'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, September 28th, 2012
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
September 28, 2012
Guest: Leslie Reagan
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Have a great weekend, my
friend. We have a lot to do next week.
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: I`m good at that. I`ll be in
Colorado on Monday and Tuesday and, of course, back with you on the desk
here, the big debate on Wednesday night.
MADDOW: I`m so looking forward to it. Thanks, man. Have a good time
SCHULTZ: You bet.
MADDOW: All right. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for
I want to show you first the latest swing state polls. Mitt Romney
supporters, you might want to look away for this part. In swing state
Virginia, President Obama is up by two points. In swing state New
Hampshire, it`s President Obama up by five points. In swing state
Pennsylvania, it President Obama up by seven points.
Do we still call Michigan a swing state? Mitt Romney supporters, you
can drop your hands from in front of your eyes here. The latest poll has
Mitt Romney up by four in Michigan, which is a lot less than the 12 point
and 14-point leads the president has also had in Michigan polls there this
But for what it`s worth, I should also tell you we have national polls
and Mitt Romney, it`s time for the finger vision. The latest FOX News
national polls shows President Obama up a by five points. That`s the FOX
The Gallup daily tracking poll had been quite close recently. Now,
Gallup shows President Obama up by six. Even the quite ostentatiously
Republican leaning Rasmussen poll gives President Obama a one-point lead
Basically across the board in the polls that matter, in the states
that matter, the Obama campaign is ahead. Things could change. We`ve got
the debate starting next week, there`s long way to go, it`s politics, who
knows? Anything could happen.
But right now, the Obama campaign is solidly and consistently ahead.
Tactically what that means is that the Obama campaign has to convert
being ahead in people`s preferences to actual votes. Since they are
clearly ahead, a good time to get those votes cast is right now, because
thanks to early voting, people are casting ballots right now. So this lead
that they have now in the polls can be banked. It can be turned into
actual votes while they`re still ahead, even if they don`t end up being
this far ahead by Election Day.
Iowa, yesterday, became the first swing state in the nation where
voters are actually voting early in person. Iowa has these really
interesting rules where if you get enough signatures from your area, you
can ask to have a pop-up polling place, sort of like if food truck offered
Well, Obama voters arranged for a pop-up polling place at the
University of Northern Iowa today. And look at what they did? They had
the first lady go to University of Northern Iowa. And it was not a "get
out the vote" event. Rather, it was a much more direct "go vote now"
They had the first lady speak and they had the university marching
band lead people from the audience of the first lady`s speech directly to
the voting booth. Don`t you always wish voting was like this? Voting
needs more drum majors, more cow bell, more skinny kid in the front wearing
a xylophone and playing the keys off of it.
I want voting to always have this happening. So, the Obama folks are
ahead in the polls. And that means they are trying to reap tangible
benefits from that in the form of votes. Right this way right now, follow
the marching bands to the polls.
The Romney folks on the other hand are behind, which means they have a
different job to do. They don`t want America to go vote right now. If
America went and voted right now, Nate Silver says President Obama would
win by 138 electoral votes.
So, yes, there are no marching bands leading people to the polls from
the Romney side right now. That is not what they need.
What the Romney side needs is that they`d still have to persuade
people that Governor Romney is the guy they should vote for.
At the national level, that means they need to fix whatever has gone
so wrong with their campaign messaging. They need to stop doing whatever
it is that has turned so many people off to their candidate.
When you ask voters whether they like this Mitt Romney guy, the answer
is a very, very plain answer. No. His favorable ratings are in the low
40s, almost 10 points lower than the ratings for President Obama. Lower
even than the famously unpopular former President George W. Bush right now.
Swing state voters say they do not think Mitt Romney cares about the
needs and problems of people like them. Some of Mr. Romney`s numbers are
just shockingly bad. I mean, double check, shockingly bad. Look at the
percentage of swing state voters who say Mitt Romney`s policies will favor
the middle class.
In Florida, it`s 8 percent. In Ohio, it`s 9 percent. In
Pennsylvania, it`s 9 percent.
Whatever the Romney campaign has done to get themselves to this point,
whether it`s Mr. Romney`s tax returns or the lack thereof, or that getting
rich by laying off factory workers or that tape where he says half the
country is a bunch of lazy bums and victims who depend on the government
and he doesn`t care about them? Whatever it is that turned their candidate
into the 2012 reincarnation of Thurston Howell, except in this
reincarnation, Thurston is mean.
Whatever it is that has done that is just killing him in the polls, in
every state. If the Romney campaign does nothing else, they must, must,
must make sure that nobody anywhere near Mitt Romney does that rich guy
can`t relate to people like me thing again. Here`s the Romney campaign
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MARRIOTT, MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL CHAIRMAN: Both Mitt and I have
summer places up in New Hampshire on Lake Winnipesaukee. And a few summers
ago, I was talking my grandchildren and children to town in the boat for
ice cream. And we got into the doing, and they were all full and I looked
around, there was no place to park, so we stopped at the end of the dock.
They all jumped off and ran up the dock. And I realized there was nobody
in the boat to help me dock the boat, handle the ropes, do anything -- they
just left me out there at sea.
So I finally found a place to park after about 20 minutes and I pulled
in and I said, "Who is going to grab the rope?" and I looked up and there
is Mitt Romney. So he pulled me in and he tied up the boat for me. He
rescued me, just as he`s going to rescue this great country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What America needs is more help parking our yachts, as hotel
mogul Bill Marriott so helpfully explained, toss me the line, biff. Mitt
Romney is just the man to help America dock our yachts.
Seriously, the Romney campaign has been trying to stop stuff like
this, right? They have been trying to turn Mitt Romney into a relatable
At Romney events, they have started playing that video that they made
for the RNC, but then they bumped that in favor of the crazy Clint Eastwood
thing, this video about Mr. Romney and his family, it`s very nice. Nobody
saw it at the convention, but they`re using it at their events now. Right.
And they gave "Time" magazine that 1968 photo of young Mitt Romney on
a beach in France with his love letter to Ann written in the sand. I mean,
you can understand why they wouldn`t maybe want to highlight that Mitt
Romney spent his draft eligible years writing love letters in France
instead of serving in Vietnam. But there is also a human benefit to
showing him, right? Human, an ounce of handsome, humanized Mitt at this
point might be worth a pound of questions on how he avoided serving during
the war. They are trying.
They`ve even got him talking about health reform in Massachusetts
again. And conservatives now are so scared of him losing as badly as it
looks like him losing, they are not even squawking about it this time the
way they did when he talked about Romneycare just last month.
The Romney campaign is trying to do some things right. They are
trying to make people dislike their candidate less.
And then Thurston strikes again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARRIOTT: So he pulled me in and he tied up the boat for me. He
rescued me, just as he`s going to rescue this great country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: At the national level, fairly or not, voters say they regard
Mitt Romney as somebody who doesn`t care about working people, who doesn`t
care about them. It is a lot for the campaign to overcome and they have
not got much time. Even if you ignore, ignore, ignore all the early
voting. Even if give yourself a deadline of 39 more days until the general
election, at the national level, they have to work on that.
At the local level, the Romney campaign does not have the luxury of
doing what the Obama folks has now, working on turnout and marching people
to the polls.
The Romney folks still really have to work on messaging locally as
well. They still have to work on persuading people. And the way they have
decided to persuade people locally is in some cases by giving up on
messaging that is about Mitt Romney or even any big contrast with President
They`re going small, really small. They`re going the size of the tip
of a sharpened pencil small.
Look at this flyer. This is apparently not made up. But if it is and
I have been punked, I will tell it back and apologize. As best we can
tell, this is real.
This is apparently a real Romney campaign flyer sent to voters in
northern Virginia. Quote, "Romney-Ryan, doing more to fight the spread of
Lyme disease." This is first posted today by "Mother Jones".
Here`s another page of the flier, "What can a president do about Lyme
disease?" Really now? Is Mitt Romney running for president because of
tick-borne illness? Really?
Or is somebody else down the campaign food chain making decisions
about what the campaign on now? Because it is when the freelancing
happens, when people start getting desperate and taking matters into their
own hands, that then maybe you get a presidential campaign that`s trying to
be about tick-born diseases related to deer? Maybe that will work in
And sometimes it`s your buddy, the other mogul with the yacht mogul
singing your yacht parking praises, because surely, who among us doesn`t
have this challenge?
But then sometimes it`s exactly what you think it`s going to be.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Y`all sound like y`all are senior citizens,
right? Yes. We don`t want -- you don`t want Obama. You really don`t want
Obama because he`ll get rid of your Medicare. You might as well say good-
bye to it.
Yes, and I don`t know if you`ve done any research on Obama or not, but
he is a Muslim. He is -- got a socialistic view on the, you know, the
economy, the government, the whole nine yards. If he had his way, we`d be
a socialistic country.
OK, really do. Pay attention to FOX News.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: A volunteer for the Clay County Republican Party in Florida
made a series of calls on behalf of her preferred candidate. One of those
calls got caught on an answering machine and then it got played on a local
radio station WNMF, and that got into the St. Augustine record and got
picked up on Gawker and now this is part of the Romney campaign messaging,
too, just like the yacht thing.
The leader of the Clay County Florida, for what it`s worth, says the
volunteer was off script while making those remarks. Yes, you think?
Joining us now is Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC weekend morning show "UP
WITH CHRIS HAYES." He`s the author of "Twilight of the Elites: American
Chris, thank you for being here.
CHRIS HAYES, "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES": It`s great to be here.
MADDOW: I want to ask you about the Obama care decision specifically.
So Romney decided to run as the most anti-Obamacare guy in the whole
world for most of the primaries. Starting last month, he started to shift
to say, I`m glad to be known as the grandfather of this. This should be --
he`s bringing it up unprompted. This is one of the ways I want you to know
I am a compassionate person because I did Romneycare in my state.
The conservatives used to be very upset whenever he did that. Now,
they don`t mind. Is that smart on their part?
HAYES: Yes, it is smart on their part. It turns out, (a), the bill
is not as toxic as it was; (b), the underlying --
MADDOW: At the national level.
HAYES: At the national level -- (b), the underlying principle is
popular, which conservatives lost sight of the fact that people like the
idea of folks having health insurance if they get hit by a stroke of bad
luck or they happen to have a bad disease. It was that they didn`t like
the bill because the bill played out in this very kludgy way over 18 months
but people liked the principle.
And so, back about six weeks ago when Andrea Saul, the spokesperson,
came out and praised the bill, right, when they were responding to a
Priorities USA ad about the guy who lost a job at Bain factory and wife
died, right? She said if he had been in Massachusetts, she would have
And someone from red states, everyone went bunkers in the right. And
someone from red state said what conservatives are doing is like house
breaking a dog. We are saying do not do that.
And that to me is in some ways that is the story of the Romney
campaign. All the places they could have had political advantage, when
they started to drift towards it, the right said, no, don`t go there.
There`s places they had political advantage opening on Afghanistan, on
housing, on distribution of the recovery, in terms of who is benefiting and
who is not and they couldn`t go to any of those places because they had to
toe the kind of line that you heard on the answering machine in that phone
call. That has basically been what the Romney campaign has been.
MADDOW: So now, though, the right having exerted that kind of
discipline on the Romney campaign for all of this time, have they just
stopped because they`re so cowed by the prospect of him losing, it`s OK,
pee wherever you want, dog?
HAYES: Yes, exactly, exactly. The house breaking has failed.
MADDOW: House breaking is over. Do what you need to do.
HAYES: That is what it looks like. I was surprised. I was
anticipating the same round of reprisals after he told Ron Allen, you know,
I`m proud of it. And you want to talk about it?
And he was right. He said, you want to talk about empathy, kids have
health care in Massachusetts. And he`s right. That`s a great thing.
So, the right has to eventually decide if they are going to keep
trying to help Mitt Romney win or if they are going to say that Mitt Romney
is losing and it`s because he`s not conservative enough and we need to
start saving people down ticket. At what point do they make an ideological
very tactical decision there?
Because Mitt Romney is very susceptible to critics from the right. He
always does what they say.
HAYES: Yes. I think there`s two groups there. There`s the kind of
commentating class, who I think they already want to get their -- I was
saying last night on Lawrence O`Donnell, it`s like they`re purchasing an
insurance premium. Every column they write about how Mitt is doing it
wrong, it`s to be able to go back and points to the record and say, I saw.
MADDOW: I know we never --
HAYES: I know, exactly, right? So, they`re doing that.
The big question is where the big money starts to flow, particularly
Karl Rove -- the money Karl Rove controls and the money the national party
controls. You`re seeing real hemorrhaging in the down state races. I
mean, you and I are just talking about this. The Senate races are really
surprising to me. I mean, you`ve seen real turnarounds.
HAYES: Wisconsin. You know, in Virginia. But, you know, there`s a
bunch of places where they`re not doing well. I think you are going to
start to see the money flow after the first debate if there`s not a big
moment in that first debate, if there`s not a big turnaround there.
MADDOW: I think the big debate is going to be a big deal.
MADDOW: Shall we cover it together?
HAYES: That would be great.
Chris Hayes, he`s host -- his show is called "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES."
It airs tomorrow morning at 8:00. Who`s your guest tomorrow? What do you
HAYES: We`re going to talk to Sherrod Brown about the economy in Ohio
and how the economy might be better than we had realized. The debate we`re
having about the economy is not I think the debate that a lot of people,
political commentators and critics on the left and right thought we`d be
having. We want to sort of dig into the numbers beneath the headline
numbers that might give us the sense of why that`s the case.
MADDOW: "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES," tomorrow morning here on MSNBC. Set
your DVR now or better yet, your alarm clock.
All right. If you could choose a super power -- would it be the
ability to fly, the ability to be invisible, the ability to be more
powerful than a speeding locomotive? Senator Scott Brown apparently has a
super power. We will attempt to give it a name, next.
MADDOW: The son of the owner of the New England Patriots is right now
hosting a $75,000 a plate fund-raiser for Mitt Romney. Mr. Romney is also
doing a reception tonight at the home of the guy who founded Reebok. Both
of those events are tonight in the Boston area and all told those two vents
should put $7.5 million more in the pockets of the Romney campaign.
It also means when I`m trying to stop thinking about politics by
watching the Patriots game on Sunday, the freaking patriots ownership is
forcing me to think about Mitt Romney while I`m trying to watch their
stupid game without Aaron Hernandez, which is really annoying.
Regardless, these Boston fund-raisers tonight means that Mitt Romney
is spending yet another night in a state that isn`t at all a swing state.
There`s no question that Mr. Romney is going to lose his home state of
Massachusetts by 10, 20, maybe even something approaching 30 points.
But unlike California, or Utah, or Texas, where Mr. Romney also spends
a lot of time raising money from really rich people who live in states that
don`t have any interesting contested political races this year, when Mr.
Romney is in Massachusetts, it`s not a swing state but Massachusetts does
have a really contested Senate race. Republican Senator Scott Brown is
trying desperately, very desperately, to fend off a challenge from
Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren. And I use the word desperate on
After releasing one ad attacking Elizabeth Warren on the basis of
race, after his staffers were caught childishly mocking Native Americans
with the whole tomahawk chop and war whoop thing, after the Cherokee Nation
asked Scott Brown to apologize for that and he refused to do so, after all
that Scott Brown has put out another ad today again attacking Elizabeth
Warren on the basis of race.
The Scott Brown campaign must have some amazing internal poll numbers
showing a race based campaign is working wonders for him, because I don`t
know how he would explain this. I mean, it`s not a whisper campaign, or
anonymous flyers on windshields in church parking lots like we used to
expect for this sort of thing, this comes straight from the campaign
Just to be clear as a bell about what the story is. It`s not that
Scott Brown has ever disproven or anybody has ever disproven that Elizabeth
Warren has Native American ancestry. It`s not been disproven. It`s not a
Scott Brown`s whole beef with her, the whole basis for his U.S. Senate
campaign against her based on race is that he thinks she doesn`t look
Native American to him. These eyeballs don`t lie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Professor Warren claimed that
she was a Native American, a person of color. And as you can see, she`s
That being said she checked the box. She checked the box claiming she
was a native American. And, you know, clearly she`s not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Look at her. Look at her. Native American? Come on. Look
One weird side effect for us as a show covering this story all week
since Scott Brown decided to put race at the center of his campaign with
that first debate last week, one weird side effect for us is that just
about every day now, we have been getting contacted by people who watch the
show or who have read about the story elsewhere who are all reacting to
Senator Scott Brown the same way. It does not seem to have been a
coordinated thing, we can`t find any evidence it was coordinated.
It certainly wasn`t coordinated by us. It just seems to be a lot of
people who all are responding like this to Scott Brown and his magical
ability to detect ethnic ancestry on sight with his magic DNA goggles.
One woman tweeted us this picture of herself and said, quote, "That`s
me. Do you think Scott Brown can tell I`m almost half Cree Indian just by
looking me? Oh, I`m sure he could. Yes, just look at you."
A woman named Nancy sent us this picture of herself, saying, "FYI
Scott Brown, I have alabaster skin and at birth red hair with a nod to my
Irish immigrant a maternal side. Like Elizabeth Warren, I am proud to
claim my Indian roots."
But, of course, if you`re Scott Brown, you can already count those
roots using your magic DNA divining rod, right?
Also, this is Chris. Chris says he would like Scott Brown to know
that even though he has blond hair and blue eyes, he`s half Momvi (ph)
Rick and Patty sent this to us. Patty`s dad was Cherokee. Rick asked
this, he asked, "Would Scott Brown say my wife is not Indian?" I mean,
look at her, right?
We got sent about a dozen of these pictures. We do not usually get
people sending us pictures of themselves. People sent us all sorts of
stuff but not usually that.
But all of these folks unsolicited by us are saying pretty much the
same thing. This is me, since Scott Browns claims to almost magic ability
to guess people`s ethnic backgrounds on sight and that`s why he should be a
U.S. senator. Let`s test that ability. Let`s test his DNA-dar.
He`s guy who puts that genea in genealogy. Prove it.
When Scott Brown said he knows Elizabeth Warren isn`t really Native
American because he said he could tell that just by looking at her, that is
what he volunteered as a major issue in the campaign in their first debate,
which is last week. Their second debate is on this Monday, this Monday.
If he doubles down on his race-based campaign, if he still claims he can
see a person`s heritage, then we will know finally and for sure that
somewhere in the back of his celebrated pickup truck, Scott Brown is hiding
a magic race ball.
MADDOW: Last night on this show we had an exclusive report on
something being held up in Congress that you sort of can`t believe would be
held up in Congress. I will admit to being a little fired up about this on
last night`s show, but I still find it just unbelievable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Here`s a simple idea. An American soldier gets killed in the
war. That soldier`s family gets a payment, dependency and indemnity
compensation for surviving spouses and children. We`re sorry, your
husband, your father, your mother, your wife was killed. This is
essentially a widows and orphans payment to you from the U.S. government.
You`d think this would be one of the less partisan inflicted things we
do as the government, right? The payment that we make to surviving spouses
From time to time, that payment gets adjusted to reflect increases in
the cost of living, right? That makes sense. One of the least
controversial things you could possibly imagine the United States
government agreeing to. Well, a bill to adjust that payment for the cost
of living was brought to the Senate floor last Thursday. It was expected
to go ahead, no muss, no fuss. Who is going to argue with that?
But it was blocked by someone in Governor Romney`s party. An unnamed
Republican senator has put a hold on the cost of living adjustment to the
surviving spouses and children`s payment for soldiers killed in the war.
The same hold is also affecting the disability payments to soldiers who are
wounded in the war. Some Republican senator is blocking this. We don`t
Governor Romney, here`s a place to start. You are now the leader of
the Republican Party. I realize you`re having a hard time getting the
training wheels off when it comes to national security.
But here`s an easy one, should that senator from your own party lift
that hold on the cost of living adjusted to the payments to those people
who we sort of owe it, too?
Should the Republican senator holding this up keep that hold in place
or drop it. You`re the leader of that party. Do you have anything to say
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Twenty-four hours later, it turns out Governor Romney does
not have anything to say on this. But since that angry little report on
this show last night, I will admit it, I was a little fire -- today,
whoever, the Republican senator was who was holding up that payment to
veterans and their family, today that senator has decided not to do that
It was not technically a hold, a formal hold. It was the Republican
side in the Senate refusing to give unanimous consent. But today, a top
Republican Senate aide told us that now they have found time to get
unanimous consent that they didn`t have before. Now they have.
The Office of Veterans Committee chair Patty Murray told us in
response, quote, "It`s good to see that at least they say the secret hold
has been lifted and that`s a testament to veterans learning about these
backroom games and standing up to demand accountability. We won`t know for
sure until November when we now have to try this over again. My hope is
that they have learned their lesson."
The vote on this payment, the vote on the veterans payment will now
happen in November after the election. It will be really tight. They`ve
got to pass it quickly in order not to affect those checks.
But presumably when they bring that up in November, it`s going to
pass. In the meantime we are all hoarding exclamation points just in case
it gets hung up again.
MADDOW: In the great swing state of Virginia, the latest polling
shows Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine tied in their race for
U.S. Senate. Not virtually tied, actually tied. They both have 44
And into that incredibly tight race, Democrats today dropped a new ad
hitting Republican George Allen for his own voting record on women`s rights
issue, tying him to the anti-abortion record of Virginia`s Republican
legislature and governor this year.
You see that headline? Personhood and ultrasound bills advance in
House. George Allen was not a member of the Virginia House of Delegates
that advance those bills this year, but Democrats apparently think it`s a
good strategy in campaigning against any Republican in Virginia to just
remind everyone that that`s the kind of stuff Virginia Republicans have
been up to lately.
Personhood rights for fertilized eggs and banning contraception and
banning abortion and forced ultrasounds for ladies.
And, you know, if you look closely at the poling in Virginia, you will
see that Republicans are facing a real problem with women voters. The
latest polling in Virginia in the presidential rate shows President Obama
up overall in the state by two points. But check out the numbers for women
voters in Virginia -- 18. President Obama up by 18-point margin.
And what might be motivating all this Virginia women, the line up
against the Republican candidate in this very, very swingy state? Well,
here`s an idea, a new Suffolk University poll out this week asked about the
forced ultrasound law passed by Republicans in the legislature in Virginia
this year, signed into law by the Republican governor in the state, Bob
McDonnell. Virginia voters opposed that law by 17 points.
The anti-abortion crusade that has been undertaken this year by
Republican-led state government in Virginia is not popular in Virginia.
And now Virginia women are prepared to take it out on the presidency,
right? They`re planning to vote against the Republicans` candidate for
president in their state by 18 points.
And that was the context for a really important move made by
Virginia`s Republican attorney general this week, a move that could be
important for the presidential race in Virginia. Ken Cuccinelli this week
certified a new set of regulations targeted only at abortion clinics in the
United States. These new rules are for oral surgeons or plastic surgery
centers. They`re just targeting abortion providers. It`s red tape
specifically designed is to make it economically impossible to operate an
abortion clinic in Virginia.
That`s what`s expected to happen in the state. Most of the state`s
abortion clinics are in danger of being closed once these new rules go into
effect. The state`s health board had initially voted to exempt existing
clinics from the most onerous of the red tape. But Bob McDonnell and Ken
Cuccinelli weighed in. They went back and pushed the board to apply the
new red tape designed to close the clinics to all the existing clinics in
the state. In a couple of weeks ago, the health board did what Bob
McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli told them and threatened to do.
And now, these new rules are expected to cause most of Virginia`s 20
abortion clinics to close their doors.
Bob McDonnell this week denied that the regulations are designed to
shut down clinics. He said that the new rules are just going to contribute
to the expense of operating an abortion clinic calling it, quote, "a cost
So, technically, he wants you to know he`s not just shutting down the
clinics. He`s just making it prohibitively expensive to operate one. Same
And if the clinic shutdown because McDonnell has made it too expensive
for them to operate in his state, targeted regulations that`s just about
them and not about any form of health -- I guess abortion access wasn`t
meant to be in Virginia.
We`ve seen the same thing in Mississippi this year. The Republican
governor there signed a new law, have the same approach, targeting the
state`s one remaining single abortion clinic in Mississippi for special
regulations. Here what`s he said about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. PHIL BRYANT (R), MISSISSIPPI: I think it`s historic that today
you see the first step in a movement I believe to do what we campaigned on,
to say we`re going to try to end abortion in Mississippi. We`re going to
try to continue to work to try to end abortion in Mississippi and this is
an historic day to begin that process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Abortion is legal. You can`t ban it. It is a
constitutionally protected right in this country.
Phil Bryant and Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli do not have the power
to change that. What they and Republican lawmakers all over the country do
have the power to do is cut off access to abortion. They can`t make
abortion illegal on paper. They can`t strike down Roe v. Wade except by
electing Mitt Romney, right, who will then pick Supreme Court judges who do
But they can`t make it so hard to get an abortion that it might as
well be illegal. They can make the right to access abortion a right in
After Republicans won big majorities in the states in 2010, they said
about restricting access to abortion in ways not seen since Roe versus Wade
was decided in 1973. And as a result of this new wave of restrictions,
we`re seeing signs of a return to a reality in America that is looking more
and more like the days before Roe.
"Businessweek" published a really interesting story this week out of
Arizona about a woman who`s running a nonprofit program there to help poor
women in Arizona find ways to access abortion, discusses these new
restrictions. You can no longer get an abortion outside Tucson or Phoenix
And even then, you have to wait 24 hours after a forced ultrasound,
which means many women are forced to travel hundreds of miles and then pay
to stay overnight in one of those two cities.
Pending another new abortion restriction banning some abortions, one
abortion rights advocate says she`s making connections in other states
outside Arizona, where she might have to start sending women who need
abortions across state lines. Quote, "Abortion is legal, but when you have
to travel 300 miles to get to a clinic that provide the services you need,
you don`t really have access."
In Texas, where women also face a forced ultrasound, followed by a
mandatory winning period if they need an abortion, women are crossing the
border into Mexico to buy drugs they hope will end their pregnancies from
unlicensed pharmacists and unregulated pharmacies. One Mexican pharmacist
who`s been selling a drug over the counter says he`s heard of girls
hemorrhaging after using that drug saying, quote, "I try my best to explain
the consequences but there`s only so much I can do."
Another pharmacist saying it sells, that`s the problem. But I won`t
tell them how to take it, I just say you might have problems later.
In Texas, in other words, the back alley abortions of the days before
Roe v. Wade are back. They just happen to involved unregulated
pharmaceuticals instead of coat hangers. And in Arizona, women are
mobilizing to shuttle patients out of state to get access to abortion. And
in Mississippi and in Virginia, abortion clinics are in danger of shutting
down all together.
Mississippi only had one left before these targeted regulations.
Abortion access in this country is on the decline. According to the
Guttmacher Institute, there are 25 percent fewer abortion providers in the
U.S. than there were 20 years ago, and fewer American counties have
abortion providers now than in 1973 when Roe versus Wade was decided.
In Wichita, Kansas, there has not been an abortion provider since Dr.
George Tiller was assassinated in 2009. This week, we learned that a
foundation run by one of Dr. Tiller`s former employees has purchased his
old clinic and plans to bring abortion services back to Wichita, if they
That new clinic will face not only new restrictions on abortion that
have been enacted by Republican politicians in Kansas and sign into law by
Governor Sam Brownback, they`re also going to be facing pickets and
protests and pressure from anti-abortion groups in Wichita.
The leaders of those groups are already vowing to shut the clinic
down, before it has even opened its doors. Hold on, there`s more ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRYANT: I think it`s historic that today you see the first step in a
movement I believe to do what we campaigned on, to say we`re going to try
to end abortion in Mississippi. We`re going to continue to try to work to
end abortion in Mississippi, and this is an historic day to begin that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant was not announcing his one-
man gubernatorial overturn of Roe v. Wade just then. He was announcing new
targeted red tape aimed at the one and only abortion clinic in his state,
which is, after all, the other way of outlawing abortion.
Joining us now for the interview is the author of "When Abortion was a
Crime," University of Illinois law and history professor, Leslie Reagan.
Professor Reagan, thank you for being with us tonight. Nice to have
LESLIE REAGAN, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS: Thank you. It`s very nice to
MADDOW: Do you see the wave of abortion restrictions we`ve had,
particularly over the last couple of years, as a means of undermining what
is real about Rove versus Wade, a way of making something that is supposed
to be legal essentially illegal by default?
REAGAN: Yes, I do. It`s amazing to watch the things you`ve been
bringing up that really show that a movement with the new right and a very
active, very conservative Republican Party can perhaps make abortion a
crime in certain areas, in certain states without overturning Rove versus
Wade. And for a long time I think the country, the abortion rights
movement has been focused on Rove versus Wade.
And really we should perhaps be thinking about the conditions of
abortion and think about -- since I`ve studied that, the conditions of
abortion when it was illegal. And much of this is what you were just
describing is exactly the way it was before Roe -- having to travel
hundreds of miles into other states, flying into other states and other
countries, going to Mexico for abortion, which by the way when this group
in San Francisco was sending people to Mexico for abortions, they were
sending them to superb providers. They were getting excellent care and
they were actually kind of the model of what the people who were trying to
overturn these laws, the illegal -- the laws that made abortion a crime,
that was what they wanted was to make it accessible to everyone, available
to everybody no matter whether they were wealthy or poor, no matter who
they were, what their age, their race, their religion and they would be
able to get safe abortions and where the women were treated with respect
And this is what the providers in Mexico that they were working with,
they were considered very humane abortions. They always had this
reputation as being a very dangerous and bad place, but actually the
program that they set up was the opposite. So much of what we`re seeing is
very similar. But we don`t have the good underground yet.
MADDOW: Do you see people who are concerned about the erosion of
abortion rights and the way that access has been winnowed away? It doesn`t
even feel like winnowed away. It feels like it`s sort of being hacked at
Do you see people trying to sort of underground railroad style
organizing? Do you see people essentially trying to pool resources in
terms of where the right still is accessible in a legal and safe way, and
those becoming sort of hubs for the country and other women trying to women
try to get to those places?
REAGAN: Well, I think you just showed us example. There are abortion
funds where people raise money to provide for low-income women who live in
states where there`s no funding for abortions, there`s no insurance since
the Hyde Amendment in 1977.
But, you know, they`re always on a shoestring. It`s very hard to
raise the kind of funds that they need for that. And, you know, even if
these things are organized -- and I know there`s also people who are trying
to reinvent some of these things and planning to do that if need be, but in
the `60s even with that they never could reach everybody. They never were
able to provide for everybody who needed abortion. Even if it was pretty
open in the late `60s and all the underground women`s lib newspapers and
all, not everyone would hear about it.
So, in Chicago where Jane was providing abortions, very well known
underground feminist organization, there were also women who never knew
about it who flew to Chicago -- I mean, flew to New York or Puerto Rico and
cases of very, very poor black women who couldn`t afford an abortion,
couldn`t raise the money to go to somebody illegal and a provider and did
it herself and ended up in a -- ended up dying. And she lived nearby but
never knew about it.
So this kind of trying to reproduce that is not -- you know, that`s
not going to provide for everybody who`s going to need abortions.
MADDOW: Yes, they should not be seen as glory days. But the fact
that people studying --
MADDOW: -- it right now tells you the kind of desperation and worry
about people who are worried about this right, protecting it.
University of Illinois --
REAGAN: Yes, it`s extremely worrisome.
MADDOW: University of Illinois law and history professor, author of
"When Abortion was a Crime," Leslie Reagan -- thank you for joining us
tonight. I will say that we`ve got your book on staff, and we`ve be
looking at it, and a lot of people who we talked to, just reporting on this
subject, are talking to us about your work on this subject. So you`re in
the zeitgeists for all the wrong reasons.
REAGAN: Thanks very much.
All right. Coming up next, throwing a bucket of water on a well-
respected political reporter for a very important reason. That story is
MADDOW: OK. Yesterday, the Virginia political guru Larry Sabato
rejiggered his ratings on a whole bunch of different states and a whole
bunch of different races for this election. And all of the re-jiggerings
were almost all in the Democrats` favor.
So, in the case of the presidential race, everything he moved was
toward President Obama. He had previously rated as a toss-up the states of
Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Now he says they all lean
Democratic. He already had leaning Democratic, the states of Michigan and
Pennsylvania. Now, his new ratings says those don`t just lean Democratic,
they are likely Democratic.
And that sort of the step by step continuum for these kinds of
ratings. You go from toss-up to leaning to likely to solid.
And as people readjust their ratings over time, the adjustment is
basically always that the race just shifts one column over -- from a toss-
up to a lean or from a lean to a likely.
But in one race, in Larry Sabato`s recent rankings, he jumps all the
way. He takes an incumbent Republican congressman and he jumps his race
from leaning Republican all the way over to leaning Democrat. He doesn`t
just give him a squishy shift to a tossup, he says this guy, who was
essentially predicting to win, he`s now predicting to lose.
This is a dramatic shift. What is going on here in this race to earn
that dramatic shift?
REPORTER: Michael Putney with Channel 10 --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoa, we reporters can be unwelcomed guest
sometimes, and today was no exception for our senior political reporter,
Michael Putney. Michael got splashed with water by the wife of a political
candidate who`s under investigation by the FBI.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The woman who threw the water is married to Justin
Lamar Sternad, a Democrat who ran for Congress in the August primary. He
came in third for the right to run against return David Rivera who now
appears to be in a heap of trouble.
Our now dried out reporter and very dapper one, Michael Putney here on
to explain what this dousing incident was all about.
And who exactly is in trouble with the law?
REPORTER: Well, I think we could start with Congressman Rivera. He
certainly is in trouble, as well as Justin Lamar Sternad, who we are told
now is singing at the top of his lungs to the FBI about how David Rivera
reportedly financed Sternad`s campaign.
I`m sorry to bother you I`m Michael Putney with channel 10 --
And when Mrs. Sternad opened the door, I got drenched.
So, as you can see, we are all wet and Justin Lamar Sternad is not
talking, if he is home. His wife threw the water on me. We do know
however that Mr. Sternad is talking to the FBI.
And Sternad is reportedly saying that Congressman David Rivera
secretly strategized and paid for the Democrat`s campaign. If true, that
would be a conspiracy.
MADDOW: That was veteran south Florida political reporter Michael
Putney of the Miami TV station WPLG obviously getting water thrown all over
him as he tries to figure out whether Congressman David Rivera is in
trouble with the FBI, for this, too. I mean, Congressman David Rivera has
already been under the investigation by the FBI, the IRS, the Miami-Dade
Police Department`s Public Corruption Unit, the Miami-Dade state attorneys
office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement over financial
disclosure issues and allegations that he abused the powers of his office
back when he was just a state legislature.
But now that David Rivera has moved up in the world and he is a member
of Congress, now the investigations into Republican David Rivera are
getting way more interesting.
Something kind of weird happens in south Florida when it came time for
the Democrats to pick somebody in their primary to run against Congressman
David Rivera. There was the candidate who everybody expected who had run
hard against Mr. Rivera in the past. That was this guy, Joe Garcia.
But then in addition to Joe Garcia, there was another candidate in the
primary, kind of out of the blue, and that was this guy, who reported
almost no fund raising and who personally had only 100 bucks in the bank.
But he still somehow managed to put out really professionally done,
professionally micro-targeted high end, well-researched campaign mailers.
Lots of different ones, to the tune of thousands and thousands of dollars
in campaign spending.
Thousands and thousands of dollars in cash, it turns out. In crisp
hundred dollar bills stuffed into envelopes. Where was it all that money
Well, here`s how the "Miami Herald" puts it, "During one call,
Congressman David Rivera directed an employee to walk outside, check the
office mailbox for an envelope containing payment for one mailer. The
envelope was stuffed with cash, $7,800."
The owner of the company doing the mailer then told "The Herald,"
quote, "I never saw so much cash."
The story that`s now reportedly being told to the FBI is that
Congressman David Rivera used not just $7,800 in cash, but tens of
thousands of dollars in cash to essentially create this fake Democratic
candidacy that he really wanted to run against instead of Joe Garcia. And
now, the fake candidate who is cooperating with the FBI is facing a felony
indictment. And his wife is throwing pitchers of water at venerable
Florida political reporters.
And David Rivera`s seat in Congress is jumping all the way from leans
Republican without a stop at tossup in the middle. And in the course of
all the reporting on this incredibly sordid story from "Miami New Times"
and the local Miami TV stations and the Miami Herald" and "El Nuevo
Herald", we learn the one detail of this story that will stick forever no
matter what happens in this congressional race and no matter who goes to
prison -- the alleged conduit between the fake candidate and the
congressman who was funding the fake candidate`s campaign is a self-
described Republican political guru and conservative bad girl who is now
missing and who`s wanted for questioning in this case.
We learned from "The Miami Herald" this week that when she talked to
the fake candidate guy about who the mysterious benefactor was, who was
paying for everything in his campaign, he says she never said the words
David Rivera. She called him by his initials D.R. or when she wasn`t
calling him by his initials, she called him by his nickname, "The
Gangster." His nickname is "The Gangster".
It`s not a very nice nickname. It should probably be "Congressman
Gangster". We will see. But as I said, the David Rivera race now leans
That does it for us tonight. We will see again Monday night. Now
it`s time for "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews -- which is not prison. It`s
a whole different thing. Have a great night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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