updated 9/28/2011 9:57:54 AM ET 2011-09-28T13:57:54

Guests: Nicole Wallace; Steve Schmidt; Sherrod Brown>

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thank you.

And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

Two really consequential things are going on in U.S. politics right
now. Two things in which the thing that makes them really consequential
events will not be overtly discussed. There`s the surface event, the sort
of headline and then there`s the important thing that is below the surface.

The first of these is something being done by Texas Governor Rick
Perry. He`s hosting a gala lobbyist fund-raiser tonight at the Willard
Hotel in Washington, D.C.

As legend has it, the word "lobbyist" exists because of the Willard
Hotel. The Willard is close to the White House. And back in late 1800s,
people who were trying to get favors done in D.C. would supposedly hang out
in the opulent lobby of the Willard Hotel, waiting for politicians or
cabinet officers or maybe even the president to come by that hotel so they
could schmooze that person.

Those Willard hotel lobbyists helped give the whole lobbyist
profession its name. At least, that`s the somewhat spurious legend, which
the Willard Hotel itself enthusiastically promotes.

Well, tonight, the Willard Hotel lobbyist fundraiser for Rick Perry
constitutes what his campaign is describing as his Washington kickoff for
his presidential run. NBC`s Michael Isikoff obtained an invitation to the
event. It lists a 28-member host committee. At least 20 of the 28 people
on the host committee are high level K Street lobbyists. And all 28 of the
people on the host committee had to agree in order to get their names on
this invitation tonight to give Rick Perry`s campaign at least 10,000
bucks.

So, on the one hand, sort of surface level, this will be a nice night
to Rick Perry. He will go to this nice hotel that gave lobbyists their
name in the first place. He will clear at least 280,000 bucks for his
campaign. That will pad his fund-raising numbers nicely for when he has to
turn them in on Friday. On the surface, this is all good news for Governor
Rick Perry of Texas.

The thing that will go unsaid, however, the thing perhaps roiling
beneath that calm service is what else NBC has been able to report about
tonight`s Perry event. Quote, "A D.C. lobbying source tells NBC the host
committee for Perry`s fund-raiser tonight remains a list in flux because
organizers have had trouble nailing down commitment from other top
lobbyists they had hoped to include. The problem reflects new doubts about
Perry, both because of his stumbling debate performance last week and
questions about whether he will have the staying power to make it through
the primary gauntlet, says the D.C. lobbyist who had been courted by
organizers of the event." And who is now spilling the beans about it to
NBC`s Michael Isikoff.

This is sort of trouble for Rick Perry. What does Rick Perry
supposedly have going for him as a candidate? He seems really
conservative. Well, all of the other Republican candidates have taken 10
notches out of him on that one.

Supposed to be very charismatic, until he started showing up in the
debates and going (INAUDIBLE) whenever anybody asked him a question.

But, third, the most importantly, in the way we do politics now, Rick
Perry is supposed to be a hand-over-fist fund-raiser, right? The idea was
that, sure, Mitt Romney personally is a zillionaire, but all the
zillionaires in the country who aren`t Mitt Romney are supposed to want to
give their money to somebody like Rick Perry. Apparently not, at least
apparently not tonight.

So, that is one of the two big events going on in U.S. politics
tonight where the headline for what is going to be happening overtly at the
event is not the most important thing about that event.

The other big thing going on right now tonight in politics, as we
speak, where the true importance of the event will not be overtly spoken of
is this. This is the podium that at any minute, in any minute now, will be
hosting Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. Chris Christie
is the governor of New Jersey. He is the sitting governor of a state that
is on the East Coast and that means frankly he has no official reason for
being at this podium which is at the Reagan Library in southern California,
but there he is expected to be any moment.

This has been a real grass is always greener year for Republican
presidential candidates. The Republican with the most and best buzz has
consistently been whoever is not in the race but might someday get in.

Chris Christie has enjoyed putting himself in the position to be asked
over and over and over again if he is running and before tonight, he has
consistently said, no, no, no, no, I couldn`t possibly, thank you for
asking, please ask again, but no.

Tonight, even though his aides are telling reporters that he has no
intention of declaring that he definitely is going to be running for
president, the reason everybody is paying so much attention to this speech
he`s giving in California tonight is because there is word that tonight may
be the night that Chris Christie -- well, he doesn`t exactly say yes, but
tonight may be the night he stops saying no.

And, yes, that does sound kind of gross. That`s Beltway politics for
you and that does seem to be what`s happening.

We`re told to watch not necessarily for a statement in the speech,
itself, but for the way he answers questions immediately after the speech.

These two political events happening simultaneously in U.S. politics
tonight are related to each other. The renewed speculation about Governor
Christie is in part because of Rick Perry`s little problem tonight in D.C.
as lobbyists and big money donors are start to spill the beans and some say
they`re not so sure about Rick Perry -- lobbyists and really, really,
really big money donors are coming out of the proverbial closet about their
support for Chris Christie: folks like the billionaire founder of Home
Depot, the hedge fund magnate Paul Singer, personal investment guru Charles
Schwab, cosmetics baroness Georgette Mosbacher, and -- drum roll, please --
the richest man in all of New York, David Koch of the famous Koch brothers.

We have known for some time now that the Koch brothers are big fans of
Christie. Earlier this month, "Mother Jones" and Brad Friedman reported
that Governor Christie was a guest at the Koch brothers, at one of their
secret masters of the universe summit outside of Vail, Colorado. The
security of that summit was reportedly so tight that they set up loud
speakers on the periphery of the event to broadcast white noise, to
broadcast static, so nobody could listen in on the event.

Here`s some of what they`re apparently hoping to keep quiet. This is
reportedly David Koch praising Governor Chris Christie.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DAVID KOCH: Five months ago, we met in my New York City office and
spoke -- just the two of us -- for about two hours. At the end of our
conversation, I said to myself, I`m really impressed and inspired by this
man. He is my kind of guy. Who knows? With his anonymous success in
reforming New Jersey, some day, we might see him on a larger stage where
God knows he is desperately needed.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW: Zillionaires like David Koch who at one time were hoping to
keep their Chris Christie light under a bushel are now apparently,
according to the press this week, apparently willing to be named as Chris
Christie supporters.

Politico.com reporting that some would be Christie donors are people
who said they supported the Democratic ticket in 2008, not necessarily
because for their enthusiasm for Barack Obama and Joe Biden, but because
explicitly they were turned off by Sarah Palin running as John McCain`s
running mate.

It would make sense why those Palin-phobic donors would not want to
support, say, a Rick Perry candidacy. But why wouldn`t they want to
support Mitt Romney? What does Chris Christie offer them that Mitt Romney
doesn`t?

Substantively, when you look at the things they support, there`s not
much daylight between Chris Christie and Mitt Romney. They`re sort of
offering the same things roughly speaking on the most important policy
issues.

Maybe it`s not a matter of substance. Maybe it`s a matter of style.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don`t send your children to public schools.
You send them to private schools. So, I was wondering why you think it`s
fair to be cutting school funding to public schools?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: What`s her name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s her name, guys? Real quick. The
governor`s talking. What is it? Gail. Talk to Gail.

CHRISTIE: Hey, Gail, you know what? First off, it`s none of your
business. I don`t ask you where you send your kids to school. Don`t
bother me about where I send mine.

I, as governor, am responsible for every child in this state, not just
my own. The decisions I make is to try to improve the educational
opportunities of every child in this state. So with all due respect, Gail,
it`s none of your business.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re not compensating me for my education and
you`re not compensating me for my experience.

CHRISTIE: Well, you know what? Then you don`t have to do it. I
mean, the simple fact of the matter is --

(CHEERS)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Teachers -- teachers do it because they love it.

CHRISTIE: The simple fact of the matter is this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Teachers do it because they love it.

CHRISTIE: Well, that`s good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s the only reason I do it.

CHRISTIE: You know, Tom, you must be the thinnest skinned guy in
America, because you think that`s a confrontational tone, then, you know,
you should really see me when I`m pissed.

Let`s start with this. I sat here, stood here and very respectfully
listened to you. If what you want to do is put on a show and giggle every
time I talk, well then I have no interest in answering your question.

If you`d like to conduct a respectful conversation, I`m happy to do
it. If you don`t, please go sit down and I`ll answer the next question.
What`s your choice?

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW: The most important thing about the videos is where you get
them from. These are the sort of videos posted online by Chris Christie.
It is somebody`s job who works for the governor`s office in New Jersey to
post videos online of the governor being rude to constituents.

When Republicans talk about Chris Christie`s charisma, this is what
they`re talking about. This is not like, the downside, the rough side, the
abrasive side of his personality. This is what they`re marketing about him
as his charisma. This is what Chris Christie is frankly marketing about
himself on the national stage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: I think that people are coming on to, you know, on YouTube
and other media outlets are seeing town halls and they think they like the
back and forth. I`m not one of those politicians who thinks because I`m in
public office, I have to be nice all the time. If you`re not nice to me,
I`m not going to be nice to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Maybe this is the contrast Republicans want to draw this
year. Maybe this is the emotional distinction between the Democrats and
Republicans this year. After last week`s Republican debate in Florida, the
one moment that a FOX News focus group bristled at the most from the debate
was Rick Perry`s defense of in-state college tuition rates for illegal
immigrants in Texas, and specifically, Governor Perry`s line that anybody
who opposed that policy doesn`t have a heart.

According to Frank Luntz, his Republican focus group watching that
debate nearly turned their dials off their axles at the "have a heart" line
from Rick Perry. It was their most hated line of the night from any
candidate and it was the Republican focus group`s most hated line of all
the Republican debates so far.

Have a heart. No. Maybe that`s the mood that we are in right now.

Both President Obama and Vice President Biden have been commenting in
recent days about members of the audience at Republican debates doing stuff
like booing a gay soldier in Iraq, applauding a high number of executions
in Texas and cheering for letting uninsured people die without getting need
medical care. Maybe that is the mood. Maybe that is the mood that the
Republican electorate is in right now for electing their candidate. Maybe
Chris Christie`s style fits that mood.

Contrast that with President Obama getting called the antichrist by a
heckler last night in Los Angeles. Nothing specific here about the
antichrist heckle; what`s specific and perhaps nationally important here is
the spectacularly un-Chris Christie way in which the president responded to
the guy screaming at him that he`s the antichrist.

Did you see what the president did after the guy screamed the
antichrist stuff? This is what happened right after the heckler was
removed from the audience. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Is that his jacket? Is
that his jacket? Is that his jacket?

I think the young man may have left his jacket. So make sure -- make
sure that he gets his jacket. Oh, that`s yours. Hold on, hold on, hold
on. It`s hers.

And I think somebody`s car keys are in there, too. We`re having all
kinds of confusion here. Oh, goodness gracious. There you go.

All right. I wasn`t sure. Don`t leave your jacket around like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Maybe we can get the guy`s parking validated, too. Are we
sure that he`s got all -- we can take -- has somebody made sure that young
man has crossed the street, the crosswalk, is he OK?

If it`s Obama versus Christie on the emotional level, does it come
down to that contrast?

Joining us now is Nicolle Wallace, who is White House communications
director under President George W. Bush and the senior adviser to
McCain/Palin campaign. The sequel to her best-selling political novel "18
Acres" is called "It`s Classified." It is out today.

And in "It`s Classified," the Republican president is a woman who is
not trying to be the meanest person in the room, but she does choose a
Democrat to be her vice president who it turns is coo coo for cocoa pops.

Nicolle Wallace, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

Did I give away too much there?

NICOLLE WALLACE, "IT`S CLASSIFIED" AUTHOR: It`s perfect.

MADDOW: All right.

Also joining with us -- joining us tonight, Steve Schmidt, senior
campaign strategist of the McCain/Palin campaign, campaign manager of
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger`s `06 re-election campaign, as
well as a former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush.

Thank you both so much for being here.

STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Great to be here.

WALLACE: How did you do this? Two of us here to pick on? One wasn`t
fair.

MADDOW: One of us is going to be struck by lightning at the end of
this discussion. I can tell you.

Yes, having two Republicans here and on the night that Chris Christie
might stop saying, no, I feel like I`m sort of crossing fingers. I don`t
know what`s going to happen.

On Chris Christie, we are he`s about to start his speech at the Reagan
Library. The word on the street, which is usually wrong, is that this is
the day he stops saying no, even if he doesn`t explicitly say yes.

Would Chris Christie joining the race, do either of you think that
would substantially change the race because he would become a plausible
front-runner?

SCHMIDT: I think absolutely. I think that he jumps right away to the
front tier in the race. He`s going to be a very formidable candidate if he
got in the race. He`s going to be able to raise the resources necessary to
communicate a message. And there`s a reality here is that he`s been an
extraordinarily effective governor of an incredibly dysfunctional state.

And I think one of the untold stories in American politics right now
is the two most successful governors in the country were the governor from
New York, Andrew Cuomo, and the Republican from New Jersey, Chris Christie.
Chris Christie gets a lot of the attention because of, you know, the
national implications if he runs or not. But he`s been a very effective
governor. And I think that people are craving somebody who can take the
fight to the president, who can communicate clearly and Chris Christie fits
that bill.

MADDOW: I think -- of course, I think there are other people who
would look at more liberal governors and say they`re doing stuff under the
radar but they`re not getting national attention because nobody`s looking
for liberal governors to be running now. But I think if he tries to run on
his record, it raises this issue of whether or not his crusade against the
unions in New Jersey is the kind of thing that can be nationalized into a
winning message.

I mean, we`ve seen that in Wisconsin, we`ve seen that in Ohio, we`ve
seen that in Florida. We`ve seen that with all these Republican governors.
Chris Christie nationally marketed it.

Do Republicans really want to win on we hate unions?

WALLACE: Look, I think it`s more problematic than simply Christie has
to go out there and stop saying no. I think that this entire dysfunctional
dating that the party has done by continuing to disparage the guys who are
on the field -- running for president is excruciating. I mean, anyone who
does it on either side is to be heralded for getting in the arena.

He hasn`t stepped in that arena yet. I think it will come back to
bite the Republican Party in the butt that they have continued to lust
after all the guys who are not interested in running. You know, it`s like
always lusting after the guy who isn`t available emotionally or otherwise.
It`s unhealthy and I think it`s going to come an in a year when Republicans
are united in opposition to the Obama agenda in a way that`s far more
wholesome for them to run on than the kinds of things you talked about.

You know, there are some elements in the right that we shouldn`t be
proud of and shouldn`t be animating our presidential politics.

But our opposition to Obama`s agenda and his record on the economy is
one that can unite, that gives us an opportunity to win back independents
who are truly up for grabs in the way they haven`t been since the year
2000. And I think this constant lusting after the guys that really are
ambivalent about running is a dangerous game.

MADDOW: Well, let me -- I mean, so, are you saying that in the
disparaging of the people who are already running, you`re talking about
Republicans piling on their own candidates?

WALLACE: Exactly. And I think, you know, obviously, Perry hasn`t
impressed people in his time as a late entry into the race. And that`s
legitimate.

To look at the rest of the field, to look at Huntsman who`s an
impressive intellect and a guy that`s certainly to be respected, with
something to say about international affairs and otherwise, and to look at
Romney and to look this field and say, nah, none of them will do, and to,
you know, run out and be looking for someone who has expressed over and
over again not just ambivalence of running for president but his
disinterest in running for the White House is a dangerous game.

I think it will come back to hurt Republicans if Christie doesn`t get
in and win.

MADDOW: Steve, let me do something counterintuitive and ask you about
Nicolle Wallace`s book.

SCHMIDT: It`s a great book.

MADDOW: It is a great book. And the sort of the frame for this book
is that a crazy person and treated sensitively, not made fun of, but
treated sensitively as a person who has mental illness issues, ends up
getting to be vice president, because we have a political process that
allows that to happen. There is a very rigorous process for choosing a
vice president in this country. But the overall process is supposed to
sort of weed out people who shouldn`t be qualified to hold that office.

Do you think our nominating process actually does adequately test
people for whether or not they`re going to be good at being president?

SCHMIDT: I do believe the nominating process for president is an
excruciating process, as Nicolle just described. And, you know, President
Bush made this point once when we worked for him in the White House. And
it was the presidential campaign strips away all the artifices. You`re
fully revealed, you know, for who you are in front of the American people.

And I believe that. I think you`ve seen that in recent years on the
Democratic side and on the Republican side. So, I think as you go through
this process, you are stripped bare, and the American people see you for
who you are.

I think that there have been failures in the vice presidential vetting
process. I was involved in one of them. And I think both parties have had
failures in the vetting process. You know, John Edwards clearly and, you
know, and the nominee in 2008.

And I think, you know, there are rooms -- that there is substantial
room for improvement about how the vice president is selected. It`s a
process that is marked by fundamentally a lack of transparency in the
selection. It`s marked by, you know, tactical considerations. It`s too
political.

It`s about how do we step out of bounds, how do we get a couple points
here, how do we reshape the race? And the first and foremost consideration
should be: is this person qualified to be the commander in chief? Because
there are plenty of examples in the history of the country when the vice
president`s been called on to take the oath of office.

And I think if you look back at, you know, the last couple years of
American politics, both on the Republican side, but also on the Democratic
said, there`s been deficiencies in that area.

MADDOW: In terms of not to get -- not to put you guys on the spot too
much, but if Chris Christie tonight at the Reagan library -- he just
started speaking. If he does not get in, if he says, you know, really, I
know there`s a renewed speculation but really I`m not getting in -- the
last person on the sidelines who could conceivably get in before the filing
deadlines start piling up is Sarah Palin. Most people think she`s not
going to run.

Would either of you -- what would either of you say to Sarah Palin
getting in the race? I have a feeling neither of you would support her as
a candidate. But what would you say?

WALLACE: Well, further, I don`t think she`d take either of our calls.

MADDOW: I don`t think she`d be calling you to run.

SCHMIDT: No.

WALLACE: You know, I think that if she were to step back in the
arena, she`d have to -- she`d have to play by some of the normal
conventions. And I think that will enrage her base of supporters. But the
truth is the times are too dire to run as the man or woman for the right or
the left.

I think that was the difficult lesson Obama learned and the price he`s
paying for pushing an agenda that appealed maybe too much to the left.
People don`t like that.

MADDOW: The left do not feel like they`ve gotten a lot.

WALLACE: I mean, he has the constitution to govern the whole country
and he has missed an opportunity to do so with his policies.

So, my advice for anyone, particularly for her -- and she has a whole
nest of problems that would, you know, that she`d have to confront. But
the first one would be to resist her most partisan and most polarizing
instincts because that would make her the wrong candidate for the moment.

MADDOW: Does she have anything to offer beyond that?

WALLACE: Look, you know, I was inspired by her to write a book about
someone who was coo coo for coca puffs. So, don`t ask me.

MADDOW: Steve?

SCHMIDT: Well, you know, look, I think that, you know, the difference
between the two is that he was an accomplished governor with a stellar
record. You know, at the end of the day, when you give consideration to
her, she`s known by 100 percent of Republican primary voters and you look
at some of the new polling out today. Republicans overwhelmingly do not
want to see her in the race. If she gets in the race, her poll numbers are
in the second or somewhere between the second and third tier of the
candidates.

She`s not going to be the Republican nominee. If she runs and she`s
in a space somewhere between Jon Huntsman and Herman Cain right now. But
certainly not -- you know, her entry wouldn`t make this a three-person
race. You know, if he doesn`t get into this race, it remains really a two-
person race at this point, you know, between Perry, between Romney, with
Jon Huntsman gaining altitude in New Hampshire, which is what he needs to
do to be a factor.

MADDOW: Governor Palin, if you`re looking for phone numbers for Steve
Schmidt or Nicolle Wallace, you really think about getting in, you cannot
get them from me.

Nicolle Wallace, former White House communications director under
President George W. Bush, senior advisor to the McCain-Palin campaign in
`08, and author of the new novel "It`s Classified," which is really good
and I`m not just saying that because she`s here.

As well as Steve Schmidt, senior campaign strategist to the McCain-
Palin campaign -- thank you both so much for joining us. I appreciate you
coming in talking to me. Thanks a lot.

SCHMIDT: Good to be here. Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. If you are a fugitive from the law, your time as
a free person statistically speaking is winding down. It is a bad year for
people on the lam. Some incredible news about that today coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: All right. So you`re in the car, it is not a real car. It`s
a video game car. You`re playing "Burnout Paradise." You are pure liquid
flowing through a city of pixels, except, unexpectedly, this city of pixels
has billboards in it everywhere, billboards carrying this message: early
voting has begun, voteforchange.com, with Barack Obama`s face on the
billboard. That`s a campaign ad in the video game.

In the 2008 presidential race, the Obama campaign, look, begin the
first presidential campaign to advertise inside video games. At the time,
it seemed a little strange maybe, certainly forward thinking. But what
mattered to the Obama campaign was the message that it was getting out to
people playing the games in states that had early voting.

The message was early voting has begun. That`s what the campaign
cared about. Getting people to the polls in states that let you cast a
ballot early.

Among voters who actually went to the polls on Election Day in 2008,
John McCain and Sarah Palin won the state of Florida by nearly five points.
The McCain/Palin ticket carried the day. But if you look at the results
from that election, you will see Florida is blue. Obama and Biden won
Florida. That`s because even though people who voted on Election Day
mostly voted Republican in Florida, Obama and Biden won big among people
who voted early. And that`s a big part of why Obama and Biden are in the
White House now.

Flash forward to 2010, when Republicans whomped Democrats in the
midterm elections. Republicans now control more state legislatures than at
any time since 1952. And what have Republicans done with their new power
in the states?

Well, in Florida, they`ve decided to crack down on early voting.
Florida Republicans made it so they can cut the state`s early voting time
in half. Also in Georgia, Republicans there have cut Georgia early voting
by more than half. In Wisconsin, they cut the time for absentee voting in
half so you get less time to vote and you have to jump through more hoops
at the polls.

At the beginning of this year, only Georgia and Indiana required you
to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. Now, Republicans in five
more states, including Wisconsin, have passed laws saying you can`t vote
unless you show ID you did not used to have to show and frankly not all
people have.

Across the nation, elected Republicans have been hard at work, making
it harder to vote wherever they can, however they can. Republicans in
Maine, for example, this year passed a law ending same day registration in
the state. Thanks to Governor Paul LePage and the Republicans in the state
legislatures, Mainers can no longer register and vote on the same day as
they have been able to since the early `70s.

Today, a Maine group that`s working to get same-day registration back
pointed out that Governor LePage, himself and nine other elected Maine
Republicans themselves registered to vote immediately before elections.
The thing they have just made illegal, saying it somehow made Maine`s
elections unsafe. So, it`s not fit for others and has to be outlawed --
but it`s OK for them?

In South Carolina, new Republican Governor Nikki Haley signed a law
making it harder to vote in South Carolina. Nearly 200,000 people in her
state, 200,000 South Carolinians do not have the photo ID that will be
required to have your ballot cast and counted on election day in South
Carolina.

And in Colorado, the Republican secretary of state there is suing
Denver, suing the city and county of Denver over voting. In the elections
this November, this upcoming November in Denver County, pretty much the
only way to vote is by mailing in a ballot. That`s the way it works. The
county mails you a ballot, you fill it out, and you mail it in.

The Republican secretary of state in Colorado is suing to force Denver
to mail ballots only to people who voted in 2010, hmmm, which you`ll
remember was a huge year for Republicans and Republican turnout. If you
didn`t vote in that election and you haven`t answered a follow-up postcard
from the county, the Republican secretary of state in Colorado is suing to
keep Denver from mailing you a ballot to vote this time around, so it`s a
lot harder for you to participate in the next election.

We have been reporting on this all year long, on this broad and
sustained effort by Republicans in the states to make it harder to vote.
The question has been whether there would be any kind of response by
national Democrats.

Today, there is one. It comes in the great state of Ohio, where new
Republican Governor John Kasich signed a bill this year that would cut the
time for early voting in half and cut absentee voting by almost as much.

Today, the re-election campaign for President Obama announced that it
would join the fight for a citizens` repeal of John Kasich`s make it harder
to vote bill. The Obama re-election national field director sending out an
e-mail saying, quote, "At a time when we should be expanding the number of
people voting, there are some in Ohio trying to shrink it. It`s pure
politics."

The Obama campaign telling people in Ohio that it will help get the
230,000 signatures need to put that make it harder to vote law on the
ballot so it can be repealed. The deadline for signing the petition to get
it on the ballot is Thursday, the day after tomorrow.

Joining us now in studio is Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat from the
great state of Ohio. Senator Brown also served two terms as Ohio secretary
of state from 1983 to 1990.

Senator Brown, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for being here.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Great to be back. Thank you.

MADDOW: The Obama campaign jumping on this drive to get enough
signatures by the end of the week to put Ohio`s new voting law on the
ballot. How is the campaign helping out? And do you think that Ohio needs
the help here?

BROWN: Well, we always welcome the help from -- these are mostly
activists, citizen activists, people that have volunteered for the Obama
campaign in the past. But this is a huge volunteer effort -- people from
all corners of the state. We`ve gotten signatures from all 88 counties.
Anybody that wants to sign in Ohio that hasn`t yet should call the state,
Ohio Democratic Party headquarters. And there are petitioners in every
county that they can find you or you can find them.

But this is something Republicans do. They`ve never done it in this
much of an orchestrated way to roll back voting rights. Make no mistake,
that`s what they`re doing state after state, as you point out, Rachel,
they`re rolling back voting rights.

But every presidential year, they try something. They`ve stationed
people at the polls that look like off duty -- they look like police
officers to intimidate people. They`ve challenged voters.

They`ve had secretaries of state that have issued as in Ohio a few
years ago to issue all kinds of conflicting regulations. They have called
people on the phone saying the polls close at a different time. They play
these games because Republicans sometimes win elections by depressing
turnout. It`s really un-American and it really does in so many ways, it
undercuts our values.

And in Ohio this year, there`s been an assault on voter rights.
There`s been -- from the legislature and the governor, assault on worker
rights, assault on women`s rights, and really unraveling from these
radicals in the legislature -- unraveling what there was consensus about.

We in this country have had a consensus around Medicare and student
loan and Pell grants and voting rights and collective bargaining rights and
women`s rights. And these radicals want to unravel all of that. And it`s
a state by state effort, the likes of which we`ve never seen.

MADDOW: Ohio is going to have a chance to vote again in 2012 like the
rest of the country. Ohio voted very Republican in 2010.

Do you sense when you look at the activism that`s happened in Ohio
since the 2010 election -- do you sense that Ohio is changing its mind,
that the Republicans that were elected and the agenda they have pursued
since they`ve taken over in Ohio is not what people expected?

BROWN: Absolutely. I mean, the campaign in 2010 was about lost jobs.
They blamed the 400,000 lost jobs to the governor, Governor Strickland.
That was not fair. But politics often isn`t. But that`s what they
campaign on, lost jobs.

As soon as they left office they went after collecting bargaining
rights, and women`s rights, and voting rights and rolling back what was
once a consensus in our state and our country. If you look at Governor
Kasich`s polling numbers, if you look at the number of petitions that were
submitted a couple months ago to repeal -- to do the referendum on the
collective bargaining repeal, we needed 250,000, roughly, signatures. We
turned in about 1.3 million. To the point the secretary of state`s office,
when the boxes of petitions were brought in had to bring in a structural
engineer to make sure the floor could support the weight of these
petitions.

I mean, that`s what activism has been. I`ve never seen anything in my
state where this many people are upset and this many people are engaged in
the political process who never were before.

MADDOW: Watching what you were describing there in Ohio, watching
things like that happen in places like Wisconsin and other places where
there`s been real mobilization over the past year, year and a half, it
makes me wonder not about whether or not people in the states are capable
of good activist organizing. Boy, they`re impressive when they put their
minds to it.

It makes me wonder whether or not national Democrats, whether the
Democratic Party and its sort of controlling forces in Washington takes
power from those things, is able to channel that sort of activist example
and energy into national results.

BROWN: Well, I think that`s a very good question. I look forward to
going back to the Democratic Senate Caucus the day after we win on the
referendum on collective bargaining and say, look what it means when you
don`t move to the middle and stand for nothing but you really do say what
side you`re on, who`s back you have. And that`s when Democrats win
elections, when we stand for something.

It`s not left, right. It`s whose side are you on? You contrast what
we believe with what they believe. We`re doing that in collective bargain.
We`re doing that on voter rights. We`re doing on women`s rights.

I think -- it`s certainly the right thing substantively and it pays
off politically. When I`m on the ballot next year, the voters are going to
see a very clear choice between me and the ultraconservative that will
likely run against me, the anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-worker right winger
that will be my opponent.

I think you run that way, you stand for something, voters who are
independents like candidates that do that, that actually stand for
something, stand for jobs, stand for better -- for fair trade, not free
trade -- all the kinds of things that I know you`ve talked about on this
show that really do energize voters.

MADDOW: Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, served two terms as
Ohio`s secretary of state and is therefore uniquely qualified to discuss
this stuff with me tonight -- Senator Brown, it`s always really nice to
have you here.

BROWN: Thank you.

MADDOW: Thanks for coming in. Good to see you, sir.

All right. Attention: longtime notorious fugitives from justice, A,
thanks for watching; B, whatever bunker or compound or remote mountain
shack you have been hiding out in, you may want to have a plan B ready and
a go bag packed. Statistically speaking, 2011 is not your year. Details
ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: On Monday, November 16th, 1987, the Ohio State University
fired its football coach, a man named Earl Bruce. Earl Bruce played
football for Ohio State. He loved Ohio State. And up until that moment,
Mr. Bruce had been extremely successful in nine years coaching at Ohio
State.

But Ohio State was sort of having a bad year in 1987. Five wins, four
losses and one tie. That record was not good enough and the administration
abruptly fired the coach.

Five days ahead of Ohio State`s game against Michigan, Ohio State`s
big rival, one of the greatest rivalries in the country, and Ohio State
fires their coach. And the fans of Ohio State lost their minds. They are
infuriated by this decision.

And the expression of public anger took the form of one of those
college sports moments that makes our executive, Bill Wolff, cry at
meetings when he tries to explain them.

In the evening of that Monday night in 1987, hours after Coach Earl
Bruce was fired, about 150 members of the Ohio State marching band marched
to Earl Bruce`s house and serenaded their old, deposed, devastated coach
with Ohio State fight songs.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

MADDOW: Coach Earl Bruce was not a man who wants to reveal his
emotions. But that night, he wept openly with the band on his lawn. And
five days later, Ohio State traveled to Michigan and somehow beat their
arch rivals and the Buckeye players carried Coach Earl Bruce off the field
on their shoulders. Serenading leads to weeping, leads to upset victory
and redemption.

Earl Bruce`s week in November 1987 was the standard in which tearful
marching band stories must -- must be judged.

And "The Best Thing in the World Today" is right up there with it. It
is maybe even as good. "Best New Thing in the World Today" is coming up at
the end of the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: A lot of airport security measures are the result of specific
security breaches in the past. Taking off your shoes, for example, that
became a new feature of airport security when this man Richard Reid tried
to turn his grody shoes into grody shoe bombs on the flight from France to
the U.S. That was 2001.

Thankfully, the only thing Richard Reid achieved was making us all
have to think harder about what socks we are wearing while we`re traveling
since everybody in line with us at security sees our socks now.

We also can`t take more than three ounce containers of liquids or gels
in our carry on bags when we fly anymore. That new rule is put in place
after British authorities uncovered a plot in 2006 to bomb U.S. bound
planes using liquid explosives.

Christmas Day 2009, the would-be underwear bomber got law enforcement
thinking more seriously about travelers` underwear and the dangerous things
people could hide in their skivvies and ta-da, the full body scanner which
was already in existence became very, very popular at airports around the
country. The Transportation Security Administration just purchased 300
more of them.

Even the most basic baggage screening, which feels like it`s been
around forever, was the result of a giant security breach. It started with
a prison break. A man named George Wright escaped from the Bay Side state
prison in New Jersey in the year 1970. Mr. Wright stole the warden`s car
and drove it to Detroit where he successfully evaded law enforcement for
two years, in part reportedly while working as a model.

After two years in Detroit, George Wright and five accomplices were
able to hijack a Delta Airlines flight departing from the Detroit airport.
Back then, bags were not screened and so Mr. Wright dressed up as a priest,
smuggled a gun on to the plane in a hollowed out Bible. Seriously.

George Wright and other hijackers held 88 people hostage on the plane.
They flew the plane to Miami and demanded $1 million ransom. They got that
ransom in return for releasing the hostages and had FBI agents bring them
the $1 million while dress the only in bathing suits so the hijackers could
be more sure the FBI guys were not carrying guns. See? Unbelievably, the
hijacking and hostage staking worked.

After refueling in Boston, George Wright and the others flew to
Algeria. The president of Algeria welcomed them after relieving them of
their $1 million ransom and let them stay in the country. Over the years,
George Wright`s accomplices were rounded up and arrested in various
countries. But George Wright almost -- always managed to escape capture.

But just because you remain on the lam for years or even decades does
not mean that the agencies that wanted to catch you before just one day
stopped looking for you. Agents may retire. But you as a wanted man or
woman, you stay wanted.

And this year, I don`t know why, this year has been a very bad year
for the wanted and a very good year for the people charged with hunting
them down. Osama bin Laden, for example, on May 1st, Navy SEALs, including
some members of the elite and storied SEAL Team 6 raided Bin Laden`s
compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and killed the FBI`s most wanted
fugitive.

Later that same month, Ratko Mladic was captured after 16 years in
hiding, living in Serbia under an assumed name. He`s believed responsible
for the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia in 1995. He`s now at The Hague
facing genocide charges.

Getting Ratko Mladic meant there was one more fugitive wanted for
Bosnian war crimes. At one point, there were 161 of these guys
outstanding. But by May of this year, only one was left still wanted on
the list. And then, in July they got him, too.

Goran Hadzic, he apparently ran out of money. After seven years on
the lam, they caught him when he was trying to sell a stolen Modigliani
painting. This one, Portrait of a Man.

And if that wasn`t enough, this summer, the FBI got the guy they
wanted most after Osama bin Laden, a guy by the name of Whitey Bulger.
Whitey Bulger wanted for 19 murders, wanted for 16 years. They caught him
in California.

And then today, to top that all off, George Wright -- George Wright on
the run for 41 years. The FBI, U.S. Marshals and officials from the New
Jersey Department of Corrections tracked Wright to Portugal when he tried
contacting family in the U.S. Portuguese authorities arrested him. And
he`s now being held without bail.

So, think about that, in less than six months, Osama bin Laden, the
last two Serbian war crime suspects, Whitey Bulger and now, George Wright,
wanted for 40 years. Bad year for fugitives. Good year for fugitive
finders.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: At the start of tonight`s show, we put a live picture of a
podium, on a stage at the Reagan Library in California where New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie would soon be giving what turned out to be a rather
boiler plate speech praising former President Ronald Reagan.

Why some many cameras covering an address that just about every
nationally known Republican has given at some point in their career? Well,
the whole national media was there to find out what Governor Christie would
say after his prepared remarks about whether he plans to jump in to the
Republican race for president.

After a lot of renewed rumor that he was getting in this week and
after a lot of very, very, very rich Republican donors came out of the
closet this week and said they wanted him into the race, the first question
to him was not about whether he was running. The first question was on
immigration and education.

The second question was, dude, are you running? Here`s how that went.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Governor Christie, you`re known as a straight shooter, one
not guilty (ph) of playing games. Can you tell us what`s going on here?
Are you reconsidering, or are you still not?

(CHEERS)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Listen, I have to tell you the
truth. You folks are incredible disappointment as an audience. The fact
that that took the second question shows you people are off your game.
That is not American exceptionalism.

Listen, I really am succinct about this. I saw something great today
on the political Web site, and I don`t mean to advertise for "Politico."
But they put 1:53 of my answers strung back to back to back to back
together on the question of running for the presidency.

Everyone go to the politico.com. It`s right on the front page. I`m
not going to bore you with it now. Click on it. Those are the answers.

Next question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie tonight not
saying no, but saying to listen to somewhere else where he`s on tape saying
no. The "Politico" piece he`s describing is just tape of him saying no
over and over again. Do we have that?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- Republican Party, but you is talking about
that should be on the ticket in 2012 to run for the White House. You say?

CHRISTIE: No way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going to run?

CHRISTIE: Nope, not going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re still saying categorically not running?

CHRISTIE: No, I`m not. I`m not running.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW: And he goes on no, no, no, no. Still no from Chris Christie
-- referring people to that montage at Politico.com tonight as a means for
saying no. It`s still no -- which means that I just lost a bet with the
Rachel Maddow show staff, and I have to buy everybody tacos tomorrow. Damn
it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: "The Best New Thing in the World Today" has to be "The Best
New Thing in the World" tomorrow, because Chris Christie took too long
saying again tonight at the Reagan Library that he was not going to run for
president this year. New Jersey Republican Governor Christie in the face
of renewed rumors that he`s getting in to the race and new doubts about the
current frontrunner Rick Perry and new public pleading from named
Republican billionaires saying they want him to run, Chris Christie tonight
asked tonight if he was going to get in the race, referred the question of
a montage of him posted on Politico.com, a montage of him saying, no, no,
no, no, over and over and over again.

So, "The Best New Things in the World" delayed until tomorrow.
Renewed speculation about where Chris Christie might really run delayed
until his next speech.

"THE ED SHOW" starts right now.

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

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