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Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Monday May 23rd, 2011

Read the transcript from the Monday 6 p.m. hour

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Guests: Mark McKinnon, Bob Shrum, Glenn Thrush, Jane Hamsher, David Sirota,

Adam Green, Jack Davis

CENK UYGUR, HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  I‘m Cenk Uygur.  And we‘ve got a fantastic show ahead for you guys. 

Tonight, we begin with the incredible shrinking field in the GOP. 

Where have they all gone?  And why are they running for the hills?  Are they scared of Obama? 

Uh-oh.  We‘re going to talk about that in a minute. 

Now, many Republicans are still waiting for the perfect candidate to emerge, someone who as at least a chance against Obama, or, at the very least, someone not named Mitt Romney.  This weekend they lost a man billed by some as the savior, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. 

In the immortal words of Sarah Palin, he said thanks, but no thanks to a 2012 run.  So, down goes Daniels!  Down goes Daniels!

But don‘t worry.  Here comes Tim Pawlenty to the rescue.  He officially entered the race today.  Woo-hoo. 

This is a man so boring, he decided that he can‘t fight it.  Instead, he‘s going to try to pretend that that‘s an advantage for him. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM PAWLENTY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, I‘m not running for entertainer-in-chief.  These are serious times and they need serious people with serious solutions.  So if you‘re looking for the loudest or comedian in the race, vote for somebody else. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

UYGUR:  Yes, that‘s definitely not you, dude. 

So, as you can tell, the loss of Mitch Daniels hurt Republicans, and it hurt them pretty dad. 

Now, look, Daniels is the sixth major contender to decide not to run since the start of the year.  Remember Donald Trump bowed out on May 16th.  Mike Huckabee went out two days earlier. 

On May 14th, Haley Barbour announced he was a no go on April 25th.  John Thune took a bow also on February 22nd.  And Mike Pence disappointed what little followers he has on January 27th

So why are so many big-name Republicans skipping this race? 

Now, all the Republicans, remember, they say how terrible Obama is.  Then why are they running from a fight with him?  Shouldn‘t they all want to jump in? 

As I asked earlier, is it possible that they‘re a little scared of Obama?  Fascinating.

But my favorite theory comes from comedian Andy Borowitz.  His new blog says, “In partial rapture, credible Republican candidates vanish from Earth.  Gingrich, left behind.”

I‘m rather amused by that.  Nice job, Andy. 

All right.  Joining me now is Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, senior adviser to the Kerry and Gore campaigns and now professor at NYU.  And Republican strategist Mark McKinnon, adviser to the McCain and Bush campaigns, the strategist. 

All right, guys.  Great to have you here. 

Mark, let me start with you.  The simplest question in the world, but apparently it‘s a complicated one.  Why are they all not running? 

MARK MCKINNON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, first of all, they may look at history and realize that only one Democratic president in history running for reelection has been beaten, and that was Carter.  So the fact is the president is in pretty good shape, as most incumbent presidents are. 

On the other hand, I would say that they also recognize that, as it happened to George H. W. Bush, you can be at a 90 percent approval rating just a year and a half out, and that can evaporate pretty quickly.  So we‘ll have a good contest with the folks that are out there, and a couple people may still get in.  But I think it‘s actually probably a healthy sign that some of these candidates just looked at it and said not so much that they didn‘t want to run against Obama, but they didn‘t want to put themselves personally through the rigors of a presidential campaign, which are harder and harder every cycle. 

So it probably has more to do with that than any sort of notion that they didn‘t actually want to run against Obama. 

UYGUR:  That‘s interesting.  I mean, you‘ve got a president with about 9 percent unemployment.  You‘d think that people would be champing at the bit to go after him. 

Bob, let me ask you about Mitch Daniels and him getting out of the race.

So many people on the Republican side had put their hopes in him.  How much has that hurt the Republican Party? 

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, I don‘t know, because I don‘t know how strong a candidate he would have proved to be.  As I‘ve said before, it might have turned out that he had all the charisma of a former budget director, which he is.  But I think what‘s happened in the Republican Party, starting with Jeb Bush—and Chris Christie could be added to the list of people you mentioned—is that a lot of these folks have decided that they would rather be president in 2016 than have the honor of a losing nomination in 2012. 

The other factor that I think plays into this is that the Republican Party this year seems very resistant to a conservative with a tinge of moderation and a patina of bipartisanship, so that you look at someone like Jon Huntsman, who I think potentially is a very strong candidate, who‘s kind of artfully explained that he didn‘t really mean it on global warming and climate change and cap and trade, because you can‘t do it right now with this economy; who said, yes, he was for a stimulus, but it should very tax cuts; he‘s being forced constantly to the right. 

I don‘t know how far he‘ll go to the right.  I don‘t know if he‘ll bend as far as he has to, to survive in this, but he certainly doesn‘t want to end up in Mitt Romney‘s position, because Mitt Romney looks like the very portrait of inauthenticity. 

UYGUR:  Mark, let me read you a quote by Eric Cantor, of course majority leader in the House for the Republicans.  He said, “Our field is a field that still has a lot of time.  I think the candidates who are in the race are strong candidates.  It is early still.”

That seems to be begging other people to get in.  I mean, if you‘re satisfied with the field, you‘re not talking about how it‘s early and you‘ve got to get other people in. 

What is it about the guys that are in this race that so does not excite other Republicans? 

MCKINNON:  Well, nature abhors a vacuum, but so does politics.  And the reality is that, without Huckabee out, there‘s a huge hole in the social conservative space and sort of Tea Party space that some are trying to pay attention to like Pawlenty, but the fact is they haven‘t found an ideal candidate.  And that‘s why I think you may start hearing the name Rick Perry real soon. 

He‘s the longest-serving governor of Texas, about to finish a very successful legislative session.  And I suspect there‘ll be a draft Perry movement mobilized pretty quickly.

On the other hand, I would also say that I really liked Pawlenty‘s announcement in the last 24, 48 hours.  I think he‘s honing his message.

I like what he‘s saying about telling the truth and talking about being anti-subsidy in Iowa, and talking about entitlement reform in Florida.  That‘s the kind of stuff we want to hear.  And I think he‘s taking over a bit of that mantle that Mitch Daniels had as sort of the adult in the room.

So I think the candidates that are there are sharpening and honing their message and getting better, too.  But there‘s a big gap in that social conservative space that somebody is going to fill.  So somebody is going to get in, and it could be Palin, it could be Perry. 

UYGUR:  I hear you on that, and I want to get Perry in a second.  But you mentioned Pawlenty a couple times, so let‘s talk about him. 

First, I want to show you guys a little video of him talking about money and how much that matters and where he stands in that. 

Let‘s watch that. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAWLENTY:  We‘re not going to be the money champion in the race to start with.  My friend Mitt Romney will be the front-runner in that regard.  But we‘re going to have enough money to run a competitive and successful campaign.  It may not be the BMW or the Mercedes campaign, but it will be a good, solid Buick, and maybe even trending towards a Cadillac. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Pawlenty is such a Buick.  He nailed it on that one.

But, Bob, is that a winning strategy?  And can this guy excite anyone?  I mean, he‘s my favorite guy, because I think whenever I look at him, I go, there‘s no way anybody is going to vote for that guy. 

SHRUM:  Well, you know, look, if there were an economic collapse, or the kind of thing that Mark referred to happening in 1992, where George H.  W. Bush went from 90 percent to 30 percent approval in the space of months, I suppose that Pawlenty would have a chance.  But the money argument, you can argue both sides. 

In 2004, Howard Dean had much more money going into the Iowa Caucus—

I think $40 million than John Kerry had raised and spent, which was about $12 million.  John McCain ran out of money altogether going into 2008, came back and won the nomination. 

On the other hand, I think George W. Bush had a huge money advantage in 2000 which really helped him.  He has something else, by the way.  And I‘m very interested in what Mark is saying. 

He could fill that social conservative space without coming across as unacceptable or immoderate, which is why I think—and Mark can say whether this is right or wrong—he called himself a compassionate conservative.  I think he thought he was, but he was also conveying to voters the sense that he was moderate in some ways, that he could reach across the aisles and work with Democrats in Texas, so he could do the same thing in Washington. 

You don‘t sense any of that coming from any of these Republicans candidates. 

UYGUR:  Bob, that point on the money is actually an excellent one.  I mean, that‘s why we have you on, to give you the juxtaposition of who ran out of money and who had more money.

I forgot that Dean had had more money than John Kerry.  That‘s actually a great point and one everybody should keep in mind. 

SHRUM:  Kerry had to mortgage his house.  Kerry had to mortgage his house to keep going. 

UYGUR:  Yes, which is amazing.  But it‘s a big house, on the other hand. 

But Mark, let‘s stay on Pawlenty for a second.  Put my bias aside.  I think he‘s the most boring man in the world, as opposed to the most interesting man in the world, but when you look at Mitch Daniels dropping out, who wins more?  Do you think Pawlenty is happier about it or Mitt Romney is happier about it? 

MCKINNON:  I think Pawlenty.  I think in reality, while Pawlenty may not seem to light up the room with charisma, in many ways that‘s what a lot of voters are looking for.

They‘ve had way too much charisma with President Obama, and they‘re looking for the antithesis of that.  So that‘s why they like Mitch Daniels and that‘s why they like somebody like Pawlenty. 

And he‘s going to trying to the truth teller and tell it straight up the line.  And as he said, he won‘t be entertainer-in-chief, but I think that‘s what Americans are looking for.  People who are having tough economic times want a serious candidate.  So I think that that will have some appeal. 

UYGUR:  All right.  One more, guys.

Rick Perry, you know, you mentioned him earlier, Mark.  His adviser came out today and said, “The governor‘s position hasn‘t changed on whether he‘s going to run or not since he has no intention to run for president.” 

Bob, is that leaving the door open? 

SHRUM:  Oh, when people say they don‘t intend to run for president, it usually means they‘re thinking very seriously about it or they‘ve already decided to do it. 

I think Perry has the problem, once again, that he‘s going to come across as a little far out, a little extreme on the spectrum.  He‘s not a clone of George W. Bush.  He‘s not the same kind of candidate that Bush was in 2000. 

I think Pawlenty, by the way, is interesting.  And I think mark‘s analysis is almost completely on point. 

The only thing I would add to that is he used that word “courage” in his announcement speech.  After watching him grovel as he apologized and crawled away from cap and trade during that Republican debate in South Carolina, I wonder if he‘s not ultimately going to have a problem with authenticity, too. 

UYGUR:  Yes, I hear you on that.  But look, as much as I think Pawlenty is not the right guy, I think he does have an angle he can play here. 

He can play the angle of the uniter, that he‘s going to bring in all these different guys, the conservative guys, the economic guys, the religious guys, et cetera, and bring them in into one boring package. 

But seriously, I think that that‘s his best shot.  And we‘ll see if he can make a run at Romney, otherwise I think Romney is in terrific position, obviously, with all these other people dropping out in front of him. 

All right.  We are out of time unfortunately, so I‘m getting the last word there. 

Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, Republican strategist Mark McKinnon.

You guys are great, as always.  Thank you so much for joining us tonight. 

SHRUM:  Thank you. 

MCKINNON:  Thanks. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, it turns out that tomorrow is actually judgment day—for the Paul Ryan plan.  All eyes are on Upstate New York.  The Republicans in that special election just flip-flopped on Medicare, because she‘s been getting hammered in the polls. 

A win for Democrats will send shock waves across the Republican Party.

And a major controversy surrounding the Tea Party candidate Jack Davis in that same race.  Was he attacking someone in this video?  He says it was a setup, and he‘ll tell us his side of the story tonight when he joins us. 

And the Fox News presidential machine is completely broken.  And so is the guy in charge.  Roger Ailes is panicking over the election, but is Fox News the one that broke the Republican Party in the first place?  And wait until you hear what Ailes said about Sarah Palin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  The special congressional election set for tomorrow in Upstate New York has proved one thing—the Ryan budget plan is political poison. 

(singing):  Poison

I don‘t think I can sing, either. 

All right.  By putting the GOP‘s disastrous Medicare plan on center stage, Democrat Kathy Hochul is poised to win a seat that Republicans have pretty much owned since the Civil War. 

Now, faced with that reality, her heavily favored Republican opponent is, you guessed it, completely flip-flopping on the plan.  I love it. 

She had earlier said definitively that she would have voted for it.  Now, all of a sudden, Jane Corwin thinks, well, it‘s a terrific first step, but she says she‘s “not married to it.” 

Of course.  Funny.  Corwin sounds like someone else who‘s had no interest in getting hitched to that plan. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER:  It‘s our idea, all right?  It‘s Paul‘s idea.  Other people have other ideas.  I‘m not wedded to one single idea. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Not wedded to it, not married to it.  It looks like Paul Ryan is getting left at the altar by his Republican sweethearts. 

But the GOP should have seen the problems before they got engaged to the Ryan plan.  Politico reports that some top Republicans were sounding an alarm about how devastating gutting Medicare would be for the GOP.  In fact, poll numbers leading up to the House vote in April were so bad, that the National Republican Congressional Committee warned the GOP leadership, “You might not want to go there.” 

But House Republicans were determined to present a bold idea.  Well, a top GOP insider warned, “Jumping off a bridge is bold, too.”  Ouch. 

Last month, House Republicans jumped off that bridge anyway.  And now Harry Reid is forcing GOP senators to do the same thing.  But they‘re not really eager to do so. 

In an op-ed today, Scott Brown, the man that was swept into office by the Tea Party movement, writes, “I cannot support his specific plan, and therefore will vote no on his budget.”

Damn.  It looks like he‘s throwing Ryan‘s plan instead of tea into the Boston Harbor. 

But my favorite non-endorsement comes from the head of the Republicans in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, who gave what has to be the most halfhearted defense of the plan in recorded history. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”:  In the long run, seniors will end up paying more out of pocket for their health care.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, MINORITY LEADER:  Paul Ryan would say it‘s not about your plan, it‘s a premium support plan.

WALLACE:  What‘s the difference?

MCCONNELL:  He says it is different. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  I don‘t know.  It sounds like a voucher to me, and we‘re getting our butts handed to us.  But he says it‘s different.  God help us.  That‘s what I heard from Mitch McDonnell right there.

All right.  Joining me now is Glenn Thrush.  He‘s the senior White House reporter for Politico.  His article today is on how Republicans ignored warnings on the Paul Ryan plan. 

Glenn, welcome.  And let‘s talk about that article. 

GLENN THRUSH, SR. WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO:  Hi.  Sure. 

UYGUR:  So, it turns out that they had the numbers ahead of time that they were going to get mauled?  Was it just arrogance, hubris, or was it Tea Party pressure, or a combination thereof?

THRUSH:  I don‘t know which metaphor to use, the jumping off the bridge or the shotgun wedding, so I‘ll stick with the shotgun wedding.

I think it had less to do with arrogance and more to do with John Boehner trying to get control of his conference.  I mean, he was facing this Tea Party rebellion.  He‘s had Eric Cantor, his majority leader, who has been courting the freshmen and that group of folks.  He‘s been—he faced a rebellion sort of on the continuing resolution in his negotiations from those guys with President Obama, so he needed to do something to show these folks that he was really as conservative as they were. 

So he pushed through the Ryan plan.  So it was very good for the internal politics for John Boehner and not so good for the folks on the outside. 

UYGUR:  And let me show some folks, everybody here, actually, some of the numbers that have them so concerned. 

The Associated Press just came out with a poll, and 72 percent of the people said that Medicare was extremely or very important to their financial security.  And so they don‘t want to let that go.  Obviously that‘s a big number.  Social Security is 70 percent; both programs is 62 percent.

And so when they look at those numbers, of course that scares the bejesus out of them.  You see the race in the 26th district.  They might be losing that race.  That scares the bejesus out of them. 

Have they now gotten to the point where they go, oh, maybe we shouldn‘t have done that?

THRUSH:  Yes.  I mean, and they actually knew it before this started.

The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee had this sort of conclave of pollsters, and they were torquing these questions as favorably for Republicans as possible, sort of casting the Ryan plan and the Medicare and Medicaid do-overs in the most possible light as saving these entitlement programs.  And even at that point they couldn‘t get the positive numbers up higher than the high 30s, which is basically a death sentence for any candidate that runs on it. 

So, you know, they should have known this was coming.  The amazing thing is only four Republicans voted against this package. 

UYGUR:  Yes, that is amazing.  I‘m telling you, I think arrogance has a lot to do with it, but now you see them flip-flopping all over the place.  It‘s not just in the 26th District. 

Scott Brown, we mentioned there, but that was not his original position.  Originally, he said he was for the Ryan plan.  He now says—his spokespeople say, no, no, I didn‘t mean I would vote for the plan.  I meant I would vote on the plan.

Do you believe that at all?  Is that at all credible? 

THRUSH:  Well, this whole notion that these guys aren‘t married to something which they voted for, they have the majority now in the House.  When you vote for something and you pass a budget, you own that.  There‘s really no way to go around it. 

And I think when Mitch McConnell was talking initially about running this up the flagpole in the Senate, he thought the politics were going to be different.  I honestly don‘t think the Republican leadership anticipated this kind of backlash.

But I‘ll tell you who did anticipate it.  Dave Camp, the House Ways and Means Committee chairperson, a Republican from Michigan, got into a bunch of heated discussion, some say arguments, with Paul Ryan, saying that he thought that this was a crazy idea.  And our reporting showed that a couple days after this vote passed in the House, he told some folks at a fund-raiser that he had been overridden and this was a big mistake. 

I think a lot of Republicans who voted yes are starting to feel that way, too. 

UYGUR:  Yes, but Camp voted for it anyway. 

THRUSH:  Yes.

UYGUR:  And I think that he‘s certainly regretting it.  That‘s no question about it.  And I think come 2012, a lot of them might regret it.

But, you know, some aren‘t, Glenn.  Dick Armey had something fascinating to say.  Apparently, he wants to go further down the road with Ryan.

Let‘s watch that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK ARMEY, FREEDOMWORKS:  Frankly, we‘re disappointed.  Now, obviously, we have to start looking.  And I was just saying this morning maybe it‘s time to start drafting Paul Ryan. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Wow.  Right?  How disastrous would that be for the Republicans overall if they now went further in Ryan‘s direction and want him to run for president? 

THRUSH:  Well, I don‘t think they‘re going to go—look, Ryan is an attractive candidate, he‘s a serious guy.  President Obama thinks he‘s sort of the most serious bargaining partner that the Republicans have long term.  But clearly that‘s not going to happen right now. 

I mean, the problem for the Republicans is, what do you do with this albatross?  I mean, you can‘t—Dick Morris, a couple of weeks ago, suggested that they‘d have a do-over vote.  That‘s crazy, they‘re not going to do that. 

They‘ve got to figure out some way to rationalize this.  And as you‘ll recall, during the midterms, they hit the Democrats with the attack on, what, the $500 billion over 10 years in Medicare Advantage?  So they are basically being slain with the same sword that they attacked Democrats with. 

So the question now is, they need a Karl Rove-type of brain to figure out a way to rationalize this vote.  And nothing I‘m hearing yet is really selling this plan to the American people. 

UYGUR:  They need at least some sort of brain.  OK.

And that was—that do-over idea, oh, I love that.  I hope they go for that.  That would be the largest flip-flop maybe in political history if they all flip-flopped at the same time.  That would be gorgeous.  But I don‘t think even they‘re that foolish. 

But Glenn Thrush, from Politico, really interesting reporting today. 

Thanks so much for joining us tonight. 

THRUSH:  Take care. 

UYGUR:  All right.

Now, when we come back, Texas Governor Rick Perry complains President Obama ignored his state when he came to the wildfires.  But wait until you hear what he did to firefights in his own state.  It‘s our “Con Job of the Day.” 

And President Joe Biden?  He‘s talking about 2016?  Really?  You‘ll want to hear this. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  And now for our “Con Job of the Day,” we‘ve got so-called conservative Texas governor, Rick Perry, begging the federal government for more money.

Over the last month Perry has slammed President Obama because he didn‘t declare the Texas wildfires a federal emergency.  Perry said, “I am dismayed that this administration has denied Texans the much needed assistance that they deserve.  It is not only the obligation of the federal government, but its responsibility under law to help its citizens in times of emergency.”

This guy, who went on and on about how he didn‘t want any federal money before, now can‘t stop crying about not getting enough, and of course it‘s not even true.  Even though the wildfires weren‘t declared a federal emergency, FEMA is picking up the tab for 75 percent of the emergency response anyway.  But what makes Perry‘s criticism really galling, is that he‘s planning to slash funding for firefighters in Texas.  As Think Progress points out, Perry‘s close to signing a budget that cuts $34 million from the Texas forest service, grants the volunteer fire departments would likely be hit the hardest. 

And that could have a huge effect on the sensibility to fighters since 80 percent of Texas firefighters are volunteers.  So when the federal government pays 75 percent of the bill to firefighters in Texas in this case, that‘s apparently an outrage and not enough.  But when Perry cuts the fire fighting budget in his own state, that‘s just being fiscally disciplined.  Look, this guy is a fraud, Rick Perry leeching off the federal government while he curses it is our con job of the day.         

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  Welcome back, everybody.  Tonight we‘re excited to share with you our first-ever “Power Panel.”  I like pronouncing things in different ways. 

All right.  Here to breakdown, so the day‘s biggest stories, David Sirota, radio host, the syndicated columnist.  Jane Hamsher, the founder of Fire Dog Lake.  And Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.  Look at all those lovely progressives.  That is an all-star progressive panel.  I love it. 

All right.  Guys, first topic is FOX News, new report out in “New York” magazine about it, how they basically secretly run the Republican Party.  Not sure were surprised by that, but I want to give you one of the quotes, because I find it really interesting.  They said—a person said, “you can‘t run for the republican nomination without talking to Roger,” and that‘s a GOP insider apparently.  And he said, every single candidate has consulted with Roger, but he hasn‘t found any of them including the adults Jon Huntsman, Mitch Daniels, Mitt Romney compelling, quote, “he finds flaws in every one,” said a person familiar with his thinking.  So, let me start with you, David.  Is he really the boss of the Republican Party?  You know, how they used to talk about Limbaugh being the teacher or head of the Republican Party.  Is in fact really Ailes?

DAVID SIROTA, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST:  I think there‘s something to that.  I mean, my take is that Roger Ailes is a businessman first.  He works for Rupert Murdoch and they want to make a lot of money, and that Roger Ailes is interested in having a strong republican nominee for president is both political.  I mean, he was a political operative in ideological but I also think that they want a very, very—a very, very, toughly fought presidential elections because that means big ratings for FOX Especially if it‘s a conservative candidate that can specifically rally FOX‘s based viewership. 

UYGUR:  Jane, can a republican win the nomination without kissing Roger Ailes‘ ring?

JANE HAMSHER, FIREDOGLAKE.COM:  No, he can‘t.  I think it‘s very clear at this point that Roger Ailes really has to say, we‘re going to get behind a candidate before they can expect to win.  And in telling fashion, now that Ailes‘s is casting his gaze on Chris Christie, the White House is now doing opposition research on Chris Christie.  You know, the good news about this article is that even Roger Ailes has his limits, he thinks Glenn Beck is unstable and Sarah Palin made a huge blunder with her blood libel speech.  But the bad news is, this is what happens when you get so much media consolidation in the power of one person basically, and Roger Ailes has successfully leveraged the ever-expanding Murdoch media empire to the point that where he can virtually block out the sun if he wants to, for any candidate, amongst the people that they‘re going to count for votes.  

UYGUR:  Right.  You know, and it turns out, you know, you mentioned Palin in there.  An insider apparently says that he thinks Palin is stupid, which is, wow, OK.  And of course FOX News shot back saying, well, if he finds who that insider is, he‘s no longer going to be an insider, which to me is not much of a denial.  You know, he also said, of course, she‘s smart of course, but come on.

HAMSHER:  Well, she gave that blood libel speech which wasn‘t may be the stupidest decision of all time.  And Ailes is actually—to not to do that.  He said, look.

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR:  Right.  Hey, Adam.  No, absolutely.  Adam, look, I think they screwed up here, right?  Because the whole point that FOX News did was, and I think the most damaging part was, they would say, oh, we‘re fair and balanced, the rest of the news media should listen to us, we do real reporting.  But look at the one of the quotes here from the article.  Chris Ruddy, the CEO conservative magazine Newsmax says, he‘s just got it.  We‘re going to go into an election period and he doesn‘t want FOX to be seen as the front of the Republican Party, referring to Roger Ailes, of course, but way too late, right?  I mean, it‘s obvious that they‘re front for the Republican Party.

ADAM GREEN, BOLDPROGRESSIVES.ORG:  Yes.  You know, it would be really interesting to see what would happened if a focus group of FOX viewers read this article that really, you know, pulled the veneer away from FOX.  One that really struck me was that, one of Sarah Palin‘s big argument, one of FOX‘s big arguments is something against elitism.  This is very much a gatekeeper role, one person making a choice, and also at a point when Sarah Palin needed a ride across the nation, FOX loaned her their personal corporate jet and gave her, you know, a ride, most Americans don‘t have that.  So, I actually encourage all FOX viewers to read this article.  My guess is that their impression of FOX will change a little bit.

SIROTA:  And Cenk, if I can add one thing to that, you know, what‘s interesting also about this piece is that it makes very clear that FOX is not conservative television.  It‘s Republican Party television.  And there‘s a big difference there between having an ideological perspective and having a complete partisan perspective.  And I think that‘s what FOX‘s interest really is.  Roger Ailes‘ interest is in the Republican Party and its political power rather than what‘s an ideological message that is based in some sort of conservative principle.  

UYGUR:  I think that‘s exactly right.  I think you nailed it.  Because when Glenn Beck goes conservative and he goes Tea Party, they liked it in the beginning, and then all of a sudden, they thought it got a little out of control and was hurting the Republican Party, not hurting the conservative movement, but hurting the Republican Party, and all of a sudden, they show Glenn Beck the door.  Look, I‘m going o ask one more thing about this.  

I think Roger Ailes is perhaps the most powerful guy in the country, I mean, there he is with Chris Christie deciding whether, you know, who should be the candidate, inviting him along with Rush Limbaugh.  And I think, you know, you guys nailed it.  It‘s the elitism of FOX News deciding who‘s going to run the country and didn‘t they do this before?  You know, back in, of course, in 2000 most famously FOX News  picked President Bush‘s cousin, and decide who would, you know, he was their vote counter, and he is the one that declared Bush was president.  I mean, Adam, isn‘t this part and parcel of the problem and why the rest of the media have to start ignoring these guys who are clearly a propaganda machine?

GREEN:  Absolutely.  I don‘t feel like I can give much insight here.  I mean, this is confirming everything that we‘ve been saying for years, Cenk.  That‘s what FOX is, and right.  The people just need to read this article.  The media needs to read this article, FOX viewers need to read this article and let‘s just get out of our system the fact that FOX is in any way, shape or form a legitimate news outlet.  It‘s not. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Now, let‘s stay on presidential politics for a second here.  I can‘t believe this but Trump says, he might get back into the race.  Let me just show you a quick bite here. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR:  It was just a decision I made, but who knows, stranger things have happened.  

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  You would not rule out a late entry if nothing pans out for the GOP?

TRUMP:  I would not rule it out, no.  I would not rule it out.   

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  All right.  Can I get an across the board agreement from all you guys, Trump, clown of the earth, totally not relevant?

SIROTA:  Absolutely.  

GREEN:  Yes.  

HAMSHER:  I think he‘s very successful at getting his headlines, naming the headlines and he‘s done it once again. 

UYGUR:  OK.  So, we‘re absolutely clear on that, I wanted to make sure.  Now, speaking of presidential candidates, Biden apparently in Cincinnati told a bunch of funders that he might run in 2016.  He would be 74 at the time.  Jane, does that make any sense or is that absurd?

HAMSHER:  I think it is absurd, but it isn‘t the most absurd thing.  I mean, Biden‘s job is going up to Capitol Hill and basically being the great compromiser.  You‘ve got politicians you are living in Bizarro land, they‘re not addressing anything that the American public cares about.  They‘re not dealing with, you know, the jobs situation, they‘re not dealing with health care, they‘re not dealing with the things that, you know, that Americans want.  They‘re listening to people who think that cuddling Medicare is a good idea.  And Biden has to go sell this in 2016, I think that he‘s going to have a tough time. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Real quick.  David and Adam, any chance he runs or can win?

SIROTA:  I mean, I think there‘s a chance that he‘s going to run.  I think it won‘t be a situation like Al Gore in 2000 where he‘s sort of the presumptive nominee, I think there‘s a lot of up and coming Democrats, and I think that Joe Biden hasn‘t really made it necessarily a name for himself outside of the Obama administration which I think will probably pretty necessary for a democratic candidate in 2016. 

UYGUR:  Adam?

GREEN:  Yes, you know, 2016 is going to be an opportunity for us to elect the real progressive president.  I don‘t think an old democrat is the same as a bold progressive.  We need a bold progressive, and we‘ll be looking for that kind of ideal candidate.  We don‘t have it right now in the White House, but we need one in 2016. 

UYGUR:  Oh, damn.  I knew you were going to go there.  OK.  So, now, speaking of bold progressives, let‘s go to the Senate races.  Now, you‘ve got one in Ohio, you‘ve got one in Montana, Missouri, and Minnesota.  I know, Adam, you were part of the people that commissioned a poll in those states.  Let me just show the Ohio numbers.  When you ask people, hey, are you opposed to cutting Medicare to balance the budget, boy, are they opposed to it?  Seventy six percent say they‘re opposed to that.  Sixty one percent opposed to cutting Medicaid, and 80 percent opposed to cutting Social Security and the numbers were basically the same in four of those states, very, very similar.  What message do you think those democratic senators in those races get out of a poll like that?

GREEN:  Well, the message they need to get is don‘t even come close to cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.  It is a huge political loser and Democrats can‘t go there.  And I‘ll say this, you know, myself, Jane and David, all of us in the end of 2010, we were told as progressives, don‘t take your ball and go home.  Get in line, support Democrats and our answer was we‘re supporting Democrats, but we warned you months ago, if you dropped the ball and things like the public option, that your turnout will not be what you need to be.  We‘re telling you way in advance, Democratic Party, don‘t go there, do not cut Social Security and Medicare.  It won‘t be ask, you have to fear, will be those voters in Ohio, and Missouri, and Minnesota and other places.  You have to have principles.  

UYGUR:  Now, Jane, they‘re getting great political capital out of this, I mean, they‘re betting the hell out of people including the 26 districts saying, the Republicans are coming after your Medicare.  But do you think there‘s a chance that they‘ll go to strike a deal to Republicans, including Vice President Biden doing that negotiating right now and cut Medicare and Social Security anyway?

HAMSHER:  Well, that‘s been their line all along, is that we need to cut it to save it, so that the Republicans won‘t do it because they‘ll do worse.  But the message of this poll should be that is just nothing people will ever believe.  If you cut it, you cut it.  You take away your, you‘re going to have that wonderful Ryan vote that is now like the beast that ate Cincinnati.  It is balling through the Republican Party.  And if they try and say, we‘re going to go up into this grand compromise, we‘ll just cut it a little bit, not only that they take it away, they pissed everybody off.  I just don‘t know why they would do it, but it seems like something they want to do.  

UYGUR:  Last thing, Dave, is there any way that they can walk this back because remember, the president came out and gave a speech and said, hey, you know, what, I‘m going to do three times as many spending cuts as I do tax increases, basically, can you walk that back or is that too late now?

SIROTA:  Well, I think the poll actually, what it does is it creates an interesting dynamic where you  may have the senators who are up for reelection in the Democratic Party being the ones who are giving voice to the idea that the president‘s plan to reduce Medicare and to potentially cut Social Security is wrong.  So, in other words, you may have a situation where these seemingly most electorally vulnerable Democrats are the ones who were leading the charge within the Democratic Party to tell the president that he is off base.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Well, let‘s see how it turns out.  It‘s very interesting, no question.  All right.  David Sirota, radio host, syndicated columnist Jane Hamsher, the founder of Fire Dog Lake and Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, the power panel.  Thank you guys. 

GREEN:  Thanks.

UYGUR:  All right.  So, when we come back, the political world is watching New York‘s 26th district, the one we‘ve been talking about.  Now, this video showing Tea Party candidate Jack Davis might be hurting the republican instead, that‘s Jane Corwin.  There‘s more to that story.  And Jack Davis, the guy in the video, the Tea Party candidate joins us live to talk about it. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  We‘ve got a really exciting election tomorrow.  New York‘s 26th district.  The Republicans were supposed to win, but all of a sudden here comes a democrat from behind.  In fact she‘s no longer behind.  She‘s now leading.  One of the reasons, a Tea Party candidates, we‘re going to talk to him, next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  As we mentioned earlier, tomorrow is a special election for a New York congressional seat, that‘s already giving Republicans across the country a huge headache.  Democrats should have no business winning that seat.  The district has 30,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats, historically very republican, but two new polls show Democrat Kathy Hochul has actually pulled ahead.  Now, one big reason this race is up for grabs is the Ryan budget plan.  Republican Jane Corwin supported that plan which would destroy Medicare as we know it, before she finally flip flopped on it, and now she‘s crying uncle saying, she wouldn‘t end Medicare after all.  But other big factor is the president of Tea Party candidate Jack Davis. 

Oh, look at that, there‘s Jack Davis. 

All right.  Thank you for joining us, Jack, we appreciate it.  

JACK DAVIS, NY-26 TEA PARTY CANDIDATE:  I appreciate the invitation and opportunity to get my message out. 

UYGUR:  Absolutely.  All right.  First, let‘s start on that Ryan budget plan because it does not poll well in your district.  Fifty nine percent say that they oppose Medicare and Social Security cuts.  So, what is your position on it?

DAVIS:  Yes.  From the very beginning, I‘ve been against any changing of the Medicare.  I don‘t want anything cut there, and I didn‘t cut enough in the spending side.  What we have to do is to put men and women back to work.  We had everybody working, it‘s just eight percent more.  They‘re working people in America.  We could solve the Social Security problem, we could solve the Medicare problem.  We could solve the national debt and we could solve the budget problem.  Put people back to work.  Get us out of the free trade agreements and WTO and get balanced trade.  If we had balanced trade, people would be working, manufacturers would be hiring people, people in building plants, and buying inventories, and buying equipment.  That‘s what we have to do.  Stop the exodus.  

(CROSSTALK)

UYGUR:  Jack, I find it really interesting. 

DAVIS:  Yes.

UYGUR:  I find it really interesting.  And I‘ll tell you why.  Hold on.  Let‘s talk about what you were saying right there. 

DAVIS:  Sure. 

UYGUR:  Because people used to say, you used to be a democrat, used to be a republican, now you‘re a Tea Party guy. 

DAVIS:  Yes.

UYGUR:  But yet, you‘re polling in a lot of votes from Republicans who are responding to your anti-free trade or anti-WTO message, that‘s very surprising, or at least interesting, why do you think they‘re responding to that? 

DAVIS:  Well, it‘s not surprising to me. 

UYGUR:  Go ahead.  Tell me why you think they‘re responding to it. 

DAVIS:  All right.  The polls show over 70 percent of working men and women know that free trade is a job killer.  It‘s Washington that doesn‘t get it.  You were talking to presidential candidates.  Any presidential candidate that would come out against free trade at WTO and getting trade balance and tariffs, he‘d be the next candidate and he would win the next election. 

UYGUR:  See, that‘s a populist strand in the Republican Party that I think is very unexploited, and no matter how much Karl Rove and the other Republicans have attacked, you‘ve still hold on to what appears to  be at least 12 percent, which is a significant percentage of the vote here.  

DAVIS:  Don‘t trust that poll.  

UYGUR:  You think of course you‘ll going to get more.  

DAVIS:  The only poll that counts is the poll we‘ll going to do tomorrow.  The electorate, they‘re going to be count out tomorrow, that people will be voting.  It won‘t be up by the, you know, the different statistical that you use for your polls.  

UYGUR:  I got you.  

DAVIS:  Good. 

UYGUR:  Now, listen.  There‘s a lot of controversy over this video that everybody is showing, they claim of you pushing someone, right?  Now, I want to show the video, and then I want you to explain what it actually is, according to you.  So, let‘s watch the video real quick here.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Jack, why did you back out of the debate?  

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  You want punched out.  

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Why?  Why did you—

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Sir.  Why did you back out of the debate?  Why did you back out of the debate?  Ah!  Why did you back out of the debate?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Of course, first of all, the cameraman seems like, it was a bloody diva, it wasn‘t a European soccer player?  It was a little bit like, oh, so, I got that, but who wants it and what was going on there?

DAVIS:  He was Jane Corwin‘s chief of staff for the assembly.  It was a setup.  He was supposed to aggravate me and I was supposed to punch him out.  I ignored him, pushed his camera away from my car and got in my car, and went away like nothing happened, but it was a setup and it backfired.  And Jane is paying for it.  

UYGUR:  Is that, really the chief of staff for Jane Corwin, the republican, is the one who‘s doing that and getting in your face and then.

DAVIS:  Yes. 

UYGUR:  OK.  That‘s very fascinating.  OK, Jack Davis, it‘s really interesting candidate, Tea Party candidate for the 26th district in New York.  Thank you for joining us.  We appreciate it.  

DAVIS:  Thank you very much.  And please invite me back.  I have more messages for you.  

UYGUR:  All right.  Sounds good.  We‘ll be right back.                                     

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UYGUR:  You know, one of the things I want to do on this show is bust up myths that are out there in conventional wisdom in Washington.  One of them is we don‘t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.  You know how many times the Republicans say that?  Well, you don‘t have to know it.  We‘ll show it to you.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  We don‘t believe that Washington has a revenue problem.  It‘s a spending problem.  

REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, OHIO:  Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.  

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  We don‘t have a revenue problem.  We have a spending problem.  

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  It does not have a revenue problem.  It has a spending problem.  

BOEHNER:  Well, Washington doesn‘t have a revenue problem, Washington has a spending problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR:  Now, they say that, because they want to protect their rich donors who would pay more taxes, for example, if you took away the Bush tax cuts, right?  But you know what the reality is?  We have a huge revenue problem.  Now, let me show you what the Republicans don‘t want you to see.  Look at this chart from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.  You see that giant orange portion?  This is how much the deficit is going to be public debt is going to be I should say, by 2019.  The biggest part is the Bush era tax cuts.  Then you‘ve got the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in red, then you‘ve got the economic downturn, which by the way, all three of those were caused by Bush and the Republicans, the tax cuts, the wars and the economic downturn. 

Then, it‘s tiny slivers TARP, Fanny and Freddie, which might get larger later, I don‘t like that either.  But look at how much bigger the other ones are.  And then you‘ve got the rest of the debt.  You know what that shows you?  We‘ve got a revenue problem.  It‘s all the giant tax cuts.  You know what?  It doesn‘t matter.  Associated Press says, today in an article, well, you know, people don‘t want to cut Medicare, but on the other hand, they don‘t want to cut taxes, either.  I‘m sorry, they don‘t want to raise taxes either.  Well, that‘s not true, they keep saying it like it‘s true, but it‘s not true.  You know, 81 percent say that they want to raise taxes on millionaires.  That would help to get rid of those Bush era tax cuts, and would be in much better shape.  You know what we need?  We need Democrats who are bold enough and brave enough to be actual progressives and say, yes, we have a revenue problem, yes, we should raise taxes on people making over $250,000, and we should do it now.  Because this country needs to balance its budget.  And that is the responsible way of doing it. 

UYGUR:  All right.  Thank you for watching, everybody.  That‘s our show for tonight.  You can of course always follow me on the Youngturks.com or on YouTube@TheYoungTurks.  “HARDBALL” is next.  And that will start right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.                                                                            

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