Guests: Max Brantley, Bill Press, Louie Miller, Bill Halter, Jane Hamsher,
Ron Christie, Roy Sekoff, Adam Green
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans, and welcome to THE ED SHOW from Little Rock, Arkansas, tonight, where I think it‘s about 150 degrees.
These stories are flaming “My Hot Buttons” at this hour.
Well, it‘s showdown time in Arkansas, and the stakes are huge.
Progressives have mobilized to send a message to corporate Democrats. Progressive candidate Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter joins me later on in this program.
President Obama says it‘s ass-kicking time on the Gulf Coast? President Obama says BP‘s CEO would not be working for him. But the administration wants more drilling in the Gulf? I think it‘s asking for another disaster.
And what the heck is happening in California? “Psycho Talker” birther queen Orly Taitz just might pull out a victory as the GOP‘s nominee for secretary of state.
But this, of course, is the story that has me fired up tonight. At this hour, voters in 12 states are heading to the polls, and corporate America is basically shaking in its boots.
It‘s a hot night here in Arkansas, and nobody is feeling the heat more than incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln. Union folk in American call her “Senator Wal-Mart.” They have pored over $8 million into the campaign of her competitor, Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter.
Senator Lincoln fired back at the unions this morning on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN (D), ARKANSAS: The D.C. labor unions have spent $10 million in the last 12 weeks just running negative ads full of lies and misrepresentations of me. We‘re going to win this race because Arkansans rise above all of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Lincoln is calling out the big dogs to take on the unions.
Take a look at her new commercial featuring Bill Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:
Here‘s an article from “The Washington Post.” It says some national unions made a decision a few months ago that they wanted to make Senator Blanche Lincoln the “poster child” for what happens when a Democrat crosses them.
This is about using you and manipulating your votes. If you want to be Arkansas‘ advocate, vote for somebody who will fight for you. Vote for Blanche Lincoln.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: This is personal for the unions. They have never forgiven Bill Clinton for being a free trader who signed NAFTA. And Bill Halter knows the key to this election is the working folk of America.
Take a look at this commercial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I started working when I was 16, spent years as a waitress and paid into Social Security and Medicare all my life. Without Social Security, I‘d be out on the street. When Bill Halter was in charge of Social Security, he fought to protect it from cuts, but Blanche Lincoln is different.
LINCOLN: There are reasonable spending cuts that can be made, Medicare and Social Security.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She supports more tax cuts for millionaires while cutting Social Security. She‘s lost touch with people like me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: You know, you always get a flavor for what‘s going when you‘re reporting on the ground. And I have seen really an unbelievable door-to-door effort here, and talked to the operatives who have been here for the last 10 weeks.
Chuck Rocha—he used to be with the steelworkers—is heading up this effort for Bill Halter and, of course, the union folk here in this state, which really only has 46,000 members across the state of Arkansas. It‘s basically a low-wage state. It‘s a right-to-work state, and yet all of these people have gathered at the war table to push hard against Blanche Lincoln, who is being viewed as a corporate Democrat.
So, I would have to say that this is really the people versus the corporations. And whereas Blanche Lincoln has done some good things for Arkansas over the years, at this particular time, the political climate in this country, she is more than vulnerable here tonight. She couldn‘t close it out back in May, and now she‘s forcing this runoff tonight.
And Bill Halter may not be the best supporter in the world when it comes to the Employee Free Choice Act, but he has garnished a lot of support from union folk around the country. They have spent over $8 million. They have done boots on the ground. They have done 60,000 phone calls, plus the PCCC has been here and forked out over $250,000 to his campaign.
Now, the question here, is he that good of a progressive, or has she been so vilified by some who have said she‘s become too Washingtonized?
Tell me what you think in our telephone survey, folks. The number to dial is 1-877-ED-MSNBC.
My question tonight is: Who do you think has more political force, the Tea Party movement or the progressive movement? Press “1” for the Tea Party, press “2” for the progressive movement. I‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.
Joining me now in this hot weather of Arkansas is Max Brantley, editor of “The Arkansas Times.” He knows this race extremely well.
Max, great to have you with us tonight. Thanks for your time. Thanks for being here.
What is it about Bill Halter? Is he just at the right place at the right time, or is he that good of a progressive?
MAX BRANTLEY, EDITOR, “THE ARKANSAS TIMES”: Well, he‘s a great candidate. He‘s a smart, disciplined candidate, and he‘s a guy at the right time.
I don‘t think we know what Bill Halter is in terms of political ideology just yet. But he‘s not Blanche Lincoln and he‘s not a Washington insider. And that should be enough tonight.
SCHULTZ: Isn‘t this unusual, that someone with not the greatest liberal record would get so much support from out of state and so much grassroots help at this particular time?
BRANTLEY: Well, I think Blanche Lincoln let down the organized labor movement, and she let down progressive forces who were terribly involved in the health care movement at critical times, although she eventually cast a very important vote on health care, which shouldn‘t be forgotten.
SCHULTZ: When it comes to the two campaigns what‘s the difference, in your opinion?
BRANTLEY: Well, the difference is the ground game. This is going to be the textbook case on whether that matters or not.
At my own House, and a very big voting precinct in Little Rock, which is important to Blanche Lincoln, I‘ve had nine visits from either workers for Bill Halter or one of the organizations working for him. I haven‘t had a single door knock for Blanche Lincoln.
SCHULTZ: I hear that Bill Halter is disciplined, he‘s a real student of what‘s in front of him, he‘s a quick study. But to some he‘s a little aloof.
Is that a fair assessment?
BRANTLEY: I think that‘s a fair assessment. He doesn‘t strike that natural spark that, frankly, ,Blanche Lincoln does. And I think Blanche Lincoln has not used that strength to her best advantage in this race.
SCHULTZ: Is she a victim of organized labor? I mean, she is just—
I mean, organized labor, I talked to Andy Stern before he left as the Service Employees International Union president. He was disappointed that they haven‘t gotten what they wanted out of the Obama administration.
I said, “What are we going to do?” He said, “We‘re going to go local.”
Holy smokes. They have gone local in this race.
BRANTLEY: Well, they picked a candidate who was vulnerable, first of all. And I think there was probably some calculation in that. But if she‘s a loser, she‘s not a victim of labor, she‘s a victim of herself in failing to be a candidate that people can get behind in a year when people are looking for support.
SCHULTZ: Chuck Rocha was telling me that the three things when they knock on doors in Arkansas, it‘s oil, it‘s jobs, and it‘s health care.
Was Blanche Lincoln on the wrong side of health care reform? She did not support the public option.
BRANTLEY: She played it exactly wrong. In the end, she gave Obama the vote he had to have. By then it was too late. She looked weak by the time she cast that tough vote.
SCHULTZ: Call it tonight, Max.
BRANTLEY: I think you‘ve got to call Bill Halter. He‘s acting like a winner. And she‘s acting desperate.
SCHULTZ: Max Brantley, editor of “The Arkansas Times,” good to have you with us tonight.
BRANTLEY: Thanks a lot.
SCHULTZ: Thanks so much.
And, of course, now let‘s go to Bill Press. Bill Press has been around this a long time.
He‘s the former Democratic chair of the California Democratic Party.
Before I get to asking you about all the money that‘s being raised in California, Bill, let‘s talk about the progressive movement versus the corporate push in this country.
Is this a defining moment for progressives? We‘ve seen a lot of out-of-staters come in here and help Bill Halter.
BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You know, Ed, I really think it is.
I think it‘s going to be very instructive, what happens in Arkansas.
Progressives are sick of being taken for granted. For too many years, going on a long time, progressives get out and they bust their butt working for people, write a lot of checks, bang on a lot of doors. Then those people get into office and they feel that they‘ve got to forget their friends and go to the middle, particularly the unions.
They have had it, Ed. You‘ve talked to a lot of them, so have I. They feel they‘ve been stabbed in the back one too many times. They want to teach their friends a lesson, and Blanche Lincoln is the way they‘re going to do it.
SCHULTZ: Bill Press, what about—you know, is it the fact that she was lukewarm or, actually, she was against the public option, and as Max Brantley said, that, you know, she gave Obama the vote he needed, but she went about it in the wrong way? I mean, I look at four senators. You look at Ben Nelson out of Nebraska, you look at Joe Lieberman out of Connecticut, and also you‘ve got the senator from Louisiana, Mary Landrieu, who was always against the public option as well. But you‘ve got Blanche Lincoln, who‘s the first one up.
Is she just paying the first price that maybe a lot of Democrats are going to pay?
PRESS: Yes. Unfortunately for Blanche Lincoln, Ed, she‘s up and the others are not. You know?
And politics is not necessarily fair, right? It‘s hardball, not beanbag. And so she‘s the one that comes up first, she‘s the one that the unions have targeted. And I think she‘s going to pay the price.
But, you know, Max said it well. She has the opportunity. It‘s her own dumb fault.
I mean, she knew how important that public plan option was, particularly to the unions around the country, to progressives. Employee Free Choice Act she never supported. And they finally just said, let‘s get somebody in there who will fight for us and not fight for the corporations.
SCHULTZ: What does this say to the progressive movement if Halter blows her out tonight?
PRESS: It says get some—keep that backbone, keep that fight, get on fire, and take this message around the country that progressives are strong, progressives can deliver, progressives are with you as long as you‘re with them. And that‘s a partnership. And then get the Democratic agenda and get it done. But if you‘re not part of the team, we‘re going to take you out.
SCHULTZ: You got a comment, Bill Press, being the former of the Democratic Party in California, all of this money that‘s being tossed around out there? You‘ve got former CEOs who are spending their own money to the tune of $50 million, $60 million, $70 million.
I mean, is this California politics, you‘ve got to be a multimillionaire to get public office in that state now?
PRESS: Well, we‘ll see whether money can buy the Senate nomination and the gubernatorial nomination, Ed. But you know what I see happening in California—and it‘s also happening in Nevada? I mean, you‘ve got the anti-incumbent thing which is hurting Blanche Lincoln. You have got the progressive revenge, I call it, which is hurting Blanche Lincoln. But in Nevada, and particularly in California, I think you‘ve got the Republican self-destruction.
It looks like Republicans are going to nominate the two weakest candidates for Senate and governor, Meg Whitman, who‘s not a strong candidate, not as good as Steve Poizner. Poizner would have a much better shot against Jerry Brown. And in the Senate race, Carly Fiorina, who drove HP into the ground, right, who was fired from the McCain campaign because she said McCain could never run a company, could never be a good CEO, and on and on and on. And she‘s a much weaker candidate than Tom Campbell would be against Barbara Boxer.
They‘re going to nominate the two of them, it looks like. And then, as you pointed out, Orly Taitz, right, who‘s this wacky dentist from Orange County, the queen birther, is going to be the Republican nominee for secretary of state.
PRESS: And then in Nevada, of course, Sharon Angle is the weakest candidate.
SCHULTZ: Bill Press, always a pleasure.
PRESS: All right, Ed. See you.
SCHULTZ: Bill, good to have you with us. Thanks so much.
Coming up, “Drill, baby, drill” is back on. The White House wants to crank up shallow-water drilling again in an effort to save jobs. Environmentalists are not on board with that.
I‘ll talk to the head of the Mississippi Sierra Club, next.
And the “Chicken Lady” is trying to fend off a Tea Partier in the Nevada primary, as Harry Reid‘s career hangs in the balance.
All that, plus the president has become an ass kicker?
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW, live from Arkansas, right here on MSNBC.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back, and thanks for watching tonight from Little Rock, Arkansas.
We‘ve just learned that President Obama will make his fourth trip to the Gulf Coast next Monday and Tuesday. He will visit Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is releasing new safety requirements that will allow companies to resume shallow water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. It‘s an effort to bring back much-needed jobs back to the Gulf Coast, and I think he‘s asking for more trouble.
Also today, BP says it‘s collected almost 15,000 barrels of oil from the leaking well yesterday, but some experts are saying the gusher is actually worse than before the cap was put in place.
Joining me now is Louie Miller. He‘s the Mississippi director of the Sierra Club.
Mr. Miller, good to have you with us tonight.
LOUIE MILLER, MISSISSIPPI DIRECTOR, SIERRA CLUB: Good to be back with you.
SCHULTZ: As you see the situation—you bet. As you see the situation unfolding right now, what could be done that‘s not being done? The administration is saying it‘s doing everything it can do.
Where do you stand on that statement?
MILLER: Well, Ed, I want to announce tonight that, apparently over the weekend, there is a second leaking rig that‘s 12 miles off of the mouth of the Mississippi River, a rig called Ocean Saratoga. We don‘t know the ownership on that now, but we do know there‘s a 10-mile oil slick associated with this and dispersants being used.
And SkyTruth was the ones, and Ben Raines, who‘s a reporter out of “The Mobile Press Register,” discovered this over the weekend. So we have got more trouble in the Gulf than we did before, if. As if we needed it, we‘ve got more trouble at this point, and that‘s a scary development down here, I‘ll assure you.
SCHULTZ: Where is this rig again? Exactly—tell us your best location on where this second leaking rig is again.
MILLER: Yes. It‘s 12 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River in federal waters off the coast of Louisiana. So this is a bad development.
SCHULTZ: And you don‘t know who owns the rig?
MILLER: At this point I do not, but we‘re doing the research on that to find out the ownership on that rig. But we do know there‘s a 10-mile slick out there associated with this rig.
And I think this just adds insult to injury for what the people of the Gulf Coast are enduring right now at the hands of BP. And, you know, I‘m quite—this whole debate—we‘ve seen all the oil hacks, the talking heads, so to speak, that they‘re turning out the PR about loss of jobs.
How dare these companies talk about loss of jobs down here? You know, we‘ve got—what about the shrimpers, the oystermen, the hotel, motel operators, the convenience store operators, the bait shop owners, all of these people? Those are jobs that are—those people are losing their jobs right now.
And, you know, these shrimpers are being, I think, belittled by saying they‘re in the Vessel of Opportunity program. It‘s a vessel of desperation program that BP is attaching to this. It‘s unconscionable down here at this point.
You know, this is the same companies that hired, you know, armies of lobbyists to go into state and federal governments and cap damages at $75 million. These are the same people that, literally, in the state of Louisiana, if they care so much about their workers, even in the state of Louisiana you cannot file for punitive damages because they made sure that they took care of that.
There‘s a bill in the Louisiana legislature right now, in the Senate, by a senator to try and remove that cap even in gross negligence. This industry has owned this state and apparently owned this government for a long time, and it‘s just—it‘s out of control.
SCHULTZ: What do you make of the—Mr. Miller, I have got to ask you, what do you make of the president now softening his position on shallow-water drilling? And also, the Louisiana senator, Mary Landrieu, is saying you have got to get back to deepwater drilling ASAP with the proper permits to save all of the jobs down there.
What‘s your response to that?
MILLER: Well, you know, again, they‘ve got to—at this point in time, under the Bush administration the last eight years, you know, we‘ve had this regulatory romance between MMS, which turned—the oil companies turned that agency from a watchdog to a lapdog. OK?
You know, that rat‘s nest needs to be cleaned out from head to toe. We‘ve seen some movement in that direction. But until there are safeguards that are put into place, you know, the Sierra Club and Gulf Restoration Network have had to sue the Minerals Management Service because, guess what? BP lobbied them to get a waiver.
MILLER: You know, it‘s absurd.
SCHULTZ: All right. But in the midst of all of this, environmental disaster and all of the wildlife we‘re seeing, and the ecosystem being torn apart, the point I‘m trying to make here, Mr. Miller, is that your organization is standing by, and you have got a senator down there who is still advocating drilling, and now you have got the president of the United States who is saying, OK, let‘s go ahead and do some more shallow-water drilling.
I mean, don‘t you get the feeling that nothing‘s going to change?
MILLER: Nothing‘s going to change until the American people say enough is enough, and I think that is where we are at now. If Obama—the club has gone toward a program to call beyond oil. If Obama wants to be a visionary leader, then, by God, now is the time to step up the plate and do that and provide a Marshall plan of resources.
SCHULTZ: All right. Mr. Miller, good to have you with us tonight.
MILLER: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: It would definitely take that, a Marshall plan.
Louie Miller, Mississippi director of the Sierra Club, with us tonight here on THE ED SHOW.
Thanks so much.
MILLER: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Coming up, psycho-talking birther queen Orly Taitz could give birth to huge—well, we‘re going to be talking about her in just a moment.
And also, Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter joins me coming up at the bottom of the hour.
That‘s all coming up here on THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, we have got a psycho election out in California. The queen of the birthers is on the ballot for secretary of state.
Dr. Orly Taitz, Esquire, a rabid birther who is apparently a licensed attorney, dentist and real estate agent, is running for the Republican nomination. And the crazy part is, some political operatives think she could actually win, even after more than a year of saying psycho stuff like this—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ORLY TAITZ, REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FOR SECRETARY OF STATE, CALIFORNIA:
Mr. Obama is not eligible to be the president of the United States. He is illegitimate for the presidency.
He never provided his original birth certificate. What he provided was a Photoshopped computer image.
He has allegiance to three other nations.
Even if he was born in the White House, in the Lincoln Bedroom, he still would not be qualified as a natural-born citizen.
We can have him out of office within 30 days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: That kind of talk got Orly Taitz uninvited to a Tea Party rally earlier this year. That‘s right, she‘s even too crazy for the Tea Party. And now she wants to be California‘s secretary of state, which would put her in charge of elections for the next four years.
Now, you need to think about that for just a moment. Remember Katherine Harris, the Florida secretary of state, the election of 2000?
Orly Taitz would have that job in California when President Obama is up for
re-election? Think about that when you go to the polls, because Orly Taitz
should never get to be in a position allowing her to act on all her “Psycho Talk.”
Coming up, president Obama wants to kick some ass. He‘s ripping BP‘s CEO, Tony Hayward, and blasting all of his critics. “Huffington Post” co-founder Roy Sekoff sounds off in a moment.
And two hours to go here in Little Rock, Arkansas. Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter joins me one-on-one, next, here on THE ED SHOW.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Our battleground story tonight is of course the election runoff here in Arkansas. We broadcast to you tonight from Little Rock, where Bill Halter, the lieutenant governor, is challenging incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln in what has been a heated contest. I think the weather is so fitting. It must be about 100 degrees out here.
We have seen an unbelievable grassroots effort take place behind Bill Halter. And he joins us now here on THE ED SHOW.
BILL HALTER (D), CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATE: Welcome to Little Rock, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Did you order this weather or what?
HALTER: I tell you what—
SCHULTZ: It‘s been this hot—
HALTER: We wanted everybody to feel the heat‘s on.
SCHULTZ: It‘s been this hot between you and the senator.
HALTER: Oh, I think there are fundamental differences between us on some important areas of policy. Senator Lincoln favors reduction or elimination of the estate tax, a tax break for those with 10 million dollars of wealth or more. I oppose that. She‘s been ten years in the Senate presiding over seven trillion dollars of increase in our national debt. I‘m in favor of a strong fiscal policy for the United States.
SCHULTZ: Why have labor unions, especially the AFL-CIO—why have they embraced you? What have you done that she hasn‘t done?
HALTER: I think it‘s two things actually. I think, first, I worked very well with men and women who work before. They helped dramatically on the Scholarship Lottery, which we got passed for working families here. Secondly, I think candidly—they expressed this—I think they‘re disappointed in Senator Lincoln. She‘s told them one thing and done another.
SCHULTZ: She‘s not for the Employee Free Choice Act, but she says you‘re not either. Are you?
HALTER: The fact is I‘ve been very clear what I‘m for. I‘m for Democratic elections, a secret ballot, speeding up the elections, there‘s less coercion, and increased penalties for either side that try to coerce workers.
SCHULTZ: The union support, the AFL-CIO—did you expect this kind of parachute help coming in to the tune of eight million dollars? Eight million dollars in a state of three million people, that‘s a heck of a lot of money to run on.
HALTER: It is a big investment, but it was important to counter the investment made by corporate interests here. You know, I got two million dollars of negative ads run against me by three different groups, two of which refuse to identify who their donors are, just refuse. Don‘t know.
SCHULTZ: Blanche Lincoln was on “MORNING JOE” this morning, and had this comment about the support that you have been getting from unions. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN (D), ARKANSAS: I‘ve got 15 years of votes that people can look at and see where I was on those particular issues. Certainly, Bill‘s been criticizing me from everything he can find in that record. But, you know, you do need to know where people stand. Problem is Bill Halter won‘t say where he stands on the Employee Free Choice. He can‘t tell you where he—how he would vote on it. The fact is, when you get to the Senate, you have to take some choices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Bill, you need to respond to that. Where do you stand on Employee Free Choice Act?
HALTER: Ed, I‘ve been clear about it. I‘m not going to take the bait on flogging something that is no longer operative in the Senate. The fact is labor leaders will tell you they‘re not even going to seek a vote on the card check provision. They‘re working on a compromise. And based on what I know about that compromise, I support it.
SCHULTZ: OK. If the midterms go the way the Democrats expect them to go, EFCA will come back. And the folks supporting you here in Arkansas are going to expect your support. Will you give it to them?
HALTER: I‘m going to tell you the same thing I‘ve told them. It‘s the same thing I‘ve told labor leaders. And they expect nothing more from me. That is I will work with them on a principled compromise that will advance the speed of these elections and will increase penalties on anybody, management or labor, that tries to coerce workers.
Look, I have to tell you, leaders of labor unions have said that they‘re not seeking card check anymore. They‘re working on compromise that does not—
SCHULTZ: Not between now and the midterm, they‘re not. After the midterm, that‘s what this support is all about getting you in.
HALTER: I‘ll be honest with you, that‘s not what they‘re telling me.
SCHULTZ: What are they telling you?
HALTER: They‘re telling me they‘re working on this compromise and that‘s what they want to get passed.
SCHULTZ: OK, they want to make sure intimidation of the workplace is out.
SCHULTZ: You support all that?
HALTER: Absolutely I do. Look, it‘s fair to have secret ballot, democratic elections, no coercion on workers from either side, and increased penalties if anybody tries.
SCHULTZ: Why should the middle classers believe you? As opposed to Blanche Lincoln?
HALTER: Because I have a demonstrated record of standing up for middle class families here, in the face of powerful special interest groups that tried to block an initiative that I campaigned on, went directly to the people for. When the legislature blocked it, I went direct to the people again, got signatures, got it passed by two-thirds vote.
I‘ll tell you something, that‘s the way to get support also in the legislature. Previously, only 17 out of 135 legislators supported what we were doing. After a vote of the people, all of them did.
SCHULTZ: What about Bill Clinton down here, campaigning for Blanche Lincoln?
HALTER: Expected. Knew it, because he had endorsed her before I entered the race. I understand the guy who stands behind the commitments he‘s made. That‘s fine.
SCHULTZ: Can you beat Mr. Bozeman?
HALTER: Not only can I, I will.
SCHULTZ: You will?
HALTER: I will beat him.
SCHULTZ: She doesn‘t poll well against the Republicans. You poll better.
HALTER: five to 11 points better.
SCHULTZ: OK. So—what makes you think you could beat him in somewhat of a red state?
HALTER: Oh, listen, everybody has fundamentally misunderstood Arkansas politics here. They‘ve defined this race as left/right. This is about who is on the side of middle class families and who‘s siding with special interest groups. John Bozeman has the same record of siding with special interest groups in these cases as Senator Lincoln does. Many of their votes were identical. On top of that, he has a few other votes that she doesn‘t have.
SCHULTZ: Bill Halter, good luck to you.
HALTER: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: See you tonight. The mission here continues in Arkansas. I don‘t think I get off until midnight tonight.
HALTER: You‘ll be home early if it‘s midnight, Ed.
SCHULTZ: It‘s going to be that close. Thanks so much, Bill Halter, with us, lieutenant governor of Arkansas. We want to point out that we‘ve reached out on this program to Senator Lincoln, and asked her office to get her on this program. She chose not to do it. Actually, they didn‘t even get back to us.
Now, let‘s get some rapid fire response from our panel on the showdown here in Arkansas and on other stories. Republicans in Nevada will decide tonight if the chicken lady, Sue Lowden, will challenge Harry Reid in the fall.
The four-way Republican primary fight to succeed cheating South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is a complete, and I mean a complete free-for-all. The front-runner might be following in his footsteps.
And Democrats are launching 125 million dollar health care campaign ahead of the midterms. The push will be headed up by Vicki Kennedy and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
With us tonight, Jane Hamsher, founder of FireDogLake.com, and Ron Christie, Republican strategist. Jane, let‘s go to you first tonight. What‘s going to happen here in Arkansas? And does Bill Halter—does he deserve all of this progressive love that he‘s been getting here in the last ten weeks?
JANE HAMSHER, FIREDOGLAKE.COM: I hope you‘re going to be able to bring it home for Bill in Arkansas tonight. But I think Bill is actually right, that this is an insider versus outsider race. We‘re seeing the same thing happen in Arkansas that we‘re seeing going on in Republican races around the country. It is the incumbents of both parties who have taken votes for the corporations who are being kicked out and it‘s populists, who can‘t be measured on a right/left axis, who are being voted in. I think Bill Halter is going to win because of it.
SCHULTZ: You agree with that, Ron Christie?
RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Largely I do, Ed. I think that what we‘re seeing—the ABC News poll that came out this morning indicates the American people are tired of their elected officials in Washington. And I think people across the country right now are looking at new candidates. They‘re looking to sweep some of the incumbents out. I think Blanche Lincoln has really upset a lot of the people in her state. And they, more than likely, are going to sweep her out of office tonight.
SCHULTZ: Ron Christie, let‘s talk about South Carolina. What in the heck is going down there?
CHRISTIE: You‘ve got me, Ed.
SCHULTZ: It‘s something—go ahead.
CHRISTIE: It‘s a little nuts. I mean, South Carolina always has a history of rough and tumble primaries, and rough and tumble elections. I have to say, I think this is one of the nastiest, one of the dirtiest races that we‘ve seen coming in that state. You have a member of the state legislature who has been called a very derogatory term. People have questioned whether or not she‘s been unfaithful. You have all kinds of allegations going on down there. Doesn‘t make the party look good. We should be talking about the issues. We should not be slinging mud at each other.
It‘s something that the Democrats often do, but it seems like the Republicans in South Carolina picked up that gauntlet.
SCHULTZ: Jane Hamsher, is this the real Republican party, what we‘re seeing happen and unfold in South Carolina?
HAMSHER: Well, it looks like it. If she wins, she would be the first woman of color—the first woman and the first person of color ever nominated in the state. The fact that she‘s been subject to all of this stuff is a little less atypical than Ron is trying to pretend.
CHRISTIE: I don‘t know about that. My mom lives down in South Carolina. I‘ve met many, many wonderful people. The insinuation somehow that somehow the Republicans are dirty, or that sort of waging—I just don‘t think that‘s the case. I think there are many good Americans around this country. This is an isolated case.
HAMSHER: I think that—
SCHULTZ: Let‘s go to Nevada. Go ahead.
HAMSHER: No, go ahead.
SCHULTZ: All right. Let‘s go to Nevada. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, I think we all have to admit that if he pulls this out, this will be one great political comeback. He is polling better in the last 30 days. Who is going to win down there? Is Sue Lowden going to be his opponent? What do you think, Jane?
HAMSHWER: I kind of think she has faltered and that Sharron Angle is going to pull it out tonight. That‘s what the polls say anyway. I think she may not be able to beat Reid in the end. One of the things that makes Bill Halter a good candidate is that he was right for the people of Arkansas. He isn‘t a Jane Fonda. That person couldn‘t get elected there. I‘m not sure Sharron Angle is in step with the state of Nevada in the same way. She may have a hard time beating Reid and his money.
SCHULTZ: What do you think, Ron Christie? Is this just an isolated incident, that someone would have this much political pull in Nevada? You know, you take a look at the Tea Party, you take a look at Sharron Angle—she says some pretty wild stuff. And even some Republicans are distancing themselves from her.
CHRISTIE: Again, I think it‘s this question of do people want the political insiders or do they want the establishment? I think Angle has been running as an outsider, running as the Tea Party candidate. Lowden is widely perceived as being the establishment candidate. Ed, I just think the mood across the country, people don‘t want establishment. They don‘t want business as usual. I think once we go to bed tonight and wake up in the morning, we‘re going to find a lot of establishment candidates on both sides of the aisle are going to be swept aside in favor of new, fresh faces.
SCHULTZ: Finally, Ron, 125 million dollar health care campaign, post health care signing of the bill. I find this rather unusual. What do you make of this? What do you—what do you make of this PR campaign that, oh by the way, we passed something really good for people?
CHRISTIE: Well, again, I think these folks, while well intentioned to talk about health care, are spending a lot of money on something American people are really upset about, that was crammed through. I think that can be bad politics for the Democrats headed toward the election this fall.
SCHULTZ: Jane, your thoughts?
HAMSHER: Well, if they‘re going to talk about all the great things the health care bill does to senior citizens, as the president did today, they might also want to mention that the president‘s commission on debt reduction is considering cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits, and that they won‘t report until December 1st, and plan to have a vote on it with a lame-duck Congress shortly thereafter. So I think they can have this campaign launched, but there‘s some bad news in it for people on down the road.
CHRISTIE: I agree with that.
SCHULTZ: Jane Hamsher, Ron Christie, good to have you with us on THE ED SHOW tonight. Thanks so much.
Coming up, the president just said something shocking. Since this oil spill he has not spoken to BP‘s CEO Tony Hayward? Not even one phone call? Reaction next in my playbook. Stay with us. You‘re watching THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, President Obama is getting tough on BP‘s CEO Tony Hayward. It‘s about time. In light of Hayward‘s appalling insensitivity that came to light days after the oil rig explosion with comments like this, “what the hell did we do to deserve this?” Then he went further over the line saying he wanted his life back. Here‘s what President Obama had to say when Matt Lauer asked him about Hayward‘s comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, “THE TODAY SHOW”: He doesn‘t work for you, but if he did, would you want him out?
OBAMA: He wouldn‘t be working for me after any of those statements.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: For more let me bring in Roy Sekoff, founding editor of the “Huffington Post.” Roy, is the president now taking it up a notch? What do you think?
ROY SEKOFF, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”: Yeah. I mean, I was glad to hear him say he was looking to kick some ass. It was interesting that he said he needed some experts to tell him whose ass to kick. I think there‘s about 300 million people who would show them a big red bull‘s-eye right on the back side of BP and Tony Hayward.
SCHULTZ: What do you make of the fact that the president admitted today that he hasn‘t personally spoken to Tony Hayward? I mean, I—look, I‘m an Obama supporter. But, I mean, don‘t you go to the source? I mean, hasn‘t there been a moment in the last 50 days where the president might have felt compelled to pick up the phone and say, buddy, what are you doing? You‘re killing my environment.
I mean, it just reeks of constant legal ramifications and attorneys and everything else. But somewhere along the line doesn‘t—isn‘t it the obligation of the president to pick up the phone and say what in the hell are you doing?
SEKOFF: This is the guy you‘re going to let have his hands on the wheel taking control of the cleanup, yeah, you would think that would be the case. Ed, here‘s the thing that Obama has—you know, it was good to see emotion today. He‘s still not connecting the dots. You know, we‘ve had all these teachable moments. It‘s been a tough presidency, but we‘ve had these teachable moments, whether it was the meltdown or the mining explosion or the BP disaster.
And there‘s a recurring lesson here. And it‘s that special interests are dominating the public interests. And that‘s the dots that we‘re not seeing connected and what I‘d to see the president doing. Remember how Reagan, he had his overarching philosophy, which was government is not the solution, it‘s the problem. We‘ve seen that that‘s not the case, and that‘s what Obama needs to do. He needs to seize this moment, take these big events and have the counter-narrative to say, guys, the problem is these corporations gone wild. And we need to rein them in. We have to have real reform. And we have to have real regulations that puts the public first, as opposed to these special interests that are dominating our democracy.
SCHULTZ: Roy Sekoff, what do you make of negative ratings that are out there? “Washington Post”/ABC News poll shows six weeks after the oil spill, it‘s at 69 percent. Two weeks after Katrina, it was at 62 percent. That was the negative rating on the federal response. What do you make of this? What is President Obama and his team have to do to turn public thinking around on this?
SEKOFF: You know, Ed, it‘s frustration and it has to be expected. Fifty days of the gusher just still coming and coming and coming. We‘re over 30 million gallons out there now. I mean, this is something we have to expect. And I think what Obama has to do, it‘s not just words. You know, we don‘t need him to be an actor or a human emoticon, showing us how to feel. We need him to take the actions that let us feel that they are actually in control.
That doesn‘t mean he‘s going to automatically plug that damn hole, as he said. They‘re having problems with that. Showing he‘s making it a priority, making it a number-one situation. That‘s what I‘m starting to see. It‘s good to hear he‘s going to go back to the Gulf on Monday. But he needs to let us know that this is, first and foremost, a national emergency, and he‘s going to stick to it as hard as he can as long as he can, until it‘s fixed.
SCHULTZ: Roy Sekoff, always a pleasure. Great to have you with us tonight.
SEKOFF: Ed, stay cool out there, OK?
SCHULTZ: It‘s not easy.
Final page in the playbook tonight, my American workers town hall and book tour continues. I want to thank all of the hardworking Americans for coming out to talk with me in recent days. My book is called “Killer Politics: How Big Money and Bad Politics are Destroying the Great American Middle Class.” We‘ll be in Seattle tomorrow, and we‘ll be headed to Portland and Minneapolis later on this week. For more information, go to ED.MSNBC.com or go to my radio website at WeGotEd.com.
Coming up, the Democratic establishment is on alert. Bill Halter might be ready to knock off another incumbent, just a few hours away. Adam Green from the PCCC will join me here in just a moment.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Finally tonight, we are down to the wire here in Little Rock, Arkansas. Progressives are ready to show the country money can‘t make up for a grassroots army and the power of the unions. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee raised a quarter of a million dollars for Bill Halter. Adam Green is co-founder of PCCC, and he joins me now here on THE ED SHOW.
What if you don‘t win tonight? What does this say? How heavy a lift can this be?
ADAM GREEN, PROGRESSIVE CHANGE CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE: Look, the stakes are admittedly very, very high tonight. If we win, it will shock the political world. It will really send a signal to all corporate Democrats that there will be accountability if they stand opposed to things like the public option and Wall Street reform. If we lose, it would be a big blow. That‘s why we‘re working really, really hard to get out the vote today.
SCHULTZ: The folks that have been going door to door here in Arkansas say it‘s oil, jobs and health care. Now, you know, obviously oil plays right into the corporations, the way they‘ve been able to cash whip and strong arm the Mineral Management folks, and how they were able to get there. The jobs bill, where has Blanche Lincoln failed when it comes to jobs?
GREEN: Well, over and over again when it‘s come to helping main street versus helping Wall Street, she‘s been there for Wall Street, voting for big tax cuts for Wall Street corporations, Wall Street millionaires, originally voting to deregulate Wall Street. That has killed jobs. This economic decline we‘re in right now is a direct result of the votes she cast.
SCHULTZ: Her position on health care, she was adamantly opposed to a government option, which polled very well. Majority-wise here in Arkansas, you have a low-wage state. You have low-union representation in this state. Union workers have health care. Non-union workers, low wage, would have been helped by the public option. Was that a miscalculation on her part?
GREEN: It was a huge, huge miscalculation. I‘m pretty convinced that if she had not helped Joe Lieberman kill the public option, this primary probably wouldn‘t have happened. The environment wouldn‘t have be there for a really, really strong opposition to her. But she screwed up. Bill Halter has really rode a really populist wave and he‘s going to win tonight.
SCHULTZ: Populist wave. But is he the progressive that progressives can count on?
GREEN: Let me tell you, I have spent months working with Bill Halter, spent a day with the RV on him the other day. I can tell you, he is, at his core, a populist. He instinctively sides with the little guy against big corporations. That‘s what progressives want. Right now, all day long, there are progressives across America who are going to HalterGOTV.com—get out the vote—HalterGOTV.com, calling voters, and saying, please, if you weren‘t going to vote, please take five minutes to go out and vote. We need to get the job done tonight.
SCHULTZ: If your organization wouldn‘t have come into Arkansas, would he be in this position?
GREEN: I give a lot of credit to the whole progressive movement. The PCCC, Democracy for America, MoveOn.org, blogs like Daily Kos. This has been an amazing movement effort. I think we‘ve created an environment that has made a candidacy like Bill Halter‘s possible. This is a new model for campaigning. My guess is that if Bill Halter wins tonight, there will be a lot more progressive victories throughout 2010.
SCHULTZ: Does he win tonight?
GREEN: I think he will. I hope he wins big.
SCHULTZ: Good to have you with us. Thanks for joining us. Tonight in our telephone survey I asked you, who do you think has more political force? The Tea Party movement or the progressive movement? Sixteen percent of you say the Tea Partiers; 84 percent of you say the progressives.
That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. I‘ll see you back here throughout the night. Stay with MSNBC for all of the coverage here in Arkansas and around the country, as they‘re voting in 12 states. See you from Seattle tomorrow. MSNBC Super Tuesday coverage continues with a live edition of “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews, which starts right now, here on the place for politics, MSNBC.
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