updated 11/15/2012 10:20:47 AM ET 2012-11-15T15:20:47

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
November 14, 2012

Guests: Bill Burton, Dan Rather

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. I`m so happy that you had her
on. We`re going to be talking about that later on in this show, too. And
that t-shirt is one for the Smithsonian.

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: It certainly is. There`s no doubt.

MADDOW: Thank you, Ed. Thanks, man.

SCHULTZ: Thank you.

MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

In his first press conference after being re-elected to a second term
as president, then President Ronald Reagan was asked if he had anything to
say to the people in the country who did not vote for him and who did not
feel that they were part of the Reagan revolution. He was also asked about
Nancy Reagan falling down and bumping her head right before the election.
He said that she had a tender lump on the side of her head, but that she
would be fine.

In President Clinton`s first press conference, after he was re-elected
to a second term, the president started to answer a question about the role
of First Lady Hillary Clinton in the second Clinton term -- before he sort
of diverted himself into talking about just how damned tired he was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, let me answer the
question about Hillary. I think what first lady will do is something that
I think it will be consistent with what she`s been doing, but we have not -
- frankly, we`ve been too tired to talk about it. Yesterday, I`m
embarrassed to tell the American people, I actually slept past noon. I was
tired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: There`s no shame in that.

In the first press conference that George W. Bush gave after he was
re-elected in 2004, the president gave a very specific response to what I
think has to be the world`s most general question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Do you feel more free, sir?

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: In terms of feeling free,
well, I don`t think you`ll let me be too free.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: The "do you feel more free" question could have gone
anywhere, right? But ultimately, I wound its way around to President
George W. Bush explaining that he felt he would accumulated political
capital in the election and what he intended to spend his political capital
on was privatizing Social Security, which became an obsessive focus of the
Bush second term, in which failed completely.

As proposed policy and as politics, they really just never recovered.
It was the first press conference after he was reelected where he launched
the privatize Social Security plan, and it turned out very poorly, very
quickly, and it never got better.

Well, today President Obama stepped into that particular page of the
history books, when he held his first press conference after being re-
elected. He waited longer than any of his modern predecessors to hold the
first post-re-election press conference, but he did follow the tradition
when he convened the press corps today, and he did so in the midst of the
controversy over the sudden resignation of his CIA chief, who`s also the
former commander of the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war -- the highest
profile military and intelligence figure in the country.

So David Petraeus` old job of running the CIA is now suddenly an
available job in this administration and the same scandal that created that
vacancy at the CIA has also now touched the current top U.S. commanding
general in Afghanistan, whose successor for that job is due to have his
confirmation hearings in Washington tomorrow.

Well, today at his first post-re-election press conference, the
president largely deflected questions about who he would be appointing to
all the top jobs in the administration for his second term. He deflected
those questions today with one notable exception -- one notable exception
that just about took the roof off that room today.

Did you see this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Senator John McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham both said
today that they want to have Watergate-style hearings on the attack at the
U.S. consulate in Benghazi, and said that if you nominate Susan Rice to be
secretary of state, they will do everything in their power to block her
nomination. As Senator Graham said, he simply doesn`t trust Ambassador
Rice after what she said about Benghazi.

I`d like your reaction to that and would those threats deter from
making a nomination like that?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, first of all, I`m
not going to comment at this point on various nominations that I`ll put
forward to fill out my cabinet for the second term. Those are things that
are still being discussed.

But let me say specifically about Susan Rice. She has done exemplary
work. She has represented the United States and our interests in the
United Nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace.

As I`ve said before, she made an appearance at the request of the
White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence
that had been provided to her.

If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after
somebody, they should go after me. And I`m happy to have that discussion
with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing
to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on
intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is
outrageous.

And, you know, we`re after an election now. I think it is important
for us to find out exactly what happened in Benghazi, and I`m happy to
cooperate in any ways that Congress wants. We have provided every bit of
information that we have and we will continue to provide information and
we`ve got a full-blown investigation. And all that information will be
disgorged to Congress.

And I don`t think there`s any debate in this country that when you
have four Americans killed, that`s a problem. And we`ve got to get to the
bottom of it. And there needs to be accountability. We`ve got to bring
those who carried it out to justice. They won`t get any debate from me on
that.

But when they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they
think she`s an easy target, then they`ve got a problem with me. And should
I choose, if I think that she would be the best person to serve America in
the capacity of the State Department, then I will nominate her. That`s not
a determination that I`ve made yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Pin drop. If you are wondering where you have seen this kind
of thing before, not just this argument, but that look on his face, the
closest thing to temper that we see from this cool, calm, collected
president, we saw this once before in a moment that would have been the
most important moment in the presidential debates this year, were it not
for what happened right immediately after that moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANDY CROWLEY, MODERATOR: Governor, if you want to --

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I -- I --

CROWLEY: -- quickly to this please.

ROMNEY: I -- I think interesting the president just said something
which -- which is that on the day after the attack he went into 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, is that what you`re saying?

OBAMA: Please proceed, Governor.

ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it
took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act
of terror.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CROWLEY: It -- it -- it -- he did in fact, sir. So let me -- let me
call it an act of terror --

OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: We all remember that, because of what happened at the end
there, Mr. Romney`s face-plant failed attempt at calling the president out
for something that the conservative media said he had done, that he had not
actually done.

But what happened right before that at that debate was President Obama
defending Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton directly, by their titles, and
condemning as offensive Mitt Romney trying to say that that attack was
being covered up or that the country was being misled about it. That is
what we saw again today on full blast, at the president`s first press
conference after being re-elected.

The Beltway common wisdom on this is that President Obama is picking a
fight with his secretary of state nomination if he does pick Susan Rice for
that position. And when the Beltway accuses you of picking a fight, they
always mean, oh, no, no, you shouldn`t do that.

But seeing the president up there talking about this today with such
fire in the belly and seeing as he did that as well in the debate when the
same subject came up, I think this may be something more than just picking
a fight.

There`s plenty of reason to be angry, to be concerned about the attack
on the U.S. consulate in Libya. It is very much worth being angry about
the people who carried out that attack, right? It is worth talking about.
It`s worth even being angry about why American preparations for something
like this happening at an American diplomatic facility were not enough to
protect the lives of the four Americans who died, including the ambassador.

Those are the questions the congressional committee`s looking at that
attack are going to be asking tomorrow, when those hearings convene,
including expected from David Petraeus himself, who is now the former head
of the CIA.

But what does not follow rationally, from the anger and concern over
the attack in September is that John McCain and conservative media`s
assaults on the American ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, who
had nothing to do with the attack or with anything about preparing consular
facilities for potential security problems -- but who John McCain has
nevertheless been furiously denouncing as unqualified, and as a person who
doesn`t understand things well enough, like he does.

He went on CBS today and called her not very bright, which you will
recall is the exact same thing that John Sununu said about President Obama
and his role in the Mitt Romney campaign. He called him not very bright.

The president`s response to John McCain`s attempted destruction of
Susan Rice and his pledge to block her nomination, and McCain`s pledge to
block her nomination as secretary of state, the president`s response to
that has not been to say, I don`t want to talk about Benghazi, nothing to
see here, his reaction has been to say, yes, we should talk about what
happened in Libya.

But the idea that Susan Rice is going to be your scapegoat here when
she has done nothing wrong, that`s the part that is nonsense and I`m not
going to go along with that. And you`re not using something made up about
her to destroy a career that is still on its way up.

I mean, picking a fight is what they`re calling this in the beltway
media, right? Picking a fight would be installing Paul Krugman at
Treasury. Picking a fight would be like picking Eliot Spitzer for attorney
general, right? Picking a fight would be moving Camp David to Hawaii so
the president could get in more beach time.

Picking Susan Rice for secretary of state if the president decides he
wants to do that would not be picking a fight. It would be more, drawing a
line in the sand, saying, starting now -- starting day one of this second
term, which I just won in a big national election that you lost, starting
now, we will fight about policy, we will fight about differences of
opinion, we will fight about priorities, but we will not have anymore
fights based on nonsense that the right made up to entertain itself. If we
have a real beef, we will fight it out.

But if it`s made-up -- like the John McCain crusade against Susan Rice
-- that made-up stuff will no longer be entertained at the level of
national policy.

Joining us now is Bill Burton, a senior strategist for Priorities USA
Action, a pro-Obama super PAC. He previously served as the deputy press
secretary for this president and as national press secretary for Mr.
Obama`s campaign in 2008.

Mr. Burton, congratulations.

BILL BURTON, PRIORITIES USA ACTION: Thank you very much.

MADDOW: You had a big year.

BURTON: It was a good election.

One other presidential clip that you could have shown would have been
from "The American President," when Andrew Shepherd says, "I am Andrew
Shepherd and I am the president."

That`s a little what it was like today.

MADDOW: And not born in Kenya.

I feel like there`s something going, sort of at slightly meta level
over the policy fights, which is the president is saying, you know what,
the birth certificate thing is not going the paradigm for the kinds of
fights we have here. We`re not going to fight about, you know, whether the
New Black Panther Party stole the election in Pennsylvania. We`re not
going to fight about this stuff that so animated the right. We`re going to
focus on, we`re going to put that stuff aside.

He`s essentially challenging the Republican Party to have an adult
debate. I see that dynamic at work, at large, and specifically on this
Susan Rice issue.

But you worked with him for a long time. Do you think that`s
happening?

BURTON: I think, absolutely. I think the president wants to have
grown-up conversations about big issues that affect the country. And I
think if you look at how he took this issue on, he said, let`s talk about
the facts and let`s take a hard look at what happened here.

But getting distracted by all this nonsense, which John McCain has
gotten himself distracted on since the 2008 presidential election and
before, is not something he`s going to engage in. And for John McCain to
be the tip of the spear on this fight, the man who brought us Sarah Palin,
and he`s going to talk about someone`s qualifications on national security,
I don`t think any of us need to have that either.

MADDOW: Well, what about the Beltway critique that nominating Susan
Rice, and again, we don`t know that the president is going to, but
nominating Susan Rice would be essentially to coin a phrase, expending
political capital that might affect the president`s overall ability to get
his agenda moved in the second term. Do you see it that way? Do you see
it as something that would be a political advantage or a political cost?

BURTON: You know, a lot of times presidents, President Obama
included, get more political capital by winning political fights. And
that`s not to say that Susan Rice would be a huge political fight. It
seems obvious that there are some Republicans who have real political
motivations, who are involved in it right now.

But, you know, obviously John Kerry would be a great candidate. Susan
Rice would be a great candidate. But what the president said today was, if
I choose Susan Rice, it`s because I think she`s the most qualified person
for the job, and I`m not going to let your B.S. stand in the way of that,
stand in the way of me nominating her for that.

MADDOW: In terms of the tone that we`re hearing from the president
here -- I`m not one of those people who believes in like following body
language as opposed to following policy fights -- but it is striking that
we saw the president at that debate with Mitt Romney, where it quickly
spiraled into the false fact check and the please proceed and everything,
right? We saw the president at that debate and we saw the president again
today sort of bring the room to a halt, stop everybody, and look really
pissed.

I have not seen that very much in covering him as president. Are
there instances -- you`ve worked with and around him since going back to
2007 -- is there a pattern to when he gets mad about stuff?

BURTON: Well, he has only a certain tolerance for some of the idiocy
that the Beltway gets itself engorged in, to borrow a presidential term.
And what you saw -- well, you`ve seen him at his strongest moments, and we
also saw him at sort of his weakest. That first debate when he was up
against Mitt Romney, and he wasn`t as certain of the points he was making.
It wasn`t that he felt he was on the wrong side of the argument, but he
definitely wasn`t as self-assured as we saw him today.

And today was the exact opposite of that. It was like that second
debate. And what the president saw was that this is a moment where I have
faith in the American people that they`re going to see beyond the stupid
politics of this.

Another example of that was in the primary in 2008. Right before the
Ohio and Texas primaries, when there was a debate over whether or not we
should get rid of the federal gas tax, and it`s 2 cents per gallon or
something like that, the polls all said we should do it, because they were
spiking up to I think it was 3 bucks back then. And the president said,
no, this is stupid. If we do that we with bankrupt all the money the
federal government has to build roads, to build bridges, all the
infrastructure in this country.

And even though the polls are all saying that we should be for it, 2
cents per gallon isn`t something I`m going to engage in this stupidity for.
And he engaged in the fight and won that fight and he went on to win the
nomination.

MADDOW: At a time when everybody was saying, this is a dumb fight to
pick.

BURTON: Exactly.

MADDOW: Yes, there is a little bit of a pattern here.

What happens to you next? I mean, after you`re an evil, dark money,
corporate overlord guy, what happens next?

BURTON: I`m going to try to be a dark overlord somewhere else. I
don`t know. Pet stores, maybe.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW: It could be a dark scene.

Bill Burton, senior strategist for Priorities USA Action and a man
with a bright but uncertain future at this point -- Bill, it`s good to have
you here. Thanks.

BURTON: Thanks, Rachel. Good to be here.

MADDOW: All right. Dan rather is going to be joining us for a few
minutes tonight -- just a few minutes tonight for the interview. That`s
still coming up.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: The new Senate just got bluer today. The new senator from
the great state of Maine, the independent Angus King, announced that he
would caucus with the Democratic Party. Because Mr. King was elected to
Senate has an independent, he got to choose the party he would associate
himself with for committee assignments and policy and stuff. And like
Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman before him, Angus King today chose the
Democratic Party.

And that means unless the Flake-Carmona race gets upended in Arizona,
which is still counting ballots, unless that happens, we now know that the
Senate split starting in January is going to be 55 Democrats and 45
Republicans.

We also know that Democrats went from having 12 women in the Senate to
having the 16 women in the Senate. That`s four more Democratic women in
the U.S. Senate.

Among the Republicans in the Senate, their number of women actually
dropped. They went from five to four. In the House, it`s the same
pattern. As best as we can tell thus far, there are still some things to
be decided yet, but the Democratic caucus in the House added eight women.
There used to be 52 Democratic women in the House. In January, there will
be 60.

On the Republican side, though, they went down again. They went from
having only 24 women in the House on the Republican side to having only 20
women in the House starting in January.

So even with there being more Republicans in the House than Democrats
overall, even though Democrats are the smaller party overall in the House,
Democrats now have triple the number of women that the Republicans have in
that House.

Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in the House and the first
woman to ever be speaker of that body, today she announced that although
with every single woman member of her caucus, all 60 of them, that she
would put her name in to stay the leader to have the Democrats in the
House.

As we tried to preview on this show last night, that was not a
terrific surprise to anyone. What was a surprise, though, was the answer
that Leader Pelosi gave to NBC`s Luke Russert when he asked today whether
she and the rescue of the Democratic leadership should consider stepping
aside, simply to make room for younger members.

The first reaction to the question was that the women standing with
her on that stage started booing the question, literally. But then she
went on to answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS: Some of your top colleagues privately say
that your decision to stay on prohibits the party from having a younger
leadership and will be -- and hurts the party in the long-term. What`s
your response?

(BOOS)

(INAUDIBLE)

RUSSERT: Leader Pelosi?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: I guess -- you always ask that
question, except to Mitch McConnell.

(APPLAUSE)

RUSSERT: Excuse me, you, Mr. Hoyer, Mr. Clyburn, you`re all over 70.
Is it going to prohibit younger leadership from moving forward?

PELOSI: So you`re suggesting that everybody step aside?

RUSSERT: I`m simply saying, does this delay younger leadership --

PELOSI: I think that what you will see, and let`s, for a moment,
honor it as a legitimate question, although it`s quite offensive. But you
don`t realize that, I guess.

The fact is -- the fact is, is that everything that I have done in my
almost, I guess, decade of leadership is to elect younger and newer people
to the Congress. In my own personal experience, it was very important for
me to elect young women. I came to Congress when my youngest child,
Alexandra, was a senior in high school, practically on her way to college.

I knew that my male colleagues had come when they were 30. They had a
jump on me, because they didn`t have to, children to stay home. Now, I did
what I wanted to do. I was blessed to have that opportunity to
sequentially raise my family and then come to Congress.

But I wanted women to be here in greater numbers at an earlier age so
that their seniority would start to account much sooner. So I don`t have
any concern about that. And as I`ve always said to you, you`ve got to take
off that 14 years for me, because I was home raising a family, getting the
best of experience of all in diplomacy, interpersonal skills.

No, the answer is no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: And no. In case all of the booing and then the applauding
for me and all of the rest of it didn`t make it clear -- no, the answer is
no.

So with an exclamation point on it today, the Democratic leadership in
the House is intact. But the Republicans actually had a contested
leadership fight this year. They weren`t fighting for the top jobs.
That`s going to stay John Boehner. They`re actually fighting for the
number four job in the House. The contest was Tom Price against one of the
precious few Republican women in the House, Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

And there were some interesting intra-Republican Party politics at
work here. Ms. McMorris Rodgers had the support of Speaker John Boehner
who was staying Speaker John Boehner. But Tom Price had the support of
this guy, the Republican Party`s vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan.

In the end, it was Cathy McMorris Rodgers who won. Paul Ryan`s guy
lost.

And so even as they lose the presidency, thanks to a devastating
gender gap in the polls, and at the same time, they send even fewer
Republican women to Congress than were there before, Republicans did today
pick for this small, low-profile national Republican number four leadership
role an actual woman. And that`s the best they`ve ever done. That`s the
highest ranking GOP woman there has ever been in the House.

Back over on the Senate side, Republicans are faced with a dilemma set
up for them by John McCain, as I was just discussing with Bill Burton.
John McCain is suggesting that the party`s big, first high-profile
political stand of the Obama second term should be Republicans blocking
this person`s promotions to potentially be secretary of state.

The president may nominate U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to replace
Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. And already, Republicans in the
Senate led by John McCain are threatening to block her nomination. He
called her today "not too bright" and said she`s unqualified for the
position.

Yes, the Republicans have a demographics problem in the House and the
Senate and nationwide. But it is not just a demographics problem. It`s
never just a demographics problem, right? And there is a decision to make
now for the Republicans, about whether the whiter, ever-more-male party who
just lost the election badly, particularly in the Senate, is now going to
work its butt off in the Senate to block the nomination of this African-
American women secretary of state nominee, because their crazy uncles who
watch FOX News told them the attack in Benghazi wasn`t an attack, it was a
conspiracy.

The person I most want to ask about that dynamic in Washington right
now is probably Nancy Pelosi herself. And guess what, Nancy Pelosi, the
leader of the Democrats in the House, will be our guest tomorrow for her
first interview since her big announcement about staying in charge today.
We obviously have lots to discuss.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NINA TURNER (D), OHIO STATE SENATOR: This is the message to the GOP.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And for those of you in the back of the room
that can`t read this, Senator, would you like to say what it says?

TURNER: Yes, GOP stands for "get out of our panties," and that is
exactly what we want the GOP to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Ohio State Senator Nina Turner earlier today, making quite a
show of it. What prompted that remarkable thing in Ohio is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: President George W. Bush got re-elected in `04, right? But
in the midterm election that happened after that in `06, the Republicans
lost really badly. Republicans lost control of the House and control of
the Senate.

And then in the next election, 2008, Barack Obama got elected and the
Republicans lost even more seats in the House and in the Senate. And with
George W. Bush long gone and John McCain beaten really badly and with the
Republicans reduced to minorities this small in Congress, there was a
really pressing question. After the `08 election, after the last
presidential election, of how and whether the Republican Party would be
able to rebuild itself.

And obviously, they did, right? They did great in the 2010 elections,
even after doing pretty badly in this current election, they still hold on
to the House. But starting to feel like those segments that we did on this
show after the `08 presidential election, those segments, GOP in exile, I`m
starting to feel like they are maybe still relevant to understanding what
the Republican Party is now going through.

My favorite part about those was that we did these animations to try
to make visual metaphors out of the Republican Party`s sad loss-ness.
Those were kind of great.

(VIDEO CLIPS PLAY)

MADDOW: I don`t know why we don`t do stuff like that anymore. We
ought to. I hereby resolve.

But the basic idea was it matters to the country how one of our two
major parties rebuilds itself. Not just in terms of who they pick as their
new leaders and their new candidates, but the way they rebuild themselves
is an important part of how we`re going to define the acceptable range of
policy that gets debated in America. And also, how substantive the policy
debate is, versus how crazy and nonsensical it might be.

I mean, in a two-party state, the health of both parties is an
important thing. And even though the Republican Party is not as bad a
position now as it was in `08, we still don`t know who their leader is, we
still don`t know who they stand for, we still don`t know how they`re
handling their party`s particular issue with craziness -- with the appeal
of conspiracy theories and nonsense among their our own most enthusiastic
adherence.

We`re going to have Dan Rather here in just a moment to weigh in on
the Republican Party`s challenge in historical context, previous experience
with the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, building themselves
back up after existentially challenging losses.

But today`s data on how the Republicans are dealing with the challenge
right now, sort of a good news/bad news thing. I`ll give you a bad news
first, end on a high note, right?

The bad news is related to the state of Wisconsin. President Obama
won the state of Wisconsin. He won the state by seven points, more than
200,000 votes.

And when Wisconsin State Senator Alberta Darling, who is a Republican
and a co-chair of the Romney campaign in Wisconsin, when she was asked just
after the election whether a photo ID law in that state might have affected
the results of the election, this is how she responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think photo ID would have made any
difference to the outcome of this election?

ALBERTA DARLING, WISCONSIN STATE SENATOR: Yes, I think so. We`re
looking at all sorts of different precincts and all sorts of same-day
registrations. I know people will go, oh, we don`t have fraud and abuse in
our election, but why can`t we have voter ID when the majority of people in
Wisconsin wanted, we passed it, the governor signed it. Why should one
judge in Dane County be able to hold it up?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: The absence of a voter ID law, the Romney campaign co-chair
in Wisconsin says is why Mitt Romney lost the election in that state.

Do you think the photo ID would have made any difference in the
outcome? Absolutely. Really? Of this election? Yes, I think so.

She`s saying one of two things here -- she`s either saying the only
reason why President Obama was elected in Wisconsin this year was because
of voter fraud, from these people who were showing up and registering and
voting, and they shouldn`t have been allowed to vote, more than 200,000 of
them in Wisconsin, and this voter ID bill would have stopped that from
happening and thereby giving the state to Mitt Romney.

She`s either saying that, or that this voter ID would have kept enough
legal voters from voting, that Republicans could win the election just by
keeping who have a legal right to vote from exercising that right to vote.
I mean, either way, it`s a remarkable assertion by a Republican state
senator and by the Romney campaign chair in Wisconsin. All right?

That`s the bad news. Obama only won Wisconsin because of voter fraud,
for sure of it. That`s the bad news in terms of how conspiratorial and
nonsensical America`s conservative major political party may be staying,
even in the light of this defeat.

But on the other hand, there is some good news. Ever heard of the
blog "RedState"? "RedState" is a well-known, well-read conservative blog,
one of the more influential ones. I tried to read it pretty regularly.

Yesterday, the editor in chief of "RedState" wrote this: "Is it time
to roll up the welcome mat here?" Quote, "Barack Obama won. He won by
turning out the most people in a well run campaign. In other words, he won
fair and square.

We here at RedState are American citizens. We have no plans to secede
from the union. If you do, good luck with that, but this is not the place
for you. Too many people have spent the last four years obsessed with
birth certificates. Now, they`re obsessed with voter fraud conspiracies,
talk of secession and supposed election changing news stories if only we
have known.

So let`s add dabblers in this latest nuttiness to birthers as a
category of people that we do not welcome at RedState. Even here at
RedState, while we may not much care for him, President Obama is still our
president and we are still quite happily citizen of the United States."

So, on the one hand, the Romney campaign chair in Wisconsin says it
was massive voter fraud that swung the state of Wisconsin to President
Obama -- if it weren`t for that, Wisconsin would be Romney territory this
year. But the right is also starting to self-police itself, against
nonsense like that, in a publicly shaming way. And that is good news for
the Republican Party and therefore, for the country that needs both parties
to function if we are to be a two-party state.

Dan Rather joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Dan Rather is here for the interview. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I do think that the
spirit of cooperation that you`ve seen over the last week, for myself and
my team, from Democrats across the aisle, from the president, have created
an atmosphere are where I think that I`ll remain optimistic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: I, too, want to remain optimistic. But I don`t know if that
means I`m just being naive.

Joining us now with some much-welcome perspective for the interview
tonight is Dan Rather, the anchor and managing editor of "Dan Rather
Reports" on AXS TV.

Mr. Rather, thank you for being here.

DAN RATHER, AXS TV`S "DAN RATHER REPORTS": Always a pleasure.

MADDOW: Am I being naive to be optimistic that the rebuilding process
in the Republican Party might result in a change in their idea about
obstruction and cooperation?

RATHER: Well, hope is father to the belief. I`m an optimist by
experience and by nature. But I do think there`s odds against -- I hope
I`m wrong about that. I`ve been wrong about a lot the last few years and
may be wrong about that.

But the Republicans, their number one need is to get in touch with a
fact-based world, that they are now in the position of being pictured like
a man who wears spats to the office or something. So far out of touch that
it is unrealistic. And they did run four years, straight out, Dr. No
Obstructionism.

And with the candidate Mitt Romney`s comments today, saying, well, you
know, it`s because Obama gave things to all kinds of people, in denial.
And we should have some compassion. It`s tough to lose. Loser`s locker
rooms are always tough.

And I`d like to believe that Governor Romney once he reviews those
remarks will have regret having said them. He doesn`t want to become vice
president in charge of excuses.

MADDOW: Right.

RATHER: And that`s what the Republicans. But until and unless
Republicans get in touch with the fact-based world, in particular with
science, global warming comes to mind, evolution comes to mind, until they
get in touch with this, it`s very hard to see how your optimism and my
hopes are going to be fulfilled.

But hope springs eternal, and with Mitch McConnell, who I think is the
key for the Republicans, their leader in the Senate, that, you know, he was
ungracious in the first hours after the election results were known. He
has been the lead preacher of the gospel of obstructionism. And if he
continues to that, not only will the Republican Party, I think, find the
capital dome sort of, they`ll be in a temple of doom if they continue to do
this. You just can`t do it.

With the election itself, this election is going to be studied for a
very long time. This is now the 21st century and what President Obama did,
he hired math wizards and so called stat geeks, and they dealt with data,
facts, science, went into the census return.

The Republicans didn`t learn that lesson. Until they learn that
lesson, they`re going to have a hard time winning in the future.

Now, in terms of what can be accomplished for the country, you know,
the good book says, let us come reason together. And if President Obama
takes that attitude, which it seems to me he has, and I agree with what you
said on the program earlier, you saw a really renewed confidence in
President Obama. His body language is there, his statements are there --
this is the Obama the people thought they were getting in the 2008
election, but didn`t see until, frankly, after the election was over.

Two things set out in my mind recently as to what we can expect from
the president. That is when he addressed his young workers and he teared
up --

MADDOW: Yes.

RATHER: -- spoke from the heart, no teleprompter, and a very
attractive Obama. And then, today at his news conference, confident,
tough, in effect, to use a basketball term, he was saying, I`m perfectly
prepared to come reason together. But in basketball terms, I also will
take it hard to the hoop if you try this obstructionist thing.

On the Republican side, they have openings to be what we desperately
need in the country, and that is a responsibility and loyal opposition.
For example: prison and sentencing reform. Some Republicans have talked
about that.

There`s an opening, how to save our public schools. What we can learn
from Finland and Singapore.

These are openings for the Republicans. Will they take them? We`ll
see.

MADDOW: You know, I wanted to ask whether you see some of that same
dynamic at work, with the president`s, I thought, very, very stern
performance today on the issue of Susan Rice as a potential anytime for
secretary of state and the Benghazi attacks. Obviously, she`s been
attacked from the right, John McCain leading the way.

And what they`ve attacked her for is a bunch of stuff she did not do.
When he paraphrases what she said that makes him so upset, he said that she
never said it was a terrorist attack, she said -- all of the stuff that did
not happen.

And the president today taking that stern line wasn`t just saying, "I
want to have this fight with you", he was saying, "This is not the right
fight to have. You are picking the wrong fight at a wrong time, with the
wrong guy. The election is over."

Was that a call to put the nonsense stuff, the fact-free stuff behind
us?

RATHER: Absolutely. And it`s an example of how the Republicans have
to get in touch with the fact-based world.

And by the way with John McCain, it`s been said before, but can`t be
said too much. I admire John McCain. I have not forgotten the years he
spent in a North Vietnamese prison camp.

When he talks about Susan Rice and these things, this is a man who
picked Sarah Palin to be possibly one heartbeat away from the presidency of
the United States. You can`t have it both ways, even if you`re John
McCain.

MADDOW: Yes, Dan Rather, it`s always such a pleasure to have you
here. I don`t know why you honor us with your presence, but I`m glad
you`re here, sir.

RATHER: I`m always glad to be here. Thanks a lot. Take care.

MADDOW: Thank you.

All right. You know the expression, vote with your wallet? This
election, some donors got back more on their investment than others -- way
more. You`ve heard a lot about the people who wasted their money? What`s
next is the people who really did not. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: All right. We are in that part of the political cycle when
it`s time to try to figure out what is now in the realm of possibility,
that might not have been any realm of possibility before the election. We
are not at the part where we figure whether the boundaries of political
possibility change in this election. Whether there was a policy that was
politically impossible eight days ago that is now politically possible
because of the way the election shook out.

Por ejemplo, the common wisdom has long been that any reform of gun
laws, even just a restoration of the slightly more moderate gun policy we
used to have in this country -- the common wisdom is that that is
completely impossible because of the political power of the National Rifle
Association. The NRA doesn`t want any gun laws and so we can`t have any
gun law, they`re too powerful, they control it.

Does that common wisdom change at all once you know that this is the
truth about the NRA right now?

The Sunlight Foundation crunched the numbers on the money spent trying
to influence this year`s election. And it turns out the NRA`s political
action committee got as return on their investment in the 2012 election a
0.82 percent return. They spent almost $11.8 million and less than 1
percent of that money went to races that went their way, less than 1
percent.

Now to be fair, the NRA`s lobbying arm, they got just over a 10
percent return on their investment. So, instead of wasting 99 percent of
their money, this other NRA spending group only wasted 90 percent of their
money on races they didn`t win. And that`s their good news year.

Now, to be fair, what we`re seeing might be an indication of the fact
that the NRA is mostly just a Republican interest group at this point. The
NRA does not seem to be making particularly principled decisions about
their endorsement these days, right?

And most groups on the right, most groups supporting Republicans this
year just did really poorly because Republicans did really poorly. We`ve
talked about a few of them on this show before.

The Karl Rove-founded American Crossroads super PAC, one of his
groups, they got a 1 percent return on their investment of over $100
million in this race. The Chamber of Commerce got a 6.9 percent return on
their investment of 32 million bucks. Even the Republican Party`s own
House and Senate campaign groups didn`t great good return on investments.
They spent a ton of money on these races and they lost.

But you know who did good this election cycle? Look at this. Look at
Planned Parenthood`s record this election cycle. Planned Parenthood super
PAC had an 88 percent return on their investment this election cycle.
Planned Parenthood`s political arm had a more than 97 percent return on
their investment. They spent over $1 million helping get President Obama
reelected. They also spent money to help incumbents who support abortion
rights and women`s health rights like Sherrod Brown in Ohio and Jon Tester
in Montana and Claire McCaskill in Missouri.

They spent money to help Tammy Baldwin and Tim Kaine win close races
for U.S. Senate seats. And they spent money campaigning against anti-
abortion candidates like Mitt Romney at the top of the Republican ticket.
They also campaigned against Linda McMahon in Connecticut and Todd Akin in
Missouri, and Josh Mandel in Ohio, and Danny Rehberg in Montana and Tommy
Thompson in Wisconsin and George Allen in Virginia, and All of those places
where Planned Parenthood took sides, their side won.

Planned Parenthood also led the opposition to an anti-abortion ballot
question in Florida. That would have amended the state`s constitution in
an effort to restrict access to abortion. That opposition succeeded in
Florida. Florida voted that anti-abortion thing down by a 10-point margin.

Planned Parenthood won pretty much everything they touched, over 97
percent, over 98 percent? It was a very winning year for Planned
Parenthood.

But the story of why Planned Parenthood had such a successful election
season is not just the story of an individual senator in Ohio or Virginia
or a ballot question somewhere. Planned Parenthood did so well this year
because of something fundamental to this year`s campaign overall. This
election ended up turning in a big way on the issue of women`s rights and
that happened because the Republican Party put abortion policy and policy
about rape and contraception access at the front of their governing agenda
in the states and at the federal level, because they moved on those issues
wholesale nationwide as a party. Because some of this year`s most famous
Republican candidates are guys who got famous for saying really astonishing
things about why the government should force rape victims against their
will their rapist`s child.

Republicans did this to themselves, right, and then Democrats wouldn`t
let them get away with it. Republicans tied themselves so tightly to
women`s rights issues that ideas like cutting of funding for Planned
Parenthood, or women`s health programs, banning abortion, singling out rape
victims with the anti-abortion policies, rolling back access to
contraception -- all of those things became identified in voters` minds as
what it get -- what you get if you vote Republican, what it means to vote
Republican this year is all of that policy.

And we saw that manifest in really specific ways, like, for example,
Planned Parenthood`s 98 percent return on their investment and everything
they spent on this election cycle. And you can also see it manifest in the
broadest possible results, right? In the gender gaps in the states that
mattered most for the presidency.

Look at the gender gap in the swing states. This is how much Mitt
Romney lost just the women`s vote by. In Virginia, Mitt Romney lost the
race by three points overall, he lost women by nine points. In Florida,
Romney only lost the race by a point but lost women by seven points. In
Ohio, Mitt Romney lost by two points overall by lost by 11 points for
women.

If you are the Republican Party, you need to fix it problem -- or not.

Let`s go to the epicenter of this problem. The Republican Party in
Ohio, the state that put President Obama over the top this year on the
strength of an 11-point Republican deficit with women voters. After that,
what are the Republicans in Ohio working on now, in their first days back
at work in the state legislatures since the election, since their guy lost
the election based on his weakness among Ohio women voters?

Ohio Republicans are moving on a bill to defund Planned Parenthood.
Republican-led House committee approved the defund Planned Parenthood bill
today in a party line. Only the Republicans voted for it, all the
Democrats voted against it.

And they are working on reviving a previously stalled bill that would
ban abortion in Ohio as early as six weeks into pregnancy. So, by the time
you realize you`ve missed a period, your abortion would be illegal in Ohio.

Now, to be fair, we cannot disprove the hypothesis that the Ohio
Republican Party has just woken up from a long hibernation and they are
totally unaware of last week`s election results.

An Ohio public radio reporter named Jo Ingles tweeted this photo of a
packed committee room for today`s Ohio Republicans defund Planned
Parenthood hearing. She said two additional overflow rooms were also
totally full of people.

Here`s the photo from the hallway outside the hearing room where
lawmakers emerged to find chanting protesters had gathered to great them.

The Republican Party`s problem with women is a problem that cost them
the presidency this year and a good portion of the Senate, right? I mean,
just think about the presidency. If women had voted the way men did this
year, it would be President Romney. But women did not vote that way at
all.

And so, honestly, we`re never going to hear from Mitt Romney again.
But this is apparently not a problem the Republican Party is planning on
addressing just yet. Based on what happened in Ohio today, this might not
be a problem that the Republican Party recognizes is a problem just yet.

How long can they continue like this?

That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow night.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."

Thanks for being with us tonight.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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