'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, September 20th, 2012
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
September 20, 2012
Guests: Veronica Degraffenreid, Barney Frank
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Good evening, Ed. Thank you, my friend. I have to
ask you about that clip you just played from the debate in Boston.
ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC: Sure.
MADDOW: What is wrong with Elizabeth Warren being Native American?
SCHULTZ: There`s nothing wrong with that. That`s why I asked, you know,
why would he go down that road? It`s a cheap shot. Do people in
Massachusetts, or anywhere in this country, really care about ethnicity now
when it comes to public service? I mean, I think that it was just a
marquee mistake on his part to go down that road.
MADDOW: It is amazing to me. You know, it didn`t move the polls when he
was doing it before and it ultimately comes down to him saying, she
shouldn`t be a senator because she`s Native American.
SCHULTZ: How do you think she handled the answer? I thought it was
MADDOW: I mean, I think she has the moral high ground on this. I think if
I were her, I would show more outrage. I think that what she explained is
sort of un-controvertible but he is proving to try -- he is trying to make
it an issue. I find it remarkable. I don`t understand why it`s sort of
not more of a scandal.
SCHULTZ: Well, from the clips I saw, I think she showed tremendous poise
tonight. This was her first real debate on the big stage at this level in
politics. Rachel, thanks.
MADDOW: Thank, man. Appreciate it.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
I will confess to being slightly more allergic to reporting on new polls
than the average person who works in cable news. Generally, I think that
polls are made to seem more important than they are, most days. In terms
of predictive value for elections that are sometimes really far away.
Right? Far away in time.
But at this point in the election, when we are less than 50 days out and
the playing field has narrowed for the presidency, too few enough states
that you do not need two full hands to count them, now, now is the time to
go ahead and look. Now is the time to actually be following these day-by-
This week earlier on the show we showed you a version of this map. The
swing states and the maybe swing states in the election along with what the
current polling shows us about who is winning. We updated these numbers
today. But, with regard to who is ahead in these swing states and where,
not much has changed. Mitt Romney still leads in one of these nine states.
In New Hampshire.
And if you look at North Carolina, you can see governor Romney had been
ahead in North Carolina, but the latest poll out of North Carolina now
shows the North Carolina race to be tied 46-46.
Here`s the other number you need to know about North Carolina right now.
It is that one, 30,000. That`s the number of voters who are on the North
Carolina voting rolls that a self-appointed, supposedly nonpartisan tea
party outfit has announced should be stripped from the rolls, 30,000
The tea party group says 30,000 need to be dropped off the North Carolina
voting rolls because this group, this tea party group has determined that
those 30,000 voters are all dead people. And the group is, therefore,
challenging those voter registrations now in North Carolina with the
election less than 50 days away.
Couple of weeks ago this group calling itself the voter integrity project
in North Carolina delivered a list of almost 30,000 names to that state`s
board of elections. The group`s leader said that 90 percent of the names
on the list should be taken off the rolls for sure and handed those names
to the election officials.
Now, they got tons of dramatic great press when they did that. Here`s one
local TV station in North Carolina reporting because this group told them
so that these 30,000 North Carolina voters on this list are dead. They say
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Volunteers focused on finding dead voters
say they have proof of the widespread problem across the state. Members
from the voter integrity project cross referenced date to from the public
health department with registered voters. Of the state`s six million
voters, 30,000 are dead? And while it`s a small percentage, the group`s
executive director says it has significant implications.
JAY DELANCY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VOTER INTEGRITY PROJECT: Thirty thousand
is a lot of people, considering the last presidential election was won by
14,000 or close to 15,000. So yes, you look at it as a percentage, you go
so what, this amount of number. But that`s a lot of people on the roll,
and any of them could have their identity stolen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The group says it doesn`t know how many of
the 30,000 names were actually used to vote illegally yet. Next step,
volunteers will match names with voting records.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Doesn`t know how many of those names were used to vote illegally
yet. Of the state`s six million voters, 30,000 are dead. That`s the press
on the Voter Integrity Project in the swing state of North Carolina.
But guess what? Those 30,000 people are not all dead, even if this Tea
Party affiliated Voter Integrity Project says they are. We know these
people aren`t dead because North Carolina officials started the laborious
process of reviewing this list of allegedly dead voters last week. They
whittled the list down to 5,000 names that matched up enough for a second
look and started sending out letters to those voters. And the results so
far have been spectacular.
Look at this. One voter, Carolyn Perry has been voting in North Carolina
since 1967. This month, she got a letter from her county board of
elections saying she might not be qualified to vote anymore on account of
she might be dead.
She says, quote, "my initial reaction, I was mad as hell." Yes.
Understandably. Carolyn Perry`s county is sending these "you might be
dead" letters to 148 voters because of this kick the people off the voting
rolls process that was started by a North Carolina tea party group. They
sent letters to these voters alleging they are dead and actually already 42
of the people on the list have raised their living hands and said, hold on
there, hold on there a minute, now, I do not appear to be dead, at least
when I look at myself in the mirror.
So far, North Carolina elections officials say they have found not a single
instance, not one, of anybody on the tea party group`s challenge list who
has voted when they were not supposed to vote. So the press is saying,
because this tea party group says so, that 30,000 of the voters in North
Carolina, 30,000 of the votes in North Carolina were maybe cast in dead
people`s names. Right? 30,000, massive fraud. The real number, at least
so far, is zero.
As for Carolyn Perry, she told the local press her theory on why she got
challenged. She said, quote, "I`m a senior, and I`m African-American and
I`m not registered in the same party they are most likely." Carolyn Perry
I should tell you is a Democrat.
So, North Carolina started out with challenges to 30,000 registered voters.
At last report, those challenges have revealed goose egg for an actual
problem. Zero actual problem voters.
Today, North Carolina officials told us they have put the suspect names
through a rigorous series of checks, comparing the names to property
records and birth registries and voter histories and death certificates.
They have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours searching and re-searching
and they tell us this. Quote, "we have found not any instance -- we have
not found any instances of voter fraud."
But the folks in North Carolina also told us this. They told us that
election officials in the state essentially have two main responsibilities.
The first responsibility is to make sure the voter rolls are correct. It
is their civic duty, it`s their charge to keep the rolls up to date. And
that is why, for instance, North Carolina removed several tens of thousands
of voters from the rolls every year because those voters are, in fact,
dead. Those names get cleared from the rolls regularly as a matter of
But the election board`s second responsibility is to make sure the
elections work right. For the people who are on the rolls, starting with
preventing eligible voters who ought to be able to vote without a problem
from being blocked from doing that. The work of an elections board has
real material consequences to all of us. If they do their job well, if
they`re able to devote sufficient time and resources to the process of
organizing an election, then the lines aren`t too long and there are not
frustrations about getting polling places open, and machines working, and
stuff proceeding in a way that it is well-organized that enough people are
not dissuaded from voting by the difficulty of trying to vote, itself, that
the election outcome is affected by the difficulty of voting.
Then maybe the smooth running of the process of voting doesn`t make a huge
difference in the outcome in states when the result is a blowout. But in
2008, as you heard the tea party guy say, the election in North Carolina
was decided by a teeny, teeny, teeny, tiny margin of 14,000 votes. And
with the margin that slim, and remember, the polls right now in North
Carolina are straight up, a straight-up tie, with a margin that tight,
anything that makes it harder to vote in North Carolina could change the
outcome in North Carolina and therefore change the outcome of the
Anything that makes it harder, either because people are told they are dead
when they are dead when they not and then they have to prove otherwise, or
the process of lots of people having to go through that process slows
everything down for everybody else, or because the effort and attention
toward running the election has been diverted right, so the elections board
had to spend hundreds of man hours and lots of their finite resources on a
giant make work wild bull pokey chase instead preparing for the election.
Any of that could affect the election, right?
So, who is doing this? Who is essentially draining the resources of North
Carolina election officials in the weeks before the elections making them
chase this wild goose chase instead of doing their work? Who`s doing this?
At this really critical time, when we need election workers to do their
work, who`s doing it? The Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina
traces its roots back to the same vote challenging machine that grew out of
a tea party chapter in Houston, Texas. True the vote. Right?
And this North Carolina version of the tea party group, true the vote, is
following the exact same playbook that they are following in other states.
We have talked about it in swing state Ohio, recently, for example, where
the true the vote, tea party Voter Integrity Project thing there, claims to
have found over 700,000 voters in Ohio who they say should be stripped from
the voter rolls.
Now, before the November election. Similar tea party groups are doing the
same thing, reportedly in parts of California and Illinois and in Arizona.
But here is a thing to know about them. In terms of who they are and how
they represent themselves.
This voter integrity project in North Carolina, the one that said Carolyn
Perry is dead and needs her name stripped off the voter rolls when she is
very much alive and has been voting in that state for 45 years? This Voter
Integrity Project that has submitted the names of 30,000 other North
Carolina voters that they want stripped of their ability to vote? This
group is characterized in the press in North Carolina as a nonpartisan non-
profit. And you can see why the press says that, because, look, on the
Voter Integrity Project`s own Web site, quote, "the voter integrity
project, VIP, is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization.
We looked up this nonpartisan, non-profit Voter Integrity Project today on
the North Carolina secretary of state`s Web site, that`s where the state
keeps the records on who is a non-profit organization in the state. And
look at what we found.
This is the line for the voter integrity project. They filed their papers
on June 26th. OK. So they are new. But see where it says B-U-S? That B-
U-S is not short for auto bus. It is short for business. They`re not
listed as a non-profit. They are a business. We called the state to make
sure we were not misreading this and they said, no, you are reading that
This voter integrity project group, which calls itself a non-profit, and
which is trying to get 30,000 North Carolina voters stripped off the rolls,
they are calling themselves a non-profit but they are actually a business.
Here are the incorporation papers for the Voter Integrity Project complete
with 200 shares of common stock currently valued at nothing. After we
asked the Voter Integrity Project why they described themselves to the
state as a business, but they described themselves to the public as a non-
profit, they said it was an error. They said it was a mistake. And then
they took the word "non-profit" off their materials after we asked them
The reason it matters how this tea party group, this Voter Integrity
Project, describes itself. And in contrast what it is, as opposed to how
it describes itself, the reason it`s important is that with non-profits,
their tax returns are public. So the law says you, ordinary you, can see
any nonprofit`s tax returns. You can discover who is funding them, you can
discover how they are spending their money, you can discover who is in
charge and what exactly they are up to as they try to kick 30,000 North
Carolina voters off the voter rolls this soon before the election.
Now, that we know they`re not a nonprofit, now that we know they are filed
as a business despite what they maintain to the state, we may never know
exactly what they are up to and who`s funding them. Not now. Not even
next year. Not even after the election. Sometime later next year, right?
When, frankly, it might be too late anyway to understand why they did what
Joining us now is Veronica Degraffenreid from North Carolina state board of
Miss Degraffenried, thank you so much for your time tonight for helping us
VERONICA DEGRAFFENREID, NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF ELECTIONS: Absolutely.
Good evening, Rachel.
MADDOW: Good evening. I know that the issue of challenging votes and
voter registration obviously comes with a lot of political and partisan
implications. I also understand that your job is the epitome of
nonpartisan, I want to make that clear from the outset. I know you
approach this from a totally nonpartisan perspective.
But, I have to ask you if this has happened before. In the past have there
been outside groups challenging tens of thousands of voter registrations in
your state this close to an election?
DEGRAFFENREID: No. This is a novel approach. Certainly most voter
challenges deal with residency issues and we have never had a group come in
before and challenge these number of voters at one time.
MADDOW: Obviously, you have to respond to these challenges now, because
they have been put forth to your office. What else would you and your
office be doing if you were not devoting these resources and this time to
poring over the tens of thousands of records? I mean, what is your usual
work of your election`s board in a big, national, contested election
DEGRAFFENREID: Well, I mean, obviously we are getting ready for the
election. And we are still doing that. I mean, our county boards of
elections, we have 100 counties in North Carolina. Absolutely, are getting
absentee ballots out. People are already voting in North Carolina. We are
sending out ballots out to our military and our overseas citizens. We will
continue to do that.
Also, we are training our poll workers and just making sure that on
Election Day and early voting is going to be starting in a couple weeks, so
there are things we have to do. We will continue to do those things.
However, this process has used a lot of our resources, a lot of our time,
but when we are presented with challenges to voters in North Carolina, we
take that seriously. I think you mentioned at the start of your program
that we have a dual responsibility and that is to ensure that anyone who is
not eligible and qualified to vote, that they`re removed. But, we also
need to ensure that people who are qualified remain a registered voter and
that they are not improperly disenfranchised.
MADDOW: I think that`s the part of this that seems so important to me, and
it seems like it`s of national significance. As you`re saying, you have
this dual responsibility for ensuring the smooth running in the elections
and also maintaining these voter rolls. But obviously, you and every other
agency in the country has finite resources and when you`re asked to so
dramatically upscale how you are dealing with one part of your
responsibilities, you have to worry if the other parts of your
responsibilities are not suffering.
Are you able to tap any new resources from the state or any additional
resources to help you get your work done because of this extra work that`s
been put on you?
DEGRAFFENREID: Unfortunately, not. We have not. We have been dealing
with this, you know, for a couple of months now. So we think we are in
pretty good shape and we are at the point that we are kind of winding down
the research because what we found is that although the voter integrity
project used our statewide department of health and human services records
or vital records, they didn`t have all of the necessary data they need to
make a decision as to whether or not someone was, in fact, deceased. And
we have that information.
Our counties have been poring through their records and to the extent that
they could find that someone or confirm that someone is deceased, I mean,
they are removing. They have removed those voters. So at this point we
have done the research. We haven`t identified anyone to the extent that
they, you know, were in fact deceased and still on the voter rolls. They
then removed. But we really haven`t identified any situation where a voter
or anyone has voted in the name of a person who appears to be deceased.
MADDOW: There`s never --
DEGRAFFENREID: So we are moving full --
MADDOW: Go ahead, ma`am. I`m sorry.
DEGRAFFENREID: That`s OK. We`re just moving ahead with getting ready for
MADDOW: I`m sorry to have interrupted you there. I just was going to
clarify there, has there ever been a known case in North Carolina of
somebody using a dead person`s name to cast a ballot?
DEGRAFFENREID: I`m sure over the years, I mean, that has happened, but it
has not happened on any widespread basis. And so what we found as part of
this process, although we have spent, you know, a lot of hours, a lot of
manpower, doing the research and the investigation, what this has proven is
that the North Carolina voter rolls are sound and so it should provide
North Carolina citizens with a high degree of confidence that when they go
to the polls and they cast their ballot, I mean, they`re doing so in a
system that has a lot of integrity, to be quite frank.
So, yes, we spent the time. We have committed ourselves. We have done the
effort. But again, the outcome, or the outtake from this is that the North
Carolina voter rolls are sound. We are not finding any widespread evidence
that anyone is using a deceased person`s name to vote in North Carolina.
Now, out of the potential 30,000, and it`s really not 30,000 people who
were found on the voter rolls. Many of those, you know, truly were not
deceased and to the extent that there were some who may have voted after it
appeared that they voted after they died, many of those were people who
cast absentee ballots. And so, although their voter history date is the
date of the election, they cast their ballot and then they died within days
or, you know, weeks of the actual Election Day.
MADDOW: Veronica Degraffenreid from North Carolina state board of
elections. Thank you for your time tonight. And I`m sorry that you have
had all this extra work dumped on you for basically naught in your state.
Good luck preparing for the election, ma`am. I appreciate your time.
DEGRAFFENREID: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. As a postscript, I want to add that the gentleman from
the voter integrity project in North Carolina, the guy you saw in the news
clip earlier told us today his group is not targeting voters by race or
party affiliation. And says his group apologized and feels bad about
getting some of the names wrong on the list of people they said were dead
who aren`t dead.
All right. The Massachusetts Senate race debate, Elizabeth Warren, Scott
Brown tonight, was a bit of a hootenanny. We have Barney Frank with us
ahead on that.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Even though the focus on politics right now is on the presidential
race to see who will get to run the executive branch part of the federal
government, even while that contest is in full flower, we still do have a
federal government right now and they`re doing stuff.
Congress is in session while the House and Senate in session. And today,
in the Senate something weird happened. What`s going on in the tape is
Democratic Senator Al Franken is on the Senate floor. He is giving a
speech about jobs and the economy. You can see he has got the bikini graph
there, the jobs graph.
And then, while Al Franken is mid-sentence he gets interrupted, stopped in
his tracks and everything in the Senate comes to a halt. It was a very
strange moment. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AL FRANKEN, (D) MINNESOTA: Now, second, you could ask economists,
most reputable economists including --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would my friend yield?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Majority leader.
SEN. HARRY REID, (D-NY) MAJORITY LEADER: Mr. President, Madam President,
I`m so sorry. We will have no more votes today. No more votes today.
It`s obvious to me what`s going on. I`ve been to a few of these rodeos.
It`s obvious there`s a big stall taking place, so one of the senators who
doesn`t want to be in the debate tonight won`t be in the debate. He can`t
use the Senate as an excuse. There will be no more votes today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Senator from Minnesota.
FRANKEN: Thank you. That is -- that is too bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s too bad. Turns out to be too bad for somebody other than
Al Franken. That story is coming up along with Barney Frank. Stay with
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REID: We`re going to have no more votes today. No more votes today. It`s
obvious to me what`s going on. I`ve been to a few of these rodeos. It`s
obvious there`s a big stall taking place, so one of the senators who
doesn`t want to be in the debate tonight won`t be in the debate. He can`t
use the Senate as an excuse. There will be no more votes today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Can`t use the Senate as an excuse. Senator who Harry Reid took to
the Senate floor to shame today. The man on whose behalf all Senate votes
were stopped today is, of course, Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown who
for forever and a day had his first debate with Elizabeth Warren scheduled
for tonight in Boston. That debate was scheduled to begin tonight at 7:00
But at around 2:59 p.m. Eastern, this afternoon, Scott Brown made it known
that actually he thinks he had to be in Washington for some important
Senate business tonight and he couldn`t possibly make that debate.
Harry Reid said that was a bluff. He also said it wasn`t his first rodeo.
He said Scott Brown was just trying to get out of his debate and using the
Senate as an excuse so he canceled all Senate votes for the rest of the
day. And behold, Scott Brown did turn around and go back to Massachusetts
for his debate tonight.
You know, there is a long, joyful tradition in election years of each side
taunting the other side for being afraid to go to their own debates.
Although even Harry Reid today on the Senate floor will never top the
chorus of Chicken George.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They turn up everywhere. Clinton supporters in chicken
suits chiding Bush about debates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are going to be debates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the time Bush got to Mississippi, he was taking heat
on his refusal to debate Clinton unless it`s on his terms. A protester
made it clear, he thinks Bush is chicken. As authorities led the chicken
away, Bush aides worry that by playing too coy on debates, they could be
playing right into Clinton`s hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: As authorities led the chicken away. Chicken George ultimately
did debate. Chicken George ultimately lost that election. And today Scott
Brown in Massachusetts did get back to Boston in time for his first debate.
His first debate which he used as an opportunity to speechless run as fast
and as far away as he could from the fact that he is a Republican. See if
you can notice a pattern here.
SEN. SCOTT BROWN, (R) MASSACHUSETTS: Listen, I`m the second most
bipartisan in the United States Senate, as recently named by
"Washingtonian" magazine as the least partisan senator. The key is to do
it together truly in a bipartisan manner.
We drew a line in the sand collectively and in a bipartisan way. We need
to sit down in a room in a bipartisan manner.
The only way we`re going to get this done is to actually work together in a
truly bipartisan manner and I`m the only one in this room right now who`s
going to be doing that. Being the second most bipartisan senator right
now, I`ve been doing it since I got there.
MADDOW: There isn`t even an R -- that R next to my name, it stands for the
R that`s in bipaRtisan. I`m no Republican, pay no attention to the R. I
abbreviate things from the middle.
Every Senate Republican, every Republican candidate for the United States
Senate, has a problem in his or her race right now. And the problem in all
of those Senate races for Republican candidate is this man: Mitt Romney,
the Republican Party`s current standard bearer.
Republican Senate candidate George Allen of Virginia in his debate this
afternoon was asked about Mitt Romney and his "47 percent of the country
sees themselves as victims who can`t be persuaded to care for their lives"
comment. Here`s how George Allen handled it.
He said, quote, "I have my own point of view, and my point of view is
people of America don`t look at themselves as victims."
Even before today`s debate, George Allen had already been trying to
distance himself from his own party`s presidential ticket saying that Mitt
Romney and Paul Ryan are wrong on the issue of Medicare. Basically all of
the Senate Republican candidates in closely contested races right now are
running against Mitt Romney. It`s not just Republican George Allen in
Virginia saying, "I don`t think Americans see themselves as victims." It`s
also Republican Dean Heller in Nevada saying about Mitt Romney, quote, "I
just don`t view the world the same way he does." It`s also Republican
Linda McMahon in Connecticut: "I disagree with Romney`s insinuation." It`s
also Republican Linda Lingle in Hawaii: "I`m not responsible for the
comments of Mitt Romney. I don`t agree with his characterization. It`s
Before his debate tonight, Republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts was one
of the first Senate candidates to say he was running against Mitt Romney,
saying earlier this week, "That`s not the way I view the world."
It`s amazing, right? I mean, all of these Republican Senate candidates are
now trying to tell voters, "Despite who my party is running for president,
please vote for me anyway. I do not agree with that guy. I have nothing
to do with him. He is wrong, but vote for me anyway."
It`s a remarkable thing to try to claim, right? These are Republicans runs
against Mitt Romney in 2012, telling voters, "Vote for me, I know I`m a
Republican, but I hate that guy, too."
Vote for me to have a Republican majority in the Senate because I hate that
Republican presidential candidate? That effort to separate Republican
Senate races from the Republican standard bearer for president, in
quantitative terms, does not seem to be working.
Late last night the polling guru Nate Silver at "The New York Times", the
usually mild-mannered nothing fazes him, he`s seen it all when it comes to
polls guy -- last night, look at what Nate Silver said. He posted this
tweet, quote, "I`m not prone to hyperbole, but GOP Senate map is
imploding." Under the headline, "Senate Forecast: What Has Gone Wrong for
GOP Candidates?" Nate Silver`s polling forecast says the Democrats` chances
of controlling the Senate has increased to 79 percent in our forecast today
up to 70 percent the day before. Seventy-nine percent. That is how likely
it is Democrats will control the Senate after this election according to
Here`s the truly jaw-dropping part of it, though. Here`s the Mitt Romney
part of it. Quote, "Had we run the model a month ago based an polls
through August 19, the Democrats` chances of maintaining Senate control
would have been listed at just 39 percent." Think about that. In the span
of one month, Democrats went from a 39 percent chance of controlling the
Senate to a 79 percent chance of controlling the Senate. One month, a 40-
point jump. Thank you, Mitt Romney. Now you know why Scott Brown was
racing back to try to be a senator for one more day in Washington, D.C.,
instead of competing for his Senate seat at home, where the latest poll
says President Obama is leading Mitt Romney by 28 points.
Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts joins us next for the
interview. Stay with us.
BROWN: Professor warren claimed that she was a Native American, a person
of color, and as you can see, she`s not. That being said, she checked the
box and she had an opportunity actually to make a decision throughout her
career. When she applied to Penn and Harvard, she checked the box claiming
she was a Native American and, you know, clearly she`s not. That being
said, I don`t know, and neither do the viewers know, whether in fact she
got ahead as a result of that checking of the box.
ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) SENATE CANDIDATE: When I was growing up, these were
the stories I knew about my heritage. I believed my mother and my father
and my aunts and my uncles and I never asked anybody for any documentation.
I don`t know any kid who did.
But I did know this about my parents, that my mother and dad loved each
other very, very much. And they wanted to get married and my father`s
family said no because my mother was part-Delaware and part-Cherokee. But,
you know, I never used it, never used it for getting into college, never
used it for getting into law school.
And Senator Brown last fall voted against three jobs bills in a row, jobs
bills that would have put 22,000 people -- supported 22,000 jobs here in
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a jobs bill that would have prevented
layoffs of teachers, firefighters and police officers.
BROWN: Three jobs bills she refers to, with all due respect, would have
raised your taxes $450 billion. I`m not going to raise taxes. I`m going
to protect the pocketbooks and wallets of everybody listening. If you want
someone who`s going to spend your tax dollars, give it to Professor Warren.
She`ll spend them.
WARREN: The senator has voted to let taxes go up on hardworking families.
He has said he will defend the top 2 percent and top 3 percent so that they
don`t have to go back to the tax rates of the Clinton years and he will
hold the other 98 percent of families hostage.
MADDOW: That was Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts and
Elizabeth Warren, his Democratic challenger, tonight, who he referred to
over and over and over and over and over again as Professor as if this is
Joining us now for the interview is a Democrat in Washington, Democratic
Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts. Congressman Frank, thank you
very much for being was tonight. I appreciate your time.
REP. BARNEY FRANK, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: You`re welcome.
MADDOW: I saw the statement you put out tonight after the debate noting
your disappointment with what you described as personal attacks by Senator
Brown against Elizabeth Warren. What did you mean by that?
FRANK: There was a snarky tone, the kind of "professor" accusation. But
also with all that we`ve got going on, the war and the economy, the
environment, to begin with the silly attack on the fact that she once said
she was of Native American ancestry, dishonest statement by him, a lie,
that she used it to get ahead, which has been refuted. And then later talk
an the fact she`s a very highly paid professor -
Look, you outlined it. The issues run very much against him. Actually, a
key moment came when Elizabeth Warren talked about Jim Inhofe, who Scott
Brown would like to make Chairman of the Committee on the Environment, who
says global warming is a hoax and would dismantle the EPA, and he said,
"You`re not running against Jim Inhofe, you`re running against me."
No, that`s not true. Elizabeth Warren is running against a Scott Brown who
wants to make Mitch McConnell the majority leader, Jim Inhofe the chairman
of the environment committee, Jim DeMint, an extreme right winger, chairman
of the ommittee that deals with health and communications. He`s not
running for class president. He`s running for United States Senator.
And by the way, you`re right that you couldn`t get him to say the word
Romney with a subpoena; he talks about support for some of Obama`s policies
but he would vote to make Mitch McConnell the majority -- he talked about
being bipartisan. Here`s the deal. With the Democrats in the Senate, he`s
had a chance to be bipartisan because Harry Reid and the Democratic
leadership have brought up things in conjunction with the administration.
But we see what goes on in the House. If Mitch McConnell becomes the
majority leader, it won`t make any difference if Scott Brown would have
voted for equal pay or would have voted for this because he`ll get no
opportunity to do it. Mitch McConnell has said that his first-term goal
was to defeat Obama. His next-term goal would be to frustrate him.
So that`s the problem. And that`s why Senator Brown did not want to talk
about issues except for his vehement objection to raising the taxes on the
very richest people in the country. Other than that, I was disappointed at
a kind of snarky, personal attack not consistent with the nice guy image
he`s put forward.
MADDOW: You know, on the issue of specifically attacking Elizabeth Warren
on her Native American heritage, Scott Brown is saying, "Look at her, you
can tell she`s not Native American. Look at her, look at her." He was
saying that over and over again tonight. That was -- I`ve heard this
attack from him. I`ve never seen him do that. I actually -- I feel like
it`s racially offensive to say, "I can tell you`re not Native American.
Look at you."
FRANK: Well, the point is that he`s clearly -- he`s not doing as well in
the polls as he thought. They`ve shown her somewhat ahead. It`s a little
bit volatile. But here`s his problem: While 60 percent of Massachusetts or
more are going to vote to make Barack Obama the second-term president,
Scott Brown is committed to helping the people who will try to wreck that
presidency. He even sent an e-mail boasting about how he would help Barack
Obama. So he`s got to try to talk about all these other things.
He`s angry. He did not expect a year ago to be in a tough race for re-
election. And it`s venting itself in these personal attacks. When he says
she checked this box and checked that box, that`s simply not true. And, by
the way, there`s an analogy here. The analogy is to the birth certificate
of President Obama. Oh, let me see the record. Well, President Obama
showed the birth certificate and you still have Republican officials in
Kansas saying, "Oh, well, we`re not sure about all this."
So it is a very similar effort to delegitimize your opponent rather than
debate the issues when you think the issues go against you.
MADDOW: Right now, overall in Massachusetts, the last poll on the
presidential race shows President Obama leading Mitt Romney by 28 points.
Everybody expected Mitt Romney to lose, but that`s a very, very large
margin. It would be a historic margin.
FRANK: Well, you have to remember that with regard to Mitt Romney, in
fairness to Mitt Romney, when he`s running in Massachusetts, he`s running
in the state that knows him best. So that would account for the fact he`s
doing worse there.
MADDOW: When you look, though, at Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren`s
numbers, while most polls have been going her way, obviously the polls are
much, much closer there. And I`ve been interested to see that Scott
Brown`s numbers proportionally aren`t that bad among women voters in
Tonight he said that he wants the Lilly Ledbetter Act -- which he was not
in the Senate when it passed -- he wants that to be enforced more and he
says he would have voted for that had he been in the Senate. When the next
fair pay act opportunity - the opportunity to vote for a fair pay act came
up when he was in the Senate, he voted no.
MADDOW: So, I mean, is his appeal to women voters based on saying he has
done something that he hasn`t done?
FRANK: First of all, it`s based on being graded on the curve. You compare
him to the extreme right wing Republicans and he looks okay. But he`s not
running against those Republicans. In fact, he`s running to help them by
putting them into the majority. And when you compare him to Elizabeth
Warren or Senator Kennedy, who he really inappropriately tried to claim was
on his side on the question of birth control, contraception, no, he`s not
He used the argument when he said, "Oh, I want it enforced but I don`t want
to help the plaintiffs` lawyers." That`s the key. If you start attacking
the lawyers who are going to bring these lawsuits, then you`re saying the
law shouldn`t be enforced. There is no federal agency that`s able to do
that kind of enforcement in a consistent basis. If you`re going to have
anti-discrimination laws enforced, you`re going to have to have people be
able to go to a lawyer and the lawyer accept it on what`s called a
contingency basis -- these are not people with a lot of money. So while
Scott Brown says he`s for equal pay, he demonizes the only effective
enforcement method, which is for people who have been wronged to have
lawyers go to work for them.
MADDOW: In terms of the quality of this debate and how it proceeded, how
do you judge Elizabeth Warren as a candidate? Obviously you favor her in
this election, you would like her to win. How do you think, bluntly, how
do you think she did as a debater? This is her first ever run for office
and her first ever debate in a political context. How do you assess her
FRANK: I think she did well. She hit two very important points. She made
it clear that Scott Brown believes that under no circumstances do you raise
taxes on the wealthiest. And, as she says, you need a balanced approach.
That means the only way you can reduce the deficit is by savaging all the
programs that help our domestic quality of life.
Secondly, she made that central point that he`s not running just as Scott
Brown - look, he`s generally a nice guy. He wasn`t as nice tonight as he
usually is. He`s a nice guy and I`ve worked with him on some stuff. But
he`s a cog in this right wing Republican machine. Yes, with the Democrats
in power, he has the freedom to vote differently. But if he votes to put
the Republicans in power, that will change. And I think she did an
effective job of pointing that out.
MADDOW: On the issue of choice, reproductive choice, Scott Brown a bit on
the offensive in terms of his Supreme Court votes. Obviously that becomes
-- when it comes right down to it, partisan votes that are independent of
the candidates are often most about which president is going to pick
Supreme Court nominees and whether or not they`re going to get confirmed.
How do you feel like he dealt with that issue?
FRANK: Well, not very straightforwardly. He voted against Elena Kagan, a
very able person. Again, there was this snarky comment, because she`d been
dean of Harvard Law School. "Oh, well, I`m sorry I voted against your
friend, your boss." That had nothing to do with it. That was a kind of a
denigrating personal comment that`s unworthy of a serious debate.
And, in fact, he said he voted against Elena Kagan because she didn`t have
judicial experience. You know who didn`t have judicial experience? Earl
Warren. William O`Douglas. Hugo Black. Some of the great justices.
Felix Frankfurter. That`s just an excuse. He voted against Elena Kagan
because Scott Brown is more moderate than most Republicans, but he still
was worried about a Republican challenge. So he voted against her to kind
of pay tribute to the right wing Republicans.
And he says, yes, he`s pro choice, but when the critical question came up
of putting someone on the Supreme Court who will continue to support Roe v.
Wade, he voted no. And the argument he didn`t vote for her because she
didn`t have judicial experience is nonsense. That has not been, as I said,
the criterion for a lot of the great justices. It was simply based on his
needing to throw a bone to the right wing.
MADDOW: Congressman Frank, one reason I wanted to talk to you today, today
is the one-year anniversary of the repeal of Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell.
Obviously there has -- the sky remains in the sky. It has not fallen.
There`s been no reports of any complications in terms of military readiness
or the overall military strength of government like a lot of people,
notably Senator John McCain predicted when they argued that Don`t Ask,
Don`t Tell, shouldn`t be repealed. I wonder if you have anything to say to
the critics who predicted such dire things about what might happen and what
your reaction is to this one-year anniversary.
FRANK: Let me give you my considered reaction. Nyah, nyah. The fact is,
Rachel, I`m glad you brought it up. And I really mean to be dismissive.
Every time, we try to fight discrimination, we have the same stupid
arguments. "Oh, it will cause all these terrible problems."
But my husband Jim, whom you`ve met, made the very good point when they
said, "Oh, if you allow openly gay people to serve, the straight people
will be all upset." As he pointed out: you`re in the military; your best
friend gets his head blown off next to you. People in the military, these
young people, go through these horrific experiences and then we`re supposed
to believe if they`re in the shower with someone who`s gay or sharing a
dormitory, that`s going to disorient them.
What you`ve done, I wish more people in your line of work did. Go after
these people who make these crazy predictions about marriage, about the
military, and say, "Okay, Senator, do you really still believe that?
Here`s what you predicted, that people would be quitting, that there would
be chaos." The Commandant of the Marine Corps, who`s one of the most
critical when we were trying to get this done, has said, "I was wrong.
It`s worked out fine."
And here`s the deal. When they make these arguments before something
happens, they`re appealing to prejudice. And prejudice is little but
ignorance. In every case where we confronted a prejudice and made it
illegal, the reality defeated the prejudice. It`s happened with same sex
marriage and it`s happened with gays in the military.
MADDOW: Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, I knew there was a
reason that I wanted to talk to you tonight and the "nyah nyah" alone was
worth it. But thank you for everything else tonight. I appreciate having
FRANK: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We got a "best new thing in the world" coming up and
it is a very, very good one. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Okay, we have a "best new thing in the world" on the show tonight.
It is a great one. If you have a bad day, regardless of your partisan
affiliation or lack thereof, I have a thing for you that will make your bad
day slightly better. It is very small. It`s next. Hold on.
MADDOW: Okay, as promised. "Best new thing in the world" today: Nothing
whatsoever to do with politics, but this is really, really great. Check
this out. It is about the space-shuttle program, which is over, right?
The last one to go into space was last summer.
What you`re looking at here is actually two aircraft, right? Space shuttle
on top, jet on the bottom. This is the space shuttle Endeavour strapped to
the back of a modified jumbo jet. This is Endeavour leaving Houston this
morning for a farewell tour. It started yesterday at Kennedy Space Center
in Florida; it`s going to end at the California Science Center in Los
Angeles where people are going to be able to go see it, right?
Endeavor is spending tonight at Edwards Air Force Base north of Los Angeles
and tomorrow, weather permitting, it will take to the skies on the back of
that jet for its very last flight ever.
And this is the last one. This is the last one of the shuttles that is
moving; this will be the last time any shuttle will ever leave the ground,
ever. And that makes one thing about this flight today really poignant and
When this space shuttle Endeavour lifted off for its final space mission in
May of last year, you may remember that its commander was Captain Mark
Kelly, who is the husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Congresswoman Giffords watched that launch of her husband in Endeavour.
She watched that launch from Kennedy Space Center even though she was still
in the very early stages of recovering from a nearly fatal gunshot wound to
the head that she suffered during an assassination attempt last January.
Well, this week ,with Endeavour flying west, taking its last flight ever,
its flight path from Houston to California gave Captain Mark Kelly an idea
and here he is bringing that up in a telephone interview with NASA
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any final words on Endeavour as she makes her last
trip in the Earth?
CAPTAIN MARK KELLY: Final word, well, tell the pilots when they land, it
would be great if they could fly over Tucson so Gabby and I could see
Endeavour. It`s on the way to L.A. I don`t even think they have to go out
of the way.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Here`s the thing. NASA did so. Today, NASA obliged that request
and as Endeavor made a low pass over the University of Arizona campus in
Tucson, Captain Mark Kelly and his wife Gabby Giffords were there watching
from a roof of a parking garage.
The Associated Press reporting that as the Endeavour flew by, Captain Kelly
leaned over to her and said, "That`s my spaceship." They report that when
he said and she saw the shuttle overhead, Ms. Giffords was, quote, "elated"
and started "hooting and hollering". For anyone who got a chance to see
one of these space shuttles in the sky while they were being moving around
in this process after the retiring of the fleet, if you saw it, you know it
was an awesome experience.
But for this particular couple to get a last look at the Endeavour in the
air, best new thing in the world today.
All right. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow
night. Now it is time for "The Last Word" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
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