'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, October 26th, 2012
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
October 26, 2012
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: Mike McCready, great to have you on
"THE ED SHOW". Thanks so much for joining us tonight.
That`s "THE ED SHOW". I`m Ed Schultz.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Have a great weekend, my
friend. Thank you.
And thanks to you at home --
SCHULTZ: I`m good at that. Thank you.
Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
You want to see something that is just inherently, viscerally, simply
satisfying? Something that you can just relax into and just wash over you?
Here you go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, TV HOST: You endorsed Governor Romney.
DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I did.
LETTERMAN: Are you in contact with him all the time?
LETTERMAN: What do you guys talk about?
TRUMP: Just general. I`ll tell you what? He has a stance on China,
which is a country that is ripping our heart out. I mean, we just do
nothing to protect ourselves, that I really like.
LETTERMAN: As a line of clothing -- now, where were these made?
TRUMP: These were made -- I don`t know where they were made. But
they were made someplace. But they are great. It`s ties, shirts, cuff
links, everything, sold at Macy`s and they are doing great.
Number one selling tie anywhere in the world.
LETTERMAN: Ties -- where are the ties made? These are beautiful
TRUMP: They are great ties.
LETTERMAN: The ties are made in where? China? The ties are made in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That look on Donald Trump`s face is worth a million gold
plated midtown office towers. That`s worth the price of whatever emphatic
impulse you have towards your fellow human being Donald Trump. Whatever
price you pay in ghostly empathetic shame just for the pleasure of seeing
his actual shame at having that issue resolved that way on national TV.
You don`t have to dislike Donald Trump as a person to be ineffably
satisfied with seeing this lie of his unraveled, right? I mean, because it
is a kind of lie to make it seem in one moment like you`re the guy who
would be super tough on China in business terms and economic terms. You`re
the guy who would stop China from ripping America`s heart out while you`re
also the guy who is making his self-branded neck ware in China, right?
That is the kind of lie.
I mean, in polite circles, you might refer to that as sort of moral
pretzeling as hypocrisy. If you just want to speak more bluntly and spare
more syllable, it is a kind of lie to portray yourself as bravely standing
up for some particular thing when you don`t particularly stand for that
thing at all.
The same thing happened last month when Republican presidential
nominee Mitt Romney held a business roundtable in Bedford Heights, Ohio.
He did it at a plant in that town called American Spring Wire. American
Spring Wire builds itself as North America`s largest manufacturer of valve
and commercial-quality sprint wire. They also make something called P.C.
strand, which is pre-stressed concrete strand.
At his visit to American Spring Wire, Mr. Romney hammered away at
President Obama for not being tough on China. Not the way that he Mitt
Romney would be tough on China. But the company Mr. Romney chose for his
backdrop that day, the company that he chose to implicitly help him make
that case so happened to be a poster child for success by President Obama
in getting tough on China.
In 2009, in the first months of President Obama`s presidency, American
Spring Wire joined with two other makers to ask for help. They said China
was unfairly dumping steel wire in the United States market at artificial
prices. They asked for help.
Under President Obama, the Commerce Department said they would
investigate and then the Commerce Department did move to protect American
Spring Wire. They did crack down on China for dumping their underpriced
product. Thus, benefitting American Spring Wire in exactly the way they
had asked to be benefitted. They got the help they wanted -- a company
that was then used as a backdrop for Mitt Romney saying President Obama had
not been tough on China.
Today, Mr. Romney gave what his campaign billed as a major address on
economic policy. This is part of his closing argument for the presidency.
He delivered the speech at a company called Kinsler Construction Services.
And in the speech, Mr. Romney argued that President Obama`s stimulus had
failed to help private companies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: A new stimulus three years
after the recession officially ended, that may spare government, but it
won`t stimulate the private sector any better than did the stimulus four
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s what Mitt Romney said today on the campaign at Kinsler
Construction Services in Ames, Iowa. You know that blissful moment when
you`re waiting for the other shoe to drop? You can see David Letterman
scrutinizing the ties, look for the tags to see where it`s made. You know
you`re in that moment right now?
As noted at "Think Progress" today, Kinsler Construction Services
benefitted from $700,000 from the stimulus that Mr. Romney says did no good
for any companies in the private sector. You can try to make the argument
that the stimulus program did not help private businesses even though the
evidence shows the opposite is true.
But when you`re trying to make that false argument that the stimulus
program didn`t help any private businesses, as you are standing at a
private business that the stimulus helped, that`s a particular kind of
implicit lie, and the rest of us can see that lie as it`s unraveled in
real-time by reporting. Even if you the teller of that particular lie do
not seem chastened by the experience of being called out, right?
Here`s another one. Mr. Romney spoke yesterday in the town of
Defiance, Ohio. Part of why Ohio`s economy has bounced back is we did not
just let Detroit go bankrupt, as it were, right? The Obama administration
bailed out the automobile industry, saved the industry and it has roared
back to life and the big three are hiring again.
Yesterday in Defiance, Ohio, Mitt Romney gave that Obama
administration success story a little Mitt Romney-esque tickle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers of
this state, Jeep -- now owned by the Italians -- is thinking of moving all
production to China.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Wow. Mr. Romney saying, hey, don`t get too comfy there,
Ohio, with the Obama rescue of the automobile industry. I know it`s been
better. He saved everything here and that`s why you have jobs and
But don`t get too comfy there, Ohio. I read that they are moving all
the jobs working for Jeep. They are moving all the jeep jobs to China.
He said that in Ohio on the campaign trail 12 days before the
election. And it is not true at all.
The real Jeep news that day was actually that Chrysler announced it
was adding 1,100 new jobs in the U.S. here, making Jeeps in Detroit, Jeep
Grand Cherokees. And Chrysler says it could hire almost as many people at
another plant in Warren, Michigan.
In Ohio, Chrysler is investing half a billion dollars in its Toledo
plant and hiring 1,100 workers. But Mitt Romney got up that day, got up
yesterday in Defiance, Ohio, and says, you know, he read somewhere that
Jeep is moving all of its production jobs to China. All of them.
That`s ridiculous. What is he talking about? It`s embarrassing for
Mr. Romney, right?
I mean, why on God`s great campaign trail would Mitt Romney get up in
front of 12,000 people in Ohio and tell them the auto bailout hasn`t helped
you at all. Your jobs making Jeeps are going to China. I read it
Where`s the story he says he read somewhere? We found it. Here it
is. He was apparently trolling the nether regions of the right-wing press.
He found it on a Washington Examiner blog post, which reported, quote,
"Jeep, an Obama favorite, looks to shift production to China, a move that
would crash the economy in towns like Toledo."
Is this true? This is not true. This is a conservative blogger`s
misreading of a "Bloomberg" report that actually was reporting good news
for Jeep. The "Bloomberg" was that global demand for Jeep has risen on to
the point where the company can sell more of them in China and it wants to
build Jeeps for China in China.
This is good news for an American company, not bad news. They are not
shipping American jobs overseas. This doesn`t mean less work for
Americans. This means they are just adding, they are expanding overseas.
Thanks to the auto bailout that Mitt Romney, Chrysler stuck around
long to win again. Yay! Or as Mitt Romney put it --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Jeep -- now owned by the Italians -- is thinking of moving
all production to China.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Look, I cover campaigns for a living, right? I understand
that politicians inflate and conflate and duck and dodge and weave and even
dissemble sometimes. That is not what Mitt Romney is up to here. Mitt
Romney is just flat out lying to the voters of Ohio. And by extension, to
voters all across America, on the basis of something he happened to read in
the right wing blogosphere.
His lie is embarrassing, frankly, and it should be unsettling for the
rest of the world. Imagine Romney waking up in the Lincoln bedroom or
whatever, checking his conservative Twitter feed and running with whatever
he finds there. Hey, I read somewhere that Russia did a thing.
Mr. Romney is not wising up here. He made the same mistake when he
tried to say that President Obama had not said the word terror when he
talked about the Benghazi attack in the Rose Garden until the day after the
attack. The president had, in fact, used that word.
But if you read the conservative blogosphere and conservative
blogosphere only, that never happened. And that apparently was enough of a
fact check for Mitt Romney. That`s what he read. So, that`s what he
believes, that`s what he tried to use and turned out to be a humiliating
gotcha attempt that failed before the largest possible audience, right?
Between 50-something million people watching him fail in a presidential
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m the president. And
I`m always responsible. And that`s why nobody is more interested in
finding out exactly what happened than I do.
The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I
told the American people and the world that we are going to find out
exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror.
ROMNEY: I think it`s interesting the president just said something
which is that on the day after the attack, he went to the Rose Garden and
said that this was an act of terror.
OBAMA: That`s what I said.
ROMNEY: You said in the rose garden the day after the attack it was
an act of terror? It was not a spontaneous demonstration.
OBAMA: Please proceed.
ROMNEY: Is that what you`re saying?
OBAMA: Please proceed, Governor.
ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record. It took the
president 14 days before he called the attack an act of terror.
OBAMA: Get the transcript.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN: He did, in fact, sir. Let me call it an act of
OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They never took back the rose garden thing. They never
corrected that. After Mitt Romney said in front of 50 million people, you
never said terror. They never took it back when he was proven wrong. They
haven`t taken back saying Jeep is shipping all the jobs to China. It`s at
all true. He said it on the campaign trail. He has not taken it back.
They never took it back about the American Spring Wire factory where
he was making the case that President Obama hasn`t been tough on China,
when he`s speaking at the company that asked the Obama administration to
get tough on China, and they did and that`s in part why the company is
They never took it back on the stimulus company -- the company that
benefitted from the stimulus while Romney was talking about no company
benefitted from the stimulus. They never take these things back, right?
It`s OK if your uncle who watches FOX News all day and yells at the TV
to say, I saw that story somewhere, right?
But when you want to be president of the United States, you can`t keep
proving that your first line of intelligence is the suffocating oxygen-free
right-wing blogosphere and that something that you read on the right wing
blog that isn`t true ends up going directly into a presidential candidate`s
Stuff is not true just because you read it somewhere. And yet twice
now in the closing weeks of the campaign we have seen Mitt Romney operate
that way. Democrats and the Obama campaign believe they see an end game,
connecting these kinds of Romney campaign problems that the Romney campaign
never corrects itself.
The Democrats now, you can tell, believe that they can sell the voting
public on Barack Obama as the candidate you can trust to tell you the truth
and to believe what he says against Mitt Romney as the candidate you cannot
trust. Integrity has become the Democrat`s issue now. Integrity and trust
-- that`s their closing argument.
Back during the Republican primary, the Obama campaign was reportedly
divided on strategy. They were divided over whether they were going to try
to hold Mitt Romney to the severely conservative positions he had to take
in order to try to win the primary, whether they should try to make him
seem like the extreme conservative he declared himself to be in order to
get the nomination. The Obama campaign was divided between that strategy
and whether they were instead going to try to make Mitt Romney seem like a
flip-flopper, human weather vane who would say anything depending on what
he needed to get by in just that moment.
They chose the former, right? They chose to try to hold him to the
conservative positions that he took in the primary. But now as it comes
down to the final vote, Mitt Romney is just abandoning all those positions,
from reproductive rights to health reform to Afghanistan, to his own tax
He`s abandoned all his own policies in a way that makes all of those
policies less relevant. Those positions themselves have become less
relevant. And what has become relevant is his willingness to abandon them.
His willingness to walk away from anything to never mind the record, don`t
bother correcting it, don`t bother being consistent, hope nobody checks,
His integrity is essentially the Democrat`s closing argument.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The presidency is all about who has going to fight for the
American people every single day, even when you got to make tough decisions
that are unpopular because you have some compass about what this country
can be. And, you know, during the course of these four years, there are
all kinds of mistakes that I have made every single day. But my compass
has been true. And I`ve focused on what`s going to best for the American
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: My compass has been true. The Democrats now in the last 11
days, integrity has become the closing argument -- integrity and trust.
Joining us now, Steve Kornacki. He`s co-host of MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE",
and he`s the senior writer for Salon.com.
Steve, thank you for being here.
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Can you close the election on this kind of sale line about
trustworthiness and integrity? It is no longer an ideological argument
from the Democrats. They are essentially saying judge Mitt Romney for his
KORNACKI: I think it`s an experiment. I don`t think we know the
answer and obviously we will on Election Day, because what Mitt Romney is
attempting to pull off here is something I don`t think we have really seen
before in modern politics. This is a move to the middle sort of on the
It`s coming very late in the campaign. It`s rhetorical in nature.
It`s not substantive in nature. For comparison, think back to 2000 when it
was Bush versus Gore. And the Republicans made a calculation after eight
years of Clinton that they`ve been too far in the right in the `90s, they
needed to be in the middle to win a national election. They needed a
compassionate conservatism. So, Bush they sort of saw as their Clinton.
But what Bush did was he spent 1999 and 2000 developing a real
program. He later called it big government conservativism. But he had a
real plan for a greater federal role in education. He had a real plan
there for federal and prescription drugs. They developed a real vision for
-- a moderate vision, a Republican vision of --
MADDOW: Comprehensive immigration reform.
KORNACKI: Exactly. So this is what he ran on in 2000. So there was
some real substance there.
What Mitt Romney is doing right here, he was far to the right in the
primary. He gave the conservative base everything they wanted. This is
one of the most conservative Republican platforms you`ve ever seen. He did
nothing at the convention from a policy standpoint to move away from that.
And he waited all the way until October 3rd, a month before the
election, to start in a debate to articulate moderate-sounding outcomes.
Not policy, but outcomes. Things that sound pleasing to moderates, but
he`s not changed his position on anything that I can really see.
So I`m struggling to see a precedent. It seems to me if that idea of
you can`t trust this guy. The idea that, you know, you don`t want a
weather vane like this being president, if it`s ever going to work against
a candidate, it would have to work now because I have you seen that this
MADDOW: Have you ever seen that particular attack work on another
candidate though? The idea that this guy is essentially morally flimsy,
substantively useless. He was somebody who is a chameleon and will do
whatever needs to be said and that you can`t take him at his word.
Has that ever been stuck on a candidate in a way they couldn`t slough
KORNACKI: Well, it can be stuck on a candidate in the sense that it
raises their personal negative rating. And that`s what`s happening to
Romney all year until October 3rd. That`s far variety of reasons, some
were just the gaps and the missteps. But I mean, he was the first
candidate through September of a major party nominee in modern history who
had a negative personal favorable rating. And I think that clearly was
dragging down his support in the national polls, why he lead it all until
The wild card here, the change that took place in October, when people
-- the biggest statistic that jumps out is people started judging, swing
voters started judging Romney the winner on the economy. He`s opened up
now a high single digit lead over Obama again on the economy. If that
overrides their concerns about his personality and character, then there`s
not much Obama can do.
But they had had locked with Romney`s personal negatives before that.
So there`s potential there, I would say.
MADDOW: I wonder -- I was thinking about this with the appearances in
Ohio, looking at the economic numbers in Ohio. It`s been funny at the
personality level to see Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich tried to talk
to Ohio about how much better things have gotten under his leadership and
to have the Romney campaign saying, shut up about that for a while. We`d
really to prefer you say things are going badly.
As the campaign really shrinks down to a small number of swing states
and they have that improving economic numbers problem as it were on the
Republican side in places like Florida and especially in places like Ohio,
does that change the type of argument they need to make about change?
About why Mitt Romney is the guy who should be trusted to do things
differently than Barack Obama? Since under Barack Obama, things are
KORNACKI: They are hitting a bit of a dead end there. I think, I saw
Kasich yesterday or today actually said, you know, basically things are on
the upswing in Ohio. And to keep it going, you need to change leadership
in Washington. That`s a strange, you know, kind of incoherent message.
And it is true. If you look at the numbers in Ohio and I think this
is true to a certain extent in Wisconsin but really in Ohio, if you look
nationally at where Obama has been bleeding support, working class white,
especially white guys, not as much in Ohio, not nearly as dramatic. And I
think you can definitely link that to the economy there, to the bailout
And I can think of -- it`s a small example, but the 1988 election,
Bush versus Dukakis. There`s a sea of red on the electoral map. Bush won
coast to coast, 40 states. There were three states in the Upper Midwest
and there`s ocean of red that went Democratic. Now, as Iowa, Minnesota and
Wisconsin. It was because the farm economy had collapsed in the mid 1980s
and the economy was so much worse there that they wanted to take it out on
the Reagan administration so they turned on Bush and they voted for
Dukakis, everybody else was going for Bush.
So I see there`s a potential there for kind of a flip of that. If the
economy is so strong comparatively in Ohio and the auto bailout has helped
it in a way it hasn`t helped other states, I could definitely see and it
would probably explain why Obama is doing better in Ohio than he is, you
MADDOW: Steve Kornacki, host of MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE," thank you very
for joining us here tonight. Do you feel like between now and the
election, it`s essentially just one sprint? Like do you plan to sleep or
take any time off at all?
KORNACKI: I haven`t been so far, so why change now, you know?
MADDOW: Steve, thank you. It`s great to have you here.
MADDOW: All right. It is a pretty good bet that you have not seen
the most moving speech by a politician in the last 24 hours. Actually,
it`s probably the most moving speech by an American politician in awhile.
We have the video tonight. I don`t think it`s been anywhere else at
all. But we`re going to play it here for you tonight. It`s a pretty good
chunk of tape. I`m going to play it at length because it`s worth. It`s
truly emotional stuff. And that`s coming up on the show tonight. Stay
MADDOW: Paul Ryan is running for vice president of the United States.
So, why is the man running for president of the United States sending his
running mate to places in the United States where the people who are going
to decide the election cannot see him? That`s ahead.
MADDOW: As soon as longtime Indiana Senator Dick Lugar lost his seat
in a Republican primary to a Tea Party guy named Richard Mourdock, as soon
as that happened, everybody they knew that the Democrats had been given an
opening to potentially take that Indiana Senate seat from red to blue. And
that was before Richard Mourdock cited God`s will to help him explained why
he would force a rape victim to give birth against her will.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD MOURDOCK (R-IN), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: Even when life begins
in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He later clarified that God didn`t intend for you to be
raped, he just intended that once you were being raped, it would result in
your pregnancy. That`s the God`s will part of it.
Now, since those comments, Mr. Mourdock`s Democratic opponent Joe
Donnelly has been telling the papers that his internal polling in Indiana
shows Mourdock trailing Joe Donnelly by seven points. And since that
polling was given to "The Washington Post" this morning, we know that it
does not account for any effect on the e electorate that we might expect
from these further comments on rape and what Richard Mourdock wants to do
to rape victims. This further comment made by Richard Mourdock today in an
interview with a local NBC affiliate in Terre Haute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If a woman were to be raped, would you vote for a
law that would make them have that baby because the baby is a gift of God?
MOURDOCK: You know, my point of view all along, and I`ve held this
position for many years, the only exception I have for abortion is the life
of the mother.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if it were a 13-year-old girl raped and was
impregnated, would you vote to make sure that those situations you would
make the girl have the baby?
MOURDOCK: You know, you can start throwing all kinds of hypotheticals
out there. I`ve made my statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Wow. He`s made his statement. And he`s one of at least 12
Republican Senate candidates this year who would make that same statement,
which it turns out has political consequences. More on that coming up.
MADDOW: There`s something that`s sort of hiding in plain sight right
now on the campaign trail. Let me show you. These are the seven of the
swingiest of the swing states, right? Over the last few days, Mitt Romney
has been in Nevada, and in Iowa, and in Ohio, and then Ohio three more
times, and then Iowa, and then, yes, Ohio again. That`s Mitt Romney`s
travel itinerary for the last few days.
But his running mate Paul Ryan out alone on the campaign trail is
doing something very different than that. Again, this hasn`t been getting
much attention, but the difference is stark. Yesterday, Paul Ryan was in
Midland, Texas. Then he left Texas only to be beamed back to Texas by
satellite that evening for this event, for an event with former Vice
President Dick Cheney and Glenn Beck, a man who is a sensation on the
Internet where he sells pants now. He sells Glenn Beck pants now.
Paul Ryan has this week also been in Georgia at two separate
fundraisers in South Carolina and today he was in Huntsville, Alabama.
See, I think we have photos -- here he is -- arriving in Huntsville,
Alabama, today for a fundraiser. Tickets were up to $5,000 a pop. But
I mean, the election is a week from Tuesday and you`re in Alabama? Is
Alabama swinging this year?
This is not swing state travel. And all that un-swing state travel --
I mean, it`s not preaching to the choir. It`s like preaching to the mirror
at this point.
On the Democratic ticket, however, the vice president also has a
different role to play than the president does. It is underappreciated, I
think, what Joe Biden is doing for the Democratic ticket right now, but we
have some incredible footage for you that has been seen anywhere else,
which I think may help to clear up some confusion on this subject.
That is our exclusive that we`ve got for you tonight. And that is
ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Just before Halloween last year, with a giant snowstorm in
the Northeast. Kind of ruined trick or treating and it turned out to be
the only real snow we got all year. Basically it sucked. This year, we
are anticipating another big weather event right before Halloween and it is
actually looking like it might be a big enough weather event that it might
not just mess with Halloween, it might mess with another big national thing
that comes up less than a week after Halloween this year, and that is a
little something you might have heard of called Election Day.
Halloween is Wednesday and Election Day is the Tuesday after that.
Forecasters at the National Weather Service have taken to calling what is
upon us a Frankenstorm. It`s apparently a combination of a few different
First and most importantly, it`s a hurricane, hurricane Sandy. But
hurricane Sandy then combines with a winter storm coming out of the west
and that combines further with a blast of arctic air.
A storm or a storm system or combination of storm systems that`s
potentially this significant is always of national significance. But in
this case, the Frankenstorm could be of flit call significance if its
affect is both big enough and its damage is long-lasting enough that it
complicates not just early voting next week but also potentially voting on
Election Day itself on November 6th.
There`s no reason to be alarmist about this, right? But there`s
reason to pay attention to the storm. There`s reason to pay attention to
the storm frankly no matter where you live. Even if it`s not going to
directly affect you as weather, it might direct you as politics.
In the swing state of Virginia, for example, Governor Bob McDonnell
has already declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the
Frankenstorm and Mitt Romney has cancelled a rally set for Sunday in
Virginia Beach because of the threat of the storm. So thanks to the
weather, there`s even more uncertainty about what the next 10 days hold in
this particular swing state of Virginia. There`s even more uncertainty
there than there is in the rest of the country and in the rest of the
And that`s remarkable to the point of irony because there was already
so much uncertainty about Virginia. When President Obama won Virginia in
2008, it was more than just a big political deal. It was historic.
I mean, this was the first time a Democrat had won Virginia in a race
for the presidency since 1964. Virginia had been red for more than four
decades. President Obama`s victory in Virginia in the last election
reflected just a historic change. Virginia is a state that is influx. The
political history of Virginia in other words does not tell you much about
what`s going to happen next in Virginia because, frankly, what just
happened in Virginia in the last election was totally unprecedented in
Virginia is in new territory. And then what happened in Virginia
after the 2008 election, was still further new territory, still more
change, which makes the state more unknowable right now.
In 2009, the year after Virginia went blue in the presidential
election for the first time in 44 years, in 2009, the state decided to
elect this guy, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell -- a fairly radical
conservative guy who went to televangelist Pat Robertson`s university where
he wrote his graduate thesis as a mid-career adult saying that the
government should use public policy to punish cohabitators, homosexuals,
and fornicators -- oh my.
Governor McDonnell took office in 2008 and he pulled the legislature
eventually into Republican territory with him. And then early this year,
that Republican legislature came up with a fertilized egg as person bill --
a bill that would ban all abortion and would likely also ban hormonal
contraception in Virginia and it would ban in vitro fertilization.
Governor McDonnell said that he would take a look at that personhood bill
if it end up coming to his desk.
The day that bill was passed through a committee, this is what the
lobby of the hearing room looked like.
The area around the personhood bill was full of protesters. That was
a standing-room only kind of gig. There were protesters outside the
building as well.
Virginia Republicans also came out with their forced vaginal probe
ultrasound bill this year, which Governor McDonnell initially threw his
full support behind. Hundreds of protesters turned up at the capital on
the day the House was supposed to vote on the first ultrasound bill to take
part in a silent protest. Protesters lined the sidewalks where legislators
will just have to see them as they walked to work, just stood there being
eerily quite. It was a very powerful, very large protest.
They are making their case on two levels. First, there were a lot of
people, lots of women, also some men too. And they were all willing to
show up and stand there and demonstrate that they were against that forced
They were also being sort of ostentatiously seen and not heard on an
issue where their complaint was that their voices were being ignored.
Their choices were being taken away. Governor McDonnell under really heavy
pressure ultimately called for an amended version of the forced ultrasound
bill that did not require that the ultrasound be the vaginal probe kind.
But he did sign the final forced ultrasound bill. And from that
conflict and that outcome, he earned himself the national nickname he will
never shed as long as I`m alive, and, of course, is, "Governor Ultrasound."
This was a scene out of board of health meeting in September after
Governor Ultrasound`s administration, along with Republican Attorney
General Ken Cuccinelli aggressively engineered that board toward a decision
that could have the effect of shutting down almost all the abortion clinics
Virginia, in other words, has been in a state of political unrest and
upheaval since the 2008 elections. The political landscape is changing
there. We talked about this kind of political phenomenon last night in
terms of what`s going on in Ohio and the same is true of a number of swing
states. And I think it`s an underappreciated phenomenon in the way that
these states are being talked about and appreciated now in these final days
of the presidential race.
I mean, it`s not true of every battleground state, but in some of the
really important ones, in Ohio, in Wisconsin, in Virginia, we have seen
very, very, very potent partisan political conflict in the last couple
years leading up to this year`s presidential race. Presidential elections
do not just happen in a presidential partisan vacuum. The way the parties
comport themselves in each individual state has an effect on the way voters
think about those parties even at the national level.
And if you are a national candidate, one sure fire way to tether
yourself to a controversial state party is to make sure that you embody the
positions from your party that caused all the controversy in that state in
the first place. So, for example, when you were a guy who said he would
have absolutely supported a personhood-style fertilized egg as a person
measure to ban all abortion, when you say that you`re speaking to an
electorate in Virginia that is frankly very fired up about that exact
issue, that has been actively fighting against that position in their state
And you know, maybe you could still maybe get away with holding a Mitt
Romney position against abortion, against funding for Planned Parenthood,
against access to contraception. Maybe you could hold that position and
still pitch yourself successfully to Virginia voters if you carefully tack
to the center in the general election if, say, you picked a moderate
running mate who is not going to reflect all the crazy rollbacks to women`s
health that are being proposed in the state. Maybe, right? Maybe you
could get away with that.
But if you didn`t do that, if, on the other hand, you picked a guy who
sponsored a personhood bill for "The Nation", a guy whose abortion position
is he would have them to have their rapist child against their will, the
guy who co-sponsored a bill to narrow the definition of rape for women
seeking access to abortion, if you picked that guy on your ticket, a guy
who doubles down on all the things that had been so shocking to the polity
in Virginia in the past year, and you announce him as your running mate in
Virginia, you are probably going to remind Virginia voters of all of the
stuff they have been taking from the Republicans in their state lately that
has made the whole state so mad. That`s why Virginia is a swing state this
I mean, nobody expected Virginia to be contested race in this
election. The Democrats were hoping for it, but Democrats were hoping for
it and realistic Democrats were not expecting it. Everybody frankly
assumed that it was going to revert back to its 44-year legacy as a red
state after this anomalous experience in 2008.
But right now, Virginia is neck and neck. The last three polls in
Virginia show the race either tied or Mitt Romney up by just one or two
points. And this is part of why: President Obama is winning in Virginia
among women -- winning in those polls between five and 16 points.
The gender gap in the persistent problem that Republicans have in
appealing to women because of the way Virginia Republicans have governed
there is having a powerful and potentially historical effect on the
presidential race this year.
Melissa Harris-Perry joins us next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think we have seen again this week, I don`t think any male
politician should be making health care decisions for women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama speaking in Richmond, Virginia, yesterday.
Joining us now is Melissa Harris-Perry, professor of political science
at Tulane University. She`s a columnist for "The Nation" and host of the
"MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" show here on MSNBC.
Melissa, thank you for being here.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, "MHP" HOST: Absolutely.
MADDOW: Is there a sealed bubble around presidential elections or
does what happens in the swing states reflect not just the presidential
election but what has happened politically in the states since `08?
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, so -- I think the story that you told about
Virginia going blue, and I think it`s a story that we didn`t tell quite
enough on election night in 2008. In part, because like 10 minutes later,
we called the West Coast --
MADDOW: It was over.
HARRIS-PERRY: -- and the election was over. So no one really paused
it to take note of it.
But that transition is indicative of sort of how much Virginia has
changed as a place. There`s always been a border state. It`s always been
quite different in northern Virginia than somewhere else.
But, look, the fact is that the fights that we have seen there over
the course of the past four years. The shifting back and forth of the
Republican control and then the Republican control going too far,
particularly on women`s questions is microcosm of what`s happening in the
And look, it is the swingiest of the swing states at this point. It
may come to Ohio, but it may also come to Virginia.
MADDOW: And does Governor Bob McDonnell, I mean, he was -- before he
became Governor Ultrasound, he was being talked about as potential vice
MADDOW: But just as governor in that state, does his existence and
his record in that state make it more or less likely that President Obama
will take the state?
HARRIS-PERRY: I think it`s a little bit hard to tell. We look at
this gender gap and all of a sudden, we start sort of taking all women and
putting them in the same category and saying there`s some great a uterus
uprising occurring here.
But when you pull those numbers apart, the fact that there are
different sorts of women who support President Obama versus other sorts of
women -- so women of color are driving that gender gap. So yes, there`s a
gender gap, but a lot of that gender gap is driven by African-American
women, Latino women, Southeast Asian women who haven`t forgotten George
Allen who haven`t forgotten George Allen who`s also on the Senate ticket,
that suggests that the question of whether or not it`s going to have an
impact on the presidential race is whether or not those parts of the Obama
for America 2012 machine are prepared to turn out those communities and not
just sort of thinking about women as an interest group relative to these
reproductive rights policies.
MADDOW: What do you know about how good they are? I mean, the
logistics of running a get out the vote operation don`t work the same for
all types of voters, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. The Virginia campaign to get out women
of color and get out voters in northern Virginia is extremely good. And
then there`s a hurricane.
HARRIS-PERRY: And the question of whether or not those few days of
the president showing up in Virginia and having something to say and
indicating how important that state is to him, whether or not it makes a
difference, is kind of hard to tell from this distance. But they have been
very good at exactly the communities where the women who are Obama
supporting women, the one place I think that is the challenge are college
HARRIS-PERRY: So the other group of women who helped to drive this
gender gap are women who have never lived in a world without access to
birth control, without access to abortion services, living on the campuses
of the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, and William and Mary,
and all of that, and whether or not those women show up to vote I think
depends a lot on whether or not the young vote feels enthusiastic rather
than the women`s vote.
MADDOW: And the new uncertainty about whether campuses will be shut
down because of the storm.
MADDOW: It`s incredible.
Melissa Harris-Perry, the host of "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" here on the
weekends on MSNBC, it`s going to be very exciting next 10, I`m glad I will
be spending a lot of it with you. Thank you for being here.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We will be right back with that exclusive footage
that I have been teasing you about all hour. That`s coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Thank you, Mr. President.
OBAMA: Brian, I`m going to give you one more minute just to say this.
WILLIAMS (voice-over): Earlier however on Air Force One, right when
our time was up, and the interview was supposed to end, the president asked
to keep going. He ran through what`s become his pitch -- his list of
principles in the current campaign ad that`s airing. But then he also
wanted to address how this all must look from the outside.
OBAMA: It`s funny. One of the things about being on the campaign
trail, you`re in Air Force One, you`re in Marine One, these big motorcades.
Michele jokes I`ve got everything but a caboose and a dogsled behind me
whenever I`m driving -- none of that is the presidency.
The presidency is all about whose going to fight for the American
people every single day, even when you`ve got to make tough decisions that
are unpopular because you have some compass about what this country can be.
And, you know, I`ve -- during the course of these four years, there are all
kinds of mistakes that I`ve made every single day. But my compass has been
true. And I`ve focused on what`s going to be best for the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was how Brian Williams` "Rock Center" interview with
President Obama ended yesterday. After spending two days with Brian
Williams, the president asked for one more minute, which he never does. He
said he wanted to say one more thing.
It was that compass idea. This compass idea that President Obama went
out of his way to make sure he said there. The idea of the president
having a compass that is true.
That is basically the idea of character, of integrity. It`s the idea
of personal authenticity to an extent -- that you know what a person stands
for, that you know that person will stand for those things even when it`s
hard, because it is who they truly are. This is more than just being
likable. This is the idea of personal substance that you can be counted on
to do the right thing because you are who you say you are. You are not
This is a sort of intangible currency that campaigns are always
competing for at every level. But it`s particularly so at the end of big
races where the people who haven`t been persuaded by the more overt
arguments and policy differences are the ones who are going to make the
final, final decision.
At the end of the day people who have no reason to vote one way or the
other will vote for the person they believe in, the person they trust isn`t
pulling one over them.
And, you know, that`s what the birtherism is about on the right. They
keep with that stupid thing because it translates to the president being
secretly not what he seems, right?
I mean, at the end of this campaign, the trust issue is also what the
Obama campaign is pressing about Mitt Romney. Not in some sort of creepy
way, pseudo-racist birther way, but more directly asking people to question
whether you believe this guy believes he stands for anything, whether he
seems authentic to you, whether you really trust that he believes what he
Now, they don`t get much credit for it, but the Obama-Biden ticket`s
secret weapon on the issue of authenticity and integrity and unimpeachably
being who you purport to be, their secret weapon in that class of political
combat has always been Vice President Joe Biden.
The right has tried to make Vice President Biden into a caricature and
a joke, but it`s instructive that he was able to defuse that totally at the
vice presidential debate where he said, yes, sure, make fun of me all you
want, which I always say what I mean, which in fact nobody can dispute. I
mean, Joe Biden really always does say what he means. And when Joe Biden
really says what he means, when he really let`s loose, it can be a powerful
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People say to me
now, and I wonder now, whatever gave you the courage as a 29-year-old kid
to announce to the United States Senate against a man who had an 82 percent
favorable rating, in a year when we knew it was going to be tough, what
gave you the courage to run? Or some thought, what made you some
foolhardy? The answer, you girls should know this, was your father -- your
I didn`t know him when I announced through the Senate. But I honest
to God believed that I could maybe go help him end this war. I honest to
God believed that.
What people don`t realize, had your father not been there, had your
father never been in the Senate, so much more blood, so much more treasure
would have been wasted. The war would have never ended when it did. It
would have never ended how it did.
Your father gave courage to people who didn`t have the courage to
speak up, to finally stand up. Your father stood there and took all of
that beating. Your father, who was characterized by these right-wing guys
as a coward and unwilling to fight -- your father was a genuine hero.
The irony used to make me so angry, so angry, that your father would
never speak up and talk about -- his heroism. Your father had more
courage, physical courage in his little finger than 95 percent of those
guys who continued to fight, to fight a war we shouldn`t have fought in the
But because he took such a miserable beating, he actually, even though
he didn`t win that election, he won the end of the war. It would have
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Vice President Joe Biden offering the eulogy last
night for Senator George McGovern who was a war hero and anti-war stalwart
and he was the Democratic Party`s presidential nominee in 1972. George
McGovern died this weekend by the age of 90.
Vice President Biden there not only doing right by the memory of
Senator McGovern, but in so doing showing what has been central to his
political career -- which is being able to tell powerful and accessible
stories that connect human beings to values and big political ideas. That
is what Joe Biden has always done as a politician and it is what he does
now on this campaign, as this campaign becomes more and more every day
about that challenge, that compass, that issue of authenticity and values.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Have a
great weekend. Good night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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