THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
October 25, 2012
Guest: Frank Rich
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
In the last presidential campaign in 2008 when Colin Powell stopped
holding his cards close to his vest, and decided to make his endorsement in
the presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain that year, Colin
Powell choosing Obama for his endorsement was pretty much the last thing in
the world the McCain campaign need to hear.
At that point, they were already becoming a really evident long shot.
The race was starting to increasingly look like it wasn`t even going to be
close. And the Colin Powell endorsement just took the wind out of the
McCain campaign`s sails.
John McCain responded to the endorsement that same day by going on FOX
News and sighing that -- well, it wasn`t all that much of a surprise. He
at least, though, was able to say even if he did not have Colin Powell`s
endorsement, he did have endorsements from some other former Republican
secretaries of state. So at least he had those names to offer for
The Romney campaign`s counterbalance tonight to them losing the Colin
Powell endorsement this year is a whole different kind of counterbalance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, TV HOST: You want to call me crazy, go to hell. Call me
crazy all you want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This morning, on CBS, Republican former Secretary of State
Colin Powell officially endorsed Barack Obama. That`s on one side of the
race today. On the other side of the race today, well, tonight actually,
as we speak, the Romney campaign is hosting a gala fund-raiser in Texas
with former Vice President Dick Cheney and this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: Tonight, it`s big boy time. Tonight is not an episode that you
casually watch and take out of context. Tonight you must consider the
This is the Jesus side. This is what`s in the Book of Revelation of
the antichrist. I did this five years ago and about wet my pants when I
did the research on this. We`re going to take a break. Wait until you get
to the mark of the beast, next.
Capitalist, if you think you can play footsies with these people,
you`re wrong. They will come for you and drag you into the streets and
kill you. They will do it. They`re not messing around.
You`ll never guess how many pillars the president is going to focus on
tonight. Yes. Yes. Five. Five. The five pillars.
I mean, you see, you`re upsetting the bunny, really. Really. Has
anybody ever heard of the five pillars of Islam?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Easy with the live bunny. What did the bunny do to deserve
that? I always wondered.
I have to say, my other favorite Glenn Beck moment from this moment in
American politics is when he said protests against Republicans stripping
union rights in Wisconsin, those protests were obviously going to be the
start of a nationwide and then worldwide insurrection. And then, of
course, possibly the end of the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: The story that everybody should be focused on today is not the
Kardashians or anything else. The one that should be on everybody`s mind
is happening today in Wisconsin. It`s about the people looking to create
chaos on the backs of the worker when the world`s focus is on Egypt. The
financial pressure that is coming is going to mean the demonstrations,
protests, God forbid riots, and maybe worse, are coming.
How do you know when you`re entering the last days? Well, it`s, quite
honestly, it`s almost like how do you know when Jesus is coming back? It`s
seven years of nightmare and it`s just growing problems. It`s chaos. And
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s who`s hosting the Mitt Romney campaign gala fund-
raiser tonight, in Texas, along with Dick Cheney. They will be joined by
Mr. Romney`s son, Josh Romney, who will be attending in person. As will
the chairman of the Republican Party, the nationwide one. And they will be
getting an exclusive video address from the vice presidential nominee of
the Republican Party, Paul Ryan.
You know what`s interesting? In this last couple weeks of the
campaign, as the Republican side has been trying to win over undecided
voters in the swing states, by trying to make Mr. Romney seem as moderate
as possible, in order to do that they have sort of submarined Paul Ryan a
little bit. I mean, they`re putting him out at some events but not very
Yesterday, for example, on the campaign trail, Paul Ryan had exactly
one event. It was a policy speech. It was a policy speech that they timed
to take place at the exact same time as a big Mitt Romney event in Nevada.
The Romney campaign at least online did not go out of their way to
provide the video of the Paul Ryan event or any of the highlights. Again,
that was the only public event that Paul Ryan had yesterday.
We are now learning that while they are keeping Paul Ryan more out of
public view than you would think at this point in the campaign, they are
having Paul Ryan appear at all sorts of fund-raisers these days, fund-
raisers this late in the game. They`re fund-raisers in states that are
definitely not swing states.
So, it`s not just this Texas fund-raiser tonight with Glenn Beck and
Dick Cheney. Last night, Paul Ryan was in Georgia. This morning before
the Glenn Beck event, Paul Ryan was at another event in Texas. Not a swing
Tomorrow, he`s scheduled to do two separate fund-raisers in South
Carolina and then tomorrow afternoon, he`s heading off to the great swing
state of Alabama. He`s going to be in Huntsville, Alabama.
This is not a persuade the undecided voters kind of schedule. This is
a where can we stash this guy where we`re sure he`s not going to get any
hard questions schedule? Alabama sounds good. How about Texas? Can we
get him into a Glenn Beck/Dick Cheney event?
Is Glenn Beck still around?
They`re not keeping him out of the swing states entirely. Paul Ryan
has two events in Virginia today. But when they do have him in a place
like Cleveland, where he gave this all but secret policy speech yesterday,
they have taken care to put him in an environment in which he`s taking
precisely zero questions. I mean, at that Cleveland policy speech, he`s
walking up to the microphone, turning the microphone on, giving a scripted
speech, turning the microphone off and leaving. Get me to Georgia, stat.
You can see from what the rest of the Romney campaign is going through
right now why they would be taking pains to keep Paul Ryan on a schedule
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: All right. I`ll come around
REPORTER: Governor, do you wish that Senator Mourdock would pull that
ROMNEY: Which way are we going?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Mitt Romney at a diner in Cincinnati this morning.
Governor, do you wish Senator Mourdock would pull that ad? Romney says,
let`s say, which way are we going?
Ostentatiously not answering questions. Pretending not even to hear
questions about the latest Republican U.S. Senate candidate who has decided
to opine on the nuances of rape, God, biology, and what he would like to
have the government force rape victims to do against their will.
Mitt Romney ignored three separate reporters who asked him about
Richard Mourdock at that diner this morning. He then ignored two more
questions on the subject during a campaign stop outside of Columbus, Ohio.
Now, when your running mate is a guy who believes the same thing as
the rape mumbling Senate candidates Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin, not
only do you have to ignore press questions about that policy, but you
cannot put your running mate in a position where he`s maybe going to have
to answer questions about that. Not with 12 days left. You need to send
that guy to Alabama.
You need to send him to Glenn Beck-ville. So, Paul Ryan has been
essentially hidden on the only talk to the far right fringe base of the
Mitt Romney, himself, picked up the pace a little bit from yesterday
when he had a very slow day. Today, Mr. Romney had three separate campaign
stops all in Ohio.
The real story in terms of campaign ambition right now, though,
continues to be President Obama, himself, who right now is finish up a 48
hour overnight nap on the plane, eight state campaign marathon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are pulling an all-
nighter. No sleep. And if you`re not going to sleep, you might as well be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was President Obama at around 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time in
Las Vegas last night, 1:00 a.m. And then by 7:00 this morning, there he
was in Tampa, Florida, delivering Krispy Kreme donuts to some local
A few hours after that, there he was in Richmond, Virginia, firing up
an -- look at the size of the crowd. An estimated crowd of 15,000 people
who turned out on a Thursday afternoon in Richmond, Virginia, to hear him
speak. The president`s final campaign appearance of the day came just a
short time ago in Cleveland, Ohio. And once this swing state is done
tonight, it`s not like this is it for the president in terms of its
The campaign today also announced joint rallies on Monday with
President Obama and former President Bill Clinton in Orlando, Florida, in
Youngstown, Ohio, and Prince William County, Virginia. Those will all be
on Monday. And then they`re apparently going to keep up the sprint from
In terms of the state of the race right now, we do have new NBC News
polling numbers out tonight. The new NBC News/Marist poll shows in the
great state of Colorado, the race right now is tied. And in nearby Nevada,
President Obama is up by three points in the new NBC poll.
New polls from the Democratic leaning group PPP show in Virginia,
President Obama leading by five points. Same group shows the race in North
Carolina to be a tie right now.
The right leaning poll, Rasmussen, also polled Virginia today. They
found that in Virginia, it`s Mitt Romney who is up by two points.
Rasmussen also polled Pennsylvania, and, again, this is the right leaning
polling firm Rasmussen. They found in Pennsylvania that President Obama
had a five-point lead.
If you want to start tuning out specific polls right now, and just
wait for the actual results on election night, I have to tell you, I`ll
keep reporting the polls but it is not an irrational way to approach this
right now. If you want to start ignore the poll numbers from here on out,
it makes sense.
I mean, look at whatever polling makes you feel more informed. The
spoiler alert from now until Tuesday the 6th, is that the more you look at
the polls, the more you can safely come to the conclusion that it is a
really close race and the polls maybe tell you more about the polls than
they do about the electorate now. We will not know until Election Day who
is actually going to win.
And because of that, the thing that is worth paying attention to
substantively right now, in terms of something that really might shift the
race one way or another is if there are material substantive changes in
American politics right now that might get the attention of the people who
haven`t been persuaded by either candidate so far -- something that will
appeal to somebody who sees themselves as right in the middle. Someone who
is going to vote or who might be persuaded to vote but who really doesn`t
yet have a preference between these two candidates.
What is the kind of thing that might make a difference to that kind of
American at this point? Who is the kind of person who has the kind of
credibility that might appeal to somebody who is right in the middle of the
electorate right now and not sure which way they`re going to go? Whose
endorsement has more centrist gravitas than any other endorsement in the
I would argue that person is Colin Powell, same as in 2008. And
that`s why Colin Powell`s remarks today on CBS endorsing President Obama
were important not just for the fact he endorsed President Obama but for
the way he explained his decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you endorse President Obama this race?
COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, you know, I voted for
him in 2008 and I plan to stick with him in 2012 and I`ll be voting for he
and for Vice President Joe Biden next month.
Not only am I uncomfortable with what Governor Romney is proposing for
his economic plan, I have concerns about his views on foreign policy. I
mean, it`s a moving target.
One day, he has a certain strong view about staying in Afghanistan,
but then on Monday night, he agrees with the withdrawal. Same thing in
Iraq. On almost every issue that was discussed on Monday night, governor
Romney agreed with the president with some nuances.
But this is quite a different set of foreign policy views than he had
earlier in the campaign. And my concern, which I`ve expressed previously
in a public way, is that sometimes I don`t sense that he has thought
through these issues as thoroughly as he should have. There are other
issues as well, not just the economy and foreign policy.
I`m more comfortable with President Obama and his administration when
it comes to issues like what are we going to do about climate? What are we
going to do about immigration? What are we going to do about education?
Lots of things like that.
I also saw the president get us out of one war, start to get us out of
a second war and did not get us into any new wars.
And finally, I think that the actions he has taken with respect to
protecting us from terrorism have been very, very solid. And so I think we
ought to keep on the track that we are on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You know, there are lots of newspapers who are making their
endorsements these days. The "Washington Post," for example, also endorsed
President Obama today. There will be other previous politicians, current
politicians, and just famous people in America who make endorsements
between now and Election Day.
But to my mind, this endorsement today from Colin Powell is the only
one that has any real political heft that anybody was waiting for
particularly because of the way it might appeal to people who hadn`t
otherwise made up their mind but might vote between now and November 6th,
or on Election Day.
That said, consider the other side. Tonight is the Mitt Romney/Glenn
Beck event, after all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: What is wrong with us, America? Why are people not in the
streets? Your republic is over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was about Wall Street reform. Yes, Dodd/Frank, remember
when that ended the country? Sorry. Amazing.
Joining us now is Frank Rich, "New York Magazine`s" writer-at-large.
Frank, thank you for being here.
FRANK RICH, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Great to be here as always.
MADDOW: I love the opportunity to trip down Glenn Beck memory lane.
RICH: Oh, this is just the tip of an insane iceberg. I might add.
MADDOW: I am amazed to see him come back into presidential politics.
I`ve been thinking about this, this week, with the Donald Trump stupidity,
MADDOW: Donald Trump has his latest insulting publicity stunt. And
the thing that is lost on everybody in wanting to even not talk about it is
that Donald Trump has been brought to the center of the Mitt Romney
campaign. He does fund-raisers with him, they do joint appearances
together. Paul Ryan and Donald Trump are doing a joint appearance in New
York City just a couple weeks ago.
And now, Glenn Beck is doing a gala fund-raiser with Dick Cheney with
12 days to go before the election. I can`t --
RICH: First of all, the Glenn Beck thing, to me, suggests he`s still
trying to win over the base of the Republican Party. Or the craziest part
of the base.
But as you indicated, he`s trying, Romney is trying to hide his real
positions, have this mask of moderation. He`s running a pseudo pro-choice
-- I don`t even want to dignify it with that label -- ad. And so, and he`s
trying to, you know, put Mourdock in the closet with Akin. And, yet, it`s
all undone by appearance by Glenn Beck or Donald Trump.
At the same time, on the foreign policy front, after presenting
himself in the last debate as a peacenik, who said, I don`t want to have
another Iraq or Afghanistan. You know, he took back every single position
-- this is, of course, what Colin Powell was alluding to -- to be involved
with Dick Cheney, completely undoes that. Dick Cheney is the foreign
policy who supposedly disowning last week.
MADDOW: That`s why I feel like this is important because I feel like
the way the Beltway is talking about this and the way Mitt Romney as a
politician is being communicated to the country right now is he`s pivoted
to the center, he`s showing his moderate side. He had to appear to be
conservative in order to get the nomination. But now, he wants the country
to know how moderate he is.
It`s not actually what he`s doing. He`s doing a kitchen sink approach
where he`s doing everything all at once, because he`s still doing Dick
Cheney, Glenn Beck, sending Paul Ryan to Alabama and all these other places
where he can speak freely.
MADDOW: While he`s making the moderation turn at the same time. That
can`t be tenable.
RICH: No. No one knows who the real Mitt Romney is, as, you know,
he`s a hologram, really, and it changes every other minute. We all know
But I would say if you really want -- if a voter who`s undecided wants
an indicator of who he is, look at Paul Ryan who as you say is now being in
the witness protection program for the next 10 days so people won`t look at
him. But that`s the guy who`s going to be calling the shots, the
ideological shots in a Romney administration should there be one. That is
the hard right of the party -- the Ryan budget, his plans for the
All of that is the blueprint of what a Romney administration would be.
No matter what Romney is saying now or who, what clowns he`s palling around
with or what moderation he`s trying.
MADDOW: Colin Powell, the endorsement of President Obama today, came
with a bit of an indictment of Mitt Romney`s changing views -- specifically
he called out the neoconservatives surrounding Romney and advising him.
This -- I was waiting for this endorsement in part because I did not know
where it was going to go and I felt like it was significant in 2008.
Do you think this is a significant endorsement?
RICH: Yes. Not as significant as it was in 2012 as it was in 2008,
because McCain actually was a military guy.
RICH: So for Powell to undercut him was something else. And, you
know, Powell`s not been as prominent in the public scene, even know, as he
was then. But he was so good at explaining his reasons and to the extent
that he`s so logical and rational.
And, look, this guy knows neocons. They`re the ones who fed him the
lies essentially about Saddam Hussein`s WMD that he then had to sell to the
United Nations, to grease the skids for the war in Iraq.
So he speaks with real passion, I think, about it, and if people
listen to him I think it will have an effect.
MADDOW: Yes, those people, I just read Kofi Annan`s book because I
had him here on the show last week. Kofi Annan talks about, he opens and
closes his book with the Colin Powell at the U.N. experience. He talks
about how the Bush administration took Colin Powell`s credibility, wrung it
out, used it what they needed to do and discarded him as soon as they used
his credibility for what they wanted to do.
And for Colin Powell, you know from when he speaks when looks at these
RICH: He does. And, you know, he himself has said it was one of the
biggest mistakes if not the biggest mistake of his career. And the extent
his star is diminished in terms of an endorsement is exactly because he did
that. But he was certainly powerful in this endorsement.
MADDOW: One last question for you. If it is basically a tie heading
into Election Day, do you think a tie favors the incumbent or the
RICH: I think it favors the incumbent. It seems to me this election
is baked, barring some event we don`t know. And, yes, there is a small
undecided vote. I think it`s about get out the vote.
If you believe the Romney campaign, oh, they have a much better get
out the vote program in Ohio because they`re doing much more than was done
by McCain four years ago, they`re not measuring it against Obama and the
Democrats. I think that`s what it`s about now. I think Glenn Beck is a
pathetic effort on the Romney campaign part to get out some crude part of
MADDOW: Call me crazy. Go to hell! Call me crazy.
RICH: That little rabbit, he looked like Dr. No in the Bond movie,
MADDOW: I was so hoping it was a fake rabbit until it moved. Oh, no,
RICH: Or maybe "Goldfinger," I can`t remember which anymore. But,
MADDOW: Frank Rich, "New York Magazine`s" writer-at-large, thank you
for being here, Frank. It`s always great to have you here.
RICH: Great to be here. Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Stay tuned. We`ve got Chris Hayes ahead. And
what Frank just said about get out the vote and what that means and how it
works between now and the 6th, that`s next.
MADDOW: Hey, if you have already voted this year? Congratulations.
I voted this past weekend. I voted absentee. I was like ecstatic for 48
If you already voted your representational democracy, thanks to you.
If you have not voted early yet but you are going to, stick around, because
the next bit is for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, THE TONIGHT SHOW: I want to ask you about this voter
LENO: Look at this billboard here. Look at this billboard. "Show
it. Voters will be asked, but not required." That`s a billboard, I think
it was in Colorado.
And, you know, like, they make it look like you have to have this, but
if you read the fine print, it says you don`t really have to.
OBAMA: Right. It`s a problem.
LENO: It`s a little scary.
OBAMA: Now, you know, the Justice Department handles all these cases,
so, you know, I can`t weigh in on any particular state. Here`s one thing I
know, that throughout our history our country`s always been stronger when
everybody had a voice. And it took a long time to make sure the franchise
expanded to everybody.
But we should be thinking about ways to make it easier for folks to
vote, not to make it harder for folks to vote. And, you know, the --
And that`s why -- you know, that`s why this early voting is actually
And we want to encourage, obviously, everybody regardless of who
you`re voting for, make sure to take advantage of it and find out whether
you can exercise early vote in your state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I thought that was such an interesting exchange when the
president went on the "Tonight Show." Jay Leno asked the president about
voter suppression, shows that item actually from Pennsylvania there.
And then the president condemns it, right? Says we shouldn`t have it.
We should be trying to make it easier to vote, not harder. But then he
immediately pivots to early voting.
The president making the argument that if the states for whatever
reason are going to make it harder for people to vote this year, one way to
beat that is to vote early. Logistically, you know, it makes sense.
If Republicans in the states are going to change the rules to make you
show new documentation you never had to show before in order to vote this
time. If they`re going to reduce the time the polls are open in order to
make the lines longer. If they`re going to have people at the polls, or
even in advance of voting dates, challenging voters, in trying to have
voters thrown off the rolls to keep them from voting, no matter what the
Republicans are going to do in the states to keep people from voting this
year, early voting can be a way around it.
I mean, with early voting, you can vote on your own time when it`s
convenient for you. If the lines are long the first day you try, you have
the option of trying another day. If someone challenges you, if someone
tries to mess with your eligibility, or you have an ID issue, early means
you will have time to solve that problem and get your vote cast, which
might not be if you wait until Election Day and you have problems that day.
We are at a time in the election when a change is happening. The
Democratic side is pivoting from just fighting the Republicans about
Republicans making voting harder and less accessible this year, Democrats
now are pivoting from just fighting them to also telling people to not
worry about it, to plan to work around these things. There`s no use
complaining about it now with 12 days out. The Democratic line now is
essentially, that the important thing is you just get it in there. You get
After two solid years of sounding the alarm on Republican efforts to
suppress the vote, the Democrats` message now is, don`t whine, don`t worry,
just do it. Vote early.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Hello, everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello.
OBAMA: This is so exciting. I get to vote early. This is the first
time a president`s ever early voted. That`s pretty exciting.
It makes such a difference so folks don`t have to take off time from
work. They can arrange it around their schedule. Really is really good,
For all of you who have not yet early voted, I just want everybody to
see what an incredibly efficient process this was. Thanks to the
outstanding folks who are at this particular polling place. Obviously,
folks in Illinois can take advantage of this, but all across the country
we`re seeing a lot of early voting. It means you don`t have to figure out
whether you need to take time off work, figure out how to pick up the kids
and still cast your ballot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This photo op wasn`t just a guy voting early today. This was
the president of the United States essentially doing an infomercial for
America for early voting. Voting early. It slices, it dices, it`s
There are a million new stories about specific states and specific
counties screwing with the voting process. Remember we told you last week
how the largest county in Arizona, they were telling Spanish speaking
voters to vote on the 8th of November? And English speaking voters to vote
on actual Election Day which is the 6th.
Well, now, it turns out it`s worse in that county. Maricopa County,
it turns out is saying that it handed out voter information bookmarks in
the Phoenix area, bookmarks that also told Spanish-speaking voters to turn
up after the Election Day was over. Nice.
At the same deal now actually, northwest Ohio, where a county outside
Toledo, mailed postcards to 2,000 voters with the wrong election date on
them. Again, like in Arizona, the date they are telling people to show up
and vote is two days after the election, when the election will be over.
This is a county where President Obama beat John McCain by only 1,400 votes
But hey, it`s not like Ohio is expected to be close again this year or
anything. Every day, there are new stories about this of sketchy dealings
in critical states and critical counties that all seem to err on the side
of tricking people or blocking people from voting in a way that will have
their vote cast. Notice these errors never accidentally tell people to
turn up early, right? These errors tell people to turn up late when the
election will already be over.
You know what, there is a time to be -- there`s a time to fight this
and there`s a time to be mad about this. But there`s also a time to just
get it done, right? Just make your plans. If they`re going to try to mess
with your vote, you get in there and vote early and get it done. If all
the news of these shenanigans makes you feel like you trying to vote is
going to be pointless and you shouldn`t bother and it`s going to too much
of a hassle and they`re not going to count your vote anyway, if that`s how
you feel, you`re dissuaded from voting because you sense it`s going to be
futile, then their plan to keep you from voting has worked.
Don`t let it work. Don`t put it off until the last minute when it
might be too late. No matter who you are voting for, get it gone.
MADDOW: There are lots after ways to make errors in the course of
doing a live TV show every night. Trust me. We have a "Department of
Corrections" coming up.
MADDOW: Every four years, our nation turns its lonely obsessive eyes
to Ohio, the state on which the entire presidential election depends. The
state no Republican has ever lost and still won the presidency. But this
national belly button of ours, this thing we can`t stop staring at, this
thing we call Ohio, where we`re once again checking the polls every day,
every hour, this place called Ohio is not the same Ohio it was the last
time when Barack Obama won there. Ohio has not been frozen in amber since
Two years after that election, in 2010, it was the Republicans who
swept to power in Ohio in that great red tide election of 2010. After that
election the Republicans controlled the statehouse, the state Senate and
the governorship. Republicans controlled Ohio.
Once they found themselves in charge, Ohio Republicans got very
ambitious very quickly. They passed a law to strip union rights in the
state which led to protests in the streets. Ohio Republicans said they
would take union rights away from police and teachers and firefighters and
snowplow drivers and they did not care about the anger it generated. They
had that majority from the 2010 election and they were going to use it to
do what they wanted.
Three months after Republican Governor John Kasich had to give his
state of the state address over the shouted cat calls of protesters in the
capitol, this truck rolled up at the secretary of state`s office in Ohio
bearing 1,502 boxes of petitions, 1.3 million Ohio residents had signed
petitions calling for the repeal of the Republicans` new union stripping
law in the state. It turned in five times the number of signatures they
had to turn in to put that thing up for repeal -- five times.
At the time it happened, somebody sent us this picture of her -- do we
have this picture? Yes, there we go -- of her Republican firefighter
husband who had voted for John McCain. Can we scroll down? There we go --
who had voted for John McCain now standing out in front of his house with
his yard sign calling for the repeal of Republicans` union stripping law.
This Republican firefighter won against the Republican Party in his
state thanks to all those petitions, they got the union stripping law on
the ballot for repeal and Ohio voted to repeal it by 22 points. It was not
even close. It was a blowout.
With that Republican overreach, Ohio Republicans woke up the
electorate and the electorate kicked them in the proverbial butt. You want
to know who was right there with those activists in the fight in Ohio, who
was helping the activists in Ohio with the machinery of the campaigning,
with the phone calls, and leafleting, and door knocking, and commercials
and rallies, and get out the vote, with all the work that sounds a lot like
the exact same work that goes into a presidential campaign? Who helped
Ohio do that work in 2011?
It was the Obama campaign. Jeremy Bird, national field director for
the Obama campaign, was on the ground in Ohio joining the fight last year.
They did not leave the state in 2008 after Obama won it that year. They
didn`t leave the state in `08 and just plan to come back now. The Obama
campaign has been working in Ohio all along.
After their big win in the 2010 midterms, the Republicans thought they
had taken Ohio back. They thought they could put their stamp on Ohio
starting with their historic rollback of union rights. And, boy, were they
The local papers described Republican Governor John Kasich as humbled
by that experience. But after the union rights thing just got trounced in
the polls in Ohio, it actually got worse for him after that and for the
Ohio Republican Party, because it wasn`t just that setback over trying to
strip union rights. Governor Kasich had also signed a law that cut the
time for early voting in half.
Well, three months after that first truck rolled up with the petitions
to repeal his union law, look, the second truck rolled in to the capitol.
This one with petitions to overturn the other law, this one with petitions
to overturn the law against early voting. Ohio voters just did not like
that law, either.
And, look, look who was there that day. Obama for America, Ohio. The
Obama campaign has been working in Ohio all along, organizing these
campaigns, working these interregnum elections in Ohio.
On that early voting thing, rather than risk losing another referendum
by 20-some-odd points Ohio Republicans caved. When they saw the truck roll
up with those petitions, they just caved. They decided to repeal their own
law, themselves. They repealed their own law that would have cut early
voting in half. This thing they have been telling voters was absolutely
I mean, they did try to cut early voting by other means later on, but
not in half. And not the way that law would have had them cut it had they
not caved. They caved on that. They had to. Ohio Republicans charged
into power after 2010 with their big ambitious agenda and just got whopped
or chomped I should say.
Listen to Governor Kasich described the experience here. This is from
January right after the union rights vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: And the one thing you have to do is if
you`re going to bring about massive change that`s going to cause great
unrest, I mean, I`ve learned this, you`ve got to prepare ahead for it. We
won -- you take a look at our record. You go out deep sea fishing, you
catch a lot of sharks. We caught them. Once in a while the shark eats
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We caught some sharks, but once in a while the shark eats
you. Watch out for the shark, OK?
Republicans in Ohio have been running against the Obama campaign and
the Obama base, and an Ohio that has not liked Republican policies for the
last two years. And Republicans in Ohio have not enjoyed the experience.
On the other side, Democrats in Ohio have the benefit now of an
engaged, experienced, rather electrified force of volunteers and political
staffers who have been through two warm-up rounds for this next election
and they won both warm-up rounds by a lot and they seem to not want to wait
to vote again.
Chris Hayes joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASICH: And the one thing you have to do is if you`re going to bring
about massive change that`s going to cause great unrest, I mean, I`ve
learned this. You have to prepare ahead for it. We won -- you take a look
at our record. You know, you go out deep sea fishing, you catch a lot of
sharks. We caught them. Once in a while the shark eats you, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Once in a while the shark does eat you. That was Ohio
Governor John Kasich in January after he was eaten by voters who repealed
his union stripping bill. They were on the way of getting rid of his bill
to cut early voting in half in Ohio. Both big defeats came after
Republicans took control of the state and thought they`d be able to do
anything they wanted.
The backlash in that state, the fight back in that state seems to have
set the stage for Obama campaign organizing in the state of Ohio in 2012,
when Ohio can`t -- when Obama campaign organizing in the state of Ohio
could not be more important to the outcome in 2012. Sometimes the shark
does eat you.
Joining us now is Chris Hayes, the host of MSNBC`s weekend morning
show "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES." Chris is also the author of "Twilight of the
Elites: America after Meritocracy."
Mr. Hayes, it is good to see you.
CHRIS HAYES, "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES" HOST: It`s great to see you.
MADDOW: Does fighting back make you stronger for your next fight?
And does it depend on whether you win?
HAYES: Yes, and yes. But there`s even things that don`t even defend
on winning, so there is a huge logistical aspect to running a field
operation in the state. And a big part of it is if you`ve ever seen Glen
Garry, Glen Ross, before they can sell the real estate, they need the
leads. They just need names of people to call to try to sell them the real
And the first thing you have to do if you`re organizing a state for
any campaign or you`re organizing congressional district or an alderman
race in the south side of Chicago is have names of people -- names of
people who are going to vote and names of people who will come and spend
their time knocking on doors and doing things. And what a campaign like
the SB-5 campaign in Ohio did was you create this database of people, the
kinds of people that you can reach out to who are going to be the people
who show up on a Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. for the price of a cup of
coffee are going to go out on an October day and knock on doors.
Strangers` doors and tell them you need to go out and do this and vote.
So that doesn`t go away. You build each of those every time you do a
campaign. That organizational strength is a building block that you can
Winning is an added benefit because that gets people excited.
Everyone wants to be on a winning side, not a losing side. But the
logistical part of it is as big a deal.
MADDOW: Well, that`s -- I was going to ask you to try to make the
comparison then in Wisconsin, because in Wisconsin, you definitely had the
same logistical work done. And in Wisconsin, they did stop the stripping
of union rights, but they tried to do something else, which is that they
also tried to take down the governor through a repeal and they did not win
that fight. So in that case, you get the logistical work done by both
MADDOW: The Republicans end up winning the ultimate fight even though
Democrats are able to turn back the union fight. How does that affect in
HAYES: Well, in Wisconsin there was an incredibly potent counter-
mobilization. That counter-mobilization wasn`t just Koch money and it
wasn`t just grassroots. There was actual on the ground counter-
mobilization, particularly in the Milwaukee suburbs, of folks that are
conservative activist folk who are on lists, making calls and phone trees,
and knocking on doors.
And I frankly think you`re -- Wisconsin`s closer than it should be.
It`s not just Paul Ryan. That counter-mobilization carries forward as
well. I think that`s part of the reason that Wisconsin isn`t a sure blue
state in the way that I think we would think it would be at this point in
MADDOW: I think -- in this conversation, and that analysis is why I
think that Wisconsin is redder than people think it is and Ohio is bluer
than people think it is.
I think that in Ohio, the underappreciated thing is not just that
there was a fight but that it was actually a total blowout. It was a 22-
point win. And to have seen John Kasich who`s maybe the cockiest of all of
the cocky breed of Republican governors right now, maybe Nikki Haley is
more cocky, but it`s close. To see him so humbled and so brought down to
size in a way that he has never grown back to the size he was before that
defeat, I actually think the Republican establishment in Ohio is pretty
wussy at this point compared to what they were like in 2010.
HAYES: Yes. I mean, that`s a really good point. And the fact of the
matter is winning really does matter and it affects people`s behavior,
after the win, and it affects people`s behavior after they lose. And, yes,
I think you`re seeing the difference in those states between the difference
of those two outcomes.
MADDOW: Right. Which is why the Republicans have such an effort on
building a conservative movement no matter how they do in elections and
that`s why Democrats always suffer when there isn`t a progressive movement
that they can --
HAYES: You have to mobilize in between elections. There`s just no
replacement for it.
MADDOW: Chris Hayes, the host of "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES", MSNBC`s
weekend morning show and the author of "Twilight of the Elites: America
after Meritocracy" -- I feel like the idea of a weekend now is obsolete.
To do a weekend show, but it`s just the next week day as far as I am
HAYES: That`s right. Yes.
MADDOW: We`re in it to win.
All right. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said that, I think, even when life begins in
the horrible situation of rape, that this is something that God intended.
Is that something that you would denounce or --
JOSH MANDEL (R), OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: I think I would want to see
his comments -- is there a video of it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was in a debate last night.
MANDEL: I think -- I think I would want to see the video or see the
debate before commenting on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it`s true that you do not have an exception
when it comes to abortion? You`re pro-life in all cases, even --
MANDEL: I think it`s important to protect the life of the mother and,
you know, I`m proud to be pro-life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even in the possibility of rape? That`s true?
MANDEL: Listen, I`ve gotten to know Richard because we`re both state
treasurers. He`s a gentleman. He`s a class act. He`s a thoughtful guy.
He`ll make a great United States senator.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your rationale for not supporting
exceptions on abortion in cases like rape and incest?
MANDEL: Well, Coleen (ph), I do support the exception to protect the
life of the mother. This is an issue that I know it`s a very divisive
issue, and I know it`s an issue where people are very passionate on both
sides. And I respect that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We have a correction to make. That was Josh Mandel, the
Republican Senate candidate from Ohio at his debate tonight with Senator
Sherrod Brown, having to answer for his policy position that if a woman is
raped and becomes pregnant, as a result of that, the government should then
force the rape victim to carry that pregnancy to term against her will.
That is the position that Richard Mourdock, the Republican Senate
candidate in Indiana was defending when he said a couple of days ago that
if a woman gets pregnant through rape, it`s because of God`s will. Josh
Mandel not only holds the same policy position as Richard Mourdock, Josh
Mandel has been standing by his endorsement of Mourdock even through the
God`s will remarks.
In reporting last night about how Mitt Romney is also standing by his
endorsement of Richard Mourdock despite the rape as God`s will comments,
last night, we reported on the show that one of the reasons it would be
awkward for Mr. Romney to drop Mr. Mourdock is that Mr. Romney picked as
his running mate a guy who holds Richard Mourdock`s exact same view on the
rape and pregnancy and what the government should force rape victims to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: When it comes to rape and when it comes to the issue,
should it be legal for a woman to get an abortion if she`s raped?
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I`m very proud of
my pro-life record. And I`ve always adopted the idea, the position that
the method of conception doesn`t change the definition of life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Rape, the method of conception.
The correction that we have to make is that we said last night the
Republican Party has become so extreme that they not only put a vice
presidential nominee on their ticket who will have the government forced a
rape victim to give birth against her will.
But the Republican Party we said has chosen seven U.S. Senate nominees
this year who also hold that position. Just incredible embrace of what was
previously a very radical position, but not just the vice presidential
nominee, Paul Ryan, but these seven Senate candidates. That`s what I said
It turns out, I was wrong. It`s not seven Republican Senate
candidates. It`s apparently 12 of them.
Now, we have calls and with all of the Senate campaigns that are new
to our list to check on this, but there are on the record statements from
these five other Republican Senate nominees indicating that they also think
the government should force rape victims to give birth against their will.
Slate.com highlighted these new to us cases today, with Deb Fischer in
Nebraska. The stance for her appears to be a new radical evolution. She
does not appear to have always held that position. In 2004, she said she
did believe in rape and incest victims being exempted from a
criminalization policy. She thought rape and incest victims should be
allowed to make their own choice. But now, apparently, she doesn`t believe
In the case of Ted Cruz of Texas, he is described in news reports as
believing in no exceptions for rape victims, as believing that the
government should force rape victims to give birth against their will.
These are news reports that he has not contested, but we do not yet have a
direct quote from him on the subject.
In Vermont of all places, the Republican Senate nominee there has
tried as hard as he possibly can to avoid talking specifically about the
subject. But when asked directly by Senator Bernie Sanders whether John
MacGovern would have the government for some great the victims to give bit,
he just answered that he is profoundly pro-life. We await further
confirmation from him.
In New York, the Republican Senate candidate Wendy Long, she pitched
herself to primary voters as 100 percent pro-life in contrast with her
primary opponents who she described as pro-life with exceptions.
In West Virginia, the Republican candidate is John Raese. At one
point, he put forth an anti-abortion position that would now allow rape
victims to make decisions about their pregnancies. But in another point,
he indicated that he didn`t believe in giving rape victims their own
choice. We tried to clarify the matter with his campaign today, but we so
far have not have an answer.
And there`s a number of other Republican Senate candidates from whom
we still do not have direct answers, though we`re now trying to pin them
all down. Our best guess though, our best guess from looking from looking
at the records of all of these candidates is that of the 28 non-incumbent
Republican U.S. Senate candidates this year, there are 28 of them, it
appears that at least 12 of them hold the position that if a woman gets
pregnant through rape, it should not be her decision whether to carry
through with the pregnancy that results from the rape. It should be the
I said seven, looks like it`s probably 12. Sorry about that.
We will keep you posted as the Republican Party continues to find
itself rightward so fast and so far that, honestly, it`s nearly impossible
to keep up.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Have a
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