'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, November 11th, 2012
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
November 11, 2012
Guests: Jonathan Cohn, Lizz Winstead, James Perry, Mindy Fullilove, Maya Wiley, Richard Kim, Ann McLane Kuster
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, MHP`s post-election
agenda is to keep our eye on poverty.
Plus, the needs of our veterans on the day that we pay tribute to them.
And women are on the way. Washington will never be the same.
But first, the president`s lease on the White House has just been extended.
Just what is the mandate?
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
All week, the Democratic and Republican political operatives and
strategists have been sifting through exit polling data trying to piece
together the how and why of President Obama`s re-election. Poring over
data of turnout and the racial and socioeconomic composition of the winning
coalition and breakdowns of what issues drove the electorate to the polls,
all the pundits and prognosticators were looking for the formula that added
up to a win for the president. Now, clearly Nate Silver has decoded the
calculus of probability. But now the question shifted from who will win to
what are the voters trying to tell us? And not even Nate can definitively
Here`s what we do know. Voters turned out for president Barack Obama in
droves. Despite having a somewhat smaller electoral map than in 2008, this
is one of the biggest democratic wins since FDR. With Florida now colored
blue, the president had secured a wide electoral surplus and a sizable
popular vote margin.
Now, the popular vote win was made possible by people who lined up in huge
numbers to vote in states like Louisiana or New York or South Carolina,
which weren`t in play in terms of their electoral votes. They weren`t
going to be need. But who were nonetheless determined to cast their
ballots for the president.
As a result, this president`s win was bigger than JFK`s in 1960, bigger
than Richard Nixon in 1968, bigger than Jimmy Carter`s in 1976 and bigger
than George W. Bush`s in 2000. No denying it. It was a big win. And as I
said before, size does matter. At least when it comes to laying claim to a
So, the president may have earned political capital, but what is he going
to say about the argument for why he`s earned it. Why did the electorate
overwhelmingly vote to put this president back in the White House? Does
Tuesday`s win tell us a story sufficient to explain what America wants?
Now, listening to the president on Tuesday night, I noticed a subtle but
important shift in how he is thinking about the second term. In both 2008
and this past Tuesday, President Obama told a story during his speech. In
2008, the narrative of the then president-elect Obama gave was about his
win was a culmination of struggle. He told the narrative of 106-year-old
Ann Nixon Cooper who cast her ballot in Atlanta that evening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She was born just a general
ration past slavery, a time when there were no cars on the road or planes
in the sky. When someone like her couldn`t vote for two reasons because
she was a woman and because of the color of her skin. And tonight I think
about all that she`s seen throughout her century in America. The heartache
and the hope. The struggle and the progress. The times we with told that
we can`t and the people who pressed on with that American creed, yes, we
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So in 2008, the president saw his own election as fulfilling
a legacy of struggle. But the story he told in 2012 was not a story of
culmination, it was a story of initiation. Not what was but what is and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I saw just the other day in Mentor, Ohio where a father told the
story of his 8-year-old daughter whose long battle with leukemia nearly
cost their family everything. Had it not been for health care reform
passing just a few months before the insurance company was about to stop
paying for her care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: You see the difference. In 2008, the president drew our
attention to Ann Cooper and the generations that she represented. In 2012,
he wants us to think of an 8-year-old girl and the future she embodies.
The second time is about move, dare I say it, forward. And what is his
mandate for moving forward?
Well, Indiana University political science professor Marjorie Hershey says
to the "pointer Institute" this week that politicians can never claim a
mandate because they never really know why voters supported them.
But President Obama`s re-election cannot tell us about each individual
policy that the president proposes, but it does suggest that Americans, a
lot of Americans, abroad, multiracial, coalition of Americans have bought
into the president`s vision for the role of government. That despite the
battering it took during the campaign, the role of the federal government
came out on the other side of Tuesday not as a philosophical punching bag,
but, in fact, with a freshman date. And the American electorate voted yes
for a government that shares with its citizens certain obligations and
responsibilities. They voted yes for the social contract. And that is the
capitol that President Obama seeks to spend in coming month.
At my table is Richard Kim, executive editor of "The Nation" magazine, Maya
Wiley, civil rights attorney and founder of the Center for Social
Inclusion, Jonathan Cohn is senior editor at "The New Republic" magazine
and political satirist Lizz Winstead, co-creator of "The Daily Show."
Thanks to you all for being here.
So, Richard, do you think I have that right? Do you think the nation said
on Tuesday what we want is an active government?
RICHARD KIM, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THENATION.COM: You know, I`m a little more
pessimistic than that. What the nation said on Tuesday is that they
objected the Romney/Ryan agenda. They rejected mass of cuts on Social
Security and Medicare and they rejected the idea that society made of
takers and givers and the job creators are the people that have to be
exalted. I think they voted for preserving the social safety net. I don`t
know approximate they voted for growing that, because Obama didn`t run on
HARRIS-PERRY: He did run, Jonathan, on the notion of the end of Bush era
tax cuts at the very top. It feels like, if there is a mandate, right?
That mandate has everything to do with the perception of the opposition,
right? If the opposition cowers there`s a mandate, right? If the
opposition does not count, then, there`s not a mandate. I just want to
listen to the president himself saying that he believes the mandate about
taxes. Let`s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I refuse to accept any approach that isn`t balanced. I`m not going
to ask students and seniors and middle class families to pay down the
entire deficit while people like me making over $250,000 aren`t asked to
pay a dime more in taxes.
OBAMA: I`m not going to do that. And I just want to point out, this was a
central question during the election. It was debated over and over again.
And on Tuesday night, we found out that the majority of Americans agree
with my approach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, this is what he says his mandate is.
JONATHAN COHN, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": I think he has a pretty
good case. I mean, again, a mandate, you know, when we talk about a
mandate, is a specific set of instructions down all these issue. Of course
COHN: But the president is absolutely right. This was a central issue in
the election. We heard about it in every debate. Used it at a stump
speech. And look at the polls? I mean the polls, it is very clearly
suggests on this issue most Americans believe it is appropriate to ask the
wealthy to pay more as we go forward. Because we need revenue, we need to
support these programs. As Richard said, the public clearly wants, wants
Medicare, wants Medicaid. We have to find the money for it. Where will we
find the money? Well, we should ask the wealthy to pay a little more like
they did during the Clinton era. And you know, that, I think, is a very
clear message from this election.
HARRIS-PERRY: I often felt, Maya, like if it was a mandate at all, it was
the mandate to fix voting. So, you know, I mean, one of the things we
heard is early on, there was enthusiasm gap and the part of what closed
that enthusiasm gap were the voter suppression efforts themselves. And
people saying wait a minute, like or dislike the president, pooling on his
side or not, you are not going to take away my ability and right to vote.
Do you think that there is room here for the president to swiftly move
forward on changing the way that we vote in this country?
MAYA WILEY, FOUNDER, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR SOCIAL INCLUSION: It`s a really
important question, Melissa. I can`t agree with you more. I think this
election when we look at it was highly polarized. And when it shows that
the nation itself is highly polarized and it`s polarized across race.
That`s an unfortunate thing. And one of the conversations that we`re
having in this country right now is whether or not we should actually be
the representative country that we are, right?
So, if a lot of the voting laws that we`re talking about that were
introduced in 33 states across the country were going to make it much, much
more difficult for the populations that came out strong for President Obama
in this election are going to have an easier time voting or harder time
voting as they become the largest segment of the country.
So, I think part of the problem here for President Obama and the Democratic
Party generally is that they don`t have a lot of control. These are state-
level laws. These are not federal. Where he has control through the
Department of Justice which has the power to enforce the voting rights act
which as we know, was one of the key strategies to allowing people to vote
in some of the key states.
HARRIS-PERRY: And the Supreme Court is going to hear section five.
WILEY: And we just heard on Friday that the Supreme Court is going to hear
it. We know from chief justice Roberts that he questions the
constitutionality of section five that which he said in the case in 2009.
The only way that the White House has any power over this kind of really
taking away rights that we have fought so hard for in this country is
through his Supreme Court nominations and presumably he will have a few.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And which is not a small thing, right? It`s a huge
part of the presidential legacy. If you could suggest to the president a
shopping list of where to spend his big win first, where would you have him
LIZZ WINSTEAD, POLITICAL SATIRIST: That`s a really interesting question.
I think where I would have him spend it is where I think people reacted the
most, which is the cruelty of with which the Republicans ran. I think that
people looked at every single thing. I have friends who don`t have
insurance, who are sick. I have friends who are dying in their apartments.
I have elderly parents that my siblings and I get together and fork out
every month to supplement.
And then the big storm comes and you saw Americans who needed help from
their government in a way that it was -- it was very telling at this time.
I think so your mandate is, correct the record on the cruelty. And reset
on who we are as a nation and what that means. What our government means.
HARRIS-PERRY: As we go to break, given you said that this notion about
cruelty, I want to listen to the president as we leave and go to break and
we will come back and talk specifically about it specifically addressing
the fiscal cliff which is the first thing spent with this machine date.
But, he said something very similar. Kind of (INAUDIBLE). Don`t be
cynical, right? We`re going to do away with cruelty. So, we will listen
to the president as we go out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as
divided as our politics suggests. We are not as cynical as the pundits
believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we
remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and
forever will be the United States of America. And together, with your help
and God`s grace, we will continue our journey forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re still waiting for the post re-election press
conference from President Obama. But each of his recent predecessors held
one within days of their victories. Now, how he frames the path forward
helps us to see how the commander in chief is feeling about his foray into
the second term. If the last three presidents are any indication, this is
what it looks like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I feel that
the people of this country made it very plain that they approved what we`ve
been doing and we`re going to continue what we`ve been doing and if need
be, we will take our case to the people.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sometimes the
president thinks he has more of a mandate and tries to do too much in
cooperation. So, what we have done to try to avoid that number one, make
it clear that we understand the American people want us to work together
with the Republicans and that we have to build a vital center. And number
two, to have a driving agenda for the second term that grows out of what
we`ve done for the last four years.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I earned capital in
the campaign, political capital. Now I intend to spend it. It is my
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, President Obama may be putting together his second
term do list right now with the plan on how to spend his political capital.
There`s one task he has to take care of before anything else, that is
negotiating the fiscal cliff.
I know. We`re all sick of hearing about the fiscal cliff. But the fact
is, without a bipartisan deal on the budget, nothing, literally nothing
else gets accomplished by the federal government. So, I just want to ask
you about this. We were just saying like the language of fiscal cliff is
irritating and not particularly evocative of what will actually happen.
But the fact is it going to have to deal with the sequestration question.
How much is the president`s re-election going to factor into how the
choices are made on the backside?
KIM: Well, I think this will be a really important test in the next few
months, weeks. Is the president really a deficit hawk, right? This is
something that liberals have been up in the air about. And if you really
is a deficit hawk, if you really believes this and not because of political
reasons but because he thinks it`s a problem. He will go the grand bargain
route as he will sit down with the Republicans and try to get the best deal
that he can even if they do this in the sort of posture ticket, right?
If he thinks it`s a sort of manufactured crisis in part, he will do with
what was suggested in "The New York Times" and let the sequestration happen
and let the cliff come and go out, and I hate to say this, you know
Michelle Obama and Sasha and Malia, but go back on the campaign trail,
right, and do the barnstorming of the country and explain that the deficit
is not as much a problem as we think it is. Explain the financial health
of our country to the American people and create his mandate out of that
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, it make me question, on the one hand he`s a great
communicator, but on this issue of explaining complex policy, at least on
the affordable care act, the administration didn`t show itself as being
particularly adept at that. So, I worry just a little bit about the Thelma
and Louise, go off the cliff. It`s not a cliff. It kind a slides down
slowly. It buys you time.
WILEY: It also -- there`s a certain political emotion agreement I have
with let the chop happen. It`s a chop. It`s not a cliff. It`s a chopping
block. But the problem is that we`re talking about 3 million Americans not
getting the food they need to eat by the end of the month. Not getting
home heating help at the time when we`re hitting the winter months and for
all indications are we`re going to have a hard winter.
We`re talking about whether homeless assistance grants are going to help
shelter people who are homeless and we`re talking about whether we`re going
to allow the poorer school districts and children`s with disabilities and
learning disabilities and physical disabilities are going to have the
important funding that supports their educational opportunity chopped.
So it`s a very hard -- it`s a very hard political position, I think, that
the president is in because on the one hand, I think it`s right to say, you
know, it`s not a making of the Democratic Party. It`s not even a making of
the entire Republican party. It`s about how both parties got held hostage
by Tea Party caucus within. This is a minority actually holding hostage a
HARRIS-PERRY: A majority of the two parties.
WINSTEAD: And I would even say keep these conversations loud and public
and also show John Boehner, if John Boehner is going to be blaming
everybody else but John Boehner for being (INAUDIBLE), not being able to
poll this, you know, sort of, you know, red ants that infested his regions
what can`t get done, then, let`s just see what that`s about because this is
a democracy. This isn`t the president`s mandate. It`s everybody`s
HARRIS-PERRY: It is interesting point, I mean, I want to set two things
next to each other. On the one hand, we had a letter in the Washington
Post, right, to the president and to the Congress from sort of the group
that had supported the president, big labor and others and they made it
very clear, right. The 2012 elections are over. The American people have
spoken. We have voted for the middle class, putting people back to work
and not job killing budget cuts and not attacking Social Security and
Medicare and Medicate.
So, they are saying, this is what the mandate is. On the other hand, we
have Boehner who just won a majority in the House of Representatives.
Here`s what he said Thursday to Diane Sawyer about raising taxes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANNE SAWYER, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Is it on the table to talk about it?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I made clear --
SAWYER: The wealthier Americans pitch in here.
BOEHNER: Raising tax rates is unacceptable. And frankly, it couldn`t even
pass the House putting increased revenues on the table but through
reforming our tax code. And I would do that if the president were serious
about solving our spending problem and trying to secure our entitlement
programs. I`m the most reasonable, responsible person here in Washington.
The president knows this. He knows that he and I can work together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Jonathan, the politics of that?
COHN: The remarkable thing about that statement. A lot of people noticed,
it reminded them of the statement in the godfather. My offer is nothing.
You went back in a time machine to the big fight over the debt ceiling in
2011. This was basically Boehner`s posture then ad he`s acting, at least
for the moment, like nothing has changed since then.
But you know, a lot has changed. That was President Obama`s weakest
moment. Unemployment was much higher. He hadn`t just been re-elected.
And the dynamics of the policy situation were such that were doing nothing
hurt the president more than it hurt the Republicans which is most people
think it`s the reverse now.
COHN: Now, in fairness to Boehner, he`s got the same problem he had
before. He has a caucus. You know, I suspect if you put Boehner and the
president in a room together, they could probably find out some deal. But
the problem for Boehner, he has this conservative caucus. And the
interesting question is how long will it take, what will it take for him to
sell his Republicans, his Republican caucus on a deal.
HARRIS-PERRY: Does he have the big enough stick, can he pull them into
line, which is really the question here. And do they see there being a
significant cost for them. Because they`re now two years out from an
election, right? But two whole years, a lot happens in that time. Do they
see enough of a cost for bucking the president here.
Up next, the other thing I love about second terms is everything that
changes had terms of personnel right? You get to line up a new Cabinet.
So, we are going to talk about the palace intrigue, who is going and who is
staying when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now that the election has passed and we`re hoping that
President Obama has finally gotten a good night`s sleep, he might even have
had a few extra hours to hang out with the girls, tussle with beau. And he
will need the R and R before he starts tackling the to do list of the
second term agenda.
First thing I always do when I got a full schedule, I try to clean out the
work space and from what we hear, the west wing is going to get a deep
cleaning. Some of the top brass will be taking their leave to make way
tore fresh legs to take them through the second half. Among the starters
expected to take to the benches: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner,
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Energy
Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and EPA administrator
Lisa Jackson. And that`s just the first string. Let`s see who my panel
thinks is going to change up. I mean, obviously Petraeus is not hanging
out for the second term.
HARRIS-PERRY: But you know, I think the interesting one is Secretary of
State. Who goes in, in place of Hillary Clinton?
COHN: I have no idea.
HARRIS-PERRY: I know the language has been Susan Rice as one possibility.
Susan Rice, obviously, we`ve got the Benghazi problem associated with her,
whether or not that`s kind of, you know, over. Then the other one, of
course, is John Kerry of Massachusetts. The problem is if you pull Kerry
down from Massachusetts, there is a guy walking around Massachusetts right
now who would like a Senate seat, right? You could totally end up with a
situation of him running again? Any sense of how the president might
negotiate that decision?
COHN: No sense at all. You know, Kerry has been widely known to covet
this job for a long time. Anyhow, I`m speaking for myself, I always
thought he would make a fine Secretary of State. I mean, just you know,
in the old-fashioned sense of who would do a good job, this is someone I
think who showed us when he was a presidential candidate in the Senate, he
would be a wonderful Secretary of State. But you create this political
problem. And you know, we have seen how one vote in the Senate can make
such a difference. It`s really hard to know how to solve it.
HARRIS-PERRY: The speech to the DNC felt like an audition. The other
piece I`m just interested in is looks like Holder will probably leave the
attorney general position, although I have great imaginings of him running
like a voter suppression, voter rights thing.
WILEY: Looking for a new --
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I would totally -- Deval Patrick, the current governor
the Massachusetts is a name that`s up as a possibility for the AG. Any
sense of whether you see the president pulling in did he Deval Patrick.
WILEY: Definitely. And I think he would be wise to do it because one,
Deval Patrick has been in the Department of Justice, he`s a long time
lawyer. He has the political experience and the legal experience. He was
a long time practicing attorney. He`s very well-connected to a lot of the
civil rights, civil liberties groups that will be important to work with on
things like voter suppression.
So, I actually think it would be both a very smart move. He`s someone who
are relationship with the president. If I was the president, I want to
have someone in a seat like that who understands what the agenda has to be
for the next four years, understands the institution itself and also has
the political relationships to actually be effective at the job.
WINSTEAD: I would also say he runs against Scott Brown for Kerry`s seat
and then Massachusetts can get itself another governor and we have that in
play also. So there is Deval Patrick running against Scott Brown.
HARRIS-PERRY: It all going to comes to Massachusetts once again.
KIM: The two posts are who replaces Lisa Jackson at EPA and Steven Chu at
energy. And you know, the president, I don`t think the climate change bill
is in the works, but the EPA has pretty big powers over coal, on emission.
And so, it is going to be really important. I don`t know who is on the
short list. But to see who got that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Definitely. Not so much Jackson, but Chu with someone there
excited to see leave because it became such a part of the discourse.
Honestly, you know, Geithner is obviously critically important here. I
assume he`s going to stay through the fiscal cliff in order to just see
that through. But you know, again, that`s going to be a really big
appointment in terms of thinking about sort of how is this president, you
know, thinking about monetary policy going forward. Any sense on that?
COHN: Well, I think they`ve said or at least hinted strongly that Geithner
will stay on through the fiscal cliff. God, I hate that term. Through the
negotiations over the tax cuts and the spending sequester. The name you
hear a lot for taking his place is Jack Lew who is currently the chief of
And it is interesting about Jack Lew, people have different feelings about
him. A lot of the Democrats trust him. He`s got a lot of experience.
They liked dealing with him when he ran the budget office. That said,
there is also a kind of he doesn`t bring -- Geithner seems to have brought
his own believes for better or worse. He brought his own spin on things.
Lew is seen as someone he will do what the president likes. And you know,
whether you like that or not I supposed depends on is whether or not you --
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And he certainly well-trusted by the president which
is probably important in the second term.
All right. when we come back, we`re going to transition to a new segment
that will be critical for us on MHP. We think it`s one of the most
important things we can talk about. We`re going below the line next.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ve just finished talking about President Obama`s new
agenda and the mandate given to him by the American electorate. Now,
before his re-election, Nerdland focused on one particular thing that was
vital to the Democratic process, voting.
Remember this week in voter suppression? Well, at least for now this week
in voter suppression is done. We`ll go back to it if we need to. But
remember, we were looking at efforts to block voters from the polls. Now,
that the election has been decided, here`s what we`re going do and put on
the Nerdland agenda. Poverty.
In this new series, we will bring you regular stories of people living
below the line. The policies and decisions that create the poverty in
which they live, what they are doing to survive in tough circumstances and
what we can do as a nation to affect poverty.
Now, we recognize it`s a tough topic and many in politics prefer not to
talk about it at all. That`s exactly why we want to about it. Because
although the official poverty rate didn`t increase last year, it was still
at 15 percent which translate to 46.2 million people. And when you break
it down by age, 21.9 percent are under the age of 18, 13.7 percent are
between 18 and 64 and 8.7 percent are over the age of 65.
Let me crystal clear. Those aren`t numbers. Those are people. So, we are
going to focus our lens on what the Obama administration is doing to help
the poor. Especially since they sent the following to my colleague, Greg
Kaufmann at "The Nation" writing, quote, "even as the president introduced
policies leading to strong economic growth, he`s launched bold new
initiatives to combat poverty directly. For example, the administration
developed the choice neighborhoods program to address housing, crime and
transportation in order to bring comprehensive neighborhood revitalization
to blighted areas." That initiative and others are great starts but there
must be a more comprehensive approach if those living below the line are
going to have a chance of escaping from the choke-hold of poverty.
Back at the table are Richard Kim and Maya Wiley and joining us now is
Mindy Fullilove, professor of clinical psychiatry at public health at
Columbia University, and James Perry, executive director of the Greater New
Orleans Action Center and as I like to call him, husband.
Richard, I want to start with you because "The Nation" has been on as we
were doing this week in voter suppression.
KIM: Greg has been extraordinary.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Right. This week in poverty. Why is poverty sort
of why was that the thing that you all were focusing on?
KIM: You know, it just seemed to have completely vanished from the
national agenda. You know, John Edwards was the last politician who really
said we could eliminate poverty in this country and I have a plan to do
that, to actually eliminate poverty. You know, I think there`s a lot going
on in the first administration job creation, a lot of it was pitched toward
the middle class. I understand the political reasons for that. But
morally, it`s just inexcusable. We have the leaf level of poverty that we
deal in this country, a vast, tremendous, splendid wealth. So, it was
important for us to do that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. and you know, it`s interesting that, you know, when
Greg was writing this and he asked for both campaigns to weigh in on
poverty, the only campaign that bothered to respond, of course, was the
Obama campaign. What I like about that is it gives us a space to say OK,
the campaign responded. Therefore, we have a space where we can talk to
the administration about this.
James, I know obviously from living with you that in civil rights work,
when you are interviewing new staff persons, one of the first questions you
ask them is why are people poor? Why in the civil rights organization do
you ask people a poverty question?
JAMES PERRY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GREATER NEW ORLEANS ACTION CENTER: You
know, I think it`s the most important question you can ask any policy maker
elected official. You know, when is going to set policy, you got to know
where they stand on this issue. And I think it starts from the fundamental
problem that people don`t realize that poverty is as American as apple pie,
right? It`s fundamental to who America is.
And this notion that individuals essentially decide to be poor, they decide
to -- they make bad decisions and they use bad judgment and then they
decide to live in the same community and neighborhoods together is crazy.
It`s actually systems that cause poverty. And so, if you`re in an
organization like mine and working to change the systems, then you have to
understand fundamentally that the systems are designed to create poverty.
It`s part of who we are.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting you make this point about kind of the
structures or the systems. Mindy, I want to come to you. I teach your
book, root shock, in my course on disaster and American politics. And you
know, the fact that the president responded to the poverty question by
saying that the administration developed choice neighborhood programs to
address housing, crime and transportation, right, so that`s the poverty
question and the response was about neighborhood.
I thought, all right, I need to talk to Mindy Fullilove here in part
because it was indication of a recognition that it is the structures. So
when you think about neighborhoods sort of the place where poverty is,
what`s the story that you can tell us about how place impacts poverty?
MINDY FULLILOVE, PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: It`s an important story.
I think it`s actually the one piece of the poverty conversation that`s been
left out. That is, that for 60 years we`ve had policies of destroying
neighborhoods and moving the poor, especially people of color. So we had
urban renewal. We had this investment which has gentrification and
foreclosure. We had hope that these are all policies that have destroyed
neighborhoods and moved the poor.
Every time you destroy a neighborhood, you destroy people`s resources, you
destroyed their social networks and weaken them. When you go into the
neighborhoods and you ask people what was it like 50 years ago. The elders
say we were together in a strong tight knit and all the adults raised all
of the children.
When you go into the neighborhoods now, people talk about the fear, the
fact that they can`t discipline a child they see misbehaving on the
streets. It`s a completely different setting. And it`s this instability,
there`s ripping apart of neighborhoods that has fundamentally changed the
character of poverty.
Poverty is now people not only being poor in money but poor in social
support. It`s a double whammy of incredible power and of course, the storm
is going to aggravate that for all the poor communities from Montauk to
HARRIS-PERRY: Maya, is that kind of sense of isolation. So, it`s one
thing to be poor in a sense of resource deprivation, but if you add the
resource deprivation along with that sense of social isolation and fear and
crime, then again, as a clinical psychologist, it has pre percussive
effects for individuals.
WILEY: This is such an important conversation for all the reasons James
and Mindy have said. One of the complexities here when you look at the
record of the Obama administration is on one hand, you know, some of what
the administration does, has done is really, really important. Like trying
to get three federal agencies to actually work together in a concerted
fashion to focus on place and invest in a way that builds real opportunity.
That was Department of Transportation, EPA, and HUD, right? Some
sustainable communities` initiative. Promised neighborhoods.
I mean, these are efforts to invest in place. I think part of the problem
is the disconnect in thinking about larger programs and their impact on
place. So, for instance, when we saw stimulus, and I think stimulus was an
incredibly important thing that the administration did. It made an
assumption that stimulus dollars would impact all communities equally if
they were in need. That was a mistake. Because there were so many
communities, particularly communities of color, that were low income that
didn`t have shovel ready projects because they had never been invested in
to create those project.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. It is quite the opposite. As Mindy points out, they
evolved and then destroy. We are going to stay -- everybody is going to
stay right at the table. We are going to stay on the topic. We also going
to talk about the complexities of how Sandy helped to expose these
vulnerabilities when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re back and talking about the new MHP major agenda item,
the issue of poverty.
James, I wanted to ask you about this issue of speaking for the poor versus
- or about the poor versus speaking to and with poor people. You know, I
think one of the things irritating me about the Romney campaign was the
sense in which that they characterized who poor people are. How do we do
the work of making sure we get the ideas and voices from ordinary people?
PERRY: You know, it`s so hard because it is almost like neither group is
qualified to work on behalf of poor people. The people who are poor and
people who are not poor. And so for instance, if you are poor, then, it
probably means you`ve been affected by the same systems you seek to change.
So, you may be seeking to change the education system but that may have
failed you, right?
But of course, if you`re Mitt Romney, then you are saying that 47 percent
of people are victims who feel they`re entitled, right? And so, it`s a
difficult question. The truth is probably none of us are truly entitled to
work on behalf of the poor.
But, I think do you have to see yourself in this process and see where you
are and be honest about that and then you have to get out there and work,
period. And so, first, acknowledge that these are systems and work against
those systems regardless of who you are and what your role is.
HARRIS-PERRY: Do you think integrating communities help in this way. Part
of, Mindy, as you were talking about sort of the idea that poor people have
to move to kind of better places and these poor communities have to have
new people move into them. You know, I know one of the things that -- the
work that you do, James and also that you`ve done Mindy is around saying
those communities themselves deserve to be able to stay intact and yet have
the structural resources available to them. How does -- does that happen
through racial and economic integration? How does that happen?
FULLILOVE: Well, we`ve had 60 years of undermining how that happens.
FULLILOVE: So, part of it is stopping a long series of policies that
destroy that. But people un-slab naturally. It happens everywhere. And
what we have to do is support efforts at un-slumming. And so, for example,
somebody will say, let`s start a community garden. And you know, operation
green thumb or something like that comes along and helps a community
garden. And before you know it, the real estate values have gone up in the
neighborhood, violence has gone down, people are more comfortable and they
have vegetables to eat just because there was a community garden.
There are thousands of efforts like that. And our job is to nourish them
and then - and stop promoting what historians called sorting out by raising
class and stop doing that, people will move around, all neighborhoods can
be fabulous. And we`ll have a great nation.
KIM: You know, I think it`s interesting. I understand why we have a
community-based approach and why we`re looking at this as a problem of
place and there`s a reason for that. It`s also interesting what`s not on
the table, right? Direct cash payments to the poor. You saw in that
graphic that you flashed, the relative number of old people, elderly people
who are not in poverty compared to other populations because of Social
HARRIS-PERRY: We write them checks.
KIM: And countries like Brazil has been successful in shrinking
inequality, but also shrinking poverty have done direct cash payments. And
you know, I would o love the Obama administration to come out that. With
that, I don`t think that`s going to happen. We should put that on the
table as an agenda item.
PERRY: Sure. And I was going to say in housing, that`s something that was
tried but it hasn`t worked just yet. For instance, the section eight
voucher program, the idea is that people can move wherever they want. But
no one has taken a step to say it`s illegal to discriminate against someone
who uses a voucher, right? So, you have to put the things in place that
actually makes some of the programs that we have now that can work and make
people able to move to wherever they want to live.
HARRIS-PERRY: And when we come back, we`re going to talk about that and
I`m going to bring you in and bring Lizz Winstead back to the table because
I want to talk a little about Sandy. As storm survivors, James, that I
know that sometimes disasters can help to expose just how vulnerable and
just how much inequality there really is.
HARRIS-PERRY: When it comes to talking about the issue of poverty, we
often just don`t. The unfortunate reality is it takes a disaster like
hurricane Sandy to even help reveal it, let alone to get people to discuss
economic inequality in the real and tangible ways that it impacts people.
But with 15 percent of our fellow Americans still living in poverty, we got
a lot more work to do.
Lizz, I know as a New Yorker, you have been out there, kind of, you know,
some them with Sandy rhetoric has been about the wealthy folks or the, you
know, people on the shoreline who lost their second homes. I mean, if you
look at the red hook projects and other aspects, this has really been a
disparate disaster in that way.
WINSTEAD: Yes. And I went down last weekend and worked with the
(INAUDIBLE) and those people are so incredibly amazing. And I encourage
everyone to go. Because what you remember, I was brought up in a lower
middle class family. And when you see people surrounded by their
belongings and what their belongings mean and especially for people who
come from low-income families, they are losing, what you call stuff,
decades of memories. Things that they had passed down. Photographs that
are destroyed. It`s not that they`re ping for their TVs, it`s the
irreplaceable lives that have been destroyed so quickly. And when you`re
in there as a person helping, you see that they need you, you see that
you`re in an emotional place that you maybe shouldn`t be and you`re helping
somebody decide to toss out these incredible things.
And when you see that, you realize that there is such a place for
government, there`s a place for you in someone else`s life and it`s
rewarding and it`s amazing. So, I just can`t say enough that you`re going
to give your money, give your money, but give of yourself and your time.
Because there`s nothing that is more valuable than a person who is
suffering, knowing that someone who doesn`t know them at all, it is just a
member of their community, cares.
HARRIS-PERRY: And you know, and I love this impulse. And I feel like
disasters bring out this impulse, this charitable impulse in us. But I
also wonder, how do we take the charitable impulse and move it into an
impulse that`s an impulse for structural justice reform.
PERRY: Sure. The charitable impulse is important. After hurricane
Katrina someone took charity on me and married me.
PERRY: But there is this next step that has to happen. Picture that there
is almost a cartoon-like bad guy watching what happened. Wringing his
hands thinking, how can I make changes in the education system, housing
system. All these systems in a way that can strip money from poor families
and enrich other communities. And so, advocates have to be on guard. They
have to be ready. And the problem is that the advocates who have to be
ready are oftentimes the folks who suffer the most at the hands of this
I met a guy, a pastor yesterday in Atlantic city who is suffering from this
disaster and he`s holding his son and he is homeless. But he`s teaching
other folks what do during this disaster. Bu he is homeless himself,
right? And so, oftentimes, advocates aren`t even ready to take on the big
picture, the thing that`s coming next, the parking bad guys.
WILEY: The red hook is a really good example for the need for government
and investment in communities. Because, you know, let`s face it. Red
hook, there`s amazing stories of community support, of the intern who came
down and set up a clinic in red hook. Because you had people who weren`t
getting their insulin, who were in serious danger, physical danger as a
result. There`s still 20 buildings in Red Hook without electricity and
heat, OK?. And this is how many days after, how many weeks? And my
brother spent the past week and a half in Red Hook barely sleeping. He
works for Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. It`s her district. She was
there every day. Let me say about one of the things that happened in Red
Hook. OK, Public housing, we`re not investing in it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And as soon as we see Sandy, we see how that lack of
investment in public housing has this enormous impact.
Thank you too Mindy Fullilove and my dear husband James. The rest are
going to be back for more.
And in our next hour, let`s face it, women crushed it Tuesday night. Did
you hear about what happened in New Hampshire?
Also, we`re awaiting President Obama in Arlington national cemetery for the
annual veterans` day ceremony. We are going to go there live as soon as we
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back.
You are looking at a live shot of the Arlington national cemetery in
Arlington, Virginia. In just a moment we`ll take you there live when
President Obama will commence the annual Veterans Day national ceremony by
laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknowns. Later this hour, we`ll bring
you the president`s remarks from Arlington in commemoration of Veterans
You know, Veterans Day is obviously takes special meaning when we`re a
country still at war. It`s not just a matter of remembering. It`s a
matter of, sort of, a recognition of where we are in terms of policy right
now. We`ve been talking a lot about poverty. Veterans actually experience
a great deal of poverty.
WILEY: Huge amount of poverty. There`s a green door initiative in Texas
for instance that tries to house people who are homeless.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m sorry. We`re going right now live to the events in
(BEGIN LIVE FEED)
(PLAYING "STAR-SPANGLED BANNER")
(END LIVE FEED)
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ll have the president`s remarks from Arlington live later
in the hour.
Before we go to break, all of us here at the MHP show want to take a moment
to acknowledge our veterans and send one simple message. Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: In the U.S., women have had the right to vote for less than
a hundred years. But we are now the majority of the electorate. In this
election, women accounted for 53 percent of all those who cast ballots.
And 55 percent of women chose President Obama, giving him an 11-point
advantage over Mitt Romney.
Now, much has been made of the multiracial nature of the president`s
winning coalition but it`s important to remember that women of all races
were essential to the president`s victory. Women did more than choose a
president. Women themselves ran for office. A record 184 women made bids
for Congress this year. And on Tuesday, nearly half of them were elected.
According to stats compiled by the Center for American Women in Politics,
in Rutgers University, the Congress will have more women than any previous
time in American history, 29 of them are women of color, one in three newly
elected members of Congress is a woman.
Add to that, the fact the four states, Wisconsin, North Dakota,
Massachusetts and Hawaii all elected women to the U.S. Senate for the first
time in their history, including the first Asian-American woman in the
history of the Senate.
It wasn`t just advocacy organizations like Emily`s List helping to make
this happen. There were also a few particular men who were a big help,
Men like Congressman Todd Akin, the Republican candidate for Senate in
Missouri, who was once poised to defeat incumbent Claire McCaskill, until
he voiced his belief about our magical female bodies not being able to get
pregnant from rape -- you know, when it`s legitimate. He lost handily to
McCaskill by 16 points.
Men like Richard Mourdock, the Indiana Senate candidate, who did believe
that women can get pregnant from rape, but said allowed that he thinks that
it`s God`s will. Mourdock was defeated by his Democratic opponent, Joe
Donnelly, on Tuesday.
And men like Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois who stated that modern
science and technology had advanced so far that abortion exceptions for the
health of the mother were now unnecessary. Congressman Walsh took a big
fat L on Tuesday by almost 10 points to his challenger, Tammy Duckworth.
My "Nation" colleague, Jessica Valenti, wrote this week that, quote, "It
may be women that don`t like talking about how personally these issues
affect their lives were not afraid to be loud in the voting booth."
Joining me again are: Richard Kim, executive editor of "The Nation"
magazine, Maya Wiley, civil rights attorney and founder for the Center for
Social Inclusion, Jonathon Cohn is senior editor of "The New Republic"
magazine, and political satirist, Lizz Winstead, co-creator of "The Daily
And, Lizz, I feel like this one is yours.
WINSTEAD: It`s utterly fascinating that it`s this way. I mean, it`s said
that the rape thing was driving it.
WINSTEAD: But even more to that point, I think women who are just sexual
beings, who are happy and it`s no one`s business and they`re liking it, saw
this ugly path and said, as Jessica said, we`re going into the voting booth
and we`re voting the way -- because we want to have free and like amazing
It`s insane that we -- these people -- I don`t know how Todd Akin and
WINSTEAD: -- these are not -- elected six times. Where are people
This is not a -- you don`t one time think that women are -- vaginas are
universal remotes that can turn things off. It`s not one thing.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, you do get the sense that obviously they didn`t
want women to have choice because when we chose, not them.
WILEY: There`s one wrinkle in the story which is Deb Fischer from Nebraska
who actually has the same positions on abortion as Akin and she was elected
to be senator and she`s one of the five women who are going to be freshman
senators from this cycle. I think the difference here is she was smart
enough not to say stupid stuff.
WILEY: But it doesn`t make her positions different. I think the one thing
we should take some caution at is that, you know, we don`t have an
electorate yet that is paying sufficient attention underneath the rhetoric.
WINSTEAD: But what I would say to that is, hello media. The way that we
are an informed electorate is by, when people are putting candidates up,
that there`s a little bit of vetting. I can only be as responsible of a
citizen as I know about the person.
And so, I hope that as we have seen this wide swath of people making all
kinds of decisions about what women can`t do and what rape is and is not
and what gifts these people are given, and please don`t pull my name for
WINSTEAD: I want a Bed, Bath & Beyond card. I don`t want gifts.
So I think that is a message to everybody. Please, please look deeper into
all these people who are running and get elected.
HARRIS-PERRY: There`s also been a structural issue here. I mean, women
won in open seat races. And, you know, it`s one of the things that we know
now that women as candidates are as likely to win as men given sort of all
things equal. But they got to have -- not when they`re running against
KIM: Right. You saw fantastic slate of women senators, particularly I`m
so excited about Elizabeth Warren. I want to go back to the GOP on this,
though. It`s sort of stunning to me that they saw this demographic problem
in 2008. We had a replay in 2012 of the 2008 election. And they chose to
run the other way of the electorate. Like as hard as they could in the
And I don`t think it`s just a matter of these rape gaffes. You know, I
don`t think it`s just rhetorical. I mean, that`s what`s coming out in
Republican Party now, we`ll just dial back these dudes. It`s actually
their policy. They put on their platform, a constitutional amendment that
would ban all abortions, a personhood amendment.
HARRIS-PERRY: And IVF and certain forms of birth control. It is so
extensive that the state of Mississippi -- I always feel like --
HARRIS-PERRY: -- Mississippi voters turn this down and they are not a pro-
KIM: So, it`s -- to me, it`s sort of an intractable political problem for
them. I mean, I think these people and these ideas emanate from their base
and they really want Richard Mourdock in the senate and stuff like that.
WINSTEAD: It`s not just a gaffe issue. That`s the thing that people
connected with. It wasn`t a stumble over words. It was a statement of
philosophy that was coming over and over again on various things. You
know, on the science committee, people go that`s just weird that you think
So, you`re right. It`s not just that.
COHN: I was going to say, it`s absolutely true about Nebraska, when we
have elected a conservative women who holds many of these positions. You
look at some of the states for women, one, these are conservative states.
These are conservative seats.
COHN: And the fact is, I feel like the GOP for a while now has hitched
itself to a retrograde agenda on women`s issue, on reproductive rights, on
the whole spate of issues. And there`s a reckoning now.
I mean, if they are losing seats in red states because of this, this ought
to be a wake up call for them. I don`t know if it will be. I think they
are behind the times and they`re starting to come to reality.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting point, because on the one hand, if you`re
going to end up with 50/50, right, if at some point, half of governors and
half of the U.S. Congress are going to be women, they will be across the
But I do think it`s important that when we had the 2010 year of the GOP
women, we lost seat for women in the U.S. Congress for the first time in
some 30 years. But in this, which was primarily driven by Democratic
women, we end up with more women in the U.S. Congress House and Senate than
we`ve had in history.
WILEY: The building, the point you made about how much investment goes
into training women to be able to run effectively for office. Because I
think the story that most people don`t know is how people become candidates
for office. And if you don`t have a feeder pool of people that you`re
actually supporting into the process of understanding how it works, how to
put a campaign together, how to run it, there`s been a lot of work in
investment and women`s ability to start being in the pipeline.
But I think we`ve heard, you also have to have open seats to make some of
this possible. But the one thing to lift out is race.
WILEY: Because we keep talking about women as if, I`m --
HARRIS-PERRY: As if they`re all --
WILEY: Are you a woman or are you black?
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right.
WILEY: But, you know, what I`m saying, it`s actually much more complex,
because 56 percent of white women voted for Romney.
WILEY: Ninety-six percent of black women voted for Obama and 72 percent of
Latinas voted -- so there actually are distinctions within gender when you
add the racial dynamic. And I think one of the things that we have to look
at, you know, we can`t separate those things and I`m tired of being treated
like one or the other.
HARRIS-PERRY: This intersection is the complex moment. If we look at
young women, women of color, Spanish-speaking women, African-American
women, urban women, that`s the coalition.
And so, it`s not just women. It`s not just everybody voting on choice,
right? It`s in fact, sort of an interesting coalition of women that
requires us to have a complex understanding of who women are.
WILEY: And 36 percent of women are women of color, 36 percent. So, when
we start to talk about women`s representation in Congress, we have to be
very excited about the increase and recognize it`s still mostly white.
But -- when we come back, I`m going to talk about a state that has sent an
all-woman delegation to Congress. We`re going to tell you more about it
when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SENATOR-ELECT ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It`s quite the odds.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: They all said there is no way.
WARREN: Who elected the first woman senator to the state of Massachusetts.
MCCASKILL: You know what happened? You proved them wrong.
SENATOR-ELECT TAMMY BALDWIN (D), WISCONSIN: In choosing me, the people of
Wisconsin have made history.
SENATOR-ELECT MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: I will be the first Asian woman
ever to be elected to the United States Senate thanks to all of you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do believe in America because we believe in
MCCASKILL: With a stubborn determination.
We were going to have a voice in the United States Senate that made you
WARREN: I won`t just be your senator. I will be your champion.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was just a sampling of the victory speeches that we
heard pour women in politics, nowhere more so than in New Hampshire.
Forget binders full of women, New Hampshire has a delegation full of them.
Senators, congresswomen, now even a governor -- all women.
One of those women joins me now live from New Hampshire, Congresswoman-
elect Ann McLane Kuster.
Thanks for your time and congratulations on your win.
REP. ELECT ANN MCLANE KUSTER (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Thank you, Melissa. It`s
so great to be here. I`m really honored to be on your show.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, thank you. I mean, obviously, it was a big night for
You know, I`m interested in your campaign in part because so many of the
policies and programs that you`ve been involved with as a professional,
sort of up to this moment have been specific to family, to health, to
education, things that we often think of as connected to sort of women`s
Is this also what you expect to continue for you as an agenda item going
KUSTER: Well, I hope so. But the truth is, Melissa, that women and
families in New Hampshire impacted by all of the issues in Congress. Just
to give a shout-out to the men and women working in our military service
for Veterans Day and to their families.
So, there are many, many issues that impact women and, really, it`s the
diversity of the middle class here that I am going down to represent in
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to talk to you a little bit about pipeline. This is
actually the second time that you`ve run. You know, when we talk -- often
we`re talking for example to my women students in my classes, I find that,
despite the fact that they`ve been leaders, often no one has said to them,
you ought to think about running for office.
You`re from a family of people who ran for office. Were you thinking about
this early on in your life? What`s your pipeline story?
KUSTER: Well, my pipeline story is unique. My mother, Susan McLane was a
state senator and legislator for 25 years when I was growing up. She
actually ran for this seat back in 1980 when many, many women -- many, many
voters would never vote for a woman candidate. And I was her driver on
that campaign and then my son Zachary was my driver.
But, yes, it does -- it does take additional incentive for women and often
the important part is for people to encourage women to run. I did have
people encouraging me and it was a tremendous boost and helped me make that
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, undoubtedly, you`ll be part of this class of woman, the
largest class of women to enter into the U.S. Congress and also in the U.S.
Senate. This isn`t entirely new for you. You were in the third class of
women at Dartmouth.
Is there something about that experience that you will take with you into
Congress as you`re thinking about what it means to be part of this class of
sort of entering women?
KUSTER: Definitely. And you know what`s interesting -- I`m also entering
in the most diverse class ever. We will -- the Democratic caucus in the
United States House of Representatives will be majority of women and
minorities. So that is a wonderful experience and a tremendous, I take
great pride in that as well.
But, yes, my experience at Dartmouth in the third class of women, I`ve been
in this situation before. And I know that women are uniquely situated to
bring people together to get things done. That`s what I hope to do in
Washington. You know, that`s the work that I`ve done as an attorney here,
as an advocate and as a community activist.
I think if you`ve ever raised teenagers or toddlers, you know how to find
common ground. The voters sense that. They know that we need common sense
solutions in Congress and people that can set aside their differences and
come together to solve our challenges.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, it`s interesting that you say that. Another woman
that many of us have been watching, of course, is Tammy Baldwin, the new
senator-elect out of Wisconsin. And there was an interesting moment in
mansplaining going on when Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson said this. I want
to read what he said here.
"Hopefully I can sit down and lay out for her, that for Senator-elect Tammy
Baldwin, my best understanding of the federal budget because there`s simply
As you can see, Senator Baldwin herself said, look, I got it. I`m fine.
You know, I wonder about that --
KUSTER: It`s that numbers thing. It`s that numbers thing for girls. You
HARRIS-PERRY: Math is hard.
You know, we do hear that women in Congress often are able to do some of
that bringing together. How are you going to sort of manage this sort of
mansplaining moments that will undoubtedly occur?
KUSTER: Well, the truth is we all handle budgets every single day in our
lives. I`ve been a partner in a law firm for over 20 years and, you know,
I dealt with budgets, I`ve dealt with the state of New Hampshire budgets.
So, I don`t have that math-phobia that some people might think.
But, you know, there`s certainly plenty of areas that I can learn more
about. I`m very excited about how supportive my colleagues have been
already, reaching out to me. We`ll work together. It`s inevitable that we
will. We`ll each have our own areas of expertise and we`ll rely on each
other to solve these challenges.
As I say, it`s not whether an idea is a Republican or Democrat or an
independent idea. It`s in my view, whether it`s in the best interests of
the hardworking families here in New Hampshire and approximate it is, I`ll
roll my sleeves up and get right into the mess.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to bring in one of my panelists, Lizz Winstead.
Lizz, just before the break, you were saying that there was a national
force in part in making these campaigns successful.
WINSTEAD: You know, I mean, to me, one of the most astounding things to
come out of had is the walloping that the candidate who were sponsored by
Rove and Sheldon Adelson had gotten, and that 90-some percent of Planned
Parenthood backed won. And I think that that`s a marvelous statistic of
targeted focus what women care about because it -- to me, it really
solidified that women and progressives profoundly understand that birth
control is an economic issue. And the disconnect there was so great on the
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I mean, Congresswoman, did you find that was -- as you
talked economy, you were also talking reproductive rights?
KUSTER: Well, it`s so subtle, it`s in every conversation.
Look, here`s the reality -- my mother had to drop out of college her
freshman and had five children and never finished college and yet, she was
one of the pioneers and leaders in New Hampshire politics. The fact is
that I was able to finish college, go to law school, come home, get married
and have our two children with my husband Brad when the time was right for
And that -- I am in that generation of people that, by controlling our own
reproduction, we control our lives, our families, are more productive
because of it. We live more secure lives. And so, they were so out of
That`s why I say pink is the new power color in New Hampshire, and in large
part from the work down by Planned Parenthood and NARAL, just waking people
up to the fact that there are people that truly do want to put us right
back into the kitchen barefoot and pregnant. And most voters don`t want
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Congresswoman-elect Ann McLain Kuster in New
Hampshire. There is something in the water up there. I`m going to send my
daughter up there to drink a ton of water. So, she`ll be running for
office someday, too.
KUSTER: Definitely do, and partly because of the pipeline that you had
talked about. You know, when my mother was in the New Hampshire
legislature, we had more women in the New Hampshire legislature than all
other states combined.
KUSTER: Tell her to come on up. We know hard work. If you need something
done, ask a busy woman.
HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. Thank you so much for joining us today.
It`s too soon to talk about 2016. But when we come back, I`m going to talk
to my panel about the potential superstars. The ones to watch are next.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ve been talking about the exceptional strides that some
of the women candidates made in this election. But think about all of the
new shiny faces we`re going to see starting in 2013 from the 33 Senate
races, the 435 House contests. We`re going to see more than 80 new members
of Congress heading to Washington and the governor`s races how last
Tuesday, we`re going to see five new chief executives at the state level.
So, who are the ones to watch? Who are the potential superstars?
Jonathan, who is your one to watch?
COHN: Well, we were talking about newly-elected women. I think of a Tammy
Baldwin, the newly-elected senator in Wisconsin. She`s gotten a lot of
attention because she`s the first openly guy member of the United States
senate. Obviously, that`s huge to help our attitudes of change in this
But what`s also interest about her, she`s going to be one of the most
HARRIS-PERRY: Completely and reconstructive liberal. She`s liberal.
COHN: She was against the Iraq war before it was fashionable. She was
against repeal of the Glass-Steagall, which was the tipping point, the law
that made the --
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, and here is the president. I`m going to have to
interrupt. I`m sorry. President Obama is attending the annual Veterans
Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery. Let`s go now to his live
(BEGIN LIVE FEED)
OBAMA: Thank you, Secretary Shinseki, for a lifetime of service to our
nation and for being such a tireless advocate on behalf of American`s
veterans, including your fellow Vietnam veterans.
To Rick Delaney, to Vice President Biden, to Admiral Winnefeld, to Major
General Linnington, our outstanding veterans service organizations, our men
and women in uniform -- active, guard, and reserve -- and most of all to
the proud veterans and family members joining us in this sacred place, it
is truly a privilege and an honor to be with all of you here today.
Now, each year on the 11th day of the 11th month, we pause as a nation and
as a people to pay tribute to you, to thank you, to honor you. The heroes
over the generations who have served this country of ours with distinction.
Moments ago, I laid a wreath to remember every service member who has ever
worn our nation`s uniform. This day, first and foremost, belongs to them
and their loved ones. To the father and mother, the husband and wife, the
brother and sister, the comrade, and the friend who, when we leave here
today, will continue to walk these quiet hills and kneel before the final
resting place of those they cherished most.
On behalf of the American people, I say to you that the memory of your
loved ones carries on not just in your hearts but in ours as well. I
assure you that their sacrifice will never be forgotten. For it is in that
sacrifice that we see the enduring spirit of America.
Since even before our founding, we have been blessed with an unbroken chain
of patriots who have always come forward to serve. Whenever America`s come
under attack, you`ve risen to her defense. Whenever our freedoms have come
under assault, you`ve responded with resolve. Time and again, at home and
abroad, you and your families have sacrificed to protect that powerful
promise that all of us hold so dear -- life, liberty, and the pursuit of
Today, the proud nation expresses our gratitude, but we do so mindful that
no ceremony or parade, no hug or handshake is enough to truly honor that
service. For that, we must do more. For that, we must commit this day and
every day to serving you as well as you`ve served us.
When I spoke here three years ago, I spoke about today`s generation of
service members. This 9/11 generation who stepped forward after the towers
fell and in the years since have stepped into history, writing one of the
greatest chapters of military service our country has ever known.
You toppled a dictator and battled an insurgency in Iraq. You pushed back
the Taliban and decimated al Qaeda in Afghanistan. You delivered justice
to Osama bin Laden. Tour after tour, year after year, you and your
families have done all that this country has asked. You`ve done that and
Three years ago, I promised your generation that when your tour comes to an
end, when you see our flag, when you touch our soil, you will be welcomed
home to an America that will forever fight for you just, as hard as you`ve
fought for us. And so long as I have the honor of serving as your
commander-in-chief, that is the promise that we will never stop working to
This is the first Veterans Day in a decade in which there are no American
troops fighting and dying in Iraq.
Thirty-three thousand of our troops have now returned from Afghanistan, and
the transition there is under way. After a decade of war, our heroes are
coming home. And over the next few years, more than a million service
members will transition back to civilian life. They`ll take off their
uniforms and take on a new and lasting role. They will be veterans.
As they come home, it falls to us, their fellow citizens, to be there for
them and their families. Not just now, but always. Not just for the first
few years, but for as long as they walk this Earth.
To this day, we still care for a child of a Civil War veteran. To this
day, we still care for over 100 spouses and children of the men who fought
in the Spanish-American War.
Just last year, I came here to pay tribute as Frank Buckles, the last
remaining American veteran of World War I, was laid to rest. Frank stepped
up and served in World War I for two years, but the United States of
America kept its commitment to serve him for many decades that followed.
So, long after the battles end, long after our heroes come home, we stay by
their side. That`s who we are. That`s who we`ll be for today`s returning
service members and their families, because no one who fights for this
country overseas should ever have to fight for a job or a roof over their
head or the care that they have earned when they come home.
We know the most urgent task many of you face is finding a new way to
serve. That`s why we`ve made it a priority to help you find jobs worthy of
your incredible skills and talents. That`s why -- thanks to the hard work
of Michelle and Jill Biden -- some of our most patriotic businesses have
hired or trained 125,000 veterans and military spouses. It`s why we`re
transforming for the first time in decades how the military transitions
service members from the battlefield to the workplace.
And because you deserve to share in the opportunities that you defend, we
are making sure that the post-9/11 G.I. Bill stays strong, so you can earn
a college education and pursue your dreams.
If you find yourself struggling with the wounds of war, such as post-
traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, we`ll be there for you
as well, with the care and treatment that you need. No veteran should have
to wait months or years for the benefits that you`ve earned. So we will
continue to attack the claims backlog. We won`t let up. We will not let
And as we mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, we have secured new
disability benefits for Vietnam-era veterans exposed to Agent Orange. You
needed it, you fought for it, and we got it done.
That`s what we do in America. We take care of our own. We take care of
our veterans. We take care of your families. Not just by saluting you on
one day, once a year, but by fighting for you and your families every day
of every year.
That`s our obligation, a sacred obligation to all of you. That`s an
obligation that we gladly accept for Americans like Petty Officer Taylor
Six months ago, Taylor was serving our nation in Afghanistan, and as a
member of an explosive ordnance disposal team, his job was one of the most
dangerous there is, to lead the way through territory littered with hidden
explosives, to clear the way for his brothers in arms. On May 3rd, while
out on patrol, Taylor stepped on an IED. The blast threw him into the air.
And when he hit the ground, Taylor realized that both his legs were gone,
and his left arm, and his right hand.
But as Taylor lay there fully conscious, bleeding to death, he cautioned
the medics to wait before rushing his way. He feared another IED was
Taylor`s concern wasn`t for his own life. It was for theirs.
Eventually they cleared the area. They tended to Taylor`s wounds. They
carried him of the battlefield. And days later, Taylor was carried into
Walter Reed, where he became only the fifth American treated there to
survive the amputation of all four limbs.
Taylor`s recovery`s been long, and it has been arduous, and it`s captivated
the nation. A few months after the attack, with the help of prosthetics,
the love and support of his family, and above all his girlfriend Danielle,
who never left his side, Taylor wasn`t just walking again. In a video that
went viral, the world watched he and Danielle dance again.
I`ve often said the most humbling part of my job is serving as commander-
in-chief, and one of the reasons is that every day I get to meet heroes. I
met Taylor at Walter Reed, and then in July at the White House I presented
him with the Purple Heart. And right now, hanging on a wall in the West
Wing is a photo of that day, a photo of Taylor smiling wide and standing
I should point out that Taylor couldn`t make it here today because he and
Danielle are out kayaking.
(LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)
In Taylor we see the best of America, a spirit that says when we get
knocked down, we rise again. When times are tough, we come together. When
one of us falters, we lift them up. In this country, we take care of our
own, especially our veterans who have served us so bravely and sacrificed
so selflessly in our name. And we carry on, knowing that our best days
always lie ahead.
On this day, we thank all of our veterans from all of our wars, not just
for your service to this country but for reminding us why America is and
always will be the greatest nation on Earth.
God bless you, God bless our veterans, God bless our men and women in
uniform, and God bless these United States of America.
Thank you very much.
(END LIVE FEED)
HARRIS-PERRY: And that was President Obama at the annual Veterans Day
observance at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
We`ll be right back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I want to return to my panel and continue our
conversation about the ones to watch among the newly elected politicians.
Before we went and took the president, Jonathan was telling us about Tammy
Baldwin and the idea of her as a progressive senator, how important that
will be. Who is your one to watch, Lizz?
WINSTEAD: Well, I chose Chris Murphy, who is also incredibly progressive,
and also wins on a whole bunch of fronts. He beat out that crazy Linda
McMahon $100 million money.
WINSTEAD: He also solidified a progressive seat from Joe Lieberman.
WINSTEAD: So if he would have been a woman, he would have been like oh my
God put on a pedestal. So, I feel good about Chris.
HARRIS-PERRY: Chris Murphy?
HARRIS-PERRY: How about you, Richard? Who are you watching?
KIM: I love the governor-elect of New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan, who I
think is the only -- will be the only Democratic female governor.
KIM: And I like her because she`s really progressive and pragmatic and put
through great laws in New Hampshire when she was in the state Senate there.
But she will perhaps be the nation`s most powerful and prominent advocate
for disability rights.
Her son is a severely disabled. He has -- and she`s worked really hard to
get access there. And the way she frames it in particular I think is
great. She says this is not a matter of charity, not a matter of whether
we have money left over in the budget. This is a civil right. This is a
matter of justice.
And it will be interesting to see what she does there in that position for
HARRIS-PERRY: Also, we talked about women candidates earlier. And the
only kind of people that we elect to the U.S. presidency are vice
presidents, senators and not very many of them and governors, right?
So if you`re being looking for sort of what`s the pipeline of potential
women, I`m not suggesting she`s running for president, but -- right?
HARRIS-PERRY: You got a look at governors, right?
WILEY: I hated this question and I was a little bit hating on you for
asking it because I thought I got 15 people when I got to say one. But I
agree with everything we`ve already heard. But I had to take Elizabeth
WILEY: She is brilliant. She is unapologetic about her positions. They
are grounded in deep values around fairness to families and consumer
protection and transparency and accountability.
And she was in a sense the unlikely candidate. And this was not someone
who set out to have a career in politics. This is someone who after the
financial crisis found a path to leadership that made sense for an agenda
she was trying to drive for families. And I just -- I love that woman. I
want to move in.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, of course, Nerdland always likes professors make good.
I mean, we`re like, that`s going to be a fun one for all of us.
You know, honestly, I`m watching Tim Kaine out of Virginia, you know, for
tons of reasons. I`m sorry. But mostly because as far as I can tell, he
might be the last white male Southerner in the Democratic Party and so I
feel like we`ve got to be nice to him just to see whether or not there can
I think the other question for him in the Senate, part of what he ran on
was a relatively moderate stance. And he said he wouldn`t support the end
of the tax cuts under Bush, he wouldn`t support them at $250,000. He said
only at $500,000.
So he might become the linchpin for sort of what that grand bargain looks
like. Obviously, it`s going to happen before he actually -- hopefully it
will happen before he actually shows up, but that notion that $500,000 is
the kind of moderate place.
We also asked the staff to do some picks. My -- one of my producers picked
Mike Pence as one to watch. He`s our governor-elect in Indiana, the
Republican. He`s part of the shrinkage of the Obama electoral map, right?
So a big re-election win, but he doesn`t take Indiana, he doesn`t take
North Carolina, so this Republican out there in the Midwest.
And then another producer picked Angus King, the independent from Maine.
Yes, and this question how was going to caucus.
COHN: Well, and one thing about King is he`s made a big deal about ending
the filibuster in the Senate. It`s one of his causes. And when we think
about what went wrong in the first four years of the Obama administration -
- and really for much longer than that, turning the Senate where to a body,
where you need 60 votes to pass anything.
Well, King has said he wants to get rid of the filibuster. There seems to
be a constituency in the Senate. And, you know, this might be a magical
time because, you know, with the Republicans still controlling the House,
there might be some willingness to give up the filibuster because they
still have that veto. To that rare moment when both parties could say,
maybe it`s actually time to get in there I think wishful thinking.
HARRIS-PERRY: I love this might be a magical moment in which we get rid of
the filibuster. You never know.
That is -- that is our show for today. Thank you to Richard Kim, Maya
Wiley, Jonathan Cohn and Lizz Winstead for sticking around.
Thanks to you at home for watching. I`m going to see you again next
Saturday at 10:00 a.m. And coming up, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT".
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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