree, I think this is the first of many dominoes to fall in the next couple days. The establishment, the elected officials - senators, governors, those outside from, you know, Karl Rove on down, who speak for the leadership of the Republican party - saying, not only he is the nominee, but implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, saying to Newt Gingrich, "You're staying in this race as an act of narcissism, damaging to the Republican party, get out. End it. Let us now coalesce."

Mitt Romney's having just the night he wanted. One last point. After South Carolina - and that was probably the worst week of campaigning he's ever been through, you know, from his taxes to the attack on Bain's - it was a disaster. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, the old cliché. But it's kind of true. He has bounced back and now, trial by fire, he is saying to people, "Look, I am here, stronger, better, tested. You'd better be on my team."

PRESS: All right. Now let's go down to Tampa, Florida. David Shuster, look at that crowd. That's a crowd waiting for Mitt Romney there in the Tampa Convention Center, which is right behind David Shuster, across that pond, or whatever it is down there. David Shuster, good to see you tonight. So, it came out kind of the way we thought it was going to, didn't it, David?

DAVID SHUSTER: It did, and the exit polling bill revealed sort of the secret of success for Mitt Romney.

First of all, the voters here in Florida decided much earlier than other primary states, and secondly, the two debates here really matter, according to the exit polling. Four out of 10 voters, Bill, decided before the start of the month. So, in other words, 40 percent of the voters here were making up their minds well before South Carolina.

In other words, based on the results in Iowa, New Hampshire - when Mitt Romney was doing very well - only 25 percent of the voters here in Florida decided just in the last few days. And to put that in some context, in South Carolina - where Newt Gingrich won - 55 percent decided in the last few days.

Now, as far as the debates, again, two out of the three voters here in Florida, Republican voters, said that the debates were important. And that was very significant to the Romney campaign because, as you know, the Romney campaign was convinced that he turned in a very strong debate performance in both debates here in Florida, and that New Gingrich was something off of his game.

The other issue which is so important, Bill, for the Romney campaign - as they try to now spin the victory - and that is electability. Forty-five percent of the voters here in Florida in this primary said that electability, the ability to beat Barack Obama, was the number-one issue for them in deciding this race.

And again, the Romney campaign had hammered Newt Gingrich in all these ads suggesting that Newt Gingrich was too much of a lightning rod, that he wasn't disciplined, that he would flame out. Gingrich kept trying to hit back at Romney by saying Romney's not conservative enough. But the voters clearly decided that, no, Romney's - even though he's not as conservative as Gingrich - he's more electable in a general election and that's why they gave Mitt Romney the victory today.

PRESS: The indicator from the exit polls, but also, David, the indicators from looking at those who voted by absentee, or who voted early. ARG today released a poll. There were 605,000 votes cast before the polls opened today. And of those votes, 51 percent said they voted for Mitt Romney, 29 percent for Newt, which is a bigger spread, I think, than we're going to see tonight. Doesn't that indicate that Mitt Romney was there early with a lot of money and a lot of organization, both of which New Gingrich lacked?

SHUSTER: That's right. And also, he was up on the airwaves much earlier than Newt Gingrich.

I mean, we recall that, of course, after New Hampshire - never mind South Carolina being the next stop - Mitt Romney was already on the air here in Florida and a super PAC was already on the air.

And when you look at the early start in the advertising and also the frequency - the intensity, I mean - between Mitt Romney and his super PAC, an ad supporting him and attacking Newt Gingrich ran something like 13,000 different slots that the Romney super PAC and the campaign bought here in Florida. Newt Gingrich, he bought 400 slots. So, it wasn't just in money - the intensity, the frequency was all on the Romney side.

And one other thing, Bill, that I think is so intriguing with the exit polling, and that is - you had Newt Gingrich, of course, hammering Mitt Romney for only producing two years worth of tax returns and all of his money that he made at Bain Capital, where they profited from companies that went bankrupt. And yet, when the voters here were asked, "Who best understands the average voter's problems," one out of three said, "Mitt Romney." Only one out of four said, "Newt Gingrich."

So, in other words, the attacks on Romney with Bain Capital and the tax returns didn't have the effect that Newt Gingrich had thought that it would.

PRESS: Now, when we look at New Hampshire, and New Gingrich's amazing swing from being 12 points down in New Hampshire, to 12 points ahead in South Carolina, and now this swing from Gingrich being up 12 points in South Carolina, and - it looks like - losing by double digits in Florida. Was it the money that made the difference? I mean, Mitt Romney vastly outspent Gingrich in Florida.

SHUSTER: Yeah, that's right. I mean, it was something like - between Romney and his super PAC - it was over $15 million in ads, compared to three million dollars in ads for Gingrich and Gingrich's super PAC.

Newt Gingrich is trying to spin it today as this was an election that was essentially bought by Mitt Romney and that Mitt Romney lied about his record. And that he's not conservative enough for the Republican party.

But the fact of the matter is that Mitt Romney turned in the sort of organization, the advertising, the overall campaign that he had hoped. He started early, he had a lot of the local, sort of, precinct leaders all across the state. He had far more districts offices across the state.

And so, in a state where, of course, organization, as you know, is pretty important and it's also more ethnically diverse, and it's important to run the Spanish-language ads, and it's important to run the issues that are important in South Florida, they're not as important here in North Florida. The Romney campaign had that all sort of figured out, and the Gingrich campaign, by most accounts, was flailing on some of those organizational issues. And that made something of a difference today.

PRESS: "Countdown's" David Shuster on the ground in Tampa, Florida. David, hold on, do some more ground work there. We'll be back to you a little bit later in the hour. Thanks. Thanks so much.

So, Governor, you're Newt Gingrich.

SPITZER: Please, don't do that to me.

PRESS: Sorry about that. What do you do right now? Right are you thinking?

SPITZER: Look, he needs to put a positive spin. I think what David just said is maybe their best argument - "We were outspent five to one, this was not a state that was hospitable to us. But give us a few more weeks, there are southern states, there are states demographically more like South Carolina."

And, as he will say, "Look at that board right there, Romney is only getting 48 percent of the vote. The majority of Republican voters still don't want Mitt Romney. They are looking for somebody - I'm that person." Now, it's not an argument that is going to persuade many people. I think Newt Gingrich's negatives have piled on like crustaceans on the bottom of a boat. He can't scrape them off, he can't get rid of them.

Now, if it were possible for a Jeb Bush to come in and make that argument, maybe a different dynamic, but let me tell you - right now, Mitt Romney's on a roll. He has, in the public mind, won everything but South Carolina. You know, people forget, Rick Santorum actually won Iowa. But right now, Newt Gingrich is flailing away without a meaningful argument.

PRESS: And yet, Newt did say today that this is going to go on for another six to eight months. With typical Newt irony he says, "Unless Romney drops out first."

SPITZER: You got to love - you got to love the guy's bravado. He's like a cat with nine lives, he just comes bouncing back - different incarnation, a slightly different look. And crazier ideas each time, arguably. But, you know, the public will respect that, but he also isn't looking presidential. Just look at the different feel of the campaign settings tonight. New Gingrich is done.

PRESS: Speaking of not looking presidential, I like to play - this is Mitt - I'm sorry, Newt Gingrich. Last evening, going after Mitt Romney, I mean, it's - the question is whether or not this really sells with voters - the Newt that we've seen in the last week, particularly - getting more and more desperate. Here's a quick clip:

(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: Every time we nominated a moderate we lose. You know? So, 1996 we nominated a moderate, Bill Clinton wins re-election by a big margin. 2008, we nominate a moderate, Barack Obama wins. Why would anybody in the establishment think that a Massachusetts moderate, which is a liberal by Republican standards - pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-tax increase, pro-gay rights - why would they think the he is going to be able to debate Barack Obama?

PRESS: A little desperation in his voice?

SPITZER: A little desperation. And, you know, he may get a job as a pundit somewhere. But that's not the candidate -

PRESS: Wait, he used to have one.

SPITZER: That's true, that's true.

PRESS: Maybe he'll go back to it, right?

SPITZER: That could be. Could be.

PRESS: But, I mean, this idea of labeling Romney as - not just a moderate, but then he moved it to "a liberal" and "a liar" - will that hurt Romney with the tea party people that he's going to need?

SPITZER: Well look, there is a harsh reality here that Newt Gingrich has got to face up to. There is, unfortunately - from my perspective, your perspective, I think I can say that for you - a lot of venom directed towards President Obama. The tea party votes are going to go with the Republican nominee, barring some third-party surge that we don't envision right now.

And so, Mitt Romney will harvest those votes and, frankly, it makes more sense for the Republican leadership to put somebody a bit more moderate in the middle who can take advantage of the anti-Obama sentiment and not be so alien to moderate voters who would be a little worried about a Newt Gingrich or some of the other - a Rick Santorum.

And so, I think it is smart for the Republican party. And I think John McCain may be looking at Newt Gingrich right now saying, "Who are you calling moderate?" You know, John McCain views himself as a down-the-road, straight conservative.

PRESS: Right. So, one thing about Florida is, if you take these 50 electoral votes in Florida - even though they were cut in half, because Florida moved its primary up - that is -

SPITZER: Convention votes. Delegates.

PRESS: I'm sorry, convention delegates, right. That is still greater than the total of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina combined. Plus, Florida is much more reflective of the population of the United States and demographics in the United States as a whole. So, for Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, looking at this - that this is sort of how they might run nationwide. That's got to mean something, I guess, to the Republican Party.

SPITZER: Look, Mitt Romney and the leadership of the Republican Party tonight are looking at the map - put aside Santorum's win by eight votes, whatever - and they're saying, "Mitt Romney won Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida." As you just said, that is a pretty good cross section of the nation that Mitt Romney needs to win in November to win the election.

So they're saying, "South Carolina went to the right, okay, they're going to come back, we're not worried that South Carolina is going for President Obama. So, that's fine. Give that to Newt."

They are saying, "We are positioning ourselves very nicely to make that centrist argument. Let the tea party scream and shout a little bit, but we think we can now win maybe Ohio, maybe Pennsylvania, some of those real ..." Remember, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio - the traditional three determinative states - you have got to get two of them to win in November. They're saying Mitt Romney is showing he can win in Florida, and this matters.

PRESS: It certainly buttresses his electability argument.

SPITZER: Absolutely.

PRESS: For sure.

SPITZER: Absolutely.

PRESS: Governor Eliot Spitzer, we'll be back to you again.

And in Florida, again - CNN and FOX and MSNBC have all called the winner. Mitt Romney as the winner. Huge win over Newt Gingrich. They're not sure exactly what the numbers will be. But now, with 52 percent of the vote in, it's 47 percent, holding just kind of steady there. Forty-seven percent for Mitt Romney, over 31 percent for Newt Gingrich.

This big win for Mitt Romney in Florida, what does it mean, maybe, for President Obama in Florida in November? Nobody knows better than former Florida Congressman Alan Grayson will join us next on the "Countdown."


PRESS: Welcome back to "Countdown" on our coverage of the results of the Florida primary.

Newt Gingrich's best hope tonight was to keep it under double digits. He did not succeed. A look at the numbers here on your screen now. With 53 percent of the vote in, 47 percent for Romney, 31 percent for Gingrich. Rick Santorum, 13 percent, Ron Paul at seven percent.

You can see that Mitt Romney has taken over the Tampa Convention Center. His supporters there waiting for him to show, cheering the news as they see it on their TV screens. What does this all mean?

Joining us now is the former United States congressman from Florida, and currently running to get his seat back again - we'll give him all of the help we can - the good Alan Grayson.

Hi, Alan, great to see you. Thanks for joining us.

ALAN GRAYSON: Thank you.

PRESS: Just give us your reaction - as a Floridian and elected official there, soon to be again - about what this means for Florida, for the Florida Republican party, that Mitt Romney could come in with such a stunning win tonight?

GRAYSON: Well, somebody had to win, somebody always does. But, frankly, I think they're all losers. If you want to know what a president looks like, what a president sounds like - you saw it a few days ago during the State of the Union address.

And they have been so un-presidential during this race. Mitt Romney thinks that Newt Gingrich is a liar, Newt Gingrich thinks that Mitt Romney's a liar. Maybe they're both right, I don't know. But I do know that the contrast to President Obama has been very, very dramatic and will stay in people's minds for a long time to come.

PRESS: Seniors in Florida went - according to early polls - went overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney, 46 percent to 32 percent. Congressman, you know this is a party that - and Mitt Romney supported it - that voted for the Paul Ryan plan to clearly end Medicare as we know it. So, is that going to present a problem for them in the fall?

GRAYSON: Oh, without any question. I think that there's already a big problem for them. In fact, it's hard to believe that, in any real sense, they're running for president of the United States. When the governor of Texas was running, Ron [sic] Perry, it seemed to me like he was running for president of the Confederacy. And I think that when I listen to Santorum, he's running for pope. When I listen to Gingrich, he's obviously running for president of the moon.

None of these people seem to actually want to be the leader that America needs. They don't talk about jobs. They don't talk about housing. They don't talk about education. They don't talk about health care. They talk about whatever the fantasies are that are in the minds of the tiny fraction of people that vote in the Republican primaries in America these days.

PRESS: Yeah, I might point out - I found it interesting - that, on the lunar colony, the latest PPP poll in Florida showed that only 21 percent of Republicans supported it, and 53 percent opposed the lunar colony. Even though, as you point out, Newt Gingrich might have been one of the first people to be - to be sent to the moon.

Congressman, let's look at the big picture here. I mean, it's not just re-electing President Obama, or election for the president of the United States. Every House seat is up, and the control of the United States Senate as well. With a Mitt Romney at the head of the ticket - you've been out there now, not only trying to get your own seat back, but to help other Democrats win, raising money for other Democrats around the country - what are the chances of the House getting back in Democratic control, particularly given, it looks like, Romney as the nominee?

GRAYSON: Well, I guess that's probably true. But, you know, we have felt that way so many times before.

PRESS: True.

GRAYSON: In Iowa, there were eight leaders in the polls in seven months. Things seemed to change pretty dramatically among the - how can I say this? - the manic-depressive element of the electorate, so that, from time to time, it looks like somebody's winning, but you really can't tell. I think they're all one scandal away from being eliminated from the race.

But if Romney is, in fact, the nominee, I think he'll be a formidable one. There'll be an enormous amount of money arrayed against the president - sewer money, PAC money, lobbyist money - and that will also be arrayed against the House and the Senate Democratic candidates. If the election were held today, I think that it would be close, but I think you'd see the Democrats winning the House, the Democrats winning the Senate and the Democrats also keeping the White House.

PRESS: We are told that Mitt Romney is just minutes away from coming to speak to his supporters there in the convention hall in Tampa. We will, of course, bring you that live, if that's the case. That would be interesting, that he is kind of rubbing Newt Gingrich's nose in it one more time by not waiting - as candidates normally do, traditionally - for the one that was not successful to give a concession speech first. We'll see how that plays out.

But, Congressman, I also wanted to ask you, in terms of, sort of, another issue that has come up, is - Republicans are back again with English language only, English only, as the official language of the United States. They've introduced that legislation in the House. Again, given the big percentage of Latino vote in Florida, and in other key states, how do you think that plays in November?

GRAYSON: Well, I mentioned a week ago on national TV that - only four years ago - Newt Gingrich had said that Spanish is a ghetto language, and he wanted to take English [sic] out of the schools, out of the motor vehicle bureaus, out of the police stations. And, in this case - in a state that is almost a quarter Spanish-speaking - it is a terrible imposition. And that's true all across the southern tier of the United States.

It's simply overt racism and I think that Newt Gingrich is running the most overtly-racist campaign at the presidential level that we've seen since George Wallace. It can only hurt the Republicans. It is hurting the Republicans. It will continue to do so.

PRESS: The ever-outspoken Alan Grayson. Good friend, good to have you with us tonight, Alan. Thank you so much. Good luck in your race.

GRAYSON: Thank you.

PRESS: We're going to take a quick break and hopefully come back with Mitt Romney on the other end in Tampa, Florida. It's "Countdown."


PRESS: It's "Countdown," the Florida primary. You see the crowd there at the Tampa Convention Center. This is Mitt Romney's family - the famous sons and their wives. There's Ann Romney. They're walking up to the podium. We're seeing, with 62 percent of the vote in, 47 percent for Romney, 32 percent for Newt Gingrich. On set with us, Governor Eliot Spitzer. I guess we're going to hear Ann Romney introduce her husband, Governor, so let's listen in:

(Excerpt from video clip) ANN ROMNEY: Thank you, Florida! We are so grateful to all of you for being here tonight and how great all of you are. Thank you, this is a very wonderful reception. You know, this experience of Mitt running for president has been extraordinary for our family. It's just - it's just hard to express what it means for a wife and a mother to see -

PRESS: Governor, while were waiting for Governor Romney to come up and listening to Ann Romney. I just want to ask you - we've been looking at these numbers since we got on the set. It's now 62 percent and still 47 percent to 32 percent. I mean, this is locked in. It's going to be 15 percent or more.

SPITZER: Absolutely, once you have 62 percent of the vote in, it's very hard, mathematically, for it to shift, and you have such a huge sample. This is an overwhelming victory for Mitt Romney - repudiation of Newt Gingrich. And - a lot of questions ahead - but clearly Mitt Romney got exactly what he wanted tonight. Newt Gingrich is sick to his stomach right now.

PRESS: And again, in terms of any bragging rights, if Newt were able to get within maybe six, seven, eight, he could say, "Look, I'm still a viable candidate." Can he still say that now?

SPITZER: Well, only to the true believers. I don't think that he has any capacity to say that - to a larger audience, outside the voters of South Carolina - he has a broad enough appeal to really challenge Mitt Romney. And I think over the next couple days, we're going to see the entire Republican establishment coalescing around Mitt Romney saying, "We have our candidate, we have our challenger."

It going to be a tight race, as Congressman Grayson said, this is going to be a real doosey of a battle between now and November. Every week with new economic data, a new political fact coming out and changing the dynamic a little bit. This is going to be a long, drawn-out, tough fight.

PRESS: I think that we cannot ignore, also, the significance that this is Ann Romney, he's been married to her for 42 years, right?


PRESS: Right?


PRESS: And this is sort of a message too, isn't it, to Republicans about Newt Gingrich?

SPITZER: Look, not only with respect to Newt Gingrich. But, let's face it - everybody knows a partisan Democrat will want the president to be re-elected. This is a very nice-looking family that speaks to what people want to see in a family where the father - or the mom some day, let's hope - is running for the presidency of the United States.

This is going to be a real, serious contest. Mitt Romney is a smart, effective guy. Disagree with him, view him as a flip-flopper - whatever the attacks may be - this is going to be a real campaign between two capable contestants. And I think Mitt Romney, after the past week, has show he can bounce back, play tough and throw a punch.

PRESS: There are a lot of tourists among the - maybe getting close here to introducing her husband. I think we're going to -

(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: The father of my five sons, the grandfather of my 16 grandchildren and the next president of the United States.

(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: Thanks, you guys. Wow, how about that? Wow, thank you. Thank you.

(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt!

(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: Thank you so much.

(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt. Mitt, Mitt!

(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: Thank you to the people in this room and of the people all over Florida, thank you tonight for this great victory.

There are fewer candidates tonight than when the race began. But three gentlemen are serious and able competitors, and they're still in the race and I want to congratulate them on another hard-fought contest in this campaign.

Primary contests are not easy and they're not supposed to be. As this primary unfolds, our opponents in the other party have been watching and they like to comfort themselves with the thought that a competitive campaign will leave us divided and weak. But I've got news for them, a competitive primary does not divide us, it prepares us. And we will win.

And when we gather back here in Tampa seven months from now, for our convention, ours - ours will be a united party with a winning ticket for America.

You know, three years ago this week, a newly-elected President Obama faced the American people and he said, "Look, if I can't turn this economy around in three years, I'll be looking at a one-term proposition," and we're here to collect.

And you know the results. I mean, it's been 35 months of unemployment above eight percent, and under this president, more Americans have lost their jobs and more home foreclosures have occurred than under the administration of any other president in history.

In the last 10 days, I met with a father who was terrified that this would be the last night his family would be able to sleep in the only home his son has known. I've met seniors who thought these would be the best years of their life. And now, they're worried, day to day, about how to make ends meet. I met some Hispanic entrepreneurs who thought they'd achieved the American dream, and now they're seeing it disappear.

In the State of the Union Address, the president actually said these words, he says, "Let's remember now how we got here." Don't worry, Mr. President, we remember exactly how we got here - you won the election.

Leadership - leadership is about taking responsibility, not making excuses. In another era of American crisis, Thomas Payne is reported to have said, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way." Well, Mr. President, you were elected to lead, you chose to follow and now it's time for you to get out of the way.

I stand - I stand ready to lead this party and to lead our nation. As a man who spent his life outside Washington, I know what it's like to start a business; I know how extraordinarily difficult it is to build something from nothing; I know how government kills jobs and yes, I know how it can help from time to time.

My leadership helped build businesses from scratch. My leadership helped save the Olympics from scandal and give our American athletes the chance to make us all proud, as they did. My - my leadership cut taxes 19 times and cast over 800 vetoes. We balanced the budget every single year and we kept our schools first in the nation. My leadership will end the Obama era and begin a new era of American prosperity.

(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt!

(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: This campaign - this campaign is about more than replacing a president. It's about saving the soul of America.

President Obama and I have very different visions of America. President Obama wants to grow government and continue to amass trillion-dollar deficits. I will not just slow the growth of government, I will cut the spending of government. I will not just freeze government's share of the total economy, I will reduce it. And, without raising taxes, I will finally get America to a balanced budget.

President Obama's view of a free economy is to send your money to his friends. My vision for a free-enterprise economy is to return entrepreneurship and the genius and creativity to the American people.

On one of the most personal matters of our lives, our health care - President Obama would turn decision making over to government bureaucrats. He forced through Obamacare and I will repeal it.

You know, like his colleagues in the faculty lounge - who think they know better - President Obama demonizes and denigrates almost every sector of our economy. I will make American the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, for innovators, for job creators. And, unlike the other people running for President, I know how to do that because I've done it before.

(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt!

(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: President Obama orders religious organizations to violate their conscience. I will defend religious liberty and overturn regulations that trample on our first freedom.

President Obama believes that our role as leader in the world is a thing of the past. He's intent on shrinking our military capacity at a time when the world is facing rising threats. I will insist on a military so powerful no one would ever think of challenging it.

President Obama has adopted a policy of appeasement and apology. I will speak out for those seeking freedom and I will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our friends around the world. You see - you see, President Obama wants to fundamentally transform American and make it something, perhaps, we wouldn't recognize. I want to restore to America the values and principles and made us the hope of the earth, and I'll do it.

(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt!

(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: Our plans - our plans protect freedom and opportunity. And our blueprint is the Constitution of the United States. Together, we will build an America were hope is a new job with a pay check, not a faded word on an old bumper sticker.

Now, let me be clear. The path I lay out is not one paid with ever-increasing government checks and cradle-to-grave assurance that government will always be the solution. If this election is a bidding war for who can promise the most goodies and the most benefits, then I'm not your president. You have that president today.

But, if you want to make this election about restoring American greatness, then I hope you'll join us. If you believe the disappointments - if you believe the disappointments of the last few years are a detour and not our destiny, then I'm asking for your vote.

I'm asking each of you to remember how special it is to be an American. I want you to remember what is was like to be hopeful and excited about the future, and not to dread each new headline. I want you to remember when you spent more time dreaming about were to send your kids to college then wondering how you'd make it to the next paycheck. I want you to remember when you weren't afraid to look at your retirement savings, or the price at the gas pump. I want you to remember when our White House reflected the best of who we are, not the worst of what Europe has become.

That America is still out there. We believe in that America. We still believe in the America that is the land of opportunity and a beacon of freedom. We believe in the America that challenges each of us to be bigger and better than ourselves. This election, let's fight for the America we love, we believe in America.

Thank you so much! Florida, you're the best! God bless the United States!

PRESS: Mitt Romney thanking his supporters. Mitt Romney in Tampa, Florida, giving not so much a victory speech tonight, as an acceptance speech at the Tampa convention. I think that's the same speech you'll hear a few months from now when he does accept the nomination. And it looks like he wrapped it up tonight.

Governor Spitzer, I think the key phrase at the end is when Mitt Romney said, "I ask for your vote." These people have already voted. So, he was really talking to the rest of the country tonight. And he pivoted right away - smartly, I think, right? - to take on President Obama and the themes of the 2012 campaign.

SPITZER: He dealt with his primary opponents in a completely cursory way. He was gracious to them, then dismissive. Said, "We will be unified," and then he immediately laid the foundation, in what I view as a purely vapid - but good - speech geared to towards November.

Touched all - pushed all the buttons, touched all the bases, a lot of soaring rhetoric, gauzy in all the right places. Didn't tell you anything about how he was going to do it. But that's what the nature of these speeches happens to be all about. He delivered it nicely.

But Newt Gingrich is sitting there saying, "Hey, I'm still here." Mitt Romney is saying, "No, you're not."

PRESS: Craig Crawford watching the speech down in Florida with us. He will join us next.

This is "Countdown." Mitt Romney, now still, with 73 percent of the vote, up over Newt Gingrich by 15 points. And we haven't heard yet from Newt Gingrich. Maybe we won't. But we'll be back, on "Countdown."


PRESS: Well, as you know, the polls had no sooner closed in Florida, then MSNBC, FOX News, CNN and Associated Press - AP - all called it for Mitt Romney, it was a 15-point spread then and is still a 15-point spread.

Mitt Romney just coming out, thanking the crowd and giving, what we have to say, was a presidential-sounding address at any rate, at least laying out the themes that he plans to run on. And, listening down in Orlando, Florida - Florida native Craig Crawford, Craig, no bright spot for Newt Gingrich at all tonight, huh?

CRAIG CRAWFORD: Well, I just heard that South Carolina announced it will succeed from Florida.

You know, the really bad news for Gingrich - and the really good news for Romney, other than the bright-line numbers here - are that the exit polls show that two out of three voters today self-identified as tea partiers, meaning that Romney's starting to bring some of that vote in. Forty percent said they are very conservative. He beat Gingrich by 22 points among women.

The only bright side I can find, so far, for Gingrich is that they tied among evangelicals. Now, that didn't make a big difference because 60 percent of these folks said they're not evangelical, but we're moving on to deep south states that are evangelical-rich and they tied here among that vote. So, that might be the only glimmer of hope for Gingrich, if there is one.

PRESS: And Craig, the unspoken message of Mitt Romney's address tonight seemed to be - "The primary is over," right? I mean, "Now, here is what we're going to talk about," and it's all going after Obama.

CRAWFORD: Yeah, I think he just launched Newt Gingrich to the moon tonight, at least in his own mind.

But, you know, Republicans have something to worry about. The reason they tried to design a primary system backloading the primary to later in the year, is - they didn't want a situation where you had a presumed nominee in February who now has to fight for media attention for the next 10 months. They tried to design a system that did not do that, but these states didn't cooperate, so, now we may have that situation and you've got a sitting President which much more ability to command the news and control the news agenda, and here, Romney is going to be having to figure out ways to get attention.

PRESS: Now, Romney is also going to have to start expecting some incoming fire from the Obama campaign. And we saw the first part of it in a very, I think, funny way. David Axelrod tweeted, yesterday, a tweet: "How loving owners transport their dogs."

And then he put this photo on it. You can see the photo is President Obama in the presidential limousine with Bo looking out the window. A not-so-subtle way of saying Bo is not strapped on top of the car in a kennel, correct?

CRAWFORD: You know, those things are funny, but that's part of what I see as the psychological warfare of presidential politics and Mitt Romney just proved he's very good at it in Florida against Gingrich. And that's what the Obama folks are going to do.

I think - I believe - I'd be interested in how the governor feels about this. I think Democrats should go negative early and often and maybe right now, because Mitt Romney's going to get a lot of media attention in the short term in defining himself. I think Democrats need to define him on their own terms, but before Romney does it for himself.

A lot of Americans haven't paid that much attention and they're going to start paying attention and this is the time to define him on Democratic party terms with lots of television ads. Bill Clinton did that against Bob Dole in '96, very early - oddly enough, tied him to Newt Gingrich, who said "Medicare should die on the vine." And they connected Dole to that. It was very effective. And they did that early and they spent a lot doing that.

PRESS: Yeah, don't wait until the convention to get started.

Craig Crawford, "Countdown" contributor. Thanks for being us tonight, Craig.

It's "Countdown's" coverage of the Florida primary. I'm Bill Press and we'll be right back.


PRESS: Welcome back to "Countdown."

The sun shining big time in the Sunshine state from Mitt Romney tonight, with still a 15-point lead over Newt Gingrich. Joining us now for "Countdown's" coverage, news editor for Salon magazine, Steve Kornacki. Steve, short on time tonight, but let me just ask you - in Florida, Romney outspent Newt Gingrich by five to one. Is that what made the big difference?

STEVE KORNACKI: You know, I think it's a critical part of it, but I don't think it's the only part of it and I think it would be a mistake to just chalk this up to the money.

I think there was sort a winning formula that the Romney people stumbled upon here, but it's also what the Republican party establishment stumbled on. And that is that Romney took the lead in leveling all sorts of attacks on Newt Gingrich, talking about his past leadership, taking about the ethics controversies - all of the reasons why Republicans wouldn't want to nominate this guy.

That was amplified with the advertising that the Romney forces put on the air, but I think the key piece to all of this, that doesn't get talked about enough, is that this sort of opinion-shaping class of the Republican party - whether that's elected officials, commentators, pundits, the people who really hold some sway when it comes to the opinions that, sort of, rank-and-file of the party hold - that class was basically split into two camps here.

The first camp amplified further the charges that Romney was making. They basically echoed everything Romney was saying. The rest of them, though, sat on their hands while Gingrich basically got mugged for the past week, which I think set a very clear signal to me, that this a party establishment that isn't that enthusiastic about Mitt Romney, but that really - at its core - even sort of tea party-friendly members of the establishment fear the nomination of Newt Gingrich and don't trust him as a leader and they're not going to lift a finger to help him.

So, in the absence of - really - any help from the establishment, besides a little bit from Palin, and Cain and people like that at the end. You know, this is strong formula for Mitt Romney the longer this race goes on, if it really goes on at all.

PRESS: So, with the super PACs - Huntsman had his, and Newt has his, and Romney has his and there are some on the Democratic side - is this going to come down to be known as the "super PAC election" of all time?

KORNACKI: Well, yeah. I mean, so far, we are one-for-one with that, I guess. I mean, the big question, obviously, going forward now is - what's the future of the Gingrich super PAC? Because, the Gingrich super PAC -

PRESS: Is one guy.

KORNACKI: - Out in Nevada. And if this guy decides to write another $5 million check, he's still in this - he's still in this game.

PRESS: Right. All right, Steve Kornacki. Thank you so much, Steve. Sorry we have to run, but short on time.

And I want to rap here with Governor Spitzer again. So, we're going to have - Mitt Romney's going to be the nominee, I'll just state that, all right?

SPITZER: I could not agree more.

PRESS: Up against President Obama. And the issue is the economy.


PRESS: All right. So, Mitt Romney's either going to come across as a guy who can fix it, or the guy who is so out of touch with the average Joe that he could never relate to the 99 percent.

SPITZER: Well, there will be screaming and shouting. The White House will say, "Which Mitt are you electing? Mitt is multiple personalities." "Mitt versus Mitt will the best debate," will be a White House line.

Three numbers, I think will determine which way this economic argument cuts.

The first one, obviously - unemployment. Does it continue to trend down so the president can build a sense of success? A sense we're moving in the right direction. The trend is the critical issue there. It doesn't need to be below 7.5, but the trend is critical.

Second, housing prices, again. Today we see they're continuing to drop. For most of the American public, that is the single biggest asset in our portfolio. If housing prices continue to drop, people feel poorer. That is bad news for the incumbent president. Foreclosures go up, all bad stuff.

Third one - the wild card, - gas prices. Right now, drifting down a little bit, but something in the Middle East could send them through the roof. That, obviously, is a wild card.

Those three numbers, I think, are forming the backdrop of how we feel about the economy. That will dictate the terms of this debate.

PRESS: That being said, of the whole crew we saw, Mitt Romney was the strongest candidate of the bunch, right?

SPITZER: There was never any doubt. I think that's why we called it prematurely, time and time again. Newt is like a cat with nine lives, but you got to believe - at some point - it's game over.

PRESS: Governor Spitzer, thanks so much for being with us tonight.

And that's "Countdown" for tonight, a big night for Mitt Romney, a disappointing night for Newt Gingrich.

And on behalf of Keith again, and all of us here at "Countdown," thank you so much for watching our coverage of the Florida primary. And our coverage continues with "The War Room" now, and Governor Jennifer Granholm from San Francisco.

Have a good one. We'll see you tomorrow, right here on "Countdown."

Monday, January 30, 2012

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, January 30th, 2012
video 'podcast'

Guest host: Bill Press

watch whole playlist

#5 'Sunshine Slugfest', Craig Crawford

#5 'Sunshine Slugfest', Eliot Spitzer
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)

#4 'Iced Tea', Becky Bond

# Time Marches On!

#3 'Occupying Occupy', Josh Harkinson

#2 'Reince Your Mouth Out'
Current.com, YouTube

#1 'Birth Control Blowback', Eleanor Smeal
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)

printable PDF transcript

On the show: , , , , ,

BILL PRESS: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

With Romney pulling ahead in Florida, Gingrich gets desperate.

(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: He eliminated serving kosher food for elderly Jewish residents under Medicaid.

PRESS: And Romney responds - with a pig roast.

So, where's the GOP primary go after Florida?

"Tea Party 10" - a liberal super PAC identifies the worst of the worst in Congress and targets their seats for the 2012 election.

Uh-oh, Occupy Oakland erupts again. Over 400 are arrested as City Hall is vandalized. Has the peaceful Occupy movement been - occupied?

He said what?

(Excerpt from video clip) REINCE PRIEBUS: We're going to talk about our own little Captain Schettino, which is President Obama, who's abandoning the ship here in the United States.

PRESS: Yeah, as head of the RNC, Mr. Priebus should know something about sinking ships.

And - what a pill.

(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: The Obama administration is engaged in a war against religion.

PRESS: You mean by providing all women with access to birth control?


PRESS: Good evening, this is Monday, January 30, 282 days now until the 2012 presidential election. I'm Bill Press, sitting in for Keith Olbermann again tonight. Good to have you with us.

Mitt Romney surging ahead in the polls less than 12 hours before voting starts in tomorrow's Florida Republican primary, while Newt Gingrich insists he's in the race for the long term no matter what happens tomorrow.

The fifth story in the "Countdown" - Romney rising and seeming more confident by the day, Gingrich slipping, but saying he'll be in it all the way to the GOP convention, which starts August 27th in Tampa.

But starting tonight with Mitt. And you know a GOP front-runner must be feeling pretty confident when he takes a few minutes just to toss bags of snacks to reporters on his plane. Trying out for flight attendant, I guess.

(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: The crowds are good, and you can sense it's coming our way. It's getting better and better every day.

PRESS: Well, it certainly looks that way in the polls. Romney leads Gingrich by 14 points in the Quinnipiac poll and 15 points in the NBC/Marist poll, with Rick Santorum and Ron Paul both trailing far behind.

Regardless of what those numbers say, Newt insists he can still pull ahead in Florida with help from the right wing's least-favorite billionaire. Soros said - he was talking about George Soros, Newt Gingrich - the liberal financier and conservative hate puppet who said that where President Obama and former governor Romney are concerned -

(Excerpt from video clip) GEORGE SOROS: There isn't all that much difference except for the crowd that they bring with them.

PRESS: Yeah, which Soros says - that crowd could include either Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich as Vice President if Romney were to win. And if Newt somehow performs a political miracle and wins tomorrow, he might have to thank not only Soros, but his latest celebrity endorsement - Mr. 999 himself, Herman Cain, telling a Tampa crowd:

(Excerpt from video clip) HERMAN CAIN: I like Newt Gingrich for president of the United States.

PRESS: But in Jacksonville, Republicans also seemed to like Romney's explanation for why they don't want Gingrich for president. Meanwhile, Newt told fans in Pensacola that big money was a real issue in this race.

(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: We will only win if the American people decide that they're sick and tired of the New York and Washington establishment thinking that we're dumb enough to let them try to buy an election.

PRESS: So, who's actually buying an election? Well, according to Talking Points Memo, a Democratic source says, Romney and his "Restore Our Future" super PAC have spent more than $15 million to buy ads in Florida so far, compared to about $4 million for Gingrich and his "Winning Our Future" super PAC.

So, is that all it takes to win an election? Outspend your opponent by around four to one? Romney Florida co-chair Justin Sayfie insists, "Oh, no, no." He's just got the better candidate. And besides, he says, "To think that money is deterministic reveals a crude understanding of what influences voters. It's a lot more complicated than that."

Well, it may be sometimes, but probably not this time. Either way, Obama senior adviser and campaign strategist David Axelrod doesn't seem unhappy at all with how the GOP primaries have turned out so far:

(Excerpt from video clip) DAVID AXELROD: The nature of the process is you have to accumulate the delegates necessary to win and I believe this will go on for a while.

PRESS: But that doesn't make Republican Senator John McCain happy at all.

(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN McCAIN: I think it could go on quite awhile, which would not be to our benefit.

PRESS: And now, for more on what we can expect from tomorrow's GOP Florida primary, I'm joined by Craig Crawford, who blogs on politics at craigcrawford.com. He's also the author of "The Politics Of Life." Hi, Craig, good to see you this evening.

CRAIG CRAWFORD: Hey! Old buddy, I wish you - I wish you were down here, Bill, you'd have more - you'd have more fun watching these Republicans gnaw each other's limbs off. It's quite a show.

PRESS: Well, you know, in Miami, the Cuban-Americans down there are not so happy to see me, Craig. I'm probably best staying out of there.


PRESS: Now, look, the last - the last time you and I were together was Saturday night a week ago. We were both with Keith, talking about the South Carolina returns, where Newt Gingrich won by 15 points, and now - the eve of the Florida primary - it looks like he's going to lose by 15 points. What the hell happened?

CRAWFORD: You know, I flew down here the day after that South Carolina primary thinking Newt would transfer all that energy down here. It didn't take me long to figure out what the Romney camp was up to. They were rushing the quarterback.

And when I turned on the local TV newscast on Monday night, I counted eight ads by both of them combined. Six of them were Romney ads attacking Gingrich, and only two by Gingrich attacking Romney.

Then, on Monday night - that first debate - Gingrich just kind of phoned it in, and then we could tell that Romney was going on the attack. They're conducting psychological warfare, I'd say, against him.

PRESS: Well - So, you think mainly it is the money - that four-to-one advantage - in the super PACs? The spending by Romney?

CRAWFORD: That and the debates. Yeah, that and the debates. That money means a lot in Florida. I grew up here. I've covered campaigns many years. And often, the money talks and walks in Florida. But there is a lot going on with these debate reactions. A big mystery as to what happened to Newt in those debates. He almost didn't show up.

PRESS: Right. But, Craig, Newt says the reason he was off his game was because he was amazed at the lies that Mitt Romney was telling, and he just stood there and couldn't believe all of those lies. Pretty weak excuse, no?

CRAWFORD: They weren't new, and we saw it coming. It was telegraphed all over the place.

The big problem for Newt was - and this was just bad campaign management - is he did three big events that day, on Thursday, before that. He's so arrogant about these debates, his performance, that he doesn't even prepare, I suppose. And that was a big problem for him. But, you know, he could always come back, Bill. I mean, it's like our old pal James Carville says, "Newt's had more lives than Rasputin, but Rasputin would get more votes."

PRESS: You could never speak better than James Carville when it comes to politics. So, let me ask you this, don't you think, though, that Romney - he looks - he looks a lot more confident. In the debate, he certainly was a lot more forceful. Newt, in a way, has made him a better candidate, hasn't he?

CRAWFORD: Oh, certainly. He's gotten much stronger. The only thing that's lacking from the Romney campaign is - "Why should you vote for Romney?" They're getting very good at telling people to vote against someone else. And, you know, all these ads are doing that - I haven't seen a single positive Romney ad except on the Web. It's all attacking Gingrich. And that's a big problem.

And he's not consolidating those conservative voters either. And that's going to be a problem for him going forward.

PRESS: Yeah, now how do you calculate - why is it that this Republican establishment, from Karl Rove all the way down - maybe with the possible exception of Jeb Bush - are all piling on Newt Gingrich? Are they that afraid of him? Are - they think he would take everybody else down with him. What's the story there?

CRAWFORD: Yeah, I think they're looking down ballot as much as they are the White House. Fearful that Gingrich, not knowing what he would say on any given day, and how it could affect the Congressional races, the Senate races, and on down the ballot. That's a big issue for them, I believe.

But then you've got Sarah Palin out there, defending Gingrich repeatedly on Fox News. I think that has an impact. Santorum is gone. Ron Paul is gone. So, Gingrich should have every reason to consolidate the conservative vote here, and if he doesn't do it, I don't know what his argument is going toward.

PRESS: Given that Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are really trailing in Florida, as expected they would, what do they do after tomorrow? They still hang around or they fold it up?

CRAWFORD: Oh, yeah. Well, Ron Paul's not going to go away. He'll get a - he'll get a suit that fits before he gets out of this race.

But now Santorum - here is an interesting scenario for Santorum, Bill, is - next Tuesday is our next actual primary. We've got caucuses in other states, and they don't pick delegates in Missouri for that primary on Tuesday. It's a beauty contest, but it is a primary and Gingrich did not get on the ballot.

So, you've got a big anti-abortion vote in Missouri. There's a chance Santorum - if he did well, if by some chance he even won that - he could make the argument, say to conservatives, "Look, Gingrich should get out of the race. If he's out of the race, I can beat Romney." Now, that's kind of a fantasy campaign notion, but who knows?

PRESS: Keep hope alive, I guess. Hey, Craig Crawford, enjoy your home state. Thanks for being with us tonight, Craig. See you again soon.

CRAWFORD: Oh, I'm having - I'm having more fun than a cat in a tub of tuna, down here.

PRESS: I haven't heard that one before. All right, Craig, good to see you.

And now, for a look at where we go after Florida, we're joined here in the studio by former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. Governor, good to see you.

ELIOT SPITZER: Pleasure to be back, thank you.

PRESS: So, Newt is putting out this word - and a lot of the media are, too - that, okay, he loses Florida tomorrow, but then Romney goes on to win maybe the next five or six. But then, we get to Georgia, and Arkansas and Tennessee, and Newt comes roaring back. Is that just fantasy?

SPITZER: Well, I think it's his fantasy. That's for sure. I think the problem for him is that, as you just alluded to, the Republican establishment wants the party to coalesce around a nominee. It is for two reasons, at least.

One, they think Romney will be stronger without this constant assault from Newt Gingrich.

And, also, let's not forget, there are senatorial races, there are gubernatorial races, those candidates are going to be saying, "Hey guys, we do not want the fratricide of internal bickering between now and August. We've got to consolidate a base in states from Montana on elsewhere in the nation, where there are contested races that will determine control of the United States Senate."

PRESS: Right. Karl Rove has said, actually, that if Newt is the nominee, Republicans lose the House.

SPITZER: That's right.

PRESS: And lose the Senate.

SPITZER: Well - well- well, Newt Gingrich radiates out in a way that is disastrous for the Republican party. Let's face it, that's why a lot of us as Democrats are applauding every day saying - you know, give him another $10 billion, we love it.

But from the Republican establishment - Roger Ailes, Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, even - these guys are saying, "Enough is enough." This is becoming an act of self indulgence, enormous, just sort of an act of complete, you know, self-centered, maniacal behavior by Newt Gingrich, after he loses tomorrow by a big number and then loses the next couple.

PRESS: Now, you're going to be here tomorrow night with me and we'll be doing the "Countdown" from the Florida primary, which is going to be a lot of fun. And when we look ahead, already tonight, if you look at February, there are six races - Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, Maine, Arizona and Michigan. Mitt Romney won five out of six of those in 2008, so it looks like he'll take the board, right?

SPITZER: Look, I presume so - and I hate to generalize based on geography - but let's face it, Newt Gingrich, if he had an appeal - maybe past tense given all the back and forth - it was going to be South Carolina. Everybody understood that. And to come back to one mistake - what's the cardinal rule of politics? You mentioned James Carville, he will tell you this over and over - never play defense. Mitt Romney played defense throughout the entire week leading up to South Carolina.

PRESS: Up to South Carolina.

SPITZER: He said, "Guys, I blew it." He's been playing offense since then. He's going to continue to play offense. Newt Gingrich is on defense. So, I just don't see where, in this sort of back and forth, at a sort of tactical level, Newt Gingrich can re-emerge.

PRESS: So, if playing offense, Romney wins - really sweeps the board in February - is it possible, do you think, for Newt just to hunker down in February - as some people are saying, and as he says - and then come back in March in some of those other states?

SPITZER: It depends upon money. If the leadership of the Republican party gets - and remember, Newt Gingrich's campaign is not being fed by small, grassroots donors. It is a very limited number of donors sending check for $5 million.

PRESS: It's kind of like one guy.

SPITZER: Yeah, like one guy.

PRESS: And his wife, right?

SPITZER: Precisely. Seventeen million is the number, I mean, crazy numbers, but if Roger Ailes picks up the phone and says, "What are you going? You're going to re-elect Barack Obama" - and this is their argument - that spigot might get turned off.

Now, on the other hand, you never know, you push the wrong button, he may double his contribution, he may be motivated by who knows what. But if they turn off the spigot, then New Gingrich is gone.

PRESS: Now, in the South, I think most people forget - there's one problem for Newt in the South and that is, he did not qualify for the Virginia ballot.

SPITZER: He's not on the ballot, that's exactly right.

PRESS: So, there's a big state that he's just not - no chance of winning any delegates.

SPITZER: Let me make another contrast. Newt Gingrich, who somehow needs the media and the institutional support because he doesn't have grassroots, he can get a small crowd sometimes.

Ron Paul, on the other hand, can continue, because Ron Paul doesn't care about whether the institutional party supports him prospectively in the years out. And Ron Paul, bizarrely - to many of us at least - has this real appeal to younger, activist voters.

So, Ron Paul can cobble together a Ralph Nader-type campaign that will continue to be sort of around the fringes, pecking away at Romney. I don't think Gingrich can.

PRESS: The oldest candidate with the youngest supporters, right? Go figure.

SPITZER: It was amazing to me, as somebody who thought I kind of understood where younger voters were coming from, speaking to 20-to-30-year-old voters, teenagers as well. They find in Ron Paul an authenticity, a sort of linear appeal and logic that we may think - and I may be absolutely persuaded - as wrong, but there is something intellectually appealing to his rhetoric and his simple approach.

PRESS: Can you ever imagine the day when Newt Gingrich endorses Mitt Romney after everything he said?

SPITZER: Yes, and here's why. Because in politics - whatever the screaming and shouting, and we've seen Newt Gingrich in all sorts of crazy dynamics and scenarios - at the end of the day, come the Republican convention, they will be unified. That is the story of that party.

Look, let me get back to the Democratic side of the aisle, my home - Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter.

PRESS: Right.

SPITZER: That was, at times, a very ugly campaign as well. And that continued - and many people said to Ted Kennedy after he was clearly not going to be the nominee - an incumbent president, whom he was challenging, he gave us one of the greatest speeches of Democrat - modern Democratic politics, but many people say, "Yes, he endorsed tepidly, but he also weakened Jimmy Carter to the point where he lost."

PRESS: So, they'll come together at the end -

SPITZER: I don't think there's any question.

PRESS: Against Barack Obama.

SPITZER: Absolutely.

PRESS: And we'll be together tomorrow night.

SPITZER: I look forward to it. And I will endorse it.

PRESS: "Countdown," Florida primary. All right. Thanks, Eliot, great to see you.

SPITZER: Pleasure being here. Thank you.

PRESS: All right, a new type of super PAC, one that stands in contrast to those other big-money operations. And also stands against the tea party.

Plus, a violent weekend for some Occupy protesters. What happened to their overarching message of peaceful protest?

Next, on "Countdown."


PRESS: Tea on ice? A new super PAC dedicates itself to defeating the tea party leadership in 2012. We'll talk with CREDO super PAC President Becky Bond.

Then, a weekend of violence for Occupy. Will it overshadow the movement's peaceful message?

And Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus compares President Obama to a man who has been charged with manslaughter. My commentary.

Plus, the Catholic church attacks the Obama administration's new ruling on contraception, and so does Newt Gingrich.

Coming up, on "Countdown."


PRESS: Now, what's up with the tea party?

Well, there are currently 60 members of Congress who identify themselves as part of the tea party caucus. And while their faction is already losing support among the general public, a new organization is working hard to make sure this trend continues.

In our fourth story on the "Countdown" - a new progressive super PAC plans to spend millions of dollars to defeat tea party favorites this year, while at least one tea party leader is using her platform to help elect - Newt Gingrich.

The super PAC arm of cell phone company CREDO Mobile says it plans to spend about $3 million in its effort to "take down the Tea Party Ten." According to the organization's fund-raising website, "These tea party extremists in Congress have spent the last year attacking women, science and the very notion of equality under the law. Their racist, sexist, anti-science, hypocritical, corrupt and downright crazy actions and beliefs make them unfit to serve in Congress."

The group currently has a list of six Congressmen it is working against. An additional four are going to be named later. Unlike a traditional super PAC, though, CREDO says its operation is based on small donations and millions of volunteers.

Becky Bond, president of the super PAC, and our guest here in just a moment, says, "Where Karl Rove and the Koch brothers can use shady money from a few hidden donors to fund a barrage of TV attack ads, this super PAC will empower local voters and our list of 2.5 million activists to build a grassroots campaign that is as hard-hitting as it is progressive. Using innovative tactics, technology and good, old-fashioned grassroots organizing, we're going to kick some tea party congressmen out of office."

As for the unofficial leader of the tea party movement, former GOP vice presidential nominee and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin says she's sort of supporting New Gingrich for president. While his many years in Washington might lead one to believe he's in fact part of the Establishment, she argues otherwise:

(Excerpt from video clip) SARAH PALIN: They want to crucify him because he's tapped into that average, everyday American tea party grassroots movement that has said, "Enough is enough," of the establishment that tries to run the show and tweak rules and laws and regulations for their own good and not for our nation's own good.

So, if for no other reason - rage against the machine, vote for Newt. Annoy a liberal. Vote Newt.

PRESS: Annoy a liberal. Nobody can annoy a liberal more than Sarah Palin. All right, joining us now, as promised, president of CREDO super PAC Becky Bond, out in San Francisco. Hey, Becky, thanks for your time tonight. Good to have you with us.

BECKY BOND: Good to be here.

PRESS: Let me ask you the first question that comes to my mind - why does a phone company have a PAC?

BOND: Well, that's a great question. Maybe even a better question is, "Why has a phone company been involved in progressive politics since 1985?"

PRESS: All right, take them both.

BOND: So, for - for - for over 25 years CREDO has been involved in progressive politics. We've been fighting Newt since the mid '90s and we've been pushing for progressive change. And, let me just tell you, in our history we have never seen extremism in the Congress like we've seen since the tea party wave in 2010 that was funded on just buckets of super PAC money from the Koch brothers and from people like Karl Rove. And we've seen a lot of history, and we know this is bad. And as good people of conscience, we've decided that we need to strike back and it's time to fight back and we need to take down some of these tea party Republicans who are destroying our democracy.

PRESS: Amen to that. You say you're going spend $3 million on this 2012 election against these ten tea partiers, but you only have, our research shows, $235,000 today on hand. So, where is the rest of the money coming from?

BOND: Well, our - the thing that's different about our super PAC from the Koch brothers' super PAC is that our super PAC is funded largely with small-dollar donations from our activists on our 2.5 million-person CREDO action list. And we only started our PAC in December and we started asking people for contributing to this PAC. And it's only today that we announced our candidates. We have 15,000 small-dollar donors. Some of them giving $10 to $25 at one time, some of them giving $10 to $25 a month. And we are on track to our goal of raising $3 million.

PRESS: Now, you've identified, so far, six of them. They are, in no particular order: Sean Duffy from Wisconsin, Steve King from Iowa, Allen West from Florida - boy, that's a good start - Joe Walsh from Illinois, Frank Guinta from New Hampshire and Chip Cravaack, I guess it is, from Minnesota. How did you choose these six? How did you select those six targets? Based on what?

BOND: Well, these are some of the worst of the worst tea party Republicans in Congress. And they also are serving in congressional districts where they can be beaten. These are vulnerable seats, and these are congressional districts where a grassroots field campaign, powered by progressive volunteers, can make the difference between whether they win or whether they lose. Now, the right wing has money, but we have people. And if we can put those people to work in these districts, we can throw these guys out of office.

PRESS: Why isn't Michele Bachmann on the list?

BOND: Well, that's - that's a great question. So, we have four -

PRESS: My favorite target.

BOND: We have four more targets that we will be announcing and our members are going to be involved in voting on those targets. And so, who knows, Michele Bachmann could be on the list.

Mostly, on our list, are tea party freshman. These are people who won 2010, many in congressional districts where Obama won election in 2008. Some of them really squeaked by. They've shown themselves to be extreme. We think voters didn't know what they were buying when they voted them into office. And we think we can get them out after only one term.

PRESS: Now, are you going to then be buying TV ads with this money? Will there be any grassroots kind of activity? Going to have local offices in local states where people can get in and - old-fashioned walk precincts or whatever? What's the plan?

BOND: Yeah, we're 100 percent anti-tea party and we're going to run a good field campaign with grassroots volunteers. We - the research shows us that volunteers talking to voters is far more effective than watching a television ad. So, they can pump their millions and millions into ads, but we know that we can spend less money on getting grassroots activists involved and, you know, walking and talking to people in their neighborhoods and making phone calls and protesting at the offices of these tea party incumbents when they say things that are racist or when they do things that are sexist. And this is how we're going to win.

PRESS: Good for you. Becky Bond, good to have you with us tonight, and good luck with your project. We'll be keeping in touch with you. Thank you.

BOND: Thank you and go to teapartyten.com and you can join us, too.

PRESS: All right. You got it.

And, speaking of big money in politics, friends - if you want to know all about the Koch brothers Becky mentioned, and the big money they've been pouring into efforts to bring down President Obama - check out my new book, "The Obama Hate Machine," available in book stores as of tomorrow, January 31. Or you can get it at amazon.com. "The Obama Hate Machine: The Lies, Distortions and Personal Attacks on the President, and Who is Behind Them." Check it out.

As violence and vandalism erupt in Oakland, has the soul of the Occupy movement been co-opted?

And President Obama draws fire from religious groups for making contraception available to all women, regardless of religious beliefs.

Coming up on "Countdown."


PRESS: Coming up - from New York to Washington to Oakland, the Occupy movement spent the weekend making its presence once again known, but is this latest version of Occupy itself being occupied?

But first, the "Sanity Break." It was on this day in 1882 that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born in Hyde Park, New York.

FDR would enter politics in 1910 as a New York state senator and would later go on to become what even Newt Gingrich has referred to as "the greatest president of the 20th century." And Newt, we know, is a great historian. Just ask him.

"Time Marches On!"

VIDEO: Seven-year-old record holder does push-ups on glass bottles.

We begin, as we always do, with extremely strong children doing push-ups on glass bottles.

Seven-year-old Giuliano Stroe, Guinness Record holder for some of his past feats of strength, is attempting a new challenge - push-ups while balanced on glass bottles.

I know it seems like this is dangerous, but, of course, it's not because glass bottles never break. Oh, I'm sorry, I'm now being told glass bottles can break and that this is extremely bad parenting.

Now, this should go without saying - but kids, please don't try this at home. Let your parents do it!

VIDEO: Boxer puppy afraid of one inch of water.

We travel to the world of puppies next, and in this world, everything's a lot scarier than it should be. For a puppy, at least.

Take, for instance, one inch of water.

Little Alfie here wants to get over to his family calling from the other side, but the sea is simply too rough. Finally, Alfie summons the courage and crosses the mighty waters.

He says he now understands what those guys in "The Perfect Storm" must have gone through.

VIDEO: Man forced to carry sign after skipping out on jury duty.

And, finally, we check in with Crown Point, Indiana, where - if you get called to jury duty - you'd better show up and stay until you're told to leave.

Justin Humphrey here did the first part - he showed up. But when the jurors broke for lunch, he broke for the day.

As a punishment for his crime, a creative judge gave him an opinion - an option: pay a fine or wear a sign. And I think you can see by now which one he chose.

Humphrey wore his sign in front of the courthouse this morning and he'll have to do the same thing next Monday, a punishment worse than having to serve on the jury in the first place.

"Time Marches On!"

Occupy protesters in Oakland turned violent, breaking into and vandalizing City Hall. So, is occupy being taken over by the radicals? That's next.


PRESS: We bring you "Countdown" live each night at 8:00 Eastern, primary replays at 11:00PM and 2:00AM Eastern.

And now, as the Occupy movement enters its fifth month of existence, more eyes then ever are waiting and hoping for Occupiers to make a mistake.

In our third story tonight - after more violence over the weekend in Oakland, the Occupy movement appears to be now at a crossroads. While some extreme factions have resorted to violence and vandalism, others have endured with passive resistance.

Today, a noon deadline came and passed at Occupy DC. Park rangers had announced over the weekend that it would enforce anti-camping rules starting today at noon. As of now, the Occupy DC camps remain. However, many protesters fear that authorities are just waiting for them to fall asleep tonight before launching their eviction.

On Sunday, police entered Washington's Occupy camps, handing out flyers announcing today's planned eviction. One protester responded by ripping up the flyers and police reacted accordingly - by having three officers surround the protester and taser him to the ground.

In New York, meanwhile, a dozen people were arrested on Sunday, as nearly 300 protesters marched up Fifth Avenue. During the march, some Occupiers threw bottles at police, which - in turn - led to the officers charging and arresting protesters, which somehow seemed appropriate, given that the march was held to support 400 members of Occupy Oakland who were arrested on Saturday.

In Oakland, protesters were attempting to occupy the vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, but police arrived first and drove them back, using tear gas. As protesters attempted to move to a second vacant location, police again intervened, this time surrounding the protesters.

Some were able to escape across a vacant lot, eventually seeking refuge in a nearby YMCA. When police surrounded the YMCA, another, more violent group of protesters converged on City Hall, breaking in and vandalizing the building by knocking over models, spray painting walls and even burning an American flag.

So, joining me now for more on what's going on out in the Bay area, close to the sea, there's Mother Jones reporter Josh Harkinson. Hey, Josh, good to have you with us tonight.

JOSH HARKINSON: Hey, great to be here.

PRESS: So, what is happening, particularly in Oakland? Are these anarchists who are coming in and trying to take over the movement, or just some of the Occupy protesters who've lost their patience after all these months?

HARKINSON: Well, you know, there's always been an anarchist contingent within the Occupy movement. And, I've covered this on both coasts. I've spent a lot of time at Zuccotti Park in New York and I've spent at the Occupation in Oakland. And, you know, there's a difference, though, between anarchists who embrace peaceful, non-violent demonstration methods. And, you know, what we've seen some people do in Oakland recently. And, I think that's the rub. In Oakland, there's a lot more of a kind of militant dynamic. There are a lot of kind of historical reasons for that. But I think that's what we're seeing right now.

PRESS: Can you figure out why it's Oakland? I mean, if you look at New York, Atlanta, Washington, San Francisco, the violence has been mainly - to the extent there has been any - in Oakland. I mean, why Oakland?

HARKINSON: Yeah, so, you know, it goes back really to the '60s or even before that. Oakland is the birthplace of the Black Panthers, and that movement sprung out of racial discrimination, economic inequities. And - however, it also was part of this dynamic in which the police cracked down on militant activists, and that sort of fed even more militant activism. And so, it's this kind of vicious cycle that we're seeing in Oakland. And we're still seeing that play out today.

I mean, I've spoken with members of occupy Oakland who say, "Yes, I mean, the Black Panthers are basically what we're looking to here." And although not all of them, by any means, condone vandalism, I think they're willing to tolerate it more, and partly it's because of that culture. It goes back all the way to the '60s.

PRESS: The mayor of Oakland, Jean Quan, has asked Occupy protesters to condemn the violence over the weekend, disassociate themselves from it. Have they done so? Will they do so?

HARKINSON: Well, I don't think they will in Oakland, at least not based on the conversations I've had with people. It's a bigger question as far as the broader Occupy movement.

And I think they're in a sort of difficult position, because I don't think people within the movement want to side with Mayor Quan, who many of them don't like. I think her approach to evicting the Occupation in Oakland was widely criticized. I think possibly justifiably in some cases.

And I think what's going on, though, is you're seeing solidarity. There were these other demonstrations in a couple dozen cities around the country in solidarity with Occupy Oakland, and I don't think people in the movement want to take sides with Mayor Quan against people who they view as, kind, of their compatriots.

PRESS: For the most part, Josh, the tents are gone. The actual encampments are gone. Does this mean the movement is gone? Or where does it - if it continues, in what form does it continue?

HARKINSON: Well, you know, it's yet to be seen. I think, in some ways, it's being pushed forward by organizations that are outside of the "Occupy groups" in the city, and cities around the country.

I mean, we're seeing efforts to overturn Citizens United which is being pushed by non-profit groups like Move to Amend, but also supported by Occupiers. You know, we're gonna - I think we're going to see other things like that. We're going to see the elections. I think Occupy is going to surface there in terms of just what people talk about, you know, issues of income inequality, corporate political control. You're going to see candidates adopt the language of the movement.

And I think that the challenge is going to be to sort of "keep it real" while, you know, not also, kind of, going off the edge and into kind of vandalism and really extreme tactics.

PRESS: "We are the 99 percent," part of the American dialogue now.

Josh Harkinson, good to have you with us tonight. Thanks, Josh.

HARKINSON: My pleasure, thank you.

PRESS: And coming up, the head of the RNC compares President Obama to that Italian captain who abandoned his sinking ship. Seriously?


PRESS: Chairman Reince Priebus decides it's a good idea to compare President Obama to the Italian cruise captain responsible for the deaths of over 17 people and then refuses to apologize.

And Catholics are up in arms at President Obama for demanding that all women have access to contraception. But I guess we shouldn't be surprised. They've gone on crusades for less.


PRESS: My commentary for tonight.

I'd never dare name the "Worst Person in the World." That's Keith's signature feature and nobody does it better. But there is one person who really, really bugs me today. So, let me just call him the "Worst Person of the Day."

I'm talking about Reince Priebus. Yeah, that's his name, Reince Priebus. You know who I mean - that nondescript, nobody chair of the Republican National Committee.

Now, look, I've been around politics a long time. I know it's not beanbag. You expect strong criticism from time to time, that's the name of the game. But yesterday, on "Face the Nation" with Bob Shieffer, Priebus said something truly horrible and way over the line.

First, he made a dumb comment in response to Schieffer's question about whether or not this ugly Republican primary would end up hurting the party nominee.

(Excerpt from video clip) REINCE PRIEBUS: The history shows, Bob, that - that tough primaries and a little bit of drama are a good thing for the challenging party. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, you know, they killed each other through June and guess what? He won pretty easily. I think the evidence is there.

PRESS: No. Of course, Priebus is dead wrong about 2012 being just like 2008. The difference is - in 2008, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were both serious candidates, and either one of them would make a great president of the United States. The Republican candidates this year, all eight or nine of them, are nothing but a bunch of clowns. The only serious one, Jon Huntsman, dropped out of the race.

But then Priebus pivoted to attack President Obama in the most tasteless manner possible:

(Excerpt from video clip) PRIEBUS: I think it's good for America, and in the end - in a few months - this is all going to be ancient history and we're going to talk about our own little Captain Schettino, which is President Obama who is abandoning the ship here in the United States and is more interested in campaigning than doing his job as president.

PRESS: Can you believe it? How dare Priebus compare President Obama to the captain of that Italian cruise ship? It's an odious comparison for a couple of reasons.

First, the captain abandoned his ship. Totally unlike him, President Obama is busy trying to keep the ship of state afloat and sailing us out of the treacherous waters where George W. Bush, the previous captain of our ship, had left us.

And second, did Priebus forget? The captain of that ship is responsible for the deaths of at least 17 people, with 15 still missing.

Come on! It's bad enough for Rush Limbaugh to call Obama a socialist. But for Priebus to compare him to a bungling idiot whose reckless behavior actually cost lives? Good Lord! Has Priebus no shame? Apparently not. Here he is today doubling down on Fox News:

(Excerpt from video clip) PRIEBUS: This is ridiculous, Megyn. The analogy was made, and it was an analogy of leadership. That in a time of crisis - in a time of crisis - this president is leaving the White House and campaigning nonstop all the time. I think it's pretty clear, but you know, if people out there, especially on the Democratic side, want to try to make hay of it - I mean, they're going to be able to do that. The reality is, it's a fair analogy.

PRESS: Friends, I think we just found out how low Republicans are willing to go to deny Obama a second term. You know, before he embarrasses them any further, Republicans ought to fire Reince Priebus. He is, hands down, the worst and the most despicable person of the day.


PRESS: And now, bringing the birth control debate to Sunday Mass.

In our number-one story on the "Countdown" tonight - Catholic church parishioners across the country this weekend heard letters read from the pulpit scolding the Obama administration for a recent federal rule requiring that all faith-based schools, hospitals and charities pay for contraceptive services under their health-care coverage beginning next year.

At a town hall in Jacksonville, Florida today, Newt Gingrich echoed the outrage from religious leaders, who say this rule is an assault on religious liberty.

(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: The Obama administration is engaged in a war against religion. The Obamacare standard of what you have to buy as insurance is a direct violation of freedom of religion and an example of the increasingly dictatorial attitude of this administration.

PRESS: Though the church formally forbids all birth control aside from abstinence, surveys have found that 98 percent of sexually-active Catholic women in America have used contraceptives. But according to Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik, the administration's message to Catholics is quite clear: "To hell with your religious beliefs. To hell with your religious liberty. To hell with your freedom of conscience."

Well, joining us now to talk about this - Eleanor Smeal, a good friend and president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. Ellie, it's good to see you tonight. Thank you for joining us.

ELEANOR SMEAL: Good seeing you, Bill.

PRESS: So look, the pope is in his late 80s here, Ellie, why are you picking on the Catholic church and the pope?

SMEAL: We're not picking on the Catholic church. In fact, you know, they keep getting it all wrong. All we're saying is that you can't discriminate against women who want access. And, remember, this is in their public accommodations, or public services. This is them as an employer in hospitals, or in charity services, or in education, colleges and universities. And they are offering a service for which they're receiving money, and their students who go there - or their employees - are not all Catholics. They're all different kinds of religions.

And, even the Catholics who are Catholics might not agree with the bishops on birth control. As you just said, most Catholics practice birth control just as Protestants or anybody else. So, what this would be doing is taking away a benefit from a woman. And, right now, birth control is the number-one expense for women of childbearing ages, out-of-pocket expense in heath care.

PRESS: Well, sort of playing devil's advocate here - don't these women have a choice of going somewhere else to get the Pill, or whatever? They don't have to go to that Catholic hospital. And isn't this forcing the Catholic hospital to do something which is against their, at least for the time, established policy of the church?

SMEAL: No, no, no, they're not getting the Pill from the hospital. What this is, the insurance coverage for the employee would include - if it includes other FDA-approved drugs - they couldn't exclude from their package contraception. The employee then goes to buy it at their pharmacy or wherever they normally buy it. The same thing for the - for the kids, it's their health-insurance plan.

And you can't just say, "Well, no, we're going to discriminate against this and make you pay for it." Remember, this is - it's a part of the preventive-care package. So, they won't have to pay. And actually, it doesn't cost the church anything, or the administration - let's put it this way, the employer. It doesn't cost them anything because it's cheaper, really, than the alternative. So, it actually decreases costs for the program.

PRESS: Is this contraception - this ruling - part of a bigger picture? I mean, is this the new abortion debate, I guess is what I'm asking - contraception? There's been a lot of talk about it. Santorum's not the only one talking about it. We have that initiative down in Mississippi. What's going on here?

SMEAL: What's going on is that, for some reason, the bishops have decided to attack birth control. You know, they are lobbying against the family-planning program. And we're not talking abortion, that's off the - we're talking about the provision of contraception. And this has been a part of our program since about 1972, as supported by the Republicans and Democrats.

Suddenly, the church is pushing this line that is saying, "No birth control." And they're trying to treat it like abortion. And reality is - this is 2011. Most heterosexuals use birth control at some time in their life. And if the candidates actually said, "We want birth control outlawed," believe me, this whole show would be over. I mean, the public is not there.

PRESS: Just quickly - about 20 seconds - President Obama, is this a fight that he should have picked in this election year 2012 against -

SMEAL: Well, he didn't pick the fight. He didn't really pick the fight. Let's be real clear about this. Twenty-eight states already do this in their health - this is a health-insurance provision. And frankly, women want access. They don't want their insurance coverage to be - they don't want to be discriminated against in their insurance coverage. And right now - the affordable-care access, you can't discriminate against women.

PRESS: So, that's what this is. Right.

SMEAL: Yes, and he's just standing firm against terrible pressure.

PRESS: Ellie Smeal, got to go. Thanks again for your leadership on some of the issues.

SMEAL: Good seeing you.

PRESS: Thanks for being with us tonight.

And that's "Countdown" for tonight. I'm Bill Press. For Keith and all of us here at "Countdown," thanks for watching. See you again tomorrow night for Florida.

"The War Room" is next, with Governor Jennifer Granholm.