'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, October 5th, 2012
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
October 5, 2012
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Have a great weekend, my
friend. Thank you.
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: You too. Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
Iran is getting its own Internet, its own private Internet. See the
real Internet is very dissatisfying to the government of Iran. There is
all sorts of stuff on the real Internet the Iranian mullahs do not like, so
they`ve been busy closing off bits of Internet to the Iranian public.
You can`t use Google. Now you can`t use YouTube. You can`t use
specific sites where the government doesn`t like what you can read there or
what you can see there. They`ve been doing that forever, kind of playing
whack-a-mole with the Internet.
Iran`s government is apparently getting tired of managing the
increasingly complex patchwork of things they want to block the people in
their country from seeing online and so instead they have a genius idea.
They are suggesting that they may just close off access to the real
Internet all together and instead build themselves their own internal
government approved Internet. Just for their own country.
So, it`s not really an Internet. It is more like an Iran-ternet.
They will build their own separate but equal.
It`s ridiculous, right? But you can understand that sort of
controlling dictatorial impulse here that gives rise to that sort of
ridiculousness. In America, we don`t have controlling mullahs. We don`t
have dictators but when we have that same kind of impulse, when we are
horrified by the real information in the world and we want to wall
ourselves off from it and create a more comforting, fake truth for
In America when we have that impulse, it looks like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conservatives obviously not happy with these main
stream polls that are out there. A lot of talk about the polls being
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if you`re curious for another take, go to
unskewedpolls.com, which is an attempt to reweight the polls as --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: An attempt to reweight the polls. When the polls were
particularly dire for the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in
the election, presidential election polling this past month conservatives
decided that these polls showing an American electorate that is choosing
President Obama over Mitt Romney, these polls made them feel so
uncomfortable they decided to develop a new fantasy electorate that they
would poll in theory and their fantasy electorate, which is not the real
electorate would give them a much more comforting list of results in terms
of their fake polls.
It was the same dynamic at work when they invented Conservapedia.
Remember Conservapedia? It`s something you read about the world on
Wikipedia, if it makes you uncomfortable as a conservative, Conservapedia
is guaranteed to only contain information that makes you feel OK.
So, if you are discomfited by the idea the human species is a result
of millennia of evolution, for example, Conservapedia has you covered. On
Conservapedia, not only has it been debunked by the obvious fact that
humans and dinosaurs coexisted, high ho silver, not only did we coexist,
but in fact, according to Conservapedia, dinosaurs are actually still here.
Dinosaurs have been seen in New Guinea twice since 1990, said so in
See if you don`t like the real world, invent your own.
You know, it`s not only the right that does this. This week we got a
great lefty conspiracy theory about the first presidential debate. It was
sort of an update on the Democratic conspiracy theory from the first debate
It was the theory that President George W. Bush, remember this, had a
listening device implanted in his suit while he was debating John Kerry.
The problem with that George W. Bush conspiracy theory, of course, was
always that John Kerry absolutely destroyed George W. Bush in that debate
when bush was supposedly wearing a listening device.
So if he was wearing a listening device, whoever was supposedly
whispering in the president`s ear was not whispering things that helped
him. That`s always the part I didn`t understand.
But the 2012 version of that theory now is that Mitt Romney cheated in
the debate against President Obama this week not by having somebody feed
him the answers through an ear piece but rather by bringing the illegal
crib sheet on to the debate stage with him.
You see, previous debate rules have set out very clearly that, quote,
"no props, notes, charts, diagrams, or other writings or other tangible
things may be brought into the debate by any candidate." And yet have a
look at this damning evidence. This is at the very beginning of the debate
on Wednesday night and as you`ll be able to see clearly here what is that
in your pocket? Mr. Romney very clearly pulls something from his right
pocket and he pops it on to the podium in front of him.
Violation. Violation. According to the conspiracy, complete with the
grainy, slow mo YouTube videos, this is Mr. Romney cheating. Now he must
have been working from note cards the entire debate. The explanation from
the Romney campaign is Mr. Romney was not pulling notes out of his pocket.
He was pulling out of his pocket a handkerchief. Sure enough, a little
later on, oops, in the debate Mr. Romney is seen wiping his nose with said
So whether or not you are persuaded by Mitt Romney wiping his nose on
what is supposed to be his crib sheet notes -- if you`re on the left,
again, like this is a conspiracy theory that just does not help.
President Obama did not win the first debate against Mitt Romney.
Whether or not you`re happy about that he didn`t win. But if your takeaway
from this conspiracy theory in this debate is the reason the president
didn`t win is because Mitt Romney cheated, then what`s the utility of that
theory for you? What is the utility of that information?
How do you think President Obama should then prepare for the second
debate? Should he just do exactly what he did this past Wednesday night,
except keep a closer eye out for the cheating because that`s the only
reason he lost?
I mean, it may be comforting to tell yourself this is what really went
wrong here but that is not really what went wrong here and making the case
that it was does not help your candidate.
The worst example of this though, the invention of a comforting new
parallel reality that does not mean you have to face hard truths. The
worst new instance of this is how the right today responded to the new jobs
Today, the unemployment rate dropped from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent.
It didn`t drop for any of the bad reasons that the unemployment rate
sometimes drops. It dropped for the good reasons. It was actually a
pretty good jobs report which, of course, to the right is terrible news.
So they have chosen to not believe the new jobs numbers. The first
place this blew up today was on Twitter.
The former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch -- General Electric I
should say is a minority owner of this company. Mr. Welch tweeted, quote,
"Unbelievable jobs numbers. These Chicago guys will do anything. Can`t
debate, so change numbers."
Jack Welch accusing the Obama campaign of manipulating -- I mean,
accusing the White House of manipulating this month`s jobs data so it would
look better for the president.
Always up for a good conspiracy theory, Republican Congressman Allen
West of Florida concurred and wrote, quote, "In regards to today`s jobs
report I agree with former G.E. CEO Jack Welch, Chicago style politics is
at work here."
From there, it was sort of off to the races.
Republican Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia, quote, "September jobs
report raises questions." Quote, "I don`t think BLS cooked numbers. I
think a bunch of Dems lied about getting jobs." That would have the same
That was from a senior writer at something called the "Washington
Examiner," a conservative thing online.
Eric Bolling, who is at FOX News, he wrote, "Wow. Obama Labor
Department smarter than all 25 of America`s top economists. Or something
far more insidious." Insidi -- I don`t know.
Then there was this from conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham.
Quote, "Jobs numbers from Labor Secretary Hilda Solis are total pro-Obama
Just looking on Twitter you could see the groundswell on the right
that they were going to build their own Iran-ternet on this.
Forget the real world they were going to build their own private world
that made them happier. The real Internet is inconvenient. We will have
The real facts are not accepted. We will have our own. It`s time for
fresh fact, right?
You could see the groundswell building for this on the right first
online, but then, of course, where it fully blossomed was on cable news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VARNEY STUART, FOX NEWS: Oh, how convenient that the right dropped
below 8 percent for the first time in 43 months, five weeks before an
election. That`s why there is some mistrust of these numbers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told you they`d get it under 8 percent. They
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A great argument.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can let America decide how they got it there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people will be very cynical a government
number will come out this great on the eve of the election. I`m going to
make a guarantee right now. I don`t like to do this but I guarantee when
this is revised the unemployment rate will be back above 8 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are alleging specifically that the president
is engaging in a cover-up of the data. You are saying that the
administration is actively manipulating that data. Correct?
REP. ALLEN WEST (R), FLORIDA: Well, absolutely.
ERIC BOLLING, FOX NEWS: Let me do this. Guys, pull up the full
screen, something we found out today. We did our home work a little bit.
The Bureau of Labor statistics full screen if you can show that.
There are at least two. Harley Frazis and Stephen Phillips that work
at the Bureau of Labor Statistics currently who both have been donors to
the Obama campaign.
JACK WELCH, FORMER G.E. CEO: Look, I don`t know what the right number
is, but I`ll tell you these numbers don`t smell right when you think about
where the economy is right now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: What evidence do you have that they got
to the BLS?
WELCH: I don`t.
MATTHEWS: Chicago guys got to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and
jimmied these numbers by 0.3 percent, as you put it?
WELCH: I have no evidence to prove that. I just raised the question.
MATTHEWS: You didn`t raise the question. You said these Chicago guys
will do anything --
MATTHEWS: -- so they changed the number.
You say these Chicago guys will do anything so they changed the
Do you want to take that back?
WELCH: No, I don`t want to take it back.
MATTHEWS: This is an assertion there was corruption here and
infiltration or getting to the -- it`s not funny, Jack. You`re talking
about the president of the United States playing with the Bureau of Labor
Statistics numbers. This is Nixon stuff.
Jack, do you want to take back the charge that there was corruption
WELCH: No, I don`t want to take back one word in that tweet. You
don`t think it`s coincidental that we`ve got the biggest surge since 1983
in the jobs surge? Come on, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Do you mean it`s a coincidence or do you mean you have
evidence that there was corruption here in these numbers?
WELCH: I have no evidence of corruption. None whatsoever.
MATTHEWS: OK. So these Chicago guys had nothing to do with number
coming out today.
WELCH: I don`t know that.
JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I just heard from Jack Welch was
about -- with respect I guess -- was about 10 minutes of absolute nonsense
with no grounding in what the Bureau of Labor Statistics actually does.
MADDOW: Joining us now is Jared Bernstein, who you just saw there
responding to jack Welch on HARDBALL today. He is a senior fellow at the
Budget and Policy Priorities and MSNBC and CNBC contributor.
Jared, thank you for being here. I was absolutely riveted by that
today and could not wait to continue the conversation.
BERNSTEIN: Look. It`s funny. I just walked by the BLS on my way up
here. It is a venerable institution. You know, they`ve been putting out
reports for well over 50 years and there`s never been any allegation or any
substance to a claim like that at all.
In fact, I was trying to remember there was something and it was back
in 2008. The Bureau of Labor Statistics mistakenly released a report 25
seconds early and, boy, heads rolled and they had to do a whole
investigation of the data release procedure.
I mean, this is an agency that, where statistical integrity is above
all. If I took you through some of the procedures, the encryption, the
discipline -- I mean, when they have meetings they put paper over the
windows. Janitors aren`t allowed to empty their waste baskets until the
reports are released.
So if you are going to make an allegation like Jack Welch made, you
better have some really solid evidence. He had not even un-solid evidence.
He had nothing.
MADDOW: Jared, one of the things we`ve seen over the course of I
guess it`s more than the past year, sort of the ramp up of the presidential
campaign so maybe the past 18 months or two years, is that every time there
is a bad jobs number the right moves on it as if it is gospel.
But every time there is a good jobs number, good unemployment number,
they have been questioning it more or less. Today was definitely more --
but more or less for more than a year now.
I mean, is there any -- you just described the carefulness of the BLS.
Is there any history of these things in modern times being jimmied for
political gain? Is this -- are they going on anything real?
BERNSTEIN: No, they are not going at anything that`s real. There is
absolutely no history. Now, what there is and you just got at this -- what
there is -- these are sample data. They come from a sample of about 50,000
households every month.
Now, when you have samples you have statistical noise, margins of
error. The same thing you talk about when you say poll results are within
this many points margin of error.
These samples and these results have those same margins. And
sometimes you get a large positive outlier like in the jobs side today and
sometimes a large negative outlier. In fact, one of the things I wrote in
my report on these numbers early this morning before all that Jack Welch
craziness was that I would discount this number because -- but over the
past three months, the jobs numbers from the household survey have been
essentially flat. I knew that was wrong too. In fact they had a couple
negatives in there.
So you have to average over the past few months. Now, if you take
that average, if you do that, you will find and now I`m using establishment
data which is more reliable month to month, let`s talk a little bit about
facts here. If you actually average the jobs data you`ll find that over
the past three months we`ve been adding 146,000 jobs per month. If you go
back to the previous quarter, the second quarter of the year, we were
adding 67,000 jobs per month.
So no question that there`s been an acceleration in the pace of job
growth and that is a good sign. There is some momentum in the labor
MADDOW: It`s a good sign provided that you want good things for the
country. It`s a bad sign if you want the economy bad so you can blame the
incumbent president and beat him at the election.
BERNSTEIN: Providing you are amenable to facts and reasonable
discourse and you know something about the way statistical procedures work
-- it is a good thing to know, yes.
MADDOW: Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the center on budget and
policy priorities, thank you very much for your time tonight and for being
willing to call B.S. where it needed to be called. Jared, thank you.
BERNSTEIN: Thank you.
MADDOW: I will say my take on this to my Republican friends who are
watching and I know you`re watching because I can hear you complaining
sometimes -- here is the thing about complaining about these numbers.
You`re not helping even your own guy.
You heard what Jared just said there about how we are getting
improving jobs numbers. We are getting accelerating economic growth,
right? If you are going to lie about the numbers you can only lie for so
long before people stop believing your conspiracy theory, and eventually,
your candidate is going to need a theory and a case to the country for why
he should be elected even though the economy is getting better.
Denying that truth and thereby precluding him from making that
argument will not help him get elected president. Word to the wise that
you will never take from me, I know. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: In 2008 nearly 30 percent of voters on the great state of
Ohio cast their ballots before Election Day. One-third of the electorate
in that crucially important swing state voted early in the `08 election.
Of the people who voted early in Ohio 2008, they favored Barack Obama over
John McCain by nearly 60/40. So early voting was a great thing for the
Democratic side the last time Barack Obama ran for president.
If you`re a Republican you can see the problem.
When the Republican Party subsequently took over control of state
government in Ohio, they moved to shut down as much early voting as they
could. Ohio Republicans first tried to cut early voting in half.
Democrats were able to block them on that so then they came up with a plan
where only Republican leaning counties would have weekend and week night
early voting, but Democratic leaning counties would not have those hours.
That was subtle. They didn`t get away with that either.
Finally, they tried to settle on all the counties in the state having
the same early voting hours but early voting would stop throughout the
state days sooner than it usually did. The last three days before the
election, including the all important last Sunday before the election when
African-American churches in particular typically organized their souls to
the polls car pool trips to bring people to early vote.
Ohio`s Republican governor and legislature and secretary of state
tried to settle on a plan where, yes. There would be some early voting and
OK, fine. It`ll be basically uniform throughout the state but they wanted
to cut off the last three days. They wanted to cut off early voting before
the crucial last three days before the election -- when something like a
hundred thousand Ohio votes were cast the last time around. They tried to
lop off those last three days.
Well, today the sixth circuit U.S. court of appeals blocked Ohio
Republicans from doing that. The court today reinstated early voting on
the final three days before the election. Ohio`s Republican Secretary of
State Jon Husted responded by saying that he was reviewing the court`s
decision and, quote, "No action will be taken today or this weekend."
Yes. No rush. Not like there is a big election already under way or
anything. It`s not like anything hinges on Ohio. Take your time.
More ahead on this. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Last night on this show we had a scoop about the election in
Pennsylvania. It`s a bit of an unfortunate scoop.
The basics of the situation in Pennsylvania are these. The deadline
to register to vote in that state is Tuesday. Today is Friday. If you
want to vote in this election, you`ve got to be registered in Pennsylvania
You have to be a U.S. citizen. You have to live in Pennsylvania. You
got to be 18 years old by Election Day.
What if you don`t have a driver`s license or another state issued form
of ID? That`s OK. You can still vote in this election in Pennsylvania.
It may not be true in subsequent elections but for this election it`s
OK. Republicans in the state of Pennsylvania tried this year to block you
from voting if you don`t have a driver`s license or another ID like that
but they didn`t get away with that new law. A judge ruled this week the
new rule about ID will not be in effect for this election.
But yesterday and this was the scoop, we called the state of
Pennsylvania to ask some questions about voting there in that state this
year. This is what we got. Listen to this. It`s amazing.
And remember, legally you can vote even if you don`t have an ID in
Pennsylvania in this election. You can. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OPERATOR 1: Thank you for calling the Pennsylvania Department of
State Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation.
Press one for English.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Para Espanol?
OPERATOR 1: Press one for information on Pennsylvania new voter ID
law. Press 2 --
OPERATOR 2: Hello. All Pennsylvania voters will be required to show
a photo ID before voting at a polling place, beginning with the November
2012 general election. All photo IDs must be current and contain an
expiration date unless otherwise noted.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: So that was our scoop last night, our bad scoop, because what
you just heard there from the state of Pennsylvania is not the law. But
it`s what the state of Pennsylvania was telling people anyway as of
yesterday afternoon on the phone line that the state was telling people to
call if they had any questions or if they were at all confused about voting
So say anybody who doesn`t have a driver`s license and was calling the
state to find out if they can vote, as of yesterday, that recording on the
state`s phone line for voting help was telling them no, you can`t vote when
in fact legally you can.
Ultimately, when we question the state elections office about that
yesterday afternoon, they took down that recording. They said it was just
an oversight that they`re telling Pennsylvanians they cannot vote when in
fact they can.
The judge`s ruling on this case was a big deal. People were counting
down to the decision but whether or not everyone who can vote votes in
Pennsylvania this year, whether or not people who don`t have driver`s
licenses are effectively locked out of this presidential election, it only
partially depends on the judge`s ruling blocking the Republican law.
It doesn`t just depend on the law itself. It depends on what people
think the law is in Pennsylvania. People are calling the state calling
that toll free number to find out about voting and being told when they
call that number to effectively not show up if they don`t have an ID then
honestly it doesn`t matter what the judge ruled. People without ID will
probably stay home.
Pennsylvania elections officials said this week they are pulling their
multimillion dollar ad campaign targeted at educating voters about the
photo ID requirements because of course there is no longer an ID
requirement. But you know what? Even before you get to taking down your
ad campaign as you meander around with that task, Pennsylvania, you might
also want to consider this. The bureau of elections for Cumberland County
in Pennsylvania as of today hopefully informing its visitors that, quote,
"all voters will be required to show photo ID at the polling place in the
November, 2012, general election."
Actually voters will not be required to show photo ID at the polling
place in the November 2012 general election, but you`d never know it.
Look at Montgomery County department news. Pennsylvania`s newly
adopted voter ID law will not take effect until the November, 2012
election. They also link to this handy voter ID flyer.
This is not the law. What it says here, this is not true. They are
telling people to stay away from the polls when it is in fact legal for
them to show up and vote.
Pennsylvania elections officials, I respect what you do for a living.
Everybody knows you are busy, but it is 32 days to the election. You have
to change the information you are giving the voters so it accurately
reflects the law and you are not telling people to stay home who are
legally entitled to vote.
You are suppressing the vote in your state if you do that.
Shortly after we called Montgomery County today to ask why they were
still telling voters in their county on their Web site that they needed ID,
Montgomery County responded by actually changing the language on their Web
site and they took down the link to that scary voter ID flyer.
Wasn`t that hard right?
But it is not comforting to us here at this show that these things
seem to only be getting done in Pennsylvania because these counties have
gotten a call from a dumb cable news show.
Really? We`re your fail safe here? I mean, the state, the counties?
It should not take THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW calling you for you to fix
this. Follow Philadelphia County`s example. Philadelphia had the
wherewithal to just change it without us calling or anything.
I suggest all the other counties in Pennsylvania crib the language
from Philly. Go to their Web site. Cut and paste. It`s right there on
that site. You will be allowed to vote even if you don`t have an ID. It`s
not that hard to do if you care.
Democrats have been patting themselves on the back all over the
country these past couple weeks about the fact they have been winning these
voter suppression battles in court against the Republicans. They have been
winning in court, stopping the worst of the Republican voter suppression
laws and it is true they are winning in court all over the country.
But if these Republican run states are still telling their citizens
that they`re going to be disenfranchised, then the effect is the same,
whether or not you won the court battle. It should not be a TV show that
is first to notice or first to blow the whistle that Pennsylvania in
practice is ignoring the Democrats` big win in the courts.
MADDOW: You know how the candidates pick somebody to stand in for
their debate opponent before the debates? President Obama has had John
Kerry playing the role of Mitt Romney in his debate preparation. Mr.
Romney`s stand-in for President Obama is Ohio Senator Rob Portman.
Today, I spent the morning with the man who was playing the part of
Vice President Joe Biden in Paul Ryan`s practice sessions for the vice
presidential debate next week. Seriously. Not kidding. Seriously.
Want to know what happened? That`s next.
MADDOW: The next debate is the vice presidential debate between Vice
President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan. It is set for next
Vice President Biden`s debate practice sessions, he`s got Democratic
Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland playing the role of Paul Ryan for
the purpose of practice.
In Mr. Ryan`s debate practices the role of Vice President Joe Biden is
being played by celebrated conservative attorney and former George W. Bush
solicitor general Ted Olson. Ted Olson is not your average former Bush
administration official. He is the former Bush administration official
who`s been leading the legal effort to overturn California`s ban on gay
marriage and maybe every state`s ban on gay marriage.
He is very, very, very, very conservative. But he is on the pro-gay
side of this marriage fight.
Today at NYU`s law school, I got a chance to interview Ted Olson and
his counsel, the celebrated Democratic attorney, David Boise. They fought
against each other in Bush v. Gore in the 2000 election but they are
fighting together on the side of marriage equality in this federal case.
And Ted Olson is the one of course who sticks out like a sore thumb
here. He`s a straight, married guy. He does not have a gay family member
who has driven him to this decision. He`s decided as a rock-ribbed
conservative, small government Republican stalwart that marriage equality
for gay people is a really important issue for the country and therefore
And despite the fact his Republican Party is not with him on this
issue pretty much at all, he is still very active in Republican politics.
Again, he is the guy who is helping Paul Ryan prep for next week`s vice
I talked to Ted Olson and David Boise about it today. Watch.
MADDOW: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are pledging a federal
constitutional amendment to define marriage as only for straight people at
the federal level, which is unchanged from a George W. Bush promise that
went unfulfilled. They`re also promising to defend DOMA with the Democrats
stopping doing that right now under this administration, the House
Republicans are defending DOMA.
Why isn`t the Republican Party following public opinion on this? And
why would you want to elect Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in this circumstance
given how you feel about it?
TED OLSON, FORMER BUSH SOLICITOR GENERAL: You may have overlooked the
fact that for the last few weeks I`ve been Joe Biden. So --
MADDOW: Mr. Olson has been playing the part of Joe Biden in Paul
Ryan`s debate prep which will help Paul Ryan get better at debating which
will help him become vice president which would be bad for gay rights,
DAVID BOIES, ATTORNEY: Or he might persuade Ryan on this issue.
OLSON: Don`t understate the possibility that dialogue and talking
about these issues makes a difference. Not just independents and not just
Democrats but Republicans, too.
The tides are changing. Attitudes are changing. And the way to
change those attitudes is dialogue. And the way to change those attitudes
is to talk to people about the fundamental right.
And the way to deal with Republicans in my opinion is to say we are
the party of Abraham Lincoln. Let`s not forget that. What are these -- we
say that. Let`s live up to that. Let`s think about our principles here.
What is decency and privacy and respect? Can`t talk about what
happens in debate preparation but when those issues, if they`re issues,
they come up in the preparation because they might come up in the debate
and you talk about those things and I can argue persuasively as I`m capable
of arguing because I`m Joe Biden now.
And even if I was Ted Olson I could make those arguments and they have
to listen, because they have to answer those arguments. And so I`m doing
everything I possibly can to convince people of my party because I think
it`s right for America.
MADDOW: He went on to finish his thought and got a huge round of
applause from this very liberal, pro-gay room.
In terms of the day-to-day news from the campaign it`s kind of an
interesting point right? The vice presidential debate is Thursday. Paul
Ryan is prepping for that debate with a guy who is also arguing at the
Supreme Court if they agree to hear it this year, arguing passionately for
a federal constitutional right to same sex marriage. That`s whom he is
debate prepping with.
As you, know public opinion has been shifting fast on this issue.
National polls now show a majority of Americans support gay couples` right
to get married but that ground appears to be shifting under the feet of the
Republican Party. They are not moving nearly as fast as public opinion is.
With this virulently antigay national platform of the Republican Party
and a very, very antigay presidential and vice presidential nominee, both
spots on the ticket, the question of when Republican politics catch up with
the national change in attitude on gay rights is a question that`s getting
closer and closer to being a called question. Before now being very
antigay probably seemed to most Republican politicians and many Democratic
ones like a very safe course like maybe the only safe course.
Over the past 15 years or so, there have been 35 statewide votes on
marriage rights and 34 of them have gone against gay rights. The one
exception, that was in Arizona where voters rejected a gay marriage ban in
`06, but in `08, they turned around and changed their minds and voted for
the gay marriage ban after all. So, there have been zero victories over
all for gay marriage rights at the ballot box in 33 states where it has
been on the ballot.
And now, before now, every single time gay marriage rights were put on
the ballot, that issue was put on the ballot by the antigay side. By the
side that was confident in the country`s antigay voting record and wanted
to continue it.
This year, it`s different. This year for the first time ever, the pro
gay rights side is so confident in how attitudes have changed that it is
the pro-gay rights side that has put marriage equality on the ballot for
the first time ever, because they are convinced they are going to win with
It looks like they may be right. The latest polling on Maine`s ballot
initiative to legalize same sex marriage shows gay marriage winning in
Maine by anywhere from eight points to 21 points. Both Maryland and
Washington state this November will be voting on whether to keep marriage
rights that were approved by the state legislatures there.
In Maryland, the gay marriage ballot initiative is up by 10 points in
the polls. And in Washington support for gay marriage rights is up by 15
points. Gay marriage rights are also on the ballot in Minnesota this year.
And in that state, the polling is almost dead even. It`s down by one at
this point but is very close.
Marriage equality so far has a really terrible record at the ballot
box but this year there is reason to believe it might be different. What
does that do to the Republican Party`s politics on this issue?
Joining us now is Steve Kornacki, co-host of MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE" and a
senior writer at Salon.com. Steve, thanks for being here.
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Happy to be here.
MADDOW: There were a ton of these gay marriage bans on the ballot in
2004 and the common wisdom was Republicans thought it would drive up
turnout and help George W. Bush get elected by bringing out conservatives
who might not like him but who really hated gay people. Did that turn out
to be the case in `04?
KORNACKI: There is all sorts of speculation about that. You can
certainly match up. It was a year in which turnout went up surprisingly
overall and it was sort of a base election where the base of each party was
activated. I`ve never seen a definitive study that said yes we can clearly
link the X number of voters in Ohio or whatever would have stayed home if
not for this being on the ballot. You can certainly find a correlation
between people who voted against it in a place like Ohio and who voted for
George W. Bush. But you can find correlations like that on a lot of other
MADDOW: OK. Sort of a mixed bag. The common wisdom doesn`t match
how fuzzy the data is on that.
MADDOW: So this year, we have same sex marriage questions on the
ballot in four states under very different circumstances -- the pro-gay
side putting it on in one state. Two states, it`s the antigay side putting
it on there, but it follows the state legislature having passed it through
the legislative process and in Minnesota it is a traditional antigay
What do you think about the Democratic confidence or pro gay rights
confidence that these measures are going to do well this year?
KORNACKI: I think it`s very well-placed, because you can put that map
on the screen and it shows 32 or 33 states a complete wipeout for gay
marriage at the ballot box all these years.
You`re talking about four, six, eight years ago on this particular
issue. That is an eternity. If you look at the evolution of public
opinion on gay marriage, it`s astounding how fast it`s come around.
In 2004, when this sort of landed on the national radar because of
Massachusetts and the Supreme Court ruling I think the first poll I saw
back then nationally, 30 percent support. Now you`re talking well over 50
percent at the national level. When you break that down even further what
you`re looking at is near 70 percent in the Democratic Party, maybe even
higher now. That affected the Democratic coalition, a bit. Independents,
57 percent. Again, this is before Obama`s announcement.
It`s only in the Republican Party down at 22 percent. That`s what`s
keeping the overall number in the low to mid-50s. Outside the Republican
Party this is basically a settled issue.
So, what you`re seeing is that means when you put it in a blue state,
Maine clearly blue, Washington clearly blue, Maryland clearly a blue state.
The odds are very good that this thing is going to pass comfortably.
Minnesota we think of as a blue state but it`s actually, as it gets
closer, three, four, five point win for Democrats commonly there -- a lot
more social conservatives there. So it`s not surprising it me it`s a
little closer than Minnesota but I think we`re at the point where if this
goes on the ballot in a blue state it passes. In a swing state it could
pass, it might not pass. If it`s on the ballot in Mississippi or Kentucky
or places like where it is Republican heavy, you`re a long way away from
there, a real long way.
MADDOW Spending the day today with Ted Olson seeing his passion and
commitment on this issue and also seeing how central he is to the
Republican Party politics -- do individuals, can individuals have an out
sized impact on what their party does? I mean, there`s nobody more central
to the power in that party than he is. He`s such a -- I mean, he`s a real
advocate on this issue.
Historically, is that the kind of thing that moves parties?
KORNACKI: It can. I think there is going to come a day in both our
life times but it might be years from now when the Republican Party will
come around. That is where society is heading.
But that might be a decade from now. That might be 15 years from now.
I think it has to be somebody with currency in the evangelical community,
because I think the number is so low. There are a lot of factors. But
about half the Republican primary voters nationally in elections call
themselves evangelical Christians.
And if you look within that community, if you look at, you know,
middle age and older evangelicals, wild opposition to gay marriage.
Eighteen to 29-year-old evangelicals, there is a poll a year ago, 44
percent support it. So I think that`s where the movement is eventually
going to come.
MADDOW: It`s going to take time, aging.
MADDOW: Steve Kornacki, co-host of "THE CYCLE," weekdays at 3:00
Eastern here on MSNBC. That was very smart. I think about these stuff all
the time, but that some of the numbers I`ve heard about it. Thanks for
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: OK. There is a story I bet you have not heard about help
that the Republican presidential campaign is about to get in this election
that I`m not sure is help they want. But they are getting it anyway
whether they want it or not. It is coming from Alabama.
Have you heard this story? It is a weird one. That`s next.
MADDOW: Are you a non-swing state voter? I am, too. I feel your
pain. If you live in New York or Mississippi or Oklahoma or Vermont,
there`s not a lot of mystery about the election in your state this year.
In years like this, no matter how excited you are about the
presidential election, if you are a non-swing state voter, you can feel
like you don`t count.
But there`s always phone banking, right? Calling people who are in
swing states to try to convince those folks to vote for one candidate or
the other. Usually when non-swing staters get involved, it`s stuff like
that, it`s phone calls, right?
But on the left, there have been some fun culture clashes over the
years, involving physically getting up and going to swing states, to try
and help the Democratic candidates in undecided America. You saw that
famously in 1968 with the get clean for Gene idea. Hippy college kids for
Eugene McCarthy who was running as an anti-Vietnam War challenger to
President Lyndon Johnson in the primary. Those young volunteers famously
underwent de-hippifying makeovers, right, so the New Hampshire electorate
would not feel accosted or crept out by these subversive, outsider, long
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By bus or own cars and otherwise, they have come
to New Hampshire from campuses from as far away as the south and Midwest.
In the morning in the medicine quarters in an empty store, they got a
briefing on how to canvas door to door the most effective ways as to how to
win votes for their man McCarthy rather than losing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than anything -- since your encounter with
the voters will be brief, they`re going to judge you on your appearance and
demeanor. And so, it`s just crucial that you pay very close attention to
the appearance you are presenting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Get your haircut, hippies. Your appearance, your demeanor,
clean for Gene volunteers did make a difference. Gene McCarthy got 42
percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary. And ultimately,
President Johnson on to quit the race.
You know, you saw a similar mass influx in 2004 in Iowa, on behalf of
the anti-Iraq war candidacy of Vermont Governor Howard Dean. The Dean
campaign`s called it the perfect storm, an estimated 3,500 Howard Dean
supporters, converging on Iowa, ahead of the caucuses.
The perfect storm campaigners were easy to spot because they wore
these Day-Glo safety orange stocking caps. In the end, Howard finished a
disappointing third place in Iowa, the perfect orange storm hat did not
The news editor at Salon.com at the time suggested putting yourself in
the boots of an average Iowa Democrat.
Quote, "The campaign is so intense that it`s become a form of
political harassment. Your form rings every 10 minutes with an automated
robocall on behalf of one candidate or another. Your mailbox is jammed at
political junk mail. Then a knock comes on your door and there you find a
couple of committed campaigners from Park Slope, for Noe Valley or Wicker
Park telling you that Howard Dean is your man, and they wearing these
really loud orange caps. I can`t help but think that Dean-ites come off as
maybe a little precious, maybe a little cultish in those caps."
How your campaign presents itself, when it is deploying volunteers to
disputed territory, every nuance of how you present yourself in that
And this year is no exception. Consider the great state of Alabama.
There`s no mystery where Alabama`s electoral votes are going to go this
fall, right? So, if you`re really psyched and you`re from Alabama, there`s
no use of you volunteering and canvassing in your home down.
So, Alabama Democrats this year have been taking their pent-up desire
for the president`s reelection and they`ve turned into sending car loads of
Alabama Democratic volunteers across the border into the Florida panhandle
to campaign for President Obama there. Again, the Democrats are not going
far. They`re going right over their state border, to that part of Florida
that sometimes gets called "Florabama", because it seems so much like
Alabama over there. That`s what the Democrats are doing.
But the Republicans from Alabama, they are not just day tripping
across the state border to somewhere very much like where they are. No,
the Republicans in Alabama are going long. Two hundred Alabama Republican
volunteers have reportedly signed up to campaign in Ohio, and in some other
states in the House, but also Ohio -- going door to door, soliciting votes
for Mitt Romney.
In great Howard dean perfect storm-style, the Alabama Republicans have
a name for the volunteers they`re going to be busing around the country.
They`re calling them Battleground Patriots. They`re not just going on
trips to Ohio or North Carolina or Florida or Virginia. They say that
they`re going on deployments.
So busloads of Alabama Republicans are deploying, they`re going to
descend on swing states later this month to persuade people who aren`t
necessarily going to vote for Mitt Romney, that those people ought to vote
for Mitt Romney.
One of the things that Mr. Romney is up against in this election is
that regardless of voters say how they feel about individual candidates,
voters this year do not like the idea of the Republican Party. The
Republican Party is not selling right now. More people dislike the
Republican Party than like it.
And so now, into that political reality, what we`re going to do is
we`re going to take Alabama Republicans and spread them out around the
country. Send them out to meet undecided voters in Ohio, to remind those
undecided or independent voters what Republicanism is all about.
Hi, we`re from Alabama and we`re here to help. Hey, Ohio, when you`re
thinking about voting for Mitt Romney, think Alabama Republicans. On the
day of his inauguration, Alabama`s current Republican Governor Robert
Bentley said, quote, "Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ
as your savoir, I`m telling you you`re not my brother and you`re not my
sister." Inauguration day.
The last time we had a Democratic president running for reelection in
1996, it was a Republican state senator in Alabama who wrote and
distributed a speech about how slavery was not only justified by the Bible,
he said the really under-appreciated thing about slavery in the United
States was how good slavery was for black people. This was in 1996, not
And the reaction by Alabama Republicans -- well, they just kept him
around. He stayed in the state senate for two more years after the slavery
was good for black people thing. Why not? Why get rid of him? What`s the
Last year when demonstrators came to Alabama to protest its draconian,
new anti-immigrant law, the Alabama Republican party chairman told the
local press, quote, "This is recommend necessary event of others coming
into our state to cause trouble."
Remind you of that, huh?
The Mitt Romney for president campaign is about to get the benefit in
probably the most important swing state in the country of a self-proclaimed
deployment of hundreds of Republican partisans from Alabama, spreading out
through Ohio -- knocking on doors, talking to people who are statistically
likely to have a very negative view of Republicans. They`re going to be
making the case to these people that this visit from the Republican Party
of Alabama is why you should vote for Mitt Romney.
Undecided Ohio voter, meet a bus-full of Alabama Republicans. What
could possibly go wrong? I wonder if they will have matching hats.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday night.
Now, it`s time for a special live Friday edition of "THE LAST WORD."
Have a great weekend. Good night.
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