'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, June 2, 2011
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Guests: Michael Steele, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Howard Simon
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, “THE LAST WORD” HOST: I still don‘t know how to attach photographs to tweets. Maybe Anthony Weiner can teach me that next time he‘s on the show.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is up next.
Good morning, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Now, I want to teach you to attach photographs to tweets. I will do that for a very reasonable price, Rachel.
O‘DONNELL: OK. Next week.
MADDOW: All right. Deal. Excellent. Thank you, Lawrence.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
OK. You have to go back in time, right, because the date is sometime in the spring of 2007. The setting is backstage at a Republican presidential primary debate. OK? Spring of 2007. Ready?
The candidates lined up at the urinals. Giuliani next to McCain, next to Huckabee, the rest all in a row. The debate was soon to start, so they were talking care of business, and laughing merrily at the one guy who wasn‘t there. Poking fun at him, mocking him, agreeing about how much they just disliked him.
Then, Willard “Mitt” Romney walked in and overheard them, bringing on a crashing silence. Romney was the guy on whom much of the smart Beltway money had been betting from the start.
Again, this is not this time around. This was last time around. Romney was the guy on whom much of the smart Beltway money had been betting from the start.
But the combination of the vitriol of his attacks and his apparent corelessness explains the antipathy of the other candidates—explains the antipathy of the other candidates had towards him.
For this next sentence, did we prepare a visual here? I‘m going to need a visual.
John McCain routinely called Romney a bleep hole and a bleeping phony. Giuliani opined, “That guy will say anything.” Huckabee complained, “I don‘t think Romney has a soul.”
Romney‘s own team‘s view was more generous, but no less damning. His advisors found Mr. Romney to be indecisive and incorrigible vacillator. The internal debates over his message and slogan went on for months without end or resolution. By the summer, Romney was stuck in single digits almost everywhere.
That according to “Game Change” is what happened the last time that Mitt Romney ran for president as the front-runner. And the stuff at the end there, the incorrigible vacillator stuff, that was from the people who were working for him.
It was almost as bad as the stuff coming from the other Republican candidates. And you might say, OK, the other Republican candidates didn‘t like him because they were his rivals for the nomination. But the point of the reporting at the urinals there is that all of those other candidates could easily collectively get over all of their other differences and unite around their collective dislike for Mitt Romney.
And, yes, they were rivals of his. And, yes, he was sort of the front-runner. But this is the primary process, just the primary process. All of those other candidates, and all of their staff, everybody involved in Republican presidential politics is all supposed to unite around the eventual nominee.
Had the nominee been Mitt Romney, imagine Mike Huckabee stepping up to man the barricades for, what did he call him, the man with no soul? Imagine John McCain giving impassioned speeches in favor of his good friend the bleeping phony.
This is a strange problem for a front running Republican presidential
candidate to have. But this may be the determinative thing about Mitt
Romney this election cycle. If he does not get the nomination, it may very
well be, because he doesn‘t seem to have a friend in the Republican Party -
at least not one that anybody knows of.
Case in point: Mr. Romney has been telegraphing frankly for years now that he‘s going to be running for president.
And seven days ago, he announced that he would be making his announcement today in New Hampshire. It has been on our little futures calendar and our show‘s morning news note every day since that date was set. It‘s a public thing. Everybody knew today was the day Mitt Romney was going to announce in New Hampshire.
And with all of that advance notice, somehow, accidentally, two other nationally known Republican potential candidates made sure they were in New Hampshire today holding their own political events to step all over Mitt Romney‘s big announcement.
Rudy Giuliani may not even be running for president. Rudy Giuliani has barely been mentioned as a potential candidate this time around since he tanked so badly last time, and the Republican Party is so radically and obsessively anti-abortion right now, do you really think they would nominate a pro-choice guy?
Rudy Giuliani, I‘m sure, would like to keep his speaking fees as high as possible, so he has an interest in stoking the speculation. But in terms of actually pretending to run, he‘s not trying very hard. He‘s made only a couple of appearances in New Hampshire since his failed run four years ago.
But today, he made sure to be there. There was Rudy Giuliani today in New Hampshire, the day that everybody knew that Mitt Romney was going to be announcing his candidacy there.
Also, Sarah Palin, she‘s in this strange photo-op bus tour thing right now, right? Part of the conceit of this stunt from her is that it is supposed to be spontaneous. There‘s no set schedule. Her bus just randomly goes patriotic places, wherever is nearby, wherever is convenient.
Yesterday, Sarah Palin‘s day started in New York City. Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, right? And then even though this is supposedly just some vacation, a laid-back bus tour, we just pull over whenever we‘re tired of driving, she seems to have been quite determined to make it to New Hampshire today in time to step on Mitt Romney‘s announcement.
Sarah Palin left New York City yesterday and quite literally drove through the tornado zone in Massachusetts just to keep on schedule. TV producers who I know who were trailing the Palin motorcade yesterday were forced to shelter in the basement of a church in central Massachusetts because they drove right into the tornado warning zone, and then when the storms had passed, back on the bus, people. We have to get to New Hampshire.
And sure enough, even if she had to drive through tornadoes to do it, there was Sarah Palin in New Hampshire today, stepping all over Mitt Romney‘s big presidential announcement. Sarah Palin rolled up for a clam bake in New Hampshire today. Look, look at where those two places are marked on the map—five minutes from where Mitt Romney was holding his big announcement event that had been planned for a week. Look at that.
Today, Democrats gleefully noted the effectiveness of Palin‘s sideswipe, pointing out the top billing that Ms. Palin got in the New Hampshire press over Mitt Romney, even though she was just stopping by spontaneously, and he was announcing he was running for president. And he is the front-runner.
Mitt Romney may very well end up being the Republican nominee. But it is not going to be with any help from any other Republicans you have ever heard of.
In the days leading up to Mr. Romney‘s big announcement, the right wing Tea Party organization FreedomWorks was busy announcing they are going to do everything they can to stop Mitt Romney from getting the Republican nomination.
One FreedomWorks official telling “The Huffington Post,” “I don‘t think I‘ve met any groups or any local activists that like him or want him to be president. Most people are definitely trying to stop Mitt Romney.” FreedomWorks says they are planning to concentrate on nudging the grassroots towards coalescing behind whoever ends up being the most electable alternative to Mitt Romney.
Then there‘s the conservative Western Representation PAC. They have been a rising player in conservative politics recently, running anti-union ads like this one in Wisconsin this year, raising money for Tea Party candidates like Sharron Angle and Joe Miller last year. Today, Western Representation PAC officially announced a “Stop Romney” campaign, declaring, quote, “We will never get behind Mitt Romney.”
Even relatively mainstream conservative outlets like “The National Review” have been noting that the prospect of Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee, quote, “produces a range of emotions running from disappointment to panic.”
Imagine a year from now. Can you imagine conservative America united in rollicking enthusiastic support for Mitt Romney as their candidate? Can you imagine it? I cannot imagine it.
Mitt Romney‘s bad reputation within the Republican Party, his lack of a friend in the world in Republican politics, seems like one of the two most important things about as status as a front-runner sort of yet to be incorporated into the common wisdom about him. That‘s one.
Here is the second thing. And I‘m genuinely puzzled as to why this hasn‘t received more attention as a central issue in his campaign for the presidency. Mitt Romney is the only major contender for president on the Republican side who has not said if he wants to kill Medicare. Who has not said what he would do if he were president and the Paul Ryan budget crossed his desk, who hasn‘t said whether he would have voted with other Republicans to kill Medicare, whether he would support the Paul Ryan plan. He just hasn‘t said. Nobody‘s made him say it.
Tim Pawlenty tried for a long time to get away with not saying, but eventually, Mr. Pawlenty conceded he would sign a bill to kill Medicare.
Jon Huntsman said he would do it, too.
Newt Gingrich first said he wouldn‘t, and he was beaten to a bloody pulp by his own sign and now he is trying to make us believe he was all for killing Medicare all along.
But Mitt Romney has gotten away without saying. This is the central issue in national politics so far this year. Why isn‘t Mitt Romney getting asked every single time there is a camera near him whether he would sign or vote for the Paul Ryan kill Medicare plan?
Strategically, everybody agrees that the key to Mr. Romney winning the Republican nomination is that he must win New Hampshire and he must win New Hampshire by a lot.
Do you want to know what New Hampshire politics are about right now?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I didn‘t have Medicare, doctors bills could wipe me out, and put a burden on my five kids. When Congressman Charlie Bass voted to end Medicare, that was an attack on New Hampshire families just like mine. My father worked with Charlie and respected him. I voted for him five times. But Charlie Bass has changed.
(END VDIEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I voted for him five times.
Charlie Bass, the Republican congressman against whom that ad is being run. New polling in his district, second district of New Hampshire, says among constituents, only 25 percent approve of his vote on the Paul Ryan thing. Only 25 percent approve of his vote to kill Medicare. He barely won his seat in 2010 against a strong Democratic challenger who was going up against him again.
With his Medicare vote and the ads running against him already highlighting the Medicare vote, featuring people who said they voted for him five times and would never do so again because of that vote, Mr. Bass, forgive the metaphor, has a hook in him right now. And he is being reeled in to the vote. He appears to be DUN done.
No matter how much every Republican you have ever heard of hates Mitt Romney and has developed a derisive swearing nickname for him, nobody thinks Mitt Romney as a dumb guy. He can see those numbers in New Hampshire, he can see what‘s about to befall Charlie Bass because of that vote. And all of them can see the numbers nationwide.
The new poll out about the Paul Ryan kill Medicare thing shows that overall, only 35 percent of the people in the country support it, and that is the best number it has going for it -- 74 percent of seniors oppose it, as do the majorities in every single demographic group measured, including self-identified conservatives. More Republicans oppose the Paul Ryan plan than support it.
With that looming as the biggest Democrat versus Republican issue in this whole election cycle, how is it that the Republican front-runner for the presidential nomination is getting away with not saying what he thinks about it?
Joining us now is the former Republican National Committee chairman and current MSNBC political analyst, Michael Steele.
Mr. Steele, it is good to see you.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It‘s good to see you, Rachel. It‘s good to be back.
MADDOW: Thank you.
What did you see of Republican elite opinions about Mitt Romney while you were RNC chairman? Is the way that “Game Change” spills it out sort of the way that you saw it, too?
STEELE: I mean, largely, yes. He was, you know, not very well liked. There wasn‘t a warm fuzzy from a lot of people from the ‘08 campaign. And I think that‘s part of the just brutal nature of sort of elbowing your way through that process.
And I think that, you know, right now, going into New Hampshire and starting and kicking off this presidential cycle, there‘s a little fence-mending going on, a little bridge-building going on. There are a lot of little things that he and his team have had to do to bring down the temperature that was left from the last fight, and to get ready for this one, because, you know, by their calculations, he will likely walk out of there with the nomination.
There‘s a lot of water going under that bridge, however, before that happens. And I think the reality for Mitt on this day—as you very well pointed out—was that he‘s got some actors out there who will bring the rain on this parade, and he‘s going to have to deal with that.
MADDOW: In terms of the FreedomWorks move here, FreedomWorks says they are actually going to finance efforts to make sure that Mitt Romney is not the candidate. They‘re going to promote his rivals. They‘re going to work against him getting the nomination. They are making noises that if he does get the nomination, they‘ll try to get people to support a third-party candidate, rather than supporting him, which, of course, is suicide for any Republican nominee.
MADDOW: Is that the sort of thing—for FreedomWorks to be doing this, does that mean that has to be happening with some sort of tacit Republican report?
Are these Republican bigwigs? Are these actual outsiders, as they say they are?
STEELE: Well, no, this is—this is the establishment that you‘re talking about largely that Mitt has had to deal with. If you recall, you know, in the 2008 cycle, they were very warm on Mitt. They liked him. You saw favorable editorials out of a lot of the conservative papers, “The Wall Street Journal” and certainly the blogs. So there was much more of a warm fuzzy for him than there is now.
And you just saw recently, “The Wall Street Journal” basically take the skewer and just apply it in an editorial about a month ago. So, when you get to a FreedomWorks organization, which is grassroots, their fight with him, if you will, is over the health care issue. The plan that was put in place in Massachusetts that has been aligned along with Obama care has rankled a lot of people, and I think that a lot of that noise germinates from that.
My caution for the rank-and-file is: in this fight for the nomination, that‘s one tactic. That‘s one battle. But let‘s not take it so far that we leave behind bruised feelings and, you know, hurt hands that cannot lift the nominee if it is Romney to victory in 2012, because that is going to be the real battle. The real battle is not so much this primary, but getting ourselves positioned and warmed up for the fight against the Obama administration over the next year.
MADDOW: Yes. And that‘s the whole reason that that‘s why I think this nomination announcement—or that this announcement today is so interesting to see other people, particularly Sarah Palin, but to see other people so eager, even on day one, to make sure that essentially, he never gets out of the starting gate, when he is seen as maybe having the best general election chances against Obama at least at this point. But let me ask you about --
STEELE: I was going to say to that, Rachel, pay backs are you know what, right?
MADDOW: That‘s right. Well, let me ask you about one—I have to be honest. I hated “Game Change,” I totally hated this book. But the stuff on Romney in particular seems so relevant to this one. So, I want to get your reaction to one other piece of reporting in here.
MADDOW: In trying to explain his failure to catch on, Romney‘s advisers pointed to another issue, which they short handed as TMT—The Mormon Thing. For the evangelical portion of the Republican base with its suspicions about Mormonism, Romney‘s religion was a significant road block. Friends of President Bush would call him from Texas and say of Romney‘s chances: you‘ve got to be kidding, he‘s in a cult.
Nobody likes to admit that religious bias is going to affect their vote. But do you think there‘s evidence of it affecting Romney‘s support among Republicans?
STEELE: No, not this cycle around. I think a lot of the newness and curiosity about the Mormon religion and certainly Romney‘s role and relationship to his faith played a part in the ‘08 cycle. I don‘t think that‘s a factor this time around. I think when you look at someone like a Governor Huntsman who himself is a Mormon, that‘s not an issue that comes leaping out when you raise his name or he is discussed.
So, I think a lot of people as they focus on jobs, jobs, jobs, the economy, you know, the possibility of being in a double dip recession kind of atmosphere, those things are much more weighty on the minds of the American people of all stripes, liberals to conservatives. And so, I think that issue of faith and morals and his religion are not going to be a cornerstone issue.
Now, it will probably be important to some people, but I don‘t think it‘s going to be a driver. And I don‘t think it‘s going to have the kind of impact on the nomination process that some out there may say.
MADDOW: Michael Steele, former RNC chair and MSNBC contributor—actually, can we put up that last photo that we just showed of Romney and Huntsman? I just think it‘s worth noting that we are talking about faith, and we put up this picture, and this was not intentional, but doesn‘t Jon Huntsman look a little bit like Satan in this picture?
STEELE: Oh, please.
MADDOW: I mean, look—no, I mean, he‘s not—obviously not. But like we‘re talking about religion and we put out this picture, he‘s like this handsome, genial-looking guy. We found the one picture on earth where he actually looks like a demon from hell. I want to rescind that photo and we‘ll hereby never show it again.
I‘m very sorry. Mr. Steele, I‘m sorry.
STEELE: No problem.
MADDOW: Really, I didn‘t mean it. I had never seen it before it was there. We‘ll never show that photo again. Jon Huntsman is very handsome and not demonic at all.
All right. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio is here in New York tonight.
He will be with us in studio in just moment.
Also, did you hear who was guest-hosting the Ed Schultz show tonight? Did you hear? It is amazing. I will tell you who that is in just a moment.
And “Best New Thing in the World Today” involves this.
(BEGIN VDIEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have had meetings about how to hold a mike so you don‘t make some noise such as that—rubbing against my clothing here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There‘s a reason for that. It is very funny. It is “The Best New Thing in the World Today” coming up right at the end of the show. That‘s all ahead.
MADDOW: The governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, is not running for president. One of the reasons it seemed like he might run for president was that he was trying to apparently win the affections of cultural warrior right-wing primary voters by signing a law in Indiana last month blocking all funding for Planned Parenthood. Not blocking all funding for abortions at Planned Parenthood, but blocking all funding for Planned Parenthood, period.
Since abortion already does not get public money, Mitch Daniels‘ decision in Indiana would have had the effect of blocking anyone on Medicaid in Indiana, not from getting an abortion, but from getting, say, a cancer screening, pregnancy test, contraception at Planned Parenthood.
And that happens to be illegal. Federal law says explicitly you can‘t restrict where people on Medicaid get their family planning services as long as the provider is qualified.
The nonpartisan legislative staff told Governor Daniels it was illegal before he signed it, but he signed it anyway. Now, the federal government has just said, hey, Indiana, no. You cannot do this. The law is clear. And you know it. And if you do it, you may very well lose $4 billion, billion with a B, dollars that you get because you were supposedly capable of running this program legally.
The federal government standing up to Mitch Daniels on this means that Indianans on Medicaid will be able to get their cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood again. It also means if Mitch Daniels had run for president, we would probably be looking down the barrel of at least a year of presidential campaigning all about abortion rights.
That said, even without Mitch Daniels running, we might be looking at that anyway. Tim Pawlenty is trying to become known as the most anti-abortion of all of the Republican candidates for president this year. Because of that, he got asked this question in Iowa by a reporter from “The Carroll Daily Times Herald” yesterday.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: You‘re pro-life. If your position on abortion prevails, what should the penalty be for a woman who has an abortion or a doctor who performs one?
TIM PAWLENTY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I don‘t happen to have a specific penalty that we have proposed for that. But I know there‘s been efforts in the past to outline criminal sanctions. I don‘t think we want to make it a criminal sanction, but I think there should be some kind of, you know, penalty or consequence. But we don‘t have a specific proposal as to what that would be.
REPORTER: Is that something you though about.
PAWLENTY: You said one!
REPORTER: Sorry, all right.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: You said one. Don‘t follow up. No more ad libbing on prison terms for abortion, Governor.
Tim Pawlenty saying in Iowa yesterday that although he wants to make abortion illegal, wants to make it a crime, he kind of thinks that maybe there shouldn‘t be criminal penalties for doing it, maybe.
Apparently that was the wrong thing to say, because his spokesman called that reporter back to clarify shortly after that exchange. The spokesperson clarified that, in fact, Tim Pawlenty does want to put doctors in prison. He does want doctors to be treated as criminals for doing abortions.
Mr. Pawlenty‘s hesitance to immediately volunteer not only that he wanted doctors to go to prison but the length of a prison term he would want for a doctor in that circumstance was apparently a pause too far for the Republican primaries this year. The director of Iowans for Life says that although she has had a positive perception of Mr. Pawlenty‘s anti-abortion credentials, up until to this point, him not immediately saying that he wants doctors in prison and for how long giving her pause now about him.
This is what it takes to run for president for the Republican this year, which probably means that mainstream reporters should all start asking all of the Republicans now what kind of prison sentences they want for abortion.
Joining us now is Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio.
It is good to have you here, Senator. Thanks for being here.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Good to be back. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: What do you think has opened the floodgates on anti-abortion politics this year?
BROWN: I think that the Republicans are always trying to outdo each other in one extreme position after another. And in Ohio, the Republican legislature is moving on what they call the heartbeat bill, which may be the most extreme anti-choice legislation in the country. And, you know, they all get in line and support this.
And the thing you hear—you hear of Pawlenty, and then you hear Daniels, and you hear Romney—and sometimes, I‘m not sure what they think. I was reminded as I was watching your segment earlier on Governor Romney that I was talking to Ted Kennedy in 2007 leading up to the ‘08 elections, and Romney had run against Kennedy, as you remember, in 1994. And Romney had been anti-choice but he ran, and then against Kennedy, he had become pro choice. And in a debate, Senator Kennedy was asked, what do you think about Mitt Romney‘s position on abortion? And Kennedy said, well, I don‘t know if he‘s pro choice or anti-choice. I think what he is, is multiple choice.
And I think that that‘s really Mitt Romney‘s problem is. He seems to be multiple choice in a whole bunch of issues. And I think he‘s going to have to, throughout this campaign, answer his position on health care as sort of multiple choice. He was here and then it was there. He was for it before he was against it, before he was for it. That sounds like Pawlenty today.
They are so intent on playing to the right-wing base, they‘re not sure what they said yesterday.
And those of—you know, those of us in politics like you and me that care passionately about issues don‘t have to remember what we said yesterday, when we talk today, because we actually believe something. And I‘m not sure what these people believe as they appeal to their far right-wing base.
MADDOW: And it is the sort of politics 101 dilemma of the system like we‘ve got is that you play to that base in order to win the primary. And then you have to play to a—in a more centrist way to win the general election.
And it just—it puzzles me. And I really don‘t know what the answer is going to be, to see how obsessed Republican Party politics have gotten this year on abortion specifically. We have never seen as much anti-abortion legislation pass, let alone introduced, but pass as we have this year. I think this is the most we‘ve ever seen since Roe v. Wade.
And if the primary process becomes incredibly doctrinaire and incredibly criminalizing really on the abortion issue through the primary process, what sort of effect will that have in the general?
BROWN: I think that‘s a question they are going to have to answer every time now. What is the penalty for—if you‘re going to criminalize abortion, what is the penalty for the doctor, the woman? I mean, I don‘t know how they answer that question. They stutter a lot is what they do.
But I think the interesting thing to what you say is they try to out right-wing one another on abortion and go to one extreme and trump that extremism. And then they look at what happened in Congress during the continuing resolution debate, and Republicans lost that debate by—when they went after Planned Parenthood.
In the end, the Republicans caved on the continuing resolution and went along with an OK position—and I thought it wasn‘t a great position for any side—but they went along with an agreement and seated the issue on planned parenthood, because they know the public was much more in lock-step with what Democrats were saying about Planned Parenthood, and that is that 3 million American women get their preventive care, get their primary care from Planned Parenthood—whether it‘s cancer screenings, whether it‘s birth control, whether it‘s other kind of preventive care. And without Planned Parenthood funding that for American women, a lot of these women would have had no preventive care and no primary care at all.
So, we won that debate. So, as they move to the right, they are going to have to answer to the American people who said, wait a second, we don‘t want these fights. The fight—we had a consensus in this country on Medicare, on Planned Parenthood, on women‘s rights. Why are you fracturing this consensus and dividing the country, instead of focusing on jobs and dealing with the budget deficit?
MADDOW: I think it‘s going to be—I think that translation of what‘s going on in the primary politics and within Republican discussions on abortion right now in the general election politics totally unexplored. And I think it‘s going to be fascinating.
One other thing, I have to say a couple of weeks ago, your wife, Connie Schultz, was our guest here talking also about abortion politics. And after that segment in which—she is always eloquent, but she was unusually eloquent—my father sent me a text message. That said, and I quote, “If your mother and I are ever hit by a truck, we would like you to be adopted by Senator Brown and Connie Schultz.”
So my dad is here in studio tonight. And I don‘t say anything has to happen one way or the other, but I think he did bring some paperwork. I hope that would be OK.
BROWN: That is very kind. Thank you.
And I actually had the pleasure of meeting your mom and dad, and partner, and relatives and sisters and there‘s a whole team. I don‘t know how you can do your job every night with your family sitting here watching you. They were holding up 5s, and 8s, and 3s, and 10s. Your dad held up a 10, your partner not so much. But they‘re doing OK.
MADDOW: Her scale only goes up to eight, right, honey?
BROWN: Thank you.
MADDOW: Senator Brown, a great cheer, thank you very much.
BROWN: Good to be on always.
MADDOW: I don‘t always blush like this, but there you have it.
All right. Here is Florida budget-flashing Republican Governor Rick Scott on the campaign last year slamming the stimulus program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SCOTT ®, FLORIDA: The stimulus is a disaster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A disaster. And the only thing standing between Florida and that disaster is Mr. Scott himself, who has just had a stunning head-on collision with his own stated beliefs on tape. That‘s coming up.
MADDOW: Today in the great state of New Hampshire, two state representatives, two Republican state representatives, resigned their leadership positions in the House. A six-term Republican state rep named Matt Quandt, he ho used to be deputy majority leader, but he just quit. And a freshman Republican state rep named Tim Copeland, he used to be House whip, but he also just quit. Both of them quit their jobs in the Republican leadership jobs—their jobs in the Republican leadership in the state legislature in protest of the New Hampshire Republicans going after union rights.
Mr. Quandt telling New Hampshire Sea Coast Online today, “pro-worker Republican views like mine are not respected under this leadership team.”
Mr. Copeland himself, a retired state worker, saying, quote, “I just couldn‘t do it anymore. What they‘re doing, going after the public employees and pensions just isn‘t right.”
Republicans control the state legislature in New Hampshire. They have been going after union rights, trying to turn New Hampshire into a mini-Wisconsin, but for the fact that the state‘s governor, John Lynch, is a Democrat. And he has vetoed what the Republicans have been trying to do in the Granite State.
In Wisconsin itself, the backlash against union-stripping there has, of course, led to recall elections. So far, six Republican state senators are scheduled for recall votes this summer, inspired by their support for Governor Scott Walker‘s union-stripping bill.
Today, “The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” published audio of one of those Republicans up for recall that was secretly recorded as he addressed Republicans in his home district. It is him explaining how he hopes to be able to hold onto his seat, and how he hopes Republicans will not lose control of the whole state Senate. Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
STATE SEN. DAN KAPANKE ®, WISCONSIN: We‘ve got tons of government workers in my district tons. From La Crosse to Prairie du Chien and to Viroqua and to Ontario and to Hillsboro, you can go and on and on. We have to overcome that. We got to hope that they, kind of, are sleeping on July 12th—or wherever the date is.”
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republican Senator Dan Kapanke up for a recall election in July saying that after he voted to strip union rights, he hopes public sector workers in his district might sleep through his recall election. His spokesman later clarified to “The Journal Sentinel” that what he really meant to do was encourage his supporters to come out and vote. That‘s what he meant, apparently, by the whole let‘s hope they‘re sleeping thing?
Perhaps with some sense that they may not control the estimate Senate for all that much longer, Wisconsin Republicans this week are hurrying through with their agenda. They voted to raise taxes on poor people this week. They voted to raise taxes on poor people in Wisconsin by $56 million over the next two years. They voted to cut taxes on multistate corporations and on fancy chewing tobacco, that one supported by Philip Morris. But poor people, the states need more from you.
So snooze and corporations get a tax cut this week from Wisconsin Republicans, but the poorest people in Wisconsin get their taxes raised by tens of millions of dollars.
Republican state legislatures are so cartoonishly radical this year that they are losing their own members. And faced with the possibility of getting thrown out midterm, they are racing at the very end to raise taxes on poor people in order to help out the snooze lobby. With politics like, shouldn‘t the Republicans be able to do something with these story lines in the states? Shouldn‘t they be able to do something with these story lines nationally?
OK. So, that‘s how this one ends. Do you guys think that was OK?
That‘s not that bad. Better than the last one. Thanks, you guys.
MADDOW: If you know some things about a really justifiably famous American, the giant among them named John Glenn chances are pretty good these are among the things that you know.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: February 20th, 1962, dawn at Cape Canaveral, dawn of Colonel John Glenn‘s day of destiny. His wide grin belies the 10 postponements of his flight that have kept him grounded.
Everything is go!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go. Release orbit.
Roger. Understand. Go for at least seven orbits. I can see clear cloud pattern way back across toward the Cape. Beautiful sight.
NARRATOR: The Marine landed, situation go. Colonel John E. Glenn Jr. left his footprints among the stars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: John Glenn, space pioneer. John Glenn, genuine American hero. John Glenn, amateur makeup artist? Something really weird and great and totally unexpected turned up today about him. It is “The Best New Thing in the World Today.” It is on tape. It is coming up right at the end of the show tonight.
We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SCOTT: We know that the stimulus has not created one private sector job.
I would fight all of the stimulus money, because we‘re all going to have to pay for it or our kids will at some point.
I think the rest of his policies, I think the stimulus is a disaster.
No more stimulus spending. None.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: That was Republican Rick Scott when he ran for governor of Florida. I would fight all the stimulus money. Stimulus is a disaster. No more stimulus spending. None.
That was Rick Scott just last year.
Rick Scott this year just signed his very first state budget which includes nearly $370 million worth of stimulus money.
In describing where it gets its money, the budget specifically names the Stimulus Act 66 times.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: No more stimulus spending. None.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: None! Or maybe a lot.
When asked by “The Miami Herald” and “The St. Petersburg Times” why his budget had so much stimulus money in it despite all the “no, no, no stimulus, you can‘t make me,” this was Governor Scott‘s response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SCOTT: You go through every line you can, and figure out where it builds jobs or it hurts jobs. And that‘s filter I went through.
REPORTER: So if the stimulus money helps create jobs, then it‘s OK?
SCOTT: I think it‘s a mistake. You know, that‘s taxpayer money. And I think we have to watch out how we spend all that money, on the state level and on federal.
REPORTER: But you OK‘d it.
SCOTT: You have to give me more detail on which exactly which one, I go through each line.
REPORTER: Well, there are about 61 different line items, a lot of them in the state attorney‘s office. About $346 million, about 84 percent of it appears to be through ACA (ph) for electrical hospital records of all things. Any of that sound familiar?
SCOTT: Sure. Well, I have to go through every line and look at it. But I think the stimulus hurts our economy long-term. I think that it creates bigger government, not smaller government. I believe in smaller government. And I think we have to continue to watch out we spend all of our dollars.
REPORTER: Governor, you spent 40 hours on the budget. You do not find—I mean, you‘re not aware of stimulus money in there?
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Close the door.
You got to go through it line by line and make sure you can‘t see the money that you‘re keeping that you said you wouldn‘t keep.
Same idea for Florida‘s new Republican governor on that whole limited government thing he was just explaining.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
RICK: Limited government. What do you think?
You‘re tired of bigger government.
A lean and limited government.
I‘m going reduce the cost of government, the size of government.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Right! Just like he pledged to no, no, no, never, never take stimulus money, Florida Governor Rick Scott pledged to lessen Florida state government. Instead, he is expanding Florida state government to do stuff it has never done before; like forcing Florida women to have medically unnecessary ultrasounds before the government will allow them to have an abortion; like force the drug testing of anyone applying for benefits from the state, even if they are not suspected of anything; like force drug testing of anyone who works for the state, even if they are not suspected of anything.
If you were in the business of politics in Florida, this stimulus/no stimulus thing, this giant government/no government thing, must be head spinning.
But if you are in the business of protecting civil liberties in Florida, however head spinning this all may be, mostly right now I would bet that you were just about gearing up for a fight.
Joining us now is Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.
Mr. Simon, thank you very much for your time.
HOWARD SIMON, ACLU OF FLORIDA EXEC. DIRECTOR: Nice to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Am I right that you do have a fight on your hands with this new administration—at least over the forced drug testing issue?
SIMON: Oh, not just the forced drug testing issue. Rachel, this is ground zero for a battle on numerous personal freedoms and civil liberties issues involving abortion rights, voting rights, religious freedom, mandatory drug testing. This is the whole ball of wax down here.
And we‘re just trying to do our job and protect the personal freedoms and civil liberties from the abuses of power of the—of this government and this governor.
MADDOW: I know the ACLU Florida has—you‘ve already sued Governor Scott over the drug testing of state workers. You‘ve been contemplating suing over the drug testing for people applying for benefits as well. Have you reached a decision on whether you‘re going to sue on that one yet?
SIMON: Oh, we probably will. But, Rachel, there are only so many law suits we can deal with a week. You know, he has said he has created jobs. He certainly has created jobs.
We‘ve had to add attorneys to our staff. We‘re suing. We sued him in federal court yesterday over mandatory drug testing without suspicion for all people who work for the state government, executive branch agencies. And, in fact, we‘re filing another federal lawsuit against the governor tomorrow on voting rights.
MADDOW: Florida Republicans at last count I think it was had introduced 18 different anti-abortion bills this session. By my last count, they passed five so far. Republicans in Florida, of course, have been really anti-abortion for a long time.
But can you tell why the flood gates have opened this year on anti-abortion stuff in particular in the way these flood gates have opened?
SIMON: Well, I think because the November election has empowered them without any check of—you know, we all benefit when there‘s divided government, when both parties have a little bit of power. Now, they don‘t have to answer to anybody whatsoever. They are emboldened and set the agenda.
And now, for the first time, maybe ever, they can do whatever they want without any check. The check has got to come now from the courts. And that‘s the work we have begun doing. It‘s now time for the courts to step up and protect the personal freedom and the rights of the people of Florida.
MADDOW: When the country at large starts thinking about politics in Florida, starts thinking about Florida as a potential presidential battle ground for example, do you think that civil liberties issues will have electorate consequences? Do you think they will help or hurt either side just when it comes to the politics of the state of Florida?
SIMON: Well, certainly that is the case with voting rights. They are doing whatever they can to suppress the vote as much as possible.
Yes, Rachel, I know you‘ve studied this enough to know that nobody—no state in the country does as good a job depriving as many people of the right to vote than the state of Florida in any way possible, principally by this mass system of disenfranchisement. But now, they passed a law that will suppress, will make it harder to register the vote, make it harder to vote, make it harder to have the vote counted.
And that‘s the law that we‘re challenging in federal court tomorrow.
MADDOW: Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, busy man right now. Thank you very much for your time tonight, sir. Appreciate it.
SIMON: Thanks. Nice to be with you.
MADDOW: So, did you hear who the guest host is on “THE ED SHOW” tonight? Ed will be back on Monday. Thomas Roberts has been doing a wonderful job filling in for Ed. But did you hear who is hosting “THE ED SHOW” tonight? It is Al Sharpton.
Reverend Al Sharpton should make for an excellent show. After New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today reversed himself and said he would reimburse the state of New Jersey for flying in a police helicopter to his son‘s baseball game, I know Reverend Al is going to have an update on that story and you should stay tuned for it. That is coming up at the top of the hour, after the show.
Before we get there, though, we have for you “The Best New Thing in the World Today.” That is coming up next. It involves a very famous hunky male astronaut and makeup. That‘s next.
MADDOW: “The Best New Thing in the World Today” may have started off as something that was only for civics dorks—but, really, is for everyone.
When C-SPAN first went on the air 32 years ago, what they showed was the House of Representatives, right? It was not until seven years later that the Senate let them put cameras in there, too. C-SPAN in the Senate what we know as C-SPAN 2 launched 25 years ago today. And on the occasion of that anniversary, C-SPAN just posted on their awesome C-SPAN blog footage from the very first day the American people got to watch our Senate at work live.
And the unexpectedly awesome thing about that aside from the fun of looking at Strom Thurmond and younger versions of Chuck Grassley and Al Gore—the unexpectedly great thing about it is the first ever televised Senate floor session featured this awesome sauce from astronaut famous senator and apparently resister to media training, John Glenn. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER SEN. JOHN GLENN (D), OHIO: We have had meetings about how to hold a mike so you don‘t make some noise such as that, rubbing against my clothing here. And we shouldn‘t even hold the mike because it is possible to make a noise here.
And those of us with thinning hair lines or little hair on the head have been advised you do not lean over like this into the camera, because that will give a poor impression.
And, Mr. President, I will not say that TV in the Senate is going to change anything. But I wish to note that we‘ve had advice on how to do this and how to make certain that we cut that shine on the head, and if necessary, how to do the eye shadow and the whole thing so that those of us unfortunate enough to have bags under the eyes may look a little bit better.
Now, Mr. President, I would hasten to add that personally, of course, I plan to do nothing different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator John Glenn, distinguished son of Ohio and the first American to orbit the Earth making bald jokes and putting on makeup on the Senate floor.
Thank you, C-Span. I always think I cannot love you more and you surprise me.
“Best New Thing in the World Today”—happy birthday to the United States Senate on TV.
Now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” guest-hosted by the Reverend Al Sharpton. Have a great night.
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