'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
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Guests: Norah O‘Donnell, Kelly O‘Donnell, Chris Matthews, Howard Dean, Peter Canellos
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Keith. Thank you very much for that.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
We do begin tonight right here in my beloved state of Massachusetts. We‘re coming to you live from a very quiet television studio, talk (INAUDIBLE) office somewhere. Oh, no. Actually, we‘re at a historic Doyle‘s Cafe in Jamaica Plain.
And polls in Massachusetts close exactly one hour ago.
At this hour, this is what we can report in terms of the latest results: With 52 percent of precincts reporting, Republican Scott Brown is in the lead. At 53 percent of the vote, he‘s leading Democrat Martha Coakley with 47 percent of the vote. Joseph Kennedy, the libertarian candidate, there at 1 percent of the vote, with just under 9,000.
Again, this is—this is just over 50 percent. I think our graphic there says 40 percent in. This is just over 50 percent of precincts in.
The special election here in Massachusetts is the race, of course, to fill the seat of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, who held the seat for 47 years, from 1962 until his death from brain cancer in August 2009. It‘s a seat that Democrats believe they could hold on to. This is a race that did not even garner very much national interest until about a week ago, when Republican Scott Brown started to surge in the polls.
And in a strange twist, there is a Kennedy on the ballot tonight. His name is Joe Kennedy. He‘s running on the liberty party ticket. He is a libertarian. He supports Ron Paul. And he is in absolutely no way related to former Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy.
But that‘s not stopping someone from trying to link the two Kennedys in weird, apparently, deliberately confusing robocalls.
Check this out.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WILLIAM GREENE: Hi, this is William Greene.
Joe Kennedy is running for the U.S. Senate. Joe Kennedy is the name you can trust. There‘s a special election on January 19th for Ted Kennedy‘s Senate seat. January 19th, that‘s this Tuesday. There is not much time to spread the word about Joe Kennedy. So he needs your vote to U.S. Senate. Joe Kennedy might lose this election if folks like us don‘t get out and vote.
On Tuesday, vote for Joe Kennedy for U.S. Senate. Joe Kennedy: the name you can trust.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: How many times can you get the word “Kennedy” into a spot that short? Vote Joe Kennedy to replace Ted Kennedy—it‘s a no-brainer, right? Maybe people who liked Ted Kennedy who would have supported Martha Coakley because she‘s a Democrat and supports Ted Kennedy‘s policies, maybe they might be fooled into thinking that this “Kennedy: the name you can trust” guy is the one to vote for instead.
Yes, that robocall that you just heard, that, in politics, is called a dirty trick. These sorts of things are generally designed to prey on older voters, I‘m sad to say.
The Web site Balloon-juice.com also reported today another polling call, which purported to be on behalf of Martha Coakley, but really probably wasn‘t. According to the person who received the call, here‘s what was asked—pay attention closely, you‘ll have to in order to understand what they were on about.
Quote, “In World War II, 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis. Now, 6 million Israelis live under constant threat of attack from Islamic extremists. Meanwhile, 1 million women and children in sub-Saharan Africa die each year from malaria. The United Nations could use its billions of dollars to protect the people of Israel or to prevent the spread of malaria. In your opinion, is the threat to security in Israel are more pressing concern that should immediately be addressed by the United Nations than the epidemic of malaria in Africa?”
And, by the way, who do you like for Senate?
Yes. No idea what‘s going on there. That call was identified as a polling call for this election. It originated from a Washington, D.C. area code. They repeatedly tried calling the phone number today. That was identified as the source of that bamboozling call. We never reached a live person on the other end.
In addition to bamboozlements like that and dirty trick robocalls, there have been sporadic reports of ballot irregularities today. A handful of voters report being given ballots already filled in for Republican Scott Brown. Martha Coakley‘s campaign says they were made aware of at least six such incidents. The secretary of state is downplaying it.
Yes, it has been a weird day here in Massachusetts—and honestly, a weird culmination to a really important Senate race. As is usually the case in special elections, voter turnout is the key tonight. (INAUDIBLE) going into this election was that high-voter turnout, especially in urban areas would benefit Martha Coakley.
The turnout in Boston appeared to be high earlier in the day. Tonight then, a Democratic operative told the “Washington Post‘s” Chris Cillizza, quote, “Boston turned out numbers not good for Coakley.”
But as much of these things often are, before we get the hard numbers, there was conflicting information. The secretary of state‘s office this afternoon released information, released hard data, saying that the actual turnout numbers in Boston as of 3:00 p.m. were roughly on par with turnout for the 2006 election. That‘s a big deal, because in 2006 that was a real election. Not that this one isn‘t real, but this one is a special election. There‘s only one line on the ballot.
In 2006, that was a traditional midterm election, and if turnout in Boston was on par with what it had been for a real election in 2006, that would have been seen as good news for Martha Coakley today.
Other silver Coakley lining, a Rasmussen Election Day Poll found that people who decided in the last few days vote 47-41 for Coakley. Pollster John Zogby predicting tonight that Coakley will win.
But, again, I can tell you at this hour, with 57 percent of the precincts reporting, Republican Scott Brown leads Democrat Martha Coakley 53 to 46.
Let‘s go out to the campaigns right now. Joining us now from Republican State Senator Scott Brown‘s headquarters in downtown Boston is MSNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent, Norah O‘Donnell.
Norah, thanks very much for joining us. What‘s the latest from there?
NORAH O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Rachel.
It is a packed crowd and very, very noisy. This is where all of Scott Brown‘s supporters have gathered. I have to tell you, it‘s a very different scene from Martha Coakley‘s headquarter where I was just about an hour ago, where the ballroom was almost totally empty, only a bunch of reporters in there.
So, there‘s clearly a great deal of excitement here. I just spoke with a senior GOP official, though, who noted that Scott Brown, according to the current results, is ahead just five points. And that Republican official did express some concern and said to me, quote, “This is not going to be a blowout, this may not be a double-digit win,” stressing, of course, that we do not have all the results in now. But they do feel confident of a victory here, according to Brown supporters.
The other thing I want to touch on, too, is that I‘ve spoken with a number of people in both campaigns, both parties, and I‘m struck, stunned by, frankly, by the information that I received from a Democratic Party official already blaming Martha Coakley, the candidate, even before the polls close. This official is telling me that in between that key period of December 19th, when Coakley had a 20-point lead and then January 5th, where her lead was cut in half, that Brown—excuse me—that Coakley was, quote-unquote, “literally on vacation.”
This is a Democratic Party official blaming her, saying that she went to the Caribbean while Scott Brown was able to define this campaign. I don‘t recall a time, Rachel, when I covered House and Senate races and even presidential campaigns when one party official has been already dissing the candidate even before the polls close—Rachel.
MADDOW: MSNBC chief Washington correspondent Norah O‘Donnell—
Norah, thank you very much.
Norah is reporting tonight from Scott Brown headquarters.
Thank you very much.
Standing by for us at Democratic candidate Martha Coakley‘s headquarters is NBC congressional correspondent Kelly O‘Donnell. We got all O‘Donnells on alert tonight.
Kelly, what is the mood at Coakley headquarters where you are?
KELLY O‘DONNELL, NBC CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, Rachel.
I hope you‘ll understand where we‘re in that magical election night place where we can‘t hear anything but the house band. So, let me just run with it for a moment. And I‘ll tell you what the Martha Coakley team is thinking tonight.
All day, they have been trying to remind us that there is a difference between buzz and energy on the street and the capabilities of a Democratic get out the vote machine. So, they remain confident that they have been able to reach their voters, get them to the polls. For example, at one point today, an operative told me they had 1,500 requests for rides to a polling place. So, they sent out volunteers, put a voter in the car and get them to the place to vote.
Now, Martha Coakley had also been criticized in this race for not working hard enough, not shaking enough hands, not doing enough of the shoe leather side of politics that can be so important here. So, part of her day was spent trying to catch up on some of that, meeting at polling places, meeting with voters, saying hello, trying to close the deal if she could at all on this day.
And so, they want to remind people that there is also, in their view, a connection that she could make with women independents in Massachusetts. Remember, she has won statewide office in Massachusetts before. Scott Brown has won his state Senate seat. A difference they point out.
So, they remain encouraged. They believe that she has been kind of a victim of the times and they‘ve learned some things through this race. Democrats will acknowledge that there have been some missteps. But they also believe that the attention brought on this race has been kicked into overdrive, some of the Democratic machine, that even if some had some lukewarm feelings about this particular candidate, they were wanting to get out the vote tonight—Rachel.
MADDOW: Kelly O‘Donnell, NBC News congressional correspondent—thank you very much for that report and protect your hearing while you‘re there. Appreciate it. Thank you very much.
We turn now to the former chairman of the Democratic Party, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.
Governor Dean, thank you very much for joining us tonight. A pleasure to have you with us.
GOV. HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Thanks for having me on, Rachel.
MADDOW: Obviously, the final results are not in yet tonight. Anything could happen? But to what do you attribute the tightening of this race down the stretch? Why is Scott Brown doing so well versus Martha Coakley?
DEAN: Well, first of all, he ran a terrific campaign. It was very much grassroots. He was everywhere. That helps.
Second of all, it‘s pretty clear that people are upset by what‘s going on in Washington. They don‘t like the partisanship. They don‘t like the bickering. And they probably—they don‘t I think really see the kind of change they were hoping to get.
I had a number of people—Republicans who had voted for the president the last time around, and they really are looking for some real change. I think the American people want real change. And they haven‘t seen that yet.
And so, we‘re going to wade through all this, and it‘s going to be tough.
If Boston‘s not in, we‘re in good shape. If Boston‘s in with this 63 percent, we‘re in deep trouble. And I don‘t—there‘s no way of knowing from Burlington, Vermont, who‘s in and who‘s not. But I‘d love to know which precincts are in and which aren‘t.
MADDOW: Governor Dean, you were credited and remembered as DNC chairman for your famous 50-state strategy, and that was all about trying to have Democrats contest races that in previous—in previous Democratic parties they might have written off. This may be evidence of a 50-state strategy by the Republican Party. It also may be evidence that the Democrats have been taking the northeast for granted.
Do you see there‘s a possibility of further Republican inroads in the northeast?
DEAN: Well, no, I think this is an exception. The northeast is not a conservative place.
And I think—I still believe that Martha can pull this out. But if she doesn‘t, I think the voters of Massachusetts are going to find out that Scott Brown doesn‘t vote anything like the average voter of Massachusetts.
So, I don‘t really think it‘s that.
I really think that you got to stand up and be strong, and people really were hoping that it was going to be a real push for some differences. It‘s—and a lot of this is not anybody‘s fault. Well, maybe George Bush‘s fault. I mean, you know, we have over 10 percent unemployed, that always is a drag on the election.
But I think people really wanted to see more change. They voted for real change, and a lot of Republicans voted for real change, too. We haven‘t delivered it.
The health care bill, you know, a lot of people are sitting around with special interest, making deals. The Senate bill is essentially written by the insurance companies. This is a problem for us.
And this is the way that—this is like Washington was when I got there five years ago, you know, the Democrats weren‘t sure they were really Democrats. And if you want to win, you actually can‘t sort of move to the middle and become a Republican. You got to stand up and stand to the things that you got elected on and the Democratic Party believes in. And you haven‘t seen that in the health care bill, and I think that‘s part of the problem.
I do not think, however, that this is a referendum on health care. I certainly don‘t think it‘s a referendum on President Obama.
I think it‘s a very smart, tough Republican campaigner. People are upset because of unemployment, and they don‘t think the climate in Washington—that people are listening to them in Washington. They think they‘re more interested in making deals with special interests than they are in dealing with the Wall Street bankers who have ripped them off.
MADDOW: To hear you say, though, that this isn‘t in any one person‘s
fault. This isn‘t anybody‘s specifically fault, except maybe George Bush -
you‘re the only Democrat in politics right now who‘s saying anything like that. Democrats form a circle of firing squad over this election. Even—
I mean, hours before the polls closed—certainly, people blame each other when things go wrong, but today, it was overt, it was loud, it was from all quarters. And Democrats—potential Democratic voters haven‘t even stopped voting yet in Massachusetts by the time it broke out.
That seems to me like an incredible breakdown in party discipline just in terms of elections 101. What do you think?
DEAN: I think that‘s right. I think—I would say, though, to my fellow Democrats, this is not the time to be pointing the blame. We can figure out—there‘s plenty of things that went wrong—plenty of blame to be spread around.
People who blame others are losers. If you want to win elections, you stop blaming and get to work. That‘s what‘s going to have to be done after this election. Whether we win or lose, I think the message has been sent, that if we plan to do better than this in 2010, we better do better for the American people between now and next November.
MADDOW: Governor Dean, former Democratic Party chairman—as tonight‘s results become known and we start to think about what it‘s going to mean for the health care fight, we look forward to having you back and interpreting what these results mean for the prospects of health reform in the country. Thanks for your time tonight.
DEAN: Thank you.
MADDOW: OK. So, what if you ran a political campaign and you pretended like there were no politicians in it? That‘s kind of what Republican Scott Brown did here in Massachusetts. The “Boston Globe‘s” Peter Canellos joins us next.
We‘re coming to you live from Doyle‘s Cafe in Boston. You couldn‘t tell. Stay with us. We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Good evening. We are live at Doyle‘s Cafe in Jamaica Plain in Massachusetts. We are covering, of course, the Massachusetts Senate race—the race to replace the late Senator Ted Kennedy.
Right now, we‘re looking at 66 percent of precincts reporting here in Massachusetts, State Senate Scott Brown, the Republican, with 52.6 percent of the vote, and Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democrat in the race with 46.4. Again, 66 percent, about 2/3 of precincts reporting.
Stay with us for all the latest results. We‘re live in Massachusetts.
We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT BROWN ®, MA. SENATE CANDIDATE: And I drive a truck, and I‘m asking for your vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I have a truck, too, but I don‘t necessarily think that means you should vote for me. Scott Brown, Massachusetts state senator, the Republican candidate in today‘s special election to fill Ted Kennedy‘s U.S. Senate seat, he has built a campaign largely around the persona of man in truck without discernible political record.
He does have a record, though, which includes, strange (ph) conspiracy theory that the president‘s mother was secretly not married when she gave birth to the president. That‘s not true. But apparently, in 2008, Mr. Brown thought it, nevertheless, was of some political relevance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Barack‘s mother had him when, what, she was 18 years old?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And married.
BROWN: I don‘t know about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Scott Brown, the “Obama‘s mother secretly not married” candidate in today‘s Senate race.
Mr. Brown is also running as a potential 41st vote in the United States Senate against health reform, which has caused a lot of political hyperventilation on both sides of the aisle.
In addition to having a really nice green GMC truck and pledging to kill health reform, Mr. Brown has also campaigned as a family values candidate. His wife is a local reporter here in Massachusetts. One of his two daughters is a former “American Idol” semifinalist.
And we mention that, it‘s only relevant because Mr. Brown‘s daughter has played a political role in this election. His campaign dispatched her when they needed a “hard to punch back at” attack on the Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley, particularly if they wanted to invoke gender.
The attacks like this one, quote, “ Martha Coakley‘s new negative ad represents everything that discourages young women from getting involved in politics, and as a young woman, I‘m completely offended by that. She even spelled Massachusetts wrong in her original ad which is very embarrassing, I must say as a young woman.”
Smart move, right? Politically speaking, to sling that kind of attack through your 21-year-old daughter? There‘s really no way to return fire against an opponent‘s child, it‘s like using your kid as a human shield.
Awkward also for the family values mantle is that Mr. Brown, before running for this U.S. Senate seat, was probably best known as the conservative Massachusetts politician who had posed nude in “Cosmo,” in 1982, as winner of that year‘s sexiest man contest.
Now, for the awkward segue to Mr. Brown‘s support from the “tea bag the liberal Dems before they tea bag you” folks. Mr. Brown‘s campaign has received at least $348,000 in just the past couple weeks from the Our Country Deserves Better PAC. The folks behind the tea party express bus tour.
We‘re now hearing, in terms of the United Senate race here in Massachusetts that—that the—that the “A.P.” is now projecting that Scott Brown is the winner of the Massachusetts United States Senate race. Again, this is an “A.P.” projection. The “Associated Press” is now projecting that Scott Brown is the winner of the Massachusetts Senate race to replace the late Ted Kennedy. Again, this is an “A.P.” projection.
Norah O‘Donnell has confirmed that Martha Coakley has called Scott Brown to concede the race. We‘re here in Doyle‘s Cafe in Jamaica Plain in Massachusetts, here in Boston. And the results here are not—are not coming as a surprise to anyone who‘s been paying attention at all during the day.
As America tries to absorb the news that Democrats have lost Ted Kennedy‘s Senate seat to the Republican Party, the next thing people are going to be doing is try to learn who this Republican is, who has taken this seat from a Democratic party that appeared remarkably complacent in terms of it‘s ability to hold on to this seat.
Joining us now is Peter Canellos. He‘s editorial page editor of the “Boston Globe.”
Mr. Canellos, I want to thank you very much for coming on the show tonight. Appreciate your time.
PETER CANELLOS, BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Thank you.
MADDOW: Let me ask you first just for your reaction to the big headline. The “Associated Press” has now just projected Scott Brown as the winner. What does this mean for Massachusetts and what does it say about the state of the two parties here?
CANELLOS: Well, it says that we‘re not a one-party system any more.
I mean, it says that Democrats can‘t take these kinds of races for granted. I think that what you were saying before about complacency certainly rings true. The Democrats did not see this coming and didn‘t really have a message that could answer voters‘ concerns, voters‘ dissatisfaction with the economy.
So, you know, the last few days we‘ve sort of seen this coming. So, it‘s not a complete surprise. But I think that a lot of Democrats were caught flat-footed here.
MADDOW: Peter, in terms of looking at Massachusetts voting patterns -
obviously, four of the last five governors elected in this state were Republican governors. It‘s thought of as a blue state, largely on the strength of its own state legislature and the congressional delegation from the state.
Do you see a different message here in the vote for Brown than, say, the vote for Mitt Romney or Paul Cellucci or Bill Weld?
CANELLOS: Well, slightly different, because the health care issue was somewhat prominent. But what people have to keep in mind is the Republicans have succeeded at the gubernatorial level as a check on the one party control of the Massachusetts legislature.
There‘s a lot of anger at the Massachusetts legislature right now. They‘ve raised taxes. They have to balance a very difficult budget. And I think that some of that anger has crept into the Senate race.
So, it‘s not all about President Obama or about health care. It‘s about one party control in Massachusetts at a time when people have a lot of complaints about the state government.
MADDOW: In terms of Massachusetts‘ reflection on the nation more broadly, the Republican Party structure in Massachusetts has long been thought of as weak. We did see a lot of conservative activists and Republicans from outside the state coming in, especially late in the day, into this race, to try to bolster Scott Brown‘s chances.
Do you think we‘re down hat in the long run to a stronger state party structure here? Or do you think this was a one-up (ph) special election kind of infusion of energy?
CANELLOS: I think it‘s a little bit of both. I mean, the state has been trending independent in recent years. And, obviously, Brown was able to really tap into that in a big way.
Without—without a big infrastructure, they‘re not going to take over the Massachusetts legislature any time soon. They may not even break the veto-proof majority that the Democrats have. They‘re not going to win a lot of congressional races.
But, you know, there may be a few congressmen who are looking over their shoulders right now. And, you know, Brown has provided a template for some Republicans to win in Massachusetts.
MADDOW: Peter Canellos from the “Boston Globe,” editorial page editor
appreciate your time tonight. I know you‘re going to have a very, very busy evening writing this up. Thank you.
CANELLOS: Absolutely. Thank you.
MADDOW: Joining us here live at Doyle‘s Cafe in Jamaica Plain is my friend and colleague, Chris Matthews.
What‘s your reaction to the big headline?
CHRIS MATTHEWS, “HARDBALL” HOST: Well, I‘m not stunned tonight but I would have been stunned if somebody told me this three weeks ago or four weeks ago. This is Massachusetts. This is the state where to deviate off to the right would be to vote for Paul Tsongas, you know what I mean? That would be getting out of the 40-yard line.
I think it‘s a stunning victory for a candidate who‘s new, basically, at this level, who‘s run a perfect campaign. He campaigned in this with identifying himself with John Kennedy on smart government, smart fiscal policy, not necessarily right-wing policy. Jack Kennedy believed that taxes can be used to stimulate growth at the right time, at the right part of the—right period in the business cycle. It can be a useful tool—certainly not a right-wing view.
Basically said this health care bill is too big, it‘s too much government. We don‘t know what‘s in there. And by the way, it‘s being sold to the people state-by-state in a corrupt fashion.
He had an argument. I came up with something. I think you will like this.
MATTHEWS: Maybe it‘s sad for people and part of the country that don‘t feel too happy about this result, but I think it‘s un-American.
One of my heroes over the years was William Allen White, the great Midwestern newspaper editor. And he said this, and I think this is true about America. “The most precious gift God has given to this land is not in trenches of soil and forests and land, but the divine dissatisfaction planted deeply in the hearts of the American people.”
We are a dissatisfied people. We are easily drawn to a candidate who promises deliverance. Two years ago, we voted for deliverance with Barack Obama. We will vote for deliverance again in two years if we‘re not happy.
The country wants something better than what it has. We will argue because we know it‘s true, the country‘s not satisfied with the health care system that leaves millions of people in the emergency room waiting four and five hours just to get basic care. That‘s not a good system.
That dissatisfaction has been overwhelmed by bad politics and smart politics on the right by a complaint about fiscal overkill. And that is the problem the Democrats face right now—a sense not that their values are wrong, not that people don‘t want to help, but there‘s a sense of fiscal overreach. The debt is too big. The government‘s taking on too many responsibilities.
I think that‘s what driving.
MADDOW: That‘s a messaging argument. It‘s not a policy argument, though.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think it‘s—the fiscal challenge is not a joke.
MADDOW: Yes. But if you were really upset about fiscal challenges, to look at the guy that turned surpluses into deficits, they would have been up in arms then. And there was no tea party movement against George Bush, you know? I mean, they now, in retrospect, say, “Oh, yes, we hated him when we did it. We just never said anything about it.”
MATTHEWS: The numbers are larger now.
MADDOW: The numbers are larger now because we‘re digging out of a hole. It‘s absolutely—I mean, nobody‘s going to argue that we‘re not—we‘re not spending a ton right now. It should—I think.
MATTHEWS: Well, conservatives are hypocrites. I mean, if it‘s not a big point, though—I mean, come on, you‘re better than that. They‘re hypocrites. They didn‘t admit their own fiscal imbalance.
MADDOW: It just—that—and, therefore, I don‘t think you can say that this—that policy is at the root of this dissatisfaction. When you look at the voter identification numbers in Massachusetts right now, everybody thinks in a Massachusetts is so blue. The same proportion of voters in Massachusetts identify as Democrats as do in the country as a whole. It‘s like 1/3, 33 percent to 35 percent. There aren‘t any more Democrats here by identification. But there are a ton more independents.
MADDOW: And Americans have this desire to correct for majorities. And when majorities get big, we like to—we like to dial them back. And it—the question is what not—whether or not Democrats—or Republicans are going to figure out a way to ride that. It‘s whether Democrats are going to figure out a way to stop it.
MATTHEWS: Well, I don‘t think concern—my daughter‘s very concerned about debt. She‘s in a group called Concerned Youth of America. They‘re very bipartisan, very concerned about debt.
Larry Summers, when I talked to him, is very concerned about this debt. That‘s why we‘re not - we‘re having a hard time in Washington coming up with tax relief as a way of helping the economy move forward, because there‘s a danger of adding to the debt.
I think debt‘s a real problem. I think when this candidate came along and talked about taxes, he was really talking about other things. He was talking about worries about overkill, in terms of government spending.
I think they‘re worried about it. We‘ll see as we analyze this in the
weeks ahead. I don‘t think it‘s irrational, I think it‘s an argument. I
think you have to -
MADDOW: I think it‘s a great message, but I do think it is irrational, because I think it redounds to conservatives in terms of the political benefits, which makes no sense when you look at the relationship of conservative policies in government and what they‘ve done to the fiscal situation.
Maybe I - it just means it‘s not policy, it‘s politics. And it means that maybe Democrats need to get better about talking about their own fiscal responsibility.
MATTHEWS: No. I think - I look at the numbers and I‘m worried. I‘m worried about this government committing itself to so many entitlement programs and committing itself to such a level of taxation that support those entitlement programs.
MADDOW: Has Barack Obama raised taxes or cut taxes?
MATTHEWS: No, I think we‘re seeing is it coming.
MADDOW: You can‘t say theoretically he might someday raise taxes or I‘m going to vote against (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
MATTHEWS: What is very impressive is what we saw the last couple weeks. A candidate came out of nowhere as state senator. He‘s attractive, physically - I guess that always counts in politics. He has some charisma, some charm. But his big message was Jack Kennedy cut taxes. We‘ve got to be worried he‘d cut taxes. We‘ve (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
And then he came out against the health care bill and said, “One
thing I‘ll do if I get elected, I‘ll sign my name now, Scott Brown 41. I
will vote against the tax vote.” So voters know two things about this guy
he‘s going to vote against the health care bill and he‘s going to cut taxes. They love it.
MADDOW: Here‘s the thing, though. It‘s a total divorce from reality,
to say, “I‘m a fiscally conservative guy. I‘m going to vote against health
reform.” What does health reform do to the budget, to the deficit
according to CBO? It reduces the deficit. Yes -
MATTHEWS: You think the people of Massachusetts -
MADDOW: I believe the CBO more than I believe the guy running for Senate here.
MATTHEWS: They‘re just going through a health care fight here. They‘ve got a health care plan. They know these cost figures are never reliable. There‘s always an overrun. They know the government always underestimates the cost of programs. They know that.
MADDOW: On policy, though, to say it‘s fiscally responsible to not reform health care is insanity.
MATTHEWS: No, no - I talked to you about the voters of Massachusetts and what they did today. I think they voted their concern which I think is legitimate about today.
MADDOW: I think they voted with the message, and I think it‘s a message that is coherent and totally divorced from reality.
MATTHEWS: So you believe that we made a mistake?
MADDOW: Well, I believe that they -
MATTHEWS: No, you believe we made a mistake.
MADDOW: I believe that Scott Brown‘s policy-based campaigning was dishonest. That‘s what I believe. And Howard Dean is going to join us now to talk on the health care side of it.
MATTHEWS: Fair enough -
MADDOW: Let‘s bring Howard Dean back into the conversation. Go on.
Last word. Go say it.
MATTHEWS: Well, I just think this dissatisfaction the American people feel right now is against incumbents. It was two years ago.
MATTHEWS: That doesn‘t change. Who are you going to blame? You‘re going to blame the political establishment that‘s been in power a long time up here. Barely or not, Martha Coakley comes out of that political establishment. She‘s not a heavyweight. She‘s not a big shot.
She hasn‘t been in power a long time. She‘s done a good job as A.G. What she‘s seen as part of the team. You know, in college, when the same people run every year for student council president, and finally, around junior year, some nerd comes along and beats them because we‘re just tired of voting for the same people.
MATTHEWS: That‘s what happened.
MADDOW: I think I was that nerd.
MATTHEWS: Maybe you were.
MATTHEWS: By the way, Bill Clinton was the establishment guy who lost in his third year.
MADDOW: All right. Joining us now - bring him into the conversation
is the former chairman of the Democratic Party, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. I said we would talk to you once the results were clear. I didn‘t think it would be so quickly.
But let me get your initial reaction to the results tonight that Scott Brown has beaten Martha Coakley in Massachusetts for the United States Senate.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, first I should congratulate Scott Brown - Sen. Brown. You know, he may make the process better. I think we would have been better off if we had only had 59 senators to start with, and that‘s what we‘ve got now.
But you know, Martha is a great public servant. I think it‘s too bad she didn‘t get the seat. She‘s a serious candidate, a serious person. I assume she gets to go on and continue to be attorney general for a while longer.
Let me just say, you know, there are going to be a million theories about what just happened. And as they say in Washington, those who say don‘t know, and those who know don‘t say. I don‘t think anybody knows right now.
I do know that - I agree with the Chris that people are trying to send a message. I also think the message has more to do with wanting real change, wanting real reform. I also think that the - we‘re going to not have to have a circular firing squad.
The message that I think and the advantage (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is we‘ve got to be tougher. I‘ve said the Democrats haven‘t been tough enough. George Bush would have the health care bill done a long time ago, and it would have gone through reconciliation. It would have been what we wanted.
And I don‘t want to harp on the health care bill all night. The fact of the matter is, most people in Massachusetts like their health care system. It‘s expensive, but it covers 97 percent of the people. We know that from polling information.
So I don‘t think this was a backlash against the fact that we needed health care reform. I think it was a backlash against Washington. And I think the Democrats happened to be in the way. The Republicans are always much better at messaging and opposition than we are. The problem is, they can‘t govern when they win.
And so, the Democrats - if we want to govern right, we‘re going to have a message. We‘re going to have to show decisiveness. We‘re going to have to show boldness. We‘re going to have to show toughness and we‘re going to have to show leadership.
And leadership is not trying to be a centrist and get everybody to work together, because that‘s not going to happen. The Republicans wanted to kill this bill from the beginning, the health care bill, simply to embarrass the president.
The president was elected to lead. And the way we‘re going to get through this is, he‘s going to lead. We‘re not going to deal with the special interests or the Republicans any more. They‘ve become their own special interest.
We‘re going to get this stuff done. And when you get it done right, which means not letting us hang out over two more election cycles - 2010 and 2012 - but getting some people insured within a few months of the president‘s signing of that bill, well, then we‘re going to have something to show for it.
And we‘re going to recover in 2010. But this is an example of what can happen if you are not real clear about your message. Scott Brown was real clear about his message tonight.
MADDOW: Gov. Dean, in terms of the Democrats‘ opportunity to do the kind of thing you are describing, obviously, the first thing they‘ve got to make a decision about is how to proceed on health reform.
Were 60 votes in the Senate key to getting health reform passed? Do you see a path to health reform now by the state of the union, by February, that doesn‘t include having a 60th Democratic senator?
DEAN: There‘s only two ways you can do this. One is to get the Senate to pass the house bill and then fix it later. And I think they‘re going to have a hard time with that, because the Senate bill is not that strong a bill, because of the intervention of Sen. Lieberman and Sen. Nelson.
The other thing is to start over again and just add Medicare, add 55-year-olds and up to Medicare, which is what the Senate was thinking about doing in the first place. There‘s a big advantage if you do that.
You don‘t get universal insurance and you don‘t get insurance reform. But frankly, the Senate bill has very little real insurance reform in it anyway. What you do is get people insured right away who don‘t have insurance now and who can‘t get it because they‘re over 55.
So I think that kind of approach is the approach that I would use. Get it done, have it easy to understand. The expansion of Medicare is easy to understand. We can run it through reconciliation pretty quickly. You don‘t have any choice, because if you‘re going to get anything done on health care from now on in the Senate, it‘s going to be through reconciliation.
MADDOW: Gov. Dean, thank you very much. We‘ve got to take a quick break right now. And then, we‘re going to be checking in with Scott Brown‘s campaign headquarters in downtown Boston. We‘re live at Doyle‘s Cafe in Jamaica Plain here in Massachusetts. Stay with us. We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Welcome back. You‘re watching MSNBC‘s coverage of the United States Senate race in the great state of Massachusetts. The Associated Press projecting that Scott Brown, Republican state senator, has defeated the Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley, the state‘s attorney general, longtime public servant.
I‘m Rachel Maddow and I‘m here at Doyle‘s Cafe in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts with a very raucous crowd, very friendly, very drink-y crowd on election night here.
Joining us now from Republican state Senator Scott Brown‘s headquarters in downtown Boston is MSNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent, Norah O‘Donnell. Norah, thanks very much for joining us. Tell us what‘s going on there.
NORAH O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Rachel. That‘s right. Scott Brown has received a phone call from Martha Coakley. In fact, I‘m told by sources she called at 9:13 p.m. to concede this race to the Republican, Scott Brown. Scott Brown‘s daughter, Ayla, who was on “American Idol” had been performing on stage singing with the Doug Flutie Band.
She stopped and announced that to the crowd who erupted in cheers. Since then, they‘ve been shouting, “Yes, we can. And John Kerry‘s next.” So there you go. This is a packed ballroom, clearly excited that Scott Brown won tonight. He is expected to come out and speak shortly.
I imagine that he is waiting for a call from President Barack Obama. The president‘s spokesman had indicated earlier this week that the president would call and congratulate whoever the winner was, whether it was the Democrat or the Republican.
What‘s next? Well, it remains to be seen, when the Secretary of state certifies this election. We‘ve done some reporting today, our excellent political team, that the Secretary of State here in Massachusetts could take 10 days to certify this election.
That would give the Democrats in Washington, if they wanted, some time - if they wanted to do something with the health care reform, given all these different alternatives now that Republicans have 41 votes in the United States Senate.
So that‘s one thing to watch for. And of course, in the next couple days, we‘re going to be hearing all about the autopsy of the Martha Coakley campaign - what went wrong. As I told you earlier, I‘m stunned by the finger-pointing that‘s gone on.
Democratic Party officials sending me a note and talking to me in person saying, “Let‘s be clear in saying Martha Coakley was on vacation on a break in between that key three-week period between December 19th and January 5th.
When her 20-point lead was halved to just 10 points, they blamed Martha Coakley. They blamed her campaign. They say she gave it away to Scott Brown, let him go up on the air (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to find her. And that‘s how she lost this particular campaign.
But surely, there‘s enough blame to go around because the Democrats in Washington were also perhaps thinking that Martha Coakley was going to easily win this. And as I spoke with Vicky Kennedy yesterday, and something she said was very clear that most people who run for political office know, don‘t ever take a vote for granted.
You should never take a vote for granted. And I think that‘s one of the big lessons that many people think Martha Coakley took this for granted because it‘s Massachusetts, because Democrats outnumber Republicans three to one, and maybe she would win this.
And so that key three-week period is when Scott Brown got the momentum and was able to define this race. And now, there‘s a victory party here and we‘re expecting to hear from him shortly. Rachel?
MADDOW: NBC‘s Nora O‘Donnell at Scott Brown‘s campaign headquarters, a sense of the enthusiasm there by the rollicking cheer from the crowd just for the podium coming out. We do expect, of course, Scott Brown to be speaking tonight.
That‘s not quite happening yet, but we will bring it to you live here when it happens on MSNBC, the place for politics. Stay with us. We‘ll be right back after the break.
MADDOW: MSNBC‘s live coverage of the results of the United States Senate race, the special election to replace the late Ted Kennedy here in Massachusetts, continues. Norah O‘Donnell just being told by the Scott Brown campaign that President Obama has phoned Scott Brown, Republican Scott Brown to congratulate him on his victory tonight. More ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Welcome back to our live coverage of the United States Senate race in the great state of Massachusetts. The Associated Press having called the race for Scott Brown, the Republican candidate, with 52 percent of the vote over Martha Coakley‘s, the Democrat, 47 percent. That‘s with 92 percent of precincts reporting.
I‘m Rachel Maddow live at Doyle‘s Cafe in Jamaica Plain, here in Massachusetts. Open questions here right now include the question of when Sen. Scott Brown will be seated, when he will actually take office as a United States senator, the Secretary of State in Massachusetts today pledging that that would happen as soon as possible.
You‘re looking at pictures right now of Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick at the Martha Coakley headquarters. Of course, we‘re expecting to hear from state attorney general Martha Coakley.
Also looking there, John Kerry, the United States senator, the senior United States senator. His junior member will now be a Republican. When Scott Brown is sworn in, he will be Massachusetts‘s first Republican United States senator since 1978. We‘re looking at pictures right now from Martha Coakley‘s headquarters. We‘ll go live to the podium there.
MARTHA COAKLEY (D-MA), DEMOCRATIC SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you. I want to thank all of you for everything you did today and throughout this campaign. I know you all worked very hard.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
MADDOW: Martha Coakley‘s headquarters. Chris Matthews is here with me at Doyle‘s Pub in Jamaica. We‘ve also got Norah O‘Donnell on stand by at Scott Brown‘s headquarters in downtown Boston.
Can I bring Chris into this discussion? Chris, we‘re waiting right now, obviously, for Martha Coakley‘s statement on her loss. This is a race that Scott Brown is being credited with certainly having won but this was the Democrats to give away. Are there going to be recriminations in terms of Democratic politics? Are heads going to roll?
MATTHEWS: One thing I want to do at midnight tonight is go through the endangered Democrats, the ones who worry very much right now.
Certainly, Blanche Lincoln is worried, a conservative, a relatively
conservative Democrat -
MADDOW: Because as goes Massachusetts so goes Arkansas?
MATTHEWS: As goes Massachusetts, anything could happen. If you can beat them here, you can beat them anywhere. So Arlen Specter - he is definitely worried. Certainly, Harry Reid is worried.
Even people we thought of as sort of the lucky people in political history like Evan Bayh have to worry because they don‘t know now, because it‘s uncertain. This is what I quoted from William Allen White, the great Midwestern editor. People are dissatisfied. They don‘t know who to blame but they have a target, the incumbent, whoever it is.
And when you get to the blame game, do we blame the president?
Do we blame the Democratic Party structure for not having gone to her aid?
Do we blame the candidate? There‘s a lot of suspects out there.
MADDOW: Well, it seems to me that politicking matters, as you were saying earlier, that it‘s old school politicking but it‘s really about running a good campaign. We saw in Virginia that a lot of people look at the Creigh Deeds race and said, “Oh, this is a referendum on Obama.”
A lot of Democrats look at that and thought, Creigh Deeds ran a really bad campaign. And in Massachusetts right now, that‘s going to be part of the autopsy, whether or not Martha Coakley ran a bad enough campaign. Democrats put up so poor a fight for the seats that it‘s more about this individual race than it is about Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: Great example in Massachusetts history. In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower, Republican, swept this state. Guess who won the Senate race - Jack Kennedy.
MATTHEWS: So you don‘t always go down because the president is unpopular. The party‘s not popular. A lot of times people discriminate. They go and - I think I like this guy but I don‘t like that guy.
Pennsylvania has been splitting its ticket at the top for all my life.
So I do think we will know but I think there is a - you and I are in the same world. We deal all the time in the cosmos we live in, the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times. They‘re unhappy. There‘s a dissatisfaction out there.
It may be the cold winter. It may be the unemployment rate, which is not going down. People react. I‘ve always believed that you can trust economic circumstances to give you a fabulous reading on the mood of the country.
Richard Nixon - people say, “What do you mean? He covered up a break-in and lost his presidency over that?” No, the times were terrible economically. Bill Clinton embarrassed us with Monica, but you know what? The times were great and people - no, people - I‘m Marxist when it comes to analysis. People judge their current economic circumstances and then they make political judgments.
MADDOW: This is one of the nights, though, when we can be absolute purists in terms of extrapolating from this one race because there was only one race. This is the only race happening anywhere in the country right now.
You look at Massachusetts. Massachusetts‘ unemployment rate is better than or worse than the national unemployment rate. It‘s actually better - it‘s about 8.8, which sucks, but it‘s not 10. You look at the president‘s approval ratings in this state. They‘re 10 points better than they are in the rest of the country.
So if you‘re trying to - if you‘re trying to say what‘s going on economically, shaping the way people feel about the party in power as represented by the president, it‘s not borne out by the numbers this state. I think politicking, campaigning, whether or not you‘re actually trying, makes a difference.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me give you your point. You make a point. “New York Times” says they reported that among Massachusetts voters who like the president, Martha Coakley was down. So that makes your point.
So there were people that went to the polls today who said ...
MADDOW: I like Obama - yes.
MATTHEWS: “If I had to vote for president today, I would have voted for Obama, but I‘m not voting for the other candidate. I‘m not voting for Martha Coakley.”
MADDOW: Candidates matter. Campaigns matter. You know what I felt like when I was seeing what I was looking at this race was George Bush versus John Kerry, that you had a very charismatic, very aggressive campaigning guy who had policies were actually pretty far to the right of most of the country.
And then you had somebody who is sort of lifelong public servant with this resume that, you know, you‘d tattoo on yourself if you could. And he ends up looking like the sap. And he ends up the guy who doesn‘t run a very aggressive campaign, assumes that lifetime of service is going to be thing that stands him up. And he doesn‘t win it. He can‘t pull it off.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I remember putting together by Sunday‘s show a bit of tape, and it‘s always anecdotal and unfair. But there‘s George W. Bush, who I‘m not impressed with in terms of his leadership and his decisions.
But he walked into a little dinette with a little family there. And he said hello to the boys and the girls and said, “Hey, fella, must be tough having all these sisters.” You know, quick connection.
MATTHEWS: John Kerry came in and he found a woman, like you said, trying to read a book and he started telling her about some GPO report or something. And I go, “What are you doing to this woman? She wants her lunch. She wants to read this book.” And it wasn‘t right. So you‘re right.
MATTHEWS: Sometimes we judge people on how they approach us. And maybe that‘s idiotic, but it‘s part of democracy, you know.
MADDOW: I‘m here with Chris Matthews in Doyle‘s Pub in Jamaica Plain. And we‘re looking right now at Martha Coakley. Massachusetts state attorney general, Middlesex County - former Middlesex County District Attorney, former county prosecutor.
She was born in North Adams, Massachusetts. Degrees from Boston University, B.U. Law School and from Williams College. Let‘s listen to Martha Coakley now.
COAKLEY: I don‘t know. Somebody told me there was a crowd out here. Thank you. Thank you. I want to know that I just got off the phone with Scott Brown. I‘ve offered him my congratulations and my best wishes on his victory tonight.
And I wish to him and Gail and to his two daughters -and I told him he - “Mr. Brown, you‘ve got two lovely daughters,” which he does. And he also extended his good wishes to me.
And so I wish we were here with other and better news tonight, but we are not. And I want to take this moment, first of all, for all of you in this room and those of you who are probably still out working. You poured your hearts and souls into this campaign.
And there are thousands of you, literally. We had thousands of people out on the street since September. And I want to say an incredibly sincere thank you for everything that you did, obviously, not just for me but for the campaign and what we stood for in this campaign. And so let‘s give yourselves a huge round of applause for what you‘ve done. Thank you. Thank you.
I will not forget the fierce determination with which we approached this, not just again about this campaign, about the things we believed in and we still believe in and we will still fight for on after tonight.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
And I know you will join me in that. We never lost our focus or our determination, and you never demonstrated an ounce of discouragement or complacency, as far as I‘m concerned in this campaign. I know how hard we worked. And you own everything about this campaign.
You were there every step of the way as we went forward in the primary and through tonight and focused on the issues that I believe everybody in Massachusetts does care about and everybody in this country should be focused on as we go forward.
I want to say a very sincere and loving thank you to my husband, Tom. Thank you. I had him out on the campaign trail for the next - for the last couple days. And I can tell you there are at least two dogs who are very happy about tonight‘s results, because we‘re going to be back with them.
I have to thank my family, many of whom are here behind me tonight. My sisters, Anne and Jane and Mary are all here. My nephews and nieces and grand nieces. Terrific staff on our campaign.
If you worked with our staff, with Kevin and Dennis and M.L.(ph) and everybody else who gave sweat, blood and tears and all of their time to this campaign, you know how much heart and soul we put into it.
And it was my honor to be working with them and with you during this campaign. You have in some ways become an extended family for me. As I tell my folks in the A.G.‘s office, my extended dysfunctional family - but that‘s OK - I will never forget the passion and the energy and the soul that we brought to this, and that includes the friendship of everybody who has worked with us.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
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