'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, July 12, 2012
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
Past transcripts by month
Guests: Christopher Rowland, Mudcat Saunders
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: We did learn on the offseason how to
put the uniforms on.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Very good.
SCHULTZ: We should be better this year.
MADDOW: Starts somewhere. I`ll check in with Mr. Brady and see if he
thinks that`s going to be enough.
SCHULTZ: All right.
MADDOW: All right. Thank you, Ed.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
The first time that Mitt Romney ran for office was in 1994. He ran
for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R-MASS), THEN-SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that
abortion should be safe and legal in the country. I have since the time my
mom took the position when she ran in 1970 as a U.S. Senate candidate. I
believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we
should sustain and support it.
Look, I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush. I`m not
trying to return to Reagan-Bush.
I want universal coverage. I want everyone in Massachusetts and this
country to have insurance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Despite trying his best to run to the center that year, to
appear to be a moderate, Mr. Romney even promised that he was to the left
of his opponent Ted Kennedy on the issue of gay rights in that election.
Despite that Herculean ideological stretching, Mr. Romney lost the
race badly to Senator Kennedy. It was not the culture war issues, those
social issues that are credited with having made the difference in that
election. The race didn`t end up being much about health insurance or even
whether or not Mitt Romney or Ted Kennedy were liberal or conservatives on
abortion rights or gay rights or gun rights or anything like that.
Observers of that race say Mitt Romney lost that badly. Look at that.
He lost by 17 points to Ted Kennedy in that race more because of this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
NARRATOR: Mitt Romney`s ads claim he created jobs, but what`s the
record? His firm bought a company in Holyoke and moved its headquarters to
Romney`s firm bought a company called SCM, fired all 350 workers.
Told some they could reapply at a 25 percent pay cut. But many who are
pregnant or older were denied jobs.
And Romney made $11 million in two years.
Mitt Romney, he`s misled us twice. With negative ads distorting
Senator Kennedy`s record and the phony claims about his own.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to say to Mitt Romney if you think
you can make such a good senator, come out here to Marion, Indiana, and see
what your company has done to these people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had no rights anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They cut the wages.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We no longer had insurance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Basically cut our throats.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to say to the people of
Massachusetts that if you think it can`t happen to you, think again --
because we thought it wouldn`t happen here either.
NARRATOR: Mitt Romney, "I don`t mean to be callous, but there are
people all over the world who would love a job flipping hamburgers in
Romney -- in business, he specialized in low wage jobs but made $11
million for himself in two years. Now, he favors policies to benefit the
wealthy at the expense of working families. Romney favors $100 billion tax
cut for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans and billions more in other
tax breaks for the rich.
Romney, trickle down economics and a millionaire`s tax cut.
Whose side is he on?
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Those are the ads that Ted Kennedy used against Mitt Romney
in 1994. Specifically those folks from Indiana, they had a whole series of
ads like the ones from Indiana, highlighting what Mitt Romney`s Bain
Capital did to the people who worked at some of these companies that Romney
and Bain personally got rich off of.
Ted Kennedy just devastated Mitt Romney in 1994 in that Senate race
with those ads. So Ted Kennedy went back to the Senate, after he won that.
Mitt Romney went back to Bain. And he did a stint at the Salt Lake City
And then when he decided he wanted to run again for public office, Mr.
Romney man in 2002 for Massachusetts governor. He ran against a Democratic
opponent Shannon O`Brien. And Shannon O`Brien -- no surprise, decided to
run against Mitt Romney in part by updating the same attacks that have been
so devastating against Romney eight years earlier in the Ted Kennedy Senate
And instead of the Ampad Indiana paper mill that Ted Kennedy used in
the ads against Mr. Romney in 1994, eight years later in 2002, Shannon
O`Brien decided to use the GST Steel Mill experience against Mr. Romney.
GST Steel Mill was a mill in operation since 1888 before Bain got
ahold of it. The end was the mill shut down, 750 jobs lost, the employees
did not get the severance pay or the health insurance they have been
promised. Their pension benefits got cut by hundreds of dollars a month.
On the pension thing specifically, the federal government had to pitch
in tens of millions of dollars to bail out the workers that Bain cut off
through a pension guarantee program.
But hey, Bain made money off it. Mitt Romney made money off it.
Shannon O`Brien hit Mitt Romney with that story in 2002.
Newt Gingrich hit Mitt Romney with that story this year. It was part
of that whole "King of Bain" thing that Newt Gingrich deployed against Mitt
Rick Perry even hit Mitt Romney with that last year.
President Obama`s campaign hits Mr. Romney with it, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They issued $125 million of bonds. And out of
that $125 million debt, they paid themselves almost $40 million.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like a vampire, who came in and sucked the life
out of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Every time Mitt Romney has been hit with political criticism
for that economic bomb that he and Bain Capital dropped on those steel
workers, in part leaving the taxpayers to clean up the mess, every time
he`s been hit by that, his response has been the same. The response is: I
wasn`t there. I didn`t do it.
Yes, Mr. Romney said he made the initial decisions about that company,
but, you can`t blame him for how it turned out because he was gone by the
time it blew up. He was gone from Bain after 1999. He went do go run the
He was gone from Bain after 1999 and the bankruptcy didn`t happen
until 2001. So you can`t make him answer if that bankruptcy. You can`t
make him answer for anything at Bain after 1999.
That`s what he`s been saying this year about the criticism. That was
the response to primary rivals hitting him with it last year.
That was also his response in 2002, when Shannon O`Brien used it
against him 10 years ago: I wasn`t there. I didn`t do it. I don`t have to
answer for anything at Bain after 1999. I left.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: You know at the time that plant closed I was at the Olympics,
and when I left Massachusetts to go run the Olympics and left my
organization, I was out there full time. As a matter of fact, as I recall,
you brought a challenge against me, and your party did, to say I wasn`t
qualified to be governor because I was in Utah.
Well, actually, you were right. I was in Utah full time. I had no
responsibility for management at Bain Capital. Our lawyer has pointed that
out to you. The executives at the steel company have pointed that out to
SHANNON O`BRIEN (D), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: You still haven`t
answered the question.
ROMNEY: You keep asking new questions.
O`BRIEN: I asked one.
ROMNEY: I`m trying to answer as quickly as I can.
O`BRIEN: I asked one question.
ROMNEY: And the answer is I was at the Olympics running the game.
That was a job I had. Therefore, I was not running Bain Capital, and
therefore not responsible for the actions of Bain Capital when I left.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I am not response for Bain Capital when I left, and I left in
Mr. Romney has made that same argument in response to criticism over a
whole lot of things that his company did. The "Washington Post" last month
ran this rather devastating story on Romney and Bain, investing in firms
that helped American companies shift jobs overseas.
Mr. Romney`s company investing in and even managing companies that
called themselves pioneers in outsourcing American jobs to other countries.
Again with the steel plant, Mr. Romney`s response was: I wasn`t there.
I didn`t do it. I don`t have to answer for anything at Bain after 1999. I
The Romney campaign even asked for a retraction of "The Washington
Post" story. They took a very high profile meeting with "The Washington
Post," saying that story is wrong. I wasn`t there. I didn`t do it. I
don`t have to answer for anything at Bain after 1999. I left.
Kind of sounds like a good defense, right? I mean, if the guy didn`t
work there when this stuff happened, how can he be held accountable for
what his company did after he left?
Well, it maybe should have been a sign when the "Washington Post" did
not retract its story about Mr. Romney and those outsourcing firms despite
the campaign`s very public demand.
Over the last few weeks, David Corn at "Mother Jones" magazine and
Josh Marshall at "Talking Points Memo" started reporting that the seemingly
airtight defense, this trap door that Mitt Romney has been jumping through
in every political contest he`s been in since Ted Kennedy beat him so 7
badly 18 years ago, using Mr. Romney`s business record. This escape hatch
he`s been using to evade criticism for some of the most politically
damaging damage that Bain wrecked on American workers and communities while
getting very rich themselves in the process, that defense of his, that "I
wasn`t there, I didn`t do it. I left in 1999" -- maybe that defense is not
Today, "The Boston Globe" leads with this story. Look. "Romney
stayed longer at Bain." Firm`s 2002 filings identify them as CEO, though
he said he left in 1999. According to the "Globe`s" reporting, SEC filings
show Mr. Romney listed as the sole stockholder, chairman of the board,
chief executive officer and chairman of the board, and president of the
president. Not just in 1999 when he says he left, but also in 2000, and
2001, and 2002.
In 2001 and 2002, he got paid six figures for being an executive of
the firm. During the time period in which the most potent political
attacks ever used against him have for years now been: I wasn`t there, I
didn`t do it. I don`t have to answer for this. I left.
It doesn`t seem like he left.
Today`s report in the "Boston Globe" shared the bylines of Callum
Borchers and Christopher Rowland.
Joining us now is Christopher Rowland. He`s the paper`s Washington
Mr. Rowland, thanks very much for being here. Congratulations on your
CHRISTOPHER ROWLAND, BOSTON GLOBE DC BUREAU CHIEF: Thank you. Thanks
for having me.
MADDOW: You know a lot more about the story and the documents on
which it`s based than I do. So, I have to ask if I got anything wrong
there. Is there anything I should correct?
ROWLAND: No. Basically the rough outlines are as you say, you know,
Mitt Romney has used his departure date of 1999 from Bain as his first line
of defense for a variety of attacks by the Obama administration and for
Democrats before that, for years. Really this has been his main talking
point when confronted with things like bankruptcies and layoffs and a lot
of the difficult things that Bain did over the years.
So what`s really interesting now, though, when you see in paper trail
an and the SEC documents that list him throughout a variety of documents as
president, CEO, chairman of Bain Capital and sole owner of a variety of
investment partner ships, including five that were created in 2002. So the
paper trail that they created over those three years really paints a
totally different picture of Mitt Romney`s involvement with the firm.
If you look at the paperwork alone, it shows that he was the man in
charge. That`s a big startling change from the way that they`ve described
it over the years. Now the key is that they -- he indeed did leave. He
was indeed in Salt Lake.
So, you know, to a certain extent, he`s legally in charge. I don`t
think that "The Globe" and other reporting is not saying he was in the
boardroom on a daily basis at Bain calling the shots. But certainly, his
records show that he was in charge. He had legal responsibility. He was
the man with oversight responsibility for people in the company.
MADDOW: Well, is it legal or -- I guess, more broadly, is it
considered kosher in business terms to be listed on SEC filings as the
firm`s sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive and
president while you`ve got partnership agreements. You have the entities
starting up new entities in business, but to actually have that person have
no role whatsoever in that firm? Is that legally sound?
ROWLAND: Well, certainly there`s a variety of experts and former SEC
commissioners and the people like that, and lawyers in this field who say
that it`s not entirely kosher. And these SEC documents do matter. They
are material to the operation of a variety of companies that are buying and
And one of the keys is Bain Capital is not a publicly traded company.
So it`s a little different than misleading investors about who your CEO is,
mom and pop on main street can`t buy stock in Bain Capital. But what it
does do is it paints a far different picture than was reported to be the
reality that, you know, that there was a different band of people running
that company. And so these documents are throughout SEC filings.
Some people have said that, and the Romney people suggest sort of on
background, although they haven`t come out and asserted this directly, that
it`s more of a technicality and legality and there was sort of a legacy
filings, but when you see five companies, you know, five investment
partnerships being created by Mitt Romney in 2002, brand new, it sort of
doesn`t sound like legacy filings or leftovers or boilerplate that just
happened to find itself way in there.
MADDOW: There`s been some discussion today about whether or not the
Romney folks were looking for a correction or a retraction on the article,
as I understand it there`s no correction or retraction forthcoming from
"The Globe". Their specific complaint, what they said is the article is
not accurate. Governor Romney left Bain Capital in February of 1999 to run
the Olympics and had no input on investments of the company after that
Let me just ask you whether or not you have reported anything either
way about whether or not he had direct investment or management of
companies after that point. It seems like that`s beside the point of what
it is that you documented today.
ROWLAND: Right. Our story was really limited to looking at the
discrepancies and the contradictions in this paperwork. So if you look at
what the SEC filings show that Bain on paper was calling Mitt Romney their
president is their leader and their chief executive after 1999, up until
On the other hand, they filed this financial disclosure report in the
most recent one and again in 2007 that he left Bain Capital in 1999, that
he actually retired. And so, it`s really difficult for most laymen and
most people in the political sphere as well to understand how both these
things can be true.
You know, how can you retire from a company in 1999 and then remain as
president and CEO and chairman? So, I think that`s a discrepancy that
we`re reporting and that`s really the crux of the story. And the Romney
people did ask for a correction. They`re not getting one.
I mean, they haven`t been table to show that any of the reporting was
inaccurate. They don`t like the take of the story, and they don`t like the
way it looks. And that`s been the difficulty for them.
One of the things that`s really interesting in our reporting that
we`ve uncovered is that in Mitt Romney himself in 2002, I think you alluded
to when he was -- the Democrats tried to get him off the ballot in
Massachusetts in 2002 by challenging his residency, and during the hearings
that challenged the residency, he successfully beat that allegation, but he
said that during his testimony that I took a leave of absence. So, even
his own frame of mind in 2002 as he looked back over the previous three
years was a leave of absence. It wasn`t retirement.
But now you fast forward 15 years and look at what they`re saying now
in the financial disclosure form, for example. It says retired. So
they`ve really sort of evolved to what they`ve said themselves and what the
candidate had said himself about his frame of mind during that time.
MADDOW: Christopher Rowland, the Washington bureau chief of "The
Boston Globe" -- thank you for helping us sort there this. And thanks for
your reporting on this. It`s nice to have you here. Thanks.
ROWLAND: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: It`s remarkable, that evolution. Isn`t it uncanny to the way
it always evolves that he gets credit for things that are seen as good and
he gets no responsibility for anything that`s seen as bad. It`s uncanny
the way that wins around.
All right, Mudcat Saunders is here tonight for the interview. I`m
really looking for that. And we`ve got a "rah-rah sis bomba" good news,
best new thing in the world today.
That`s all still ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: At this hour right now just outside of beautiful Jackson,
Wyoming, the Republican`s party presumptive presidential nominee this year
is kissing the ring of the last Republican vice president of the United
States. Finally, it is a long awaited passing of the torch from the last
Republican administration to the man they hope will lead the next one.
Can we go to the video tape of the big Romney-Cheney videotape in
Sorry, I`m being told there is no videotape of that event tonight in
Wyoming. Very sorry. The former vice president, Dick Cheney, is hosting
Mr. Romney tonight in Wyoming at an event that is closed to TV cameras, as
you see here. There will be no video evidence of Mitt Romney standing next
to Dick Cheney tonight.
Let me offer one possible reason for that. That right there, you see
it? Very small. That right there was Dick Cheney`s approval rating when
he left office back in 2009, a very impressive 13 percent. Impressive in
the sense you have to try to get an approval rating that low.
George Bush, despite his best efforts almost managed to get an
approval rating that low. But even he could not conquer Cheney territory.
That data right there I think goes a long way to explaining why tonight in
Wyoming is the first joint appearance by Mitt Romney with either George
Bush or Dick Cheney, and at that joint appearance -- no cameras.
I mean, it is awkward, right? The Bush years were bad years for the
country. No Republican wants to remind the country of what it was like the
last time we had a Republican in the White House.
But, you know, in one political way it is awkward. There is some
stuff about the Bush-Cheney years that was actually pretty good compared to
what Romney and the Republicans are offering right now.
Por ejemplo, Republicans in the era of George W. Bush actually did
some significant outreach to minority voters. You may recall Mr. Bush`s
2004 campaign manager Ken Mehlman going to the NAACP in 2005 during
President Bush`s second term, making a genuine effort to court African-
American votes. Mr. Mehlman apologized to the NAACP on behalf of the
Republican Party for the party`s history of playing racial politics in the
past in order to court white voters. Ken Mehlman said it was wrong for the
Republicans to have done that.
During his reelection campaign in 2004, President Bush did pretty
intensive outreach to the African-American community ahead of that vote,
with his African-American steering committee.
The Bush administration despite the many, many, many, many, many
faults did also make real attempts to reach out to the Hispanic community.
On policy, George W. Bush advocated for comprehensive immigration reform.
He reached out to Democrats like Ted Kennedy to try to fix the broken
immigration system in a bipartisan way. He failed, of course, but at least
he tried on that policy.
And on politics, the Bush team did so much outreach to the Hispanic
community that he actually managed to increase his share of the Hispanic
vote from 2000 to 2004 when he was dramatically less popular overall.
George W. Bush got 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004.
Mitt Romney on the other hands, in terms of policy, he`s trying to
appeal to the Hispanic community in 2012 by proposing his immigration
policy. He calls it self deportation.
He`s also pledging to veto the DREAM Act and he`s promising to follow
the lead of Arizona, of all places, for national immigration laws.
That sort of outreach has earned him an appeal with Hispanic voters
that is, oh, look at that, 40 points below President Obama. He`s even down
18 points from what George W. Bush did with Hispanic voters.
But the Romney campaign is trying to move that dial among Hispanic
voters. You want to know how? They just released this Spanish language TV
ad yesterday. It features Mitt Romney`s son Craig speaking Spanish. So,
How much fire power is the Romney campaign putting behind that ad?
How much money are they spending to air it? Reportedly, they are putting
up $10,000 for that ad buy in Raleigh, North Carolina -- $10,000 -- which
is 1 million cents.
Just for comparison. Here`s the amount the Romney campaign is putting
behind the latest Obama is a lying liar right now just in North Carolina.
So, yes, the Hispanic outreach ad, the on they`re spending $10,000 to
air, that will apparently be coming to a local cable access channel near
you, but probably not at prime time.
Beyond his panic outreach, how is the Republican side doing on
African-American voter outreach? How are they carrying on the George W.
Bush legacy there?
Well, earlier this year, the RNC promised a big new voter outreach
effort to court African-American voters. The Republican Party said they
were going to introduce a brand new Web site that supposed to, quote, "go
live in the next two weeks," featuring testimonials from the party`s most
prominent black elected officials, including Florida Congressman Allen West
and South Carolina Congressman Tim Scott.
In the wake of Mitt Romney`s not so excellent adventure at the NAACP
yesterday, the Web site Talking Points Memo decided to see whatever became
of the planned RNC outreach program. Quoting, TPM, the site cannot be
ready found on the GOP`s current web page.
An official told TPM that the Republican Party doesn`t currently have
an African-American outreach Web site, raising the specter that Republican
Party chairman Reince Priebus, the site he envisions never came to
fruition, or maybe it`s since been taken down, and when it was up, nobody
noticed it? Yes, they`re right. There`s nothing there.
They said in April, wait two weeks, it will be there. It will be
awesome. Now, it`s July. There`s nothing there. You know, give him
The Republican Party actually knows their base. That`s where they are
focusing their voter outreach right now right this second it`s in Wyoming,
at a country club with a certain someone who once shot a guy in the face
but who now has a brand new heart.
They know who they are. They just don`t really want to talk about it
that much. Nor do they want you to see any moving pictures of it.
MADDOW: There is an event that happens every few years that is
totally unifying in a rah rah rah sis bomba cheer at the television kind of
way. It`s a time when Americans don`t cheer against one another at all.
We all cheer in the same direction. We all pull in the same direction.
And that day came unexpectedly early this year. And its impact is
heartwarming in a really, really angry bipartisan way. That`s the best new
thing in the world. And that is straight ahead.
MADDOW: The Mitt Romney presidential campaign picked today as the day
to launch a new ad campaign essentially calling President Obama a liar.
Everybody expects harsh language in campaigns on all sides. But this is
the Romney campaign really sticking their necks out. They`re calling the
president a liar for criticizing Mr. Romney for things done by his old
company, Bain Capital.
The grounds on which they`re calling the president a liar is they`re
saying those things happened after 1999, which is when Mitt Romney has been
saying he left Bain Capital.
Here`s the bad timing part: unfortunately for the Romney campaign,
they decided to launch their new ad on this today, on the same day "The
Boston Globe" published a blockbuster saying SEC shows Mitt Romney still
owned Bain Capital well past 1999 no matter what he says.
So, this is bad timing for Mitt Romney, calling the president a liar
for criticizing him about Bain after 1999, on the same day "The Globe"
says, hey, Mitt Romney was still at Bain after 1999.
So, who is the liar? And Romney campaign already made this big
expensive ad buy for the liar ad in all these hotly contested crucial swing
states. Bad timing, right?
If you look at the poll map of swing states this year, it looks very
much like it did in 2008. We`ve been talking about that on the show
recently. But there are a few wild cards because there are a bunch of
states that Barack Obama won in 2008, that not only did John Kerry lose,
but nobody thought any Democrat would have a chance of winning them.
Barack Obama won Indiana. He won North Carolina. He won Colorado and
Nevada, and he won Virginia, which no Democrat had won in a presidential
race since 1964. Not even Bill Clinton either time. But Barack Obama won
Virginia and he won by a lot.
Even though before 2008 his presidential politics were so very red for
a very long time, Virginia as a place overall had been sort of getting
bluer and bluer. Democrats had control of the state Senate. They had
ousted Republican George "macaca" Allen from the U.S. Senate in 2006 and
replaced him with a Democrat named Jim Webb. They have a really popular
Democratic governor named Mark Warner, Tim Kaine.
The Democratic part of the state, particularly the suburbs around D.C.
were growing and becoming more influential in the state. If Virginia was
not exactly cobalt blue by the time of the Obama election, it was trending
to a bluey shade of purple.
Barack Obama wins it really big in 2008. And then, since then,
Virginia has been through kind of a big reversal -- the electoral
equivalent of whiplash.
In 2009 Virginia elected an anti-abortion activist governor, Bob
McDonnell -- a guy who drop what he was doing in the mid-30s so he could go
to televangelist Pat Robinson`s Regent University. There, he wrote his
graduate thesis on how government should design public policy to punish
cohabitators, homosexuals and fornicators.
Hey, that`s me.
When Bob McDonnell got himself in to the Virginia state assembly, he
spent his time there introducing or cosponsoring 35 separate anti-abortion
bills. And in 2009, Virginia elected him governor.
The same year, in 2009, Virginia picked this guy as governor, Ken
Cuccinelli. He spent his first years in office suing the federal
government over health reform. How did that work out?
Ken Cuccinelli also designed a new and more modest version of
Virginia`s official state seal, less chest, if you know what I mean.
Then, Virginia elected a legislature that passed a bill requiring a
medically unnecessary vaginal probe ultrasound for any woman trying to get
an abortion in Virginia -- a forced vaginal probe ultrasound. And that is
how Governor Bob McDonnell, who used to be a leading contender for vice
president, became known coast to coast as governor ultrasound. And now
nobody thinks he`s going to be vice president of anything.
At the last minute, they did change the law so it`s not technically a
forced vaginal ultrasound specifically, but it is still forced, and they
made sure that you have to pay for it. The Virginia state government,
under Republican controlled mandates that you have to have a medically
unnecessary ultrasound and you have to pay for it.
If you can`t afford your state mandated ultrasound, Virginia wrote up
a list of places where you can get one for free. And they`re all those
anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, which are less real medical clinics
and more places where anti-abortion activists stand ready to give you a
lecture, and free scary literature along with maybe your free ultrasound.
Under this new Republican governor in Virginia, politics there have
gone off the rails. Virginia Republicans have become a liability for even
the national Republican Party. I mean, instead of possibly sharing the
spotlight with Mitt Romney at the convention this summer, governor
ultrasound has been assigned to chair the platform committee, which means
you can find him in the back by the deflated balloons and the cup cakes
nobody wanted with everybody in him worrying that he`s putting something in
there about a medically mandated procedure.
But Virginia is the state that less than four years ago went for
Barack Obama, decisively, along with a lot of other blue surprises. The
Obama win was not a landslide exactly, but coast to coast, the country did
kind of fell in love with him, right? It`s true that new presidents come
with high approval ratings. That`s part of winning. But Mr. Obama`s
approval ratings after he got elected were roughly in the quadruple digits,
right? Just impossible numbers.
That was this country in 2008. And then two years later, in 2010, we
saw the biggest Republican landslide in a lifetime -- a red tide in
Congress in the midterms and in the state capitals across the nation.
Since then Republicans have been governing as though they have a mandate
for their agenda.
This has been a really radical couple of years under Republican
governance since the 2010 election. You see that with the Republicans this
week holding their 33rd pointless, symbolic vote to repeal health care
reform. You see it with their parade of bills on contraception and
abortion. You see it in states where Republicans are in control, like
Virginia, which is becoming microcosm for those same debates.
Blue in 2008, deep red ever since, and a deep form of red that seems
way more conservative than the state ever looked before.
Republicans have been governing as though we are a very right wing
country made up of very right wing states. And we`re not. Not at the
federal level. And not in places like Virginia, not if recent history is
The same Virginia Democratic strategist who ran the Jim Webb for
Senate candidate that ousted macaca George Allen, same guy who got Mark
Warner elected governor, is now running a campaign against the number two
Republican in the House of Representatives, Virginia Congressman Eric
Joining us for the interview is my friend Mudcat Saunders. He`s a
Democratic political strategist from Virginia. He`s working on the
congressional campaign right now of Democratic Wayne Powell, who`s up
against Eric Cantor.
It`s great to see you, Mudcat. Thank you for being here.
MUDCAT SAUNDERS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Wonderful seeing you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Is that a fair description of what happened in Virginia since
Republicans took over?
SAUNDERS: Well, the ground is different now. It`s -- you`re talking
about Bob McDonnell law. I call it sodomy Bob.
He -- the story in 2003, he was in the general assembly, and he put in
his bill where if you were a judge, you had to swear on oath like Boy Scout
honor that you never committed sodomy. Well, a reporter from (INAUDIBLE)
"Daily Press" asked him if he had ever committed sodomy, and he went -- I
Now, I`ve got a bad memory. I forgot where my car keys were plenty of
times, and sometimes I forgot where my car was. But there`s certain things
that you don`t ever forget.
MADDOW: Do you think that Eric Cantor is -- obviously you wouldn`t be
working on this campaign of Wayne Powell if you didn`t think that Eric
Cantor was beatable? Do you think that Eric Cantor is beatable any year or
do you think year in this Virginia in particular, he`s particularly
SAUNDERS: Of course, he`s vulnerable, because you got the Organizing
for Americans getting out for Democrats. See, that was the difference
between the 2008 and 2010 cycle, the Organizing for America. You also have
Mike Henry with Tim Kaine`s campaign, who`s going to be getting out to
Democrats. So, that`s what we intend to do.
We intend to take a battle to Eric Cantor. It`s time we fight these
guys. We`re going to fight him. We`re going to tell the truth about him.
And that is that he`s bought and paid for.
The first thing I told the campaign, maybe I`ve been in the hills too
long. But I`ll call him a bought and paid for where I came. But I`ll say
it a different way, he`s bought and paid for crook is what he is. And for
those with the Cantor campaign listening, it`s C-R-O-O-K, crook.
And this guy -- the bad guys who have given him money, and we`ve --
everybody in America knows the truth. Everybody in seventh district knows
the truth. We`re now in the midst of a coin operated government. And he`s
MADDOW: When you say he`s a crook, when you say that he`s a thing you
are alluding to what you said before, I thank you for not saying on my TV
show -- you mean that he is taking money for votes? What are you accusing
SAUNDERS: Well, of course he is. I mean, if you look at Sheldon
Adelson, he gave $5 million to the Young Guns PAC. Of course, I don`t know
what the Young Guns PAC is all about anyway, what that crap is.
I mean, it should be called the middle age roadblock, because that`s
what they`re doing. I mean, he`s running the campaign on, you know, I`m in
I mean, America doesn`t want people in the way now, especially the
seven districts. You know, and with the do nothing Congress that is Eric
Cantor`s fault. I mean, we need to fight this guy.
MADDOW: What do you think -- when you talk to people in the district
and you`re promoting you`re candidate against Eric Cantor -- obviously,
Eric Cantor has great name recognition. You think his negatives are high
and people don`t like him very much.
But what are the issues on which a Democrat can compete with a
Republican that famous and that well-funded?
SAUNDERS: Well, it`s simple. I have a pretty horse. I hope you have
him on soon. His name is Wayne Powell. He`s a former military -- retired
military intelligence officer.
And his politics are simple. He`s an expanded Jacksonian democracy.
He believes in two principles: social justice for all people. That
includes gays and women. We`re going to shout that from the rooftops. And
also economic fairness for all people, and that includes the hardworking
I mean, it`s ridiculous. I mean, Eric Cantor -- and we`re going to do
something that we do in Virginia, we`re going to wave the flag. I mean,
this idea of the Republicans stealing the flag from us, here is one of the
most unpatriotic human beings who ever walked in the commonwealth.
And we don`t want to just beat him. We want to ruin him. He shorted
U.S. treasury bonds. Can you -- he bet against the United States of
America while he was majority leader from his own portfolio, you know, from
his own financial portfolio.
And you know, it`s a good thing he wasn`t a baseball player. I mean
they threw Pete Rose out of baseball because he bats on his own team. Eric
Cantor bets against, you know, against his team and they don`t do anything.
MADDOW: Mudcat Saunders, Virginia Democratic political strategist,
justly famous as being very bare-knuckled, now working on the campaign of
Eric Cantor`s Democratic challenger Wayne Powell -- Mudcat, it`s good to
see you here.
SAUNDERS: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks for being here.
All right. Best new thing in the world today still ahead.
MADDOW: This is what the Republicans` jobs, jobs, jobs agenda looks
like, by which I mean the abortion agenda.
This is what the Republicans did with their big new majority after the
2010 election. Republicans` jobs, jobs, jobortion agenda is so fast
they`re focusing on the area of legislation so intently that it kind of
seems like there should be a monthly newsletter for following this sort of
Actually, there kind of is, if you count the Guttmacher Institute`s
exhaustive monthly updates on what Republicans are trying to do to abortion
rights right now. With such a gigantic body of work to draw from because
they`re working on it so intently, you can`t actually pull out and identify
trends in current anti-abortion law-making. There`s categories and
One of the trends since 2010 and maybe even a few years earlier is a
20-week ban on abortion. It started in 2010 in the great state of
The Republican Governor Dave Heineman signed a law restricting when
women are allowed to get an abortion in the state, can`t have them after
the 20th week of pregnancy in Nebraska. Since then, similar laws have been
enacted in eight other states, including three of them that just passed the
ban into law this year.
One important thing to know on these 20-week bans on abortion, about
when you`re allowed to get an abortion, is that these bans are totally
unconstitutional. According to Roe versus Wade, according to the Supreme
Court, states don`t get to ban abortions before what`s called viability.
In the two years that these bans have been trending in the very red states,
there hasn`t been much of an argument on that point. People who are doing
this know it`s unconstitutional. Many of the people pushing for this bans
admit that they`re unconstitutional.
One anti-abortion group that wrote sort of model legislation for these
things is on the record practically begging to be sued, begging for a court
challenge, because they think if they get challenged on this, they might
end up in court in a way that could have them overturning Roe versus Wade.
They told "Politico" last year, quote, "this is all an explosion,
which we think if presented to the court, they would recognize the rights
of the fetus. I was surprised it wasn`t challenged, and I would like to
They`re begging for this. They`re begging for a court challenge.
Anti-abortion activists and lawmakers all over the country are inviting a
court challenge with this abortion bans that are obviously
unconstitutional. And it`s been sort of a win-win situation for them. If
they go to court, they think they`ll get their chance to overthrow Roe
versus Wade and ban abortion all together. That`s what they most want.
But in the meantime, while they`re not being sued they get the next
best thing. They get a partial ban on abortion, a ban on some abortions
which are supposed to be constitutionally protected. They get to enforce
these bans even though everybody knows they are constitutional.
They have been able to end abortion rights in this country. But right
now, six states are enforcing with impunity laws that have rolled back
abortion rights that are protected by Roe versus Wade, that are protected
by the Constitution. And another three states have new bans like this, new
20-week bans that have not yet taken effect.
Back in April, Arizona`s Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed the
most restricted one of these bans yet. It actually bans abortions a little
earlier than the rest of the 20-week bans. But it uses the same reasoning
in doing so. It is set to go into effect in Arizona at the beginning of
One by one, in state after state, these laws have been allowed to take
effect and thereby chip away at abortion rights established in 1973 by Roe
versus Wade. But as of today, there`s reason to believe that`s not going
to be allowed to happen anymore. This is a landmark decision.
Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU filed a
lawsuit. They decided to sue against the state of Arizona over its new
ban, asking a federal judge to strike down that law is unconstitutional and
in the meantime, to block it from taking effect in three weeks, which is
the time it scheduled to go into effect.
They`re arguing that the ban violates the Supreme Court`s precedent
which grants abortion rights until viability and stands to hurt woman
seeking abortions because of health complications. Quote, "It presents
positions with an untenable choice, to face criminal prosecution for
continuing to provide abortion care and accordance with their best medical
judgment, or to stop providing the critical care their patients need.
This is the first time one of these new bans has been challenged in
court. We have winged (ph) on this show openly about the fact that these
bans weren`t being challenged before. Now, they`re being challenged. This
is the first time since the 20-week ban came in fashion among the new
Republican majority that it`s not just been allowed to become law.
The anti-abortion forces behind these bans now stand to get that
Supreme Court battle they have been looking for. But if they lose, if the
courts decide to uphold Roe versus Wade and strike down Arizona`s ban on
certain abortions, the seven states that are already enforcing bans might
have to stop doing so.
This one trend in the Republican Party`s 2010 political capital
campaign might be over.
MADDOW: The best new thing in the world today is the glue that nets
us all together, by which of course I mean -- anger. Just watch Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid, the mildest mannered, softest-spoken man on
Capitol Hill. Watch him get the maddest you over ever going to see him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I hope that I`m not --
because I`m from the same things that over there (INAUDIBLE) -- but I am
so upset. I got carried away with my --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rhetoric.
REID: Rhetoric. Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP
MADDOW: In Harry Reid`s world, that is the equivalent of hog smash.
What makes him so angry he cannot come up with the word rhetoric?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REID: I am so upset that I think the Olympic Committee should be
ashamed of themselves. I think they should be embarrassed. I think they
should take all of the uniforms, put them in the big pile and burn them and
start all over again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Harry Reid is he`s mad at the U.S. Olympic team`s uniforms.
So mad he wants to burn them. Specifically the uniforms the U.S. team will
be wearing at the opening ceremonies in London later this month. It`s not
because he thinks they`re ugly, which many people justly think they are.
But, you know, U.S. Olympic team uniforms have been ugly before. It`s
not because they have tacky corporate logos on them advertising the company
that designed them. Corporate logos on uniforms are also sadly nothing
new. Remember those roots hats everybody was wearing in 2002? I`m talking
to you, senior producer Ilan Riley (ph). I`ve seen you wear it.
The reason he`s upset is that U.S. Olympic teams uniforms are made in
China. And anger over that is bringing America together in a heartwarming
way. Two people who agree on almost nothing ever, House Speaker John
Boehner and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, they agree on this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: They`re so excellent, it`s all so
beautiful and they should be wearing uniforms that are made in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Made in America. And look at the look on John Boehner`s face
as a reporter asked him about it. Look at it in super slow-mo.
You know what he said to reporters?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: You think they would know
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Everybody. People you like, people you hate, people who are
smart, people who are stupid, everybody hates these uniforms.
Take me for example. I don`t know what you think about me, but I
agree with John Boehner. I hereby announce that I hate that U.S. Olympic
team`s opening ceremony uniforms are made in China, which puts me for maybe
the first time ever in the same ideological camp as "FOX & Friends. Today,
I am one of those friends.
(BEGIN VDIEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a look at a new Ralph Lauren ad out this
morning which shows some of our Olympic athletes in the Olympic uniforms,
of course, are going to be held in the U.K. It has nothing to do with
France. Here`s the American flag, these Americans dressed in these outfits
with berets on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this a new American trend now, are we going
to be seeing berets? And you have to pronounce it that way, too, because
that`s the French way. By the way, those jackets are very pricey, too. So
I`m not sure people are going to be snapping those up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For women, the blazer $600. For men like that guy
right there, it is $800. And by the way, all of those clothes are made in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, I`m in my happy place. I`m in comfort zone, being
annoyed by "FOX & Friends" and finding them inane while they`re going about
playing French music and the berets and, you know, with all this stuff,
then they get to the end, made in China. I`m like, yes, right, made in
China. I`m with you guys!
Those three words following the phrase American uniforms created a
soft pile of blankets which I want to snuggle up with "FOX & Friends."
Unity, America, we have finally been brought together by the Olympics and
it came early --best new thing in the world today.
Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell -- thanks
for being with us.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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