updated 2/28/2011 12:41:32 PM ET 2011-02-28T17:41:32

Guests: Dave Cieslewicz, Julie Lassa, Lena Taylor, John Nichols, Bill

Lavin, Tony Wieners

           

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  And welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from New York.

This is what‘s on the table tonight:

The president of the United States needs to stand with the people who got him elected and who he promised to fight for.  My commentary on that.

When the governor of Wisconsin admitted that he considered sending troublemakers into the crowd of protesters in Madison, he admitted to something that could have put lives at risk.  Pretty serious stuff.

And my exclusive interview with the men and women standing up to the assault on American workers, the Wisconsin 14.  They are holding on one week after they left the state.

But this is the story that has me fired up tonight: Now, understand sometimes as a liberal we like to go into our own locker room and do some tough love.  OK?  Here we go tonight with THE ED SHOW.  I don‘t want to be judged on style points anymore.  I don‘t want to judge the president of the United States on style points anymore.

This right now, Mr. President, is all about action.  And I have to ask you tonight, where are you?

It is day 11 of the protests in Madison.  And there is still no deal between the Wisconsin 14 and Governor Scott Walker.  The great Americans in Madison have come out day after day and captured the attention of the nation, except for the White House.  It‘s been lukewarm in my opinion.

The only statement President Obama has made on this story was eight days ago when he spoke to a local NBC affiliate in Milwaukee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

           

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I would say, as a general proposition, that everybody‘s got to make some adjustments to new fiscal realities.  On the other hand, some of what I‘ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you‘re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions.  And I think it‘s very important for us to understand that public employees, they‘re our neighbors.  They‘re our friends.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  OK.  OK.  Good.  But we need a little bit more.

The president has let that sound bite stand on its own for over a week.  In the past eight days this story has completely changed, intensified, and evolved.  One week ago today, the Wisconsin 14 left the state to block the governor from getting his way on the bill.  On Saturday, over 80,000 people filled the capitol grounds in Madison and Governor Walker rejected an offer from all the Wisconsin public employee unions that would have given him the money that he was asking for.  Remember?  There was a big budget crisis.

Protests continued throughout the week.  And then a bombshell story hit on Wednesday morning when the governor, Governor Walker, spilled the beans during a prank phone call.

The president has been virtually silent about all of this.

When I went to Wisconsin last week—I mean, the people were so enthusiastic and they kept asking me, why isn‘t the president supporting us?  And I told many of them, I said, well, he is supporting you.  I mean, he made a comment last week.  Yes, but that‘s not enough.

Then it dawned on me.  These are the people who voted for President Obama because he said things like this back on the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  And understand this: if American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I‘m in the White House, I‘ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself.  I‘ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America, because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Hmm.  So that means if the Wisconsin teachers decide to strike, that would get the president of the United States to go to Wisconsin?  Because it might come to that.

So, can I hear that again?  Can we play that one more time?  I‘d like America to hear that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  And understand this: if American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I‘m in the White House, I‘ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself.  I‘ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America, because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  All right.  All right, let‘s get it on.

That was the president back on the campaign trail totally in the corner of labor, totally in the corner of the wage earners of America—until today.  Here‘s his new press secretary answering the question about that sound bite.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and when I‘m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes and I will walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States.”  Is he ready to put on a comfortable pair of shoes and fulfill that promise?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I think, Chip, that the president as president has a—obviously an ability to be heard when he speaks and he spoke to the situation in Wisconsin and his views on it last week.  And I‘ll leave it at that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Folks, it‘s time for a road trip.  Those two sound bites are so terribly different.

Now, something has changed in the White House.  Something, because President Obama on the campaign trail and now today through his new spokesperson, this Carney guy, maybe he didn‘t get the memo just how much President Obama really loves unions and wage earners in America.  Maybe there‘s—maybe they haven‘t had enough meetings yet before he took over for Robert Gibbs.

But once again what we‘re seeing in this country, here comes labor doing the heavy lifting.  Here comes labor doing the political heavy lifting.  Here comes labor once again out on an island where you can‘t find a politician with them.  Yes, Ted Kennedy passed away.  It‘s really sad because a lot of things changed after that.

Where is the president?  Where is the Democratic leadership?  And don‘t send me a bunch of e-mails you press secretary saying, this what so and so senator said last week.

This is intensifying.  This is now involving, evolving as one of the biggest fights we have ever had in this country when it comes to wage earners.  We now have to have a priority list, who we care about.  And we are now having a discussion, a fundamental argument in America because that‘s what‘s breaking out on cable news, an argument about who‘s right, who‘s wrong, who‘s worthless, who‘s the bottom feeder?

That‘s the culture of the conversation in America right now.  We got a bunch of damn free loaders in Wisconsin and it‘s starting to catch on in Indiana and Ohio and New Jersey and we just got workers everywhere that just aren‘t worth a damn.  We used to have a president that said he would walk with these folks.  We used to have a president that said, you know what?  I‘ll be there for you when it‘s time.

But I haven‘t found that president tonight and we are two weeks into this starting tomorrow.

It is a sad moment, and I will say tonight that if President Obama can‘t go on a road trip or say more than one sound bite to a local affiliate and realize that this is what 2012 is all about, if he can‘t unequivocally come out in support of every protester that has been out there peacefully trying to fight for their way of life and protect their kitchen table—if this president can‘t do that, then he does not deserve a second term as president.

Now, the political calculation here—and you know what?  I am so sick and tired of political calculations.

Lindsey Graham said a mouthful on “Meet the Press” not long ago.  He said the president better not get involved in these states issues.  Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  When the president talks about Wisconsin, I think that‘s—that really is inappropriate.  The governor of Wisconsin is doing what he campaigned on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  It‘s just inappropriate for the president of the United States to stand up for workers.

Tell me, Senator Graham from South Carolina, was it inappropriate for George W. Bush to jump on Air Force One and come back in the middle of the night and sign a law for one person named Terry Schiavo?  Was he injecting himself in anything, trying to thwart off those liberal activist judges that you righties love to talk about?  Don‘t give me this garbage, Senator Graham, about President Obama better not inject himself in this fight for American workers.  That‘s what this is all about.

And you know what?  This could be a defining moment for liberals in this country to realize what this really is all about.  You‘ve got right wing Republican governors who are backed up by a network and funded by a couple of brothers and now supported by the Supreme Court to get unlimited money to go after wage earners in America and we‘re questioning whether the president should get involved or not?

No.  Well, you know, we know that Lindsey Graham and the Republicans are not on the side of the American workers.  They hate the American workers.  In fact, not one of them has come out and said, hey, you guys over at G.M., way to kick some ass.  Way to go.  They can‘t do that.  Because, you see, we taxpayers gave them a loan that they‘re paying back and that‘s a success story and we just can‘t have any of that because President Obama has his mitts all over it.

But we‘re in our liberal locker room tonight and I have to ask the question: Mr. President, why don‘t you go to Madison?  Why don‘t you go stand up in front of those Americans and just tell them to—you don‘t have to give one of those great speeches that you give, but if you could just go there and say, keep going.  I‘m with you.

Who cares what the Republicans say?  Who cares what the right wing talkers say?  This is about 2012.  This is about priorities.

And then after you land in Madison, Mr. President, you should stop off in Indianapolis.  And then you should go to Columbus, Ohio.  And then you should go to Trenton, New Jersey.  And all along the way, you‘re going to find people who remembered that sound bite that we played earlier about how you were going to put some pair of shoes on and walk with them.

OK.  I‘d like to believe that but right now I‘m wavering.  I‘m not sure.  We‘re going into week number three of this and I only got one little sound bite that I‘m hanging on that President Obama is with all these wage earners that went door to door, that did the social networking.

This is a campaign.  This is a campaign for the middle class.  Nobody is going to get elected.

And speaking of elections, I do remember this interview that President Obama gave Diane Sawyer in talking about getting re-elected.  Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  The one thing I‘m clear about is that I‘d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president, and I believe that.  You know, there‘s a tendency in Washington to think that our job description, of elected officials, is to get re-elected.  That‘s not our job description.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Amen to that, Mr. President.  That‘s not your job description to get re-elected, and no middle class family in this country who supported you will ever think you are going to Madison to score political points.

You‘re going there because there was a time that you, Barack Obama, you made people believe.  You grabbed them by the heart.  You got into their soul.

You made them believe that you would be there for the middle class.  You made them believe that your support was going to be unwavering.  I‘m not sure about that tonight.

Now, look, I know there‘s a lot on your plate.  I know that Libya is going to hell in a hand basket.  But I was in Madison last week, Mr.  President.  And I‘ve visited with nurses and firefighters and police officers and librarians and teachers and you know what?  Their world is going to go to hell in a hand basket, too, if this radical Republican governor gets his way.

It‘s time for a road trip.  It‘s time for the president of the United States to go out and prove that he is with these Americans, that he is standing with them and he‘ll stand with them and rally with them as long as he has to in Madison, in Indianapolis, in Columbus, and in Trenton.

Those will just be the first four steps, because the Republicans, you see, they have a map, too.  They have a road trip.  It‘s called all over America—all over America, they‘re attacking public education.  All over America, they are attacking organized labor.  And all over America, they are trying to defund the progressive movement.

But we had Barack Obama on our side one time, but now tonight, I‘ve just got this one sound bite where he says, over a week ago that, you know, he‘s kind of with them and then, Jay Carney, you just didn‘t sell me, buddy.  You didn‘t sell me.  You didn‘t make me believe that the president is right there.

Mr. President, go out on the road.  This is a critical time.  We cannot lose this fight.  Say something about those brave Americans that are not in Wisconsin, that are standing up to the radical agenda.

Say that you support these 14 senators.  Tell them to stay exactly where they are until we break this governor in Wisconsin and we break Kasich and we break Mitch Daniels and we break Chris Christie.  They‘re trying to get re-elected on the backs of the working folk of America to funnel their campaigns with rich folks‘ money.  That‘s what they‘re trying to do.

Mr. President, do it.  Do it.  Go.  Be with the people.  Do what you do best.  Make us believe again.

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And remember to answer tonight‘s text question: Should the president do a road trip to Wisconsin or Indiana or Ohio or New Jersey?  You get the idea?  Text “A” for yes, text “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ (voice-over):  Walking into trouble, he considered sending thugs into a crowd of peacefully protesting families?

GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN:  I‘ve had lawmakers and others suggesting rile things up.

SCHULTZ:  Police chief line one.

The lynchpin between the middle class and the laws that will break them—the Wisconsin 14.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Our effort here is to give the people a chance to be heard.

SCHULTZ:  Different state, same story.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE ®, NEW JERSEY:  The unions are trying to break the middle class.

SCHULTZ:  Governor, who the hell do you think is in the middle class?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

FAKE KOCH:  What we were thinking about the crowd was planting some troublemakers.

WALKER:  You know the—well, the only problem with—because we thought about that.  My only fear would be if there was a ruckus caused is that that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has got to settle to avoid all these problems.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That was Governor Scott Walker talking to man he thought was billionaire, campaign donor, David Koch.  And those four words “we thought about it” have the governor in some hot water with a lot of folks.  Walker took a hard line in defending himself yesterday, claiming anything he says in private he would say in public.  Well, he doubled down on that defense last night on FOX News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER:  The prankster there tried to insinuate at least that this

person was going to push for people to come in and cause a disturbance

among the protesters.  I made it very clear that‘s not right.  That‘s not -

that doesn‘t work.  That has no value.

           

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS:  But you thought about it.

WALKER:  The protesters have not overwhelmed them.  They‘ve realized they‘ve come in from other states.

VAN SUSTEREN:  But you thought about it.

WALKER:  Well, yes, we had people contact—I had people—I even had lawmakers and others suggesting riling things up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Hold it right there.  Can we get these lawmakers on the air?  Who are these lawmakers?

The Madison police chief is disturbed by that defense.  Chief Nobel Ray wants to know why the governor thought about putting troublemakers in the Madison crowds.

In a public statement, Chief Ray said, quote, “I would like to hear more of an explanation from Governor Walker as to what exactly was being considered and to what degree it was discussed by his cabinet members.”  Amen, police chief.

“I find it very unsettling and troubling that anyone would consider creating safety risks for our citizens and law enforcement officers.”  Yes.

Joining me tonight from Madison is another city official who was bothered by what he heard on those tapes.  Dave Cieslewicz, he is the mayor of Madison, Wisconsin.

Dave, good to have you with us tonight.  I appreciate your time.

What is your response to the governor saying that he thought about it?

MAYOR DAVE CIESLEWICZ (D), MADISON, WI:  Well, let me tell you something.  I‘ve been mayor of Madison for eight years now and I‘ve never been more proud of my community.  You know, we‘ve had probably half a million people through this square in the last 10 days, 70,000, 80,000 on Saturday.  And not a single arrest during that entire period.

I was in the capitol last night.  They cleared out the rotunda so that people could sweep and mop and keep the place clean.  The folks who take care of the capitol concourse tell me it‘s the cleanest it‘s ever been.  We‘re really proud.

SCHULTZ:  So, with that, a good depiction of the crowd, a good description.  I was there.  You‘re spot on with all of that.  Yet the governor—

CIESLEWICZ:  Right.

SCHULTZ:  -- was thinking about sending troublemakers to cause a ruckus into that crowd.  What is your response to that?

CIESLEWICZ:  Well, I‘m appalled by it.  I think it is very disturbing for the governor of the state of Wisconsin to suggest that perhaps they should be disrupting peaceful protests.  That‘s not what Wisconsin is about.  I think we‘re showing the nation and the world how to engage in civil discussion of meaningful issues, and to do it in a way that‘s loud, that‘s enthusiastic, but that‘s also civil and appropriate and peaceful.

And we got the governor of our state suggesting that perhaps those civil protests ought to be disrupted.  I think that‘s very disturbing.

SCHULTZ:  Now, Mayor Cieslewicz, with us tonight from Madison, Wisconsin, have you had any conversations with Governor Walker about security?  Have you had any conversations about the demeanor of the crowds or the protests?  Because there were upwards of—

CIESLEWICZ:  Sure.

SCHULTZ:  -- seventy thousand people that were in your city last weekend.

CIESLEWICZ:  I have.  I had conversations with the chief of staff.

SCHULTZ:  No, I mean the governor.

CIESLEWICZ:  Not the governor.

SCHULTZ:  You have not had a conversation with the governor?

CIESLEWICZ:  Not the governor directly.  I have talked to the chief of staff.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  But the governor‘s got it, you know—I mean, I find it very strange that a mayor of a city where the capital is, where the legislative decisions are made, that the governor of the state would not have a conversation with the mayor and maybe ask you if you got everything you need.  You know what I mean?

CIESLEWICZ:  Yes, well, I tell you what.  We‘ve been doing pretty well on our own here.  Chief Ray has been doing a terrific job.  Our Madison police officers have been doing a great job.  And the protesters themselves have been doing a great job of organizing themselves.  And so, I couldn‘t be more proud of how everyone here has conducted themselves.  It‘s really been a great story for Wisconsin.

And, you know, it‘s just unfortunate the governor seems to have a different point of view about what Wisconsin is about.

SCHULTZ:  Well, I find it amazing that the governor hasn‘t taken the time to talk to you seeing that you‘re the mayor of the city.  But he‘s thrown that off on his chief of staff, I guess.

As the mayor of Madison, have you had any concerns whatsoever since the start of all of this?

CIESLEWICZ:  You know, from time to time we had counter-protests here on Saturday, Tea Party protests, but there were only 2,000 or 3,000 people, probably 70,000 on the other side.  And again, you know, it was very spirited, people have high emotions, and yet not a single incident.  Not a single arrest.

And that‘s thanks to not only our police officers who did a great job but folks on both sides of the issue.  They‘re having a spirited debate.

SCHULTZ:  And, Mayor, on the heels of the governor‘s comment that he thought about it, does this story end or do you think that the state board of ethics that you have, which is an independent body in Wisconsin, should they look into this?

CIESLEWICZ:  They definitely should look into this.  The governor‘s got to answer questions about what he meant.  Those four words, we thought about it, we‘ve got to know what he meant by that.

How—were there meetings inside the governor‘s office?  Did they seriously suggest hiring people to come and disrupt the crowd?  To what extent did he think about it?

Those words are very, very significant.  And this story should not end.  We need to know a lot more about what the governor meant by those four words.

SCHULTZ:  And he also threw it off on other legislators.  Do you think those legislators have an obligation to come forward to the residents of Wisconsin and clear this up?  I mean, I‘d like some names.  How about you?

CIESLEWICZ:  I would like some names as well.  You bet.  Whoever suggested that people should be hired to disrupt a peaceful protest, those folks should come forward and be held accountable for those suggestions.

SCHULTZ:  Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, you got a wonderful town there.  I‘m going to get back there.

CIESLEWICZ:  I know we do.

SCHULTZ:  I appreciate it very much.  Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

Remember to answer tonight‘s text question at the bottom of the screen.  I want to know what you think.

Ronald Reagan and welfare queens.  Well, he had welfare queens. 

Remember that conversation?

Chris Christie has public employees.  That‘s what the “New York Times” says.  Tonight, firefighters and police are pushing back on the right wing‘s favorite union buster.

Sanity from Shep Smith?  A grilling from Greta?  FOX News is finally on the side of the working man?  Really.  Yes.  Sean Hannity‘s dream.  “The Takedown” is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW, time for “The Takedown” tonight.

If you‘ve been watching THE ED SHOW lately, you may think something really strange is going on over at FOX News.  You might be wondering if Rupert Murdoch‘s news channel is trying to lean forward if you kind of catch my drift.  Last night, we showed you Shep Smith saying just in plain English what the budget bill in Wisconsin is all about, political opportunity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS:  To pretend that this is about a fiscal crisis instead of Wisconsin is malarkey.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  You got it big guy.  And earlier on the show, we showed you a clip of Greta Van Susteren giving Scott Walker a grilling over his “we thought about it” comments.  Greta even gave a platform to a firefighter Mahlon Mitchell, who was leading a solidarity protest with his fellow firefighters.  You may remember Mahlon talking about Rush Limbaugh on THE ED SHOW last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHLON MITCHELL, FIREFIGHTER:  I personally would like to invite Rush down and I would even pay for his plane ticket with my hard-earned union money so he could come and see what‘s going on here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  You know, FOX wasn‘t even paying attention to this story before we started covering it, but now that they are paying attention, and now that the public polling shows more Americans opposed to Wisconsin‘s union-busting bill, don‘t you think it would make sense for FOX to get on the side of the working man the way they always have been?  You might think that—but then you‘d be wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  But it‘s not the every day teacher that this story is really all about.  It‘s about the people looking to create chaos on the backs of the worker. 

ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  This is the second day in a row union temper tantrums have divided Wisconsin kids—deprived Wisconsin kids of their education. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  JFK must have had it all wrong.  It‘s really about what your country can do for you.  That‘s what the Wisconsin protesters think. 

MICHELLE MALKIN, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR:  And I think it‘s very interesting that we have the likes of Richard Trumka, the thug in chief at the AFL-CIO. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  See, folks, as long as the desires of the middle class workers go against the interests of a billionaire like Rupert Murdoch, Fox News will always be the Fox you love to hate.  Don‘t take my word for it.  Here‘s Sean Hannity. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  You could see a Nazi sign in that particular picture, with an Adolph Hitler mustache on Scott Walker.  My question is—the Tea Party movement was accused of these things, but there was no evidence that they could bring to the table. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Dog gone it, I was really stumped by that today.  So Sean wants evidence.  He actually wants evidence.  You know what?  I think these photos, well, they‘ll do the trick.  There are those Tea Party folks that don‘t exist, according to Sean Hannity. 

In his world, they‘re the patriots.  And labor protesters?  Well, they‘re the enemy.  Just remember that the next time Fox News tells you that they‘re looking out for the working class, no, don‘t believe them. 

Thanks to Media Matters for some of those photos and clips.  That‘s the Takedown. 

They are the lynchpin to this cause, the only obstacle preventing Republicans from destroying the middle class in the state of Wisconsin; 14 Democrats left the state last week in solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin.  They have not returned. 

They are brave.  Eleven of them will join me next right here on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW and thanks for watching tonight.  They are our last hope for the middle class.  It‘s been one week since 14 Wisconsin Democrats left their state to prevent a vote on Scott Walker‘s anti-worker effort.  And the Republicans are trying everything in their power to get just one of them to cave in. 

Well, today state troopers paid yet another visit to the homes of some of the Wisconsin 14.  Good videotape, huh?  Good for Fox, convinced that a few of these Democrats, well, they were slipping back in the middle of the night and sleeping in their own beds. 

Well, the Senate Republicans convened this morning for a roll call.  That move allowed the sergeant at arms to go to the Democratic lawmakers‘ homes with police.  They ended up empty handed. 

Time for plan B, boys.  Republicans then began to debate on other measures that the Democrats are firmly against.  One Republican backed bill would require voters to show a photo I.D. at the polls.  The Republicans claim it would prevent voter fraud.  The Democrats argue it will make voting more difficult for students, for seniors, and minorities.  And it‘s a voter suppression effort. 

The Republicans came up short on that one as well, needing at least one Democrat present for the bill to pass.  Didn‘t happen. 

Joining me now from an undisclosed location, Wisconsin state senators Julie Lassa and Lena Taylor, and nine other Democratic state senators.  Welcome again tonight to THE ED SHOW.  America, take a good look at these great Americans standing up for workers.  They are heroes. 

In the wake of the governor‘s audiotape interview with a blogger posing as David Koch, there‘s not a lot of trust here right now I would assume.  And so I have to ask, Senator Lassa, what assurances does the group need from the governor and the Republicans for you folks to return?  What assurances do you have to have? 

JULIE LASSA (D), WISCONSIN STATE SENATOR:  Well, I think you‘re exactly right about that, Ed, is that because of the tape that was released yesterday of Governor Walker and this David Koch, I think that it is very difficult for us to be able to have that layer of trust—that level of trust there with Governor Walker. 

And I think that there would have to be other folks who are involved in talking with Governor Walker and ourselves as well as the Senate majority leader, Scott Fitzgerald. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Taylor, does the audiotape and the reaction from the governor, who said that he had spoken to other lawmakers about sending some goons in to disrupt the crowd—does that complicate things greatly in your opinion? 

LENA TAYLOR (D), WISCONSIN STATE SENATOR:  You know, I think what complicates it is that our governor would be willing to send people in the crowd to try to threaten individuals or try to cause commotion.  And I really appreciate Chief Wray for asking him what law enforcement officers is he saying that did that, and that that‘s the troubling kind of statement to come from our governor. 

And that‘s not leadership and it surely is not the Wisconsin way. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Lasso, what do you make of the cops going to your homes looking for you? 

LASSO:  Well, we had a state trooper actually at my house this morning and, you know, I just think that it‘s about harassment.  They know that we are not in the state of Wisconsin.  And I think it‘s just terrible that they would have a state trooper and someone from the sergeant‘s office show up at 6:30, wait outside the house until a little after 7:00.

And, you know, I have two little girls at home with my husband.  And it was a traumatic experience potentially for them.  I know that in talking with some of the other members and their families that it has been a traumatic experience where, you know, the little kids have been crying and they‘re not sure what‘s going on. 

I just think it‘s more about harassment than anything else. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you agree, Senator Taylor? 

TAYLOR:  Completely.  As a matter of fact, I think it‘s just bully tactics.  It goes to wanting to put people in the crowds to cause problems, trying to threaten us with our check, coming and sending the police when you know that they‘re not there, as well as—I mean, come on, they‘re fiscally conservative.  Isn‘t that a waste of the officers‘ time and a waste of money?  They know we‘re not there. 

SCHULTZ:  What about that, Senator Taylor?  Your Republican colleagues have voted to withhold your pay checks. 

TAYLOR:  I think it‘s ridiculous.  An employer, first of all, cannot keep an employee‘s paycheck.  It‘s not appropriate.  And arguably we could use the power of attorney to be able to get our pay checks.  But I think it‘s ridiculous to threaten us with our pay checks when individuals use it for their livelihood.

And it‘s inappropriate.  But, you know, money is not going to stop us. 

We‘re standing with the people of Wisconsin, with the workers of Wisconsin. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Lassa, has there been any communication with the Republicans at all?  Have there been any phone calls going back and forth? 

LASSA:  Yes, actually.  There‘s been quite a few conversations.  And I think that it is really important that we keep the lines of communication, so that we can make sure that they‘re understanding our position and that, you know, this really is about making sure that we keep workers‘ rights in the state of Wisconsin.

And that if they‘re not hearing the thousands of people who have gathered at the state capitol in order to rally and protest what they‘re doing, as well as the 19 rallies that took place all across this state—we need to make sure that we are, again, hammering that message home and continuing to make sure that they know that worker rights are important to the state of Wisconsin, and that we need to make sure that we keep them. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Taylor, finally, give us some insight about the group.  There‘s 11 of you there tonight, 14 in total.  Has there been conversation amongst all of you about just how long you can hold out? 

TAYLOR:  You know, Ed, first of all, we‘re really resolved to continue to stand with workers of Wisconsin.  And we‘re hoping that in the dialogue that‘s happening with the senators across the aisle, as well as hoping that our governor will choose to listen to the nearly 500,000 residents that, you know, have come and said that they don‘t agree.

So we‘re in a position at this point to wait on the governor.  We‘re hoping that the governor will choose to do the right thing.  It‘s his call.  It‘s in his court. 

SCHULTZ:  And Senator Taylor and Senator Lassa, I‘d like you to answer this one.  You first, Lena.  Would you like to see President Obama in Madison? 

TAYLOR:  You know what?  Having the president be supportive and the fact that the archbishop is supportive and the Pope is supportive and the Packers are supportive, you know, come on.  Who should not be with us at this point? 

SCHULTZ:  Would you like to—senator, would you like to see President Obama come to Madison? 

LASSA:  Well, we would certainly welcome him in Madison or anywhere in the state of Wisconsin.  I think that he certainly brings a message of hope, and really has proven to be a force that has been standing up for workers and the middle class. 

We would certainly roll out the welcome mat for him. 

TAYLOR:  We would at least hope they roll out the welcome mat because we‘re going to be in Illinois when he comes. 

LASSA:  That‘s right. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Taylor, Senator Lassa, and all of you great Americans, thank you for joining us tonight.  I have to tell you, as a newscaster and a radio talk show host, I am absolutely captivated by this story.  How this unfolds, nobody knows. 

But those folks right there, that‘s how you stick up for the middle class in this country.  You don‘t back down.  You make your demands. 

You see, this is the way the Republicans have always played the game with the Democrats.  And now we are seeing some tough Democrats stand up and stick up for middle class families. 

I love this story.  I will do this story every night.  I can‘t get enough of it.  I think my instincts are telling me America can‘t get enough of this. 

This is what progressives do.  It‘s about the folks out there.  And it‘s in the heartland and it‘s happening.  This is America. 

Great to have you with us tonight.  God bless you. 

The pied piper of Republican union busters is now pitting public unions against the rest of the middle class.  We‘ll see what the New Jersey firefighters and police think about Chris Christie‘s new cuts. 

First, the next steps for the protesters and lawmakers trying to stop the Republican steam roller in Wisconsin, the one that would keep going through Indiana and Ohio and New Jersey.  Stay with us.  We‘re right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  With so much resting on whether the Wisconsin 14 can stand firm, we left wondering where does this go from here?  We‘re sitting here saying, gosh, how is this going to play out? 

For more on that, let‘s bring in “The Nation” magazine political reporter and writer and columnist John Nichols. 

John, plenty of coverage on the bogus interview that revealed who the governor really is.  What‘s the response not only in Madison but around the state?  How is this playing out? 

JOHN NICHOLS, “THE NATION”:  Ed, it‘s the talk of the state.  And you cannot imagine how creative Wisconsinites have become with this.  Unfortunately, I can‘t repeat all of the slogans that I‘ve seen on posters at places like Stevens Point and Racine and Platteville, as I‘ve been around the state.

But I can tell you that in Stevens Point, the home district of Senator Lassa, there were about 3,000 people out tonight for a rally.  Now, that‘s a small town.  And it‘s happening all over the state. 

Increasingly, while the posters still mostly talk about labor rights and maintaining collective bargaining rights, I‘d say about every third poster had some reference to Mr. Koch and also Mr. Walker.  In fact, I can tell you that one poster I‘ve seen quite a bit is that “Governor Walker, your Koch dealer is on line two.” 

SCHULTZ:  Well, do you get a sense that this governor has put his political future on the line with this story, the way it‘s unfolded? 

NICHOLS:  I think there is simply no question of that.  In a sense, he seems to know it, because when he was talking to this caller, who he thought was Mr. Koch, he went on and on about comparing himself with Ronald Reagan and outlining what sounded very much like an agenda as a presidential candidate. 

But I‘ve got to tell you, Ed, when I talked to Republicans off the record and behind the scenes, what I hear from so many of them is a sense that this governor seems to be so very focused on his political end game that he really is out of touch with the debate here in Wisconsin.  And that‘s going to harm him not just in Wisconsin, but really I think ultimately as a national player. 

SCHULTZ:  And quickly, John, do you think that other governors are watching this play out and maybe determining how they should play it in their state? 

NICHOLS:  Well, we know that they are.  In fact, one of the things that people around Wisconsin are saying is that, in some senses, they‘ve already won.  They‘ve convinced Republican governors in Indiana and Michigan and other states to back off anti-labor legislation, recognizing that Americans have started to wake up to the fact that they can say no to politicians that want to take away their rights. 

This weekend, Ed, across this country, I would predict we will see hundreds of thousands, perhaps as many as a million people in the streets. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  Across America.  No doubt.  John Nichols of “The Nation,” thanks for being with us again tonight. 

Coming up, we‘re going to New Jersey.  That state‘s bravest and finest join me next.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE ®, NEW JERSEY:  As I promised last year, if we did the hard things, New Jersey would be a leader in our nation for fiscal discipline.  This year look at how other states are following New Jersey.

In Wisconsin and Ohio, they have decided there can no longer be two classes of citizens, one that receives rich health and pension benefits and all the rest who are left to pay for them. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  “Rich health and pension benefits.”  I have to write that one down.  That of course was right wing darling Governor Chris Christie Tuesday, taking credit for the wave of states closing their budget gaps on the backs of middle class wage earners in America. 

Well, you know, today a New Jersey legislator called for shared sacrifice from a third class of New Jersey citizens that Christie just doesn‘t want to upset.  Democrats proposed the same millionaires tax that Christie vetoed last year. 

Christie‘s office responded, quote, “that horse is already dead.”  Instead, Christie‘s plan is to triple the cost of health care premiums for public employees and slash their pensions. 

The “New York Times Magazine” today published a profile of the New Jersey governor.  They say Christie has found his, quote, “ideal adversary,” public employees.  Quote, “Ronald Reagan had his welfare queens and Christie has his sprawling and powerful public sector unions.  Teachers, cops, and firefighters, who Christie says are dividing up local taxes beyond what the citizenry can afford, while also demanding the kind of lifetime security that most private sector workers have already lost.” 

We have a New Jersey policeman and firefighter standing by.  And we‘ll ask them what they think of their governor in a minute.  But first, here‘s Christie defending his plan by pitting the middle class public employees against the rest of the middle class in New Jersey. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE:  All I can talk to you about is New Jersey.  And in New Jersey, we‘re not trying to break the unions.  The unions are trying to break the middle class in New Jersey, through the expenses.  And they‘re close to doing it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Rich—let‘s see, it says rich health care and pensions, and now the unions.  Did you know that the unions are trying to destroy the middle class? 

Joining me now outside the fire house in Elizabeth, New Jersey, is firefighter Bill Lavin, who is also the president of the New Jersey Firemen‘s Mutual Benevolent Association. He‘s alongside Belleville, New Jersey police officer Tony Wieners, president of the New Jersey PBA. 

Gentlemen, thank you for joining us tonight.  Mr. Lavin, your governor says that you and your unions are trying to break the middle class.  What‘s your response to that? 

BILL LAVIN, PRESIDENT NEW JERSEY FMBA:  Well, it‘s absolutely nonsense.  I mean, this governor is really the king of the charade that you see going on across the country.  He was elected he says by a mandate.  He was elected actually under pretense that he would take care of police, fire, and teachers, and not touch our pensions and health care benefits. 

Just about everything that comes out of his mouth is untrue, half truths.  He is about dividing the middle class.  He‘s about dividing unions, private sector, public sector.  He‘s just a divisive guy.  And the winners in New Jersey are the millionaires. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Lavin, did you have any communication with the governor after he won election about your pension? 

LAVIN:  The only message I got was through Senator Baroni.  And I can‘t repeat it on camera, Ed, unfortunately.  But the only meeting that he will have is through emissaries and contacts where he is just going to throw out lies into the media and try to spin a negative approach to public service. 

SCHULTZ:  Officer Wieners, has your pension been affected by all of this?  What‘s happening? 

TONY WIENERS, PRESIDENT, NEW JERSEY PBA:  Well, what the governor is looking to do is he‘s looking to put forth a reduction in our pension.  And it‘s upsetting.   You know, as public employees, we‘ve always made our contributions to the pensions.  We pay 8.5 percent, one of the highest pension contributions in the country.

And for years, government didn‘t make their pension contributions.  And we‘re concerned on where it‘s going to go.  You know, we‘re concerned about our retirements and taking care of our families into retirement. 

SCHULTZ:  Officer Wieners, he says your union is trying to divide the middle class, trying to destroy the middle class.  What is your response to that? 

WIENERS:  Well, that‘s—you know, he‘s got the pulpit.  He‘s a bully.  There is absolutely no truth to this.  You know, we are the middle class. 

SCHULTZ:  Did you get any assurances from the governor, officer?  Did you get any assurances?  Did you get a letter?  Did you get any communication from him at all? 

WIENERS:  Yeah, absolutely.  After we came out and endorsed Democrat Jon Corzine, Chris Christie sent a member—a letter to the—to our membership saying that he would not—that pensions are a sacred trust, and under the Christie administration that there would be no changes to our pension benefits for any active, future or retired member. 

And, you know, what he‘s doing now—you know, what he put forth to our membership before the election is a lie.  If Chris Christie was a child and living in my neighborhood, I wouldn‘t allow my children to play with him.  He is a bully.  He‘s not truthful.  And he‘s just not a respectable man. 

SCHULTZ:  Bill Lavin?  Go ahead. 

LAVIN:  Ed, I just wanted to say, you know, this governor is a so-called presidential candidate.  And people are talking about Ann Coulter looking to him as the savior of the Republican party.  The speech he made to a conservative think tank in Washington this week, I think it‘s critical that people know.  He talked about addressing firefighters and the fact that they booed him.  And by the time he was done talking about their pensions and their health benefits, that they gave him cheers and stood.  The truth about that is we invited him.  He didn‘t come to the unions.  He didn‘t come to the career firefighters.  That was to volunteers who don‘t receive those benefits.

(CROSSTALK)

LAVIN:  So it‘s a ruse from the beginning.

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, thanks for joining us tonight.  Bill Lavin and Tony Wieners, we‘ll stay on the story. 

Tonight in our text survey, I asked, should president of the United States do a road trip?  91 percent of you said yes, 9 percent of you said no.

That‘s “THE ED SHOW,” I‘m Ed Schultz.  “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL” starts right now.  We‘ll see you Monday night back here on “THE ED SHOW.”

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