'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, June 1st, 2013
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
June 1, 2013
Guests: Shannyn Moore, Alec MacGillis, Pat Brady, L. Joy Williams, Blake Zeff, Errol Louis, Howard Wolfson, State Rep. Charles Armstrong
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Steve
A Reno, Oklahoma mayor, Matt White, told NBC News this morning that at
least five people are confirmed dead after a series of tornadoes ripped
through Central Oklahoma last night. The storm is now moving east expected
to stretch from Little Rock to Chicago by this afternoon. Heavy rainfall
and damaging winds are expected in Indianapolis with possible isolated
The storms have already caused flash flooding and extensive damage, leaving
nearly 95,000 people without power. These latest storms come less than two
weeks after a series of deadly tornadoes ravaged the town of Moore, suburb
of Oklahoma City, killing 24 people. Tornado also touched down near St.
Louis last night, prompting the cancelation of the St. Louis Cardinals
baseball game (INAUDIBLE) of injuries and damage.
For more on the deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma, we go now to NBC`s Mark
Potter who joins us live from Oklahoma City.
MARK POTTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Steve. The last thing that
Central Oklahoma need at this time was another round of tornadoes, but
that`s what they got. They cropped up yesterday afternoon into the
evening, out west of this area. They first hit in rural areas, and then,
in small towns and then made their way to the suburbs of Oklahoma City and
into the airport area.
The airport was closed down. All flights canceled. They`re still not
running at this time now. As you said, five people were killed, confirmed,
so far. Two of them include a woman and her infant killed in their car.
Three others also killed in their vehicles as the stiff winds overturn
trucks and cars and clogged up the highways.
Again, largely west of Oklahoma City. We know of 27 people who were taken
to the hospitals around here for treatment. Ten of them are still there.
Right now, we`re waiting to see what sort of physical damage there was.
The mayor here in Oklahoma City says it`s not too bad in this area.
There`s some flooding in the north end of the town, but the worst of the
damage, if -- is going to be to the west of this area.
In the areas of El Reno, Union City, perhaps, Yukon, we`re told, and the
areas in between those cities where we`re told that there is a damage to a
vocational school and also to some forms and other residents out in that
area. We`re going go out there and take a look ourselves.
The wind knocked down power lines, putting almost 100,000 people here
without power and then marched west and caused problems in other states.
So, the light is up now and the authorities are out just assessing all the
damage -- Steve.
KORNACKI: All right. NBC`s Mark Potter in Oklahoma City. Thank you for
Right now, I`m joined by Shannyn Moore who writes a weekly political column
for the "Anchorage Daily News" and hosts of the statewide TV show, "Moore
Up North" on KYUR in Alaska, Alec MacGillis, author of the new republics
new cover story, "This Is How The NRA Ends," the magazine`s senior editor.
Harold Wolfson, deputy mayor for government affairs and communications for
New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and Arkansas state representative,
Charles Armstrong, who represents parts of Little Rock and state
FBI agents questioned a man in New Boston, Texas yesterday in connection
with the three threatening letters mailed to President Obama, New York City
mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and Washington D.C. office of Bloomberg`s gun
control group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Letters were made public this
week. Two, so far, tested positive for the poison ricin, and a third, the
letter sent to Obama is still being tested.
The letter to Mayor Bloomberg read, quote, "You will have to kill me and my
family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get
shot in the face. Right to bear arms is my constitutional God-given right
and I will exercise that right until the day I die. What`s in this letter
is nothing compared to what I`ve got planned for you."
Three New York officers involved in the case experienced minor symptoms
from exposure to the low-grade ricin, but no one suffered serious injuries.
Bloomberg said Wednesday that his determination to push for tougher gun
laws was not shaken by the attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, (I) NEW YORK: The letter was obviously referred
to our anti-gun efforts, but there`s 12,000 people are going to get killed
this year with guns and 19,000 are going to commit suicide with guns and
we`re not going to walk away from those efforts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Bloomberg`s group has renewed its pressure campaign against
lawmakers who opposed gun control measures in Congress. A week ago, for
example, Mayors Against Illegal Guns started running a TV ad throughout
Arkansas, targeting Senator Mark Pryor, likely the most vulnerable
Democratic senator in the 2014 midterms who voted in April against the
bipartisan bill that would have expanded background checks for gun sales.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When my dear innocent friend was shot to death, I
didn`t blame guns. I blame the system that makes it so terribly easy for
criminals or the dangerous mentally ill to buy guns. That`s why I was so
disappointed when Mark Pryor voted against comprehensive background checks.
On that vote, he let us down. Tell Mark Pryor to take another look at
background checks, because we`re tired of being disappointed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The ad was designed specifically to chip away at Pryor`s support
among African-Americans who make up 14 percent of registered voters in the
state who are critical to Pryor`s re-election effort. Last month, Mark
Glaze, the director of Bloomberg`s group, told the Associated Press, quote,
"It`s hard for me to imagine a combination of constituencies that would get
Mark Pryor over the finish line if he doesn`t perform exceptionally well in
the African-American community."
Pryor, for his part, unveiled a counterattack yesterday, his first TV ad of
the 2014 cycle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK PRYOR, (D) ARKANSAS: The mayor of New York City is running ads
against me, because I oppose President Obama`s gun control legislation.
Nothing in the Obama plan would have prevented tragedies like Newtown,
Aurora, Tucson, or even Jonesboro. I`m committed to finding real solutions
to gun violence while protecting our Second Amendment rights.
I`m Mark Pryor. And I approve this message because no one from New York or
Washington tells me to what to do. I listen to Arkansas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: No one from New York tells him what to do. Howard Wolfson,
you`re from New York. You work for the mayor who helped with his ad in the
air (ph). What do you say when you see that?
HOWARD WOLFSON, NYC DEPUTY MAYOR: Well, I hope that he listens to, you
know 80 percent (ph) of Arkansans who would like him to have voted yes on
this piece of legislation. Mark Pryor has, in the past, had a bit of a
mixed record on gun safety measures. I think he considered the vote. He
obviously went the wrong way. We hope that he`ll consider. We hope that
the ad might prompt him to do that.
We hope that the ad will be watched by lots of people in Arkansas. I would
take some issue with one of the things you said, which is this is a massive
TV by in Arkansas. Everyone in Arkansas is going to see this ad, Black,
White, regardless of whether you`re Democrat or Republican. This is a
bipartisan issue there. It crosses racial lines, it crosses age lines, and
we hope that he will respond to the vast majority of Arkansans who would
like him to vote for it.
KORNACKI: We`ll talk more about the targeting of the ad in a second, but
generally speaking, yes, you put a lot of money behind this. And what`s
fascinating is, OK, right, Mark Pryor did not vote for background checks
last month. Like you said, his record on guns in the past has been mixed.
In 2004, the last time an assault weapons ban was up, Mark Pryor voted for
the assault weapons ban.
His overall rating from the NRA is a C-. So, he is not the NRA`s best
friend or he has not been the NRA`s best friend in the senate. The
alternative here, we`re not talking about a situation where there`s a
Democratic challenger, at least not yet, running to the left of Mark Pryor.
We`re talking about a situation where if Mark Pryor loses next year, you`re
going to get a Republican opponent who is definitely -- couldn`t possibly
to his left on guns. It is probably to his right.
Every Republican congressman in Arkansas gets an A from the NRA. So, I`m
not sure if you take Mark Pryor out here. Are you really helping yourself
if you replace him with a totally pro-gun far right Republican?
WOLFSON: Well, this is the issue on the table. This is the issue of the
moment. This is the most important issue that is before us around gun
safety. And, if Mark Pryor is voting no, from our perspective, he`s no
better or worse than a Republican who would vote no. Mayors Against
Illegal Guns is not a Republican organization. It`s not a Democratic
organization. Mike Bloomberg is an independent.
There are lots of Republicans and Democrats in the organization. We`re not
in the business of trying to elect a Democratic Senate or Republican
Senate. We are trying to get reasonable gun safety legislation through the
Senate, and we`re targeting both Republicans and Democrats. We`re running
three ads now in Republican states, Arizona and New Hampshire, targeting
Republican senators. One is targeting a Democrat. And we hope that they
KORNACKI: Jeff Flake in Arizona, Republican, but he`s not up until 2018.
Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire not up until 2016.
WOLFSON: Not a lot of vulnerable Republicans up in 2014. That`s just the
map. That`s reality.
KORNACKI: Right. You need to make an example somewhere.
WOLFSON: Mr. Pryor is vulnerable. He`s in real trouble. And, we hope
that he`ll take a look at this and change his mind. We hope that many of
the people or at least enough of the people who voted the wrong way will
change their mind based on what they`re hearing from their constituents.
If you look at polling in places where people voted no, their poll numbers
went down. Their poll numbers have gone down in places where people walked
away from reasonable gun safety.
They`ve gun down in places where we run these ads, when voters are informed
of what their senators did, they don`t like it. I think Mr. Pryor`s
numbers are going to go down. He`s up with an ad countering us.
Obviously, we expected that. I`m quite confident that we have the
resources to keep doing what we`re doing.
I don`t know whether he does, that will be up to him. He will have a
Republican opponent. In fact, he`s getting hit by a right-wing group on
another issue now. If he`s getting squeezed from the, quote/unquote "left"
on gun issues, squeezed from the right on issues, he may have a real
KORNACKI: So, Charles, this is your state. Mark Pryor, Democratic
senator, your party, your state. What do you make of what Mayor Bloomberg
STATE REP. CHARLES ARMSTRONG, (D) ARKANSAS: Well, Mayor Bloomberg`s group,
they`re looking at ways to probably come out and make sure that we have
plenty of gun safety laws on the book and Mark did vote -- he voted against
the -- I believe it was Manchin/Toomey --
KORNACKI: The background check bill.
ARMSTRONG: Yes, the background check bill. And also, one reason that he
stated in Arkansas that the reason why he voted against it was because it
was too broad. It didn`t really get down to the nuts and bolts in the
background check. So, that`s to be seen --
KORNACKI: How did that vote go over in the Democratic Party in Arkansas
seeing, you know, Democratic senator from Arkansas voting against
background check? What has been the mood of Democratic Party after that?
Is it, you know, we got to make this guy pay for it or is it, hey, that`s
what you`ve got to do to succeed and win in an election at a Democrat in
ARMSTRONG: Well, I don`t think it`s a real move. I think people are
studying, trying to see what to do about this issue at this time.
KORNACKI: Alec, your cover story this week is the end of the NRA.
ALEC MACGILLIS, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Right.
KORNACKI: And I look at that and I say, well, you clearly have money here
on the sort of pro-gun control side that we haven`t seen before, but, the
context for all this is we`re talking about the failure of the background
checks bill, you know, in April. So, that was sort of an example of the
NRA still being very powerful.
MACGILLIS: But I would say that the fact that we`re having this ongoing
fight now in Arkansas and other states is a sign that things really have
changed, that everyone thought this was just dead when the bill failed.
But it`s still -- we`re still talking about it. It might be coming up for
a vote in July. And you now have the actual discussion of fallout in these
states. You didn`t use to have that back in the date. The NRA would just
win and that was it.
And just the fact that you now have an attempt to hold people accountable
for the role (ph) on the other side is fascinating. I mean, you didn`t
have the resources before for that. And you also didn`t have the sort of
the grassroots reaction. There was a real kind of almost a revolution (ph)
against that law among -- against that vote from a lot of people. What do
you mean? This thing that was supported by 80, 90 percent of people
doesn`t get through in the Senate?
I mean, that`s just wrong. So, what I saw up there was just a real -- just
a backlash in a lot of places. And now, you have the money actually to
back that backlash up. Now, there is, as you point out, there`s this
tension about how you do this. I mean, there`s a question of is it -- does
it make sense to go after Democrats when Republicans would be no better?
But I think what the mayor`s group is trying to do is just change the
calculus on this and to get people -- get elected officials thinking twice.
It used to be the easy, safe thing to do is to vote with the gun lobby.
Now, you`re trying to get people in most states to think, you know what,
maybe I should go the other way.
Maybe the self-interested smarter thing is to go with -- for reasonable gun
control and that`s what they`re trying to do right here. It really is a
KORNACKI: We flew Shannyn 12 hours from Alaska, but Alaska another one of
these red states, rural states, states with a strong gun tradition with the
Democratic senator, Democratic senator who`s up next year, who voted
against background checks. I want to talk to you about how his vote is
playing in Alaska and how 2014 is shaping up for him because of it after
KORNACKI: I was just -- Shannyn was starting to talk about Mark Begich,
the Democratic senator from Alaska, elected in 2008, up for re-election
next year. We say Mark Pryor is the most vulnerable Democrat. Maybe it`s
a tie with Mark Begich in Alaska. You know, very Republican state. I
think it`s voted for one Democrat if it present its entire history. That
was LBJ landslide in 1964.
He used to be -- Mark Begich was a mayor before he was United States. He
was a member of Mayor Bloomberg`s group, Mayors Against Gun Violence, and
yet, he voted against background check last month or in April. How is that
playing in Alaska and how are the attacks from groups like Bloomberg`s
playing in Alaska?
SHANNYN MOORE, ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS: Well, it`s interesting. I mean, the
Alaska gun culture. I mean, I think there`s a lot of discovery shows about
all the hunting and all -- you know, the lifestyle there. And so, people
are really familiar with guns. It`s not as big and hairy deal there. It`s
just part of your life.
But even 60 percent of Alaskans support background checks. So, I was
really surprised at Senator Begich`s vote. And, he told me that I
shouldn`t be, because he`s always been consistent on his gun views for 25
years. And I was like, well, you know, we ask people to evolve all the
time on issues. There`s LGBT rights or whatever like you need to evolve on
this a little bit and try to push them.
I actually think that what Bloomberg`s group is doing is actually helping
Mark Begich in the state of Alaska. I really do. I think it`s sort of
like what we saw with Pryor`s ad was like they`re not going to tell me what
KORNACKI: So, the issue doesn`t -- that`s what I`m kind of curious about
because with 90 percent was the figure we were talking about. Ninety
percent of people support background checks. How could anybody vote
against this? You know, it should be a no-brainer.
It polls a little less than that in Alaska, but at some point, the issue
stops being in terms of how it gets filtered in the political system, it
stops being literally about background checks and sort of almost like
tribalism takes over. You know, we`re gun state, we`re gun voters, we`re
Second Amendment voters.
And you`re sort of saying that being attacked by the liberal mayor of New
York City when you`re in rural, you know, gun friendly in Alaska, you can
sort of turn the issue (ph) and say, hey, I`m standing up to the big city
of liberals. Is that --
MOORE: Right. Like they`re not - I`m still like you. I haven`t forgotten
who I am and he`s actually running ads saying that all the time. Right
now, he`s been running them. So, he`s really playing for the middle, more
middle of Alaska. The people who got him elected aren`t real happy with
him. There are letters to the editor all the time saying, you know, I
walked door-to-door for you, I`m not going do that again.
And you know, I think people are just reacting and being upset and putting
this out, because there`s no way in God`s green Earth that they`re going to
be like, OK, I`m so mad at Mark Begich over this gun vote. Please, God,
let me vote for Joe Miller. Nobody is going to do that.
WOLFSON: That`s not the expectation, but I mean, I`ve been doing this long
enough. I`ve been doing it for midterm elections to know what happens in
midterm elections. It turned out drops off, and it really becomes a
question of who`s motivated enough to go out and vote in a midterm where
turnout is much less than it is in a presidential year.
And you don`t have -- in places like Arkansas, you don`t have to have many
Democrats sort of say, you know what, Mark Pryor has really kind of turned
his back on his values. He`s turned his back on my values. And on
Election Day, I`m not going to go out and vote for the Republican, but
maybe I`ll just stay home.
You don`t need many of those people to result in a loss. That race is
going to be decided by one or two or three points. It`s going to be that
close. He can`t afford to have progressive Democrats or even mainstream
Democrats take a look at him and --
KORNACKI: There`s a fascinating statistic about -- you`re talking about a
turnout. That`s why we mentioned in the intro, Mark Glaze from your group
saying specifically that you`re interested in attacking African-American
voters in Arkansas. But what`s interesting statistic on this was in 2012,
if you look at the mobilization of African-American voters by the Obama
campaign, they got 77 percent turnout (ph) among African-Americans in North
Carolina, the swing state of North Carolina.
In Arkansas, the turnout was only 47 percent. So, Charles, it does seem,
when you`re a Democrat trying to win in Arkansas, you need not just heavy
support from African-Americans, you need heavy turnout from African-
Americas. And you know, the president now is, you know, closely associated
obviously with the push for more gun control.
Does that hurt Mark Pryor`s standing among African-Americans that he`s
opposing the president on this, that`s opposing his, you know, his party in
Washington on this? Where does Mark Pryor stand right now in Arkansas
among African-Americans. What`s the enthusiasm for him?
ARMSTRONG: This is midterm, and African-Americans are going to be looking
for issues. They don`t have a real, I guess, you could say somebody to
really bring them out. And they`re going to be really looking at the
issues. Arkansas is a rural state and you don`t have too many Black gun
enthusiasts in the state of Arkansas.
So, Mark is going to have to go out and try to win that group, (INAUDIBLE),
and get them out to vote. That`s the main thing in Arkansas, getting the
people out to vote at midterm.
ARMSTRONG: And because of NRA and Mayor Bloomberg`s group -- see, Mayor
Bloomberg put some balance in. NRA had control in the state of Arkansas
prior to this. And so, the mayor`s group put more balance into the
situation. So, people are going to have to look and listen to -- to look
close and check people`s voting records to see where they stand on
different issues and question them during their campaign.
KORNACKI: Alec wants to get in right after this.
KORNACKI: All right. Alec, you were about to say?
MACGILLIS: I was going to say that I think what`s so fascinating about
that Pryor ad that came out yesterday is that far from trying to sort of
rally his face or shore (ph) up his face for the midterm. As you said, he
needs these folks to come out. The ad really kind of actively pushes away
at them. I mean, he`s talking about President Obama -- I did not support
President Obama`s gun control proposal.
He`s getting this attack from the, you know, from the left, from the gun
control side, from the mayor`s group. And instead of trying to shore up
against that attack and say, well, you know, I thought it was an OK bill
but not the best bill, that kind of defense, he`s instead just going the
other way. And he really seems to think that his biggest challenge in the
midterm is getting sort of the broad, sort of red state middle in Arkansas.
And, he doesn`t seem that worried about his flank. I would say that that`s
probably overconfident. I mean, he does need to worry about people coming
out in -- vote on Midterm. And he doesn`t -- what that ad is not helping
him in that regard.
KORNACKI: Yes. Well, Dave Wasserman (ph) who does numbers export for --
or wrote about this the other day that this pattern has sort of emerged in
the last decade in elections where this rising base of the Democratic
Party, the coalition to the ascendants (ph) to turn that`s been thrown
around to describe it.
You know, young voters, non-white voters, these are voters who really are
not coming out in midterm elections yet. And so, if you`re a Democrat,
especially in a red state or swing state, you`re up for election in a non-
presidential election year, your calculation at least right now the way
these turnout patters are working is to be playing -- is to be going after
sort of the older voters, a little bit more Republican winning voters,
because they`re the ones who are more likely to turn out.
But like in -- Mark Pryor, you know, he said last year in the presidential
race, he didn`t care whether Obama or Romney wins. So, that`s a guy who
clearly is thinking about this, but it`s interesting, you know, he is
looking for cover clearly from groups like the NRA to appeal to more
Republican friendly voters in Arkansas, and what`s most notable (ph), he`s
not getting it.
When Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire voted against background checks, and she
started taking, you know, taking hit from gun control, the NRA went up
there and put an ad up on her behalf. There`s no ad from the NRA in
Arkansas. There`s no ad from the NRA in Alaska.
You guys went after Joe Baca, the congressman -- Democratic congressman in
California last year, Howard. You guys went after him. The NRA wasn`t
there for him. He was there for them for years. What does that tell us
about the NRA?
WOLFSON: Well, I hope it sends a message to Democrats. I mean, obviously,
there`s a -- the whole Republican side of this conversation we haven`t
gotten through, but I hope it sends a message to Democrats that the NRA
might not be for you if you`ve been for them. That they will walk away
from you. And, you know, Democrats who are looking -- the vast majority of
Democrats in the Senate voted for the bill which was great.
The vast majority of the Democrats in the House support the bill, which is
great. But, in order to get to 60, we need more of them. And we`re not
going away. We`re going to keep making the case. Alec was exactly right.
In the past, you have these votes. The NRA would win and our side of the
ledger would kind of walk away with our heads down and we`ve got the
resources to continue the fight.
And we`re not going away, and there are millions of Americans who don`t
want us to go away. They want us to keep making the argument, taking the
fight to these folks until we get some real change.
KORNACKI: Well, and it feels like you need -- talk about not having enough
targets for 2014 to make examples on your left going after a Democratic
senator, a red state where the effect would be to a left and right wing
Republican, because you have no other choices. What happens, though, if --
we`re talking about now Manchin/Toomey being revived in the Senate.
What happens if Kelly Ayotte changes her mind because of the pressure?
What happens if a few other senators change their mind? This gets through
the Senate, and you somehow were able to get a House vote on it. It maybe
doesn`t pass the House. Republicans vote no on it, but that opens up.
That would seem for me that opens up a whole new world of possibilities for
WOLFSON: We`re going look at House districts regardless of whether or not
there`s a House vote. Let`s be clear. We`re not just going to look at
Democrats in the Senate. We`re going to look at Republicans in the Senate,
and, although there are certainly more Democratic targets in the Senate,
we`re going to look at Republicans in the house, too. There is a bill.
We`ll see who`s co-sponsoring that bill, and obviously, if there`s a vote,
that will be a clear indication.
But, no -- look, I am confident that if we can get to the House, that there
will be 218 votes in the house. There are enough districts in this
country, including Republican districts, suburban Republican districts
where this is an 80/20 or 90/10 issue. So, we`ve got to get those 60 votes
in the Senate, then we`re on to the house.
I think we get to 18 votes in the House. But, to be clear, regardless,
we`re going to be looking at House targets as well as Senate targets.
MOORE: I really think what the mayor`s group has done has shown the NRA
for what they are, which is this very, very partisan -- I mean, it`s not
about issues, because if you`re a Democrat like Senator Begich and you
voted the way the NRA wants you to, the most you can hope for is that they
don`t put out a flyer that says, you know, F- about you or endorse your --
whoever is opposing you.
I mean, you are not going to get any money. You`re not going to get any
support. Maybe you just won`t get targeted by them. And that`s -- that`s
the best you can hope for with what would be an A rating from the NRA?
That`s ridiculous. And so, what I think with the mayor`s group has done is
to really show, look, this is about our issue.
We`re going to go after you if you`re Republican, we`re going to go after
you if you`re Democrat, we`re going to go after you if you oppose this
measure for us. And I think, maybe, shifting the conversation like you`re
talking about, shifting the focus about what this is really about, and I`m
pretty sure -- I mean, if I was a gun manufacturer, I would have donated to
Obama. I would have voted for him, because he`s made them more money than
anybody has ever made them.
KORNACKI: Right. My thanks to Arkansas state representative, Charles
Armstrong. The biggest political figure in the small state made an
enormous gamble this week. I`ll explain next.
KORNACKI: When you think of Rhode Island, what do you think of? Maybe you
think of its nickname, Little Rhody, the tiniest state, smaller than
Delaware, but twice the heart of Texas. I just made that up, but
hopefully, it works. You maybe you think of its state university mascot,
the ram, the fighting ram, or, it could be that you think of coffee milk,
sweet, delicious coffee milk.
It`s coffee syrup, it`s milk. At long last, they`re magically united. You
can`t get it in New York, you can`t get it in California, you can`t get it
anywhere else in the world, but go to your friendly neighborhood grocery in
Cranston and there it is. Coffee milk. Or, maybe you don`t think of any
of this. Maybe you`re just -- you`re a political dark and you think of
Rhode Island as a blue state, a very, very blue state.
They voted for Barack Obama by 28 points in 2012. That`s his third best
margin in the country. It has voted Democratic in nine of the last ten
presidential elections and if you switch to 7,500 votes in the Reagan
landslide of 1984, it would be ten for the last 10 elections. But here`s
Rhode Island, a state as blue as the ocean off its coast, has been led for
the past two decades by a string of governors who are not members of the
Democratic Party. But that streak came crashing to a halt this past
Thursday when Governor Lincoln Chaffy officially changed his voter
registration from independent to Democratic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. LINCOLN CHAFEE, RHODE ISLAND: I always was looking for a political
home and seeing the Democratic governors work on the important issues of
the day when I just talked to Gov. Shumlin. He said -- I said, "what were
you doing this past week," and he said, "well, we had a bunch of Democratic
governors working on the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. That`s just what
I want to be doing, part of that team making life better for Americans."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: This is actually the second time Chafee has done something like
this in recent years. You probably remember that he used to be a
Republican, a liberal Republican, the kind of Republican that used to be as
plentiful in New England as Dunkin Donuts` franchises. He inherited a
Senate sheet from his father. That was John Chafee, another liberal
Republican in 1999.
He voted against the Bush tax cuts in 2001. He voted against the Iraq war.
He refused to endorse Bush for re-election in 2004. He said that the Bush
White House was defined by, quote, "an agenda of energizing the far-right
wing base," which is divisive. It made him popular in his state, at least,
personally. Chafee`s favorable score was around 60 percent when he ran for
election to the Senate in 2006.
But in Rhode Island, that "R" next to his name was electoral poison, and he
lost anyway. Chafee got a point. Little Rhody really doesn`t like to vote
for Republicans even Republicans it likes. So, he left the GOP in 2007.
He declared himself an independent and then he ran for governor in 2010.
And a big reason why he won that race, well, that was the president of the
Chafee had served in the Senate with Barack Obama, then he`d endorsed him
in 2008. And remember, Obama`s calling card in 2008 was supposed to be his
post partisan appeal. So, Chafee`s endorsement helps him burnish that
image. He was a prominent non-Democrat vouching for Obama`s ability to
reach across the aisle.
It was because of this that when Chafee`s Democratic opponent in the 2010
governor`s race came looking for a public endorsement from Obama, Obama
said no. He had too much respect for his friend, Lincoln Chafee. A
Democratic candidate then uttered a truly memorable line. "The president,"
he said, to anyone who will listen could, quote, "take his endorsement and
Now, today, Chafee needs President Obama even more than he did in 2010.
It`s because his first term has not been pretty. He may be the least
popular governor in America, a 40-point negative job approval score. This
is how to understand Lincoln Chafee`s latest switch from independent to the
Democratic Party. Look at it this way. If Chafee runs for re-election
next year as independent, he`s cooked.
With an approval rating like he has, he won`t be the first choice of many
voters. But, by joining the Democrats, he gives himself a fighting chance.
Well, maybe not a fighting chance but at least a theoretical chance. There
are already a couple of Democrats with serious support who are likely to
run in the race.
And if they do, both of them, there might, might be an opening for Chafee
to sneak by, maybe with, I don`t know, 35 percent of the vote. Just enough
that he could eke out a win in the primary. Then, it would be Lincoln
Chafee running as the Democratic nominee in a deeply Democratic state
against a Republican.
That is also going to be a third party candidate in the race, but we`ll
forget about that for now. We`re already way too into the weeds on this.
The point is that Chafee, if were -- it could be like the opposite of 2006.
Voters wouldn`t like him that much, but would they not like him so much
that they then vote for Republican? So, now, with that in mind, listen
closely to how Chaffee explained his switch this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHAFEE: Seeing President Obama come in and doing the things he`s doing for
the country, that`s a big reason I want to enthusiastically join the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And there it is. That is the real bet he`s making. Chafee
wants, Chafee needs the president to be with him. An endorsement in the
Democratic Party would be ideal. Neutrality from the White House, the kind
of neutrality that might stop big time donors from giving to any other
Democrat in the race is the bear minimum he`s looking for here.
The bet is that by joining the Democratic Party, Chafee will make it easier
for Obama to help him and harder to refuse him. But who knows if the
president will play along. He issued a statement this week, welcoming,
quote, "My friend, Linc, to the party," but that statement came with no
promise of any real help.
There`s also real backfire potential here. This is Chafee`s second
dramatic party affiliation change in six years. It may start to look a
little too calculated, a little too unseenly to voters like it did when
Arlen Specter switch from the Republican Party to the Democrats in 2009.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My change in party will enable me to be re-elected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Arlen, poor Arlen, he forgot the first rule of switching
parties, you never explain your calculation out loud. That line was used
against him in campaign ads 2010, and it was devastating. He lost the
Democratic primary. In one way, Lincoln Chafee`s party switch is a perfect
demonstration of how American politics are evolving. We used to have
liberal Republicans in the northeast, conservative Democrats in the south,
lots of mixing between the parties, but that`s the past.
Today, liberals are all in one party and conservatives are all in another.
Chafee just took a little while to catch up. What his move is really
about? It`s what party switches are usually about, is survival. Joe
Miller is back in Alaska. What it means for Republicans and other states?
KORNACKI: Senator Mark Begich is supposed to be one of the most vulnerable
Democrats in 2014. He was elected by just over a one point margin in 2008
to represent Alaska, state so Republican that it`s only voted for one
Democratic presidential candidate in its entire history, and that was all
the way back in1964.
But enter from stage right or maybe stage far right, Joe Miller. You might
remember Miller as one of the chief symbols of the Tea Party insurgency in
2010. He pulled off one of the biggest shockers of the year. He beat
incumbent Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski, in a GOP primary, putting at
risk for the party what should have a totally safe seat.
(INAUDIBLE) he ended up winning re-election as a write-in candidate and
continued caucusing with the GOP and the Senate. So, it didn`t end up
hurting them. But, "Politico" reported on Tuesday that Miller has filed
papers with the Federal Election Commission stating his intent to run for
the Senate once again, this time, for Begich`s seat next year.
There is still a chance that a more electable candidate like Alaska Lt.
Gov. Mead Treadwell will get in the race, too. Treadwell has previously
said that Miller would be, quote, "the best gift Mark Begich could have
gotten." Whatever happens in Alaska, though, Joe Miller represents a
larger threat for a Republican Party that is now struggling to recruit
mainstream Senate candidates in swing states.
"National Journal" managing editor, Josh Kraushaar, noted the swing state
problem in a column Thursday, writing, quote, "It`s awfully telling that
Republican Senate candidates have already lined up in many of the deeply
conservative states up for grabs, but there`s comfortably little movement
Talk about two Americas. You`re seeing this in Colorado where Congressman
Cory Gardner, a candidate national Republicans badly wanted to run for the
Senate next year because they see him as electable has begged off saying,
"I`m not in a hurry to run for another office." There`s also Iowa.
Another key swing state that`s vital to the GOPs hopes of winning back the
Senate or another supposedly electable GOP Senate prospect, Congressman Tom
Latham, backed out as well.
He said, quote, "I cannot, in good conscience, launch a two-year state wide
campaign." But was probably scared off by the prospect of a messy primary
with Congressman Steve King, a Tea Party favorite who regularly makes
national headlines with inflammatory pronouncements, but now it turns out
that even Steve King doesn`t want to run for the Senate next year.
He explained it this way recently. "I cannot, in good conscience," there`s
that term again, "turn my back on the destiny decisions of Congress.
Back with us at the table, we have Shannyn Moore, an Alaska broadcaster and
columnist with the "Anchorage Daily News," Alec MacGillis with The New
Republica, then I want to bring in Pat Brady, former chairman of the
Illinois republican party, and Eljoy Williams, political strategist and
director of Dale Thompson`s campaign for New York City mayor in 2009.
So, there are a lot of different pieces here. I think, this ends up being
a story that`s partly about -- about Alaska, but really about the nation,
but I want to start in Alaska. And we have someone perfect here to talk
about this. She`s from Alaska. Shannyn, Joe Miller looks like he`s
running for the Senate. He hasn`t said too much yet about the official
launch or whatever, but it looks like he`s running.
You know, he won the nomination last time. Should we consider him the
favorite for the Republican nomination this time?
MOORE: You know, I think people should take it a little bit more
seriously. I mean, I think he can win that primary. Clearly, he did
before. At least, Murkowski didn`t think he could. But his race against
Lisa was really part of this family feud between the Palins and the
Murkowskis. If you remember, Sarah Palin, you know, won governor by
primaring Frank Murkowski.
And then, she basically funded and pushed Joe Miller up there in the front
to go after Lisa. So, we`ll just figure out how much that vendetta is
still going for her, because she does still have money. She doesn`t have
any clout there, but she has money.
KORNACKI: Well, I guess, I wonder, too, has there been any shift in the
mood of the Republican Party in Alaska after what happened in 2010 seeing
that, hey, look, this was a mess, we almost lost a seat.
MOORE: Well, there`s been several coups that have happened within the
Republican Party. They`ve had three different new leaders in the last 14
months, I think. And it`s been the Tea Party types. They`re the ones that
get their people to go, and they don`t want to do this caucus thing, and
then, you know, the money people that are in the party, pull all the money
and say they`re not fundraising and then they get a new one six months
later and then a new ones, you know, a couple of months later.
And they just had a new vice chair that they put on who`s like a racist.
He`s a racist against native Alaskan people. And, he was, you know, given
a commission or appointed last year and he had to withdraw his name because
of the absolute racism --
KORNACKI: Just for people who aren`t familiar -- when you`re saying racist
against native Alaskans, what is that (ph)?
MOORE: He said that we needed to cut any sort of dental funding to native
Alaskans, you know, indigenous Alaskans so that they can become civilized
citizens. He`s made all kinds of derogatory statements about them. This
is the guy who`s the vice chair of their party now.
So, the Tea Party keeps doing these little coups within the Republican
Party and the establishment, which is the Lisa Murkowskis and the Mead
Treadwells like you said. Mead Treadwell not really exciting. Joe Miller
actually gets people excited because it`s freedom, Steve. It`s freedome.
KORNACKI: He gave one interview this week. I think this was by phone on
the Fox Business Channel or Fox, I forgot which one. We`ll find out in a
minute. This was his -- this was what he said this week when he was
interviewed about potentially running for the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF JOE MILLER, ALASKA POLITICIAN: For us, it`s Obamacare. That`s a
huge issue. I think there`s a major opportunity given the stand with the
IRS to really get -- try to abolish that agency. I think Americans are now
more open to that than ever before. Fiscal responsibility, critical.
Monetary policy, and of course, state`s right. I mean, that is a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Lucky guess it was the Fox Business Channel. But so -- I mean,
this is -- you know, Shannyn is saying this is what`s exciting Republican
voters` path (ph). And I think we`ve seen this in a number of Republican
primaries across the country in 2010, 2012 respectively and 2014, where a
message like this, it`s around Obama -- repeal Obamacare, you know, get rid
of the IRS, the sort of the fixation on monetary policy.
It`s a little bit of polls in there maybe, but this is what`s exciting.
The republican base -- that seems like it`s a problem for your party.
PAT BRADY, FMR. ILLINOIS GOP CHAIRMAN: It certainly was in 2012. We saw
what happened with Aiken and Murdoch and even Joe Walsh in my home state
that did cost (ph) us seats. A couple of things. I think that the -- if
you want to call them establishment, people recognize. If they`re going to
win, they have to get an organization together. It can`t just be on name,
I.D. and money.
And they recognize that the people, the Millers (ph), that might actually
pull an election off by getting that 38, 39 percent, the only way they can
be stop is with an organization. But I think this is a natural process and
a party that had its brains kicked in the last election.
We could flash back to 1988 and we could talk about Democrats and the
liberals and what the parties are looking for is a leader like Bill
Clinton, a Bill Clinton-like leader, that`s going to come out and unify the
party around the course out of principles.
And I was in Iowa with my buddy, Matt Strong (ph), a former Iowa chairman
watching Scott Walker deliver his speech to Tea Party people, to
establishment people, and his message of optimism, of relevance, and
encourage for the Republican Party going forward resonates across the
And I think people like that maybe Chris Christie, some of these people,
will unify Republicans and give us some good candidates, and 16 (ph) will
help and 14 (ph). And final point is, the Tea Party to me, the difference
now is, remember the history of it started in Chicago, screaming about the
stimulus package, spending too much money? What we`re seeing now is a
scandal that everybody hates or scandals that everybody hates, the IRS,
potentially Benghazi and A.P. And when people scream about that, it`s not
just Tea Party people, it`s people in the middle and the left. So, there
are different issues --
KORNACKI: There are some issues there about whether this is -- whether
these scandals or whoever -- are resonating across party lines and that
could implicate 2014, too. We`ll get into that --
BRADY: Much more so than the ability of people to caricature Tea Party
people. That`s one party or one issue -- excuse me, one issue type people
screaming about one thing. There`s a lot of bipartisan anger over some of
KORNACKI: Well, there are a lot of questions about the IRS one. I mean,
the one that sort of jumps out to me is when I hear the right fixating on
Benghazi. And we --
BRADY: Benghazi, not so much. But the IRS cuts to the fundamental core of
what people --
KORNACKI: But then, there gets to be a dispute -- there`s a scandal at the
agency of the IRS, but is that administration`s scandal --
BRADY: I`m not putting this on Obama. It`s on the argument that --
KORNACKI: -- for 2014 if Republicans try too hard to put this on Obama
when there`s nothing there to put on Obama. Do you have the risk --
KORNACKI: We will talk about that after this. We have plenty of time.
KORNACKI: So, talking a little bit about Joe Miller, and you know, Shannyn
made the point about how the rhetoric he uses, the hemes that he stresses
really does excite the Republican base. And you know, and Shannyn, I know
this is something we don`t just see in Alaska. We don`t just see in red
I mean, I`m thinking of what happened in New York here in 2010, Carl
Paladino, a very far right Republican, was able to win the gubernatorial
primary. He was -- I mean, I don`t know if anybody could have beaten
Andrew Cuomo that year, but he was a particular disaster. It`s something
that happens in a lot of days. It makes life easy for Democrats who get --
who won against these candidates.
L. JOY WILLIAMS, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Right. Well, I mean, the first
thing we have to remember is that there`s voter apathy across the country,
period. And so, when you identify issues that may rile people at their
core, whether it`s a Tea Party or at a progressive issues, it pushes people
to get more active and be involved. And therefore, they come out more,
So, you`re looking at Kyle Wright in Virginia and other places, you have
people who are riled up to their core on their core beliefs, on political
issues, and so, they are going to participate more. And so, I think what
in the Republican Party now what you had is, you know -- and voter apathy
is across parties. It doesn`t matter, right?
But you have people who are more engaged and being the part right of the
party right now and that`s why you`re sort of seeing more of those
candidates pop up, because those are people who are going to continue to
keep those headlines in the paper. They`re going to be active. They`re
going to come to conventions. They`re going to elect their candidates and
that`s what we`re really seeing here.
Now, to your point, it`s going to take someone to sort of bring everybody
together and have this messaging on how you can have together the far right
and middle of the road Republicans and be able to come around some cohesive
issues, and right now, you don`t. You have people --
BRADY: And that`s exactly what Clinton did. There`s going to a moment
here one of these guys stands up and says, we want you guys with us,
meaning left in this case. We want you with us. We respect you, but
enough of this. And we can`t -- we`ve got to get that 36, 38 percent in
the middle. And we represent all of America. And that`s what Clinton did
so well and I think that we`re going to have to do as Republicans --
KORNACKI: And the big risk is the Republican who stands up and says that
immediately gets cast out as, you know, traitor to the cause.
BRADY: Clinton didn`t, though. Clinton didn`t. And I think that`s what -
WILLIAMS: It was on the left.
BRADY: It encourages one of the things that walker is talking about and if
he talked about an optimistic-forward looking message, it can be done.
It`s not easy.
MOORE: How can the Republican Party -- I mean, how can you say here`s a --
that`s what they need to do when they won`t even work across party lines on
basic things right now? How could they possibly do that?
KORNACKI: Shannon, great question, and it`s a question we`re going to pick
up on right after this.
KORNACKI: Hello from New YorkI`m Steve Kornacki.
Here with Shannyn Moore, columnist with "The Anchorage Daily News"; Alec
MacGillis from "The New Republic"; Pat Brady, former chairman of the
Illinois Republican Party; and political strategist L. Joy Williams.
I want to check in on the tornadoes. After last night`s tornado strikes,
Mayor Matt White of El Reno told NBC News this morning that at least five
people are now confirmed dead and Oklahoma City`s hospitals report
receiving 104 patients overnight.
Severe weather is expected to continue across the Midwest today in Little
Rock, Chicago and Indianapolis. Storms have already caused flooding and
extensive damage, leaving nearly 95,000 people without power.
For more on the deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma, we go now to NBC`s Janet
Shumlin, who joins us live from Oklahoma City where she rode out the storms
in the city airport`s underground tunnel -- Janet.
JANET SHUMLIN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Steve. Good morning.
Yes, it`s sunrise here. People are getting their first look at the damage
from last night. But this is going to turn out to be a major flood event.
There`s high water in a number of places.
I`m standing next to the Cox Convention Center where we`re told the
underground parking garage filled with cars has water up to the roof. So,
everyone has to get a first look at things.
I think the bigger damage toll is on people`s psyche. This community has
been through this drill the better part of two weeks. These watches and
warnings, severe weather day after day, and yet again, yesterday when those
warnings came out, some people did not heed them. They were on Interstate
40. That`s where we had two of those five deaths that you mentioned.
And as we stand this morning, we`re expecting more severe weather this
afternoon. So, right now, it`s just people taking stock of what`s happened
here and trying to plan for the next day or two, hoping we don`t have this
again -- Steve.
KORNACKI: All right. NBC`s Janet Shamlian in Oklahoma City -- thank you.
Boy, I hope this is the last this city has to deal with for years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put it in perspective.
KORNACKI: Yes, truly.
Well, picking up where we left off in the end of last hour, Shannyn put a
question to Pat. I said we will get to it, but in case people forgot,
Shannyn, if you want to ask the question one more time, we`ll get Pat to
SHANNYN MOORE, ANCHORAGE DEAILY NEWS: Well, Pat is saying, you know, that
the right needs their own version of Clinton. And, frankly, I mean he`s
way too far, far left, I think, even now for the Democrats where they`ve
been pulled over by the Republican Party.
But when you say that, I mean, that sounds really great. But when you look
at what has happened in Washington, what is happening in state legislatures
across the country and what is sort of ALEC (ph) fed right now, which is,
you know, just say no, just say no to the president, say no to that party
over there and you`ll hold your ground. That`s how you`re going to show
And you`re saying we need a leader to do this other thing. Who are they
going lead? There`s nobody on your side that I`m seeing right now.
I mean, look what happened to Chris Christie when he was like, well, Obama
is doing a hell of a job here, he`s helping me out. And people are like
PAT BRADY, FORMER ILLINOIS GOP CHAIRMAN: I don`t agree with you. I think
in a lot of the state legislatures, the 30 state Republican governors, 700
new legislatures we elected in 2010, I think they are doing things.
I agree there are people on the far right that get way too much attention
and don`t represent the mainstream of the Republican Party and principles
that we represent, which is primarily economic growth, let`s get people
back to work, let`s get our kids educated.
MOORE: All we`re getting is like vagina control bills.
BRADY: Well, on the social issue, I agree, completely. Put them to bed
MOORE: Put them to bed and if they get pregnant we`ll tell you what to do.
BRADY: Put them away, bad, bad.
But if we focus on the issues, the economic issues, the education issues,
the crime issues, the national security issues, we do very, very well.
And, you know, I don`t necessarily agree this is a do-nothing Congress. I
think there have been plans put forward. The president gets engaged if you
want to get things done.
L. JOY WILLIAMS, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: See this one in terms of you want
to focus on economics. At the same time, the Republican Party have this
pointed outreach to more people of color with the change of demographics.
Now, here`s the issue, you have unemployment rate that`s been at 13 percent
for African-American males for a long time. And yet, the Republican Party
doesn`t see a way to engage people of color, to engage African-American
males on that point. Democrats aren`t doing that either.
BRADY: I agree.
WILLIAMS: Here`s an issue at your core.
BRADY: Senator Durbin and Senator Kirk of Illinois coming out with a gang
strategy, federal gang strategy to get rid of the gang problem, which is
primarily affecting African-Americans in the city of Chicago. And Bobby
Rush on the far left had some really nasty things about them doing that.
That`s an example of partisanship, a Republican and a Democrat --
KORNACKI: We started this segment with Joe Miller. And I think Joe Miller
is really emblematic of what I think is the core problem for the Republican
Party right now, and why it`s tough and why you don`t see that many
Republicans who want to work cooperatively with the president. That
doesn`t mean surrender to president. That means work cooperatively,
functionally like legislators are supposed.
And I think the problem is Joe Miller represents, first of all, a strain of
thought that`s very prevalent in the Republican Party. It`s not everybody
in the Republican Party, there are plenty of people who don`t think like
Joe Miller, but there are plenty who do and get excited by this.
What that means you take politicians, Republican politicians, who don`t
necessarily agree with Joe Miller and they feel the need to cater to that.
They feel threatened by it. They feel if I don`t speak the same way that
Joe Miller speaks, if I don`t advocate for the issues, then I`m going to be
the next Lisa Murkowski, I`m going to lose the primary. I`m going to be
Mike Castle in Delaware, and I`m going to lose to Christine O`Donnell, if I
don`t do this.
So, it sort of creates a situation, first of all, if I run to for office, I
have to go far right. If I get elected, if I then win the primary, I`m
going to be tarred as a member of the far, far right party in the general
election. If I get elected, I have to vote like Joe Miller because I have
to worry about my next Republican primary. It just creates this sort of
top to bottom -- that`s where the dysfunction comes from.
ALEX MACGILLIS, THE NEW REPUBLIC: I think this is why the whole IRS
scandal, or controversy, whatever you want to call it, is really sort of a
mixed blessing for the Republican Party. It`s a real problem for the White
House. At the same time it`s fired up the Tea Party part of the Republican
Party at the very moment when Republicans are trying to move beyond that,
move beyond the Mourdocks, and Akins, and the Christine O`Donnells.
Here you have the scandal that comes along that just completely fires up
the Tea Party again. I mean, they are being targeted by the IRS. There`s
nothing you can imagine that would make them fired up. Now, you have Joe
Miller saying abolish the IRS.
I mean, you already see it getting overplay and all these other issues that
Pat talks about and things Republicans want to talk about aren`t really on
the agenda again. Now, we`re talking about the IRS, IRS, IRS. I think
there`s a risk you see this overplayed beyond even the sort of scale of
MOORE: Then you have people who are elected like Don Young from my state,
the only congressman for the entire state of Alaska, right, who is dropping
words like wetback in an interview. Yes, we had some of these, as though
it`s like what do you say when you`re not giving an interview? This wasn`t
like secret mike. In one respect you`re saying they needed to do outreach
to people of color, different -- all kinds of different groups, right,
instead of just the one percenters.
And here`s your guy who has been in Congress for years.
BRADY: Well, if you made that statement I didn`t hear it, it`s idiotic.
And it needs to be called out. Nobody I think that`s thinking clearly
think that`s a good idea. I think it happened in Arkansas not too long
ago. The Akin, the Mourdock and Joe Walsh, idiotic statements, kill our
party and kill our brand. We can`t stand for that.
KORNACKI: I wonder if there`s a recruitment problem. This is -- we
mentioned Josh Kraucher (ph) from "National Journal" who wrote the story
this week about sort of swing state problem for Republicans. He looked at
the state of Virginia. Key swing state of Virginia, we talked about this a
little on the show last week, where the Republican Party nominated
basically the most far right ticket imaginable in Virginia, where Ken
Cuccinelli, the attorney general, is going to run for governor. His
running mate for lieutenant governor has said all sorts of just
inflammatory things about gays, about Planned Parenthood, just way, way out
He also looked at Colorado. Colorado is going to have a governor`s race
next year. Swing state of Colorado used to be a Republican state of
Colorado. The big news in Colorado now is that Tom Tancredo, the sort of
far-right nativist former congressman maybe clearing out for Republican
feel for governor, and as yet no viable Republican challenges emerged in
the Senate race against Udall.
And you look at a state like Colorado, you look at Virginia, you look at
Iowa, where Tom Harkin is retiring in the Senate, this should be a state
where Republicans are competing for the Senate and yet, Republicans have
failed to attract a top-tier candidate.
It makes me wonder, is this a situation where you have Republicans who
maybe have more pragmatic instincts, who want to go to Washington to govern
and they look and say, I`m not going be able to win in the primary. If I
win, I`m not going to govern and I don`t want to run.
It looks like they`re having issues here.
BRADY: I mean, it`s always hard to run for these races. Running for the
Senate is difficult. It takes a lot of time, money and organization, time
away from your family.
I`m not disagreeing with you, what happened in `12 was bad for us, with the
Tea Party or these individuals in the Tea Party, not the whole movement
But Chris Christie, what is his approval rating here across the river, 62
percent, 63 percent? Thirty sitting Republican governors coming up with
all kinds of ideas.
I think the future is bright, but as I said before, we`re looking for one
person at the national level that`s going to bring everybody together like
Clinton did with the left in 25 years.
WILLIAMS: But I would go one step further. In addition to looking for
that one person that can sort of bring the messaging together, I think you
should also be looking for individuals across the country that will stand
up and say I want to govern and sort of not be elected and just stand as a
role block in the legislature and put forth these extreme social policies
that would negate any issues on economics or all of these other issues that
seem to be at core of the Republican platform.
MOORE: My point is who will follow that guy you`re talking about?
BRADY: Here`s the example, I`m sorry to reference it. Gay marriage,
voted, didn`t pass late last night.
KORNACKI: It`s amazing.
BRADY: State Democrats have supermajority, they did not get marriage
equality in the land of Lincoln. That`s an Obama nation, that`s Mike
Madigan. That`s the Democrats in Illinois. They didn`t get that done.
They should have gotten it done.
So, there`s fault on both sides on some of these issues, we`re not getting
the right thing done.
KORNACKI: I want to thank "Anchorage Daily News" columnist Shannyn Moore
and former Illinois GOP chairman Pat Brady.
Possibility that one of the most important jobs in America will soon be
held by Anthony Weiner suddenly doesn`t look so remote. That`s next.
KORNACKI: Two years ago, if you had asked anybody about the next New York
City mayoral race, they would have told you that Congressman Anthony Weiner
was a leading contender. There`s a policy from 2011 and there is Weiner
clustered at the top with 18 percent, not the runaway favorite, but clearly
And then he accidently tweeted a private photo. Tried at first to cling to
his House seat first by claiming he had been acted, then by apologizing,
but it didn`t matter. He was hounded out of office and into political
exile. He quietly moved from Queens to Manhattan, found work as a
consultant, made some cash and laid low.
All the while, though, he was plotting a comeback, something he made
official a little over a week ago when he entered the race for mayor. This
week, he took part in the first debate for a candidate and he was already
back to his old theatrics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: This is my first time seeing
live fire from in the context of the campaign. If I`m lucky enough to get
your vote and wind up being mayor, I may have to fight with Governor Cuomo
on things but honestly, he started it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And so, two years later, where does Anthony Weiner stand?
Well, here`s that mayor`s poll from 2011 where Weiner had 18 percent in the
crowded field and here`s the latest mayor`s poll released on Tuesday, and
he`s up a point to 19 percent, just five points behind the frontrunner,
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
A lot has happened in the last two years but on the surface, at least,
maybe not much is changed. Weiner still looks like a contender.
I want to bring in Blake Zeff, politics editor and columnist for some site
called Salon.com. I might have heard of it. Errol Louis of New York 1
News. And back with us at the table, we have New York City deputy mayor,
Howard Wolfson, along with L. Joy Williams who served as director of Bill
Thompson`s campaign for mayor of New York City in 2009.
Bill Thompson is running. He`s one of the candidates running this year.
So, you know, we look at that poll. OK. At the top there, you know,
Weiner still near the top of the field, not an early favorite. His
negative numbers are a lot higher now, obviously, than they were two years
But, Blake, you wrote a piece this week and you said we might be
underestimating, saying Anthony Weiner is not a serious contender.
BLAKE ZEFF, SALON.COM: Sure. Well, there`s several reasons. If you look
at poll you just mentioned, it`s OK to have some segment of the population
have negative opinions about you when you have a runoff situation here,
where you got five candidates vying to get to that 40 percent.
So, Weiner ends up with 40 percent in this primary. He`s going to get into
the runoff. That`s OK to have 40 percent or more think negatively of him.
Also, he`s got a lot of strengths that people are underestimating. In
terms of the strength of his support here, yes, he`s five points down in
that poll but 43 percent of his voters feel strongly in favor of him,
whereas Christine Quinn, the frontrunner, only has 30 percent strength of
people supporting her. So, it`s a very, very fluid race. It`s a wide open
No other candidate has run away with this at all. Weiner seems to be doing
well in the stump. He`ll have plenty of money. He has $5 million saved up
from his last race.
So, you know, I`m not saying he should win. I`m not saying he will win,
but can he win? Yes. There is -- there is a path here.
KORNACKI: Well, Errol, how do you think the, you know, Weiner 2.0, what`s
this, 3.0, there`s a lot of different versions of Anthony Weiner and we`ll
talk about that in a minute. I mean, how it`s going so far? It`s been a
little over a week.
ERROL LOUIS, NY1 NEWS: Well, it`s been over a week. I think he got good
In some footage that you showed, he really stood out from the other
candidates visually. So, everyone else sort of sat in the panel, he stood
up every time he responded. Everybody else, at least men, were wearing
jackets and ties and so forth. He didn`t do that. He went in shirt
sleeves, you know?
So, he stood out that way. He`s stood out in other ways. He put out a 64-
point package of proposals, some more serious than others, but he sort of
took the mantel of the guy who was going to be the ideas candidate and he`s
talked about an ideas primary.
And it was exactly the right note for a campaign there were a lot of
candidates out there, but there hadn`t been a lot of policy papers
published. So, I think he`s off to a good start. And the reality is, he`s
put that story behind him.
The scandal story is not the first and only thing the media is asking
about. The scandal is not the first and only thing being asked about in
the debates. It`s not the first, I`m sure, thing that he`s being asked
about on the campaign trail.
So, he pretty has accomplished what he was supposed to do as far as his
launch, which was get the scandal behind him, get into the mix, stand up
for the candidates and be the ideas guy. So, you know, check, check,
check. For the first week, pretty good.
WILLIAMS: And I think Errol`s point how he separated himself from the
other candidates, we had all of the candidates in for about a year and
clearly, no -- there`s no strong -- we see high numbers for the speaker.
People don`t have a clear view because we still have 23 percent, 24 percent
that are still undecided.
So, people -- all of the candidates that are in. Their politics are some
of the same. Their issues are some of the same. There might be
differences here and there, but there`s no clear difference on some of
these candidates, maybe on minor issues.
With Weiner it`s different, right? He`s very clearly coming out and
saying, I believe this. He`s differentiating himself between the other
candidates. Here`s the tension that voters have to latch on to. I can
compare him to the other candidate. I know clearly what he believes, what
issues he stands on and who he is which is different from the other
candidates in the race.
KORNACKI: The other thing about Weiner, he`s a showman. This is a guy who
knows how to perform. I always tell people, to me, the most important
thing you need to know about Anthony Weiner, understand him, in college, he
thought about being a TV weatherman. That`s sort of weird --
KORNACKI: But, Howard, this is maybe one of those situations where you
have a guy who has these sort of impeccable showman`s skills coming up
against a field, really, the rest of the field, we talk about Christine
Quinn, Bill Thompson, they haven`t really inspire anybody. So, there`s an
opening for somebody who can be a performer.
HOWARD WOLFSON, NYC DEPUTY MAYOR: To use the weatherman, I think it`s
still a little cloudy for him and his chances. But having said that, I
agree of some of what was said.
He does have two things going for him. One is, New Yorkers like a
candidate, a mayor, with a littler chutzpah. And he definitionally, for
him to run, given everything that`s happened, he has to have some of that.
He`s got moxy. He enjoys the street theater. This is still a city that
enjoys street theater. And he`s got the ability to perform at that place,
at that level.
The second thing is, you know, for a long time, the campaign, at least in
my opinion, has kind of devolved to a place where the candidate`s troupe
from one to a special interest forum and repeat the nostrums that they`re
told to repeat by whatever group that`s hosting them.
Weiner, because he doesn`t really have any chance to get any endorsements
at all, has some ability to sort of stiff arm some of the traditional
special interest groups and be a little more free with his ideas. I mean,
you`ve seen a little bit of that so far. I think that could help him.
KORNACKI: That gets to an interesting point that I want to pick up in a
minute. And that is, you know, we think nationally of Anthony Weiner, as
you know, the liberal hero of the late (INAUDIBLE) and early teens or
whatever we call these set of years. But he originally, his roots was more
of a conservative Democrat and may return to those roots right now, which
is interesting thing I think for people who know him nationally to watch.
We`ll talk about that after this.
KORNACKI: So, if you only knew Anthony Weiner through national cable
television the last five years, you probably remember the very, very --
what`s the word -- loud liberal who would get on the House floor, and he
would be shouting at Pete King, he`d be shouting at Republicans, he`d be
doing battle on cable news. And he really built this reputation, as sort
of this I heard -- a fearless leader, and all these sorts of things, and I
remember his roots in New York City were sort of reputationally as sort of
Ed Koch Democrat.
His constituency was very much, you know, sort of the Ed Koch`s
constituency. You know, the outer borough white ethics, that was sort of,
Weiner`s constituency. He built his first mayoral campaign around it and
then he sort of transitioned and built this national following.
Blake, I think you were saying earlier, he seems to be moving back maybe
towards that cat mold.
ZEFF: Yes, if you look what Howard were saying before, sort of hinted at
this a bit, if you look what Anthony Weiner is doing in this mayoral race
right now in terms of the positions that he`s taking out, he`s quietly kind
of positioning himself a bit to the right of the Democratic field here,
which is really, as you said, fascinating, because people seem to think of
him as a liberal lion -- although that was always a bit of a double game he
was doing, because when he was in Congress in the last couple of years, he
would go on national television and duke it out with FOX News.
Meanwhile, when he was back at home in the district, he was still kind of
being this outer borough Tony Weiner type of guy. But, now, in this
campaign, if you look at charter schools, if you look at trying to get
concessions from unions, he`s defending the NYPD. And a number of issues
here, he`s now establishing himself as a citrus candidate in this race.
KORNACKI: And, Howard, there`s sort of an opening there in the sense that
you have a crowded field and if everybody else is saying one thing and you
can say the other, you`re going to hand that to yourself.
But I guess the question I`ve always had about Anthony Weiner is,
weatherman, showman, but who is he as a political leader? What`s the core
of Anthony Weiner?
LOUIS: That is his core, you know? Let`s not be too glib about it. I
mean, the reality is, in a city of 8 million people, you`ve got to put
together some coalition. The coalition he happened to be putting together
and returning to as he tries to put it together is very much like what
you`re talking about, working class people. He`s a son of a schoolteacher
and attorney. You know, he grew up in this milieu. That`s not something
On the other hand, there are a lot of people who don`t need so much from
government but they want people to go out and battle on social issues on
some of the larger, sort of national issues. And so, he was appealing to
them as well. And that was the coalition that he was working on.
That was the coalition that he didn`t run in 2005. He didn`t make it as
mayor, but he was trying to put it together then. He made an abortive
attempt in 2009 and now, he`s trying again. Perfectly reasonable, logical
thing to do.
Is it possible to hold it together? That was always an open question. And
when he tried it in 2005, it actually didn`t work so well.
WILLIAMS: And that`s what, you also have to look at New York City voters,
too, right? So, you have, you know, the folks that are together on
progressive issues, and then you have other outer borough folks and other
business interests also that are looking for -- more to the right, a
candidate from this. So he`s able to push that way, because there is a
pocket of votes that you can get from there.
When all the votes are going everywhere, five different way, unions are
going five different ways, there is an opening there and you need to be
able to identify votes all across the city. Our turnout rate has been
declining over the past ten years ingenious well.
So, now you have -- yes, he has the scandal that you have behind him. But
people have very strong views on him. Will that push people to actually
come out to the polls -- and particularly if you`re to do two weeks after
that the runoff, you still need people to go out to the polls as well.
KORNACKI: Well, there`s that tension there, too, you know? I remembered
it a couple years ago, an issue here, and it became national issue,
hopefully, we forgot it, the Ground Zero mosque if you remember this. And
at the height of the sort of controversy over that, Mayor Bloomberg gave a
very moving speech about it where he said any group should have a right to
And I remember, the contrast between Weiner and the sort of this image he
had nationally at the time where he would -- you know, he would say
anything, fear of nothing, raving on the House floor. When that issue came
up he ducked it. He wouldn`t talk about it or say anything publicly.
It showed sort of tension between, you know, being sort of the liberal hero
and going after liberal votes in the mayoral votes in the primary, and
still appealing to that working class base. I do wonder, Howard, can that
coalition be put together? Is that possible?
WOLFSON: Well, I think Errol is right in that he had this reputation that
he deserved for being a tribune of the outer borough middle class. In `05,
that was his message. He was the middle class candidate. I actually think
he ran a very good race in `05, came out of nowhere in the closing weeks to
really almost jump into a run-off. He was unknown and I think he honed in
on a very strong message in `05.
But there was a tension between that outer borough guy, as he was in the
district and the guy, as Blake said, who would go down to the floor of the
House and rail against the Republicans. Call me cynical, I think he made a
fairly calculated decision that he was going try to add to that
constituency -- as you point out -- by picking the issue of health care, by
identifying the issue of single payer, by going on cable television
networks like this and FOX and being the tribune of single-payer health
care in the Congress to peel off or make himself more attractive to Upper
West Side, Upper East Side Democrats who might not have been interested in
the outer borough ethnic candidate.
And for a while, it was somewhat successful. I mean, you would find people
on the Upper West Side who are MSNBC watchers who say I really like this
guy. He`s as, you pointed out, he`s a liberal lion. And you`d say, well,
you know, he`s kind of this middle class tribune also. You say I don`t
know that part of him. I know this.
And so, yes, it was -- for a while, a very smart strategy of putting
together different constituencies around a different set of issues. I
think obviously, all of that kind of came crashing down a bit with his
problems. Whether he`s going to be able to put those kind of coalitions
together, you know, again, call me a little skeptical. I`m a little
But give him credit. He`s out there. He`s working hard. I`m sure he`s up
have shaking hands. Nobody is going to out work him.
WILLIAMS: Maybe John Lew.
WOLFSON: He will work as hard as John Lew, and John Lew was working as
hard as you possible could.
KORNACKI: Yes. No, this is -- I sense when he got in the race -- I was
talking to a number of people about, you know, what`s the strategy, what`s
And part of it was just, you kind of get the sense, this is what he does.
He`s going to be miserable if there`s a mayor`s campaign and he`s not in
WOLFSON: This is a large city, as we know. In `05, my wife and I saw him
on successive weekends prior to the primary shaking hands. When you are
seeing mayoral candidates shaking hands on successive weekends in this
city, you know that guy is up at 4:00 in the morning and going to bed at
midnight every day.
KORNACKI: That also means you have no life if you`re spending your weekend
with political candidates. I`m guilty as much as anybody.
KORNACKI: Maggie Haberman actually wrote a piece this week saying that the
new Anthony Weiner, she thinks, after watching him for a week or two at
this is really the same as the old Anthony Weiner.
We have some interesting documents we uncovered in the last week about the
old Anthony Weiner. We talked about it in the show a few weeks ago. We
have these documents, we want to show them. We`ll do that after this.
KORNACKI: This -- this is going to take a minute but I think it`s worth
it. So bear with me. I think there`s some really fascinating stuff here.
We talked about this a little on the show a few weeks ago. It`s sort of an
episode from the formative campaign experience of Anthony Weiner.
Over 20 years ago, his first race, he was like 26, 27 years old running for
city council of New York. And this was basically, you know, if he can win
he`d be on his way. You can chart the rise from there. If he hadn`t run
the race I don`t know where his career would have taken him.
And in the key moment, he won this race. It was a razor thin margin. You
know, he had two different opponents. The primary took place a couple of
weeks after the Crown Heights riots here in New York, where all these
tensions between the Jewish and black populations in the Crown Heights
neighborhoods really came to a head. It was an ugly, awful moment in New
And a couple weeks later, with the Democratic primary, and Anthony Weiner
was running in, as we say, the sort of Ed Koch, white ethnic district. And
he really kind of played off those tensions in at a critical moment in the
campaign with a flyer that linked his opponent, his Democratic primary
opponent to David Dinkins, the first black mayor of New York, to Jesse
Jackson, who just ran for president a couple years earlier.
And we found the flyer, I don`t know if this had been seen in a while.
This was out in `91. It`s reference. We actually found the flyer this
week. Our producer tracked it down.
This is the front page. Remember, this is just a couple weeks after Crown
Heights going to the white ethnic neighborhoods. "The David Dinkins and
Jesse Jackson want you to vote for Adele Cohen." That was his opponent.
This is the cover of the flyer.
Now, we go to the inside. "Just says no." This was an anonymous flyer.
It did not come out after the campaign that Anthony Weiner had done this.
And then, this is -- the candidates of David Dinkins, Jesse Jackson
coalition. Who is Adele Cohen? That`s who she is.
Then, it says that, "The majority coalition has endorsed Adele Cohen.
Obviously, she agrees with the Dinkins/Jackson agenda. Do you? It`s Adele
Cohen and her ultraliberal agenda to get into the city council. She`ll owe
it to the Dinkins/Jackson coalition. That`s a debt that we`ll have to pay
This is Anthony Weiner. You remember, in the last couple of years, he`s a
liberal hero. This is what he did to get his first job in politics. He
beat Adele Cohen. I think the margin was 195 votes in that race.
Interestingly, after that race, as soon as it was over, he wrote a
handwritten note to Adele Cohen that we got this week. We put that up on
This is amazing. I`ll talk about it in a minute. But this is what he
wrote to her after he did this. He said, "Dear Adele, although the final
numbers are still inconclusive," well, they really weren`t, "but one thing
is sure, I`m sorry for my actions in the final days of the campaign. The
mailing I did was wrongheaded and the manner was plain dumb. I regret the
harm it did to you.
My inexperience and feverish tempo of the end of the race are explanations
but not excuse. I made a mistake that cannot be undone. I have to live
with it. I`m sorry you do as well. I hope in time, I will have the
opportunity to redeem myself to you and to many others rightly angry with
me. Sincerely, Anthony Weiner.
And p.s., I will be calling next week to speak to you in person."
We put a call out to Adele Cohen. She`s still around. She`s out in
We put a call into her. We said, you know, did you ever get that meeting?
Did you ever get that phone call with Anthony Weiner? She said she didn`t
remember it. There was no meeting. She said if it had happened would you
remember it, she said absolutely.
We talked to Anthony Weiner`s campaign, we said, hey, you said you`d meet
with her, you never did. What do you have to say about that?
And their statement that "Anthony sent Ms. Cohen a note of apology
immediately after the event. He saw her many times thereafter, but does
not recall what they talked about."
There`s a long buildup and the reason why I bring this up and the reason
why I mentioned this a few times is I think this is about something about
more than just 1991. This is something about more than just one campaign
for city council.
This is about ruthless calculation and to me, manipulation when you look at
a letter like this. This is a guy who knew exactly what he was doing, he
knew exactly how he was doing it. It was an anonymous nailing a couple
weeks after Crown Heights that fanned all these racial tensions. He played
off of it.
He knew it as he was doing it, as this letter fully indicates. You can see
the calculations that say, hey, I won this election. I got the city
council. I still got to live with Adele Cohen in my district. She`s still
a politician, better try to make friends.
So, he sends this letter pouring his soul out, never follows up on it. If
you ask Anthony Weiner about it today, if you try to bring the issue up
with him, I think, Blake, you had some experience with this at "Salon,"
Anthony Weiner, this is not the Anthony Weiner we get today. He`s not
pouring his heart out saying I made a mistake, he wants to forget about it
and he wants to downplay it.
ZEFF: Yes, we wrote about this at salon.com. And there`s a piece about
how Anthony Weiner, as we`ve been discussing, has not always been this
liberal lion. And I agree with Errol that there`s some consistency to
this outer borough, sort of persona that he`s cultivated over the years,
but that one or two years where he was kind of a liberal lion and people
who watch this network and other places really like him should know that
that`s not who he has been or who he necessarily is now.
As I mentioned, in this campaign, he`s been sort of tacking to the right.
And I think that, you know, when I mentioned this incident in that story,
he wrote back to me right away. He e-mailed me, I got the e-mails right
He said, this is completely unfair you`re bringing this up. You made it
up. It wasn`t race-baiting, flyer posters. It was flyers.
And I said in the story -- this is even better -- I said in the story, that
he linked his opponents to African-American figures who are unpopular in
the district, meaning Jesse Jackson, David Dinkins, he said that`s untrue.
That`s not fair to refer to Dinkins and Jackson as unpopular African-
American figures in that district which, you know -- I know, Errol, you
were living there in the time. We talk to this.
You can talk to this. I mean, in the aftermath of (INAUDIBLE) -- these
were not popular people there.
LOUIS: But the Crown Heights riot was a disaster on every level. There`s
been nothing like it really anywhere in the country. It was a race riot.
People died. It was serious stuff.
This happened right after it. David Dinkins was not just unpopular. This
arguably was the event that led to him being kicked out of office two years
later. It`s not as if this was just, oh, a slip of the tongue, something
On the Jesse Jackson thing, it was especially unfair. As Adele Cohen has
said publicly, she never met Jesse Jackson. I mean, she was not part of
some Jesse Jackson/David Dinkins coalition.
So, you know, it was false. It was anonymous. It was sent in the closing
hours of the campaign, when there was no chance to respond.
And as his letter says, that goes beyond the bounds even in Brooklyn
politics, you`re not supposed to do that. And so, he`s apologized. He can
now say with some justice, look, that was 22 years ago, I`m Anthony Weiner,
you know, 2.0, 3.0, whatever it might be.
When the voters have to make up their mind, I mean, it`s interesting going
back in time. You had to have been there in one level to have seen, you
know, Jews on one side of eastern parkway, blacks on the other, flinging
rocks over the heads of the riot police who were helpless in between. I
mean, it was real civil disorder of a kind you almost never see anymore.
You know, the fact that a political campaign then tried to sort of ride on
that and used it successfully, is going to be very troubling to people who
are here. On the other hand, you know, it`s 22 years later. There are a
lot of people say, that was the old Anthony Weiner. I like that guy who
screams at the Republicans --
KORNACKI: What made me think of it this week and I mentioned in the last
segment, too, Maggie Haberman wrote the piece this week saying, you know,
look, I`ve seen him for a week and a half now on the campaign trail, this
is not any different -- this guy disappeared, was in exile, talk about
attrition, talk about, you know, rethinking his life a little bit.
And he`s saying, you know, same guy now, it makes me wonder -- you know, he
poured his heart out here. Did this change him in a fundamental way? Did
the experience he had a couple of years ago change him in any fundamental
way? Should it have changed him in a fundamental way? Should we just say,
hey, he is who he is, and you know, hey, at a certain point that`s
I don`t know. We`ll talk more about it after this.
KORNACKI: I mean, L. Joy, you have been active in New York City politics
and mayoral politics. Bill Thompson`s campaign in 2009, you know, came
about -- he became a Democratic nominee in part because Anthony Weiner
didn`t run that year.
The guy you`re seeing now, do you see any difference from the one we know
two or three years ago?
WILLIAMS: No. I think he is the same person, the same person that can be
heralded as the liberal lion and sort of attack Republicans, and we like to
see that -- at least on our side, right? Is the same person that has this
arrogant attitude that you should dismiss because I`ve already apologized.
You should dismiss anything I`ve already done in the past and just focus on
what I`m trying do in the future.
What people like him don`t get is that you still have to be held
accountable for what you`ve done. And, no, we cannot dismiss it. And
you`re asking us to give you a vote, to put you in office, to represent us
to do something for us. All of your actions are evaluated on that.
And no, it won`t just put aside -- yes, there is some, I`ve apologized,
let`s move forward. You know, but all of these things are up for grabs
because you made yourself a candidate.
So, I don`t think there`s any difference in who he is. I think all of
these issues, whether it`s this back in `91, how he handled the recent
scandal with Twitter or any of those things, they are character items, you
know, that you can clearly see on who he is.
And the same person that can be the liberal lion is the same person that
can use tactics like this or lie directly to Nancy Pelosi and sort of
others and try to brush aside. It`s the same person.
KORNACKI: One thing, we`re returning a low on time, but, Howard, I do want
to get to this here. You work for the current mayor and I know there`s a
broad perception of it. There`s one candidate, sort of, of continuity. If
you want another term with Bloomberg the perception out there is that it`s
Is that an accurate perception?
WOLFSON: You know, if and when the mayor has an endorsement to make in the
race, he`ll make it. Right now, we`re watching the race closely.
We have an interest as citizens in making sure that the next mayor is a
good mayor. I want to live in this city for the rest of my life. I hope
the next mayor does continue a lot of policies that help make this the
greatest city in the world to live in.
In talking about this sort of older history of New York, race has always
been a divisive kind of wild card in a lot of these old campaigns, you saw
that around Crown Heights, these kind of flyers, saw that where Mark Green
and Freddie Ferrer were at each other over a race, over another set of
flyers that became very prominent then.
Thankfully, we have not had those incidents in our politics since `01. And
one of the things that political professionals think about in the context
of this race is whether or not Democratic candidates will turn on one
another in rationally charged ways, that hasn`t happened in this city for a
long time. Hopefully, it won`t happen. Whether Democrat or Republican,
you have to hope that that doesn`t happen this time as well.
So, you know, the future of this city is at stake in every mayoral
election. We can have a good mayor. We can have a bad mayor. It really
does matter in this city who the mayor is. And I think we all hope for the
KORNACKI: I agree. I hope -- obviously, we don`t see anything like this
`91 thing again. And next time, I get the endorsement out of you.
KORNACKI: So, what do we know now that we didn`t know last week? My
answers are after this.
KORNACKI: So what do we know now that we didn`t know last week?
Well, thanks to some incredible reporting from "The Associated Press", we
now know that the day-to-day protocols of al Qaeda resemble that of nearly
any office, expense reports and all. "The A.P." found a letter that was
sent from the leadership of al Qaeda`s North African branch to one of their
employees, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, excoriating him for his poor job
"The A.P." writes, quote, "In page after scathing page, they described how
he didn`t answer his phone when called, failed to turn in expense reports,
ignored meetings and refused time and again to carry out orders. He would
not take their phone calls. He refused to send administrative and
Well, it is easy to draw comparisons to the likes of Dunder Mifflin. We
should say that this internal dysfunction has had deadly consequences.
Belmokhtar did leave the branch of al Qaeda to form his own terrorist
organization, which has killed over 100 people and was responsible for the
hostage crisis in January at the BP plant in Algeria.
We now know that like so many Washington elites before him, David Petraeus
is going into, you guessed it, private equity. Months after admitting to
having an affair and resigning as director of the CIA, Petraeus is heading
to the investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company to lead their new
The new position, he`ll be working alongside former RNC chair Ken Mehlman
who serves as KKR`s global head of public affairs. While Petraeus is not
known for any particular economic expertise, KKR says he was brought on to
help, quote, "understand the investment implications of public policy,
macroeconomic, regulatory and technology trends globally."
I think I could do that too.
We now know that South Carolina Republican Congressman Jeff Duncan should
vet his tweets a bit more carefully. On Thursday, when offering up the
Republican base some red meat, he tweeted, quote, "I never want to utter
the words Speaker Pelosi nor give President Obama any power in the House."
Did you catch that one? Not utter, but rather udder as in what a cow has.
Of course, we all make typos so let`s stop milking this blunder and move
I`m sorry about that.
And, finally, we now know that we may not be alone in this universe. A
Japanese blogger has spotted what appears to be a lizard or some kind of
rodent in the background of a photo taken by the Mars curiosity rover. He
spotted the creature or it might be a rock in March but, the image was
posted this week on the English Web site, ufosightingsdaily.com.
Whatever this turns out to be, we know this is not the first time as humans
have spotted something life-like. Back in 1991, a California man said a
lava formation resembled none other than Senator Ted Kennedy. Maybe you
see it there.
I want to find out what my guests know that they didn`t know when the week
Let`s start with you, Blake.
ZEFF: So, Ted Cruz visited the New York state Republican Party this week
and announced that there`s a great raft of young 40-something leaders who
are very conservative and transformational in the party right now. There`s
Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, himself. He kind of has a point.
The question for Democrats and liberals are or is, who are their young 40-
something leaders that are in positions of national importance right now?
I think the question is a tricky one for Democrats and liberals, because I
really think that the bench is not as strong as the conservatives are right
LOUIS: We now know that the median house price in San Francisco is $1
million. Half of the homes are going for $1 million or more. The
economists are saying it is not a return of the housing bubble, although it
will do until the bubble does start to inflate.
What happens apparently is that there`s lots and lots of money from the
Silicon Valley billionaires and millionaires. They`re buying up all of the
available homes since the crash. There hasn`t been a lot built. They`re
saying it`s simply supply and demand.
On the other hand, there`s also a lot of flipping going on. And when the
homes are bought and then flipped, the average profit is upwards of 20
So, I think San Francisco may end up displacing New York as the capital of
income and wealth inequality in America if that trend continues. Whether
it`s a good thing or bad thing or return of the bubble remains to be seen.
KORNACKI: All right. Howard?
WOLFSON: Twenty-five thousand New Yorkers have signed up for City Bike,
which is our new bike share program. The racks are all over Manhattan.
They`re in Brooklyn, they`re in Queens.
On Monday, New Yorkers who have not signed up for the original piece can go
out and use day passes. They can use their credit cards. You don`t have
to sign up for a yearly membership in order to use the bikes starting on
Monday and we hope that as many New Yorkers and tourists use them as
possible, safely and efficiently.
KORNACKI: All right. L. Joy?
WILLIAMS: I know the Justice Department has been given a lot of heat
recently and Eric Holder. But something that they are doing good is that
they have been suing school districts that have evidence of school-to-
prison pipeline. And just this week, the judge approved this consent in a
school district in Mississippi that will take out the police from arresting
students for minor infractions like, you know, dress code.
Kids were being arrested for dress code or walking in the hallways when
they`re not supposed to be. So, those of us who know there`s been a real
school-to-prison pipeline for some time, now we have evidence of it and we
have school districts being taken to court to try to address those things.
KORNACKI: All right. I`ll put a plug in by the way for that bike share
program. I`m just waiting for the temperature to drop a little, like 85
before I use it.
Anyway, my thanks to Blake Zeff of Salon.com, Errol Louis from New York 1
News, Howard Wolfson, deputy mayor of New York City, and political
strategist, L. Joy Williams. Thanks for getting UP.
And thank you for joining us today for UP. Join us tomorrow, Sunday
morning at 8:00 when I`ll have author Jeremy Scahill on the Justice
Department and media, and legendary political commentator Norm Ornstein on
Obama`s battle to put judges on the bench.
Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY". On today`s "MHP", the tale of
two economies, the heroics of women at FOX News, and the loss of lust. A
new pill designed to bring back a woman`s sex drive could be coming to
market soon, that is if it doesn`t work too well. That`s "MELISSA HARRIS-
PERRY". She is coming up.
We will see you right here tomorrow at 8:00. Thanks for getting UP.
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