'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, November 15th, 2012
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
November 15, 2012
Guests: Josh Rogin, Nancy Pelosi
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And if you keep it up, I have to come back
Saturday and Sunday. So, ease up, big guy.
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: I`m out of here.
MADDOW: Thanks, man.
SCHULTZ: Thank you.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us for the next hour.
President Obama was in New York City today surveying damage from
hurricane Sandy. He was alongside New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New
York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In the immediate aftermath of the storm, you might remember the
president spent time in New Jersey alongside Governor Chris Christie. At
that time, Mayor Bloomberg of New York had specifically asked the president
to please not come to New York City, so the logistics and security
arrangements around his visit wouldn`t get in the way of the immediate
But now with two weeks or so gone by, the president today announced
that he is putting a cabinet official, housing secretary, in charge of the
federal level of the rebuilding efforts after the storm. And he made that
announcement from hard-hit Staten Island.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: During difficult times
like this, we`re reminded that we`re bound together. And we have to look
out for each other. And a lot of the things that seem important, the petty
differences melt away and we focus on what binds us together and that we as
Americans are going to stand with each other in their hour of need.
We`re going to have to put some of the turf battles aside. We`re
going to have to make sure everybody is focused on doing the job as opposed
to worrying about who`s getting the credit or who`s getting the contracts
or all that sometime that sometimes goes into the rebuilding process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was what happened today in presidential politics in
storm damaged New York.
But if the president`s message in New York was one of buckling down
and cooperating and working together to get things done, what happened in
Washington today was a study in contrast from that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president, himself, has intentionally
misinformed -- read that, lied -- to the American people in the aftermath
of this tragedy. This is not simply a cover-up of a third rate burglary.
We have four of our diplomatic personnel dead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This administration continues to put out things
that are just not quite true.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to know who is responsible in this
town, buy yourself a mirror. Our evil-doing, American citizen-hating
administration requested a lot more money than we provided, a quarter of a
billion dollars in security upgrades that you refuse to make in this
committee. And then you have the audacity to come here and say, why wasn`t
the protection of these people provided for? And the answer is, because
you damn didn`t provide it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The election was over. The president won re-
election. The voices of the public were heard. They want us to cooperate.
If you want an honest investigation of this tragedy, we will join you.
But if you want to persist in trying somehow to put this, lay this at the
doorstep of the president or the secretary of state, or the United Nations
ambassador, you will find us ready and willing to resist to the teeth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: To the teeth. That`s what it was like today at the House
Foreign Affairs Committee`s hearing on the attack on the U.S. consulate in
Benghazi, Libya, back in September. There were also hearings on the same
subject in both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. But those
are both closed to the public.
We learned today newly resigned CIA chief David Petraeus has agreed to
testify at a closed intelligence committee hearing tomorrow and maybe a
closed House hearing, too.
In his first remarks to a reporter since he resigned, General Petraeus
apparently told Kyra Phillips, an anchor from Headline News that his
resignation had strictly about him having an extramarital affair and it was
nothing to do -- anything related to classified information or to Benghazi.
He told Kyra Phillips that he`s therefore eager to testify in Congress
about the Benghazi relationship to clear that up. That`s related
presumably to the conspiracy theories of General Petraeus` resignation that
are populating the conservative media right now.
Quote, "It`s obvious someone was out to silence Petraeus."
Quote, "In the modern era, office-holders with forgiving spouses
simply do not resign from powerful jobs because of a temporary,
noncriminal, consensual adult sexual liaison" -- said Eliot Spitzer, I
mean, Anthony Weiner, I mean, Jim McGreevey, I mean, Congressman Mark
Souder, I mean, the Detroit police chief, I mean, sorry -- none of them.
It was said by a man named Andrew Napolitano, who is a FOX News
David Petraeus` resignation to him could not possibly have just been
about some dumb affair. Nobody resigns from office for having an affair.
There must be a leftist government cover-up going on.
The White House is trying to keep General Petraeus from spilling the
beans about vague, imagined government conspiracy surrounding the Benghazi
attacks. That`s what Napolitano is saying.
The conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer is pushing the same
sort of idea now, too.
But, honestly, the engine that is and has been driving the crazy on
this issue for the Republican Party and the conservative movement is still
really Senator John McCain. Over the past week, Senator John McCain has
made six different television appearances just to talk about the Benghazi
attack and what he sees a big Obama administration cover-up of the attack,
making his case over and over and over and over and over again to any
blinking red light within sight about how Benghazi should not be viewed as
an attack on a U.S. consulate, but instead be viewed as a Democratic lie,
an Obama scandal.
The Senate needs more information about this blatant cover-up, says
John McCain. John McCain needs more information.
This, for example, is John McCain convening a press conference
yesterday morning, denouncing the scandal that congress is not being given
enough information about this horrible scandal that he can`t get any
answers on. While John McCain was demanding answers at this press
conference, that he convened yesterday morning, some of his colleagues,
from a committee that he`s a member of, were getting answers on the subject
that he was so mad about.
John McCain was missing a three-hour high-level closed classified
briefing on what exactly happened in Benghazi from representatives of the
State Department, and the Defense Department, and the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, and the National Counterterrorism Center, and the FBI, John McCain
did not get any of the classified briefing. He did not get any of that
information. He didn`t get any of his questions answered by any of those
people because he skipped the briefing and instead went and yelled at TV
cameras about how he couldn`t get any information.
And when a CNN producer had the good sense to ask Senator McCain about
why he was yelling about not getting information instead of attending the
briefing on his committee where the information was being given out, then
he just yelled some more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN: Our Ted Barrett caught up with the senator earlier
today and wanted to know why he didn`t go to that briefing. And to say the
least, it did not go well. Listen to what happened.
TED BARRETT, CNN: Why can`t you comment about that?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Because I have the right as a senator
to have no comment. And who the hell are you to tell me I can or not? I`m
not giving you an answer for the tenth time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Who the hell are you? This is all going on while John McCain
continues to try to make a case that this scandal that he can`t get any
information about, can`t be handled through the normal committee process,
that he can`t get enough information that way. So instead John McCain says
there needs to be a Watergate-style mega investigation.
So far that idea has been shot down by the Republican speaker of the
House, John Boehner, by John McCain`s own BFF in the Senate, Joe Lieberman.
He also disagrees with Mr. McCain on this. Same goes for Susan Collins of
Maine, who did go to the classified briefing yesterday and noted publicly
that John McCain was not there, even though it was his committee.
McCain`s special investigation idea was also shot down today by
Republican Senator Richard Burr who said, quote, "I think you`ve got to
allow the structure we have of oversight to function and I think the
Intelligence Committee is more than capable of handling this."
In other words, the Senate is getting information so maybe we should,
you know, get information instead of continuing to scream on TV about not
Here`s how you know when somebody is being disingenuous. It`s when
they demand something and then you give them that thing that they just keep
demanding about and they pretend that you`re not giving it to them and they
just keep making the demand anyway as if it hasn`t been met.
John McCain obviously sees some advantage somewhere in continuing to
scream on TV about the fact he`s not getting information about this issue.
When that screaming cannot be quieted by actually giving him information
about this issue, that is a sign that something else is going on here.
Joining us now is Josh Rogin, staff writer, "Foreign Policy" magazine,
he writes the daily column "The Cable."
Josh, thanks very much for being here.
JOSH ROGIN, FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: President Obama yesterday in his press conference basically
accused John McCain of grandstanding, trying to gin up the tragedy into
something that he and the Republicans can get political gain from.
How did that play out today with John McCain and the way the rest of
Congress is viewing him on this?
ROGIN: Right. So you`ve been covering this well in the sense that
Republicans are not used to the Obama administration pushing back. They`re
not used to the Obama coming with a fire in the belly and really
confronting them on accusations and insinuations that they`ve been
launching for the last four years without a lot of resistance, without a
lot of contradiction.
Let`s remember that the politicization of the Benghazi issue started
with the Mitt Romney campaign, on the night of the attack. He then
harangued the entire Republican Caucus into joining him on that. And now,
the Mitt Romney campaign is gone, leaving guys like John McCain holding the
So, he`s part committed to this strategy and he`s got to go forward.
And now that President Obama called him out on public television during a
press conference, he has no choice but to double down.
And stories like these where he missed the hearing that he was calling
for undermine his argument that the Obama administration is not giving him
enough information, and pushes him back into the argument the Obama
administration is lying, or misrepresenting or intentionally politicizing
That`s a much tougher argument to make. And that`s the fight the
Obama administration wants to have. So John McCain`s really on his heels.
MADDOW: And that point, about which argument the Obama administration
wants to have -- I mean, the thing that tripped up Mitt Romney on this in
that debate is that he believed what conservative media had been saying
about this, right? He believed some conservative meme that President Obama
never used the word "terror" when he described this attack, when, in fact,
the president had. It led to that horrible fact checking moment -- live
fact-checking in the debate.
Is John McCain, and these guys, Dana Rohrabacher, Jean Schmidt, these
other people who we had just played tape from, who are trying to make this
into a political scandal, are they still making that same mistake, in that
they are pursuing a narrative that is circulating on the right but isn`t
based in fact?
ROGIN: Yes, I would add Darrell Issa on that. He held the hearings
on Benghazi a month before the election and he bungled them. He revealed
names of sources, of Libyans working with the United States by releasing
documents without even check with anyone.
And the bottom line here is there are legitimate questions about the
Benghazi attack and there`s a lot of information we haven`t gotten. But
that`s all become secondary to the sort of political fight between the
Republicans in Congress who want to assert that they still have the control
of the foreign policy issue, and they want to assert that Obama`s weak on
foreign policy even though the election is over, and the actual responsible
lawmakers who want to actually just figure out what happened and what we
can do to prevent it from happening again.
MADDOW: The way this is going, are we likely to get a giant
Watergate-style mega investigation on this, the way John McCain has been
ROGIN: There`s no appetite for that. I mean, the bottom line is that
congressional committees are set up based on seniority. People want to
have control over what they have control over.
Let`s put this in the context of the Republican Caucus which is
fighting amongst itself on foreign policy. For a decade, John McCain and
the hawks and neocons had control of GOP foreign policy.
Over the last two years, that`s been contested. And Mitt Romney
started out as a neocon, ended up as a moderate on foreign policy. And now
the caucus is more on that side.
So John McCain is fighting for relevance here. He`s fighting not to
be marginalized in his own party. He`s about to lose his own committee
chairmanship, he terms out, on Senate Armed Services.
MADDOW: That`s right.
ROGIN: So, his friends Jon Kyl, Joe Lieberman are both leaving. So,
he`s seeing his relative power inside the caucus on foreign policy
challenged for the first time in a very long time and he`s fighting for the
survival of that power, and that plays into everything that we`re seeing.
MADDOW: And the more he swears on camera, the more you can tell he`s
Josh, could you stay with us for just a moment? This afternoon, I sat
down with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. And she had something very
interesting to say about the connection of the David Petraeus scandal to
some of these other issues. I`d love to get your response. Hold on?
All right. Hold on. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: What has triggered about
informing the Congress in any event, just talking about Congress, is --
does it have an impact on our national security?
MADDOW: And you think this did not rise to that level?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: My exclusive interview with Nancy Pelosi -- her first
interview since saying she`s staying on as the top Democrat in Congress is
coming right up. Hold on.
MADDOW: Ten years ago yesterday, our country for the first time ever
put a woman in charge of up of the two major political parties in Congress.
That was 10 years ago. And it is still the only time we have ever done it.
Yesterday, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in
Congress, the highest ranking woman in American politics ever, she
announced that she would put her name forward to stay on as the top
Democrat in the House.
Because of the election results from last week, the new House that`s
going to convene in January will be more Democratic than it is now,
although the Republicans will still have the majority. It will be more
diverse in terms of race and sexual orientation.
And it will be considerably more female -- no thanks to the
Republicans who are actually even more male than they used to be in the
House before this election. But Democrats more than made up for it, with
the number of women they added. A fact Ms. Pelosi highlighted in her
announcement that she is staying on by bringing up all of the Democratic
women in the caucus on stage with her.
But as excited as everybody is for the next Congress to start in
January, you can feel it in Washington, people are very excited, the old
Congress is still in session now. This is the lame duck between now and
January. And this lame duck: (a), has a lot of work to do, and, (b), is
taking place in the midst of a really big scandal has engulfed the head of
the CIA and now, the top commanding general in the war in Afghanistan -- a
scandal that still seems to be getting bigger and not smaller.
Here`s what Nancy Pelosi had to say today on this matter when I asked
her about it in her first interview since she announced her intention to
stay on as the top Democrat in Congress.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about something that arose unexpectedly right
after the election, which was the sex scandal that has ended the career
that the CIA chief, David Petraeus. As you know, this arose from the FBI
starting an investigation into an unrelated matter and they came across
evidence of his sexual misconduct.
At this point, there does not seem to be any evidence of anything
criminal or of the mishandling of classified information. At least that we
know thus far.
Given that, do you think that the FBI should tell Congress and tell
the White House about evidence they uncover of personal sexual misconduct
by political figures? Or should that be kept private?
PELOSI: Well, I believe that the standard has to be, does this have
an impact on our national security? So far, we haven`t seen anything that
gives evidence of that.
We have another balance that we have to strike, our Founders had to do
it, the beginning of our country, and we still do, except now with
communication the way it is in a different way. And that`s a balance
between security and liberty.
And so how do you make that balance? Should Congress and the
president be informed of hearsay? I don`t think so.
What is triggered about informing the Congress in any event, just
talking about Congress, is -- does it have an impact on our national
MADDOW: And you think this did not rise to that level?
PELOSI: From what we know so far.
But it`s really also important to note that our Founders had to do
this, and that was at a time when a message could travel only as fast as a
horse could gallop or ship could sail. That`s how fast or slow a message
Now, with the blessing of telecommunication, we know in real time,
true or false, about what somebody might be saying about somebody else and
I think that we, in the interest of everyone in our country, have to
respect privacy rights unless it falls into a realm of something of a
person of that stature. I mean, that`s such a sad thing -- such a sad
thing. And personal indiscretion is unfortunate.
But to have a personal discretion e-mails is stupid.
MADDOW: To have this scandal touch on General John Allen, who`s
commanding general in Afghanistan, today was the confirmation hearing for
the man who would be his successor, General Dunford, in Afghanistan. That
sex scandal, personal behavior scandal is unrelated to the war.
But the fact these things are all happening at once raises for me,
once again, the strangeness of the fact that we have so little political
debate about our ongoing war.
In terms of the realm of political responsibility and what is doable
after this election, I have to ask you -- why Congress shouldn`t be
expected now to push for a faster end to the Afghanistan war than the end
of two years from now?
PELOSI: Well, it isn`t two years. It`s just one year from now.
MADDOW: End of 2014, right?
PELOSI: `14 -- well, I guess almost two years. Let`s hope it`s
before then. Let`s hope it`s by then but let`s hope it is before then.
What is our mission? How is it in our national security to stay a
What I think we have to be vigilant about is we`re not staying any
longer. I know there have been some comments about -- well, we may keep a
force. I don`t think there`s any appetite for that.
MADDOW: General Dunford said he`d be willing to keep a force beyond
PELOSI: I`m interested in what the president of the United States has
said, is that we will be out by the end of 2014.
But it is unpopular. The country is weary of war. They want our
troops to come home, and they are coming home.
But I don`t know if there`s a majority in the vote in Congress to
bring the troops home in a faster schedule than the president has. And
remember, the president said by 2014. So, hopefully, it will be sooner.
MADDOW: Nancy Pelosi in an exclusive interview with me today saying
that "from what we know now, General Petraeus` affair does not seem to have
risen to the kind of national security matter that might justify the FBI
telling other people about that affair." Also saying the ultimate drawdown
timeline in Afghanistan should be shortened to earlier than the end of 2014
which is what it is now.
Joining us again is Josh Rogin, the staff writer at "Foreign Policy"
magazine where he writes "The Cable."
Josh, thanks for sticking around.
When Nancy Pelosi said at the end I don`t know if there`s a majority
in Congress that would vote to make the war end sooner, if such a vote was
put to them -- do you think she`s right about that? Do we know?
ROGIN: Yes. So, let`s remember here the president`s policy is to
extend the troops past 2014, negotiations started in Kabul today to extend
the troops past 2014. We can forgive Nancy Pelosi for not knowing that
because the administration, according to Joe Biden during the debates said
the opposite thing.
MADDOW: What about the distinction between combat troops being gone
by 2014 and some -- not vestigial -- but some residual force being left
thereafter? You think it`s not a meaningful distinction?
ROGIN: It`s a distinction without a difference. You have troops in
harm`s way fighting, killing, dying. Those are combat troops no matter
what you call them. And we`re going to have a big debate, what the roles
and responsibilities should be. And that debate starts today.
The bottom line is that there are dozens of Congress people led by
Nancy Pelosi, call them liberals in the House, have been arguing against
the long troop deployment ever since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
started. They`ve never won the day. And President Obama has never in his
four years favored the liberal national security policy of getting out of
the war sooner. Not likely it`s about to start right now.
MADDOW: In terms of the Republican side of this debate, I keep
talking to people who have been around politics for a long time who say the
Republicans don`t want this conversation, but when you ask them what they
think of the Afghanistan war, almost nobody makes an argument we ought to
be there a day longer, let alone two more years, let alone two more years
plus an unending residual force.
MADDOW: So will anybody ever ask the Republicans on this?
ROGIN: Yes. We`re going to have hearings. Eventually, General Allen
is going to surface, he`s going to testify. There will be a bunch of
Republicans led by John McCain and Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham who are
going to argue for longer troop deployments, waiting to see what the
conditions are on the ground, having more troops there than the
administration wants and a big segment of the Republican caucus that will
not support that. And that, again, is the divide inside the Republican
Ultimately, the president is going to have to balance the risk of
withdrawing troops faster against the goal of leaving Afghanistan as stable
and secure as possible. And whatever his decision is going to be, that`s
going to be his legacy. So that`s going to be his responsibility.
MADDOW: Is there anybody else who`s stepping up on the John McCain
side of this? I mean, at this point, John McCain is a noun and verb and
don`t cut and run, right? He`s really -- I feel like his credibility on
foreign policy issues is getting pretty wispy at this point.
Is there anybody else who`s taken the place of him as he becomes less
and less relevant?
ROGIN: So they`re training a new crop of new senators like Mark Kirk,
Kelly Ayotte, Marco Rubio, and they are prepared to carry this water on the
Republican side. The question is whether or not the generals are going to
back them up. I mean, when the generals come to testify, if the generals
are to the left of John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman, then
they`re going to be left twisting in the wind.
If the generals -- the Obama administration and give an honest
assessment that matches McCain, then they`ll have a stronger argument. In
the end, the president is going to do what the president is going to do.
MADDOW: I think the politics are in flux. Six months from now this
is going to be a different discussion. But we shall see.
Josh Rogin, staff writer "Foreign Policy" magazine, who writes "The
Cable" -- Josh, it`s great to have you here. Thanks, man. Appreciate it.
All right. Still ahead, a lot of Republicans get mad at Mitt Romney,
now, today, and not just for losing last week.
We`ll also have more from my interview with Nancy Pelosi when she
weighs in on why all the Republicans are so mad at Mitt Romney now.
MADDOW: I said something on this show last night I would please like
to take back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If you 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. So, honestly, we`re never going to hear from Mitt
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The part there at the end about never hearing from Mitt
Romney again -- not true. And it turns out people do still care what Mitt
Romney says when he says stuff, because unless and until the Republican
Party can find a new national face for their party, Mitt Romney remains the
national face and, therefore, the national leader of the Republican Party.
Even if the Republicans don`t want him to be.
And it appears the Republicans do not want him to be. The thing that
has landed Mr. Romney back in the national spotlight is a post-election
conference call he did with donors in which Mr. Romney said the reason he
lost and President Obama won is that President Obama bribed minority voters
and young voters and women with gifts.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What the president`s
campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them
extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very
aggressively to turn them out to vote and that strategy worked.
He gave them a big gift on immigration with the DREAM Act amnesty
program, which was obviously very, very popular with Hispanic voters. And
then number two, was Obamacare. And so, for any lower income Hispanic
family, Obamacare was massive.
Let me tell you, what I would do if I were a Democrat running four
years from now, I`d say, you know what, dental care ought to be included in
Obamacare. Immigration, we can solve. But the giving away free stuff is a
hard thing to compete with.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: On that call, portions of which were edited and posted online
by ABC News, on that call Mr. Romney also praised his campaign team for
being no drama and highly effective. Yes, everything went perfectly.
According to ABC News, Mr. Romney`s campaign manager then listed other
gifts President Obama used to win the election like free contraceptives for
18 to 29-year-old women, DREAM Act waivers, and student loan interest rate
cuts for college students.
The Romney campaign, what remains of it, released a statement
authenticating the tape saying, quote, "Governor Romney was elaborating on
what Obama senior strategist David Axelrod said about the Obama campaign`s
effort to target key demographics, most specifically women."
For the record, David Axelrod said nothing like that.
For their part, Republicans seemed very mad on his way out the door
Mr. Romney has left them with this mess to clean up.
Iowa`s Republican Governor Terry Branstad said this, quote, "I don`t
think it`s helpful."
Florida Senator Marco Rubio said, quote -- well, Senator Marco Rubio
according to journalists, quote, "distanced himself from the remarks on
Thursday, calling them just `an analysis to donors.`"
New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte weighed in on "ANDREA MITCHELL
REPORTS " today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I listened to the comments. I
don`t know what the context fully was. I don`t agree with the comments.
We`ve got big challenges that need to be resolved as you know.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: So you`re not comfortable with what
you heard him say?
AYOTTE: No, I don`t know the full context of them, but I don`t agree
with the comments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: But, you know, nobody sounded quite as annoyed with Mitt
Romney in these comments as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who was asked
about the Romney comments yesterday at the Republican Governors Association
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: No, look, I think that`s absolutely
wrong. Two points on that. One, we have got to stop dividing the American
voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent.
So, I absolutely reject that notion, that description. I think that`s
absolutely wrong. That is not -- I don`t think that represents where we
are as a party and where we`re going as a party. And I think that -- that
has not got to be the most fundamental takeaways from this election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republicans are obviously furious with Mitt Romney for this
latest comment, for continuing to spotlight the most alienating, most
elitist, most resentment-driven weaponized Thurston Howell ideological edge
to what Republicans are offering the country, right? So you could see why
they`d be so angry at him.
But the country as a whole maybe owes Mitt Romney a debt of gratitude
for continuing to exist in the public eye and continuing to insist that
there was nothing wrong with his campaign and that the Democrats` victory
should be ascribed only to a vast bribery conspiracy involving, like, green
cards and condoms.
What is good about that for the country, maybe, is that Republicans
who are now jockeying among themselves to replace Mitt Romney as the de
facto head of the Republican Party, they are having to articulate what is
wrong with that way of thinking. And that seems constructive. That seems
like maybe what the country needs them to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JINDAL: This is just something that`s fundamentally important for the
future of our party, as a Republican Party. It`s also important for the
country. The country needs two competitive parties fighting for every
single vote out there and proudly standing up for their principles.
And let`s have a real contest of ideas and that`s what this country
deserves. We didn`t get that in this past election. That`s what this
country deserves going forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
I agree with Bobby Jindal on almost nothing when it comes to policy
and almost nothing when it comes to politics. But what he just said there
is the kind of conversation the whole country is counting on Republicans
having with each other right now.
Today, the top Democrat in the House gave us exclusively her reaction
to those comments from Mitt Romney, and she told us how she thinks they`re
going to affect the ability of Republicans and Democrats to work together
now and in this next upcoming Congress. It`s fascinating. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: When you watch that tape, that videotape -- you see passion,
you see commitment. That`s the -- that is the most sincere, with no
competition for that honor, most sincere moment in his campaign and that`s
what he believed and that`s what he continues to believe and that`s what he
said yesterday. But that`s quite sad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yesterday, Nancy Pelosi announced her intention to stay on as
leader of the Democrats in the House. In her first interview since that
announcement, I asked her today for her reaction to the tape that emerged
last night of Mitt Romney explaining to his donors that he only lost the
election essentially because of bribery by the Democrats, in the form of
policy. Watch her response.
MADDOW: There was a bit of a firestorm in the last 24 hours when
number of news organizations reported on Mitt Romney`s comments to donors
in a call yesterday explaining why it is that he thought he lost. And he
attributed his lost to Democratic policies that he described as gifts to
specific populations -- to young people, to students, to Latino voters. He
described as a gift the way he put it, amnesty for the children of illegals
and that was a gift to Latinos and that was essentially a Democratic bribe
to earn those votes. That`s Mr. Romney`s assessment of why he lost.
PELOSI: Well, that`s sad. That`s really quite sad. It doesn`t sound
very professional about who he was as a candidate and what his organization
might have been in spite of all the money they had. But it was completely
consistent with his message when he didn`t know he was being recorded about
the 47 percent.
I have said for a long time, since we saw that tape, that`s the most
authentic Romney we have seen. Every other instance, before for this, and
then against it, and now, you know, different. What does he really believe
in? But that he really believed in.
When you watch that tape, that videotape -- you see passion, you see
commitment. That`s the -- that is the most sincere, with no competition
for that honor, most sincere moment in his campaign. That`s what he
believed and that`s what he continues to believe and that`s what he said
yesterday. But that`s quite sad.
MADDOW: If that is, we are seeing some Republican dissent, Bobby
Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, criticized him. Kelly Ayotte, the
senator from New Hampshire, criticized those remarks. It`s not been
greeted warmly, these remarks from him, just as the 47 percent remarks
But if that ends up being the conservative assessment of what went
wrong, and it is absolutely the take in conservative media and in
conservative talk radio -- what does that say about what`s politically
I just think about the prospect of John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi
working together. I think about you sitting down with Vice President Biden
and President Obama and John Boehner and talking about what`s possible.
What do you expect about the Republican world view and goals to change
because of this election?
PELOSI: Well, the president was very clear in the campaign, on where
he stood. There was no ambiguity about where he was on many of the issues.
And so, his election, I think, strengthens our hand at the table.
But the public still has to continue to be engaged. Public sentiment
And in the past, for example, the Republicans in the House were the
odd people out on the -- on some of the tax bill. One of the tax -- you
know, deduction, and then also on the transportation bill.
And so when the president went public on those, then they finally came
around. But they`re not going to come around just by persuasion sitting
across the table, I do not believe.
MADDOW: They are not going to come around just by persuasion in
Washington -- Nancy Pelosi essentially calling for an extension of the
spirit that drove the campaign. More ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Why did all of the Democratic women on stage with you boo
that question and why did you call it an offensive question?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(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 hurt -- and hurts the party in the long term.
What`s your response?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Discrimination.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoa!
PELOSI: Next! Next.
RUSSERT: Leader Pelosi --
PELOSI: I guess --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoa!
PELOSI: You always ask that question except to Mitch McConnell.
RUSSERT: The same thing about Mr. Hoyer -- but no, excuse me, Mister
-- you, Mr. Hoyer, Mr. Clyburn, you`re all over 70. Is they`re deciding
to stay on prohibit younger leadership from moving forward?
PELOSI: So you`re suggesting that everybody step aside?
RUSSERT: No, I`m simply saying -- does this delay younger leadership
from moving forward?
PELOSI: I think 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 decade -- I guess decade now 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
I knew that my male colleagues had come when they were 30.
But I wanted women to be here in greater numbers at an earlier age so
that their seniority would start to account much sooner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: At your leadership announcement yesterday, you were asked --
well, there was a strong reaction and a very strong response from you to a
question about age, about the prospect of stepping aside so younger
leadership could take over in the Democratic Party.
Why did all of the Democratic women on stage with you boo that
question? And why did you call it an offensive question?
PELOSI: Well, I don`t -- the point is that I was surprised at the
reaction of my colleagues because I hear these questions all the time from
the press. Not that one, but questions that they might consider
But here`s the thing -- I didn`t say it was inappropriate. I said
it`s only appropriate if you`re asking everybody else. Senator McConnell
hasn`t won an election in a while, and nobody`s asking him to step aside.
And I said, do you want the whole leadership to step aside?
But it`s interesting because when something like that happens, remind
them that President Reagan was elected at 69 and left at 77 from the White
House. Sam Rayburn was like 79 years old when he ended being speaker.
We, on the strength of the success we had in the election, we won 25
seats. We didn`t net 25 seats, and so -- but we elected -- 25 percent of
our caucus is new, younger, women and minorities, 50 percent of our caucus,
women and minorities and LGBT community folks.
So, you know, we thought it was a great night -- the election of the
president to protect health care and the rest, increase our numbers in the
Senate, increase our numbers in the House. So I didn`t really know what
the point was unless it -- was it about winning? Was it about not winning
enough seats or was it just about age?
And that --
MADDOW: And a combination of age and gender. You`re saying. That
it`s a different --
PELOSI: No, that was the point. Right.
It was -- and I -- you know, we all live with each other around here,
no offense taken except the women took great offense.
And I made the point that one of my goals was to bring women in
younger so they could start getting seniority sooner. Not to wait as I did
until my children were practically in college, all in college. One,
Alexandra just in high school. That was my choice, that is my love, that
was my happiness, the most important thing I`ll ever do.
But if women have an opportunity earlier, they do get the seniority
sooner. So, I think I should be granted about a dozen to 14 years for
raising my family and having not great (ph) qualification to bring to the
MADDOW: You talked about the diversity of this Democratic Caucus.
PELOSI: Oh, let me just say --
PELOSI: Ronald Reagan said, as he said to Walter Mondale, I will not
hold your youth and inexperience against you.
MADDOW: I will pass that onto Luke.
You are talking about the diversity about the Democratic Caucus in
which you lead in the House. It is a new thing at least that there is not
a straight, white male majority in this caucus. That has never been true
before in this country.
And I wonder, you know, the Republican Party, the Republican candidate
for president won a majority of the white vote, a larger proportion of the
white vote than John McCain did in 2008, which the Republican Party were
sort of bragging about in their internal assessment today about what went
right for them in this election that they lost. The Republicans lost all
minority groups by very, very large margins.
When you look at the diversity of your group, and that momentous
change reflected in that diversity, what do you say to people who are
unsettled by that, who look at that change and think I`m not sure I`m happy
about the fact that there isn`t a straight, white male majority in the
Democratic Caucus anymore? What do you say to them?
PELOSI: I haven`t met anybody like that yet. But let`s say that
there is somebody who has some unease about women and minorities and LGBT
people, I would say, everybody is talking about how we can appeal to these
people to vote for us and we are saying, no, we want to go beyond that. We
want them to represent us.
So, it`s not about we need your vote. This is an Election Day
alliance. We want you to have a seat at the table, because it`s really
important to have the diversity of opinion. It`s not that we want to
displace the white males in our caucus. It`s that we want to have a mix.
There is something important about having other thinking, whether it`s
gender, whether it`s ethnic, whether it`s regional, whether it`s
generational to have a mixture of thinking at the table. It makes the
product better, but it gives people hope outside to say, there is something
there who understands my aspirations, my challenge.
And, again, I reiterate -- we have diversity of opinion one in our
caucus too and we respect that and we rejoice in that at well, across the
spectrum. And I say to my male friends, your views are enhanced because
you can convince many more people who can reach out to other people about
MADDOW: In the sense, you`re not just talking to people who are
inclined from the get-go to get -- to agree with you. You have to persuade
others who come from a different perspective.
PELOSI: Come in with perspective.
And when you bring that caucus together and they build consensus -- I
mean, I`ve never lost a vote when I was speaker and that was because we
built consensus. We percolated up. We didn`t write something and say this
is what we are going to vote for, percolated up. So, I would not want to
be a head of a caucus that was a rubber stamp for anything.
MADDOW: Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in her first interview since
announcing that she intends to stay on in that position.
All right. Best new thing in the world is coming up next.
MADDOW: Best new thing in the world today.
If you are a liberal, you`d like to believe that government can be a
force for good. That, yes, nobody likes bureaucracy for bureaucracy`s
sake. And everybody likes free enterprise.
But government is capable of good and important work. Like Medicare,
for example. And the fact, Medicare is the government insurance company
for 50 million Americans. And people are happier with Medicare and
Medicare is much cheaper to administer than all of the private insurance
plans that everyone else has to use.
Medicare works well. It`s a part of government that works well.
Another example the mayor`s office in Newark, New Jersey. If there is
a tree down on the wires in front of your house, did you see homeless
people suffering through the storm under a Newark overpass and they need
help, are you stranded with a baby and the power has been off too long --
tell the mayor`s office in Newark, New Jersey, tell the Newark Mayor Cory
Booker and he will come sort it out for you personally. Honestly, he will
be there in about five minutes. He will bring your bored baby a toy.
Sometimes government works well, in very big ways and very small ways.
But government rarely works very well in ways that are also very funny.
All right. Here`s the situation: right now, nobody knows if it is
legal or illegal to smoke pot or possess pots in the states of Colorado or
Washington. And that`s because on election night, measures to legalize pot
for personal use in both of those states passed by 10 points and 12 points
So in state law it`s legal. But federal law, which applies to the
whole country, including those two states, federal law still says pot is
illegal. So, which is it in Colorado and Washington? We don`t know.
Enter the Seattle Police Department. On the Seattle Police
Department`s blog, they have posted this new, I guess, official police
document. It`s called, "Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use in
And it`s clear answers to simple questions to what everyone is asking.
Questions like, where can you smoke pot now in Seattle? The answer -- you
can certainly use marijuana in the privacy of your own home.
How about this one? What if the Seattle police had seized a bunch of
your marijuana before the law changed? Can you get that seized marijuana
back from the police? One word answer to that one is no.
How about this one? Will Seattle`s finest help federal agents with
criminal cases that involve small amounts of pot. Here`s a longer answer
and more legalese that this one, but here again the answer is no.
This my friends is a public service and it`s "Marijwhatnow"? It`s
everything you wanted to know about the complicated laws about pot now in
Seattle as presented by an alternative newspaper guy who now blogs for the
Seattle Police Department, along with this guy who is himself an actual
cop. They did this together. And they close their online "Marijwahtnow"
posed for their post with this video clip from the "Lord of the Rings".
Seattle Police Department, this is a needed service. Nobody has been
able to figure out what the law is. And what you have done to help people
figure out what the laws is makes sense and it is funny, and it has Gandalf
in it for no good reason other than you are being good humored about this
whole thing while you are providing a needed services.
Seattle P.D., this one thing about you is the best new thing in the
And that does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow night
from New York.
Now it`s time for, "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Have a great night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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