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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Presidential Race in Battleground States; Trump's October Surprise; Republican Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock's Comments About Rape Bring Abortion Back as Campaign Topic
Aired October 24, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight "Battleground America" with just 13 days to go. President Obama and Mitt Romney mano y mano. The prize, the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The president doesn't understand what it takes to get this economy going. He doesn't have a plan to get jobs for Americans.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We cannot go back to the same policies that got us into this mess.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: It's all about the economy. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick argues for President Obama while Jack Welch defends Mitt Romney's math.
And the firestorm over the GOP candidate who said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD MOURDOCK, (R) U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE, INDIANA: Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Mitt Romney disagreed but said he still supports him. Will he stole Romney's surge?
Plus Donald Trump's October surprise fizzles a bit. I ask him some tough questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: What is the difference between Mitt Romney's refusal to release his tax returns and the president not being inclined to release his college records?
(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
Good evening. Our big story tonight. A shift in the electoral map. With just 13 days to go until election day. CNN is moving North Carolina from a tossup to a lean Romney. That is of course the state where President Obama accepted his party's nomination just a few short weeks ago. Indiana and Missouri also shift from lean Romney to safe Romney. CNN now estimates that Mitt Romney is leading in states with a total of 206 electoral votes, the president is leaning in states with 237. It takes of course 270 to win the White House.
Listen to Mitt Romney today talking in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Our campaign is growing into a movement across this country that says we're going to get America back, we're going to get America strong, we're going to provide for our families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Jack Welch is a big supporter of Mitt Romney and he'll be reacting to all this in a moment. But meanwhile President Obama is in the midst of a 48-hour non-stop campaigning exhibition, making time to sit down with Brian Williams for NBC's "Rock Center."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: People see what did I say I was going to do in 2008 and what have I delivered. And they can have some confidence that the things I say, I mean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: We begin tonight, though, with Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. Here to try to make a case for the president.
Governor, how are you?
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: I'm great, Piers. How are you?
MORGAN: Somebody tweeted me in the middle of last night's show. An interesting tweet. It just said whether you were a supporter or not of President Obama, what he doesn't hear of people saying President Obama has done a brilliant job, that's why he should be re-elected. They say, you know what, it could have been worse, he inherited a very bad situation. He hasn't done a bad job. It's all fairly negative- positive if you know what I mean.
How do you react to that?
PATRICK: Well, you know I explained. I think I told you this story once before about when the president came to visit Massachusetts about a year before my own re-election campaign. And he asked me how I was feeling about the coming campaign and I said, I'm excited about it, except for two things. I have to ask people for money and I hate the bragging. And he said, Deval, get over it. And then he was (INAUDIBLE) I want him to take some of that same advice in terms of the bragging. I mean, remember, this is the president who's added 5.5 million jobs in the last 30 months more in that period than George Bush added in eight years. Who's extended health care to every single American after 90 years of trying. Who's raised our stature abroad. Who's ended the war in Iraq, brought Osama bin Laden to justice. Who saved the American auto industry.
I mean the record is long and it's extraordinary under any circumstances but particularly when you consider that he's been up against such extraordinary political and economic head winds.
MORGAN: I mean Newt Gingrich -- Newt Gingrich said last night in contrast to this that there were five words that are going to break Barack Obama in the election. Unemployment, gasoline, Benghazi and Big Bird.
PATRICK: Well, leave it to Newt Gingrich to be so piffy (ph) but also to be so wrong. This is a president who sees everybody. Who sees both the folks who have emerged -- into success because the recession has touched them, but also those who are struggling and understands that we, all of us have work to do to finish the job. And that's why I think this president deserves a second term. He actually cares about and sees everyone and has a strategy to reach them at a very specific point --
MORGAN: But let me -- let me just take -- go through at least, let's remove Big Bird. (INAUDIBLE). But unemployment, 23 million Americans unemployed, nearly 8 percent. Gasoline prices have doubled in Obama's four-year term. And Benghazi, today we see that there are e-mails that appeared which basically proved that the administration did know this was some kind of planned terrorist attack and wasn't related to any protest over the video. None of this is very good for the president, is it?
PATRICK: Well, look, first of all, you cannot deny that there are still people out of work. You can accept and you have to that a strategy that is about investing in education, in innovation and in infrastructure is a winning strategy for this country, and it's the reason why we're getting the job growth we are.
Imagine how much better it would be if the president got the tools from the Congress that he's asked for, where the Congress has sat on its hands and rooted for failure. When you think about what's happening in Libya, remember the fog of war. There was an intelligence report on the basis of which the U.N. ambassador made comments she did in the Sunday after -- on the Sunday talk show.
And more information has come out. But if you ever would think that this president, given the seriousness with which he takes the role of commander-in-chief, would carelessly put Americans in harm's way you need to think again. You don't understand who this man is.
MORGAN: Let's turn to Mitt Romney who obviously another governor of Massachusetts. His old stomping ground. Did you inherit his binder of women?
PATRICK: Well, let me tell you that we've had a lot more success in encouraging talent of all kinds of background into this administration than the record of Governor Romney.
I will say I listen to Governor Romney sometimes talk about his experience governing here in Massachusetts and how successful he says it was. Remember that Governor Romney is trailing the president here in Massachusetts by 20 or 30 points. We know him. We know what that record really is. We know what that performance really was. We know that we slipped from 35th in job creation to 47th while he was governor.
We know that the level of debt hit record highs and we know that he came in making promises to reform state government and delivered on none of that. He made one profoundly important contribution and that was the health care reform which is very successful here and very popular. And when I listen to him talk about Obamacare, it sounds like the only element of Obamacare he doesn't like is the Obama part of it. And I think that tells us something about Governor Romney's character as well.
MORGAN: Governor, always a pleasure. Nice to talk to you.
PATRICK: Good to be with you, Piers. Thank you.
MORGAN: Now Jack Welch is Team Romney. He's here to talk about his man and about "Keeping America Great." He's the former CEO of G.E. and founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University.
Welcome back, Jack.
JACK WELCH, FOUNDER, JACK WELCH MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE: It's nice to be here.
MORGAN: You fled the country to South America to get away from the furor that erupted over you questioning the jobs figures. Have you recovered?
WELCH: I'm very well, thank you. Very well. I was glad to get my story out there and I was glad that media everywhere learned a little bit about just how those numbers are calculated and we don't have one number determining anything about this election.
MORGAN: Any regrets?
MORGAN: But were you surprised by the ferocity of the attacks on you? WELCH: Particularly -- I was surprised when you think about the fact that they've called Governor Romney a felon. Every -- just about every name you can think of. When I -- look, what I did was I laid out just what that number meant and how it's derived. You know, when I went on some of these shows with people like you -- I didn't get on with you, though -- they were describing how these numbers arrived at.
You think it was -- it came out of Fort Knox with white gloves and the numbers calculated. And then I was accusing the president of coming down in his pajamas and changing the number the night before. Yes. This is 2,000 people calling up and saying, are you working?
MORGAN: Here's the problem I see for you, Jack, going forward is if Mitt Romney becomes president, every single time the job figure is announced and it's gone down, i.e., it's good news for him, every Democrat will jump up and say, Jack Welch says this is complete rubbish.
WELCH: No, this is traditional. Austan Goolsbee in 2003 accused President Bush of cooking the books. So, I mean, this has been going on for a long time when people like challenging numbers that make no sense. In this case, I'm in the business world. I'm seeing the layoffs. Did you see the layoffs today? Whether it was Dow with 2500, whether it's DuPont with 1500. Fifty-two percent of the companies, Piers, 52 percent in the third quarter missed their revenue forecast. This economy is weak.
MORGAN: Having said that, new home sales jumped 5.7 percent in September.
MORGAN: That's the highest rate in more than two years. That is green shoot for the housing industry, right?
WELCH: Auto is as strong. Oil and gas as strong. And housing is starting to turn. Housing is down to a worth $775,000. That's about half of what a good economy had.
MORGAN: Is it the reality? This plagues at people. Warren Buffett.
MORGAN: I'm sure you know very well. Let's see what he had to say today about the economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN BUFFETT, CHAIRMAN AND CEO OF BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: The difference that under here of the two candidates, either one that becomes president, American business is going to get a lot better over the next four years. If I were a woman concerned about reproductive rights, I think there could be a very distinct difference. But in terms of the economy, I think the economy will get better under either one of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I mean that seems to be important, I thought, for Warren Buffett, is that regardless of who wins, the economy is clearly beginning to show enough green shoots to recover.
WELCH: He'd said that every time in the fourth quarter over the last two years. The economy has gotten better every year. Ten was better nine, 11 was better than 10. Warren was partially right. Warren may have made the point that the economy will be better. A 1.5 percent GDP growth next year, same as we had this year, will be better. What you'll get with Mitt Romney is a chance at 3 to 4 percent and job creation not this stagnant --
MORGAN: You don't really know how he is going to do this. Are you disappointment -- revealed more details.
WELCH: He's revealed tons of details. He's going to have an energy policy. I mean we have a chance in America to create the American century. We have 100 years of gas. We are finding liquid petroleum everywhere. We have a chance to be the low-cost producer of all chemicals for sure. We're going to create $100 billion worth of chemical plants over the next five years based on this.
We've just become the Saudi Arabia now. So all this migration of plants to China and to -- and to Saudi Arabia in chemicals is now here. We'll have a low-cost electricity. That will make all of our products lower cost, Piers. We have a chance. Mitt Romney is going to -- and look what happens to this thing in New York state. In New York state you have -- got Governor Cuomo. The Marcellus Shale is going like crazy in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. New York state has blocked it.
WELCH: EPA has stepped in. Do you want to take a chance that the EPA under Barack Obama and Lisa Jackson will just put a clamp on this thing? Do you want to take a chance on that?
MORGAN: Well, we did --
MORGAN: And what we've done today fortunately is un-British. But what I can say is, would it be ironic? Would it be a devastating irony for Mitt Romney if what cost him the election in end. It comes to the wire is that one op-ed piece he wrote condemning the auto bailout saying they should let Detroit go bankrupt.
WELCH: Hold that. Don't you dare say that, Piers.
MORGAN: That was the headline.
WELCH: Written by the "New York Times." His mistake was putting a very thoughtful article into the "New York Times" because they write the headline. What he talked about there, which the president denied him in the other night and so he didn't say that. He said let the company go through a Chapter 11. The government would back up the deep financing. You wouldn't spend $50 billion of taxpayer money and get the same results. But to have a --
MORGAN: Here's the thing, Jack. You're a smart business guy so you understand all the subtle nuances of Chapter 11 and so on. The people in places like Ohio, which could be the crucial battleground, they hear "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" and they think, hang on a second, then they see Obama win with his bailout. They get their jobs back. Unemployment in places like Ohio is way low that it is in the rest of the country, and they think, yes, I'm going to vote for this guy.
If that's what gets Obama home, wasn't that one op-ed piece a disaster?
WELCH: They put it into the wrong place with the wrong headline. Plus it was very thoughtful.
WELCH: Let me tell you a little bit more about that. In the Delphi bankruptcy which was part of the same thing, guess what the Obama administration did? They gave the pension benefits to union employees and cut the throats of 20,000 non-union retirees. So I mean that's got to be told in Ohio because there's a lot of non-union people who were smashed.
MORGAN: Is the problem -- shouldn't he have had a question mark rather like your tweet about the jobs number? Was that the problem? Is it down to a question mark?
WELCH: I -- no, hold it. Hold it. You don't have a thing to do with the headlines in America. The headline goes in by the newspaper and "The Times" took a very thoughtful article of his and they put across "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."
Piers, he got stung with that headline. And that was not the article. That was not the article. You read that article. And President Obama the other night was indigenous when he said well, that's not true, that's not true. If you read the article it's very clear that he did not say that he did not want to throw him under the bus.
MORGAN: Final question, Jack, on what Greg Smith, former Goldman Sachs employee, coming up a bit later on, why would you say to him if you had the chance?
WELCH: Why didn't you vent through system? Why didn't you take your grievances through the system? And I'd ask Goldman Sachs which I don't know, do you have a safety valve in your place? Do you have a mechanism where people can ring the bell, go to a (INAUDIBLE) person anonymously and get the story out. Because you want to have a safety vent in everyone of your factories, everyone of your offices.
MORGAN: Jack Welch, good to see you.
WELCH: Piers, it's great.
MORGAN: Back and clearly lost none of your verb, I hate to say.
Now when we come back, the man who started an uproar over a promised October surprise. Why Donald Trump says he's serious and why he says the president should take his $5 million deal.
MORGAN: Donald Trump promised an October surprise today. A bombshell that he thinks could shake up the election. It turned out to be a pledge to give $5 million to charity if President Obama releases his college transcripts and passport application.
Now a bit of full disclosure. I know Donald Trump because I won the first season of "Celebrity Apprentice" and continue to appear on that show sporadically. And Donald Trump joins me now.
Donald, how are you?
DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: Hello, Piers.
MORGAN: You've been getting a bit of a kicking since your announcement. People are racing to condemn it as a cheap publicity stunt or the one thing you wouldn't be if President Obama calls your buff as cheap of course.
TRUMP: Well, not condemn it. I mean I've had tremendous praise for the most part. I don't think condemn is the word. I think the opposite is the word and frankly, I hope - I'm looking at it in a very positive way for the president. I think it's a tremendous thing for the president. He gets to give $5 million to a charity of his choice.
It can be inner city children in Chicago, AIDS research, American Cancer Society. He gets to spend and give $5 million to a charity of his choice, and all he has to do is release papers that will sort of explain a little bit about the president, which is positive, which by the way other presidents have done, almost all presidents have done to my knowledge.
MORGAN: What -- I mean, we both know, everyone knows he's never going to do this. So what was the primary --
TRUMP: I don't know that at all. Piers, I don't know that at all. I think he will do it. I hope he does it. There will be nobody happier than me if I can sign that check for $5 million to a charity. I would be very, very happy. I assume he's going to pick a good charity. But I would be very, very happy. If he doesn't do it, I would say, why hasn't he done it? You know, $5 million is a lot of money.
MORGAN: Now look, Frank Rich from "New York" magazine sums up, I think, the criticism you've been getting on Twitter. He says, "I'll see Trump's $5 million and I'll double it. A $10 million donation to Mitt Romney's favorite charity, bracket, we know what it is," so the Mormon church obviously, "if he releases all his tax returns."
TRUMP: Well, you have to understand Frank Rich. He was a terrible theater critic. He got thrown out of that. He got thrown out of the "New York Times" like a dog. And now he's writing for some other magazine, I guess.
And you know, he'll certainly attack it. But Frank Rich was a failed theater critic and now he's critiquing politics which is sort of an interesting combination.
MORGAN: But what is the difference between Mitt Romney's refusal to release his tax returns and the president not being inclined to release his college records?
TRUMP: Well, there's a massive difference. First of all, Mitt Romney has released his tax returns and he just recently released more tax returns. And he's released as much as you can imagine and frankly more than many people have released. And they're very complex and frankly they were very honorably done. And he has been releasing. But in the case of President Obama, we're talking about other types of releases and I think it's something that he should do. It's something that other presidents and presidential candidates have done.
John McCain did it. Clinton has done. I mean people have done it. It is not a big deal. It's releasing your college records applications, your passport records applications, and I can't imagine that for $5 million he wouldn't do it. And frankly, I personally hope he does it and I would think he would do it because it's a lot of money that would go to a great charity that he can choose.
MORGAN: And Donald, I'm a big admirer of yours, and I consider myself to be a friend of yours. But when it gets to this birther issue I'm resolutely on the side of I believe 100 percent Barack Obama was born in America, is an American.
TRUMP: Well, that's OK.
TRUMP: By the way, that's not the only issue. But I have to tell you that that would be solved in two seconds. Piers, whether you agree or disagree. There is a tremendous percentage of this country that just doesn't know.
MORGAN: Going back to the tax returns, Barack Obama released seven years, John Kerry released 12 years, Mitt Romney's own father released a dozen years. What's stopping him -- in this new spirit of transparency that you want to see, what is to stop your friend Mitt just saying, you know what, I know there are doubts, people still -- see the offshore records, here it is going back 12 years?
TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you, as far as I'm concerned, I think, and I told this to Mitt, if you -- if he release I'd like to do a swap. College records, passport applications for every tax return he ever signed. I mean his returns are absolutely beautiful and perfect. I looked at them, a lot of people looked at them. And those returns are perfect.
Now I would say, if I were Mitt, and I'm not, and I've never discussed this aspect of it, but if I were Mitt, I'd say hey, listen, I'll release all of the rest of them. He's already released a lot. I'll release the rest of them if you release your college records and your college applications.
MORGAN: Yes, I think that's a good deal now. It went to a good place. So --
TRUMP: I think that would be a great deal for Mitt.
MORGAN: If we can broker this then we could --
TRUMP: But you know what, I'm doing this --
MORGAN: -- bring them both to it.
TRUMP: I'm doing this in a positive manner. This isn't a negative. This is a positive. This can clear up any doubt about the president. And that's a positive thing. Not a negative thing.
MORGAN: If he doesn't do it and I would say there's a 99.999 percent certainty he won't --
TRUMP: Why wouldn't he do it? Piers, why wouldn't he do it?
MORGAN: Well, the only reason he would do it --
TRUMP: If there is nothing wrong with his -- Piers, if there's nothing wrong with his applications, if everything is fine, why wouldn't he do it? To pick up $5 million for a charity? Why wouldn't he -- I think that would be a terrible thing of the president to not do it in order to pick up $5 million. I think that would be outrageous.
MORGAN: Well, he's -- he would say it's just a publicity stunt for you.
TRUMP: It's not a publicity stunt. What -- I'm not looking to pay $5 million. I mean frankly I -- I have other things. I have my own charities that I contribute to. I don't have to pay $5 million to a charity of his choice. It's not a publicity stunt. It's a -- it's a serious, very serious offer essentially where a charity is the beneficiary. A great charity and a charity of his choice.
Now if everything is fine with those applications, why wouldn't he do it? Now he'll pooh-pooh it, he'll say, forget it, I don't want to do this, I don't know, Trump is a bad guy. All this nonsense has nothing to do with me. Here is $5 million, a tremendous amount of money going to a charity of his. All he has to do is show some papers.
MORGAN: Well, if he doesn't take up the offer, as I suspect he won't --
TRUMP: Well, why wouldn't he take it up?
MORGAN: Well, I don't think --
TRUMP: But Piers, why wouldn't he take it up?
MORGAN: I don't think he would, is my point. TRUMP: The only reason he wouldn't take it up is if there is something wrong.
MORGAN: Well, I don't think he --
TRUMP: If there's something wrong, he won't take it up.
MORGAN: Donald, I don't think he will but the good news is if he doesn't you can see all mine. And we can cut a deal. A million or something.
TRUMP: Well, I would love to see yours. I'm sure I'd be very impressed.
MORGAN: Born in Great Britain. Donald Trump, always a good pleasure to talk to you.
TRUMP: Thank you very much, Piers.
MORGAN: Coming up, the return of another legend, Clint Eastwood. I'll ask my political al-star panel, this is a good or bad thing for Mitt Romney's campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR/FILM DIRECTOR: Iraq has been knocked out. Twenty-three million people can't find full time work. We borrow $4 billion every single day, much of it from China. If someone doesn't get the job done we can hold him accountable.
Obama's second term would be a rerun of the first. And our country just couldn't survive that. We need someone who can turn it around fast. And that man is Mitt Romney. There's not much time left, and the future of our country is at stake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: He is back, the unmistakable voice of Clint Eastwood, minus his empty chair, doing his bit for Mitt Romney in a new add. Does it help or hurt the candidates. Battleground America. And joining me now, my political all stars, "New York Times" columnist Charles Blow, Van Jones, the president and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream, and Katie Pavlich, news editor of TownHall.com.
Welcome to all of you.
VAN JONES, CO-FOUNDER, REBUILD THE DREAM: Good to be here.
MORGAN: I am confused about Clint Eastwood. Let me start with you, Katie. I can't work out for the love of God whose side he is on. I remember watching the Superbowl and half way through it, up pops up Clint Eastwood doing a Chrysler ad in which he appears to be endorsing Barack Obama's bailout of the auto industry.
Now he's popping up with empty chairs and new ads attacking Obama, apparently supporting Mitt Romney. I am confused of New York.
KATIE PAVLICH, NEWS EDITOR, TOWNHALL.COM: Well, you shouldn't be confused, considering he made his appearance at the RNC convention, gave a very memorable speech, his empty chair speech.
MORGAN: Memorable is one word to call it. I thought he was completely barking.
PAVLICH: That is funny, considering the "New Yorker" ran their entire front page image based on Clint Eastwood's empty chair speech right after the first debate. That's something that people remembered.
MORGAN: I thought they were joking, weren't they?
PAVLICH: Well, the point is it was memorable, right?
MORGAN: Memorably awful. I love Clint Eastwood, so I'm in a difficult position with him. You are convinced he is a whole, fully fledged Romney man, are you? I mean, despite his --
MORGAN: It could be the great irony that Mitt Romney ends up losing places like Ohio, which costs him the election, all because of one op- ed piece in the "New York Times" saying Detroit should go bankrupt. And there is Clint Eastwood in a commercial today, and he was the guy in the Superbowl half time add who said the bail out was a great idea. Well done, Barack.
PAVLICH: Well, Clint Eastwood is making one point here. And he says that the middle class in America has not been successful in the past four years. I mean, if you take Joe Biden's term that the middle class has been buried, I think Clint Eastwood agrees with the vice president with that. Maybe he does support the bailout. He hasn't openly expressed that. But he is supporting Mitt Romney and for good reason, based on the economic numbers.
MORGAN: I can see my other guests bristling here with fury. So let me start with you, Charles.
CHARLES BLOW, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Bristly with fury?
MORGAN: What do you think of Clint Eastwood and his apparent flip- flopping?
BLOW: I think it's probably a rehabilitation of Clint Eastwood as much as it is an endorsement of Mitt Romney. He's actually pretty good when he has a script.
MORGAN: I think he should just keep out of this. He is one of the great movie stars of the world, self imploding in all this political stuff. Isn't he?
BLOW: I don't see -- you are right. You know more about Hollywood than I do. I don't see how it helps him in the long run as a Hollywood actor. And I really don't see how it helps Mitt Romney.
Maybe there is a -- they're focus grouping and figuring out that there's some small group. They do micro targeting with a lot of advertising. And maybe some micro targeting focus group says that this works. I don't know. But Clint Eastwood did Mitt Romney a lot of harm before this ad.
MORGAN: Van Jones, Clint Eastwood, there he is all over the TV again. And as I say, it is a rather confusing message to the electorate, because it could be that the whole bail out of the auto industry becomes the key determining factor in the election. If Obama scrapes home in Ohio because people in Ohio think, you know what, our employment rate's a bit lower than it is nationally because of the bailout, and that all comes down to the split with Romney over what he wrote in the "New York Times," then Clint Eastwood is the guy who told everybody in the Superbowl that the bailout was a great idea.
JONES: Look, I just think this has got to be just a terrible day for Romney. I mean, look at today. Today is the Republican party just kind of going off the rails. You have Mr. Empty Chair making his big debut. You have Donald Trump coming back out with his sort of Birtherism 2.0 remix. Sarah Palin comes out and says the president is shucking and jiving, wink wink, nod, nod. And then you have Mourdock come out and confirms that there's a big strain inside the Republican party that apparently thinks the government should force women to bear the children of their rapists.
So the Republican party has a brand problem already. I'm sure Mitt Romney was hoping he could be able to kind of keep pointing to his phony five point plan, but at this point it's coming apart. And the true character of some of the extreme elements in this party, and just some of the whacky elements of this party, are rushing to the fore. It is not good timing for Mitt Romney.
MORGAN: Let's play that Mourdock soundbyte, remind everybody exactly what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOURDOCK: I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is a gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Katie Pavlich, why, oh why, oh why do all these Republicans want to be senators come up with this garbage, causing such damage to Mitt Romney? Why don't they just stay away from rape? Not mention rape? Just steer clear of it.
PAVLICH: He was asked about the question of rape, so he was answering the question, first of all. And secondly, it was a perfectly legitimate pro-life argument that he made. If you listen to that clip, he said I've struggled with it in the past. It's my personal opinion. I've thought about it a lot. I know there's a lot of people that disagree with me. But I do believe that the broader thing that comes out of a horrific situation is the blessing of a child.
MORGAN: Right, you would like Mitt Romney to stand up tomorrow and say that God intends rapes to happen, would you?
PAVLICH: That's not what he said. He said, rape is horrific but there are -- the blessing of a child and what God intended may come out of it.
MORGAN: -- women that get impregnated by rapists, it is God's intention.
MORGAN: Am I wrong here?
JONES: I don't think we should misquote him. I think his words actually stand -- stand up without any interpretation. And I think it is unfair to misquote him. In fact, we should really look at what he's saying.
This is not a theological argument that we are having here. We're having an argument about social policy, and whether we want to live in a country where the government can force women to bear the children of their rapists. Now you think that's an extreme position. But it's actually the position of Paul Ryan. You have Paul Ryan with the exact same position.
This particular candidate, Mr. Mourdock, is the only person for whom Romney has cut an ad. He's -- 5,000 dollars has been given by Paul Ryan personally to this man. This man represents a big strain in the party.
My concern, if I'm a voter, if I'm a working mom some place, if I'm a father like I am, if this is the kind of person that Romney is associating himself with, he's cutting ads for, he's picked Paul Ryan, who has these extreme views, as his running mate, who will he pick to put on the Supreme Court? I do not want to live in a country, as a man, where a woman can enforced to have the child of her rapist, and the government enforce that. But apparently Mitt Romney has the opposite view. I think that is bad social policy. It's not a theological argument. It's social policy.
MORGAN: Let's take a short break. I want to come back, and Charles -- we'll come back with your reaction to this, because it's an emotive subject.
MORGAN: Back now with my all star panel, Charles Blow, Van Jones and Katie Pavlich. Just to remind ourselves, we left it on Richard Mourdock, the Indiana Republican Senate candidate who said, "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen."
Charles Blow, am I misrepresenting when he says that basically he's saying, look, you know, women who get raped and have babies, it's all God's will?
BLOW: Right, and I think there's a part -- this becomes very personal. But I think that the part of me says that is easy for you to say. He starts that off by saying I've struggled with this a lot. You think you have struggle with it a lot? Think about the woman who has been raped and now has to make a real decision about whether or not they will carry the child that is -- will turn into a child to term and give birth to a child.
I think that when men start talking about what rape means and what the consequences of rape mean, and what God meant by what came from the rape, we are always on shaky ground.
MORGAN: Men should keep their big noses out of it. If a woman gets rapes, it is her decision. Katie Pavlich, why is it not a woman's decision in the most most appalling circumstance of being raped, that she decides without any fear of censure from anybody else in America -- she decides what she does?
PAVLICH: I personally believe that there should be an exception in the case of rape. But I do want to make the point of it is unfair to classify Republicans who do not believe abortion should be an exception in the case of rape -- to just call them pro-rape. They are two completely separate topics. It's not fair to classify them as pro-rape, because they don't believe of abortion even in the case of rape.
I want to say that Richard Mourdock's Democratic opponent helped co- sponsor legislation that defined forceful rape versus rape. So if we're going to talk about this, maybe we should be asking Democrats too why they're defining the difference between rape and forceful rape.
MORGAN: Van, you're waiving your hands furiously. Steam in.
JONES: I think that she makes a fair point. I really think that this is more a question -- I don't think that is fair to say that someone is pro-rape if they're saying it's a horrible situation. So I don't think that's fair. I think she is right on that.
But this is a bigger issue because it goes to the judgement of Romney. Some senator saying something crazy, you can say, well, who cares. Well, another one did it? OK, who cares. But what you are seeing now is pattern inside the party. Romney has not withdrawn his support for this person. They're running ads right. The only person who Romney has cut an ad for is this man. And those ads are running today. It goes to Romney's judgement. It goes to who will he be as president. What are his sensitivities? Who is he going to care about? Who is he going to put on the Supreme Court? Who is he going to put in positions of power? He is associating himself with people who think this way.
He might say I personally don't think this way, but he certainly seems to be --
MORGAN: Also, I must say, what it does, it reminds people that his own position on issues like abortion has changed more dramatically than anybody I can remember. He flip flops from being pro-choice to pro -- as he would have put it -- pro-life. And then he's changed the criteria for the pro-life. Now he's more exceptions and so on. The picture's very confused.
That's why the Democrats love it when these Republican senator candidates do what they do and say what they say.
JONES: Nobody loves this. I'm sorry, nobody loves this. This is disgusting.
MORGAN: You may say that. But you can't deny the Democrats -- we've seen the attack ads coming out already tonight. They do love it politically when a Republican senator candidate make a stupid, factious comment about rape.
JONES: -- Democrat and Republican, when people get this close to power and have these kinds of views. And so maybe somebody takes advantage of it politically, but I think in hearts, people are very afraid of this kind of politics.
PAVLICH: Mitt Romney has explicitly said that he is -- he thinks there should be an exception for rape. He's explicitly said that. Just because he has endorsed him or that he has a vice presidential candidate who varies with him on that doesn't mean that is his point of view. He has said on the campaign trail multiple times that he believes there should be an exception for rape.
MORGAN: Katie, I gave you the last word, because you were outnumbered tonight. So I thought I would give you the last word.
We'll speak to you all again very soon, I hope.
Coming next, the Wall Street VP who quit Goldman Sachs in a scathing "New York Times" op-ed, who accuses the firm of deceiving clients, and he will join me live.
MORGAN: My next guest quit his Wall Street job in pretty spectacular fashion, publishing an op-ed in "The New York Times" blasting his employer Goldman Sachs. He called the firm's environment toxic, the managing directors refer to their clients as muppetts. And now Greg Smith is back with a new book that's generating a lot of buzz, "Why I Left Goldman Sachs.".
Welcome to you.
GREG SMITH, AUTHOR, "WHY I LEFT GOLDMAN SACHS": Thanks, Piers.
MORGAN: Here's my position. My information when I read the first piece you wrote was good, someone has come out and said what I've been trying to say about all these bankers for quite a while. They got too above themselves, too greedy, too detached from reality, from people. And that is what got America into the unholy financial mess it was in.
But when I read the book, here's what I come from. I want your honest reaction to this. You apparently gave your colleagues a nine, the highest score possible for culture and values in your last performance review. They say you wanted your pay doubled to more than a million dollars and a promotion. You are left with the impression, given you've been there 12 years, that really what this is all about is you just feeling a bit peeved.
SMITH: Not at al, actually. The thing the cite about the reviews, you actually get to choose who reviews you. So this idea of the people that I gave nines two were the people that selected me to review them. But it's not an issue of how I felt. It's an issue of the fact that I worked at the place for 12 years, I used to fly out to Stanford twice a year and recruit kids to come there. And I saw the system veer so far from what it was when I started, a company that took Microsoft public, took Ford public, to a company today that has a 500 million dollar settlement with the SEC for fraud and has a board of director member convicted and goes to jail for two years.
MORGAN: Right. But Goldman Sachs, at its heart, has always just been a banking firm that wants to make as much money as it can. Hasn't it? You knew that when you joined it. Presumably it was that for the entire 12 years you were there. Yes, they've had a couple of wobbles. Everyone knows about these. But essentially you were buying into the culture from day one.
SMITH: Absolutely. And Goldman Sachs has a long history, except its mentality used to be a thing called long-term greedy, which Sidney Weinberg used to stand by. It was the idea that you show your clients a fiduciary duty, and you service them well and they keep coming back to do business.
Today's mentality, and what I talk about in the book, it's profit at all costs, eat what you kill mentality, where you don't even care about what happens to the client. I talk about a story where, after the SEC Suit, I fly to Asia to comfort one of the biggest clients in the firm. And the client will look you in the eye and say we do not trust Goldman Sachs.
I leave the meting with a Goldman Sachs partner, and he is celebrating the fact that the client is still going to do business with us because he has to. My position would be, why not actually address the problem and try to repair this client issue.
MORGAN: Well, the boss of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein -- he's the CEO. He said this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LLOYD BLANKFEIN, GOLDMAN SACHS CEO: We went and we investigated and we turned over everything. And you know something, at the end of the day, with all the stress -- and I wouldn't want to go through that again, I'd say we're probably going to be a better firm for it anyway, because we really, really did look at everything again.
But as far as the book itself, I think the consensus of those who review the book was there really was nothing there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I mean, you know, in a funny way, you have probably done them a favor, because they clearly have slightly changed their ethos, according to their boss. Are you proud of that? Are there any things that you regret about all this?
SMITH: What I would say is this idea that Goldman is relieved or find nothing in the book, I think this is part of this Wall Street mentality. I guarantee you, if someone not on Wall Street reads the book and hears about teachers pension funds being ripped off or the firm betting against clients, or the firm using information to sell clients complex products, to the normal person, this behavior is egregious.
And the ironic thing is it's all legal. And that's the reason no one has gone to jail for the financial crisis, is because it's very unethical, but by the letter of the law, it's all legal. And my position is this stuff needs to change.
MORGAN: Is it getting better? Is it changing? Do you see any changes since this has all blown up?
SMITH: The biggest misconception right now in terms of the financial crisis, -- Dodd-Frank was a bill that was passed almost two years ago. What I think people don't know is two years later, less than one-third of it has been implemented. More than 75 percent of the deadlines have been missed. And Wall Street has spent 300 million dollars lobbying against the most serious things that caused the crisis, which are derivatives and banks betting with their own money.
So I would tell your viewers, they should be calling their politicians before this election and actually asking them why don't you have the political will to fix this. And to be frank, the answer is, as you probably know, most of their campaigns are funded by the big banks. And I think unfortunately this revolving door between Washington and Wall Street affects their ability to make objective decisions.
MORGAN: My big issue is always with the bonuses in particular It's like, you get bailed out. Goldman Sachs was probably going to go under. It gets bailed out and the first thing they did, the moment they got back on their feet, was hand themselves great bonuses again.
SMITH: In 2009, Goldman Sachs paid out 16 billion dollars of bonuses. And let me just give you an example of the perverse incentive on Wall Street right now. You look at JP Morgan, they lost six billion dollars in trades gone bad. They go in front of Congress and say it was just a hedge. And the person who lost their money, the person who runs the group, leaves with a multimillion dollar golden parachute.
So what's the worst that happens to society is the loss is 100 billion dollars? Taxpayers have to bail the banks out. So there's this perverse incentive where bankers swing for the fences, things go wrong, they lose their job. And if things go well, they make millions of dollars of bonuses.
So in my mind -- and I'm not anti-Wall Street. I just think it needs to be more transparent. And I think you actually need to have smart regulations that make markets free. Because right now they are not free markets. They're unfair markets.
MORGAN: OK, Greg Smith, it's called "Why I Left Goldman Sachs." It is an interesting read for anyone interested in Wall Street and the banking world. Appreciate you coming in. Thank you.
Coming up, a photo bomb for the ages. Only in America, it's a very touching one.
MORGAN: For tonight's Only in America, the kid stays in the picture. The talking points, the prompter reads, the rallies, everything is planned and staged in this presidential race.
But there's one thing that Obama and Romney can't control, the wonderful, always unpredictable photo bombs that strike without warning. Here is the president and First Lady in the stands, blissfully unaware that the guy staring into the camera is stealing the show.
Or how about this shot from the second presidential debate. Josh Romney giving Obama a menacing death ray stare. Honestly, there are millions to choose from. But tonight, we may have a winner. Hands down, surely the best political photo bomb of all time was served up at a Tennis Center yesterday in Delray Beach, Florida.
The president sitting with children at the Daughter of Zion Jr. Academy. It all seems standard fare, until you notice the back row. And there we witness one of the great budding romances in history, a little boy seizing the moment to kiss his sweetheart.
We're not sure if it's requited or not. He's certainly in full Casanova mode. She doesn't seem quite so enthusiastic, but it's early days. Talk about carpe diem. This guy knows how to get attention, global attention, as the photo beamed in minutes to all corners of the planet. Now he may not become president, but that kid has got nerves of steal, great sense of timing and could teach even Donald Trump a think or two about publicity stunts.
Young man, I salute you. That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.