'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, July 9, 2012
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Guest: Evan Kenney
CHRIS WOJCIK, SHARK EXPERT: Unfortunately, that type of contact, you
know, leaves some scars behind sometimes.
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: Chris Wojcik, thanks for joining us.
WOJCIK: You`re welcome. Anytime.
SCHULTZ: That`s "THE ED SHOW." I`m Ed Schultz.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Feeling it with one`s teeth.
SCHULTZ: You know what? The dorsal fin starts the heart attack on
the big guy right here.
MADDOW: I know exactly what you mean.
SCHULTZ: I would win a gold medal when I see a dorsal fin, all right?
MADDOW: I can`t look at a person with a Mohawk. I get the same
MADDOW: It`s good to have you back, Ed. Thanks a lot, man.
SCHULTZ: You, too, Rachel. Thank you.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next
Listen, the side effect of the Fourth of July falling on a Wednesday
this year, it was Wednesday of last week, side effect of that is that
nobody really knew when Fourth of July weekend was. Was it the weekend
before the Fourth? Was it the weekend after the Fourth?
I for one celebrated both. But it wasn`t really clear which was the
right weekend to celebrate.
One thing that is clear, though, now is that the Fourth of July
weekend whenever it was is over. We are back.
Today in Washington, it was like the first day of school. Summer is
over. Everybody is back and doing what they want to be doing for the next
The Republican-controlled House back in session today. They, of
course, now are hard at work on their jobs, jobs -- just kidding. House
Republicans are naturally working on abortion this week. Just like they
Another abortion ban they are pursuing for Washington, D.C. gets
marked up tomorrow because you know -- jobs, jobs, jobs.
House Republicans are also planning to symbolically fake repeal health
reform -- again. They have already symbolically fake repealed it once, but
there`s nothing more important for the jobs, jobs, job-bortion agenda than
fake-repealing health reform just one more time.
So, that will probably happen on Wednesday. It will, of course, have
no practical effect whatsoever, but it will feel great for the Republicans
when they do it. They think it`s good for them in terms of messaging.
In terms of the presidential contest, the Obama campaign is ramping up
their criticism of Mitt Romney as the only guy who would be the only
president in U.S. history with a Swiss bank account. Mr. Romney`s father
who was also a rich guy when he ran for president in the `60s, he released
12 years of his tax returns when he was running. His son only released one
year under duress back in January. What he released showed a Swiss bank
account and holdings in the Cayman Islands, which is a notorious tax
shelter, as well as mysterious companies holding who knows how many Romney
bucks incorporated in Bermuda for some reason?
The shadiness or at least mysteriousness of what Mr. Romney does with
all of his giant piles of money and how it is that he figures out a way to
pay so little in taxes, that was the subject of a big investigate piece in
"Vanity Fair" last week,.
Another big investigative piece by the "Associated Press" later that
week, and now is the subject of many attack ads, many Democratic talking
points on the Sunday shows this weekend. And this new video from the Obama
campaign trying to force the Romney folks to at least try to come up with
an answer to some of these questions about why he`s offshored his money.
So far, the Romney campaign response to this line of criticism is that
it is, quote, "disgusting" -- which is a very powerful adjective which
deployed in a political context, but just saying the word disgusting does
not answer any of the questions.
It`s probably not a coincidence that the Mitt Romney Swiss bank
account Cayman Islands tax shelter creepy zillionaire attack is being full
court-pressed by the Democrats at the same time that the Democratic
president is rolling out his own policy proposal that we should not renew
the Bush tax cuts for the smaller sliver of people in this country.
The president has long said that this was the policy that he supports,
but today was the day they chose to formally roll out this as a proposal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m calling on Congress
to extend the tax cuts for the 98 percent of Americans who make less than
$250,000 for another year.
OBAMA: I believe it`s time to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest
Americans, folks like myself, to expire. In many ways, the fate of the tax
cut for the wealthiest Americans will be decided by the outcome of the next
election. My opponent will fight to keep them in place. I will fight to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Just as the House Republican vote this week to repeal health
reform is going to have no practical effect other than messaging for the
Republicans. Honestly, President Obama formally proposing that everybody
get a tax cut except for rich people, that`s not necessarily going to
become policy just because he says he favors it. He has long favored it,
but it is great messaging for the Democrats.
This is a really popular policy idea. This is a policy idea that is
even popular among Republicans when you poll on it, but this question puts
elected Republicans in Washington in a really awful spot because
Republicans are against what President Obama proposed today. They`re not
against it because they don`t want people to have tax cuts. They`re
against it because they want rich people to have tax cuts.
And if the rich people don`t get tax cuts, they say, then nobody
should. Everybody`s taxes are going to go up unless the rich people get a
tax cut. That`s their position. That`s hard to sustain in political
And the Democrats know that. The whole idea is to make it look like
Republicans will bend over backwards to do anything for the richest people
in the country even if it hurts everybody else. The whole idea of the
Democrats doing this is to make the Republicans look ridiculous when it
comes to the way that they treat the very rich.
And the Romney campaign right now is doing every it can to live up to
that caricature of Republicans. At least I think they are.
What happened to the Romney campaign this weekend was so bad, and
exactly the way they do not need things to be bad for them right now. It
was so bad that I almost cannot believe it was self-inflicted. In fact, I
think I may believe that this was orchestrated in some way by the other
side. Maybe. I don`t know.
Do I think the left is this clever? Do you remember billionaires for
Bush? Billionaires for Bush were my favorite anti-George W. Bush satirical
idea all through the Bush years.
They were a satire troop essentially that would show up to Bush
campaign events or fund-raisers or sometimes they would just march through
the streets professing to be billionaires in favor of President Bush and
his policy. Four more wars. Four more wars.
They would dress up in tuxedos and top hats and evening gowns. They
would carry around signs that say things like taxes are not for everyone.
Thank you for paying our fair share. Widen the income gap. Four more
wars. Privatize everything.
Look at the one in the back. Does that look familiar? Corporations
are people too. Yes, that was pre-Romney saying that.
Billionaires for Bush was sort of genius. And they did survive into
the Obama era when they became the anti-health reform group Billionaires
for Wealth Care. They dressed up in top hats and tails and occasionally as
health care industry CEOs to oppose reform, with signings like, if we ain`t
broke, don`t fix it, and let them eat Advil. Fight socialism. End
You -- usually, these guys announce their presence. You know, they
will put out a press release. Billionaires for something, something.
Whenever they`re going to appear.
But it maybe is possible this weekend they were in the Hamptons
protesting Mitt Romney without announcing their presence? Maybe? I dot
know, but how else do you explain this. Look at this.
A woman in a blue chiffon dress poked her head out of a black Range
Rover here in East Hampton on Sunday afternoon and yelled to an aide to
Mitt Romney, "Is there a VIP entrance? We are VIP."
The "New York Times" describing Mr. Romney`s motorcade, quote,
"passing a gleaming line of Bentleys, Porsches, and Mercedes Benzs waiting
to deposit guests who paid up to $25,000 a head to hear him speak.
Where was this $3 million fundraiser that Mr. Romney was appearing at?
Oh, it was at the sprawling home of Ronald O. Perelman, the billionaire
financier and chairman of Revlon. Widely described as the largest estate
in East Hampton, it has 40 rooms, nine fireplaces and takes up a mile along
the Georgica Pond.
This guy`s house is so big that has its own logo that you apparently
have to wear on your clothing if you work there. Quote, "Romney campaign
aides and staffers in white polo shirts emblazoned with the logo of the
Perelman`s property -- the Creeks -- checked off names under tight
Doesn`t your house have a logo?
A few of the attendees were nice enough to speak to the members of the
media who are assembled there. This is from "The New York Times." A few
cars back, Ted Conklin, the owner of the American Hotel in Sag Harbor, long
a favorite of the well-off and well-known in the Hamptons could barely
contain his displeasure with Mr. Obama. "He`s socialist. His idea is to
find a problem that doesn`t exist and get government to intervene," Mr.
Conklin said from inside a gold colored Mercedes as his wife Carol Simmons
nodded in agreement.
Ms. Simmons paused to highlight what she said was her husband`s
generous spirit, "Tell them who`s on your yacht this weekend. Tell him?"
Over Mr. Conklin`s objections, Ms. Simmons disclosed that a major
executive from Miramax, the movie company, was on the 75-foot yacht because
she said there were no rooms left at the hotel.
See, it`s like the Jesus birth story with a twist. He`s in swaddling
I think these are protesters. I think those people talking from the
gold Mercedes, right, they have to be protesters.
Why else would you go out of your way to make sure you told the
reporter who was staying on your 75-foot yacht when you`re there to
complain about the socialists and the invented problems the country
"The L.A. Times" in their reporting on this described the lines of
Range Rovers, BMWs, Porsches, Roadsters, and one gleaming cherry red
Ferrari that began queuing outside of Roland Perelman`s estate.
One New York City donor who also would not give her name said Romney
needed to do a better job connecting. She said, quote, "I don`t think the
common person is getting this." She said this from the passenger seat of a
Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits.
"Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them. We`ve got the
message," she added. "But my college kid, the babysitters, the nails
ladies, everything who has the right to vote, they don`t understand what`s
going on. I just think if you`re lower income, one, you`re not as
educated, two, they don`t understand how it works. They don`t understand
how the systems work, they don`t understand the impact."
Stupid voters, the nails ladies, college kid. You know, these
billionaires for Romney protesters, they must be billionaires for Romney
protests. They covered all of the news outlets, too. They gave the
totally damning "We are VIP" quote to the "New York Times". "The L.A.
Times" got the nails ladies quote.
And to the "Associated Press," we have a chief of Shearson Lehman
Brothers who heads his own investment banking firm saying of Romney, quote,
"I think he`s a plain talking guy." The Shearson Lehman Brothers
investment banking firm guy, quote, "made the comment as he chewed a cigar
in his black Range Rover outside a fund-raiser expected to generate $3
Cigar chomping, seriously? I mean, this has to be satire. Look at
the photos from this thing. Look at the caption. A Southampton police
officer directs a Rolls Royce around the protesters outside the estate of
David Koch before a fund-raiser for Mitt Romney on Sunday. Actual Rolls
Royce, actual Porsche, and actual, I think second in line, is that, I
think, Bentley? Maybe it`s another Rolls Royce? Either way, it`s
definitely behind an actual BMW.
All of the photos and coverage was from just outside the three
Hamptons fund-raisers because there was no press allowed inside. However,
two CNN reporters report overhearing what he told his cartoonishly affluent
and callous Hamptons audience. He said, quote, we all care -- excuse me,
"By the way," he said, "you guys are doing fine. If you`re here, by and
large, you`re doing just fine."
See, people paying $25,000 to go to this event by and large, Mitt
Romney thinks they`re all doing OK. Presumably, some of them are really
struggling. But by and large, the people at the $25,000 a plate fund-
raiser, they are doing OK.
Mr. Romney continued to reported applause, he said, quote, "We all
care about the poor. But what we want to do is not just help. We want to
help people from becoming poor."
So you there in the red Ferrari under a Mitt Romney presidency, you
will never become poor. I can guarantee you that.
You, Mr. Gold Mercedes, have a cigar. You`re not going to be poor,
And you, Ms. VIP, read my lips, got you covered.
My friends, becoming poor is never going to be a problem for you as
long as I`m in office.
So that`s how Mitt Romney and his presidential campaign appears in the
press today. And today is the day that President Obama dared Republicans
to die on the political hill of tax cuts for millionaires. And it`s the
day they`re pushing the criticism of Mitt Romney that he has offshored his
millions in the Caymans tax havens and Swiss bank accounts.
And the Romney side of this the argument is, the lady in the Range
Rover screaming "We are VIP" outside the 40-room house in the Hamptons.
I don`t know what Mitt Romney is doing tonight, the day after those
three Hamptons fund-raisers, with the Ferrari, and all the billionaires,
you want to know where he is tonight? He`s doing another zillionaires
fund-raiser in Aspen.
But don`t worry, he`s turning around the storyline, everybody. He`s
announced he`s going to be in London soon to kick off his big overseas
trip. Conveniently, he will be there for the kickoff of the Olympics just
in time to see his wife`s million dollar dressage horse compete in the
There are only two possibilities here at this point. Either this is
brilliant satire and the Romney campaign is being punked and I tip my hat
to the billionaires for Romney or whoever you are who have pulled this off
and convinced all these reporters that you are actual rich people saying
things that obnoxious about Romney and what he stands for.
Or there`s somebody inside the Romney campaign who is trying to make
Mitt Romney look as much as possible like Thurston Howell and Lovey. Could
MADDOW: NBC chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is here tonight
after having just been somewhere he really truly was not supposed to be.
Naturally, that`s how he rolls. He`s here next.
MADDOW: NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is here, here
in America, here in New York. He has just returned from Syria, which is
not something that very many people in the world can say right now.
We`re lucky to have Richard here because he`s almost never here.
After the last decade, he`s reported from Iraq and Afghanistan and Gaza and
Lebanon. At one point, I e-mailed him to ask if he wanted to get together,
and he e-mailed he was on his way back to Timbuktu because that`s Richard`s
Last year, watching the unfolding of the Arab spring, Richard`s
reporting from Egypt and then from Libya was just indispensable. Richard
was in Tahrir Square the night President Hosni Mubarak relinquished power
after 30 years.
In Libya, Richard spent months traveling between the rebel stronghold
of Benghazi and the other rebel-controlled areas, and the capital city of
Tripoli, he captured this moment that made me think the Libyan rebels-
chances of winning against Gadhafi was less than zero.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):
After an hour and a half driving south flanked by desert, we reached the
rebels` front line. There are no trenches or sand bags. Just men poorly
armed who want to fight.
The front line is about five miles outside the town of Ajdabiya.
Smoke can be seen rising from Ajdabiya in the distance. Gadhafi still has
tanks and artillery in the town. The rebels watch with binoculars but
can`t advance. Outgunned, the rebels said they`re killed when they
approach Gadhafi`s forces.
"We have light weapons, he has tanks," complained one man. Another
rebel showed me he isn`t actually armed add all.
(on camera): It`s a toy gun. This is amazing. He just handed me his
gun. I didn`t realize until he put it in my hands, it`s made of plastic.
It`s a toy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: At that point, and that was March of last year, things did
not look good for the rebels in Libya. They were outmanned and outgunned.
They were outdone.
But then things turned around. NATO`s no-fly zone and the air raids
paid off militarily. Gadhafi fled and went into hiding.
Seven months after Richard showed us the rebel with the plastic gun,
Gadhafi was captured and killed.
The Arab spring is now trying to roll through Syria, and the t has
been incredibly bloody. Exact death tolls are impossible to know at this
point because the Bashar al Assad regime is not publicly keeping count of
how many of its own civilians it has killed and it doesn`t want anybody
else to either.
But the best guesstimates put the number of dead in Syria at about
17,000 people, over 16 months of fighting. Even after Kofi Annan brokered
a cease-fire agreement, the snipers and the shelling did not stop. People
are still dying every day in Syria, and fighting between the government and
rebels, including at least 30 people killed today in the besieged area of
For 16 months, it has seemed like nothing in Syria would change. But
something seems to be happening now. There are increased reports of
defections from Syria`s military. More than a dozen generals, a deputy
minister, a Syrian air force pilot flying his jet to Jordan.
The military turning against the regime, defecting. The "New York
Times" reporting that of the 80,000 young men expected to show up for their
mandatory military service, experts say virtually none have responded.
And amid those reports and at a time when it is getting really hard to
get reporting out of Syria itself, Richard went to northwest Syria last
week and he said he was surprised by what he found there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ENGEL (voice-over): Rebels in Syria now travel openly in the highways
in uniforms carrying weapons. It was not like this just month ago. But
now, the rebels have safe havens, mostly in the rural countryside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The army does not dare come
out. If they do, our snipers would get them.
ENGEL: Rebel leader Ahmed Bakran (ph) takes us to Marara (ph), one of
dozens of villages in northwest Syria where residents are now celebrating
after government troops were driven out.
(on camera): Things are changing rapidly in Syria where the
opposition is taking village after village. And every time they do, they
throw a party just like this one. The first time in this conflict, there`s
a sense that the rebels have momentum.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The sense that the rebels have the moments 78. That`s not
the way the press about Syria has been in this country up until now. But
Richard is just back from there.
NBC News senior foreign correspondent Richard Engel joins us now live
Richard, thanks for being here.
ENGEL: Wow. It`s good to be here with you. How are you?
MADDOW: I`m good. Did you have to do one of those James Bond crazy
thing to get into Syria?
ENGEL: Well, you have to go in illegally.
ENGEL: We went in through Turkey and we joined up with some rebels.
But the Turks are giving a little bit of passive support. If the Turks had
seen us, yes, they would have arrested us and that would have been about it
and they would have sent us back inside.
But I think the Turks probably did see us because there were a lot of
people crossing the border illegally and are just looking the other way,
and they`re allowing rebels and a few journalists to go in.
And to give you an idea, this wasn`t the first time I had been into
Syria, and I didn`t know exactly what to expect, and now this conflict
zone, so I brought almost nothing, I brought a pair of socks. One extra
shirt, I wanted to keep myself very light. I thought I would be hiding
under kitchen tables.
I went in with the rebels at night, we cross to the other side, rebel
flags, guys walking around in rebel uniforms, on motorcycles.
And I spent the next week driving around with the rebel groups from
headquarters to headquarters doing interviews openly on the street,
surrounded by people, we stopped for lunch on the way in between -- in
between villages. And hardly saw any Syrian troops at all.
MADDOW: How much of the country is Assad in control of then?
ENGEL: I don`t think very much.
ENGEL: I think he controls the cities and he controls the places
where his troops are, but not necessarily much in between them. We went
into towns where there were rebels in control of the town, but there were
still Syrian forces, the Syrian forces were isolated to a small section of
the town, don`t patrol, don`t leave it.
I walked by a Syrian check point probably 50 yards away, and I got the
same impression. The Syrians didn`t want to see us there because they
didn`t want to have to go out and deal with the situation.
There are defectors leaving these little outposts every single day.
Sometimes they are asking for the rebels to attack the outpost to give them
an opportunity to escape so that their senior officers don`t shoot them for
MADDOW: The government side is calling the rebels and saying please
attack this outpost so that I can flee in response, so I can get away from
military service and join you.
ENGEL: This is what some defectors who had fled were telling us.
MADDOW: That is incredible.
ENGEL: They`re buying, by the way, the weapons from the defectors and
from their own military. So the rebels are buying weapons if they have
cash from the Syrian army themselves.
MADDOW: No two countries are exactly alike, but one of the things
that we have all watched as the various uprisings have happens are we`re
watching the tipping point. If the military is an important institution
and the military -- and not just for monopoly of force, important
institution, when they start going to the anti-government side, then you
pretty much know that the government is going to fall.
ENGEL: We saw defections every day. People are showing up every day
to join the ranks of the rebels.
Bashar al Assad, I think, is fair to say, does not control the people
anymore. He`s not president of Syria anymore. He`s president of the army,
the army that`s still loyal. And that`s not sustainable for very long.
MADDOW: And that`s shrinking.
ENGEL: And that`s shrinking. He`s pulled back to the cities, and
it`s easier to hold certain parts of cities and he`s been very brutal in
holding them and there`s now fighting in Damascus. But once you lose the
people and all of the countryside, and the villages, it`s a matter of time.
But it could be a long time. His weapons are still more impressive
and the rebels don`t have a lot of weapons. So, it could be a situation
where it`s slow, slow, slow, slow, very quick, but we`re in a different
phase of the moon than we were.
MADDOW: Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, it is
good to see you in this time zone. This incredible reporting, I know
you`re going to be doing more on "Nightly" and more on "Rock Center" --
thanks for being here.
ENGEL: Thank you.
MADDOW: I appreciate it, Richard.
All right. Coming up tonight on the interview, we`ve got an exclusive
about cheating or what looks like cheating. In Mitt Romney`s home state,
the Republican Party doing something really sketchy to try to avoid a big
public embarrassment for Mr. Romney. The wronged party is here tonight for
the interview. This should be very interesting.
MADDOW: When you lose an election, you`re supposed to do this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: For me, a few hours ago,
this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our
concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the
dream shall never die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Senator Ted Kennedy giving up his dream of running for
president in 1980 after holding on until the last possible moment. In that
speech, using his defeat to begin to create a new legacy. It is a classic
example of making lemonade out of political lemons.
And one state right now where the Republican Party has been given a
bunch of lemons, the Republicans are not only making lemonade out of losing
an election, they`re refusing to acknowledge that they lost and nobody is
quite sure how to handle that.
It is a very weird situation. It has been pretty much under the radar
thus far, but I think it`s about to blossom into a really big deal. We`ve
got details ahead.
MADDOW: This year, the Democrats are holding their convention in
Charlotte, North Carolina, which is a drag for a lot of Democrats since
Democrats tend to support union rights and there`s not a single union hotel
in all of Charlotte. Who thought that one up?
Republicans this year are holding their convention in Tampa, Florida,
which is a drag for a lot of Republicans because it`s the strip club
capital of America and Republicans and trip -- well, you know, actually, I
don`t know. Maybe that`s a plus for them.
Tampa, I should note, is also the death metal capital of America.
Tampa gave the world bands like Morbid Angel and DSI and Obituary. That`s
got to be a plus for some Republicans going to the convention, but probably
not all of them.
The last time around, though, in 2008, it ended up being really
important where the Republicans chose to put their convention. The
Republicans in 2008 put their convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, remember?
And that ended up being really important because St. Paul is one of
two twin cities. St. Paul and Minneapolis are two cities that butt right
up against each other, separated only by the Mississippi River, and that
was really handy in 2008 because while the official Republican convention
was going on in St. Paul, Republicans that year also held a shadow
convention at the same time in the other twin, in Minneapolis.
And it was like a real convention. Red, white, and blue ticker tape,
a capacity crowd of adoring fans for the politician they were there to see
and even had the obligatory rock song from a rock star, in this case Tom
Petty, who took legal action to try to stop conservative politicians from
using his music.
The Republican shadow convention in 2008 held across the river from
the real deal was, of course, a Ron Paul extravaganza. The Ron Paul shadow
convention ended up being so big that they had to move it from its first
venue into a bigger venue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: I understand there`s another meeting in a
nearby town going on.
PAUL: Let us be respectful. We have also noticed that those in the
establishment aren`t very anxious to welcome us in. What am I doing this
for? What`s the purpose of all this?
And in many ways it is to send a message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Ron Paul shadow convention across the river from the RNC
in 2008 was a huge hullabaloo, a huge crowd. Everybody paid $17.76 to get
in. They made a ton of noise, Ron Paul said they were there to send a
But ultimately, what was the message? I mean, it was kind of a lot of
sound and fury signifying mostly nothing because they did not have anything
to do. I mean, ultimately, the real Republican deal was across town with
John McCain and Sarah Palin and none of the 10,000 Ron Paul fans in
Minneapolis had anything to work on, anything to get done there. No matter
how excited they were.
Well, this year, the Ron Paul campaign has not planned a shadow
convention. They are doing a preconvention rally ahead of the real
convention in Tampa, but that`s it. And maybe there`s a reason the
campaign has not planned a parallel we don`t care you`re holding a
convention nearby blowout. Maybe it`s because this year at the Republican
convention, at the real Republican convention, Ron Paul supporters might
have something to do.
Quite a lot of the Ron Paul folks who are going to this preconvention
rally in Tampa, the day before the convention, quite a lot of them are
going to be in Tampa anyway because they are delegates to the Republican
national convention. And depending on what happens this upcoming weekend,
this Saturday, those delegates at the real convention who are Ron Paul
supporters could really, really change what is supposed to happen at the
Mitt Romney convention.
If Ron Paul gets the most delegates at Nebraska`s state Republican
convention this weekend, that would make Nebraska the fifth state in which
Ron Paul has accomplished that goal, getting the plurality of delegates.
Republican Party rules say that means Ron Paul would get to put his name
forward at the convention, in terms of whether or not he should be the
nominee for president from the Republican Party.
And that would mean, among other things, that Ron Paul would be
guaranteed a speaking slot of 15 minutes before the first round of
balloting at the convention. That means Republicans don`t just get to
coronate Mitt Romney as the uncontested nominee, that means they are
dueling nominations and a contested vote. And did I mention there are a
whole bunch of Ron Paul supporting official delegates who are going to that
How do you think the prospect of that happening is going over with the
Republican Party bigwigs and Mitt Romney folks? If you guess that they`re
approaching freak out status and are going to extreme lengths to try to
stop this increasingly likely outburst of inconvenient democracy in their
midst, you would be right.
We have an exclusive on that next. It is from Mitt Romney`s home
court of Massachusetts and it`s a very, very weird story. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EVAN KENNEY: My name is Evan Kenney. I`m from Wakefield. I`m a
newcomer to the Republican Party at 18 years old.
KENNEY: You know, it`s going to be tough to follow up Mr. Baker`s
speech -- had I been of voting age, I certainly would have supported Mr.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Even Kenney was a high school senior and as you heard him say
there, newcomer of the Republican Party when he spoke at his regional
Republican Party caucus in Massachusetts back in April. He was trying to
get a spot at an alternate delegate to the Republican national convention
in Tampa in August.
Now, the man he had to follow in terms of giving a speech, the Mr.
Baker he was saying he would have voted for had he had been old enough to
vote, Mr. Baker is Charles Baker, the Republican Party`s most recent
nominee for governor in Massachusetts. Mr. Baker ran against Democrat
Deval Patrick in 2010 and he lost.
Incidentally, Mr. Baker also lost that day in April where you just saw
taped at that caucus. Charlie Baker lost his bid to be an alternate
delegate to the Republican delegate to the Republican convention in August,
and the man he lost to was that high school kid who could not vote for him
in 2008 and counted him only being 16 years old at that time.
When Massachusetts Republicans got together in April to pick delegates
to the national convention, I think the idea was to quickly and quietly and
painlessly elect a bunch of Republican bigwigs to go to Tampa in August, to
enthusiastically vote for home state Mitt Romney as the party`s nominee for
But that`s not at all what happened. For starter, there was Evan
Kenney, this high school kid who beat the party`s last nominee for governor
for one of the alternate spots in the delegation. Young Mr. Kenney and a
handful of like-minded supporter of Ron Paul also beat out leading
Republican Party rights like Kerry Healey, who was Mitt Romney`s lieutenant
governor. She was also the Republican nominee for governor in
Massachusetts in 2006. She lost to Mr. Patrick the first time before
Charles Baker got his chance to lose to Deval Patrick the second time.
The current Republican leader in the Massachusetts House of
Representatives, he lost that day, too. Also the longtime sheriff of Essex
County in Massachusetts, he lost as well.
This is Mitt Romney`s home state, and all of these big name Republican
elected officials couldn`t even win places on the state delegation to go
nominate him. He was the Republican governor of Massachusetts and the next
two people who tried to be Republican governors of Massachusetts after
them, sorry, you didn`t make the cut. There`s a high school senior who`s
got more support than you.
The whole ordeal was very embarrassing for the Romney campaign. They
had chosen a nice slate of officials who they thought would get, you know,
an official rubber stamp approval at the state caucuses and then they`d go
on and support them at the convention. No muss, no fuss.
But these caucuses turned out to be not a rubber stamp approval kind
of deal. After the caucuses in April, the "Boston Globe" reported less
than half of the delegates that the Romney campaign had chosen actually won
their spots on the delegation. The people who won instead were in large
part Ron Paul supports, enthusiastic high school kids and all. And that is
when things got messy.
The party declared out of the blue in a way they never had before and
a way that is never mentioned in their rules that all of the officially
selected delegates from Massachusetts this year would have to sign this
affidavit. They would have to swear under the pain and penalty of perjury
that they would vote for Mitt Romney at the Republican convention in
Now, some of the Ron Paul fans among the newly elected delegates
balked at the affidavit. What if something -- it`s reasonable. I mean,
what if something happens between now and the convention, something
unforeseen, Romney gets his name pulled for some reason that nobody can
foresee now, right?
Massachusetts would have these guys legally bound to vote for him no
matter what? That doesn`t even make sense.
The delegates proposed an alternate pledge that was a little less
specific. They changed it so to pledge them to follow party rules, not to
follow Mitt Romney as the named person. Apparently, the alternate
affidavit was not good enough and the state party threw these guys out.
Even the one whose did turn in the state party affidavit were told they
were out, they didn`t sign it quickly enough.
Eighteen-year-old Evan Kenney and 16 other delegates were disqualified
by the state Republican Party even though they won fair and square. They
were disqualified as delegates for failing to deliver the "I pledge myself
to Mitt Romney" affidavit or for delivering it too late.
So, their own rules, their own duly conducted election be darned, the
Republican Party has come up with a new rule after the fact to keep the Ron
Paul supporting rebel out. And when they kicked out Evan Kenney the
enthusiastic high school kid, wouldn`t you know it? They decided they
wanted to give his spot instead to the guy who ran for governor, who Evan
Kenney beat fair and square.
Joining us now for the interview is Evan Kenney, elected as an
alternate delegate for the Massachusetts Republican Party. He`s a Ron Paul
Evan, it`s great to meet you.
KENNEY: It`s an honor to be here.
MADDOW: You wrote an excellent e-mail when we first covered this
little scandal, explaining that you were the guy at the center of it all
and I`m grateful for you to reaching out.
How did it feel when you won, when you beat out some of these really
bold faced name Republicans in your state at that caucus?
KENNEY: Well, let me say first of all is Charlie Baker, the speech
you just showed, when I said I`m an 18-year-old newcomer to the party, the
first hands to clap belonged to Charlie Baker. Charlie Baker and Luke
Noble were two people excited to see the enthusiasm in the party, and
Charlie Baker actually, they did try to send Charlie Baker to the
convention, but Charlie Baker said no, absolutely not. I lost. You know?
MADDOW: So even though they`re trying to give him your spot, he`s
saying this is not fair?
KENNEY: He`s being righteous. He`s saying no.
MADDOW: What was your thought to the affidavit of saying you would
vote for Romney under the pain of perjury?
KENNEY: You know, I actually my reaction was kind of like -- well,
OK, because I didn`t know the rules and I also didn`t know the affidavit
had never been done before. I was like, well, I plan to do that anyway,
and I pledge to do that at the caucus and that`s all that`s required in the
rules. I pledged to do that at the caucus.
So, I was ready to send it in until someone pointed it out to me, my
mom, who is certainly no legal expert, she said, you can`t swear into
paying a penalty in perjury to do something in the future, it would never
hold up in court. I said, you know, maybe I should be careful. After
consulting with the Mass Liberty Caucus, we decided to send in an affidavit
that just said, we`re going to follow your rules. We`re going to follow
Mass general law (ph) and the GOP rules, which means we`re going to vote
for Mitt Romney in the first ballot.
MADDOW: But that was not enough.
KENNEY: That was not enough, even if I got it in on time.
MADDOW: What was their explanation to you when she did turn in the
affidavit you turned in? What was their explanation for why you couldn`t
KENNEY: Well, you know, two weeks later at the state committee
meeting on June 12th, I had signed the original state affidavit, the third
pledge, I gave it to the chairman of the committee of the committee who
kicked me out and he sent me a letter signed with his name in ink three
days later that said that Romney for president inc had just cause and
irrefutable evidence that I would not vote for Mitt Romney in the first
But I had a legally notarized affidavit, two of them, as well as a
verbal pledge. And all that was required was the verbal pledged. So, I
pledged three times to vote for Mitt Romney. And I`ll say it now, I will
be happy to represent the voters in Massachusetts and vote for Mitt Romney
in the first ballot convention.
MADDOW: Why do you think they`re doing this? I mean, not just -- I
mean, they`re giving these legalistic explanations. What`s your sense
about why they`re doing this?
I was struck -- I ask you because you told the globe you felt you`d be
rudely awakened to the realities of politics. Does that mean that you
think they are doing this for a reason other than what they are saying?
KENNEY: Well -- maybe. I don`t know. But I will say that, you know,
this is the Republican leadership in the Massachusetts GOP. They don`t
represent Richard Tisei. They don`t represent Charlie Baker. Because
these people reached out to me and said, thank you. Bring the youth
movement to the Republican Party.
These are a few corrupt power brokers in the leadership who want to
keep the party to themselves. They don`t care that it`s 11 percent voter
registration and shrinking in Massachusetts in the Republican Party. They
want to keep the power to themselves.
MADDOW: You know, forever in terms of the Ron Paul movement -- Ron
Paul has been around and has had a lot of different aspects to his career,
some of which I find -- some of which I find repellent and some of which I
find incredibly exciting. And since 2008 in particular, 2007 until now, he
really has spoken to young people in a way that other Republicans haven`t.
KENNEY: He`s 76 years old.
MADDOW: He`s 76 years old and he talks about it very eloquently,
saying, listen, all of these young people are interested in the message.
They treat me like a rock star because of what I`m talking about, because
of the message.
So, if the Republican Party wants to capitalize on my young voters,
why don`t you look into my message? Why don`t you think the Republican
Party will do that?
I feel like the Republican Party is inexplicably hostile to Ron Paul
KENNEY: Well, the real Republican Party is us. The real Republican
Party is me and the 16 other delegates removed from the elected positions.
And the real Republican Party is Charlie Baker. These people who are
coming out to represent the Republican oath.
They`re not out to represent George Bush and Rush Limbaugh, right?
They`re out to represent oath, which holds the principles of liberty and
sound money policy, which is a Ron Paul slogan, a free enterprise and even
equal rights, Rachel, in the Republican oath, equal rights.
MADDOW: I`ve heard of those.
KENNEY: Those are real Republican values and that`s why I`m still a
Republican. That`s why I`m happy to say I`m a Republican because I`m not
the Republican that George Bush represents. I`m a Republican that the
Republican oath represents.
MADDOW: You are having to fight tooth and nail to be recognized by
main line Republicans in terms of what you just said, but they ought to be
happy to have you.
I`m happy to have you here. Thanks a lot. Good luck to you, man.
KENNEY: Thank you.
MADDOW: Evan Kenney, 18 years old, do you believe it? Elected as an
alternate delegate for the Massachusetts Republican Party and obviously a
Ron Paul supporter. See, Republicans? It`s safe to come here. We can
have very constructive discussions.
All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Republicans won everything in Wisconsin in 2010. They won
the governorship obviously with Scott Walker. They won the legislature.
They won this Republican majority in the Wisconsin state Senate.
They used their political wins in 2010 to strip union rights in
Democrats responded by trying to recall the governor, which did not
work. The Democrats did recall the state Senate. It took them two rounds.
In the first round, they recalled two Republican state senators who had
voted to strip union rights. That left them one vote shy -- it left the
Democrats one vote shy of a majority.
Then there was a Republican resignation in March that gave Democrats
an even split in the Senate. They were sharing power 50/50. And then last
month, the Democrats won it. The Democrats recalled another Republican
state senator, which gives the Democrats an outright majority of the
So Wisconsin Republicans still have the governorship, they still have
the state assembly, but they have lost the Senate.
For a party that spent more than a year fumbling away their unilateral
control of the state, state Republicans sounded kind of OK with losing the
Senate. The old Republican boss of the Senate said, quote, "Whatever they
want to do is within their purview of the majority."
Another Republican newly in the minority of the Senate now said,
quote, "It`s not a big hit. We`re going to have the majority back in
It is true, come November and the general election, half of the seats
in the Senate are going to be up for grabs in districts that the
Republicans drew to their own liking back when they had totals control of
the state, so it`s going to be tough. It`s also true that the Wisconsin
legislature is not scheduled to meet again until January, which is after
those November elections.
So yes, sure, let the Democrats have the Senate for summer vacation.
They can throw some beach balls around and play ping-pong with the gavel.
It`s cool and we don`t care.
Do you want to see which Wisconsin Republican did not get that memo?
This guy, the guy who lost. State Senator Van Wanggaard of Racine who is
the senator who lost his seat to a Democrat in his recall election last
Mr. Wanggaard is not letting this go. First he called for a recount
which he got, at some expense for local taxpayers. Last week, that recount
showed him still losing by just over 800 votes. Still not conceding
Rather than concede, Senator Wanggaard said the recount had raised
questions about suspicious activity at the polls. And as all of this is
going on, Republicans in Wisconsin who have lost control of the state
Senate are not giving up control of the state Senate. Today, Mr. Wanggaard
said he might sue over the results of the recount. State law would allow
him to raise unlimited money while his lawsuit drags on, which, of course,
would make him the new wide end of the funnel for right wing cash pouring
in to state Republican coffers.
So, is that why Senator Wanggaard will not let this go, the money? Or
is it because it`s embarrassing for Wisconsin Republicans if Democrats have
the majority, even in the summer when Wisconsin Republicans say they`re
fine with that and nothing happens anyway?
Is it embarrassing for Senator Wanggaard himself to have lost? And if
so, then why it drag it out for longer and getting more attention? Why
keep flailing and then going on vacation somewhere without Internet?
Is it because Democrats might use their majority even out of session
to look into how Republicans drew these new districts in Wisconsin which
Republicans have tried to keep secret? Is it because Republicans might not
win back control in November like they say they will and then what? Blame
former Senator Wanggaard for their predicament. This one is a mystery.
Really, it is a mystery.
And the really interesting here and the thing to watch is that the
deadline for this senator to make up his mind is tomorrow. If he chooses
to sue, then his race stays undecided officially for now. We do not know
why Republicans in Wisconsin have not yet conceded control of the Senate.
It is more than a month since the election that says the Democrats now
should be in control of the Senate, but the Republicans just aren`t giving
It does suggest, however, that controlling that chamber for however
brief a span of time, might be worth something to somebody. The
Republicans keep saying, it`s not worth anything. We don`t care.
But then why aren`t you giving it up? Watch this space tomorrow.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow night.
Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a good
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