'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, Nov. 1st, 2010
Read the transcript to the Monday show
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Guests: Michael Beschloss, Mike Lux
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Keith. I‘m warming up the big election desk for us tonight already, trying to make sure that my knees fit underneath it.
OLBERMANN: Is it heated?
MADDOW: You know, it‘s a little warm.
OLBERMANN: Uh-oh. We‘ll send maintenance over. This again? Does anybody know about that? It‘s like the wiring again?
MADDOW: It‘s not ticking. It is a little warm. I‘ll let you know if anything exciting happens.
OLBERMANN: I‘ll bring my bucket.
MADDOW: Thank you, Keith.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
At this time tomorrow night, we will be giving you some of the first results from this year‘s elections. Twenty-four hours from right now, I will be sitting in this very spot—actually I think I‘m sitting where Chris is going to be sitting. I‘ll be sitting in a spot really close to this spot, maybe over here, alongside my MSNBC colleagues and we will be reporting what is happening across the country in the 2010 elections.
Now, no matter what happens in any individual race tomorrow night, the aggregate result is sort of clear from here. Republicans are going to pick up seats. Probably, Republican will pick a lot of seats.
In 2006 and in 2008, the last two elections, the aggregate story on election night was the exact opposite. Those were two huge elections for Democrats. And over those last two elections, Democrats picked up a total of 52 seats in the House, 14 seats in the Senate.
If predictions for tomorrow‘s results are borne out, Democrats have a chance at holding on to the Senate but they will likely lose control of the House of Representatives. It is not done a deal, but that‘s what everybody is predicting. That means that we are now at an important moment in this country‘s political history.
It took them a couple of elections to do it, but what the Democrats built for themselves over the last few years culminated in 2008 with a Democratic president, a Democratic Senate, and a Democratic House. That trifecta will likely no longer hold true as of tomorrow night.
When the new Congress that‘s elected tomorrow is sworn in in January, we will likely be entering into a period of divided power in this country. Now, the pundits and political scientists always say that Americans prefer divided power, and maybe that‘s true.
But one government is not divided, like in this past 21 months, when one party controls the executive branch and the legislative branch. It gives you a rare but clear and unobstructed view of what that party stands for, what that party‘s made of, what that party values.
Democrats and liberals especially often criticize their own party for not acting boldly enough when given an electoral mandate.
But in this moment, before it is judged by voters, what did Democrats do? What did Democratic politicians do? What did the Democratic Party do with these last 21 months? What did they stand for? What were they made of?
It turns out what they were made of was historic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: The White House started this day on a much different note, as President Obama signed his first bill into law. The new law makes it easier for workers to sue for pay discrimination.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the stroke of a pen, another big break from the Bush era. Democrats in Congress have been trying to get this equal pay law through for nearly two years. Today, it became a reality.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for women—that was President Obama and this Democratic Congress‘ first legislative achievement together way back in January of 2009, a bill that had languished in Congress for years.
The start of much more legislative achievement to come.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, the president signs the bill imposing new rules on credit card companies. The bill was aimed at sparing consumers from sudden interest rate hikes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, President Obama signs a bill that gives the Food and Drug Administration unprecedented power to regulate tobacco. The bill will allow the FDA to reduce nicotine in tobacco products, block labels such as low tar and light, and tobacco companies will also have to put large graphic warnings on cartons of cigarettes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president and Democrats can point to one imminent success here in Washington for the marchers. That is the imminent passage of a hate crimes bill that would make it a federal crime to commit an assault based on sexual orientation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Senate has passed a bill that the president has been pushing that would extend government-sponsored health insurance for about 4 million uninsured children.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Children‘s health instance, hate crimes legislation, tobacco regulation, credit card reform. Taken individually: all major legislative accomplishments. Taken together: some of the underpinnings of the most legislatively productive 21 months in decades.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: The president did make an additional bit of history. A major revamping of how college student loans are going to be handed out for years to come.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The legislation ends a 45-year program that provided federal subsidies to banks and private lenders that offered government-backed college loans. Starting July 1st, those guaranteed loans will be offered only by the Department of Education.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, “HARDBALL” HOST: Three major figures of the Democratic Party: President Obama, Senator Ted Kennedy, and former President Bill Clinton, all gathered together with Republican Orrin Hatch for the signing of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. The bill triples the size of the country‘s national service programs which are now as AmeriCorps.
WILLIAMS: We also have new numbers tonight on just how successful this cash-for-clunkers trade-in program actually was in the end.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks to the cash-for-clunkers program, pretty much entirely do it. It‘s going to be a pretty solid August in terms of those auto sales.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Bailing out the American auto industry, which worked by the way, tripling the size of AmeriCorps, America‘s national service programs. A fundamental reshaping of this country‘s student loan industry, which as someone who was up to my neck in student loans for a very long time, I can tell you it was an unbelievably stupid system, in drastic need of reform.
Taxpayers were guaranteeing those loans, so assuming all of the risk and paying private companies to administer the loans at a profit. So the student loan companies took on no risks and got paid for providing no service, other than an insulating, pointless, waste-only layer of bureaucracy. That is now gone at long last. And the savings from that being gone means more loans for more Americans to go to college, student loans.
And these other reforms accomplished and signed into law in not even two years. And we haven‘t even gotten to the big-ticket items yet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Less than a month in office, and the president made dramatic history with a simple stroke of the pen.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There you go. It‘s done.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Signing into law America‘s largest economic recovery package ever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You‘ve certainly heard a lot about the stimulus bill over the last 18 months or so. In terms of its historic oomph, though, not just the way it‘s being fought about in this election, consider that the stimulus was the single largest tax cut ever. It was the largest investment in clean energy ever. It was the single largest investment in education ever.
Also, there was something that the kids call health reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: It‘s as close to universal health care as America will likely ever come, and it will improve the health care of millions of Americans in size and scope. It‘s being compared to Medicare and Social Security. And tomorrow, health care reform will be signed into law by the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Health reform—the legislative white whale that had eluded Americans for generations. Health costs, the thing in the middle of our deficit and debt fights that nobody ever talks about and that nobody was ever able to do anything about despite the fact that they were massively responsible for America‘s fiscal disaster.
Health reform—done. Health reform done with the stroke of a pen—not single payer, not a European-style government system. But a system that will get more than 95 percent of the country on to health insurance and that will control a raging out-of-control disastrous health care cost for the first time ever.
Then, four months later—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
WILLIAMS: Almost two years now after the entire banking system almost collapsed, President Obama signed the financial reform bill into law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the stroke of a presidential pen, the new financial regulatory reform law is aimed at curbing the excesses on Wall Street, while protecting average Americans who live and work on Main Street.
OBAMA: All told, these reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history—in history.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Wall Street reform, a landmark rolling back of financial deregulation that led this nation into the fiscal—the financial catastrophe that we experienced at the end of the Bush administration and the deepest recession in nearly a century. Historic headline-grabbing achievements like that ultimately overshadowed lot of other major agenda items of the last two years.
Quote, “The 111th Congress may be remembered for banner legislation such as health care reform, financial reform regulation, and the Recovery Act, but, in our view, the real successes were the passage of bills that affected every veteran in America.” That‘s the national commander of the American Legion.
President Obama and the Democrats in Congress did more for veterans in these last 21 months than has been done in a very long time. They approved the most funding ever for the Veterans Administration. They expanded V.A. access to veterans. They authorized assistance for caregivers of veterans and for female veterans.
Over the last 21 months, Democrats passed 21 separate tax cuts. They passed the most significant land conservation bill in nearly two decades. They created a consumer financial protection agency.
And—oh, by the way, they shrunk the federal deficit in the process.
The Democratic Party has had control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives for the last 21 months. Forget the individual fights over the individual provisions of the individual bills. Forget the lost amendment fights and the process complaints.
Democrats had a choice when they became the governing party. When they won those last two elections and they took control of the two branches of government that are subject to partisan control in our country, they could have governed in a way that was about accumulating political capital with the primary goal of winning the next election. They could have governed in constant campaign mode.
Or they could have governed in a way that was about using their political capital, not accumulating more of it, about spending the political capital they had to get a legislative agenda done, to tackle big, complex, longstanding problems that had languished.
The record of legislative achievement of the last 21 months was not designed to win the midterm elections and it will not win the midterm elections. The pendulum will swing back toward the Republicans and we‘ll go back to divided government again.
The legislative agenda of the last 21 months was policy, not politics. It was designed to get stuff done for the country. And in that sense, it‘s an investment in long-term political reward, not short-term political reward, as Democrats expect after a list of accomplishments like this to be judged as the party that took on problems when it had the chance, even if they had to pay a short-term political price.
The political capital that Democrats accumulated over the last two elections was spent in these last 21 months. And it was spent on policy, hard votes with long-time horizons that don‘t translate into killing the other party in the next election.
If you listen to the criticism, particularly from the left, heading into these elections, what you often hear is that Democrats are going to lose in these elections because they didn‘t get enough done. You know, big picture, if that were true, that would be depressing.
It‘s not actually the true big picture, though. The fact is, that Democrats got a lot done, a lot of hard stuff done on hard problems in a short amount of time. The price they may end up paying for that is losing a midterm election.
Democrats‘ choice is whether or not it‘s worth it.
Joining us now is NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss.
Mr. Beschloss, it is good to see you again. Thanks very much for joining us tonight.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, tomorrow marks the unofficial end of the 111th Congress, plus or minus the lame duck period.
MADDOW: Whether you are for all of those accomplishments I‘d just described or against them—historically, how does this Congress stack up in terms of its legislative achievements?
BESCHLOSS: Well, dealt with very basic issues as you‘ve just said.
And, you know, it reminded as you were talking, Rachel—you remember early in 2008, Barack Obama was in Nevada campaigning. I think he was talking to an editorial board and he said, “I want to be a transformational president, deal with basic issues like Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan of the conservatives.” He was criticized a lot.
But the point he was making was in a way just what you‘ve said, which is: I want to be a president who uses this moment that may not come again of a party dominating both houses of Congress and also the White House to deal with basic things, not things that might get me reelected or help us win the next midterm election.
MADDOW: Is there—on the issue of sort of long-term political capital versus short-term political capital, is there any reason to think of this president as one who is investing in the long-term image, the long-term impression that Americans have of the Democratic Party as a party that is serious about policy issues? Certainly, we‘ve seen him trade away short-term political capital for taking on these hard legislative fights. But is there reason to believe that doing that pays off in the long run in terms of the way people see the parties?
BESCHLOSS: Well, one example would be health care. I mean, Barack Obama could very well have come into the White House and said, you know, I can‘t deal with health care right now. We‘ve got an economic crisis.
It did more—more than almost anything else to ruin Bill Clinton in the 1994 elections and has been very bad for presidents.
But the point is that Obama did it even though his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, begged him not to do it. That shows what kind of a person he is. So, I think what he‘s saying is, you know, it may not be popular at the moment, but the Democratic Party does have to stand for something. And over the long run, that makes the party strong.
MADDOW: In all likelihood, we‘re going to be returning to divided government in this country.
BESCHLOSS: Sure looks—
MADDOW: When the next Congress is sworn in. Republicans likely to take control of the House and they‘re trying for the Senate.
In terms of big landmark achievements throughout American history, in terms of big policy achievements, do those things usually happen when Congress is divided or are they more often the result of one party having at least temporary control of both the executive branch and the legislative branch?
BESCHLOSS: It‘s almost always when the White House is of the same party of the Congress. Look at 1965. Lyndon Johnson came in.
If you can believe it, Rachel, 2/3 of the Senate was Democrats, 2/3 of the House was Democrats. But even despite that, LBJ said, this doesn‘t happen very often. I‘ve got six months. He used those six months to get through the Great Society, Medicare, voting rights, very basic programs. He said after that they‘re going to start voting against me and there will be a backlash.
He was absolutely right. The Democrats had huge setbacks in Congress in 1966. But LBJ and the Great Society had probably more of an influence on Americans in terms of saying where are the Democratic Party for (INAUDIBLE) than perhaps any other president of the period.
MADDOW: And when it comes to selling legislative accomplishment, of course, LBJ is the—is an incredibly relevant precedent because—
BESCHLOSS: A communicator, he wasn‘t.
MADDOW: A communicator, he wasn‘t. And he did—he has this incredibly accomplished legislative record when you‘re talking about that period that you‘re talking about there. But ultimately, he gets turfed out and ends up—ending his presidency the way he does mostly because of Vietnam, right?
BESCHLOSS: Right. That‘s exactly right.
And what you want—and this is true with LBJ and Barack Obama, you want a president who does courageous things. I think you‘ve stated them.
But you also want a president who‘s able to persuade his contemporaries that this was the right thing to do. He can‘t just wait for history to say it was the right thing to do. In politics, you have to really convince the people who are passing on you at the time.
MADDOW: NBC News presidential historian, Michael Beschloss, from whom I always learn a ton, every time we‘re on the show—thank you so much for your time tonight, Michael.
BESCHLOSS: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: OK. This time of year, election news is a rollicking 24/7
thing from here on out. Some late-breaking headlines in today‘s politics -
coming up next. And the last polls on the closest races.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: Here we are, at the end of the campaign season so amazing that the “chickens for checkups” lady, her barter your livestock for a flu shot, front-running Republican in Nevada, Sue Lowden, turned out to be like the ad for the candy and soda before the previews of coming attractions, before the movie you came out to see, which turned out to be an awesome movie. The “chickens for checkups” lady would have been the story of the year in any other political year, but not this year.
Still ahead: closing arguments for Decision 2010.
MADDOW: If you are lucky enough to work in politics or if you are lucky enough to have talking about politics be part of your job, this is the time of year when you come to work with a go bag, because at any moment, a local political story could become the national political story. This is a time in election season when election-related headlines get emphatic. They often get weird. And they start landing very, very fast one right after another.
For example, just today—all of this happened. Carl Paladino, the Republican running for governor in the great state of New York, famous for forwarding super racist and hardcore pornographic e-mails to his friends and colleagues, Carl Paladino doubled down on something he said about New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand‘s relationship to the senior New York Senator Chuck Schumer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL PALADINO (R-NY), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: She is his little girl.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: “She is his little girl.” That was last week. A local CNN affiliate asked him about that comment today. That went poorly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This week you called Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as Chuck Schumer‘s—
PALADINO: Yes, we‘re not talking about that Kirsten Gillibrand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- little girl. Do you think that‘s sexist comment to make? Do you have any regrets about that?
PALADINO: No. I don‘t.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, you don‘t think it‘s sexist?
PALADINO: Absolutely not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, a number of Republicans are telling us that due to your behavior—
PALADINO: Well, are we going on—are we going—are we going to talk issues or am I leaving you right now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think this is about issues, sir. I think some say that some of the comments you made say that you‘re not capable of running the state.
PALADINO: Well, OK. Well, you have a nice day, Christine (ph), OK?
UNIDENTIFEID FEMALE: Well, we‘d like you to stay here with us and talk about the issues facing voters in the North Country.
Carl Paladino, we‘d like you to stay and talk and us about the issues.
All right. Well, Mr. Paladino has decided that he does not want to stay and conduct the interview.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No, Mr. Paladino most certainly does not want to stay and conduct the interview.
Also, today, in Delaware, Republican Christine O‘Donnell, a talented and seasoned television personality, decided that her last-minute Hail Mary in her way-behind Senate race would be a giant 24-minute-long infomercial about herself to run on a local Delaware TV station.
The candidate tweeted last night, “Channel 28, Sunday at 11:30 p.m., real look at what is happening in Delaware. Watch it before you cast your vote. Rebroadcast 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday.”
Then, next tweet, in eager anticipation, “One minute until the premier of our 30-minute feature. Tune in to meet all of the heart-warming people I have met on the campaign trail. Channel 28.”
And then next tweet—oh, sad. “OK. This is not our show. Must be a programming mix up. We will get back to you.”
Then this morning, “This isn‘t our show either. We are told Channel 28 forgot to air it both times even though we paid for the time slot last week.”
Then later this morning, “Dirty politics again? I‘d like to think the county run station really did just forget even though we reminded them this morning.”
Eventually, the station did air the ad saying that the problem was that the O‘Donnell campaign didn‘t get them the ad in time for them to run it. Then, Christine O‘Donnell thanked the station on Twitter. Then she went back to complaining on Twitter again saying it wasn‘t running again when it was supposed to be running.
Essentially bottom line, the Christine O‘Donnell for Senate campaign has ended in TV chaos. Surprise! Yes.
In Kansas, a giant digital billboard in Wichita has been urging voters to vote for the Republican candidate there, Mike Pompeo. The billboard says—look at that. Vote American. Vote Mike Pompeo.
The guy Mike Pompeo running against? Also American, right? Yes, born in Cleveland. But he‘s an Indian-American. His name is Raj Goyle.
So when you say “Vote American,” get it? Yes.
Republican Mike Pompeo‘s campaign is not directly responsible for the ad. A supporter is. But when Mr. Goyle‘s campaign complained about the “Vote American” billboard, Mr. Pompeo‘s campaign attacked, calling that an “outrageous accusation with no basis in fact.”
This is also probably the right time to note that in August, Mr. Pompeo‘s campaign tweeted a link to an article in which Mr. Goyle was called a—and I quote—“turban topper.”
The Pompeo campaign claimed that whole thing was an accident—also nothing to do with the billboard. Nothing at all.
Also in Kansas, the state attorney general is investigating robocalls that reportedly “tell people that they will need to take a voter registration card and proof of homeownership to election stations on Wednesday.” Of course, voters neither have to bring a voter registration card nor proof of homeownership to the polls in order to vote. Also, the election is Tuesday. Not Wednesday.
This is the same kind of they don‘t you want you to vote shenanigans we have seen in paper form in Harris Country, Texas, in Houston, Texas, where these fliers were distributed in minority voting precincts, telling voters that if they voted a straight Democratic tickets, their votes would mysteriously being counted as Republican votes. Not true. Not true at all. But those shenanigans turned up in Houston alongside an aggressive push by conservative Tea Party groups in Harris Country to make their Tea Party presence conspicuous and visible at the mostly minority polling places.
“The Houston Chronicle” reports today that whatever those intentions were there, Harris County has actually had record early voter turnout. More than double the total number of early votes cast in the last two midterm elections.
In Atlanta, similarly, Tea Party groups say they plan to send dozens of Tea Partiers to polling places to serve as poll watchers. “The Atlanta Journal Constitution” quoting an official from the NAACP saying, quote, “I‘m concerned whether poll-watching or intimidation is their goal. Not only should the NAACP be concerned, but so should all of Georgia.”
At this point in the sprint to the election, political headlines are changing minute by minute. Even the campaigns have all but stopped paying attention as they concentrate on rallying their base voters and getting out the vote.
You can see with some of these images from rallies just today, with
candidates all over the country bringing in surrogates like Bill Clinton or
Joe Biden or Mitt Romney or the first lady, Michelle Obama, or John Boehner
bringing in these political headliners to their states, to their districts, to rally their voters.
But you know what? No matter what you‘ve heard, no matter what last-minute tactics, no matter what 11th hour scandals get reported—ultimately, what matters at this point? All that matters at this point is whether people go out and vote.
MADDOW: So this late in the campaign season, frankly, the going gets weird. For example, we just had the fire alarm go off here at 30 Rock because somebody put a pop tart in the microwave. That‘s very exciting.
The going gets weird around these times. The weird also go pro. The headlines that broke today in races around the country are the kind of headlines that fuzz up the line between satire and fact, between unreal and real, between dumb and, oh, wow, that‘s really dumb. Case in point - this ad is running in North Carolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B.J. LAWSON ®, CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE IN NORTH CAROLINA: I‘m B.J.
Lawson. I approve this message.
ANNOUNCER: Regular people asking basic questions. That‘s what David Price is afraid of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Wait a second. Is that Oscar-winning leading man and well-known Barack Obama supporter, Morgan Freeman, voicing an ad for this conservative Republican running against Democratic incumbent Congressman, David Price?
No. Actually, no, it‘s not. That is apparently a Morgan Freeman impersonator narrating an ad for the conservative Republican running against Democratic incumbent Congressman David Price in North Carolina.
The Republican, B.J. Lawson, has been insisting that this ad was, in fact, voiced by Morgan Freeman, spinning a convoluted tale that a supporter of B.J. Lawson‘s was acquainted with Mr. Freeman and connected the campaign with the actor even though the campaign never met him.
Morgan Freeman is calling bull-pucky on all of this. He‘s released this statement to “Politico.com” today, quote, “These people are lying. I have never recorded any campaign ads for B.J. Lawson and I do not support his candidacy. And no one who represents me ever has ever authorized the use of my name, voice or any other likeness in support of Mr. Lawson or his candidacy.”
Well, the B.J. Lawson campaign now says they were duped and they‘re pulling the ad. And fake Morgan Freeman goes down in the 2010 history books as one of those late-breaking campaign headlines that after the fact no one will ever believe was actually real.
MADDOW: There is one bit of polling data about the elections, one
blue chute, as it were, that is keeping Democrats awake at night, literally
tonight, at least. But not necessarily in a bad way. It‘s the polling data that shows pretty consistently that the country says it prefers Democrats to Republicans right now.
Echoing the “Washington Post” ABC poll that we talked about on last night‘s show, the new NBC “Wall Street Journal” poll asked, “If you had the choice in your Congressional district,” which, of course, you do, “Would you be more likely to vote for a Democratic candidate or a Republican candidate?”
Registered voters in the new NBC “Wall Street Journal” poll prefer a Democrat over a Republican when given that generic choice. Registered voters, by four points, choose the Democrat in their district over the Republican. It‘s good news for Democrats, right?
But if this is how registered voters feel about Democrats versus Republicans right now, why then are Republicans expected to pick up so many seats tomorrow?
That‘s because the poll results I just gave you are for registered voters - registered voters, people who could conceivably vote if they wanted to because they‘re registered to vote regardless of whether or not they‘re actually planning to vote.
If you look instead not just at registered voters, at people who could conceivably vote if they wanted to, but if you look instead at people who say they are likely to vote, those people give the opposite response. Those people likely to vote preferred the Republican candidate over the Democrat, 44 percent to 43 percent.
So the people who could conceivably vote but, eh, might not, they don‘t feel like it, prefer Democrats. Proudly speaking, registered voters looking at their home districts choose the Democrat. Republicans are slated to win so many seats tomorrow, not because they‘ve won over the country broadly, but because they are counting on the “eh.”
They are counting on the people who prefer Democrats, the larger number of people, to not bother to vote. They‘re counting on “eh, can‘t be bothered.” What‘s the Democratic strategy for getting the people that prefer them to prove the Republicans wrong and actually vote?
Let‘s ask Mike Lux. Mike Lux is a Democratic political strategist. He is co-founder and CEO of the consulting firm, Progressive Strategies. Mike, very good to see you. Thanks for joining us tonight.
MIKE LUX, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, PROGRESSIVE STRATEGIES: Thanks for having me on, Rachel.
MADDOW: So in the last 24 hours of the campaign, the Democrats‘ mission is essentially turnout. What does that mean that Democratic campaigns are actually doing in this last 24 hours? How do they try to turn out the vote?
LUX: Well, tonight, they‘re calling and calling and calling and calling people. People all over the country actually calling into targeted swing districts. The DNC has a program for that. The party committee, the other party committees, “MoveOn.org,” all kinds of organizations, are doing that.
Tomorrow, you‘re going to be having people out at 5:00 in the morning putting door hangers on doors, reminding people to get out and vote. You‘re going to be having in the good states where there‘s real operations - you‘ll have people doing four or five rounds of door-knocking, giving rides to the polls, doing more calling and more calling. It will be a very intensive effort.
MADDOW: Mike, where do you see the Democratic Party and its get-out-the-vote apparatus as strongest right now?
LUX: I think it‘s probably strongest in a state like Ohio. Ohio - they‘ve got a great party operation. Iowa, they‘ve got a great party operation. I think out in California, they‘ve got both a great party operation, a lot of outside organizations.
I think, you know, district by district, state by state, it‘s mixed, but there are a lot of places that have very good operations. And I do think that the party committees, you know, organizing for America at the DNC, the DCCC, DSCC all have good operations as well. And I also think the outside groups, groups like “MoveOn.org” and Democrats for America have some of the best organizing going on out there.
MADDOW: Historically, as I understand it, voter turnout in midterms tends to be older, tends to turn out more older voters and less younger voters than presidential elections do. I know Democrats counted very heavily on younger people‘s votes especially in 2008. Are there specific and different means of trying to turn out younger voters?
LUX: There are. And, again, it‘s happening both at the party level, but also outside organizations like Rock the Vote, like the Bus Project, like a lot of different youth organizing operations that are out there.
And a lot of that is peer-to-peer. I mean, people going door-to-door in their college dormitories, people handing out flyers and calling their friends at community colleges, people doing Facebook and Twitter and all of the social networking kinds of things. The youth tend to get out and vote when their friends urge them to do it.
MADDOW: Mike, you are as experienced a Democratic operative as I know in the world, just because I don‘t know very many Washington insiders, and you are the most insider Democratic guy I know who‘s not an elected official.
Given your long experience as a progressive who has worked in the party, who has been involved in a million different campaigns, who has White House experience, what are your expectations for tomorrow? What do you think happens?
LUX: Well, I do think that the Democratic Party, off the momentum of 2008 and 2006, still does have a good get-out-the-vote operation. And I think we‘re going to see higher numbers of Democrats turning out, higher numbers of young voters, higher numbers of Hispanic voters, higher numbers of African-American voters.
I‘m worried about women voters. I think that working-class women, unmarried women, which have been a big part of the party‘s margin in the past, have not been as motivated. This time, younger voters are always harder to get out in the midterms.
But I think you‘ll see a pretty good operation. And I‘ll tell you something, a lot of it is person to person. Rachel, if every one of the people viewing your show tonight were to call everybody they knew and all of the - all of the people that they‘d talked to over the years, all of their E-mail lists, all of their Facebook friends, even that would make a difference.
You really have to get out and talk to your friends and get them encouraged to go vote. So it‘s not just the parties or it‘s not just the groups like Move On. It‘s really person to person.
MADDOW: Mike Lux, co-founder and CEO of the consulting firm, Progressive Strategies. Mike, again, it‘s good to see you. Thanks very for joining us tonight.
LUX: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Tonight, on “THE LAST WORD” - tonight with Lawrence O‘Donnell, Alaska‘s Democratic Senate candidate Scott McAdams - he is going to be doing an interview with Lawrence. He, of course, is the man who is in the middle of the wildest three-way race in America along with Joe Miller and Lisa Murkowski. Scott McAdams on with Lawrence tonight. That should be great.
And we go from this conversation with Mike Lux about the Democrats‘ closing argument for these elections, its last-minute operations to what is happening on the Republican side at the last minute. Do you remember Jeremiah Wright? Yes. Wow. Back. That‘s next.
MADDOW: We here at MSNBC are planning a live, wall-to-wall coverage of this year‘s elections from the minute the first polls open until way, way, way after the last polls close. You will want to be watching MSNBC throughout the day for late-breaking news on the closest races.
Then from 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow night, it is all-hands-on-deck here with myself, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Lawrence O‘Donnell, and Eugene Robinson, all live from this enormous desk here in New York.
We‘ll have reporters stationed all over the country, of course. And then, the all-night coverage starts at 6:00 p.m. We‘re going until at least 2:0 a.m. Eastern Time. In the lead-up to tomorrow night‘s wall-to-wall coverage, we‘ll also be doing some analysis from some places other than the enormous desk.
“TheGrio.com” is doing an interview with me tomorrow about the 21st century southern strategy, voter intimidation and race in these elections. Given the topic, I hereby predict that conservative blogs will be very, very, very angry with me all over again.
Then, I‘ll be on Andrea Mitchell‘s excellent 9:00 p.m. Eastern show here on MSNBC, “TALKING ELECTIONS.” All of that on deck for full-to-bursting MSNBC election coverage of the 2010 midterms.
Again, the big night-long primetime coverage starts at 6:00. Everyone will be here. We hope you will be, too. And now, we‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: In this last sprint to the polls, a group called the National Republican Trust PAC is running a 25-minute long anti-Barack Obama screed in a bunch of swing states. It‘s a long ad that they want to make the closing conservative argument of this year‘s elections.
Now, the organization tells us they‘ve bought time on about 40 or 50 TV stations around the country to run this anti-Obama ad. Now, if the name of this organization, the National Republican Trust PAC, sounds that all familiar to you, it may be because this is what their closing argument looked like against Barack Obama in the last election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: For 20 years, Barack Obama followed a preacher of hate and said nothing as Wright raged against our country.
JEREMIAH WRIGHT, PASTOR EMERITUS OF TRINITY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST:
Not God bless America. God damn America. The U.S. of KKK A.
ANNOUNCER: He built his power base in Wright‘s church. Wright was his mentor, advisor and close friends for 20 years. Obama never complained for 20 years until he ran for president. Barack Obama, too radical, too risky.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If you liked that in 2008, you will love the 2010 version.
Be afraid! Be very afraid!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): For a guy who has already authored two memoirs, he‘s not exactly an open book. What does he plan for America? In short, who is the real Barack Obama?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I‘ve got to ask you a question. I do not
believe in - I can‘t trust Obama. I have read about him and he is not - he
is a - he‘s an Arab. He is not -
MCCAIN: No. No, ma‘am. No, ma‘am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No?
MCCAIN: No, ma‘am. He‘s a decent family man citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Remember how the campaign wrapped up in 2008? Remember the heights of the national conversation about politics at that point? Now, two years later, Barack Obama is, once again, kind of foreign, kind of Muslim, definitely really anti-white people.
Let‘s start with this from the new ad that is running at the closing argument from this National Republican Trust PAC. We will start with the foreign-y, Muslim-y part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama‘s words and actions seem clear. He does not view America with an America-centric perspective, but instead from an outsider‘s point of view, often with hostility.
MICHELLE OBAMA, UNITED STATES FIRST LADY: For the first time in my adult lifetime, I‘m proud of my country.
BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Tonight, I speak to you, not as a candidate for president, but as a citizen and a fellow citizen of the world.
I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. As-salamu alaykum.
One of the points I want to make is that if you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we would be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.
Let there be no doubt, Islam is a part of America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Instead of standing up for America, he bowed to the king of Saudi Arabia. During his presidential election, he wound up with a record-shattering $750 million in his campaign. To this day, he refuses to report from whence it came. One reason might be because that some of it originated from the terrorist group, Hamas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: How did he gets that $750 million? Well, clearly he‘s a Muslim so, clearly, it must be from Islamic terrorists.
It is as if that folks at the Republican National Trust PAC have created a time machine to take us right back to the final days before the 2008 election when “Barack Obama is a secret Muslim terrorist plant” conspiracy theory was not only all the rage on the right, it was consuming the right.
But no 2008 throw-back anti-Obama closing argument would, of course, be complete without suggesting that, in addition, to perhaps being a secret Muslim terrorist, Mr. Obama is also a commie pinko socialist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The phrase “spread the wealth around” may seem harmless to some. To others, it was a clear invitation to adopt the destructive ideology of leftist revolutionaries.
Among the public and from the media, it should have ignited debate over Obama‘s intentions, like whose wealth is to be spread around and who would be the beneficiaries of the money Obama planned to confiscate. It wasn‘t the only time Obama displayed tendencies that some labeled socialist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Not us - some. Not us. Barack Obama‘s economic policies are evil, of course, and socialist just like Castro and Mao and Chavez - get the points. Also, they may look like cigarette-smoking communists in those old fake artsy college photos.
Now, the National Republican Trust PAC has made President Obama out to be a very scary guy in the time machine to 2008‘s closing argument ad. He‘s scary because he sort of seems foreign and when you put him next to pictures of Chavez, he seems scary, maybe a little Muslim-y, too.
And he‘s scary because he wants to give away your money - he wants to give away your money. He wants to confiscate your money like a communist dictator. This part is also key. Barack Obama, in this closing argument for these campaigns - in this closing argument for these elections, he‘s also scary because, of course, he‘s racist against white people.
This is what it always comes back to, right? At the end of the day, the message in the final hours before this year‘s elections is what it has boiled down to so many times since he was going to win and since he won. White people, be afraid of Obama. Don‘t forget he‘s black and he‘s coming to get you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During the 2008 campaign, Obama pretended to turn his back on extremists from his past.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want freedom? You‘re going to have to kill some crackers. You‘re going to have to kill some of these babies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Did you catch that? So Obama pretended to turn his back on extremists from the past following that sentence, you see a quick image of Jeremiah Right. And then, immediately, you get the violent ravings of a beard-braiding kook on the street, a beard-braiding kook to which Obama has no connection whatsoever but who the Republican National Trust PAC hopes white people will think of when they think of President Obama and they will be afraid.
That is the argument that is being offered on behalf of Republicans this year. This is the closing argument running in swing states across the country, a 25-minute long ad. Sure, health care is terrible and the stimulus stinks.
But white people, come on, don‘t forget what it all boils down to. White people, be afraid.
MADDOW: The very first polls tomorrow can open as early as 5:45 a.m. in Massachusetts, 6:00 a.m. in many other states. At this hour, headed into these elections, these are the closest races in the country.
On the Senate side, there‘s the race we got back from, Nevada. A poll conducted over the weekend released today has Sharron Angle leading Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid by one point. From the same firm in Washington State, the incumbent Democrat Patty Murray who had been leading in most major polls in recent weeks - in this one new poll - in this one new poll, trails Republican Dino Rossi by two points.
Same polling firm has the race in Colorado down to only one point. Republican Ken Buck leading Democrat Michael Bennet. In Illinois, the latest polling in the race showing Republican Mark Kirk with a four-point advantage over his Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias.
In Pennsylvania, Republican Pat Toomey‘s lead over Congressman Joe Sestak, just outside the margin of error. The race in Alaska may not look that close with Joe Miller enjoying a seven-point lead over both Democrat Scott McAdams and Republican write-in candidate, Lisa Murkowski. But hey, how do you poll a write-in? And Democrats are openly speculating that McAdams‘ steady rise may bring him closer and possibly ahead by the time balloting is done.
In governors‘ races, perhaps the tightest big ticket race in the entire country is in Florida where Democrat Alex Sink leads her opponent, Republican Rick Scott, by less than one point in the most recent poll.
In Ohio, incumbent Democratic Governor, Ted Strickland, has surged back to make this a race, trailing the Republican John Kasich by only one point in the latest poll.
We inadvertently swapped those two candidates‘ party affiliations on a graphic last night. I‘m sorry about that. Urban Republican Chris Dudley, perhaps most famous for shooting less than 46 percent from the free-throw line during his NBA career. The most recent poll in the Oregon governor‘s race has him at 43 percent, three points behind the Democrat in the race, John Kitzhaber.
In Massachusetts, Democratic incumbent, Deval Patrick, courting a five-point lead over a Republican in the race. But there is an independent in the race polling at 11 percent who could play spoiler for either candidate.
In Illinois, Pat Quinn is in a fight to keep his job down by five in the most recent polling. The election is Tuesday but it will not necessarily end on Tuesday. Between the Alaskan time zone, the write-in candidates, the absentee ballots, maybe the Vermont legislature deciding who is governor there if nobody gets 50 percent. We may not have our final answers in some of the closest races in the country at the end of the day but you can be assured that we will be all over it, not just tomorrow, but until this is all resolved.
That does it for tonight. We‘ll see you again tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. as our blanket wall-to-wall starts. Now, it‘s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell.
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