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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Tuesday, Oct. 26th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Scott McAdams, Joe Miller, Shannyn Moore, Vic Fischer

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening, Keith.  I am so excited that we finally persuaded Joe Miller to be on this show.  I cannot believe it.

OLBERMANN:  Sharing the sentiment of all of us back here in New York.

MADDOW:  I hear you and I hear the doubt in your voice beneath it. 

Thank you, Keith.  Appreciate it.

OLBERMANN:  No, no.  No, no.  No, no, no.  I‘m just getting my popcorn.

MADDOW:  We are live at the Tap Root in Anchorage, Alaska.


MADDOW:  With many, many, many of our closest friends.

I have to tell you, the people up here are as nice and as fired up about this election as the days are short and the mountains are beautiful.

Here‘s the thing about coming to Alaska to cover a political race. 

When you fly all the way up to what is often described as the far upper

left corner of the country, when you fly to Seattle, and then you realize

that your connecting flight to Anchorage is another three hours up and left

you think, oh, wow, Alaska is really far from the rest of the country. 

But then you land here and you think—oh, wow, the rest of the country is really far from here.

Alaska is different and proudly so.  It is not just geographically noncontiguous with the rest of the country.  It is politically noncontiguous.


MADDOW:  And since control of the United States Senate could hinge on what‘s going to happen in this Senate race here, it is worth remembering that in 1994, the first midterms of Bill Clinton‘s presidency, when everything in the country went from blue to red, Alaska went from red to blue, picking a Democrat to replace their Republican governor.


MADDOW:  In the last two elections, which were Democratic tidal waves, the troubled Alaska Congressman Don Young held on as a Republican when everyone thought his seat would go Democratic.  Alaska does also own thing.

After a tide of outside money, mostly from California, propelled the candidacy of a Tea Party conservative challenger, Alaska‘s incumbent Republican senator lost her primary this year.  Instead of endorsing the man who beat her, she decided to run a write-in campaign against him.

Now, if viewed from the lower 48, that is nuts.  No one has won a write-in campaign for the United States Senate since Strom Thurmond did it in 1954.  No one has ever won a write-in campaign for any statewide office in Alaska ever.

From a distance, what Lisa Murkowski is trying to do is nuts and it‘s impossible.  But from up here, I don‘t know if it‘s still nuts, I don‘t know if it‘s impossible, but it is definitely a different perspective.

Lisa Murkowski has been getting primary from the right.  She has been fighting off right wing challengers from her own party essentially the whole time she has been in office.  As a state legislator in the late ‘90s, she was hit from the right for trying to balance the budget by means that included tax increases.  In 2002, she barely survived a right-wing primary challenger named Nancy Dahlstrom.

In 2004, running to defend United States Senate seat her dad gave her, she got primaried from the right again.  A guy named Mike Miller.  Not Joe Miller.  He went after her on abortion and gun rights and taxes and she trounced him.

So, Focus on the Family and Jim DeMint and the hardcore anti-abortion groups and the Tea Party and Sarah Palin—they are all out for Lisa Murkowski‘s blood from the right, and Joe Miller‘s candidacy is the latest manifestation of that.

But Murkowski has dealt with these types of challenges essentially her whole career and she‘s always won.  So, now, she thinks she can win again.  And this is great overlooked point of this whole year for this whole country about the Tea Party and the conservative insurgency and the civil war on the Republican side, this is the thing that nobody is getting.  It‘s not new.

The conservative movement purifies Republican Party.  It is their constant goal.  They litmus-test them.  Sometimes, they do it a lot.  Sometimes, they do it a little.  And when the Republican Party is at its weakest, the Republican Party is most susceptible to what the conservative movement is always trying to do to them.  This is not new.


MADDOW:  Preparing to talk to you today, I felt like I got—I felt like I had been looking through a telescope and then I turned the telescope around the other way.


MADDOW:  Because the national story of this race is, oh, there‘s this Tea Party uprising and all sorts of people on the Republican Party are getting primary from the right.  And it‘s the story and usual national thing going on.


MADDOW:  But in 2002, you got primaried from the right.  In 2004, you got primaried from the right.

MURKOWSKI:  No, not in 2002 because remember—

MADDOW:  But you were in the state legislature.

MURKOWSKI:  Oh, oh—yes, yes.

MADDOW:  And then when you were in the state legislature, you got primaried from the right and you won.

MURKOWSKI:  That‘s true.  That‘s true.  Right.

MADDOW:  And in 2004, defending the Senate seat, you were primaried again from the right.


MADDOW:  And now, in 2010, you‘re getting primaried from the right again.

MURKOWSKI:  Yes.  You would think I would get the message.

MADDOW:  Well, what is the message?  I mean, why does this keep happening to you?

MURKOWSKI:  Well, I mean, I‘m from Alaska.  Over 54 percent of the people in our state choose not to affiliate themselves with a major party.  And so, when you come on, you are the Republican, you‘ve got to expect that there is going to be a challenge.  That is kind of the nature of the politics in our state.

But I‘m not going to change who I am.  To conform to that period of time when there‘s an election.  I‘m not that kind of a person.  And so, I know, there‘s a challenge from the right.  I have survived it in all of the other instances, didn‘t so much survive it in this cycle.

And—but yet again, think about the dynamics of the Alaska electorate.  We just don‘t fit neatly into these party boxes.

MADDOW:  One of the reasons that we came here is because there does seem to be a persistent sort of, not—I don‘t want to say hard right because I don‘t want to it sound pejorative.  But a very conservative wing of the Republican Party.


MADDOW:  FOX News makes me crazy, but I am—I am a—I am a real admirer actually of Greta Van Susteren.  She did an interview with you last week where you said something really interesting.  You said you remembered a time when the moral majority came in and turned Republican politics on its head here in Alaska.

What did you mean when you said that to Greta?

MURKOWSKI:  And it was—and I don‘t know what was going on in the rest of the country.  I can just tell you what was happening locally, because I was very involve as a Republican in my party at that.  There was just this movement from the far right where the focus was really on a litmus test of very conservative Republican values, and if you weren‘t there 100 percent on abortion, if you weren‘t there 100 percent of some of these other very conservative social issues, then you weren‘t a bona fide Republican.


MURKOWSKI:  And there was a push to really—to take over within the party, some of the party leadership, a move to elect only those candidates that pass that litmus test.  And that was a period in our state that caused a lot of tension because you have so many Republicans in the state, like me, who, you know, look at it and say, well, OK, I‘ve supported this one but I don‘t support this one.  So, I don‘t necessarily pass your litmus test.

But what are we looking for here in our state in terms of leadership?  Aren‘t we looking for somebody who can take good ideas from both sides, marry them together, develop good policy?  Isn‘t that what we‘re trying to build here?

Or are we really trying to define people according to somebody else‘s test, somebody else‘s purity test?  I don‘t think that‘s good for us as a party.  I don‘t think it‘s good for us as a nation.


MADDOW:  It seems to be the consistent impulse in your party though. 

It doesn‘t—it‘s not a one-off thing.  It‘s not a Joe Miller phenomenon.

MURKOWSKI:  Yes, it‘s true.

MADDOW:  It‘s been happening cyclically for a long time, and it‘s a lot of times manifest itself by people taking you on.

MURKOWSKI:  And I guess real question then is, it manifests itself in people taking me on.  And what‘s the outcome?  Well, I‘ve managed to survive through that process.


MADDOW:  More of my interview today with Senator Lisa Murkowski is to come.

Here‘s the thing though: This is not a rematch of the Republican primary.  This is a general election.  And there is a real Democrat in the race and he is really different than either Joe Miller or Lisa Murkowski.


MADDOW:  And while Lisa Murkowski may look too moderate when you look at her from the far right corner of righty McRightville and Sarah Palin‘s house, when you look at her from anywhere else in Alaska, Lisa Murkowski and Joe Miller are a lot more similar than they are different.  Yes, Joe Miller says Social Security is unconstitutional and he wants to privatize it.  Lisa Murkowski is in favor of privatization as well.

She also says we should look into raising the retirement age.  Joe Miller is going after Lisa Murkowski for not being as hard lined as he is on criminalizing abortion.  Lisa Murkowski is not pro-choice.  She‘s got a failing 25 percent from NARAL.  It‘s not zero, but it‘s 25 percent.

Both Joe Miller and Lisa Murkowski are funded by big, outside corporate donors to the tune of millions of dollars.

The big difference between Murkowski and Miller that her campaign is banking on is that he wants to cut off the spigot of federal funding that Alaska frankly lives on.

Fair enough criticism.  But Lisa Murkowski voted no on federal funding for Alaska in the form of the stimulus.  Although that did not stop her from putting out press releases bragging on what in Alaska was funded by the stimulus that she voted “no” on.

All of that outside ad money flowing into Alaska into this race is for and about Joe Miller and Lisa Murkowski.  They are destroying each other as only two candidates with almost exactly the same platform can do.


MADDOW:  Republican civil war.

Who‘s left standing?  The guy that is different than both of them. 

Democrat Scott McAdams, plugging away.


MADDOW:  And not taking any corporate money.  He‘s got no private security force arresting reporters.  His name actually is on the ballot.

He is not ducking debates or events, and the national media is all about ignoring him because GOP civil war is the national story this year, and that‘s Miller and Murkowski.

Scott McAdams is however being noticed enough here in Alaska by the people who actually decide this race.  That although he is trailing, it is roughly a three-way tie.



MADDOW:  Scott, how are you?

MCADAMS:  How‘s it going?  Thanks for coming to Alaska.

MADDOW:  Really, really nice to meet you in person.

MCADAMS:  Good to see you.  It‘s good to meet you, too.

MADDOW:  I hope we didn‘t swoop in and disrupt things.  I can tell the phone calls are still going on.

MCADAMS:  No, we‘re rocking and rolling, working hard.

MADDOW:  Do we have to get out ways so that we don‘t intrude on people‘s conversations?

MCADAMS:  We can probably step back here a little bit and, you know, come take a tour.  We got a small space.

MADDOW:  Are you guys OK?  You‘re good?  All right.

MCADAMS:  (INAUDIBLE) place here.

MADDOW:  For all the right reasons, right?

MCADAMS:  That‘s right.  That‘s right.

The refrigerator room has now become a call room.

MADDOW:  So, when people stay that Democrats aren‘t going to turn out and Democrat aren‘t enthused about this election.


MADDOW:  They don‘t live in Alaska?



MCADAMS:  We have a plus five enthusiasm—plus five enthusiasm gain in Alaska so there‘s not an enthusiasm gap.  The Democrats are fired up in this cycle.

CROWD:  Yes.

MADDOW:  I—you know, I will tell you, a secret, that other Democrats from other states who have nothing to do with you told me, have been telling me over the past week or 10 days that up here, it feels like 2008.  That the Democrats feel as excited as 2008.


MADDOW:  It‘s not the pep rally or anything but I do—but it is—

I mean, people are talking about you behind your back that the Democrats in Alaska are more enthused than people are giving them credit for.  That‘s part of the reason I wanted to see if it was true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Because it‘s hard for Democrats to win in this state.  It‘s a Republican state.  But we win under a couple scenarios: when you have two other people in the race, two conservatives running against each other.

Tony Knowles won in ‘94 because he had two conservatives running, so he won for governor.  A candidate implodes like Lynn Dower (ph), a Democrat won when the Republican imploded.  Or in some—or you‘re convicted of a felony.


MADDOW:  Let me just ask you one other thing and I‘m a little nervous—not nervous, a little embarrassed to ask because everybody thinks Alaska, Sarah Palin.  Alaska politics—Sarah Palin.

And it seems to me like Lisa Murkowski would be in a better position in this race if Republicans weren‘t afraid of crossing Sarah Palin to endorse her.  But because she has endorsed Joe Miller, Republicans are really shy, they don‘t want to cross her.

Do you think that she matters in this race?  Is she casting a Specter here?

MCADAMS:  No.  I don‘t think she has that big of a role here.  I mean, certainly, she did in the primary.  She endorsed Joe Miller.  That helped lead him to national celebrity.

You know, folks—nobody knew who Joe Miller was in the state on the 15th of May, but Sarah Palin is somebody who has a lower approval rating in Alaska than Barack Obama.

MADDOW:  Really?

MCADAMS:  She does.


MCADAMS:  Her numbers are lower.

So, Sarah Palin was—is somebody who was very popular in the beginning, but who‘s very unpopular with Alaskans.

MADDOW:  Well, Scott, thank you for your time.

MCADAMS:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  I feel like I have to get out of here.


MADDOW:  The encroaching (ph) and all these calls, you‘re very busy.

MCADAMS:  You bet.  We are busy.  We‘re making thousands of phone calls preparing to win.

MADDOW:  The sprint to the finish.  Thanks a lot.

MCADAMS:  Yes, thank you.  Thanks, Rachel.  Thanks for coming to Alaska.

MADDOW:  All right.  It‘s going to be fun.



MADDOW:  Much more ahead, including our no holds barred, ultimately, slightly successful all-out effort to get Joe Miller to talk to us.

We are live from the Tap Root bar in Anchorage, Alaska.



MADDOW:  Do you agree homosexuality is a choice?

JOE MILLER ®, ALASKA SENATE CANDIDATE:  I think it‘s up to the individual.  An individual has to make that decision.

MADDOW:  About whether or not they‘re gay or about whether or not they believe that?




TINA CONE, TRMS PRODUCER:  Hi, Mr. Miller.  We‘re with THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.  She‘s in town.

MILLER:  Is she?

CONE:  Coming on Tuesday.  We would love to interview you.

MILLER:  I‘m in Anchorage or Fairbanks tomorrow—

CONE:  Are you here on Tuesday night?



MILLER:  Randy‘s the guy.  Yes.

CONE: Oh, wonderful.  Thank you so much.

MILLER:  You bet.  You bet.


MADDOW:  Our producer Tina Cone‘s persistence paid off.  We did, in fact, finally land an interview with Senate candidate Joe Miller today.  It went OK—until we got to the gay stuff.  Yes, that‘s coming up.

We‘re live from Anchorage.



MADDOW:  The Nevada Senate race may be the highest profile Senate race in the country.  This one here in Alaska though is the most interesting race.  Until this became a full scale Republican civil war in a three-way race, nobody gave the Democrats Scott McAdams much of a shot at this.

But, now, after what this has become up here, Scott McAdams thinks he‘s going to win.


MADDOW:  When you‘re calling people, when you‘re making these calls, what‘s the argument you‘re making?  What‘s the—what‘s the Scott McAdams, not Murkowski, not Miller argument?

MCADAMS:  Sure.  You know, I think in a three-way race, of course, in Alaska, Democrats have to work twice as hard to win.


MCADAMS:  We‘re working three times as hard in a three-way.  So, this is a unique opportunity for Alaska Democrats, for Alaskan moderates, for progressives, to vote their values and not their fears.  Everywhere I go throughout the state, there‘s a lot of fear in the environment.  I think people recognized that Joe Miller and the Tea Party Express represent an extreme view of the world that doesn‘t represent the main in Alaska.  And so, folk are wondering, where should we go?  Where should we invest our vote?

You know, as we make the case to Alaskans that, hey, hold on a minute.  Wait.  Now, if you‘re a Democrat, if you‘re a progressive, this is a unique opportunity to send someone to United States Senate from Alaska who represents your values.

Of course, Lisa Murkowski is, in fact, as a matter of record, one of the most conservative members of the United States Senate.


MCADAMS:  You know, she has voted with Mitch McConnell 90 percent of the time.

Joe Miller stands ready to repeal much of the 20th century.  Lisa Murkowski has voted against every single progressive measure aimed at moving forward in the 21st century.

MADDOW:  The charge that you‘ve made against Joe Miller is that he‘s too extreme, that he‘s out of the mainstream.  What specifically makes him too extreme?

MURKOWSKI:  Well, I‘ll tell you: when somebody, like Joe Miller, or those within the Tea Party, suggests that the safety net programs that we have, whether it‘s unemployment, whether it is Medicaid, the DenaliKidCare program that we have here in Alaska, whether it‘s Social Security—that somehow or other, these are unconstitutional because they‘re not enumerated within the powers of the Constitution.  That somehow or other, we should just be eliminating these.

I think that that is—that is out of the mainstream.  I don‘t think most Americans would agree with that.

MADDOW:  But you voted—you voted in favor of privatizing Social Security—this idea of personalized accounts.

MURKOWSKI:  I voted for a pilot program back in 2007, 2006, and I don‘t remember what it was—a pilot program that would allow individuals to take a certain percentage—I don‘t think it was more than 25 percent but I don‘t really recall.  But a certain percentage of the retirement income, and if they wanted, they could opt into a program like this.

The thing that we find with Social Security is: most seniors don‘t really want to figure out how they should be investing.  And they‘re afraid of it and, quite honestly, after what we saw with the markets the past couple years, I think most people there are looking at that and saying, not so good an idea.

MADDOW:  Well, that program was being piloted but you voted for it as a stalking horse to see if we could privatize Social Security.  George Bush is now saying that‘s his great regret of his presidency, that he didn‘t go all the way, and he didn‘t get to privatize it - and you were with him on that.

MURKOWSKI:  I was with him on a small pilot project for those only who felt that they can do that.  My parents can probably handle investment of their own income.  My mom is pretty savvy on that.

Most seniors, I‘m not so sure that they are comfortable with that.  Why would—why would we force them to do that?  And if it‘s an option-only and that‘s what that was, it was an option-only, then that‘s something that, you know—


MADDOW:  And no matter how savvy you are, if you opted for it, and you had your money in there before the crash, then no matter how savvy you were as a person or how much else you had going on, the safety net is gone.

MURKOWSKI:  It is.  But you have made that choice.


MURKOWSKI:  Not your government telling you, well, sorry.  You‘re on your own.  I think that‘s the difference.

MADDOW:  Yes.  That‘s the difference between it being a safety net, though, and not.  A safety net says, no matter what bad decision you make, it‘s a safety net for you.

MURKOWSKI:  Yes.  Yes.  Although it‘s a safety net now, how much of a safety net is going to be for you and me?

MADDOW:  Well, you said that you want to look into raising the retirement age?

MURKOWSKI:  I think that is one of the considerations.  And, obviously, we‘re going to learn more from these two bipartisan commissions.  They‘re out there in terms of what the options are, the pros and cons.  I‘m glad that somebody is doing that because this is too big to get wrong.

I think we need to have those that have been doing nothing else for the past eight, nine months, to focus on these issues I want to see.  But for—as one of the alternatives, I think that is one that is somewhat reasonable.

Although when I talk to some of the folks that are here in the state that, for instance, our laborers, the guys that are working the docks down here, they‘re looking at me and saying, yes, I‘m living longer.  But let me tell you when I hit 65, I‘m ready to—I‘m ready to stop.

And, so—you know, there are pros and cons on this.  I throw that out as an option.  I don‘t throw it out as something that, yes, by golly, this is what I‘m going to be voting for.

I think we need to be OK in talking about what the options are without being crucified for the suggestions that are out there.  Now, you‘re tagged as aha, you‘re going to raise that limit.  We need to put—we need to put the option that are out there on the table.  And I hope that when this bipartisan commission actually does come out with something, we can have a good and a hearty debate about what those proposals are without getting nailed.

MADDOW:  The reason I press you on it is because if the distinction that you‘re drawing between and you Joe Miller is that he‘s putting Social Security at risk because he‘s really radical and he‘s got really radical ideas about constitutional—

MURKOWSKI:  And he says eliminate it.

MADDOW:  Yes.  And so, he says it should be—it‘s unconstitutional.  He says he wants to get rid of it.  It is—I think it‘s important for people to understand that‘s what Joe Miller‘s perspective is on Social Security.


MADDOW:  But you‘ve got—you‘ve got—you‘ve got strong ideas about Social Security, too, which are not necessarily about leaving it the way it is.  And so, that‘s, I think—

MURKOWSKI:  And that‘s fair.


MURKOWSKI:  That‘s fair.

MADDOW:  You have criticized Joe Miller as somebody who will absolutely reduce the amount of federal money coming into this state by principle.  But when you voted “no” on the stimulus, you also did things like—I spend some time on your Web site.  You congratulated—you sent out a congratulations press release on $50,000 that was coming in on stimulus on HIV community standards of care.  And you put out a press release, touting new preschool programs on Alaska school districts funded by the stimulus.

You‘re touting these programs that you voted against.  Isn‘t—is there—that seems hypocritical to me.

MURKOWSKI:  Well, and keep in mind that any press release that went out was on initiatives that we had been advancing—for instance, the initiatives for early learning.  These were things that we had been developing, been working.

Now, in fairness, after a couple of those press releases, we didn‘t issue any more.  When moneys came out on the stimulus, Mark Begich sent out the headlines.  We didn‘t send out the headlines.

MADDOW:  Because you voted “no” on that money.

MURKOWSKI:  Because did I vote no on the money.  I‘m still waiting to see the full impact of those stimulus dollars here in my state.  I talked to people every day, wishing and waiting and hoping and praying that they‘re going to see something coming their way.

But—it‘s a fair point to bring up.  And we recognize that, you know, it‘s a “no” vote.  Let‘s—you know, it‘s not worth it.

MADDOW:  Senator Murkowski, this is a tough race for you.  You‘re trying to do something historic.

MURKOWSKI:  It‘s a fun race.  It is a fun race.

MADDOW:  If you do this, nobody has ever won a statewide write-in in Alaska ever.  Nobody has won write-in to the Senate since 1954 since Strom Thurmond.

MURKOWSKI:  It‘s about time, though, don‘t you think?


MADDOW:  When we headed up here to Anchorage, we were pretty sure that we were get going to get interviews with the incumbent senator and now write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, and also with the Democrat Scott McAdams.

Getting an interview though with the Republican nominee, Joe Miller

much more of a challenge.




MADDOW:  Rachel Maddow from MSNBC.  I would love to talk to you afterwards.

MILLER:  We may be able to do that.


MADDOW:  OK.  Thank you.  Good luck.




MADDOW:  It turns out it worked.  (INAUDIBLE)




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re standing in the rain, supporting lower tax, less government and sanctity of life.

REPORTER:  And how often do you come out and do this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Probably once, twice a week.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  For how long have you been doing this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Since the primary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.  We started back up this week heavier because we‘re getting closer.  We‘re down to a week now.  So, it‘s time to get out and get as much energy going as we can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We appreciate your support.  Thank you.

DAVE PETERSON, VOLUNTEER:  I‘m Dave Peterson.  I‘m a volunteer for Lisa.  Well, Miller scares me.  I don‘t like the way he comes across.  He does not seem to be too truthful with some of the things he‘s putting in his ads, and I just do not want to see him elected.


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Some of the volunteers we met from the amazing Senate campaign here in Anchorage.  One of the thing that is awesome about Alaska is that when the rest of the country talks about and raps dieses about and makes stuff up about, the founding fathers, here the founding fathers are still around.  The state is only 50 years old.


MADDOW:  So, if you have a question in Alaska about original intent or something like that, you can just call one of the surviving delegates from the Alaska constitutional convention.  Like, for example, Vic Fischer who joins us now.


MADDOW:  Also joining us is Alaska radio host and blogger and our other friend in Anchorage besides Tank Jones.  Shannyn Moore.


MADDOW:  Thank you, guys, so much.  Good to see you.  Thanks you guys.  You have quite a fan club here.  Shannyn, let me ask you first.  In the last week of this campaign, do you think that the dynamics are still in motion that this could still end up being a surprise?

SHANNYN MOORE, KUDO RADIO HOST:  I do.  I think that, you know, having more records released today on Joe Miller.  I mean, people, 52 percent.  I mean, Lisa Murkowski is right, 52 percent of people here considered themselves Roguey or Mavericky when it come to voting.  They could vote either way, and a lot of people don‘t vote a straight ticket.  So, we saw that last time with Don Young being elected and Mark Begich.


MOORE:  So, people aren‘t afraid to cross over.  So, it‘s really hard to sort of corral on this like herding cats.  So, I think people are waiting for more information still, because it is coming out.  Like, every day there‘s a new scandal.  So, I think people are witting.  There are a lot of votes still in play.

MADDOW:  Vic, Joe Miller is running as a constitutional conservative.  You help write Alaska‘s constitution.  This week, you wrote that Joe Miller is a phony constitutionalist with ideas imported from the lunatic fringe.


MADDOW:  I want to ask you about the lunatic fringe part of it.  I think we‘d end up in a long conversation, but why do you say that he‘s a phony?

VIC FISCHER, AK CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION DELEGATE:  Well, because he claims to be a Yale law school graduate, and I would think that a Yale law school graduate would understand the constitution is a framework, a foundation for the future.  It‘s not something that is designed to be static and forgotten forever.  Just like the Alaska constitution.  We wrote it 55 years ago.

It‘s a foundation document.  But Alaska has changed tremendously in these 55 years, and the constitution is a live document.  And the people today adapted to our needs of today and tomorrow‘s future.

MADDOW:  In terms of the difference between Alaska and the rest of the country, the rest of the country looking to Alaska because it may decide the Senate, the balance of the Senate.  Is there something about the Alaska constitution or about political values up here that really are unique?  That are different than the rest of the country?

FISCHER:  Well, I think that we‘re more individualistic.  I think that we generally vote our values, and that‘s where Miller comes in.  There‘s a bunch of people who are way off to the right, and they support Miller.  And then there is this big middle, and many Democrats, and the question is, how do we corral people to vote our values.

In this case, I‘m speaking of Democratic values.  And too many Democrats are thinking, oh, God, we have to defeat Miller, and therefore, we should vote for Murkowski.  What we‘re trying to do is to get them back to understand that McAdams can win.  We can win.


MADDOW:  In terms of the fight that brought us into this weird three-way race.  I don‘t think I knew before I got here that, at least I didn‘t think before I got here that what‘s going on in Miller v. Murkowski is sort of just the latest manifestation of the conservative movement trying to corral the Alaska Republican party like they always have.  Do you see this as this continuous from that history?  Is this unique?  Or is it just part of that long history?

MOORE:  I think this is a family feud.

MADDOW:  Really?

MOORE:  I really do.  There has been a Murkowski dynasty in the state for quite some time.  I mean, we saw Frank Murkowski as senator for decades.  He became governor.  He appointed his daughter, you know.  And so, there was this shift just within their family.  So, you look at that, and then, of course, Frank Murkowski was beaten horribly by Sarah Palin.  I mean, I think he got 17 percent or 18 percent of vote, and frankly, I voted for him.

Because I thought he was easier to beat for the Democrats.  So, his percentage as high as it was was helped out by Democrats.  So, Frank Murkowski walked in that night with his daughter to people that were just like get the hell out, and he did move.  He moved to Utah, and she may have to move, too.


MADDOW:  I‘ll only bring it up because you, guys, brought it up.  Is Sarah Palin important in this race?  Obviously, Joe Miller is her candidate of choice.

MOORE:  I think it hurts him more than it helps him.  I mean, you know, she does have really low numbers, and people that did support her and walked door to door in the snow.  I mean, you think it‘s cold now.  You wait a month.  People walked door to door for her to get her elected and she quit.  And there‘s a lot of things you can do in Alaska, but you can‘t quit.

You can‘t run dogs and quit.  You can‘t row a boat and quit.  You won‘t survive here if you‘re a quitter.  It‘s an Alaska value.


MOORE:  So, even people that are still conservative, still they see her as a quitter.

MADDOW:  Vic Fischer, one of Alaska‘s founding fathers and hold right (ph) the constitution here, it‘s such an honor to meet you.

FISCHER:  A real pleasure.


MADDOW:  Shannyn Moore, as always a pleasure for you to come.

More of the wild and wonderful lengths that we had to go through to try to meet Joe Miller here in Alaska when we come back.


MADDOW:  Can anybody want to tell me why you guys support Joe Miller? 

What it is you like about him?




MADDOW:  Spend any time covering politics in Alaska or talking about politics in Alaska and chances are you‘re going to come across a guy name Tank.  His full name is Tank Jones.  Most people know him just as Tank.  Among other things, Tank‘s day job is serving as manager and bodyguard and adviser for Sarah Palin‘s almost son-in-law, Levi Johnston.  Tank is also the sweetheart who picked me up at the airport and offered to school me on Alaska politics 101.


TANK JONES, LEVI JONHSTON‘S MANAGER:  Rachel, how are you doing?

MADDOW:  Thank you for picking me up.

JONES:  Yes.  Good to see you.

MADDOW:  You‘re my only friend in Anchorage.

JONES:  I‘ve got you covered.  You have caused such a stir here.

MADDOW:  What?  Nobody is supposed to know I‘m coming.

JONES:  They know now.

MADDOW:  Really?

JONES:  Oh, my goodness.  I‘ve got a million cars.  I never that nothing (ph) to one soul, but I‘ve gotten a million calls.

MADDOW:  Really?  Because, you know, we put in call to the candidates and everything—

JONES:  They told.

MADDOW:  And they told everybody?

JONES:  Oh, yes.

MADDOW:  We didn‘t want to, you know, like, get in the way.  Really.

JONES:  Get in the way.  We need somebody to get in the way.  You know, right now, we‘re not at our best here in Alaska right now.

MADDOW:  And why do you say that?

JONES:  Well, you know, the way the political thing is going.  I mean, it got dirty and that‘s not normal. 

MADDOW:  Do you think what motivated Miller beating Murkowski in the primary was people being mad at Obama?  Do you think that‘s what it was?

JONES:  That had something to do with it.  But see Murkowski, I believe, Lisa felt that, hey, listen.  I‘m going to win.  I ain‘t got to do nothing.  It‘s been a cake walk for her, which she didn‘t come out and fight.  And so, therefore, this is what happens.  So, now, she do the right-in thing, which I don‘t think nobody ever won.  I think maybe nobody?

MADDOW:  Nobody in Alaska has ever won.  1954, Strom Thurmond won his Senate seat that way.

JONES:  I don‘t se that happening.  Most people can‘t spell Murkowski.


JONES:  Most people can‘t say it.  I can barely say it.

MADDOW:  Well, doesn‘t that mean that McAdam has a shot then?


MADDOW:  No, you don‘t think he has.

JONES:  I don‘t think—I‘m just being—I don‘t think he has a shot, and I met McAdams.  He is very smart.  He is a school teacher.  He was a mayor.  He‘s very, very smart, very, very bright.  But sometimes, you need some, aggressiveness. 

MADDOW:  Well, he‘ got  a week.  In a week, I mean, there are all these debates between now and then.

JONES:  A week.  Sometime things turn around in a week, and I‘m pulling for him, because I really believe that Miller is just too extreme.  Oh, man, he‘s too extreme.

MADDOW:  Do people up here seeing him as too extreme?

JONES:  No.  You got to understand.  When people are comfortable, and most of the people in Alaska is comfortable.  So, nobody is, you know, you might have some people that have some problems, but you can begin to compare these problems with the problems that they have in the lower 48.  You just can‘t compare them.

MADDOW:  Is that just because everybody gets a dividend check?  I mean, why -- 

JONES:  And let me get more than that.  I mean, it‘s just the program

if somebody wants a job here, they get a job.


JONES:  We don‘t have a job problem.  We don‘t have an economic problem here like all over the place.  Of course, we have some layoffs and things of that nature, but if you want to work, you can work.  There‘s work here.


JONES:  You know, there‘s plenty of work here.

MADDOW:  So, without that economic pressure, without that stuff to complain about, people are willing to sort of, you‘re saying that people are more tolerant of somebody who comes along who‘s radical.

JONES:  Oh, yes.

MADDOW:  Tolerant of somebody who comes on who‘s got some out there ideas.  So, Miller‘s got this guy—Joe Miller has this guy on his pay roll who runs a website called hope for  It‘s all about how you can cure people of being gay.

JONES:  Oh, my goodness.

MADDOW:  So, do you think that the way people are conservative up here, like, that works with them?  Are people really conservative on the social issues on the anti-gay?

JONES:  No.  Not here.  Because we have here, we have three to four gay bars here in this small town of Anchorage.  And probably, over half of the people that‘s in these campaigns are secretly gay.  But they won‘t come out.  And so, we don‘t really have a, an anti anti-gay movement here, you know, like they have in other places, because, actually, like I said, diversity runs big here.  Very, very big here.  So, we don‘t have that problem.

MADDOW:  So, do you think it‘s going to hurt Joe Miller to be seen as really as -- 

JONES:  Definitely.  If that comes out.  I mean, comes out hard. 

People is not bringing those issues up.


JONES:  You can‘t cure somebody.  That‘s ridiculous.  First of all, I was not—I hate to even hear that type of crap.

MADDOW:  Do you think you might be able to come when we do our show tomorrow?

JONES:  Of course, I‘ll be there.

MADDOW:  Really?

JONES:  Of course.  Hey, listen, if Joe got security, you got security, too.


MADDOW:  Please don‘t take arrest anybody.

JONES:  No.  I don‘t even do that.  No, we‘re not going to do that. 

We aren‘t looking for no lawsuits. 

MADDOW:  All right.  All right.


MADDOW:  Excellent.


MADDOW:  Ever since Tank Jones met us at the airport, we have been trying to get an interview with Joe Miller.  Actually, we started working on trying to get an interview with him weeks ago.  Mr. Miller‘s supporters did talk to us with enthusiasm.  Ultimately, Mr. Miller did talk to us, too, though probably fair to say it was without the same level of enthusiasm, but he did it.  It went strangely.  That is coming up.  We are live at the tap root in Anchorage, Alaska.



MADDOW:  We‘re live at the tap root in Anchorage, Alaska where I just surveyed the crowd.  And if there are any Joe Miller supporters here, they are not making themselves known, but you never know.  I did talk to several folks today.  That conversation and my long-sought and strange interview with Joe Miller himself, coming up.



MADDOW:  Good luck, you guys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We disagree with that.

MADDOW:  She what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Voted to confirm Eric Holder.

MADDOW:  Why are you against that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The anti-gun attorney general this country has ever had.

MADDOW:  What‘s he done against guns?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What hasn‘t he done against guns?  Let‘s ask that question.  Let‘s look at what his voting record beforehand, and I‘m sure, you guys—

MADDOW:  Eric Holder wasn‘t an elected official.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.  All I‘m asking is look at what his record is. 

Look at what -- 

MADDOW:  What‘s he done on guns that you‘re upset about, though?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I honestly I‘m not—I don‘t know enough about him to answer that truthfully, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Can I just ask why you‘re upset about Eric Holder?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Because he‘s anti-gun.

MADDOW:  What has he done that‘s anti-gun?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don‘t have all the facts, but I know that he is anti-gun.

MADDOW:  There‘s no specific thing that he‘s done that you guys are upset about?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Look at his press releases.  That‘s all I‘m saying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, look at his press releases.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Look his press releases and look where he‘s coming from.

MADDOW:  I will, but what press release like about what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Anything.  Just type in to Google Eric Holder and

second amendment or Eric Holder and firearms and you‘ll find plenty of ammo


MADDOW:  But there‘s no specific thing he‘s done that you‘re upset about.


MADDOW:  What is that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The voter intimidation with the Black Panthers. 

That‘s what I‘m upset about holder for.


MADDOW:  The Black Panthers.  I ended up having a really long talk with that woman about the Black Panthers.  It was very emotional.  She was very upset with me, but then we had a much less emotional talk later away from the cameras, and she was very nice, and we had a good talk.  But she‘s convinced that the new Black Panther Party, the two crazy guys who braid their beard hair who the Bush justice department investigated and decided to ignore, she really thinks those two guys are still in the election this year, and they are not being prosecuted because they‘re black.

So, she is voting for Joe Miller.  This is the world that Fox News has created.  The candidate himself is next.


MADDOW:  OK.  After weeks of e-mailing, after dozens of phone calls, dozens of e-mails, turning up in person multiple times over a period of several days to lobby his press guys, after sticking our hands out to lobby the candidate personally as he went in to and came out of events, today, I was finally allowed to ask Joe Miller a couple of questions while we moved from a roof through a lobby, down in escalator, through another lobby, out of door, into an SUV and then it was over.  It was very strange.


MADDOW:  Hi, Mr. Miller.  It‘s a real pleasure to meet you.  Thank you for taking this time.  I appreciate it.



MADDOW:  Sure.  Absolutely.


MADDOW:  Do you, guys, mind if we walk if you guys stay ahead of us?  All right.  If you want to walk ahead of us, just steer us so we walk the right direction, otherwise, we‘ll be out of bridge to nowhere.  So, I‘ve been talking with your supporters since I‘ve been here.  One of the things that I did not know to expect before I got here is how important social issues are to them.

You really run as a constitutional conservative, fiscal conservative.  People keep raising the issue of abortion, marriage, other social issues like got to me.  How central are those to your campaign, to your view?

MILLER:  Well, I think, the life issue is very important.  You know, I believe in defending innocent life.  I‘m a pro-life candidate and the only pro-life candidate in this race.

MADDOW:  In terms of gay rights issues, there‘s a man on your campaign payroll who runs a website called hope for  His name is Terry Moffat.  Do you agree with him that homosexuality can be changed, that can be cured in?

MILLER:  Our perspective—and when answer those questions before is that it really is a state issue as to how those issues want to be resolved, it should be handled at the state level, and you‘re talking about who again?

MADDOW:  Terry Moffat.

MILLER:  OK.  Yes.  He worked with us in the primary.  I‘ve not seen his left side (ph), so I‘m not able to comment.

MADDOW:  Do you agree that homosexuality is a choice?

MILLER:  I think that‘s up to the individual.  The individual has to make that decision.

MADDOW:  About whether or not they‘re gay or about whether or not they believe that?

MILLER:  You know, I‘m not going to intrude upon an individual‘s decision as to what he or she does.  The fact of the matter is it‘s a state issue.  That‘s our position in the campaign.  That‘s how I answer your question.


MILLER:  You know, we‘re increasing (ph) diverse country.  I want to be straight with you.  And as a diverse country, I think it‘s important that we recognize their different approaches to different values.  And I think that it‘s best for states to be able to make those choices.  Like for example, the state of Alaska, this is a good example.  We passed out a constitutional amendment saying that marriage was only between a man and a woman in 1998.

You know, there are other states that are different.  You know, you can probably, I think, suggest that that is something that accommodates the diverse country that we have today.

MADDOW:  Is there a federal role in banning gay marriage?

MILLER:  Well, I think there‘s the defense of marriage act which I support. 

MADDOW:  Why should that be a federal role there if it should be a state issue, otherwise?

MILLER:  Well, my perspective is that it is at the core state issue.  But there are federal issues that are obviously intertwined.  We got taxation holes (ph), and otherwise, upon certain status, and so, as a consequence of taxations from federal government, there clearly is a role.  But I think that ultimately as the country becomes more diverse, that those decisions have got to be at the state level.

It‘s something that can keep us together as a country.  It can accommodate the various differences that we have in the country.  And I think it also allows people to be much more active and involve at the state level and making policy changes.  We were just like our (INAUDIBLE) laboratories and Democracy.  What better way to see how things work out than at that level.

MADDOW:  But you do want a federal role in restricting state‘s ability to legalize gay marriage, but you at the state level—

MILLER:  That‘s not what I said.  I said that there is a federal role.  There are, obviously, deferral decisions that are made based upon the status of here (ph).

MADDOW:  Do you think there should be a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage?

MILLER:  That‘s up to the people.  You got a three-quarters vote, ratified, I‘d vote for it.

MADDOW:  You would vote for it?

MILLER:  I would.  It would require an amendment to the constitution.

MADDOW:  The 17th amendment came up at this candidate‘s form.  Senator Murkowski criticizing you.  Do you still believe that the 17th amendment could be repealed to that important (INAUDIBLE)

MILLER:  That wasn‘t really (INAUDIBLE).  Thank you.



MADDOW:  I did my best as that doesn‘t heard (ph) tonight from Alaska.  I want to say a big thank you to all the folks here at tap root in Anchorage and everybody who came out in the bar tonight.  It‘s been awesome.


MADDOW:  We will be, tomorrow night, from Nevada where we will be

interviewing Senator Harry Reid who is in a tight race with tea party

candidate, Sharron Angle.  And maybe, we‘ll interview Sharron Angle which

(INAUDIBLE) her car window, you never know.  Tell us more pledge (ph) and

interviews from this troop at our  Now, right now, you

are very lucky because it is time for “The Last Word” with Lawrence

O‘Donnell.  Good evening, Lawrence

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST:  Thanks, Rachel.  I‘m wicked jealous that you got to go to Alaska without me.

MADDOW:  Next time, I will cram you into my carry-on bag.


O‘DONNELL:  All right.  We‘re going to do that.  Thanks, Rachel.



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