updated 9/24/2012 1:22:06 PM ET 2012-09-24T17:22:06

UP WITH CHRIS HAYES
September 22, 2012

Guests: Ana Marie Cox, Kevin Williamson, John Nichols, L. Joy Williams, Charles Pierce, Christie Vilsack

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris
Hayes.

Two people were killed in Libya overnight as protesters angry at the
killing of America`s ambassador stormed the headquarters of several
Islamist militias demanding that the militias be disarmed. We`re going to
talk about that tomorrow.

And President Obama criticized Congress in his weekly address this
morning for failing to pass the farm bill and other legislation. We`re
going to take a look at how Democrats are suddenly putting up a fight in
battle for control of Congress later on the program.

But right now, I`m joined by my friend, John Nichols, Washington
correspondent and my colleague at "The Nation" magazine and associate
editor at the "Capital Times" Madison, Wisconsin.

L. Joy Williams returning the program, a political strategist and co-
host of the podcast and syndicated radio program, "This Week in Blackness,"
also baked this amazing tray of banana bread, which is really just too kind
of you. Thank you very much. It`s delicious. I already had a peace.

Kevin Williamson, deputy managing editor at "The National Review" and
Ana Marie Cox, founder of the blog, Wonkette, and now a columnist at "The
Guardian" newspaper. Great to have you guys all here.

All right. Well, this was quite a week.

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: Quite a week in the campaign. Quite a week in the campaign.
The latest national poll released Friday from the "National Journal" has
Mitt Romney trailing President Obama nationally seven points among likely
voters. While swing state polls from NBC and "The Wall Street Journal"
released Thursday have Romney down by five points in Colorado and Wisconsin
and down eight points to Obama in Iowa among likely voters.

And it`s a testament to the kind of week Mitt Romney`s had has that it
has to count as good news for him that this is all he`s down. The Romney
campaign`s rough week kicked of when "Politico" ran a rather nasty hit (ph)
job on Romney`s chief campaign strategist, Stuart Stevens, chockfull of
anonymous of quotes lamenting the train wreck the Romney campaign was in
the process of becoming.

That was quickly overshadowed by video released by "Mother Jones"
magazine and obtained by NBC News of Mitt Romney speaking to donors at a
private fundraiser in Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are 47 percent of the
people who will vote for the president no matter what. There are 47
percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe
that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to
care for them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to
housing, to you name it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: I think people are entitled to health care and housing, but
it`s just me.

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: Also you name it.

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: You are entitled to -- you name the thing that you want. And
he -- Mitt Romney, you probably have seen this video, but we`re going to
play it again.

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: Don`t think we won`t. Mitt Romney went on to explain why he
would never reach those voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income taxes. So,
our message of low taxes doesn`t connect. And he`ll be out there talking
about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that`s what they sell every four
years. And so, my job is not to worry about those people. I`ll never
connect with them. They should take personal responsibility and care for
their lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Mr. Romney scrambled to respond to his now infamous 47 percent
comments with the visibly impromptu press conference. He followed up
Tuesday with a more on message interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News. On
Wednesday, Romney tried to clarify at a Univision forum that he`s all about
the, quote, "100 percent of America."

At same day, Paul Ryan, his ticket mate, called Romney`s comments,
quote, "obviously inarticulate." And yesterday afternoon, to capital off
(ph) the Romney`s released their full tax returns from 2011, revealing that
they purposely limited their charitable deductions in order to bring their
effective tax rate up to 14.1 percent.

All right. Where do we start?

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: Let`s -- can we -- let`s start with the taxes and work our way
backwards, because I thought the tax move, I guess, I could understand the
idea of, well, it`s been our worst week on the campaign. And we might as
well just go for broke and try to shoot the moon, basically, and get all
this out.

And I just thought the idea that they literally -- and this is R.
Bradford Malk who is the trustee explaining -- do we have the language of
that here? There it is. "The Romneys` generous charitable donations in
2011 would have significantly reduced their tax obligation for the year.
The Romneys`, thus, limited their deduction of charitable contributions to
conform to the governor`s statement in August" --

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: -- "based upon the January estimated income that he paid at
least 13 percent in income taxes each of the last ten years. So, just so
everyone`s clear, they picked a rate that they needed to hit, and then,
they didn`t take their deductions. Kevin, you`re shaking your head. I
would find -- as a conservative, I would find this deeply offensive.

KEVIN WILLIAMSON, NATIONALREVIEW.COM: Well, I`m really upset that
Romney has not come around to the Williamson creed which is that tax
evasion is a form of patriotism.

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: You should be running the campaign.

WILLIAMSON: Not only is this guy willingly paying his taxes, he`s
paying more taxes than he has to pay. You know, one of the few things
Romney`s ever said that really made me happy about him as a candidate was,
if I were paying more taxes --

HAYES: Yes.

WILLIAMSON: -- that I actually legally oblige to pay, then I wouldn`t
make much of a president. I agreed with him on that. Why are you throwing
money away? I mean, I like the fact that on a typical year, he makes
about, you know, Barack Obama`s net worth and gives it away like it`s
nothing.

That`s all great. But, you know, why throw money at this, you know,
this evil cabal of half educated thieves and pimps we call government?

(LAUGHTER)

JOHN NICHOLS, THENATION.COM: And you know what --

HAYES: OK. And your response?

L. JOY WILLIAMS, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: You know, it`s just -- it`s
consistent with him sort of just conforming himself, you know, to what he
said in that moment. You know, so, he consistently changes and tries to
conform his life and conform his talking points and conform his campaign,
you know, to fit this narrative of trying to be the president that he says
he wants to be.

NICHOLS: What American really doesn`t sit around trying to figure out
what tax rate they want to hit?

HAYES: Right. Exactly.

WILLIAMSON: I do.

NICHOLS: So many --

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

NICHOLS: Your average working class American, you know, they really
spend probably March and early April. Just think -- I don`t know if I want
to hit the 34 percent this year, something like that, and to me, to me, I
will tell you that if the Romney campaign -- it appears the Romney campaign
did not -- this is true.

He actually does have some kind of trust, because they obviously did
not consult with this guy about what to say. That is quite clear.

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: No, actually, this raises an interesting point, because the
taxes were released by the trustee of the, quote/unquote, "blind trust,"
that is the Mitt Romney blind trust. The trustee of that trust, as I
pointed out on "Rachel Maddow Show" last night is the personal attorney.
OK? So, this is not a -- they call it a blind trust, but it`s not a blind
trust.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: You can walk into your personal attorney and under attorney-
client privilege and be like so here`s --

(LAUGHTER)

ANA MARIE COX, GUARDIAN.CO.UK: This is the tax rate I need to hit.

HAYES: This is the tax rate I need to hit. It`s not blind.

COX: What I think is interesting is I think Kevin`s defense of the
Romney tax situation is probably the most consistent that I`ve heard. The
other one that I`ve heard is that if he -- you know, if you count those
charitable donations as taxes, then you know he paid a lot in taxes.

But, you know, that strikes me as odd that you get to count those like
as taxes, but payroll taxes on the other hand don`t count.

HAYES: Exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: And I would also say, from the conservative perspective,
Kevin, the reason I`m glad you`re here because you were this piece --

WILLIAMSON: You`re glad I`m here.

HAYES: Yes. Well, you wrote this piece that got a lot of attention.
I couldn`t tell how much of it was sort of tongue in cheek, how much of it
was kind of --

WILLIAMSON: None of it.

HAYES: Really? None of it was -- well, then I have to revise my
opinion of it.

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: It was basically like your thesis is just embrace --

WILLIAMSON: Be the rich guy.

HAYES: Be the rich guy. Like, embrace it. Like, you called it like
a boss.

WILLIAMSON: I want him to sail up to the convention on his yacht.

HAYES: Yes.

WILLIAMSON: And you know, get off in the fur coat, drive his rolls
(INAUDIBLE) $250 million. Quit pretending like you`re some, you know,
schmuck from Nebraska.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: Our goal today, viewers at home, is to get Stuart Stevens --
if the people who don`t like Stuart Stevens who are giving those anonymous
quotes to "Politico," we really want to stick in the knife, and we need
Kevin Williamson running the Mitt Romney campaign. So, anyone`s watching -
- anyone who`s the power to make that happen --

NICHOLS: I`m going to defend -- I think Kevin`s point is exactly
right. I`m not be --

HAYES: No, authenticity.

WILLIAMSON: I sort of agree.

NICHOLS: America has, you know, for a country that fought, you know,
to get rid of inherited wealth and inherited power --

WILLIAMSON: Is that what we fought for?

NICHOLS: You bet we did. We fought against colonialism --

(CROSSTALK)

NICHOLS: -- and it was a good fight. But as a country that fought
against empire, we have ended up with an awful lot of rich people
presidents.

And the bottom line on this thing is, the rich guy presidents have, if
they`re smart, you look at Roosevelt and others, even Kennedy, they have
figured out how to live rather glamorous lives, to live rather large, but
to communicate that while living large, they have a little bit of concern
for the little guy.

Romney`s problem is not that he is rich. Romney`s problem is he
cannot communicate that he has a little concern for the little guy.

HAYES: Yes. And I think there`s also this awkwardness and this
indeterminacy and this sort of shape shifting that is perfectly, as you
said Joy, I think perfectly embodied in this idea of I said this thing
offhandedly to defend myself against the charge of being a freeloader
plutocrat, and now, I will reverse engineer my taxes around --

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

COX: That`s what the entire tape does, too --

HAYES: Right.

COX: -- right? I mean, it just sort of makes it look like he will
say anything in any given situation, he will say what people want to hear,
which is what every politician does, but Mitt Romney just worse at it.

HAYES: Some do it much --

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: Here`s the -- we should play this, because you mentioned it,
Ana -- which is Mitt Romney, I think, also calling himself unqualified to
be president because of what he just now proved to do. So, maybe, you
have to (ph) reverse engineer that if you had a time machine. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I don`t pay more than I legally do, and frankly, if I had
paid more than I legally do, I don`t think I`d be qualified to become
president. I think people would want me to follow the law and pay only
what the tax code requires.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: Best quota on this, best quota on this , and then I`m going to
let you jump in. He, of course, has three years to file an amendment to
his returns, as all-Americans do, which means I just have this vision of
them sitting in the hotel suite on election night as the returns come back
and as soon, if he doesn`t win, or even if he does, that would be the true
boss thing to do.

As soon as it`s decided like on the phone with Brad Molty (ph) like
file that amendment.

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: I want that $300,000 check from the government right away.
We`re going to take a break and talk more about it after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: All right. Joy, I`m sorry, I cut you off. You wanted to make
a point about the -- about Mitt Romney`s taxes.

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, the conversation here is I think he needs
to take cues from other hip-hop artists, you know, in terms of our culture.
They can be gaudy. They flaunt what they have, you know, cars. They`re
going -- and still are able to communicate to people who are not at their
level or will never reach their level, that they believe in them that I`m
the same as you. I came from that.

COX: They came from that. I mean, there`s been an upward trajectory
in the -- in the life of a lot of hip-hop stars and other rich people. I
mean, William (ph), well, we`ll get to in a second.

(LAUGHTER)

COX: But, Mitt Romney also in that tape, you know, he talks about
being born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He just admits it straight
up, you know, which is great to be honest. I think there`s a lot of
honesty on that tape. But he`s never had to struggle for anything, ever.

HAYES: Right. Right.

COX: And I think that that`s the thing -- that`s the thing that makes
him different from Donald Trump. It makes him different from a rap mogul.
That makes him different from most Americans.

NICHOLS: Can I just sum this up? You know, with rap artist, they are
flamboyant, gaudy perhaps, but they make people want to be them, right? In
reality, nobody wants to be Mitt Romney. That is a fundamental reality.

HAYES: I think they would like to have his tax returns.

NICHOLS: They want his money, but he is not cool -- he is not cool
enough.

WILLIAMSON: Right.

NICHOLS: So, that is maybe --

COX: -- this relatability thing -- I mean --

HAYES: Look, there`s -- I mean, let`s be clear here. I mean, there`s
-- so there`s sort of way that you project as a person, and I think you`re
right. There`s ample examples in American history of people that came from
quite a bit of wealth or even not just wealth, inherited privilege, right?
And there`s the great JFK.

WILLIAMSON: Trump being one.

HAYES: Right. Trump being one. His father is a real estate mogul.
But, I`m talking about presidents, right? So, you know, FDR came from
inherited privilege. JFK has a very funny line about his father saying
that, you know, that he wouldn`t pay for a blowout, right? He wants him
just to barely win because his father didn`t want to play for a blowout.

And that was sort of joking recognition of his own wealth and
privilege, right? So, there`s a sort of personal communication. And then,
there`s the agenda in policy. I think if you`re a Democrat, if you`re FDR
who`s probably the most redistributed Democrat in the last 100 years,
right, or maybe Johnson, right? Johnson, of course, did come from --

NICHOLS: But he came up the good way by marrying into --

HAYES: That`s true. He also married -- but the whole point here is
that you can -- the policies also matter, right? There`s a sort of way you
project in those policies, and that`s why, I think, to sort of bring us
back to the 47 percent line. I mean, there`s the fact that under Mitt
Romney`s own tax policies, right, he would pay about two percent effective
rate.

COX: And enter Paul Ryan --

HAYES: What`s that?

COX: And enter Paul Ryan would pay almost nothing.

HAYES: Probably zero.

NICHOLS: We would drive a truck to his house and --

HAYES: We should also note, his 20-year -- you know, they have this
notarized note about the 20-year average, right? The -- this is, I think,
too cute by half, from 1990 to 1997, of course, which is now included in
the 20-year average, the capital gains tax rate was 30 percent, which is
twice now.

It then went down to 20 something for the next four to five years, and
then, finally the full Bush tax cuts kicked in. So, part of the reason
they`re doing the 20-year average is so that they can get -- they can bake
in the cake from 1990 to 1997 when they had to pay a 30 percent rate. But
let me finish this point. I`m talking too much.

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: But the point here -- and this gets us to the 47 percent thing
to me is that there is a synthesis here between a policy vision about taxes
and redistribution and what American people should do and who makes the
American economy run. And I think there`s genuine contempt that`s shown in
-- to not be funny for a second.

Like, I don`t know if it`s genuine or not or he`s pandering to the
contempt of the people he has in the room, but these people won`t take -- I
can`t convince them to take responsibility for their lives. It`s just
really like an unbelievably, jerky offensive think to say about people that
-- about half the population.

I know I`m not like making some grand insightful analytical point that
no one else has made this week, but it really, really angered and offended
me. I mean, you know, people work really freaking hard. And --

WILLIAMSON: Some of them do.

HAYES: Right. Some of them do. That`s right.

WILLIAMSON: My favorite novels is "Infinite Jest" by David Foster
Wallace and has a character and it`s sort of pick-up artist. And his line
is, "tell me what sort of man you like and I`ll pretend to be that sort of
man." This is what he tells women all the time. Romney is kind of that
guy as a presidential candidate.

I mean, whatever crowd he`s in front of, you know, he`s very sort of
malleable in terms of his rhetoric. I think what he did in this particular
situation that was conflate two things. There`s about half of the
population who doesn`t pay any federal income tax, and there`s about half
the population, which is some level dependent on government subsidies or
government entitlements or some kind.

Those are two different things. Not the same group of people, and
there`s overlap, but --

HAYES: There`s also a third group, right? Conflated three groups.
There are people that are -- independent here in terms of what you`re
saying, government subsidies, that`s a broad range of --

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMSON: We`re talking about people who get a household check, you
know, from the government, whether Social Security, Medicare --

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: That are earned benefits.

HAYES: Right. That are earned benefits.

(CROSSTALK)

NICHOLS: Veterans who served in war probably earned their benefits.

WILLIAMSON: OK. And the other 98 percent of that group we can talk
about.

NICHOLS: It`s not 98.

HAYES: Well, but the third thing that he conflated here, there`s
people that are dependent on some government program or subsidized with the
government in some way or drawing from earned benefits or the recipients of
the payouts on social insurance. There are the 47 percent who don`t pay
federal income tax, of course, paying payroll taxes. There`s only about 10
or 15 percent who don`t pay any federal taxes.

And then, there`s the 46 or 47 percent of the electorate that`s going
to vote for Barack Obama pretty much no matter what. And those are three
distinct category that he just took and shoved together. And the thing I
said -- the reaction to the videotape was that this is just malpractice as
a basic political analytical understanding of what the electorate is.

You are running for president. You should understand at a very
granular level who is the electorate and who are they voting for and what
is the kind of distribution of who they are. And this is an unbelievable
misunderstanding of the electorate.

COX: Well, you know, what I`ve been thinking about, you know, what
Mitt Romney`s week has been like, and he said that paying more than he
needed to an income tax would disqualify him as president. Saying that
should disqualify him as president. The way he`s been running his campaign
should disqualify him as president.

I mean, it`s tempting -- as journalists, I agree with a lot of media
criticism that we cover the process too much. The process doesn`t always
have a lot to do with the actual issues at hand. But sometimes, when you
run a campaign that seems this maladroit, it seems like it`s a bad
indicator of what kind of, you know, commander in chief you might be.

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: To that point, I think about that is like if you cannot
even manage the small campaign team that you have to put out a message to
communicate your policies, to all of those things, how can you run a
country?

HAYES: I would say, though, the inverse of this is the great onion
headline that I remember about -- what was it? It was something like Iraq
-- like, Iraqis stunned by Bush campaign competence.

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: It was about like, wait a second, these guys really do know
what they`re doing.

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMSON: What you have to keep in mind about Romney, though, is
that there`s a big difference between voters who they are and who they
think they are.

COX: Yes.

HAYES: Yes, absolutely.

WILLIAMSON: If you ask people what --

HAYES: Absolutely.

WILLIAMSON: Whether they think they`re receiving government benefits
does match --

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: Hold on one second. I want to take a break and continue the
conversation after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: All right. John Nichols, sorry, I cut you off.

NICHOLS: Commercial break, it`s important.

HAYES: We need them.

NICHOLS: I was going to say that I think one of Romney`s big problems
is that he has been such an amorphous candidate. He, as we`ve suggested,
he was -- you know, he`s been, you know, liberal Republican, a conservative
Republican, a moderate Republican walk into the bar, the bartender says,
hello, Mitt.

And the bottom line is he`s been all over the place. The one thing
that he did that was firm was pick Paul Ryan for his vice president. Now,
when he is in front of a group -- you know, I got a problem with this 47
percent that don`t pay taxes. I`m not going to worry about them. I can`t
get them -- well, like, maybe Mitt will change tomorrow.

Paul Ryan won`t. Paul Ryan is absolutely committed to going after
those programs, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants, all of
this stuff. And I think you put the two of them together and you get a
very scary message for America.

HAYES: And I think -- I want to play this because there`s a strain in
there. This idea of the kind of freeloader class as a kind of class
analysis, I mean, the hilarious thing here is that, again, the political
analysis here, I think, is just wrong and naive. It`s wrong empirically in
terms of who the groups are but also just na‹ve.

It`s a weird inverse version of the most vulgar kind of like Marxist
leftist, an aspiration of class-based politics, like, we`re going to get
all the people -- you know, the bottom 60 percent, and they`re going to
vote their class self-interest against the top 40 percent, which of course,
never happens in American politics, because these people`s identities are
amazingly fractured in a million different ways, right?

So, it`s a bizarrely naive kind of class analysis or political
analysis, but it is a strain in modern conservative thinking increasingly
about this kind of problem of makers versus takers. As defining access,
here`s Paul Ryan talking about makers and takers of the economic club.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Chasing ever
higher spending with ever higher tax rates will decrease the number of
makers in society and increase the number of takers. Able bodied Americans
will be discouraged from working and lulled into lives of complacency and
dependency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Now, here`s the thing about that statement, and I`d like to
hear your thoughts on this, Kevin, because able body Americans will be
discouraged from working and lulled into lives complacency and dependency.

The reason that so many people have been taken off the federal income
tax roles are a series of tax credits often started by Republicans,
advocated by Republicans, extended by Republicans intentionally as policy.

The earned income tax credit, the child tax credit which was massively
expanded under Bush and the Bush taxes that has taken people off the rolls
as a kind of essentially conservative foreign policy grounded in the
economic theories in Milton Freedman, specifically.

The most efficient way to earn income tax credit, right? The most
efficient way of -- you don`t want to have a lot of (INAUDIBLE) government
programs. You want to just efficiently distribute through the tax code,
through these credits. And one of the things that this is precipitated,
this 47 percent, is it kind of civil war among Republican and conservative
wonks about this issue.

WILLIAMSON: Yes. I mean, you really do have two sort of separate
strains of thought in the conservative world about this. You have the sort
of libertarianish kind of view that the fewer people on the tax rolls, the
better.

And you have a lot of people -- I`m sympathetic of this view that
you`re creating sort of an operational problem when you have a large group
of people who are sort of net taxpayers consumers versus people who earn
(ph) that taxpayers. And it`s the old thing about, you know, democracy
survives until people discover they can vote themselves largess out of the
public treasury.

Now, I think to some extent, those concerns are overblown, but they
are real. And, I`ve always sort of disliked the kind of right wing talking
point about people who don`t pay federal income taxes, because of course,
most people, even very people tend to pay a lot of taxes in the form, not
only, you know, the payroll tax, sales tax, and things like that.

NICHOLS: And quite regressive ones --

WILLIAMSON: Well, and we also forget that, for instance, poor people
in a lot of the country pay in effect higher real state taxes because
they`re paying it to the rent, and commercial properties are often taxed to
the higher rate than residential properties. And of course, homeowners get
tax credits and things like that.

HAYES: Exactly. Yes.

WILLIAMSON: So, I mean, there are things about that. I mean, it`s
hard to get a really good read on what people pay in taxes. Now, most
people like me, anyway, thinks everybody pays too much, and we`d like to
see less of everything across the board. But, you know, using that as a
kind of wedge point to sort of go after people rhetorically seems to me not
maybe the best way to go about things.

WILLIAMS: Is this similar also to the health care, universal health
care where was also a Republican -- it was at least the --

NICHOLS: Heritage Foundation.

WILLIAMS: Yes. It sort of came from this as well.

COX: The mandate.

WILLIAMS: Yes, the mandate.

WILLIAMSON: Yes, I mean, the heritage plan. Everyone talks about
Obamacare being based on the heritage plan. There`s a lot of differences -
-

NICHOLS: Yes, that`s right.

WILLIAMSON: And there are lots of --

NICHOLS: -- based on Romneycare.

WILLIAMSON: There will in a lot of ways. Yes. And there are lots of
ways to do a mandate. You know what I mean? (INAUDIBLE) very different
from what we just voted in a couple of years ago. And --

HAYES: The point here, I think, is that there`s -- sorry. Ana Marie.

COX: -- this idea that people vote themselves or just -- the
conflation of all of these three different groups -- people don`t. People
do not actually don`t vote themselves largess, especially towards -- if
there`s a lower end of the income spectrum. The people who do that are
rich people.

The people who use the political system to create tax breaks for
themselves, to create money (ph) making opportunities for themselves are
the people at the top. The people in other places don`t. This also gets
to voter I.D., actually.

This idea that there are people who are looking at the government as a
way to get their money and will vote for the person who gives them their
money is one of the tactics that people use to try and enforce voter I.D.
laws.

HAYES: If you take a drill, an analytical drill and you start
drilling into this Republican campaign and you drill down through this
quote and you drill down to voter I.D., where you hit bedrock is, I think,
an age-old conservative skepticism of Democracy.

COX: Yes.

HAYES: I mean, the lying about --

WILLIAMSON: There is really in my case.

HAYES: Yes. No, right. I think that`s a genuine long-standing
conservative view. And it`s one that is because we live in a democracy,
people think --

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMSON: -- conservative if you think of the constitution. I
mean, there`s a reason we have a Republic instead of a democracy.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: I get that e-mail -- I get that e-mail from conservative
people all the time.

NICHOLS: You`re thriving towards democracy as Dr. King said and we
may yet get there.

WILLIAMSON: I hope not.

(CROSSTALK)

NICHOLS: It`s good we`re both on the show here in this democratic
experiment, but the -- I do think that there`s something important about
what is said and there is, in fact, the skepticism. Remember, we have at
least four Republican U.S. senate candidates this year who want to
eliminate the election of the U.S. Senate. So, this is a reality, the
skepticism about democracy --

HAYES: Right.

NICHOLS: -- but at the same time, this is a party that has lived on
the strength of its support from poor people. Thirty-eight percent of John
McCain`s voters were folks who made well under $30,000 a year, very much
the 47 percent types.

WILLIAMSON: Right.

NICHOLS: And, in fact, Mitt Romney is running weaker among these
people this year, about 34 percent in some polling. But this is one of the
big swing groups in American politics.

WILLIAMSON: Yes.

NICHOLS: Poor people swing. In 2010, when Republicans did very well,
their Republican numbers were way up. The fact of the matter is, Romney`s
doing very dangerous politics here. Forget about ideology. This is
dangerous politics. You start to drive even a portion of that away from
you, you start to create big democratic --

HAYES: One thing I would add is poor white people swing.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: Poor Black people do not swing in terms of --

NICHOLS: In defense of the African-American community, not as well as
my friend here.

HAYES: Well, I`m not attacking them, I`m just saying that matter of
fact of the election --

WILLIAMSON: You know, they`ve got two percent of the Black vote
that`s really unreliable.

(CROSSTALK)

NICHOLS: African-Americans have, there is a significant history of
African-American voters, low income African-American voters in situations
where a White democratic candidate has been unacceptable for some reason.

HAYES: Sure.

NICHOLS: Where they have --

HAYES: Sure. Right. I`m saying in --

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: I`m saying in presidential elections. We`re talking about
presidential elections. You`re talking about poor people who is going to
swing. We`re talking about poor White people. Ana Marie, I want to hear
from you after we take this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)


HAYES: Ana Marie Cox.

COX: We`ve been talking about conservative truthrs (ph) and the
people look at a ballot and decide who will give them the most money and
how I don`t think that`s true, at least, when you look further down the
income scale. And in fact, we were just talking about the swing voters for
the -- black and white.

And it seems to me that they don`t look at the ballot that way, but
they will look at it and decide who will screw me, like, who will give me
the most money, but which of these candidates is out to get me and that`s -
-

HAYES: Who`s dangerous?

COX: Who`s dangerous to me? And so, that`s why, you know, I think,
well, Mitt Romney has had a lot of problems. I mean, this is maybe just
one of them. But he`s been unable to create a message and apparently
doesn`t even want to create a message, because he`s writing off those
voters.

HAYES: Let me also say this. I mean, I think what`s interesting
about the discussion we`re having about like how voters self-identify and
how useful as an analytic tool these kind of class categories are whether
that class is, you know, makers/takers distinction or whether that class
is, you know, the working -- the white working class, which is an
analytical category we use on the left a lot. We sort of ring our hands
over how do we --

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: No, I`m serious --

WILLIAMSON: Magically recall the 30s.

HAYES: Yes. There`s a whole literature about like how do we lose the
White working class. Like -- what is also interesting here to sort of just
bring one more level is, this has been a terrible week for Mitt Romney.
Structurally, I think if you ask anyone, if you held the election tonight
who would win? Barack Obama would win, right?

And yet, it`s all fluctuating in a fairly narrow band. I mean, for
all that`s happening this week and the, you know, polling on seven points
down nationally which is quite big, but if you look at the average of
polls, everything is sort of -- we shouldn`t overstate how much things are
moving, and partly that is because big demographic groups are already baked
into the cake.

They just might not be the kinds of analytical categories that either
Mitt Romney is talking about it in a secret tape or we`re talking about in
our, you know, in our analysis.

WILLIAMSON: Yes. There are a couple of things that are left out of
that, I think. One is especially the people overlook (ph) because there`s
very strong aspirational aspect to this. You have low income people who
expect to do better in life tend to be politically more conservative, tend
to politically identify more with the Republican Party.

Very low income (ph) people who don`t expect to do any better tend to
be (INAUDIBLE) with Democrats. And, you`re right -- a lot of these --
these votes are already decided, but you know, I think, it`s important to
keep in mind you have this, you know, enormously charismatic incumbent
president who`s having trouble breaking 50 percent. I mean, that`s a real
indicator that something is wrong.

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: Yes. Not only -- but -- and then if you take it down into
the states and different areas where things are doing better, the president
does better, and you know, particularly, that`s what I think I want us to
pay attention to as well that if I was looking at the country in its
entirety and breaking it down by racial groups, you know, if we want to do
that, the country is moving towards, you know, more people of color, right?

And so, then, as we continue to bit more in the population in that
equation, we were talking about, swing voters of Black and White, you know,
we forget Latinos. We forget, you know, Asian-Americans as well --

(CROSSTALK)

COX: Yes. They forget that they need to appeal to them in a way that
--

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: They`re trying to appeal to them in different ways, so that
it`s not trying to appeal to them as a Latino-American or as a Native-
American, I`m going to appeal to you in terms of your wealth, in terms of
your education, you know, sort of that -- there`s different ways to appeal
to that.

HAYES: You also -- we should also -- I don`t think --

WILLIAMSON: Look, did you watch the convention?

HAYES: I did. I was there and I have to agree with her, though. I
didn`t watch it, I was physically in the room, and I agree --

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMSON: -- like Latina night

HAYES: Yes. It was like Latina night.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: We do two things. What are the policies of the Republican
Party? The policies represent largely the policies that would favor both
their financial base and their demographic base. The demographic tends to
be older White conservative men, right?

And those are the folks who, for instance -- they`re people who are on
Medicare who are going to be above the 55-year-old threshold that Paul Ryan
put to cut off, right? We don`t want to cut you people off, our voters,
right?

WILLIAMSON: What do you mean, you people?

HAYES: Yes, exactly. That`s right. Extremely skeptical about the
process, the demographic process that`s happening in America that you`re
right, right, that the country is growing less White and more racially
diverse and extremely, extremely angry about the incursions of illegal
immigration, the notion that people are going to get a free pass and
amnesty, right?

These are genuinely felt things that power the demographic base of the
Republican Party, which means the positions that are taken in a primary and
the positions that have been taken by the House Republican caucus and the
Republican caucus in the Senate has been very hard line on this issue.
Now, that`s one set of things about what is motivating policies.

Then, there`s the fact that they`re going into a national election in
which Latinos are a larger and larger part of the vote share and they
cannot get killed among that demographic by the amount that John McCain got
killed by, which is 30 points, which is they were (ph) polling.

And Mitt Romney, himself, the donors behind closed door, if we lured
Latinos, you know, permanent way the way that we`ve been losing them, we
are screwed long-term as a party. So, they understand that from like
political perspective, but they are caught between the political
(INAUDIBLE) of running this national election among a more diverse
electorate and the desires, the strong, I would say, tribal desires of a
huge part of their demographic base -- Ana.

COX: Yes. And the regional basis as well. I mean, this is the
thing. That`s the key of the analysis, the national party.

HAYES: Right.

COX: If they want to remain -- if the Republican Party wants to
remain a national party, they need to figure out what their strategy is. I
guess, they`ve figured it out, which is they have a national strategy and
they have a local strategy, but they`re going to lose that national
strategy if they keep going the way they are.

NICHOLS: And this is interesting thing, because Kevin made an
important point. At the Republican National Convention, a major effort was
made to do outreach.

HAYES: Yes.

NICHOLS: And it was -- and I think there were people who were
sincerely committed to doing it.

The governor of New Mexico gave a stellar speech about being a Latina
who had switched from democrat to Republican, and yet, and yet as they`re
doing all this effort, anybody who`s actually watching the convention knows
that when Jan Brewer, the militant on immigration issues, when she rose to
announce the Arizona delegation`s votes, she got the longest, loudest
spontaneous applause from the convention.

And the problem is this. You can put people up who really are
sincere, but when it is so obvious that the base of the party passionately
is uncomfortable with this change.

HAYES: Yes. Kevin, I want to hear from you right after we take a
break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: We started at the tape, right, but we`ve now had a long tour
through this. But I think this is an important thing, because I think what
the tape shows is the waves of understanding the electorate and the
categories into which it breaks.

And I think one of the things aside from the offensiveness of the
Romney comment was just the sheer analytical bankruptcy of it as a tool for
understanding how the electorate which was, I think if I`ve been a
Republican, disturbing since the guy who`s running for national office who
should really understand who the voters are, where they are --

COX: I wonder what Karl Rove thought when he saw that tape?

HAYE: I know.

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: I know.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: Karl Rove goes down to the minister in the Columbus suburbs
who has seven friends who was --

NICHOLS: And I can tell you exactly what Karl Rove, hmmm, there`s a
Senate race in Michigan. I may want to shift some money to it.

(LAUGHTER)

NICHOLS: You know, Karl Rove sits on a pot of money that`s supposed
to be presidential, but because we`ve blown up campaign finance laws in
this country can become senatorial.

(CROSSTALK)

COX: I think we`re going to talk about that, soon, right?

HAYES: Yes.

COX: Like how much output funding is going into these local races.

NICHOLS: And I think our -- look, I follow this. This is
fascinating. You know, Karl Rove is actually in charge of this operation.
I mean, he`s not --

HAYES: Called American Crossroads --

(CROSSTALK)

NICHOLS: -- and he`s the big kid, so he sends the signal. If Karl
Rove decides, as he did, say, with Christine O`Donnell in 2008, if he
decides Mitt Romney is sort of not competent, you know, I`m not going to
waste my money on this guy. That is not necessarily a good thing for
Democrats.

COX: No.

NICHOLS: Because if he starts to go down ballot, he can move money.

HAYES: And one of the things that`s really fascinating here is that
the -- we`re saying the fluctuations that have happened on the national
polling.

NICHOLS: Sure.

HAYES: Even in swing states it`s been within -- I mean, it`s
fluctuated, and the president has gotten much better after the convention,
but much better in a relatively small area that is -- that`s not true in
the Senate races. What`s happening in the Senate rate is pretty -- is
remarkable. I mean, the shift has been quite sizeable and I would even say
tectonic. And I want to sort of figure out what the basis is.

WILLIAMS: Well, that`s the focus. You were talking about shifting to
the down ballot. That`s the reason why we get a Jan Brewer and pushing --
you know, these policies on the state, you know, on the state level. This
is how we got judges on state Supreme Courts, you know, sort of pushing
those things. It`s so interesting to me that if say we don`t want activist
judges on the court and then --

WILLIAMSON: So, you`re talking about extreme views on illegal
immigration that are shared by 80 percent of America?

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: Let us also -- let`s extend it out.

WILLIAMSON: But having very strong restriction attitudes about
illegal immigration polls, very, very big --

HAYES: Yes. But the Dream Act --

(CROSSTALK)

NICHOLS: But I don`t think that`s what you were saying. I think
you`re talking about a range of extremes --

WILLIAMS: Yes. So, not only on immigration that we`re talking about
abortion --

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMSON: If you`re a Democratic office holder in this country
who`s not an extremist on abortion --

NICHOLS: Yes?

WILLIAMSON: I mean, the Democratic point is 100 percent no on
abortion on demand --

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMSON: If you look at where the Democratic platform is versus
the average American --

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: I disagree. I actually -- I mean, I think people`s views on
abortion like immigration are incredibly self-conflicting. You can coupled
different majorities --

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMSON: -- Americans who have basically George W. Bush`s view,
which is abortion legal in some circumstances but restrictive in others and
legal in situation --

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: When you view this on -- look, the polling on abortion is --

WILLIAMSON: But it`s not Ruth Bader Ginsburg (ph).

HAYES: the polling on abortion is a show in of itself, because it is
conflicted. But on this extreme question, to me what`s really interesting
is Republicans didn`t just take over the Congress and -- they took over
state legislatures, and those two votes are highly correlated, because
increasingly, when people go in to vote, right, they`re voting for the
national party. They`re voting for this -- and the way our government is
acting, particularly at the national level, is increasing parliamentary,
right?

Partly discipline has an increased. And so, what you`re seeing is a
nationalization el of the election. What`s happening is the election is
get more nationalized they look more like a parliamentary system while we
retain the old system of these sort of clujy (ph) institutional framework.
Kevin is smiling at me calling the constitution clujy (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: -- are shifting decisively towards a Democrats at all levels
right now, and I want to figure out why that`s the case up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Interactive here in UP WITH CHRIS live your e-mail, live your
e-mail coming into the show. You must realize that the (INAUDIBLE) poor
people swing. I think some do, but my experience is it`s likely more well
off that I see. So, that`s a swinger just letting us know what he thinks
about the terminology.

The polling bumps President Obama got for the Democratic National
Convention has subsided some, but voter enthusiasm remains high. Combine
that with the bad week for Mitt Romney and you get a more -- more and more
indications of a beginning national wave against Republicans. And it`s
coming this week when states have started early voting.

As of this morning, half the states are already casting ballots. The
top of the Democratic ticket President Obama has strengthened the support
among voters, and the last week, a wrap (ph) of new polls show key Senate
races now favoring Democrats.

In the U.S. Senate race to Virginia, a new "Washington Post" has a
former Democratic governor, Tim Kaine an eight percentage point lead over
former Republican senator, George Allen. The Quinnipiac/"New York
Times"/CBS News poll shows Democratic representative, Tammy Baldwin, in
Wisconsin neck-in-neck with former Republican governor, Tommy Tamson -
Tammpy Thompson.

Tammy Baldwin (INAUDIBLE) for the Senate seat there, and that`s after
Tammy Baldwin have been polling behind --

NICHOLS: She`s down by nine points.

HAYES: She was down by nine points. A month ago, the same poll
showed Baldwin down six points. In Connecticut Senate race, Democratic
representative, Chris Murphy, leads Republican, Linda McMahon, 37 to 33
percent according to University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant poll. A
month ago, Murphy trailed McMahon by three points.

And in Massachusetts, a race we`re going to talk about in just a bit,
Elizabeth Warren had the lead over Republican, Scott Brown in four out of
five polls released this week. that`s after months of polling that showed
her trailing Brown.

Nate Silver who forecasts the down ballot races and his 538 blog for
"The New York Times" wrote on Thursday, "The Democrats` chances of
controlling the Senate have increased to 79 percent in the forecast, up
from 70 percent on Tuesday. Had we run the model a month ago based on
polls from August 19th, the Democratic chances of maintaining Senate
control would have been listed at just 39 percent.

In the House, the Democrats still have an uphill battle to win back
the House. According to the Real Clear Politics, average at the polls,
they now have an advantage on the generic Congressional vote, which is when
you asked people, you`re going to vote for Republican or the Democrat, that
was not a case just a month ago.

It`s a pretty stunning turn around that prompts the obvious question,
what has changed? And john, you have been covering a lot of races, Senate
races. What`s your theory of what this shift has been about?

NICHOLS: Well, I think it`s a multiple shift. It`s not just one.
And -- but I don`t want to make it too complicated. The fact of the matter
is that in most of America, we have become parliamentary. We have -- and I
hear this not just from pollsters who are seeing it as well, but also from
people who work the doors, people who are actually doing it.

And they`re saying, you know, you go to the door in a state assembly
race or state Senate race and they start talking about presidential as if
this is all connected. Many of the Senate candidates around the country at
a point when Barack Obama was not polling very well and when, frankly, the
Republicans were looking pretty strong aligned themselves quite closely
with the national ticket.

It has become a burden. In the classic case where it`s become a
burden, I give you that -- just the Warren/Brown debate where Elizabeth
Warren repeatedly said this is about control of the Senate. And I`m for
Barack Obama. I want him to be president.

HAYES: She was very explicitly and obviously makes sense in a state
where Barack Obama is up 22 points in the polling, nationalizing that race.
But what`s fascinating to me is how nationalizes it everywhere. I was just
in Las Vegas, which is not just anywhere in America, right? It`s a very
distinct place, a distinct set of problems.

I was amazed at how nationalized the race was there, and I want to
show you a little bit of my interview with Shelly Berkley running for
Senate there right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS HAYES, HOST: All right. We are back here.

John Nichols from "The Nation" magazine, L. Joy Williams also here,
Kevin Williamson from "The National Review", and Ana Marie Cox from "The
Guardian". Great to have you all here.

We are talking about the state of the down ballot races.

And, Ana Marie, you said you had a theory about why -- no, because
we`ve seen this -- we`ve seen this break that has happened I think in the
last month that`s really clear decidedly in the Democrats direction. It`s
been across the country. So, when you`re thinking about theorizing what`s
going on, it can`t be candidate quality because it`s happening in Virginia,
Massachusetts, and Nevada, and in House races. We`re going to talk about
someone who`s running against Steve King in Iowa.

What is your theory on this?

ANA MARIE COX, THE GUARDIAN: If you look at the swing states,
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, were the places where -- swing states where
Romney has the biggest gender gap actually are those three swing states. I
think in Virginia, actually, something like 20 points or it was at some
point.

What those three states have in common are some of the most
restrictive approaches to choice that have been put up in any states in the
state legislatures. I just have this instinct or theory that perhaps women
in those states look at what`s happening at their state and these awful
things that are being said and being proposed, the transvaginal ultrasound
in Virginia and I believe in Pennsylvania that was as well. I think that
taints the Republican ticket.

HAYES: Up the ticket?

COX: Up the ticket.

HAYES: So, the extremism of the state party --

COX: It makes Republicans look like they`re anti-women. I don`t
want to say Republicans are anti-women but I think women look at that.

HAYES: I agree. But there`s the question is, why in the last month,
right? So, the question is like that`s been the case. They`ve been
passing that. Something is happening in the last month.

Now, there`s one argument you can make which is the Todd Akin --

COX: Yes.

HAYES: -- had a branding effect and reminded people of the stuff
that had been going on.

KEVIN WILLLIAMSON, NATIONALREVIEW.COM: A couple of things about
that. I think it`s a myth that Pennsylvania is a swing state. If you go
back and look at the way it`s gone in the last whatever presidential
elections. I mean, it`s just not a swing state. It hasn`t been for a
while.

COX: Virginia.

WILLIAMSON: I think you`re absolutely right about Akin sort of
poisoning the whole Republican brand. He is a good reminder of what people
don`t like about the Republican Party.

But also, I think it`s really important to keep this in mind, you`re
talking about nationalizing the race. I`ve been covering Elizabeth Warren
for a while. I`ve been following that race fairly closely. I don`t think
she has any choice but to nationalize the race.

HAYES: Sure.

WILLIAMSON: If you`ve ever seen her speak, she knows not the first
thing about Massachusetts. You know, she -- her world pretty much ends at
Cambridge and --

HAYES: Charlie Pierce.

WILLIAMSON: I`ve never heard her say one thing about state level
Massachusetts issue, in anything but the most perfunctory fashion.

HAYES: We`re going to bring in Charlie Pierce in a second. But I
want to give my adorations from Nevada where I was this weekend. I
actually take -- I was there visiting my brother who for the purposes of
full disclosure is a state director for Obama in America in Nevada.

WILLIAMSON: I`m shocked.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It runs in the family.

HAYES: Here`s what was so fascinating for me. Shelly Berkley is a
congresswoman there. She`s running against Dean Heller who was a
congressman who then got appointed to fill John Ensign`s seat, after he had
to resign in disgrace.

And you go out to Las Vegas. You think, Las Vegas is one of the
most, I don`t know, three, four most distinct places in New York, right?
New Orleans, New York City, Las Vegas, they`re out there -- you know,
what`s the median America look like? Las Vegas is quite different, right?
It`s a place with tons of local issues. There`s, of course, Yucca
Mountain, which is, you know, the nuclear waste facility, which is always
in every Nevada debate like the first question.

But there`s a massive foreclosure rate, worst in the country.
Highest unemployment in the country. Clark County, which is where about 80
percent of the votes are, 80 percent of the homeowners in Clark County are
underwater on their mortgages. I think it`s that high.

So, you go and thinking, I`m going to see a race, there`s a really
interesting, a hotly contested, right basically a neck and neck race,
between Shelley Berkley and Dean Heller, I`m going to see a race that is
about all the distinctness of this place that is experiencing special
problems and that is not at all the case. It is a totally nationalized
election.

I get in, I turn on the TV in the hotel and it`s ads from the
Crossroads GPS accusing Shelley Berkley of cutting Medicare, because she
voted for Obamacare. It`s ads from Shelly Berkley attacking Dean Heller,
who voted twice for the Ryan budget, once in the House and once in the
Senate. The first Ryan budget that would voucherize Medicare without a
choice, right off the second one.

And so, what you have there, I thought this to me made me think this
is what`s happening, right? This is a very nationalized race. And I think
Paul Ryan`s place on the ticket --

JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION: That`s it.

HAYES: -- was part of that nationalization.

If you look at what happened a month ago, here`s Shelley Berkley, we
sat down for an interview and I asked her about this Medicare question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. SHELLEY BERKLEY (D-NY), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: Let`s not make
any mistake here. There`s only one candidate in this race, my opponent who
has voted to kill Medicare by turning it over to private insurance
companies and end guaranteed benefits. I don`t think anybody in the state
of Nevada or the United States wants to continue overpayments to insurance
companies but by restricting and ending those overpayments, we extended the
life of Medicare by nine years.

HAYES: The interesting thing about your opponent Dean Heller is that
he voted for the early version of the Ryan plan, which is actually the more
aggressive, which would have turned all of Medicare for those under 55 into
the voucher program. He then voted against the second version, which was
actually the more moderate version, right?

So, he`s got a sort of strange record on this.

BERKLEY: Well, look. There`s a lot to do with political expediency
right now. The fact is that my opponent voted not once, but twice, to end
Medicare by turning it over to private insurance companies. And that`s not
going to work in this state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: The reason w played that clip is because Dean Heller realized
the second time he ended up passing the Ryan budget, he realized he`s got
to run for re-election statewide, right? And he votes against the Ryan
budget, even though the Ryan budget has moved to the left from the first
version of the Ryan budget, right? Because it offers seniors a choice,
whether you wanted to enter this voucher program or stay with traditional
Medicare.

And to me, if you`re going to say what happened a month ago that
switched things, I think it`s Ryan. I think Ryan on the ticket has made
this -- and for some reason, strategically, Republicans have decided they
want to have a debate about Medicare, about who`s cutting Medicare more,
they`re the party that is the defenders of Medicare. I just think that is
strategically ridiculous.

NICHOLS: You`re so right.

HAYES: Thank you, John.

(LAUGHTER)

NICHOLS: And it`s not because we are associated. No. When you were
bringing up Akin I was thinking, well, that`s lovely, that`s nice, that`s
fine. No, come on. It`s Paul Ryan.

And here`s the bottom line on this -- before Paul Ryan was selected
for the ticket you had Republican Senate candidates airing ads saying, I`m
not with Paul Ryan. Don`t look at me as a Paul Ryan guy. That`s not me.

And now, suddenly you put him on the ticket and you make every
Republican House and Senate candidate have to answer questions about
Medicare and Social Security. This week, Nancy Pelosi, the daughter of a
very effective politician in Baltimore who knows how to jump on things,
started airing ads with pictures of Paul Ryan and Republican House
candidates.

Why? This is a nationalized race. In fact, it`s totally legitimate.

L. JOY WILLIAMS, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: In addition, and I think I
agree with you, that adding Ryan to the ticket definitely upped that. I
think we also can`t not forget timing, right? The American electorate is
also tuned more in now.

So something we were saying earlier, that in the polls that were
months ago, you couldn`t really -- they weren`t real reflective of what
people thought because people weren`t that tuned in. And so, now, people
are tuned in. It`s less than 40 days to Election Day and so people more
and more have a view on sort of who are they going to vote for and who --

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: -- having been to the convention and listened to these
wall to wall pans to Medicare, the Republican Party wants to abolish it.

It`s a stupid program. It`s going away anyway. It`s totally
financially unsustainable. Anybody who can do math can tell you that.

It`s a question of whether it goes away in 10 years, or 15 years, or
22 years. I mean, there are lots of different ways to let Medicare fail,
but it`s going to fail.

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMSON: Medicare`s unfunded liabilities are more than the GDP of
the planet.

HAYES: Can you extend out, what, 100 years?

NICHOLS: Rather than worry about that talking point, let us --

WILLIAMSON: It`s not a talking point for God`s sake, it`s math.

NICHOLS: A story about some reality here. Can we just say that Mr.
Simpson and Mr. Bowles when they watch those conventions must have felt,
wow, here`s the love we were missing? The fact of the matter is that we do
have serious conversations to have about these issues. Neither the
Republican Party or the Democratic Party is in the midst of a zero
conversation about these issues at this point.

What we have done by the selection of Paul Ryan, one of the most
inept selections of a vice presidential candidate history of the republic,
by the selection of Paul Ryan --

WILLIAMSON: Goodness gracious.

NICHOLS: -- Mr. Romney has said we do not want to have a discussion
about these issues. We are going to have a discussion specifically about
Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and we Republicans are going to run on
the theory that we`re fans of it by nominating a guy who is going to rip it
apart.

HAYES: For the record, I thought Aaron Burr was incredibly --

WILLIAMSON: He wants to talk about entitlement reform. It`s not a
serious issue? It`s the issue.

(CROSSTALK)

NICHOLS: But they are running on saying Barack Obama wants to cut
Medicare.

HAYES: Right, going in 2010.

I want to bring in Charlie Pierce who was at the debate this week
between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown, the first of four, right after we
take a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: All right. I would say that marquise Senate race in the
country, one, Kevin, that you`ve written about, is the Massachusetts Senate
race. I think that`s because obviously Scott Brown who wanted a special
election to take Ted Kennedy`s seat and almost singlehandedly dispatched
the Affordable Care Act, although it didn`t get up getting passed in
design, that was when the real moment in which the Tea Party announced
itself in the American politics as a genuinely electoral force, took a lot
of people by surprise.

Scott Brown is the kind of iconic figure on the right for that
reason. Elizabeth Warren, his opponent, who is the brainchild behind the
Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, that was included in the Dodd-Frank
legislation. She was on the Congressional Oversight Panel that oversaw
TARP.

She wrote an amazing book called "The Two Income Trap," about sort of
stagnated Middle American income. She was a bankruptcy professor at
Harvard law. She`s an iconic figure on the left. And so, this is a big
race. There`s a lot of money, a lot of national attention.

Elizabeth Warren had been polling down basically the whole race so
far. Scott Brown is a very good politician, very able, incredibly
relatable, had a genuinely amazing story. In fact, his memoir is
incredible. I would recommend it to anyone. I mean, the guy really has an
incredible personal story. Very effective politician.

And even though Barack Obama was up 22 points in Massachusetts, that
has really, it seems, shifted in the last two weeks. We`ve seen poll after
poll after poll with Elizabeth Warren up. There`s been a definite shift in
the race.

Thursday night was the first debate between the two, and I want to
bring in Charles Pierce, lead writer for the politics blog at "Esquire"
magazine, also a veteran observer of Massachusetts politics. He was at the
debate between Warren and Brown Thursday night, joining us from Boston this
morning.

Charlie, great to have you on the program.

CHARLES PIERCE, ESQUIRE.COM: Good morning, Chris. Good morning,
everyone.

HAYES: So what has shifted in this race? We`re puzzling through the
shift that we`ve seen nationally in the race in the last month, and I`m
curious for the Massachusetts specific answer to that question.

PIERCE: Well, it`s funny because I know Kevin wants us to be running
a race for governor`s counsel here, but it`s a little bit bigger than that.
The couple of wild cards in this race that play into what you were speaking
about earlier, number one, both of them agreed there would be no outside
money in this race.

HAYES: Right.

PIERCE: And regardless of what you think of that in terms of
entertainment value, I don`t think of very much, but the deal has been
health. There hasn`t been a lot of outside money. So, this race has
managed to nationalize itself or be nationalized, without the benefit of
Karl Rove`s help or Move On`s help or anybody`s help.

HAYES: That`s interesting.

PIERCE: I think that`s one thing that`s happened.

The second thing that`s happened is that Elizabeth Warren has found
her feet as a political candidate a little bit. I think it started at the
convention. But I think you saw it a little bit in the debate the other
night. My biggest problem with the debate was it was a battle of two
people who were completely over-prepared.

Scott Brown was overprepared to be a belligerent jack ass and
Elizabeth Warren was overprepared not to rise to the debate. So, what you
had was a couple of magnets with reverse polarity. Yes, they seemed to be
talking past each other a little bit. They didn`t really engage.

So, I think basically you had, you know, setup for the next three
debates.

HAYES: I thought --

PIERCE: The other thing that`s going on here in terms of
nationalizing the race is Scott Brown would rather admit that he`s voting
for Kudus (ph) than admit he`s a Republican. He can`t find it in his
literature. You can`t find it on his commercials. He won`t say whether or
not he endorses the primary candidate.

HAYES: What do you want him to do, Charlie, he`s running in
Massachusetts.

PIERCE: No, no, no, the way we say up here is, for Pete`s sake, I`m
running for office.

HAYES: That`s right. For Pete`s sake, you`re running for office.

PIERCE: We elect -- yes?

HAYES: You wrote this piece about how over-prepared they were and I
thought it was spot on because I watched part of the debate and as a host
of a conversation show that sometimes has debates, it was sort of a train
wreck because they were over-prepared. When people come on this show and
they have lots of notes and they`re reading off, it`s he like, no, no, no,
just actually talk to me.

PIERCE: Hang on, Chris, I`m going to hide my (INAUDIBLE) --

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: So, the one thing that I found useful about the debate was I
had totally forgotten what Elizabeth Warren`s job was. What profession is
Elizabeth Warren? And I just couldn`t remember.

So, Scott Brown nicely took a little opportunity to remind me and the
voters of Massachusetts.

PIERCE: Yes, if you`re --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)S

SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: I want to thank Professor
Warren for coming out. The fact that Professor Warren claimed. Professor
Warren`s proposals and the criticism that you`re hearing from Professor
Warren. Give it to Professor Warren, she`ll spend them.

The only person in this race who is hurting the middle class and
wants to raise taxes is Professor Warren.

The difference between me and Professor Warren. Professor Warren who
is always taking as the first approach.

Give it to Professor Warren to bring to Washington to spend.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

WILLIAMS: I hope you didn`t do a drinking game.

HAYES: No I remember after watching this debate exactly what her
occupation was. I found that useful.

WILLIAMSON: It`s funny. As a matter of courtesy I refer to people
who are university professors as professor this or that.

HAYES: Yes, when I interviewed them or emailed them.

WILLIAMSON: But, you know, in Warren`s case it`s sort of become a
weird little epithet. That it`s a worst thing you could be as a professor
at Harvard.

(CROSSTALK)

PIERCE: We have to sit through --

HAYES: Charlie --

PIERCE: We have to sit through three more of these. I will
perfectly stipulate that if he wants to call her Elizabeth and she wants to
call him Scott or Scotty or Liz, I`m willing to go with that.

Between senator and professor --

HAYES: They should attach a rider to the no big money agreement.
You have this little rider, which we just call each other by our first
names.

NICHOLS: All that Elizabeth Warren was and I don`t think she has any
reason not to be referred to as professor. But if she wants to get rid of
that, all she`s going to say, Scott, you call me something other that be my
regular name, I`m going to start calling you Republican Brown.

WILLIAMS: Or she called him Senator Brown.

NICHOLS: But why not call him Republican Brown?

WILLIAMSON: Encyclopedia Brown.

HAYES: The other sort of bizarre piece of this, we don`t have the
sound of this, but at one point, they were talking about the vote for Elena
Kagan. Scott Brown voted against Elena Kagan. Elizabeth Warren in making
her argument that look, when you vote for Scott Brown, you`re putting a
member of the Republican Senate candidate, that first and foremost what
he`s going to do, and vote against Elena Kagan. And he says, I`m sorry, I
didn`t vote for your boss.

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: I thought that was pretty hilarious.

Kevin, you`ve been covering this race and I want to hear your
thoughts on it after we take this break.

WILLIAMSON: Sure.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Kevin, you wrote -- I really like the piece you wrote for the
"National Review" about this race, and one of the things I thought was
interesting was just these two personality studies of two people in some
ways there`s an interesting fact about the two people. They`re both
American meritocratic success stories. They are people that are manifestly
challenged and hard working, come from different backgrounds that weren`t
in the inside of the American elite. One`s a senator, one`s a Harvard law
professor that we learned from the debate.

What`s your sense of the shape of this? I mean, it seems to me the
fundamental is can Elizabeth Warren hang Republican around Scott Brown`s
neck?

WILLIAMSON: It`s such a weird race because -- I mean, having
Republican in Massachusetts first of all is just sort of unexpected.
Everyone loves Scott Brown on the right because him being in that seat is a
thumb in the eye to the Democratic Party.

But he`s really not very conservative. You know, if you look at
Scott Brown actually thinks and believes, he`s kind of a main lady except
he`s in the wrong state.

You have Elizabeth Warren who is running a populist campaign but she
is manifestly uncomfortable around human beings. She is not good in
crowds. I was up there for the St. Patrick`s Day thing and watching
Elizabeth Warren try to a crowd was just --

HAYES: But those are different things, let me just say, being
uncomfortable and being comfortable -- being comfortable in a crowd.

PIERCE: Yes, I`ve been to like more than a dozen of those St.
Patrick Day things, St. Patrick wouldn`t be comfortable in that crowd.
Basically it`s a losing -- it`s a whole bunch of half drunk --

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMSON: Open bar at 7:00 a.m.?

NICHOLS: The red haired person on this panel.

PIERCE: We hold it a little bit better up here than they do with the
August halls of the "National Review". I agree, she had to learn to be a
candidate.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: Go ahead, Charlie.

PIERCE: Yes, she got a big boost yesterday from Tom Menino, who
nobody is ever going to confuse with Harvard elitist.

HAYES: Tom Menino is the mayor of Boston who --

PIERCE: The mayor of Boston.

HAYES: -- who endorsed her yesterday.

Here`s the thing I find interesting about Elizabeth Warren. She had
to learn how to be a candidate.

Elizabeth Warren was this, you know, rock star figure in progressive
circles long before she became a politician, and she has, I think, a
natural charisma. You know, and that natural charisma --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Professorial.

HAYES: Professorial, but so is Oklahoma twang. It`s a complicated
it`s an interesting complicated instruments she has as a politician as an
actor, as a speaker. And here`s I found so interesting. I watched her
speech at the convention and I thought it was so boilerplate, like it was
very talking point kind of generic Democrat and at the same moment that
she`s finally got shorn away the things that made her, I thought, a very
dynamic, vibrant presence, that I found to be the source of her charisma,
she is doing much better as a candidate. It is really an interesting
message.

(CROSSTALK)

NICHOLS: You`re wrong about that.

WILLIAMSON: Less substance, better results.

HAYES: That`s right. Charlie, is that what has happened?

PIERCE: I think to an extent it is. I think the other thing that`s
happened is that somebody in Scott Brown`s campaign has decided that
they`re going to throw away the two great advantages he had coming in.

Number one, he`s the incumbent U.S. senator which gives him a certain
gravitas. And second of all, he`s a nice guy. He`s Mr. Happy Barn Coat,
with a truck full of very lovely children and a great wife who used to be
on TV. We do, in Massachusetts, as the country is discovering to its
horror at this point, elect a certain kind of Republican.

Basically we have so many Democrats we don`t want them to steal
everything. So, we elect a Bill Welch, Romney 1.0 or we elect a Scott
Brown. We know who these people are.

Scott Brown has decided and I think he probably will dial this back
in a second debate although I don`t know -- he has decided not to be that
guy for the moment and I think that`s thrown him off.

NICHOLS: Can I just -- one of the problems that Scott Brown has is
that one of his predecessors in the Senate, Edward Brooke, was attorney
general back of Massachusetts back in 1964 when Goldwater ran for
president. Edward Brooke was overwhelmingly re-elected, huge margin.

What he did was he renounced Lyndon Johnson. He said, I am not a
part of this national party. I am a Republican. I`m going to fight to
make the Republican Party something different.

WILLIAMSON: Not Barry Goldwater.

NICHOLS: I`m sorry, I apologize. The critical thing to understand
here is Scott Brown won`t do that. If he does not do that, he will lose
this race and he will lose this race because of his association with the
national party.

HAYES: And the reason he won`t do that is because the regional
breakdowns in party discipline in the 1960s were very different than the
regional breakdowns in the party discipline 2012 which is why the argument
-- look, if I met a conservative from Alabama, OK, and --

WILLIAMS: Not to engage in geographic stereotyping.

HAYES: No, no, no. I`m saying it`s an analogy, the same way a
liberal from Massachusetts. If I met a conservative in a state that`s
wildly red and a conservative state, and they had some charismatically
local Democratic senator, I would say rationally, if you are conservative,
don`t vote. It doesn`t matter how you like that person, they`re going to
will vote for the Democrats, right? Like you`re voting for Mitch McConnell
or Harry Reid. You`re voting for "The National Party."

And the Edward Brooke, the geographical first African-American
senator.

NICHOLS: The first African-American senator.

But I bring that point up because the fact is, yes, we can talk about
these things regionally. Bottom line is, that is still a political
reality. If Mitt Romney continues over the next few weeks to be as toxic
as he is and Scott Brown does not make that separation, I cannot see how he
can win this race.

HAYES: Mitt Romney, I should say, toxic --

PIERCE: There`s also a certain precedent here too. In that, you
know, a while back, we had a really great Senate race up here between John
Kerry and Bill Welch. Probably the classic Senate race of the last 10 or
20 years.

The thing that tipped it at the very end besides the fact that Bill
Welch sort of decided he didn`t want to be a candidate was that John Kerry
managed to hang the national Republican Party around Bill Welch`s neck just
enough to get a margin of victory.

HAYES: Yes.

PIERCE: So, now, that can repeat itself or it can`t, but that`s what
happened last time we had one of these. This should -- actually, this
should be a much better campaign than it has been.

HAYES: Charlie Pierce, lead writer for the politics blog at
"Esquire" magazine, great to have you on the program. Hoping we can get
you down here in New York one of these days.

PIERCE: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Christie Vilsack, the Democratic candidate running against
Steve King in Iowa is going to join us in just a bit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Important correction, Edward Brooke, senator from
Massachusetts, African-American Republican. I just said he was the first
black senator since reconstruction, which is a very important point to
make. I didn`t -- no disrespect to Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first black
senator in the United States 1870, 1871 in Mississippi. Since I just got
through reading Eric (INAUDIBLE) 700-page misdeeds --

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: History of Reconstruction, I would be gravely in error if not
to know with that.

WILLIAMSON: We need more people called Hiram in politics.

HAYES: I agree.

WILLIAMSON: Names that come by the way side.

HAYES: Kevin, don`t you think -- I almost said don`t you think I`m
right about something. I caught myself midway through.

(LAUGHTER)

WILLIAMSON: As a rhetorical gaffe --

HAYES: This sort of -- like shouldn`t a Massachusetts Democrat vote
for Elizabeth Warren?

WILLIAMSON: Well, a Massachusetts Democrat?

HAYES: Yes.

WILLIAMSON: Well, I would think so.

A couple of things, first of all, I think this whole idea of Romney
being toxic is way, way overblown. Romney hasn`t had the best week at all,
but it`s still a toss up race, which it shouldn`t be in Barack Obama`s
position.

I mean, the amazing thing about Scott Brown is that he`s in the race
at all. This is like a Democrat winning in Utah or something like that.
He`s in a very, very hostile place and what`s been amazing to me is that
Scott Brown really has this reputation of being the sort of, you know,
nice, likeable guy, which personally, even though I personally like Scott
Brown I don`t get because that doesn`t seem like his personality to me.

On the stump, he seems like a cocky, little bit of a jerk actually,
which again, I wish more politicians were like that. It seems more honest.
But, you know, you`re saying being a belligerent jackass.

(CROSSTALK)

NICHOLS: Charlie.

WILLIAMSON: Charlie, yes. You`re probably going to see more of
that. And --

HAYES: Yes.

WILLIAMSON: -- I`m not sure being a nice guy really wins a race. I
think he`s likeable in that sense but, yes, he`s an extraordinarily hostile
place. It`s just amazing thing that he holds office start with.

HAYES: Romney being toxic, I agree that it can be overstated. I
don`t think it`s -- I actually think the Ryan plan. I think the Medicare-
Ryan plan is far more toxic as a thing you`ll run ads on than Mitt Romney.
But we should say this week a few data points in the Romney causing
problems downed ballot.

First, there`s the 47 percent comment.

You have Linda McMahon in Connecticut, which again, is a blue state,
in terms of its national election. She distanced herself from the 47
percent comment, saying, "I disagree with Governor Romney`s insinuation
that 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims who must depend on
the government for their care. I know that the vast majority of those who
rely on government are not in that situation because they want to be."

WILLIAMSON: She`s so disappointing. >

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: And Dean Heller, who is Shelley Berkley`s opponents from
Nevada, "I have a very different view of the world and as a United States
senator, I think I represent everybody. One of the responsibilities of the
federal government as a safety net, I believe in a safety net, I think
that`s one of the responsibilities" --

WILLIAMSON: So, your data point here is Senate candidates utter
banalities.

HAYES: Yes. Well --

WILLIAMSON: Congratulations.

HAYES: One more data point.

WILLIAMSON: Always true.

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMSON: Socialistic ideas.

HAYES: First of all, let me say this in defense of myself, even the
most basic banalities do not -- are not always uttered by Republicans when
they come to that kind of distancing from -- particularly from conservative
dogma, right? There`s all sorts of times in which --

WILLIAMSON: In Connecticut?

HAYES: No, even in Connecticut. In fact, the Republican Party to
its great -- to its great credit as a unified entity often doesn`t broke a
lot of that dissension.

Here`s Senate candidate Tommy Thompson explicitly asking why are you
behind Tammy Baldwin, saying, "The presidential thing is bound to have an
impact on every election. You know whether you`re a Democrat or
Republican, if you`re a standard bearer for the presidency is not doing
well, it`s going to reflect on the down ballot. That`s Tommy Thompson.

WILLIAMSON: Yes, one thing I think you`re all right about. And
especially in the sense of this race being nationalize --

HAYES: Everything.

WILLIAMSON: Aside from everything -- is that you`re really seeing a
kind of decline in real political federalism, where every issue is a
federal issue. The states don`t matter in the way they used to. They`re
being treated as administrative subdivisions of federal government.

HAYES: In our politics it`s particularly true that --

WILLIAMSON: Right. But that`s enormously destructive for our
country. The states do matter and they ought to be treated as the
sovereign entities that he they are.

HAYES: On the record, you do want to repeal the 17th Amendment,
right?

WILLIAMSON: Oh, yes.

NICHOLS: You don`t want an elected Senate?

WILLIAMSON: I want to raise the voting age to 35.

NICHOLS: Don`t go there.

WILLIAMS: In terms of your mentioning that the states don`t matter,
I think from a policy perspective, particularly from an issues perspective
and things that are -- following the laws that are being passed in the
state, what is being proven is that the states do matter.

HAYES: Sure.

WILLIAMS: That`s the reason why Republicans are putting more money
in the states n governor`s races, in judgeships, that`s the reason why.

WILLIAMSON: I mean, there are things at stake there. If you look at
things like health care, we`re not getting 50 health care systems. We`re
getting one federal health care system.

HAYES: Now.

WILLIAMSON: Well, I know you think that. And God will forgive you.

But, you know, there`s so many things from, you know, health care, to
the economy, to other things like gun rights which really ought to be a
state-by-state issue rather than a federal issue, but all get decided in
Washington. Even this sort of, you know, leviathan effect where everything
has to happen in Washington.

HAYES: Speaking of nationalizing election, our next guest is running
against a candidate, Representative Steve King, who has quite a national
profile. He very much enjoys going on cable news -- not that there`s
anything wrong with that -- to give some very hard right provocative
statements and we`re going to tuck to Christie Vilsack who`s running
against Steve King in the great state of Iowa, right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: I want to give out a shout to Professor Blair Perry, also
known as the best friend of Melissa Harris Perry, for catching the Edward
Brooke mistake.

Christie Vilsack is the wife of Tom Vilsack and she is running in
Iowa against incumbent Republican Steve King.

Christie, it`s great to have you on the program. Thanks for joining
us.

CHRISTIE VILSACK (D-IA), U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
It`s great to be here.

HAYES: So we`re talking about the ways in which you have a very
tightly contested race and all the analysis of what the sort of top swing
districts are, it`s probably in the top 10, top 15 in the country. We`re
talking about the way the national politics play out locally. I`d like to
get your sense of this.

I mean, do you feel that the issues that are happening in your race
are about what`s happening in your district? Are they about the people`s
conception of Steve King as a national political conservative figure? How
do you see this playing out in your race?

VILSACK: Well, I think we both see this job differently. I see it
very locally. We`ve lost a congressperson in Iowa and this district is
much bigger.

My district is the richest agricultural space in the world, and I`m
going to be representing a lot of people who live in small towns and small
cities, and they want to make sure that they have economic opportunity at
the local level. And so my race is focused on that.

Steve King has really I think seen the job as through a national
lens, through a Washington lens and I think he sees the job as a way to
push his personal agenda and to promote an ideology that has nothing to do
really with the economic prosperity of the people in these small towns.

HAYES: Steve King, I should note, the district that you`re now
running for that he represents has been redistricted. It`s changed a bit.

VILSACK: Yes.

HAYES: It is less -- the voter registration, I think it`s still
Republican in your district, but nowhere near as Republican as it formerly
was, is that right?

VILSACK: Well, actually, I think the independents will decide the
race. It`s about 37 percent of independents. So neither of us can win
with our base. So, it really I think requires an independent spirit and
paying attention to all of the people in this district.

You know, my district, as I said, we -- it`s probably the richest
agricultural district in the country and it`s also a senior district. So I
will never turn my back on the seniors of my district. They helped to
raise me and make me who I am in the state and I`m going to make sure I
take care of them.

HAYES: I`m imagining a village of seniors.

(LAUGHTER)

VILSACK: You`re right. That`s true.

HAYES: When you say that I think the obvious. It has to do with
Medicare, right? And I`m curious how much the House Republican caucus and
the Ryan plan and the votes on Medicare, how much is that playing a rolling
in your race?

VILSACK: Well, I think it will play a huge role because I don`t
think seniors want to be out on the streets with vouchers trying to find
health care and I`m going to do everything I can to protect them from that
because, you know, they worked really hard. They`ve worked their whole
lives and these are not entitlement programs. These are programs they`ve
paid into and now they deserve to reap the benefits of that.

My opponent basically has suggested that the people in my state are
slackers and that we`re not producing enough and contributing enough to the
gross national product, and that we should really be working until we`re
74. There are a lot of people in Iowa who want to work until they`re 74,
but there are a lot of people who have worked back-breaking work. And when
it`s time for them to retire, they should enjoy the benefits of retirement.
So, I`m going to protect those benefits and do everything that I can
because they shouldn`t have to use vouchers and come up with another $6,000
to take care of their health care.

HAYES: Kevin, do you have a question?

WILLIAMSON: Well, I mean, it`s not as though our only choices in
life are Medicare as it exists and some sort of Dickensian state where
seniors are thrown out on the street. I mean, I kind of like her chances
in this race because the district is full of farmers and older people,
which are the two biggest recipients of welfare pretty much in the country.

So if you look at the farm bill -- everyone talks about corporate
welfare. Have you ever read the farm bill? There`s a word for it that I
can`t use on television mess, but giveaways to the business interests. I
think that`s probably worth addressing.

HAYES: Christie, I`d like you to respond, because the farm bill is
one thing that didn`t get done. There is a lot of critiques the way the
farm bill was put together, in terms of who it benefits, whether it
actually benefits family farmers, or just ends up benefiting Cargill and
Monsanto, et cetera.

VILSACK: Well, I think the Senate did a good job there. This is one
of the only successes I think this year that they created a farm bill that
was acceptable to a lot of people but the House was not able to pass the
farm bill. I`m wearing my farm bill now button.

Basically all of the people in my delegation, including Senator Chuck
Grassley, and Congressman Tom Latham basically signed the petition that
would have forced the farm bill to come to a vote last week, but Steve King
did not. He`s an outlier in this regard.

I don`t know how somebody like that can represent this district which
is all small towns and farm fields and small cities that rely on
agriculture and not show leadership in terms of bringing this farm bill to
a vote.

The farm bill -- and it`s really the farm food and jobs bill is an
opportunity to create jobs. It`s -- I`ve talked to a lot of young farmers
who are depending on this new farm bill to help them get involved in
farming and so, you know, it`s really important that we get the farm bill
taken care of right now.

HAYES: Democratic candidate for Congress, Christie Vilsack, should
mention you`re the wife of Tom Vilsack -- thanks so much for joining us
this morning. I really appreciate it.

All right. So what do we know now that we didn`t know last week? My
answers after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: In just a moment, what we now know we didn`t know last week.
But, first, a quick update.

This week, UP turned 1-year-old. If you`ve been following along on
Twitter today, you may have noticed that Wyatt Rothman (ph), the very first
Upper is here with us in New York. About a year ago, Wyatt created the
Uppers hashtag we`ve all come to know and love.

When Wyatt first started counting the mentions of Uppers on Twitter
on October 2011, there were 11. Today, we average between 4,000 and 6,000
Uppers mentions and hashtag typically trends nationally during most of the
show. For that, we wanted to thank Wyatt and we want to thank all of you
for the incredible community you have built with us.

With your help, our second year will be more even ambitious and
innovative than the first. In fact, we hope you`ll join us on a new
digital platform. Today, we`re launching a Tumblr where we`ll be posting a
lot more of all those bright crafts, charts, photos and videos our team
produces every week. You can follow us there at upwithchris.tumblr.com.

So, what else do we now know we didn`t know last week?

Well, we now know Chicago Public School students are back in the
classroom, after the Chicago teachers union voted to end their seven-day
strike and accept contract offered by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. We know the
strike brought sharp relief the lines of conflict within the Democratic
Party over what is commonly referred to as education reform.

We also know that for all the hectoring the teachers union was
subjected to about hurting students, the contract they secured after
striking includes nearly 600 new art, music and gym teachers, a guarantee
of textbooks on the first day of class and a million and a half dollars for
special education teachers, among other things.

We now know the name of the first village on planet earth to be
entirely relocated because of climate change. Thanks to a fantastic
dispatch from alternate reporter Brook Meakins, we know the residents of
Vunidogoloa on Fiji`s second largest island are in the midst of relocating
to higher ground because of rising sea and increased flooding have made
their previous home uninhabitable.

We know that such relocations will be more common as we enter a new
warmer period in Earth atmosphere. We know that the CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex
Tillerson, who accepts the scientific consensus that carbon emissions are
warming the earth, has this message for the world`s farmers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, EXXONMOBIL, CEO: We spent our entire existence
adapting. OK? So we will adapt to this. Changes to weather patterns that
move crop production areas around, we`ll adapt to that. It`s an
engineering problem, and it has engineering solutions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: I know we are almost certainly never happen and love to see
Rex Tillerson meet face to face with the climate refugees that his
company`s actives are creating or have Mitt Romney head to the Vunidogoloa
village and tell the people living there how hilarious it is that the
oceans are rising.

I want to find out what my guests know that they didn`t know when the
week began.

I will begin with you, Mr. John Nichols.

NICHOLS: What we now know we didn`t know that -- at the start of the
week is that Mitt Romney really is -- you know, ignoramus when it comes to
the Middle East. A truly, truly disengaged and dysfunctional player. One
of the least covered parts of that tape was his statement about
Palestinians.

Now, when Mitt Romney went to Jerusalem, he passed up opportunities,
pleas, from moderate Palestinians, from many, many people in the
Palestinian community, to meet with him and tell him and talk to him.

He passed up pleas from the peace community that wanted to meet with
him and talk about the dynamics. In this tape -- we know why he passed it
up, he passed it up because he wanted to do fund-raisers.

HAYES: Right.

NICHOLS: What we learned from this tape that he really needed to
have those meetings. He makes presumptions about masses of people in a
deeply troubled part of the world, deeply challenging part of the world
that are so destructive. I know all, everything else about that tape, to
my mind, as we spend all the time and effort in the world, I think that`s a
disqualifying statement.

HAYES: We cut that tape and didn`t put it -- didn`t play it. We`re
going to put it on our new Tumblr. And I totally agree with you.

Joy?

WILLIAMS: As I said earlier, in the show, the country is changing.
You know, more people of color will be part of the electorate and there are
-- there are organizations like Pat Plus (ph) who are organizing for that
effort and really trying to do that focus on the states and flipping
legislators.

So in Texas, Mary Gonzalez, under 30, LGBT, going to represent her
constituents there, as well as (INAUDIBLE). All organized around --

HAYES: State rep?

WILLIAMS: Yes. In Texas, no less.

And you know, we really immediate to focus not only on the
presidential elections but also down ballot races and state legislators
because that`s where a lot of these policies that we continually come from.

HAYES: Kevin?

WILLIAMSON: Well, at the risk of channeling John Edwards -- there
really are two Americas in a sense. And there really are two economies.
You have a situation which unemployment remains very high, in which growth
is very weak, lots of people and on a lot of trouble. And iPhone 5 sales
are off the charts. Apple stock hits, what, 700 bucks, something like
that. There`s a big gap there.

HAYES: Yes. Huge, absolutely two economies right now. You have --
all this indicator -- people that in that room with Mitt Romney and -- even
people below that on the income scale doing very well, people on the bottom
third, bottom half of the income distribution are not.

COX: I don`t know if this counts as something I didn`t know, because
I knew that Barack Obama was (INAUDIBLE) on the Fast and Furious debacle.
I also knew Eric Holder probably wasn`t but now there has been a beneficial
report to Congress that definitively states about three, four levels down
from Holder that this sort of mess got started.

So, the conspiracy theory that was endorsed sort of in part by
Darrell Issa it was all a plot to disarm Americans.

(CROSSTALK)

COX: Surprisingly less attention on that.

WILLIAMSON: The enormous mess of corruption and ineptitude in the
Justice Department. It just doesn`t look right all the way to the top.

HAYES: Well, that`s -- that`s better than the bottom.

My thanks to John Nichols of "The Nation" magazine, political
strategist L. Joy Williams of "This Week in Blackness", Kevin Williamson of
"The National Review", and Ana Marie Cox of "The Guardian" newspaper.
Thanks for getting UP, guys.

Thank you for joining us today for UP.

Join us tomorrow, Sunday morning at 8:00. We`ll have author Thomas
Frank with us, and a special roundtable on anti-Islam movie and how speech
designed to inflame test our notions of free speech.

Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY". On today`s MHP, Melissa
takes Mitt Romney`s 40 percent remarks at face value, country music legend
Willie Nelson weighs in, and the reason Paul Romney was booed while
addressing the AARP. That`s "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" coming up next.

We`ll see you right here tomorrow at 8:00. Thanks for getting UP.

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

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