updated 2/13/2012 11:22:18 AM ET 2012-02-13T16:22:18

Guests: Dave Weigel, Doug Wead

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. The sound alone totally worth
the price of admission. It`s like the cartoon spruing (ph) sound of my
dream.

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: The picture of the president is
absolutely priceless, isn`t it?

MADDOW: Absolutely. You got the Situation Room look on his face when
he`s killing bin Laden and then you got you have the marshmallow cannon,
the two sides of the spectrum in terms of what emotion you can show in a
still photo.

SCHULTZ: That`s right. Have a great weekend.

MADDOW: You too, Ed. Thank you, man.

And thanks to you at home for staying with us for in next hour. Happy
Friday.

For his big speech at CPAC today, at the big biannual or big annual
conservative confab in Washington, D.C., former Massachusetts governor and
current presidential candidate Mitt Romney was introduced by this guy.

This guy is the chairman of the American Conservative Union. American
Conservative Union is the organization that runs CPAC. They run this whole
three-day event.

Shortly after Mr. Romney was done with his speech, former House
Speaker Newt Gingrich took the stage. Mr. Gingrich was introduced by his
wife who you see there, his wife Callista.

So Mitt Romney introduced by the guy hosting the event. Newt Gingrich
introduced by his wife.

Rick Santorum? Who introduced Rick Santorum?

Rick Santorum was introduced by his billionaire. And Rick Santorum`s
billionaire opened with a joke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER FRIESS, SANTORUM FUNDRAISER: There is a little bar couple
doors down, and recently, a conservative, a liberal and a moderate walked
into the bar. The bartender says, "Hi, Mitt."

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Can I pay you to laugh? If I keep laughing, how about now?
I could pay you all.

Also, would Mitt Romney really walk in a bar?

Your introduction at an event like this is a form of political
framing. It`s like picking your running mate or where you choose to
announce your candidacy or what metaphor you use in your stump speech.
Those are all important parts of political framing.

And usually in presidential politics, your political framing is about
compensating for some perceived weakness that you have as a candidate,
bolstering something about your candidacy that maybe is a little bit
wobbly.

So, John McCain seen as being the guy who`s been around for a long
time, the old man of the party, he picks for his running mate a young,
previously totally unknown Republican governor.

Barack Obama -- perceived to have the baggage of a divided Democratic
Party after his long fought, bloody primary battle with Hillary Clinton,
Hillary Clinton is the one who essentially introduces him as the Democratic
nominee. Hillary Clinton is the one who moves formally at the convention
that Barack Obama be nominated by the Democratic Party for president.

The idea between all of these things is essentially you complete me.
By bringing you into my framing, I am a more complete, better political
picture than I am without you.

So when Rick Santorum has his billionaire introduce him at CPAC, maybe
it`s not as weird as it seems. What`s the beef with the Santorum
candidacy? The idea is he doesn`t have the capacity, right? He doesn`t
have the support to run a national campaign and go the distance.

So, having his billionaire there, is Rick Santorum showing CPAC,
showing the conservative world that he`s got financial support? And that`s
no small thing for the Republican field given the news today about Newt
Gingrich`s billionaire which we will get to later on in the show.

For Mitt Romney having the host of the conservative conference of the
year introducing signals that this type of red meat conservative base
conference can be a home field for Mitt Romney. It`s an attempt for Mitt
Romney to reinforce his conservative bona fides.

And then, of course, Newt Gingrich having his wife introduced him,
that says -- well, says that he`s married to that person now. Which is
maybe particularly important given his grandstanding on Catholic doctrine
on sexual morality for the past couple weeks, given the rest of his
history.

Of all of these, though, I think the Romney one is the most important,
because of how hard Mr. Romney is trying to show up his standing -- to
shore up his standing with conservatives.

John McCain never successfully did that in 2008 if you think about it.
He still ended up getting the nomination. So, it`s not that you can`t get
the nomination without seeming like a red, red, red conservative fire-
breather, right?

But it does seem to be the real weakness in Mitt Romney`s campaign
right now and what he`s working hardest to fix. Mr. Romney just lost a
number of contests to not only Newt Gingrich but also to Rick Santorum.
And the Santorum thing does not appear to be a fluke.

Look at what Public Policy Polling tweeted last night. Quote, "We put
a national poll in the field today. And pretty clear, your leader is Rick
Santorum."

Similarly, Gallup reporting today that Rick Santorum is climbing fast
as Newt Gingrich fades away. Mr. Santorum now in second place ahead of Mr.
Gingrich.

So, Rick Santorum is rising and the exit polling over the last month
has been showing that it is the most conservative members of the Republican
base who are turning against Mitt Romney. And so, now, having lost South
Carolina to Newt Gingrich, and a trio of states, sort of, to Rick Santorum
this past week, now, you have Mitt Romney trying really hard to connect
with the conservative base -- not only getting introduced by the head of
the American Conservative Union.

But listen how he spoke to the crowd once he did get the mike.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This must be our greatest
hour as conservatives. This is our moment. This is why we`re
conservatives. We conservatives aren`t just proud to cling to our guns and
to our religion. We are also proud to cling to our Constitution.

We conservatives believe in freedom and free people and free
enterprises. Conservatives constants have shaped my life.

As governor of Massachusetts I had the unique experience of defending
conservative principles in the most liberal state in the nation.

I was a severely conservative Republican governor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Mitt Romney, not just conservative but severely conservative.
That`s how Mr. Romney talks now about his time as Massachusetts governor.
He was severely conservative in Massachusetts.

Really, all you had to do was ask him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I think people recognize that I`m not a partisan Republican,
that I`m someone who is moderate and my views are progressive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: My views are progressive -- no, no, no, I mean my views are
severely conservative.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this
country. I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran
in 1970.

Look, I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush. I`m not
trying to return to Reagan-Bush.

I think people recognize that I`m not a partisan Republican, that I`m
someone who is moderate, and my views are progressive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Right now, the central task of Mitt Romney`s campaign for the
presidency is not just about him erasing his past as a not particularly
conservative or partisan Republican. It`s not about just dealing with old
clips like that. It`s also about Mitt Romney trying to be all over the
conservative issues of right now, the conservative issues of the moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about a quick question about the state
legislature, they have bantered about the proposition that welfare
recipients should be drug-tested. How do you feel about that?

ROMNEY: My own view is it`s a great idea. People who are receiving
welfare benefits, government benefits, we should make sure they are not
using those benefits to pay for drugs and I think it`s an excellent idea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Mitt Romney is for drug testing welfare recipients. He said
that earlier this week during a local interview in Georgia. And it sort of
got overlooked when he said it.

But Steve Benen, who is writing for "Maddow Blog" right now, has
picked that up as of last night. And I think it`s important. I`m glad
that Steve found it and I think it`s important.

Drug testing people is something that Republicans have been proposing
all over the country this year. It`s sort of like all the anti-union
stuff. It`s almost like they`re all working from the same script.
Republicans have been talking about forcibly drug testing poor people in
Virginia, and in Pennsylvania, and in Colorado, and in Indiana, and in
Tennessee, and in Hawaii, in West Virginia and in Georgia on and on and on.

This is a conservative thing now. They want a government small enough
it has the power to demand citizens turn over their bodily fluids. They
want mass examination of bodily fluids even from people who are not
suspected of drug use.

Republicans in Florida were able to passed forced drug testing through
their legislature last year. Get it signed into law by Republican Governor
Rick Scott. And in this one place where it has been tried, it has turned
out to be a bit of a disaster. When Governor Rick Scott defended his plan
for forced drug testing of the poor in Florida last year; he did so on the
grounds poor people just do so much more -- so many more drugs than rich
people do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Studies show that people that are on
welfare are higher users of drugs than people not on welfare. But the
bottom line is this, you know --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, to that point. I would stop people in their
tracks and I don`t have whatever study you`re referring to, but you`re
saying people out there who need assistance, lost jobs on welfare have a
higher tendency to use drugs?

SCOTT: Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Absolutely. Did I say there was a study? Absolutely.

Here`s the problem -- the initial results from Florida governor`s own
big plan to seize the bodily fluids of poor people in his state showed that
there was a 2 percent positive rate, 2 percent of poor people in Florida
testing positive for drugs. That compares to the overall state average for
Floridians of 8 percent of people using drugs.

So, it`s been kind of a big, intrusive government pointless expensive
humiliation of poor people and humiliation of the governor, nightmare where
this policy has been tried in Florida. But this is somehow a big
government conservative issue now. And so, Mitt Romney, naturally picks it
up and runs with it.

Drug testing poor people? I`m all for that, I think that is great.
Did I mention I`m severely conservative?

But because this is the Mitt Romney campaign and this is 2012, in
doing this, Mr. Romney has managed to screw this one up as well, because
according to Mr. Romney, it`s not just people who receive welfare benefits
who should be drug tested, not just people getting welfare benefits, it`s -
- listen to what he says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: My own view is it`s a great idea. People who are receiving
welfare benefits, government benefits, we should make sure that they`re not
using those benefits to pay for drugs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: People receiving welfare benefits, comma, government benefits
-- anybody receiving government benefits, according to Mitt Romney, will be
forcibly drug-tested now, even if you`re not suspected of using drugs,
anybody getting money from the government.

So, Mr. Romney, you want to drug test people who get farm subsidies?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: People who are receiving welfare benefit, government
benefits, we should make sure that they`re not using those benefits to pay
for drugs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Government benefits. You want to drug test bankers who got
bailed out by government money? How about all the executives of oil
companies. Oil companies still get $4 billion in tax subsidy, should they
all be drug tested?

How about government officials? They get government money, they get
paid. Don`t they?

How about all of Congress? How about the Supreme Court justices? Do
you want to tell them personally, brought a cup with me?

Should all those people be drug-tested since they all get money from
the government, or is it just poor people who you are talking about? How
about every senior citizen who receives Social Security benefits?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Government benefits, we should make sure they are not using
those benefits to pay for drugs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: A universal mandatory drug testing program for people who get
Social Security. Call grandma.

We reached out to the Romney campaign today to find out which specific
groups of people who receive government benefits he would like to forcibly
drug test nationwide, we have so far not heard back from the campaign.

Mr. Romney is trying really, really hard to make conservatives like
him, to make them forget he used to call himself a moderate and
progressive, but he is having a hard time making that case without putting
the ball in his own net.

Joining us is Dave Weigel, political reporter for Slate.com and an
MSNBC contributor.

Dave, thanks for being here.

DAVE WEIGEL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks. I`m severely happy to be
here.

MADDOW: Severe.

Mr. Romney said --

WEIGEL: Severely, painfully happy.

MADDOW: -- said the word conservative, I think 26 times today. In
that one speech, is that -- is he covering any of the distance toward
silencing his critics?

WEIGEL: Not really. The way I heard one very astute person describe
it if you look at Santorum and you look at Romney, imagine them if they
weren`t running for president, would Romney be talking like this if he
wasn`t running for president? The sense is no.

Would Santorum talk the way Santorum talks if he wasn`t running for
president? Well, there`s a while he was a complete has-been and he was
talking like this.

So, Romney is never going to convince conservative voters that he
believes in his bones what they believe. He`s only going to convince them
that he has a biography that they approve of, as a businessman who hates
the government, as they do, and that he can win.

The first part of that I think he`s doing quite well on, those parts
of the speech were quite resonant. The second part, at this moment,
especially in a place like CPAC, this is a horrible week for him, after
losing some caucuses he didn`t really try to win, he goes to a conference
where he never really wins -- he doesn`t look like a winner in a situation
like that and tough for him to convince them he can also take the election.

MADDOW: Is that translating to support for him at CPAC any way
because he does still have the electability argument at least? I mean, I
was making an argument half in jest that Rick Santorum showing off his
billionaire today, or at least his multi-multimillionaire, was a way of
implicitly making the case that he`s got the support to go the distance and
run a national campaign. Does Mitt Romney still own the electability
serious candidate, real estate all to himself?

WEIGEL: Definitely not with this crowd. I actually spent yesterday
with a candidate running in Indiana against Richard Lugar. He said, one of
these guys, if there is a second wave of the Tea Party revolution, one of
those guys would win, Richard Murdoch (ph), and he was convinced that
Santorum was the most electable Republican -- the reason being as Ronald
Reagan said at CPAC 36 years ago, 37 years ago, I`m sorry, conservatives
win when they draw bright contrasts in bold pastels or, sorry, bold
contrasts in bright pastels, bright colors. They don`t win if they muddle
the difference.

Now, that`s actually not how George W. Bush won the presidency.
That`s not how George H.W. Bush, some wedge issues as some other things.
That`s not -- but conservatives are more convinced that ever that that is
how they win.

We`re talking about a population at CPAC, population that vote in the
Republican primaries, a population that will vote in Arizona, the next
winner-take-all primary that I think people are worried about Romney
losing.

MADDOW: After -- but, Dave, I mean, after Sharon Angle, after
Christine O`Donnell, after Joe Miller, after all the experience of all
those Republican sort of average Republicans being primaried by, you know,
bold color Tea Party super conservatives Republicans and those Republicans
then losing in the general election -- I mean, is there any sense among
these folks there might be lessons learned from that?

WEIGEL: They feel like those were anomalies. Joe Miller was actually
at CPAC. Sharron Angle was at CPAC. Sharron Angle will tell you the
election might not have been above board. Miller will tell you that he won
-- he would have won if it wasn`t a write-in campaign that took the race
from him.

The way history has been written since 2009 is that before that, when
they nominate the most conservative candidate who makes a clear argument,
they win. And this is not -- I mean, I think Romney will do well in
Michigan. He`s got states on Super Tuesday where he can make the argument
that he`s most electable.

And, look, let`s not get carried away by this week. The Romney
campaign did not compete in Missouri because it didn`t really count -- it
didn`t count at all for delegates, I`m sorry. Minnesota started to write
off. And that was a bit pathetic.

Colorado is the one disappointment. They don`t think that the wheels
have come off this week. They are a little bit bemused by the media saying
this because the pattern of this race, thus far, has been Mitt Romney
falling behind some more conservative candidate, that candidate imploding,
Mitt Romney coming back to lead and win some things.

And they are pretty confident that can happen. But they are never
going to win over these conservatives because they just don`t believe
Romney is more electable. They`re going -- this is why -- you talked about
Al Cardenas introducing Romney. Cardenas was very robust in his praise for
Romney on stage, but later was saying, I can imagine a brokered convention.

MADDOW: Wow.

WEIGEL: If we don`t get -- if we get past Super Tuesday and there`s
not a clear winner, we might have a brokered convention. We might have a
Jeb Bush nomination.

And for somebody in his position to say that -- again, I use the
phrase carried away before, this week, basically we invented this reality
where the primaries that didn`t assign delegates, this convention were a
lot of true believer activists will talk to the media, this is convinced a
lot of people that Romney doesn`t have what it takes to win the nomination,
and they might go for a dark horse from nowhere with maybe a different
billionaire, maybe a not a sweater vest but a sweater tunic or something.
I don`t know. Different group of millionaires getting behind somebody
else.

MADDOW: Well, I know when Ron Paul does unexpectedly well in Maine
tomorrow, I`m just going to jump right to President Paul.

WEIGEL: Very confident of that, too. Yes.

MADDOW: Dave Weigel, political reporter for "Slate," MSNBC
contributor -- Dave, thanks for your time. Tell all my CPAC peeps I said
hi.

WEIGEL: I severely will. Thank you.

MADDOW: Thank you.

All right. Still ahead, Newt Gingrich and his billionaire need to
talk. Plus, why is Ron Paul so psyched about Maine tomorrow? A member of
Ron Paul`s campaign staff has generously agreed to come on the show to
explain, which is very exciting that never happens here.

And we have a cocktail moment in which I pay off a painful and
mortifying Super Bowl bet. That is all ahead.

But, first, "One More Thing" about CPAC. Yesterday during a panel
discussion about something rather, organizers played tape of my appearance
Sunday on "Meet the Press" when I talked about the big contraception fight
in politics right now.

At the panel, a man from FOX News on the panel at CPAC, a man named
Cal Thomas made a bit a little bit wise crack about me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAL THOMAS, FOX NEWS: Well, I`m really glad, Genevieve (ph), that you
played Rachel Maddow clip because I think that she is the best argument in
favor of her parents using contraception.

(APPLAUSE)

THOMAS: I would be all for that. And all the rest of the crowd at
MSNBC, too, for that matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Last night, I responded to Mr. Thomas` remark by saying, I`m
sorry he wished I wasn`t born but I`m glad that he was born because I need
FOX News guys to prove my point, blah, blah, blah.

In any case, just to button this thing, first, I want to say it was
really nice of Greta van Susteren, host at FOX News to leap to my defense
after Mr. Thomas` remarks were first reported. Totally unnecessary on Ms.
Van Susteren`s part, but really nice particularly given that she works
there.

Second, there was an online response to this whole thing that was
really kind to me, this heartening hashtag, which is one part silly, and 99
parts moving. And, again, it was just really nice -- totally unnecessary
but really nice. So thank you.

But, finally, and most importantly, Mr. Thomas from FOX News called me
personally this morning and said he was sorry. He didn`t mean it and he
wished he had not said it. He then told me it was OK to share publicly
that he called, so I`m sharing that publicly.

I completely believe his apology. I completely accept his apology.
People say things they regret. I sometimes say thing I regret. And as far
as I`m concerned saying you`re sorry is good enough for me.

So, now, we can button it. It`s done. Everybody ended up being
really nice about the whole thing I`m thankful and I`m actually very
embarrassed and I have to go. Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(AUDIO GAP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think there`s a very
high likelihood we`re going to win Florida.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(AUDIO GAP)

MADDOW: Newt Gingrich extravagantly lost to Mitt Romney in Florida.
He lost the primary by 14 points.

In an earlier time, a pre-Citizens United time, a big loss like that,
plus the no money thing might have meant the end of a presidential
campaign.

But not this year -- this year, anybody with a billionaire can play.
Newt Gingrich may have been suffering from a paucity of campaign donors and
he may have gotten clobbered in a state he has said a must-win.

But Newt Gingrich still had the one thing you really need this year.
He had a billionaire in his corner. In a two-week period, casino
billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife donated $10 million to Newt
Gingrich`s super PAC. So thanks to his billionaire, Newt Gingrich was able
to go on after his big loss in Florida. He was able to go on to lose in
Nevada by 29 points and to lose in Colorado by 27 points and to lose in
Minnesota by 34 points.

Newt Gingrich`s billionaire, Sheldon Adelson, has subsidized weeks of
big losses so far.

But now, we`re learning that the multi-million dollar windfall days
from Sheldon Adelson might be over for the Newt Gingrich super PAC.
"Bloomberg News" reporting today that according to an anonymous source, for
now, the Adelsons don`t plan to deliver another big check to float the
Gingrich campaign. What?

And the Newt Gingrich super PAC is adjusting its strategy accordingly,
telling "Bloomberg" they are shifting focus to grassroots fundraising of
amounts between $2,500 and seven figures.

So, back to the old seven figure grass roots fundraising game, the old
grass roots million dollar donation plan. That is amazing.

But not nearly as amazing as the media freak out this week over a rule
the Obama administration finalized three weeks ago, mandating health
insurance coverage without a co-pay for contraception -- a rule that is a
lot like the laws already in effect in 28 states. In fact, the Obama
administration`s rule was actually less stringent than the existing rules
in these eight states where everybody has to cover birth control, no
exceptions, not even for churches.

The Obama rule let churches out of the requirement to cover birth
control.

Nonetheless, Republicans have been very, very angry about the idea.
They want hospitals and universities affiliated with the Catholic Church to
be exempt from the rule as well.

So, today, after lots and lots of sturm und drang, President Obama
announced a compromise of sorts -- everybody except women who work for
churches that is, everybody still gets access to birth control through
their health insurance, but universities and hospitals associated with the
Catholic Church who don`t want to provide insurance that covers birth
control, they don`t have to pay for it. In those cases, they can make the
insurance company pay for it, which is probably a good deal for the
insurance companies since using contraception saves on health care costs.

In announcing the new modified rule today, the president made it clear
that he thinks this should be the end of the party like it`s 1965 birth
control battle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I understand some folks
in Washington may want to treat this as another political wedge issue. But
it shouldn`t be. I certainly never saw it that way. This is an issue
where people of good will on both sides of the debate have been sorting
through some very complicated questions to find a solution that works for
everyone. With today`s announcement, we`ve done that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: So, all done fighting about birth control, right? Wrong.
Conservatives spent all day at CPAC today raging about it anyway, even
after the change.

After the president modified the rules so the thing everybody was
supposedly upset about making Catholic affiliated institutions pay for
birth control, three of the four remaining Republican candidates for
president treated the CPAC crowd to a screed on Obama`s birth control rule.
One of those guys will run against President Obama in the fall on an anti-
birth control platform.

I`ve got a new op-ed on that subject as of "The Washington Post." As
of tonight, we posted a link to that at MaddowBlog.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: A, I fixed my microphone. Sorry about that.

B, we have a Friday night cocktail moment coming up for which you will
not need to remember not to eat the garnish.

Please stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Tomorrow is election day, again. Tomorrow is Maine, which is
state number nine, the ninth state to go through some sort of a decision-
making process toward picking a Republican nominee for president. And
after Iowa and New Hampshire, and South Carolina, and Florida, and Nevada,
and Missouri and Minnesota and Colorado, let`s count Missouri for the sake
of argument, even that we might have to change this when they vote again
and it counts, but counting Missouri, Rick Santorum has so far won four
states, Mitt Romney has won three states, Newt Gingrich has won one state.

At the beginning of this cycle, there were like a zillion people
running for this nomination. But now, we are down to four, and all but one
of them has won in at least one state. The only one of these guys who
hasn`t won is Ron Paul.

Weirdly, though, Ron Paul seems the happiest in any of them in his "I
just lost another primary and/or caucus" late night speeches, right? Ron
Paul seems both happy and like he has something up his sleeve.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And we do have to
remember, you know, the straw vote is one thing, but then there`s one other
thing called delegates, yes!

(CHEERS)

PAUL: I honestly congratulate him, he ran a good campaign I said I
would see him soon in the caucus states.

(CHEERS)

PAUL: When the dust settles, I think there is a very good chance that
we`re going do have the maximum number of delegates coming out of
Minnesota.

We will be going to the caucus states and we will be promoting the
whole idea of getting more delegates because that`s the name of the game.
And we will pursue it.

There is some other good news, too, ongoing caucus and it`s over on
the East Coast. I think it`s a state called Maine.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW: Even though Ron Paul has not won anything yet, he seeps very
happy and excited about his prospects, at least in the states that hold
caucuses instead of primaries.

Here`s the thing though, we`ve already had four states with caucuses
and Ron Paul hasn`t won any of them. So, the caucus state thing may be his
strategy but it doesn`t seem to be working.

Or is it?

After the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses this week, Dave Weigel, our
previous guest this hour, highlighted a rather arcane press release from
the Ron Paul campaign. Quote, "We may well win in Minnesota and do far
better in Colorado than yesterday`s polls indicate."

This was after the Minnesota results. This is what we all think the
results were from Minnesota and Colorado. But according to the Ron Paul
campaign, after those states closed, they think they might win in
Minnesota.

In Colorado and in Nevada, quote, "We will have good numbers among the
actual delegates awarded far exceeding our straw poll numbers." The
campaign says also, "In Minnesota, where we finished a solid second," it`s
true Ron Paul beat Mitt Romney, but the campaign says, "In Minnesota where
we have finish a solid second, we also have a strong majority of the state
convention delegates. The Ron Paul campaign is well-organized to win the
bulk of delegates there."

They are saying they`re going to win in Minnesota even though they
came in second there. Ron Paul campaign is saying even though they came in
second, they could win. Again, we may well win in Minnesota. And do far
better in Colorado than yesterday`s polls indicate.

I want to explain what I think is going on here. I sort of need a
prop. I don`t have a prop.

Let`s say these are the people at the caucus, the people at the caucus
love Rick Santorum -- yes, we love Rick Santorum. A great majority of us
here at the caucus, we love Rick Santorum.

And after the caucus meets, and they vote on who they support, the
people running the caucus, the local Republican officials say, OK, people,
you`ve expressed your views, you love Rick Santorum, you can leave now if
you want but we`ll stick around and do some party business. You can stay
or go it`s up to you. And everybody goes yes, we voted for Rick Santorum,
we love Rick Santorum, we`re going to go home and launder our sweater vests
or whatever.

So, after these people leave, what happens in the party business part
of the meeting is that the delegates get chosen to go to the state
convention. And the convention is where they are going to assign delegates
to go to the national convention where the nominee of the Republican Party
is chosen. But once the so-called Santorum voters leave from the caucus,
the Ron Paul supporters stay for the party business where the delegates are
chosen, vying to be chosen as those delegates.

You supposedly need 1,144 delegates in order to get a majority and to
get the Republican Party`s nomination. In theory, the people who are
chosen to be delegates to the convention are supposed to go to the
convention and say, all the people at my caucus love Rick Santorum,
therefore, I`m a Rick Santorum delegate. Whatever their personal view is
in theory, we think of that delegate as reflecting the expressed view of
the people at the caucus who said who they like.

But what if the delegate says I don`t care what all those crazy people
in the sweater vests thought. I`m a delegate for Ron Paul.

That`s the Ron Paul strategy as best I can make it out. Outstay the
other candidates` supporters at the caucuses in the hopes of becoming a
delegate, regardless of what the caucus decided. That`s why they`re saying
we may very well win in Minnesota, even though Rick Santorum won Minnesota.

They are breaking the connection between who people expressed a
preference for at the caucus and how that will is expressed in the bigger
Republican Party process of picking of the nominee.

In other words, it doesn`t matter who you voted for, your vote counts
for Ron Paul.

This is what the Ron Paul campaign says they are doing. It`s not a
secret. Look in their press release. They`re giving examples.

In one precinct in Larimer County, the straw poll vote was 23 for
Santorum, 13 for Paul, five for Romney, two for Gingrich. There were 13
delegate slots from that precinct in Larimer county and Ron Paul got all
13. Not a secret. They are explaining that they are doing this.

Is this legal? Apparently, this is legal -- at least it seems to be
under Republican Party rules. The delegates are supposed to reflect the
view of the caucus or the precinct that they came from, but nobody says
they have to, and that weakness is why Ron Paul I think looks excited every
night when he apparently is losing these states but he doesn`t think he is.

Here to explain further is Doug Wead. He`s a senior advisor to the
Ron Paul campaign, and we`re therefore very grateful that he`s chosen to
come and talk with us.

Mr. Wead, thank you so much for being here.

DOUG WEAD, RON PAUL CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: You`re welcome and I`m
glad you were born, too. So, I wouldn`t have to sit and talk to myself.

MADDOW: That would be very, very boring. Thank you for saying so.

In this -- explaining this process, I am absolutely sure I just got
something wrong, because it is a complicated process. Is there anything
about those logistics I messed up in that explanation?

WEAD: Well, you did a great job and you restored my faith in
journalism, because I watch television and I see them saying Romney has
this many delegates and Santorum this many, and as you know, not a single
delegate has been awarded from Iowa or Minnesota or Missouri or Colorado or
Nevada.

And as you point out, we`re tracking this at the precinct level, we
think we have the majority of them, we think we`ve won in Iowa, we won in
Minnesota, we won in Colorado, and Missouri is yet to be seen.

And we think we probably won in Nevada, because we`re counting the
precinct votes.

The only thing that I might add there is nothing wrong or deceptive
about this, anybody can stay. You know, Woody Allen says 80 percent of
success is showing up. Well, our people show up. And they have a right to
do that, and they are committed, and so, they are running as delegates at
the precinct level to the county convention where they will again run as
delegates from the county convention to the state convention.

MADDOW: Are they being open at the precinct level? Are they being
open about the fact they will support Ron Paul no matter what happened at
the caucus, or is this sort of a sneak attack strategy?

WEAD: Oh, no, they are open. Anybody can stay, and anybody can vote
-- in fact, the party is resisting this as often as they can. There have
been occasions where they dismissed the meeting and relocate in another
place to try to keep our people from participating. There are verbal memos
that come down from the campaign in Minnesota there was a verbal memo.
They don`t care to put it in print in which they told all the establishment
Republicans don`t vote for any delegate under the age of 40, because they
knew it would be a Ron Paul supporter.

So, we`re winning fair and square. And I should point out all these
rules were changed for Mitt Romney. They were changed so that the
establishment Republicans could give Mitt Romney a chance to win this
nomination, in spite of evangelical resistance in the South.

So it`s all been set up for Romney, we`re the poor guys who come -- we
don`t have Goldman Sachs money. But we`re coming in playing by their rules
and yes, we have a smile on our face because right now, the big story
missed until you just broke it tonight is probably, we have more delegates
than anybody in the race right now, when all this is finalized.

MADDOW: Sorry to interrupt there. When you say the Republican Party
changed the rules in a way to gain the system for Mitt Romney, what rules
do you think they changed to Mitt Romney`s benefit?

WEAD: Well, of course, Florida was moved up because it was a state
that would help him, Nevada and Arizona were moved up because they were
states with large LDS population. It was proportional in the South, so
that if Romney pulls 20 percent, 30 percent in the South, but because of
his faith, a lot of evangelicals go do Gingrich or Santorum or would have
gone to another candidate he still would get something. He wouldn`t be
shutout.

In a winner-take-all, if he`s shutout in the South, he can`t get the
nomination because remember, the South is loaded for the in the GOP because
it often votes in the presidential election for GOP, so it`s not just
population in the South it`s based how their voting patterns have been.
So, the South is -- there`s a lot of delegates in the South.

So in that sense, it was gained and even the primary -- the system,
the caucus systems were gained for him because it was felt he had the money
and with the money, he could have the organization. We don`t have the
money, but we`ve got the organization.

MADDOW: I`m assuming that your overall goal is to make Ron Paul, the
Republican Party`s nominee for president I realize that`s what you are in
this for.

But for the sake of argument, say that you do not achieve that, but
you have amassed a very large number of delegates heading into the
Republican convention. What would then be the purpose of amassing all
those delegates, what would you use that power and that leverage for?

WEAD: Well, as you know, anybody who is an observer of modern
political history knows, that a brokered convention is remote. There are
delegates that will move to another candidate if they get a box of Godiva
chocolates on their pillow at the hotel in Tampa that night.

So, Ron Paul delegates won`t go even if they are offered secretary of
state. So, if we can get to a convention with a sizeable number of
delegates and if Gingrich stays alive and Santorum stays alive, we could
have a brokered convention. It would be a huge show, even though there is
a remote possibility. And, of course, there are many things we want. We
would like to see the federal reserve audited for example.

And Romney is the only candidate left in the Republican Party who
hasn`t taken that step. And with good reason, his honey is coming from
Goldman Sachs.

MADDOW: Doug Wead, senior adviser to the Ron Paul, Mr. Wead, we have
the hardest time in the world trying to get anybody from any of the
campaigns to talk to us. So I am -- A, very grateful you were here, but,
B, I hope that you`ll come back. I think this is a huge story and you
helped us explain it. And I would love to have you back on the show if
you`d come back.

WEAD: I thank you for breaking the story, because up until now,
finding delegates for Mitt Romney -- he says he`s got them but kind of like
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, everybody thinks they are there,
nobody can name one of these delegates that he`s won, except the winner-
take-all in Florida and the two primaries. But in the caucus states, you
can`t find them because they are not there yet.

MADDOW: Doug Wead from the Ron Paul campaign -- thank you again, sir.
Appreciate your time.

WEAD: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. So, what happens when an emergency manager takes
over your town? Static it turns out. An amazing story. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Good news this week for Michiganders. Michigan, after
suffering through your own overlong, localized Great Depression, you are in
the money. Michigan has a budget surplus of almost half a billion dollars.

And OK, so Republicans got into the black in part by raising taxes on
the working poor and by taxing pensions and so on. But hey, the Republican
majority that governed by crisis now says the crisis is over-ish. The
future is bright again.

Michigan state budget director saying, quote, "The good news is we are
no longer in crisis management." Yes.

But tell that to the hard left town of Benton Harbor, which is still
being managed very much as if the world were burning down.

Last year, predominantly black, very poor Benton Harbor, Michigan,
became the first city to feel the saving embrace of Michigan Governor Rick
Schneider`s landmark policy, his souped up emergency manager law that
allows the state to take over a town, overrule all local authority and
appoint an emergency manager with near dictatorial power.

The state-appointed overseer can do pretty much anything he or she
wants on the town, including firing local elected position, including even
abolishing the town without the town`s consent.

Michigan Governor Rick Schneider`s emergency manager law eliminates
democracy at the local level. Whatever you vote for, whoever you vote for,
overruled by the governor`s say-so.

If your town has problem, Rick Schneider`s law says the reason for
those problems is because you have had a vote. You have had a say in what
happens in your town, so your vote must be taken away for your own good.

The essential Michigan Web site ElectaBlog calculates that using this
law, Governor Schneider has been on track to take away local democracy from
just over half of Michigan`s African-American residents.

You cannot say that was the intent but that has been the effect in the
making of his emergency manager law. A majority of Michigan`s black
population put under emergency overseer rule with no local voting rights.

In April, the emergency manager assigned to run Benton Harbor stripped
Benton Harbor`s elected mayor and city commission of all but three official
duties. They can call a meeting to order, they can approve the minutes of
a meeting, and they can adjourn a meeting and that`s it.

You can see how well that went over in Benton Harbor, having their
votes overruled by a single-state appointed manager.

And yet, even though Benton Harbor`s officials had no power, a
hallowed out husk of former democracy remained. In November, Benton Harbor
held municipal elections. Voters chose a new mayor, for instance. But
when it came time for the new mayor to take the mundane step of picking a
mayor pro temp, sort of a deputy mayor, the new mayor was not allowed to do
that.

The emergency manager had to carry out the mundane step for him,
because only the emergency manager has power to do anything in that town
anymore. So, now, Benton Harbor has a powerless, elected mayor and
powerless mayor pro temp both serving at the pleasure of the state-
appointed, unelected emergency manager who has unilateral authority over
everything in the town.

One man, one town, complete control.

Benton Harbor is a very broke and very broken town. But one thing
they have got is a publicly owned radio station. It broadcasts out of the
basement of city hall, WBHC -- BH, Benton Harbor. WBHC 96.5 FM is a low
power FM station. Its programming, local news, and talk and music. It
reaches three miles from Benton Harbor city hall.

The license is held by the city of Benton Harbor, has been for nearly
a decade. An excellent feature for "The New York Times" magazine, Jonathan
Muller (ph) recently reported, quote, "Though he has been stripped of
official authority, Commissioner Dennis Knowles still hosts a weekly radio
broadcast from a studio in the basement of city hall, on which he addresses
issues of concern to local residents, like how to deal with a new state law
that limits lifetime welfare benefits to four years. Quote, `You may also
want to get in growing your own food because it`s going to get to that
point.`"

Or you might tune and find Reverend Jesse Jackson sharing the mic with
Commissioner Marcus Mohammad (ph) who`s also been stripped of his power as
a local official.

Benton Harbor`s radio station, through all this, really has been the
voice of Benton Harbor. It`s not much of course but it`s still coming to
you live and local and real.

Now here is another picture of Benton Harbor`s radio station. It`s on
eBay. Benton Harbor`s emergency overseer guy has closed the town`s radio
station and he is auctioning its stuff on eBay. FM low power license,
broadcast transmitter and broadcasting equipment, bidding starts at $5,000.
No takers so far, not a single bid.

This is actually the second time he`s posted it on eBay. First
auction timed out this morning with no takers, with three mics,
transmitter, a mixing board, two CD players, et cetera, et cetera, cords
included.

The old listing on eBay, the one that expired, didn`t include the
license but now he`s throwing that into for the same low price, everything
must go.

Presumably, somebody could buy all of this and cart WBHC down the road
somewhere and start broadcasting again. We don`t know what the emergency
manager intends to do if nobody bids on his enhanced posting on eBay.

Can the town still keep the station? Do you still want them not to
have that radio station? Even if you can`t get any money for it, even if
Michigan is in budget surplus now?

The Benton Harbor low power FM license for that state expires in
October. Renewing the license is not on the list of duties that the
emergency manager says anybody can perform except him. If he wants to do
it, his call and his alone, nobody else`s vote counts there anymore. Now
shutting down the radio station, no way to let anybody know what is being
taken away from them next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: I love my job. Happy Friday. It`s time for a cocktail
moment both of honor and of shame -- shame and honor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Obviously I lost a bet. This is an Eli Manning jersey. He`s
the quarterback of a football team called the New York Giants. They beat
my team, the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. And I thereby lost a
bet.

It kind of seems like a cruel twist of fate that we lost the game so I
have to wear this on TV right now, but my secret boyfriend Aaron Hernandez,
did score a touchdown in the game. So I also have to buy everybody on set
a beer. So, I have to lose the bet in both directions. But hey, that`s
how it goes. It`s fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That is the last time you will ever see me in a New York
Giants jersey. I hereby ban that clip from ever airing again.

But as eager as I was to pay off one bet earlier this week, I am more
eager to pay off the second one. Thanks to Patriots tight end Aaron
Hernandez, my aforementioned secret boyfriend who did score a touchdown in
the third quarter of the Super Bowl, I now owe everybody a beer, which
should be getting here any second.

Yes, here it comes. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW fake Clydesdales have
arrived. And they have brought us all some of St. Louis`s finest. So,
grab a -- whatever these can bottles, all right, crack it and drink to
things in life that matter like football and keeping your word and
everybody say it with me -- ready? Three, two, one -- prison!

Here comes prison. Happy weekend.

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

Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>


WATCH 'THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW' WEEKDAYS AT 9:00 P.M. ON MSNBC.