'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, July 21st, 2013
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
July 21, 2013
Guests: Amanda Terkel, Mo Cowan, Alan Frumin, Michael Brennan Dougherty,
Nick Acocella, Ken Gross, Stephen Spaulding, Kim Bandy, Celinda Lake, Susan
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: There are two ways of looking at the sudden
blitz of activity that played out in the Senate this past week. One is
optimistic. In the span of three days Republican led filibusters against
four of President Obama`s nominees for key executive branch positions were
killed off. And each of those nominees was then confirmed. The Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau that was created under the Dodd/Frank Act,
which, by the way, was signed into law three year ago today, well now, that
finally has for the first time in its history a full-time confirmed
director, Richard Cordray. There`s also a new labor secretary, Tom Perez.
The filibuster against him died on Wednesday, and his nomination cleared
the Senate the next day. Also, on Wednesday, Fred Hochberg was confirmed
as the head of the U.S. Import-Export Bank and on Thursday Gina McCarthy
finally overcame a filibuster and was confirmed as the new director of the
Environmental Protection Agency.
For months, years in some cases, President Obama has been pleading with
Senate Republicans to let him put his own executive branch team in place.
The Republicans have just thumbed their noses at him. That changed this
week. And the reason is simple. Democrats decided they had enough of the
obstruction and told Republicans they were ready to use a simple majority
vote to change the rules. To stop subjecting nominees for executive branch
positions to filibusters, that`s the so-called nuclear option.
Republicans, enough of them anyway, decided that the threat was real and so
they cut a deal. They would relent and they would allow votes on the four
nominees who went through this week and also for three more nominees for
the National Labor Relations Board, two in the next month, another early
next year. Or late next year, actually, sorry about that. And that`s it.
This past week amounted to a monumental breakthrough. Action on four
nominations, a promise of three more to come, and the possibility that
Republicans will think twice before resuming their reflexive filibustering
on all other nominations going forward. It`s a pretty dramatic change from
where we`ve been. And then there`s the pessimistic take. But the deal
just isn`t sustainable. It took about 24 hours for the first clues to
emerge that that might be the case. As the "Roll Call" reported, "a
meeting of Senate Republicans on Wednesday grew tense as Senate Minority
Leader Mitch McConnell told his members he could have gotten a better deal
than the one negotiated by rank and file Republicans." When McConnell said
this, according to "Roll Call," one of those rank and file Republicans who
broker the deal, Tennessee`s Bob Corker, called, "B.S.," loud enough for
the room to hear except he didn`t say B.S., he said the whole word that I
can`t say here. And also Lindsey Graham who helped shape the deal,
insisted that, quote, "Senator McConnell was completely informed about what
was going on."
It`s not hard to see why McConnell doesn`t want to be - doesn`t want
Republicans identifying him with the deal because the overwhelming reaction
to it from conservatives, but in the Senate, on the airwaves across the
country, it`s been outrage. Republicans pledged to provide votes to allow
President Obama`s nominees to reach the Senate floor and to win
confirmation, in an exchange Republicans got, well, pretty much nothing.
There wasn`t any deal, Richard Shelby, a conservative Republican senator
from Alabama said. They got what they wanted, we basically got rolled.
That`s why the vast majority of Republicans, 29 of the 46 who are now in
the Senate, still voted against stopping the filibuster of Cordray on
Tuesday. And all but six Republicans then voted to keep filibustering
Perez for labor secretary. You can see the problem here, right? In the
era of the Tea Party, there`s immense pressure on Republican lawmakers to
constantly prove their purity to the base. Which means they`re still a
strong political insensitive for Republican senators to keep on
filibustering. That means there`s also a political risk in voting to end a
filibuster on any of President Obama`s nominees. For that matter, on any
bill that President Obama is supporting.
But for the deal that was struck this week to hold, for it to work long
term, there are going to have to be Republican senators willing to take
that risk. If not, we`ll be right back where we started. With Republicans
reverting to unanimous, unyielding obstruction and Democrats once again
threatening to change the rules with the nuclear option. And remember,
executive branch nominations are only a small part of the problem. There`s
still Obama`s federal court picks and all legislation in general. This
week`s deal does not touch the de facto 60 vote requirement that
Republicans have imposed on those fronts.
And there`s a longer term issue. What happens if the roles are reversed in
a few years? We end up with a Republican president and the Republican
Senate? Any rules change that Democrats make now will also apply to a
future Republican majority. And even if Democrats don`t change anything,
there would be nothing to stop that future Republican majority from acting
on its own to change the rules. In other words, what happened this week
probably is just another chapter in the argument about the filibuster and
not the end of it.
I want to bring in Amanda Terkel, senior political reporter and politics
managing editor at the "Huffington Post," Michael Brennan Dougherty, a
contributing editor to the "American Conservative Magazine" who now also
edits the Slurve.com, a daily baseball newsletter. Mo Cowan, former
Democratic senator from Massachusetts who served in John Kerry`s seat
earlier this year - until this week, actually, and Alan Frumin, former
chief parliamentarian of the Senate, the only person ever to serve in this
role under both parties.
And Alan, you know the rules of the Senate like nobody else on the planet,
I would say. And I guess I would start with you and just your reaction to
what the deal that was struck this week - when we have the nominations
going through right now so the Senate is functioning in a way it hasn`t in
a few months. Do you think - what do you think the long-term implications
are of what happened this week?
ALAN FRUMIN, FMR. SENATE PARLAMENTARIAN: Well, I think it`s wonderful that
the Senate backed down from the brink. I think it was very important that
a critical massive responsible senators on both sides of the aisle step
forward and said, we must find compromise here, we must find procedural
compromise as well as political compromise. The quote/unquote, nuclear
option is something that I believe should never be implemented. And I - I
advise senators over the years to find every possible way to compromise to
avoid a situation where basically the presiding officer just declares black
to be white. And so, I was heartened by the fact that going up to the
brink, the Senate backed down from the brink. I`m not a prognosticator. I
don`t know where it`s going to go from here politically. But I heaved the
huge sigh of relief when the deal was struck.
KORNACKI: You know, Amanda, as I said in the opening, though, the thing
that jumped out at me this week after the deal was that vote on Tom Perez
for labor secretary where he got the bare minimum, 60 votes. You need 60
votes to break the filibuster to call a simple majority vote. And he got
the bare minimum. So six Republicans - it seems sort of coordinated like
Republicans said, we`re going to give you six, we`re going to give you no
more. But it just spoke to me, it has said to me about the reluctance of
Republicans to cast a vote that within the Republican universe can be
portrayed as, you know, betrayal of the cause. And it says to me if that
pressure is going to exist on every confirmation like this going forward,
it`s going to break down at some point.
AMANDA TERKEL, "HUFFINGTONPOST.COM": Yes. I`m skeptical that the Senate
will be sunshine and lollipops from here on out. I mean some senators have
held open the possibility of filibustering the nominee for Department of
Homeland Security. And I think we`ll see that going forward. I mean
coming out of this, I think this looked very bad for Mitch McConnell. I
also think it was B.S., but he could have gotten a better deal since he met
with Harry Reid on Monday evening and said look, here is my last offer, I
will let your nominees go through, but you have to promise not to change
the rules again. And Harry Reid said look, I have a better deal with Mitch
McConnell. Or I can simply change the rules. You know, I don`t need you
in this. So, going forward, this - this looks bad for Mitch McConnell.
KORNACKI: We`ve now said B.S. twice in the first three minutes.
KORNACKI: Well, I`m paced for the (inaudible), so let`s keep it going.
But Senator Cowan, so you were down there right until this week, you know,
in the Senate this year. I wonder if you could just give us a sense what
sort of the culture of the Senate has been like when it comes to the
filibuster, what the conversations are sort of like between senators about
this, what they`ve been like this year. This has sort of come to ahead.
FMR. SEN. MO COWAN (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Sure. First, let me say, I think
actually the Republican caucus actually did get something in this deal.
And they - and that is, they retain the right to filibuster. The 60 vote
majority on - bringing things to the floor. I think that`s still in play.
I agree with Amanda, I don`t think this conversation is over for the long
haul. I think that we`ll see this come up again, perhaps as early as the
next week or two, when Mel Watt comes to the floor for FHFA nomination. It
was voted out of a committee on a straight party line. So, we`ll see how
long this deal holds. But in the body right now you have a number of
senators, particularly in the majority, many of them first term, some
freshman who are chafing at the bit -- at this filibuster requirement. And
they feel like the Democratic Party has the majority and the Republican
Party is getting in the way of some good business for the country.
And so what we saw last week was the majority leader, Harry Reid, reacting
to and responding to the demands of his caucus. Now, I think we also saw
the Senate actually work fairly well at the beginning of last week. We had
the historic joint caucus in the all Senate chamber. Where 98 out of 100
senators came together to discuss this issue. And it may seem like a
little bit of inside baseball to folks out there, but it`s important that
the caucuses came together to discuss the issue, to air their concerns, to
hear each other debate the issue and then, of course, that resulted in the
deal that we saw on Tuesday morning. If there`s anything that I hope for -
that can really come out of this, -- that perhaps is more sustainable than
even this deal, is the notion that the caucuses will come together and
start to work together more often on some of these bigger issues that are
on the horizon, and I hope that that will hold, above all else.
KORNACKI: I wonder if you could address -- it seems to me there`s a
generational divide among - within each party`s caucus. That you have
Democrats who are newer. You know, Carl Levin, for instance, the veteran
Democrat from Michigan, I think still wasn`t on board with the nuclear
option. Reid eventually got every other Democrat. But the real
(inaudible) for this seems to be coming from newer members on the
Democratic side, who are a little less patient. At the same time it looked
like you know, you had John McCain, sort of the Senate institutionalist
helping to cut the deal on the Republican side, but newer Republicans like
Rand Paul, like Ted Cruz who, again, were sort of a little less willing to
work that way, did you pick up on the generational divide on either side
while you were down there?
COWAN: Well, I think it is the generational, in a sense - again, the newer
senators, particularly on the Democratic side who have never been in the
minority. And, of course, you`ve heard Senator Levin speak about that.
And knowing what it`s like on the other side, and so, the debate is often
among those senators who have been there for more than one term, who have
been in the majority and the minority, and they talk about, you know, the
difference between the two and the concern for the Senate becoming the
House where the majority absolutely rules and the minority is absolutely
without power. And there`s a fear among sort of - the older, more seasoned
senators that the Senate could evolve into the same fashion. But you`re
again - you have these younger, newer Democrats, newer senators, on both
sides, frankly, who say, listen, we`ve been sent here to actually get
something done. And we`re willing to sort of upset the apple cart to make
And frankly, you have some Republicans, on the other side, who are also
relatively new to the body who say, listen, maybe this isn`t a bad idea
because we`re going to be in the majority someday, and wouldn`t it be a
nice thing if we can get things done simply with 51 votes here.
KORNACKI: And so, Michael, Senator Cowan makes the point that Republicans
retain the right to filibuster. We didn`t have the nuclear option for the
filibuster technically exist. I wonder how far they can - they can push
that before we`ll be right back here. But do you think - it doesn`t seem
to move Republicans or the most conservatives as well, we got something out
MICHAEL BRENNAN DOUGHERTY, THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: No, it`s
not - I mean what you`re seeing is - I think historically what we`re
looking at is that the ideological division of the parties -- counter
majority - counter majoritarian measures like the filibuster were built for
a country divided by sectional and state interests. But when you have two
parties divided by ideology, it gives the party that - as ideologically
united as Republicans, a big permission slip to really push it with a
counter-majoritarian measure like the filibuster. And I think they really
feel that pressure. I mean, that there is a kind of national culture to
the conservative movement where everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Rand Paul
gets an equal say in this debate and gets to push it very far. It`s not
like 40 or 50 years ago where you had liberal Republicans or conservative
Democrats, and - or you had sectional interests that could check these kind
of accesses. I don`t see that -- I don`t see that pressure letting up any
KORNACKI: Right. That`s - I want to pick up that point because, you know,
I think the story is sort of -- one of the stories of modern American
politics is we are sort of legislatively we`re becoming more like a
parliamentary system, more like Britain, we just have these - it`s two sort
of national parties and each party is going to use whatever tool is
available to it legislatively to sort of pursue, you know, its own
interests, to stymie the other side, partisan warfare, whatever you want to
call it. I wonder how that affects not just the filibuster on executive
branch (ph) of nomination, but the filibuster on everything, if that`s a
sustainable tool in a culture like that. We`ll talk about that after this.
KORNACKI: I just want to play a clip here. This was Mitch McConnell
earlier this week, basically saying, hey, look, you know, the filibuster is
still here and we still intend to use it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We still will be dealing
with controversial nominees in the way that controversial nominees
inevitably produce a great debate. And all the options available to the
minority remain intact. But I think if you look at the nominations of this
administration, many of them have been noncontroversial, you know, Penny
Pritzker, the new secretary of transportation, the secretary of state, but
the ones that generated controversy, generated controversy. And so, I
think our reaction to these nominees will depend upon the quality of the
nominees and how controversial they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, he talks about how uncontroversial the nominee for
secretary of state was. Part of the reason that John Kerry`s nomination
was uncontroversial, because Republicans made a big deal about Susan Rice
and then they said well, if you nominate John Kerry, it will be - it will
be easy, so that sort of (inaudible) and sailed through. But Alan, you
know, so he`s talking about executive branch nominations there, and like we
said at the top, there`s also this question of the federal courts and this
deal does not apply to that. You can still have de facto 60 vote threshold
for judicial nominations and then the story, the other big story of the
Obama presidency has just been legislatively, basically everything that`s
not a reconciliation, though, like health bill, otherwise, is going to
require 60 votes. You know, I just wonder - we`re talking about how it
sort of becoming more like a parliamentary system. In that sort of a
relic, when the two parties are sort of - had sort of been the lines
between the parties are clearer than they`ve ever been. Isn`t that, too,
like a filibuster, in a way sort of a relic?
FRUMIN: I don`t believe it`s a relic. I think that the Senate stands
alone as the only institution in the federal government that pays homage to
the prerogatives of the minority party. In that respect, the Senate has
been consistent, I believe, with the founders` vision for the Senate. So
procedurally I believe that that`s appropriate. The question is applying
that and whether or not that paradigm has gone too far. I think with
respect to nominations, the Senate began, this Congress by distinguishing
different types of nominees. I think there`s substantial -- I believe
there is a sound policy basis for looking at executive branch nominees.
And limiting to some extent the extent, to which they can be filibustered.
I would take a different - I have a different opinion with respect to life
appointees. Article 3 judges, their nominations, I believe, are truly
significant. Their effect lives well beyond the lives of the
administrations, in which they are appointed, and I think it is critically
important that the minority retains the right to have some leverage there.
KORNACKI: Can you think about a standard, Amanda, for - you know, if this
is a tool that any - you know, the Republican Party is the minority party
and this is just a tool they can use, really anywhere they choose to use
it, the filibuster, what is the standard that a minority party, where every
member who doesn`t use the filibuster then accused of sort of impurity, you
know, in the Republican universe? What is the standard that can be used -
that can be applied short of doing away with the filibuster that could make
it functional? That`s the part that I can`t see.
TERKEL: I mean, you know, Senator - Senator Jeff Merkley, I recently spoke
with him at an event and he said that, look, you know, we need to put in
place what we would be comfortable with if we were in the minority. And,
you know, Harry Reid is not someone who really wants to go out and change
the rules. I think he pushed for this narrow reform, sort of like Alan was
saying, because, you know, I think that many senators believe that the
president should be able to choose his own cabinet. Democrats are in the
majority -- the president - you know, is a Democrat. So, a majority should
be able to - the president`s party should be able to approve his cabinet
nominees. Lifetime appointee - lifetime nominees to judicial spots, I
think more people are a little bit hesitant to change the rules. Many pro-
choice Democrats, for example, are worried that Republicans could therefore
get a lot of judges in place who would roll back Roe v. Wade, abortion
And I think, you know, for a legislation that`s where a lot more senators,
a lot more people who have been in the Senate, but even newer senators sort
of look at that and say, well, maybe if we are in the minority this might
not be a good idea. Because well, you know, background checks could have
gone through, so could the legislation that was much more expansive to gun
advocates. And so I think there`s just a lot more hesitation there. And
so, I think that`s where you sort of have these three blocks of ways to
change the rules. And the executive branch nominees are the ones that most
people are comfortable with.
DOUGHERTY: I think there`s also an element - you know, I talked before
about the ideological pressure to use counter-majoritarian measures.
There`s also a political pressure created by the fact that, you know,
except for time after Watergate, the legislative branch continues to cede
authority to the executive. And in many of the laws they pass, it says,
the secretary shall determine, the secretary shall determine. This
heightens the political cost of a bad nominee for the minority party, when
- when the executive can make you a nominee, because that - secretary
cabinet is not just advising, but actually implementing and creating
policy. So, by making a big deal out of cabinet nominee, you are, in
effect, replacing what you might have done legislatively 40 or 80 years
Or on the other side, what you might do with investigation or oversight,
another function of the legislative .
KORNACKI: But it becomes -- I mean, this is -- I think the term Norm
Ornstein, we had him on a few weeks ago, I think he`s determined a new
nullification to describe .
DOUGHERTY: That`s right.
KORNACKI: I think what you`re sort of getting at, which is like -if
Republicans have a philosophical objection to the Consumer Financial
Protection Board, you know, they`re going to - they`re going to filibuster
the nominee for that as a way of de-fang (ph) the agency - of not letting
the agency function, instead of - because they don`t have the votes to pass
legislation that would do away with it, they filibuster the nominee.
COWAN: And I think we saw that this week. We had my friend from South
Carolina, Senator Graham, he came right out and said, look, the Republicans
were wrong. Wrong to filibuster Rob Cordray, not because there was
anything at all wrong or unqualified about this nominee, but that the
Republican caucus has an issue with this agency. It was the first time in
history that this has happened. And you had - it was remarkable that
Senator Graham acknowledged that openly and publicly. And so, we are
seeing much more of that now where the Senate, at least certain members of
the Senate, are expanding the definition over devise and consent. It`s not
just about the nominee now. It`s about whether they like the agency or the
law or the circumstances that gave rise to the nominee`s candidacy. I`m
from believer of the advice and consent powers of the Senate, but I think
our founding fathers, I don`t think if they thought we were going to employ
them in this way, to obstruct then (inaudible), that this is what they had
And I think that`s what - this is at the core of all this. Is that you
have this frustration that, perhaps in some of the things that in years
passed, decades past simply made their way through the Senate in a
compromised bipartisan fashion, are now getting bogged down and even the
most simplest thing gets filibustered or at least the threat of filibuster,
and so you have a number of senators saying, wait a minute, we can`t
continue to function this way, and so we need to exercise this power, the
so-called nuclear option, to make sure this body is working in the fashion
that the founding fathers wanted it to.
KORNACKI: I want to talk about it - and Amanda started to get into this a
minute ago, but, you know, we have elections in 2014, elections in 2016
that could change sort of the balance in Washington, this sort of - that
sure could be on the other point, so to speak. I want to talk about that
KORNACKI: So, part of the context for the discussion about filibuster
reform, I think, has to do with a map I want to put up here. This is the
2014 U.S. Senate race map. And so you get - these are the Republican-held
seats in red, Democratic-held seats in blue. It`s 20 - there are 20
Democratic seats up, 15 Republican. Big asterisks, we have New Jersey on
there as Republican. Everybody in the world thinks - expects that can be a
Democratic seat in about two months with (inaudible) book on a special
election. So, Democrats have a lot more turf to defend. There`s a real
possibility, especially in Montana where Democrats failed to get their
dream candidate the other day. Brian Schweitzer is not running. So, now
people are thinking, that`s more likely for the Republicans. A real chance
that Democrats will lose their Senate majority in 2014. And in 2016, who
knows, it`s very possible, you know, when those Republicans could win the
presidencies, you could have a situation after 2016 where, you know, it`s a
Republican president, a narrow Republican majority in the Senate - a
Republican majority in the House and if you have any rules changed now to
the filibuster, you know, that could really come back to bite Democrats.
Senator Cowan, is that something that the Democrats in the Senate who are
pushing for this are aware of? I know Carl Levin, a veteran, is trying to
remind of this - are they aware of it, though?
COWAN: Well, I`m certainly aware of it. I had the privilege of serving
its presiding officer for many mornings and listening to the Republican
leader Mitch McConnell make the case why there should be no nuclear option
and then list what some of them say, are the parade of horribles that the
Republican caucus would put into play, as soon as they gain the majority in
the Senate and the White House, and number one on the list always was to
repeal Obamacare. And certainly, that`s part of the discussion. And as I
- would said earlier, whether it`s Carl Levin or a few other senior
senators on both sides, use that as a leverage point to say, listen, let`s
dial this back a little bit and really think about what you`re doing here.
And if you don`t want the Senate to become the House where the majority
will decide everything and the minority - where the existence in the
minority is a very, very difficult, an unexpired experience. You can`t do
this, you have to understand, we will not be in the majority forever, and
the shift will - the tide will turn and all of a sudden you`re going to
understand what it means to be in the - excuse me, in the minority. So, we
must dial this back, figure out how we work within our existing set of
rules to make this work better, because that parade of horribles, if you
feel, that is real, and you will experience that. But that`s still going
up against the frustration of some newer members who say, listen, then we
must seize this moment, then, if that is the case. We are in the majority.
Let`s make things happen.
KORNACKI: Well, in part of that case, too, you hear from Democrats a,
well, you know, let`s say we don`t do anything, don`t change the rules
right now and Republicans get that, you know, legislative executive
majority in 2016. They wouldn`t hesitate for a second to change the rules
to help themselves then, so we might as well do it now.
TERKEL: Yeah, I mean they threatened to go nuclear -- Republicans
threatened to go nuclear in 2005, for example, and they didn`t. But I
think, you know, this is why Democrats feel a lot of urgency to get some of
President Obama`s nominees through right now, especially some of his
judicial nominees, for example, the D.C. circuit. If Obama fills the
vacancies, Democrats - Democratic appointees will be in the majority on
that court and right now the D.C. circuit has been pretty hard on Obama,
for example, saying that his recess appointments to the NLRB, the National
Labor Relations Board, are unconstitutional. So, there`s a lot of urgency
for Democrats to fill that court whereas Republicans, like Chuck Grassley,
for example, are really trying to stall it as much as possible.
KORNACKI: And that, maybe, Alan, that`s sort of maybe one of the next big
phases in testing this deal is what happens on the judicial nominations in
the immediate future.
FRUMIN: Well, once again, I believe that it`s legitimate to distinguish
between judicial nominees and executive branch nominees. I do think that
the president has a much greater claim to have his executive branch
nominees considered with the filibuster either limited somehow -- I don`t
believe in doing away with it, but I think you can quantify executive
branch nominations and somehow impose some limits on filibusters there.
With respect to the discussion before the break, I believe that the policy
battle should be fought legislatively. And once the battle is done and
legislation has been enacted, the administration is entitled to implement
that. And so I really think that from a policy standpoint and
administration, a president is on firm grounds to believe that
filibustering his cabinet nominees, his administrative nominees is somehow
KORNACKI: All right. I want to thank Amanda Terkel with the "Huffington
Post," former senator Mo Cowan will be back with us later on the show, and
thank you to Alan Frumin, a former Senate parliamentarian.
If you want to understand the roots of this month`s abortion fights in
Texas, you need to go back to something Ronald Reagan did 33 years ago this
past week. That`s next.
KORNACKI: See if you can spot a pattern here. This week in Texas a
standoff spanning two months, two special sessions and one marathon
filibuster from Wendy Davis culminated when Governor Rick Perry signed the
bill on Thursday that bans abortions after 20 weeks. Rick Perry also seems
interested in running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
In Ohio Governor John Kasich has quietly signed the state budget that
defunds Planned Parenthood and that could force multiple closure of
abortion clinics. Kasich is also in the mix for the 2016 GOP nomination.
And so is Wisconsin`s Scott Walker who used the slowest news day of the
year, the Friday after the Fourth of July, to stage a camera-free signing
ceremony for a bill mandating ultrasounds for women seeking abortions.
Meanwhile in Washington, Marco Rubio whose 2016 ambition hardly needs to be
highlighted, is being pressured to lead the push in the Senate for a ban on
abortions after 20 weeks that House Republicans recently passed.
We`ve talked a lot since last November`s election about fracturing or
potential fracturing in the Republican Party, but when it comes to the
issue of abortion, that fracturing is nowhere to be seen. If you`re an
ambitious Republican politician, if you`re a state legislator looking to
move up to Congress, a member of Congress who wants to run for governor or
the senate or a governor or senator who`s dreaming of running for the White
House, if you`re that kind of the ambitious Republican, it is no longer
enough just to say that you`re prolife. There is more pressure with the
kind of legislation we`ve ever seen before, there is more pressure in state
capitols and on Capitol Hill to enact that kind of legislation. And there
are fewer incentives than ever in today`s Republican universe to stand up
to that pressure and to say no.
If you want to understand how we reached this moment, when and why the
wheels that got us here were set in the motion, and the best place to start
is at Joe Louis arena in Detroit, 33 years ago this past week. This is
where the basic fault line between the two parties on women`s issues
originated. It`s where the gender gap was born. It was the 1980
Republican National Conventions gaveled to order on July 14, 1980. What
there happened, there was no suspense over who the presidential nominee was
going to be. Ronald Reagan have locked that up in the primaries. But no
one knew who the V.P. was going to be for Reagan. And smart money said
Reagan was going to turn to former President Gerald Ford, it would be an
extremely unconventional move and it reflected the very real divisions that
defined the Republican Party of that era. Reagan, of course, represented
the ascendant conservative wing, the new right, it was called back then,
true believers, they were. They prioritized ideological purity in a full
frontal assault on big government. They were the forerunners to the Tea
Party Republicans we know today.
But the right wing did not have a monopoly on the GOP. At least not yet.
There was still a lot of Republican moderates and pragmatists, moderates
and pragmatists like Gerald Ford, there were even authentic liberals like
Charles Mathias from Maryland, Lowell Weicker of Connecticut, Jacob Javits
from New York. One of those liberal Republicans, in fact, had just bolted
the party to run for president in 1980 as an Independent. It was John
Anderson, a congressman from Illinois. And he was a threat to Reagan
because he could peel off Republicans who didn`t want to re-elect Jimmy
Carter, but who also thought that Reagan was too far to the right. This is
why Ford was the smart money choice to be V.P. as the convention opened.
It would be a dramatic gesture by Reagan to Republicans who were not part
of the new right, to Republicans who didn`t like or trust the new right.
It`ll be a gesture to them that there was still room for them in the party.
And the need for that kind of gesture became clearer as Reagan`s delegates
assembled the party`s platform. A draft happened to lea just before
everyone arrived in Detroit for the convention and for the first time ever,
the 1980 Republican platform would call for a constitutional amendment to
ban abortion. For the first time ever it would endorse a specific litmus
test on abortion for judicial appointments. And in the startling reversal,
the platform would no longer endorse the Equal Rights Amendment, a gender
equality plan that had been a staple of both parties` platforms for four
decades. That platform is what prompted this scene in Detroit at the start
of the convention, a scene that would be unimaginable today. Socially
liberal Republicans, convention delegates, elected officials, activists
among them, joining with women`s groups to protest Reagan`s platform.
Gerald Ford was one of the many Republicans who supported the ERA. When he
was president he then declared August 26, 1975 to be Women`s Equality Day.
And he issued a proclamation calling for the enactment of the ERA. But the
Reagan/Ford negotiations broke down that week in Detroit, which let Reagan
to another ERA supporter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I support the equal rights amendment. I believe in
equal pay for equal opportunity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Yep, that guy. That was George H.W. Bush. And he was many
things during his political career but in 1980 he was the last great hope
of moderate and liberal Republicans. Their final chance to turn back the
new right in the tide of Reaganism. Bush`s family personified a dying
strain of Republicanism. His father, Prescott Bush, had lost an election
in Connecticut because of his support for Planned Parenthood. And not only
did the younger Bush endorsed the ERA in 1980, he also called himself pro-
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I don`t want to change the Supreme Court decision to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Bush gave Reagan a scare in those 1980 primaries. He scored an
upset in Iowa, that was before the state`s caucus electorate was overrun
with evangelical conservatives. He won a few other states, too. It was
Reagan`s year. And more than ever, it was Reagan`s party. So, when the
offer came in Detroit for the number two slot, Bush was happy to take it.
And to start distancing himself from his socially liberal past. Already,
he was thinking ahead to 1988 and the next open GOP nomination. He could
see where the wind was blowing. Reagan ended up crushing Jimmy Carter that
November. Soaring inflation and interest rates and endless hostage ordeal
on Iran made any other result impossible. But there was a quirk in those
results. There was a demographic split that had never before been seen.
There was a gender gap.
Look at this, four years earlier when Carter had run against Ford, the pro-
ERA Ford, there`ve been zero difference between men and women. They`d
voted for Carter by the same small margin. But 1980 was very different.
Among men Reagan demolished Carter by 17 points. Among women it was
basically a tie. When that platform was ratified back in the summer of
1980, a liberal Republican senator Charles Percy of Illinois had a warning
for his party. He said if moderate Republicans go home and feel they`ve
been totally rebuffed I hate to think what`s going to happen to the party.
The path from then until now is a long and complicated one, but 33 years
later we have our answer. We`re going to talk about how that 1980 platform
came to be and how more than ever - how more than ever, excuse me, we`re
feeling its fallout in 2013. We`ll talk about that after this.
KORNACKI: So, I was talking about the origin and the evolution of the
gender gap and then what`s happening right now in Texas and other states.
I want to bring in Susan Bevan, she is the coacher woman of the Republican
Majority for Choice and National Advocacy Organization for Pro-Choice
Republicans, Celinda Lake, she`s a Democratic pollster at Lake Research
Partners, she` done work for NARAL and Emily`s List and Kim Gandy,
President of the CEO of the national network to end domestic violence, and
the former president of NOW, National Organization for Women. Michael
Brennan-Dougherty is also back here with us. You know, Kim, I guess I want
to start with you. Because we did a little bit of the history there
leading up to 1980. And I think it`s something that people who aren`t
intimately familiar with that history are kind of surprised to remember
that - to find out, wow, there used to be a lot of, you know, Republicans
who identify themselves as pro-choice. And also, you know, that 1980
platform; that was seven years after Roe v. Wade. We think of the
Republican Party today as sort of the top to bottom, you know, anti-
abortion party, but it took a long time for that to sort of take hold in
the party. What was going on back then that brought that about?
KIM GANDY, FMR. PRESIDENT, NOW: Yes, that`s quite true. There was really
a realignment of the two parties that started in that year, in 1980, when
the Republican Party went from being pro-ERA, pro-choice, generally pro-
civil rights moving very, very deliberately away from those positions,
moving away from a pro-labor position, too, that started with PATCO, with
KORNACKI: There was the air traffic controllers.
GANDY: The air traffic controllers. One of his first - one of his first
acts. But we were all shocked when George H.W. Bush changed his position.
He had been a supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, he`d been prochoice,
he`d been very progressive New England Republican -- typical New England
Republican at the time. And the Republican Party still doesn`t have New
England, that, you know, that genesis still holds in that part of the
country, but it`s become very difficult, difficult, I think, for
Republicans to maintain the kinds of positions that were extremely common
prior to 1980.
KORNACKI: Well, Susan, is that sort of the story of what happened in the
Republican Party? Or was it just sort of a demographic shift? You talk
about the old New England Republicans. And it used to be a strongly
Republican region in a lot of places and they were sort of culturally
liberal Republicans. Basically New England is a blue region now and the
party`s a lot more dominated by the South, by the rise of evangelicals in
the South. Is that basically what happened? Just the sort of the
composition of the party just changed?
SUSAN BEVAN, REPUBLICAN MAJORITY FOR CHOICE: Well, I think it started way
before the 1980 convention. I mean my parents were precinct committee
people in our suburb outside of Seattle, that`s how we did it. And people
would come in -- I`ve talked to my mom about this many times. People would
come in with this issue only on their mind. And as soon as this issue was
off the table, they left, they didn`t care about the other issues that we
were facing in our state or a country. So, they had been working at this
for a very long time. So, I think, you know, after years and years of
this, it culminated in 1980, but it didn`t start there.
KORNACKI: But it was, Michael, a big part of this, at least as I know the
story, is the rise of evangelical Christians as a political force, because
evangelicals traditionally were apolitical, like in the 1960s, even in
1970s, and that really sort of changed with Roe v. Wade in `73, but also
with, you know, Jimmy Carter carried the evangelical vote in `76, right?
In sort of the backlash vote of evangelicals to him?
DOUGHERTY: I mean the story of evangelicals in politics is actually really
complicated. I mean evangelical theologians like Norman Geisler, that`s a
very obscure name to site here, but he was pro-choice in `60s and `70s. He
thought that, you know, anti-abortion was kind of a catholic - you know,
Roman position, that it didn`t belong in evangelical circles.
He justified that with a lot of bunk -- what we know as bunk science as far
as his views were. He just kind of made up stuff about biology. But I
think where this begins in the essence is, is in the realignment that Nixon
started. I mean that brought over a lot of working class ethnic whites who
were catholic into the Republican fold for the first time since, you know,
their great, great, great grandparents have immigrated during the first
wave of migration. It weakened -- that weakened in turn the prolife
Democrat side of things. And you kind of lost that northeastern
conservative family oriented working class catholic vote. And then, of
course, the evangelicals began pouring in for Reagan. But Evangelicals
voted in the plurality for Clinton as late as 1992, when you really dig
into the numbers. And I wonder if, you know, some of this gender gap that
opened up after 1980 isn`t just about women`s issues, but is really about -
- women don`t - a lot of women don`t see something in conservatism for them
generally. Right? I mean my mother was a single mother, never would have
voted for a Republican. The Republicans offered her nothing.
And so, I don`t know if it`s just about women`s issues. I think there`s
women who are not part of a successful family life, don`t feel a part of
the Republican coalition in a kind of basic way.
KORNACKI: Well, what we have a pollster here who could speak to some of
that. I want to look at what started in 1980 with the gender gap and how
it`s evolved. We`ve got some interesting numbers and really - a
fascinating clip. It`s 20 years old. But I think you want to see. We`ll
play that coming up next.
KORNACKI: So, we looked at 1980 a few minutes ago as sort of the origin
story for the gender gap as we now know it. I just want to show, this is
sort of - 1976 Carter versus Ford, no discernible gender gap. 1980, it
becomes apparent, and this is what it`s looked like ever since. We have
the stats here for every - I think we have the stats here for election
since then. There you go. And you can just see it got a little tight in
1992, the Clinton/Bush/Perot year. But basically, there has been almost
consistently a double-digit gender gap in every election since then. And
Celinda, you know, Michael makes a point it`s not just abortion that drives
the issue. It`s not just - but again, it doesn`t seem coincidental to me
that it`s the year the Republicans throw the ERA out of their platform,
it`s the year Republicans embraced the constitutional amendment to ban
abortion, you had the protests like we show from moderate liberal
Republicans, a lot of them from the northeast. It does seem, sort of
quote/unquote, women`s issues have played a big role in the formation and
CELINDA LAKE, POLLSTER: I think women`s issues have played a big role.
The foundation of the gender gap - and I was actually at the University of
Michigan, and we along with Katie (inaudible) actually first found the
gender gap when I was there, and it`s in the role of government. It`s
rooted really in the role of government. And women think there should be a
more proactive role for government in economics, in protecting women`s
rights and these rights had just- we remember when abortion was illegal.
And the Republicans saying, no, no role for government, but having this
ironic positioning of no role for governments in economics, but a heavy
role for government in your bedroom. So, there was really a very big
tension around the role for government. The other thing in 1980 was the
war. And women were terrified of Ronald Reagan around war and thought he
would - he could easily nuke Russia. So, there were a lot of factors. But
the thing that I think is very interesting is that the gender gap has
persisted and we now also have the marriage gap. Were unmarried women
voting totally Democratic, and the marriage gap three times the gender gap
and that`s accentuated by these economic issues - that you said, your mom
is a single mom, but also via these issues around health care, abortion,
preventive health care. When you close two-thirds of the clinics in Texas
you`re closing a lot of places that people get mammograms, screenings,
birth control, this is basic healthcare for women.
KORNACKI: Well, that marriage gap, you are talking about, I want to get
into that a little bit, first, I want to play a tease before the break,
this is from - this is a clip from 1992, sort of the key step in the
evolution of the gender gap. I think I`ll explain the significance after.
But this is Bill Weld, then governor of Massachusetts, at the 1992
Republican National Convention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. WILLIAM WELD, (R ) MASSACHUSETTS: There are also issues where we do
not agree. I happen to think that individual freedom should extend to a
woman`s right to choose.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
KORNACKI: So, Bill Weld was pro-choice. And he went to the convention
that year to patty a platform fight on abortion. He wanted Republicans to
acknowledge, basically, pro-choice Republicans in their platform. And he
needed to get six states that have a full scale (inaudible). He got four.
The significance of that is, as far as I can tell, that is the last time
there was any kind of real concerted push at the national level in the
Republican Party to open up the question -- the question of abortion. And
I wonder, Susan, when you just of sort look at the history and you look at
what was put in the platform in 1980, you look at the futility of what Weld
did in 1992, the fact there`s been no follow-up since then, what is the
place these days for a pro-choice Republican in the party?
BEVAN: Of course, I get asked that a lot.
BEVAN: But the majority of Republicans are pro-choice, or at least they
were. A lot of Republicans are leaving the party over issues like this.
So the party has shrunk so that - the proportion that is pro-choice, of
course, gets smaller. And has left the more extreme ends of the party. To
me it`s incredibly frustrating. I actually was watching your - you know,
first clip. I worked for George H. W. Bush when I was - just graduated
from law school and I did some advance work for him just before I took the
bar exam. And he was pro-choice. Of course, or I wouldn`t have worked for
him. It was highly disappointing when he ended up, you know, basically
throwing us all under the bus, you know, kind of like Mitt Romney did, who
asked us for our endorsement from the Republican Majority for Choice, when
he was running for governor and then as soon as he decided he had national
aspirations, he said, we owe you. We owe you. We couldn`t have done this
without you. You neutralized the issue. Well, that`s what we want. We
want the issue neutralized. It should not be in politics, regardless of
how you feel about viability or life or any of those issues. We`re all
pro-life. I have three children that I wanted. I`m pro-life. I`m anti
not making choices for yourself. I believe that you should all make your
own decisions. And I find it incredibly inconsistent that a party that
believes in limited government, that believes that the government should
not be making excessive regulation, would then make those decisions for
you. So, we do keep - I mean, our organization keeps trying to put that,
you know, discussion out there by informing people as much as possible.
But it kind of goes back to what Celinda was saying about you`ve got to
vote in your primaries because the primary vote is where this issue is
KORNACKI: Right. And I want to talk about that and I want to connect what
we`ve just been talking about to, you know, Texas, to Ohio, to North
Carolina, Wisconsin, everything`s going on in states across the country
right now. After this.
KORNACKI: So, we`ve been trying to give some historical context to really
the explosion of anti-abortion legislation that we`re seeing. You know, we
have the House Republicans nationally pass this proposed 20-week ban. It
doesn`t look like it`s going anywhere beyond that. But that happened in
Congress. We had Texas here with the Wendy Davis filibuster, we have Ohio,
we have Wisconsin, we have North Carolina, the sort of motorcycle abortion,
so we can talk about that in a minute. But Michael I just want to ask you
about the conservative movement and its sort of approach toward the issue
of abortion. It seems to me, we set this up talking about how this got
into the Republican Party platform with Reagans and the conservatives in
1980. I think there was a transition somewhere in the last decade or so
when Reagan was president he gave lip service to the issue of abortion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
KORNACKI: You know, I don`t think there was a lot of aggressive action at
the national level, at the state legislative level from Republicans on
abortion. They just talked about it. And that seemed to be OK with the
base. Did we reach a transition point where a Republican base now sort of
like - we`re tired of being talked about this. And you need to show me
what bill you signed? Is that where this is coming from?
DOUGHERTY: Yeah, that`s absolutely it. Because pro-lifers have - prolife
actors have really gone to the mat for their candidates in almost every
election. You know, they`re the ones out there knocking on doors for
George W. Bush, et cetera. And then their issue seems to just disappear
off the radar. You know, it was just Rick Santorum standing up in the
Senate alone in 2004 and that was the last they ever heard anything from
the Republican Party. So, there is demand for action. This is also, I
mean, part of these pushes for the 20-week bans and for all of these
regulations on the clinics themselves, and what size their hallway has to
be and what kind of sinks they have to be.
I mean this is them taking advantage of a new cycle out of the Kermit
Gosnell trial in the way that gun control advocates try to take - seize
momentum a little legislative momentum after the school shooting in Newton,
Connecticut. So, that`s part of this, is that they`ve seen this opening to
do these limited things, like 20-week bans or these regulations on clinics.
Normally Republicans are loathed to talk about this because a Republican
politician, this may not be his issue or her issue, they don`t care about
it that much and then they end up putting their foot in their mouth, like
Todd Akin did and end up going beyond just even the issue of abortion and
then offending women more generally or saying something criminally stupid
about rape or, you know, whatever.
So, there`s always been this reluctance to do anything about it, but I
think just in this -- in this little season of this year, there`s just been
this concerted push.
KORNACKI: Well, and Celinda, our numbers expert here, I mean I want to ask
you about this, because it`s - You mentioned the idea of a marriage gap in
terms of like attitudes towards the party, attitudes towards the issue like
abortion, because it - abortion is, when you poll, it really depends how
you ask the question. What kind of result you get - you can ask, you know,
first trimester, 60 percent will say legal. Second trimester, 60 percent
will say illegal. You ask about should you overturn Roe, two to one, it`s
no, we shouldn`t overturn Roe.
LAKE: That`s right.
KORNACKI: So, you can - you can read these different ways. I wonder how
stuff we`re seeing like in Texas right now, you ask the question about like
a 20-week ban in Texas in the poll and it actually shows there`s more
support - within Texas there is more support for that than there is
opposition. There`s other stuff, also, in here about clinics. There`s
other, you know, aspects to the legislation. I wonder how this is all
playing with the electorate. How do you filter it through when you look at
LAKE: Well, Texas is a great example. Because when you talk about the
details -- first of all, America is not very good at math. And my favorite
focus group comment on this whole trimester thing, was a guy who said in
the focus, but how many trimesters are there in the pregnancy. And nobody
said, well, you idiot, tri - means three.
LAKE: Yeah, (inaudible) right there.
Americans are not very good at math. How long? 20 weeks? What`s the
trimester? Americans are not very good at math. What you do see emerging
in Texas and in North Carolina is a central premise that these are women`s
personal decisions. And you both mentioned this. And that if you`re
talking about 20 weeks, you`re talking about one percent of all abortions.
You`re talking about crisis pregnancies. These are decisions that should
be made by women and their doctors, not by politicians. And one of the
strongest statements that we tested is, you wouldn`t ask your doctor what
kind of cancer treatment to get. You wouldn`t ask your doctor whether you
should get a mammogram. These are not relevant -- you wouldn`t ask - I
mean you wouldn`t ask a politician, you would ask your doctor. These are
not places for politicians to be intervening either. And politicians are
doing things like -- now they`re talking about six-week bans. They don`t
know anything about biology.
KORNACKI: Right. Now, in Texas we just had this whole drama over 20 weeks
and now there is a proposal to do - to make it six weeks. Kim, I want to
just sort of - when you look at sort of the sweep of history on this, it`s
been 40 years since Roe v. Wade, where do you think we are right now when
it comes to the question of abortion, when it comes to the politics of
abortion? We see where we`ve been. Where do you think we are right now?
How do you see this moment?
GANDY: You know, I think that for the pro-choice movement, I think that
we`re moving in the right direction because I think that the -- that there
will be a backlash against these really outrageous regulations. And the
fact that the more extreme anti-abortion part of the anti-abortion movement
has also made it very clear that they`re also anti-family planning. And I
think that surprised everyone. Ten years ago when we were saying, you
know, they`re also against family planning. We got, oh, no, they can`t be
against it. No one`s against family planning.
And here we have 57 family planning clinics that are closing in Texas. And
only, what 14 of them performed abortions. The rest of them were only
doing family planning and they`re closed anyway. And these trap laws, trap
being targeted regulation of abortion providers, are closing clinics all
over the country with rules like hallways wide enough for two gurneys to
pass side by side, never mind you`re never going to have two gurneys
passing side by side in a little abortion clinic. But they`re closing the
clinics anyway, not for women`s health, but just to make rules so
outrageous that the clinics can`t comply with them.
KORNACKI: And there does seem to be an awareness, even among very
conservative anti-abortion Republicans of, you know, how dangerous this is
politically for them. I want to play - this was just yesterday, there was
this debate in Virginia between Ken Cuccinelli, one of the most
conservative, socially conservative Republicans in the country, running in
Virginia, a very, you know, purplish state. He was asked about abortion,
this is how he addressed it in the debate yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ATTTY. GEN. KEN CUCCINELLI, (R) VIRGINIA GOV. NOMINEE: I do not expect to
use the political capital of the governor`s office to be moving those
pieces of legislation. My focus is on job creation and job growth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Those pieces of legislation, referring to the sort of thing
we`ve seen in Texas and other states. The first thing I thought when I saw
it, I want to play one more quick clip here. We talked about North
Carolina, where the governor - the Republican governor is expected to sign,
you know, a bill -- a law that would make it very difficult for a lot of
clinics in North Carolina to keep functioning. This is the North Carolina
Republican governor who just last fall was running an election like Ken
Cuccinelli, was asked about possibly doing something like that and this is
what he said in the debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you`re elected governor, what further restrictions
on abortion would you agree to sign? I`ll start with you, Mr. McCrory.
PAT MCCRORY: None.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can`t really ask to do a follow-up for that one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, Susan, they get that this is perilous (inaudible) toy, but
then they get into office, like Pat McCrory gets in - he says no, I
absolutely not going to do anything. He gets in the office and he signs
this motorcycle abortion bill and then you got Ken Cuccinelli at there who
clearly, you know, is uncomfortable having the sort of broad, you know,
general election - population of Virginia see him as, you know, the
crusading anti-abortion guy.
BEVAN: Well, I mean, it`s politics. It`s what gets them elected and re-
elected - the group of people who gives the money. You know, you say,
where are the moderate Republicans? Well, we`re here, but we`re quiet and
we`re not given as much money as the extremists are to push their causes.
I mean I think it all goes back to term limits. I think if we didn`t have
people continually playing to very tightly defined ideological group that
has been created for them through redistricting, then pretty soon they`d
have to figure out that in order to run the government, you have to
cooperate. You don`t hire somebody to do a job just to stand on your tiny
little platform and, you know, be buffeted by the winds. You have to reach
out and work across the aisle to get something done. That doesn`t happen.
LAKE: You know, Steve, that`s the big point here. The thing that voters
are really stunned about is that we`re spending this kind of time on this.
77 percent of the voters in every single one of these state said, you can`t
find another problem to deal with? Besides, you had two special sessions.
LAKE: And we, the woman, in the focus group in Las Vegas say, you know,
they`re focusing on my birth control. I thought that was settled in 1960.
Rome is burning (ph).
KORNACKI: Isn`t that - that sort of attention, though, of your governing
the sort of a broad general election audience versus like - if you`re a
Republican today, it seems one of the chief demands of the Republican base,
Michael, is abortion before anything else.
LAKE: Primary. On the primary.
KORNACKI: Right. On the primary election. People are going to vote in
the primary, right.
DOUGHERTY: No, there absolutely is. And I would just say one thing to
correct earlier - It was reported yesterday that almost no clinics in Texas
are going to close down as a result of this law. They almost all are going
to make all the changes. And not one of them has announced that they are
KORNACKI: I think Planned Parenthood - I think did announce immediately
that one is closing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
DOUGHERTY: May be one is closing.
KORNACKI: And I think it`s .
DOUGHERTY: What is reported yesterday, that it`s less than five have
really made any moves to close.
GANDY: Well, that`s because - that`s because it`s being challenged.
DOUGHERTY: Most of them have already announced they`re going to comply
with the regulations. But I would say that the Republican Party has been -
- there is a lot of pressure to do something on this. You know, sometimes
these issues like family planning come up because there was a change in the
-- or announced position in HHS regulation that, OK, if you are a catholic
school, you`re going to have to provide birth control as part of the normal
health insurance that you provide, which they don`t do. So that became for
some a religious liberty issue. Translated to a politician who has no clue
about anything the church teaches or how they practice or how insurance
plans are run at all, it becomes, you know, a political grenade in their
hands and they just pull the pin and blow up.
DOUGHERTY: But there will be continue to be pressure on this. I mean when
you look at the most anti-abortion activists in the Republican Party, they
give money, they give more than money, they give time and effort in trying
to elect you. They show up at primaries. They - and half of them are
women. I mean half of the most antiabortion activists are women. When you
poll - when you look at Gallup polls, when you look at Pew polls, when you
say, ask the question, do you want to ban all abortions? You get this
almost the exact same amount of number of women as men, sometimes more.
So, it`s going to continue to be a part of Republican Party politics. I
think there will be some diffusion of the issue in the future as technology
changes, that kind of turns the debate, but for now Republicans are going
to continue to put this pressure on.
KORNACKI: Well, and I do - I want to pick this up in the next - I want to
just talk about what the future is for pro-choice Republicans and I also
want to - what the future is for Democrats who oppose abortions, if there
is a future there as well or this is just going to be a strictly partisan
issue kind of going forward. We will pick it up after this.
KORNACKI: We started talking about whether abortion has become or is in
the process of becoming really just, you know, a partisan issue. If you`re
a Democrat, you`re de facto a pro-choice. If you`re a Republican, you are
de facto an anti-abortion. I want to play a clip here. It`s six years
old, but it`s Rudy Giuliani, excuse me, Rudy Giuliani, I can say his name,
I think .
KORNACKI: . really the last pro-choice Republican to run for president.
(inaudible) amount of money and won, I think, one delegate. But this is -
this is the idea -- this is what it looks like in this era of a pro-choicer
running as a Republican. This is how he has to talk. This is what it
(BEGIN VIDEO CILP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK to repeal?
RUDY GIULIANI: It would be OK to repeal. It would be OK also if a strict
instruction is judge viewed it as precedent. And I think judge has to make
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would that be OK if they didn`t repeal it?
GIULIANI: I think that - I think the court has to make that decision and
then the country can deal with it, where a federalist system of government
and states can make their own decisions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I mean not exactly ringing endorsement there of the philosophy,
the pro-choice philosophy. But it seems like, Susan, and again, he went
nowhere, and there`s probably a lot of reasons why Rudy Giuliani - really,
I have trouble with him name.
KORNACKI: Like Rudy fizzled as a presidential candidate in 2008. But, you
know, it seemed every time he talked about this issue, he seemed apologetic
about it. He seemed to get that term in there, strict constructionist
judges, he was always pledging to nominate them, which really to the right
always seems like as code for, you know, nominee who was going to overturn
Roe v. Wade. He always went out of his way to say he`s going to appoint
strict constructionist judges. And it sort of made me - what`s the point
of running as a pro-choice Republican, if that`s the way you talk - those
are the kind of promises you have to make. And if there`s any future - can
you imagine a pro-choice Republican running like in 2016? Are there any
out there who could?
BEVAN: Can I imagine one running or one winning?
KORNACKI: Let`s say, winning a state. Because that hasn`t happened since
George Bush Senior in 1980.
BEVAN: Yeah, well, it`s complicated, obviously. And then, you know, as a
president, I mean it`s a totally different issue than when you`re running
in Congress. In Congress you - you know, like I said before, you speak to
a smaller constituency. You just have to - you know, owe your allegiance
to them. They have to - you know, as a presidential candidate just try and
cross more boundaries. And I think as our demographics continue to change
in this country and Republicans are not appealing to a broader demographic,
not just being women, but, you know, Hispanics and African-Americans.
They`re not putting out the kind of policies that they want. So, do I see
a future for a pro-choice Republican candidate winning a state? I think
it`s going to take a few more cycles.
GANDY: It`s certainly getting harder for pro-life democrats as well. We
saw in the 2010 elections, a lot of Democrats lost seats, but they were
KORNACKI: Upper Midwest Catholic Democrats, Bart Stupak retiring.
GANDY: 23 of the people who voted for Stupak-Pitts who were Democrats were
KORNACKI: What about that sort of parallel question, Celinda? We say can
there be a pro-choice Republican presidential candidate? Is it feasible at
all? Could a pro-life Democrat plausibly compete for the presidential
nomination or be picked as VP, or is that off-limits on the Democratic side
as apparently pro-choice.
LAKE: I think it`s off limits. I think you can be personally pro-life but
not politically pro-life, not in terms of public policy. But I think
there`s a more fundamental question, which is, do you think we would elect
in the United States an anti-choice president? And I think the answer is
no. We will not elect a president who has the positions of Rick Perry and
these other governors, because independents resemble Democrats.
KORNACKI: We could say like George W. Bush ran as a pro-life candidate as
recently as 2004 and won.
LAKE: One of the reasons he won, though, was because I think a lot of
people thought he would not be proactive on the issue. And you made a very
important point. Until recently, I mean, Ronald Reagan talked like crazy
about it, never introduced any legislation, never whipped any legislation.
He had the majority of Congress, never moved any legislation. This is all
nice rhetoric, but now when you`re passing these kinds of bills, you`re
alienating men and women. And when you are talking about vaginal
ultrasounds in the case of rape and redefining rape again and again, you`re
going to have the kind of losses that you had in 2012. These are not
viable positions nationwide.
KORNACKI: We`re short on time. Michael, quickly.
DOUGHERTY: There is -- activists on both sides of the issue see it as a
transcend ant moral issue. And if the president of the party they`re
aligned with doesn`t reflect that, that to them is almost an extinction
level event. Pro-lifers lost any support with Democrats, to them they
can`t afford to lose their stranglehold on the Republican Party, and it`s
the same on the other side. You have to have this. Otherwise you`re going
to lose the enthusiasm and the energy and organization of your activists.
And those are important in major elections.
KORNACKI: All right. I want to thank Susan Bevan of the Republican
Majority for Choice, Michael Brendan Dougherty of the "American
Conservative" magazine, and the editor of the (inaudible). Celinda Lake,
Democratic pollster and Lake Research Partners. And Kim Gandy, the former
president of the National Organization for Women.
What could keep Governor Chris Christie from running for president in 2016?
How about his job title? That`s next.
KORNACKI: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has a big lead over his
Democratic challenger, state senator Barbara Buono. He is up by 32 points
in the recent Quinnipiac poll. But even with a landslide victory this
November, a handful of reports that new laws affecting campaign donations
as well as interviews our producers have done with campaign experts,
suggests that if Christie wants to run for president in 2016, he may run
into significant legal barriers, hampering his ability to pull in Wall
Street cash. And raising the question of whether he would step down as
governor precisely to avoid those barriers.
To understand the challenge Governor Christie would face, it helps to look
back 20 years ago. That`s when state and local candidates around the
country were routinely flooded with campaign donations from bond dealers
who were eager to win millions of dollars in government business. The way
it worked back then was that states and local governments often -- the way
it does work is states and governments sell bonds to finance big ticket
projects like new bridges and roads. To do so, they pay bond dealers to
bring the bonds to market. To win those contracts, some bond dealers threw
money at candidates and incumbents who would have the power to decide which
bond dealers would get those deals.
One of these pay to play scandals involved the governor of New Jersey back
then, back in 1993, a Democrat named Jim Florio. His chief of staff also
ran, you guessed it, a bond business. So a year later in 1994, the SEC
issued tough new rules to clamp down on corruption. Bond dealers and any
of their employees working to secure government bond deals now had a cap.
Ranging no higher than $250 on how much money they could donate in races
where the winner could influence the selection of bond dealers. Bond
dealers caught broking the rules were then barred from doing business with
that state government for two years. That`s a penalty that could cost them
millions, tens of millions of dollars.
In 1996, for instance, a Morgan Stanley executive donated to his old
college friend`s campaign for the U.S. Senate. That friend was William
Weld, at the time he was the governor of Massachusetts, and that meant he
had appointment authority over the issuance of state bonds. So as a result
of that donation, Morgan Stanley was barred from millions of dollars of
business with the state of Massachusetts. In 1998, a $200 donation to
then-Texas Governor George W. Bush`s re-election by the CEO of A.G. Edwards
& Sons cost that firm two years of business with the state of Texas.
That`s business that had brought in $375 million for the company over the
previous three years.
Ken Gross, who is going to join us in a moment, and leads the political law
practice at the law firm Skadden Arps, we spoke with him actually about
this issue recently, and he told us that bond dealers have already run into
trouble for donating to previous presidential campaigns of governors.
Gross said that in 2000 and 2008 respectively, George W. Bush and Sarah
Palin received donations for their national races from bond dealers. But
because both of those candidates were governors of their states at the
time, those bond dealers were not only hit with those SEC penalties, the
penalties cost them enough money to drive them out of business.
Since those new SEC rules in 1994 bond dealers leery of meeting a similar
fate have pulled back on donations enough to cost state politicians running
for national office tens of millions of dollars in lost campaign cash. And
there is another twist. Restrictions on Wall Street donations expanded
dramatically three years ago today when the Dodd/Frank Wall Street reform
law added even more individuals, like pension fund advisers, to the list of
financial professionals barred from giving more than minimal contributions
to politicians involved in state and local financial deals.
We`re now at the point where thousands of companies, including almost every
hedge fund, private equity firm and investment house, are subject to these
new caps in campaign donations. And the impact of these laws is now
magnified because presidential candidates now depend entirely on fund
raising to finance their campaigns. In 2012 for the first time, no one
took federal matching funds for the primaries or for the general election.
While this new regulatory regiment may limit how money a host of state and
local officials can get from Wall Street it`s uniquely problematic for one
politician in particular. Chris Christie. Here`s why. For one thing,
finance, insurance and real estate, known as the FIRE sector, compromised
the single largest source of Christie`s donations in his 2009 campaign for
governor. That is according to the National Institute for Money in State
Politics. Made him especially dependent on this sector. Complicating
things further for Christie is the fact that New Jersey has the most
powerful executive branch of all of the states. That means that Christie
is involved in a wide range of state financial deals. He picks nine out of
the 16 members of the State Investment Council, for instance. And that
means that more than other governors, more than any other governor, he is
directly involved in the kind of government transactions that trigger those
bans on campaign donations. On top of all of that, thanks to Florio and
other scandals, New Jersey now has the strictest state laws on pay to play
in the country, doubling federal penalties and affecting even more
Last year, in fact, the Romney campaign reportedly considered Christie`s
exposure on this issue significant enough to address in their process of
picking a running mate. According to multiple reports, Romney asked
Christie whether he would be willing to resign as governor in order to join
the Romney ticket. Quote, "Christie refused to resign under any
circumstances," a Romney source told the New York Post at the time. It had
nothing to do with Chris`s personality and everything to do with money.
The story continues, quote, "Christie`s aides tried to find a way around
the rules, like passing off power over state bonds and pensions to another
official. But that didn`t satisfy Romney officials. They feared that if
Christie ran for Veep and didn`t resign, the Obama campaign would challenge
any Wall Street donations." End of the quote.
All of this raises the question. If his current role, if Christie`s
current role overseeing state dealings with Wall Street may already have
cost him a shot at running for vice president, would he consider stepping
down as governor next time around, in advance of 2016 if that is his best
shot at winning the presidency? We`re going to dig into that question after
KORNACKI: I`m joined now by Ken Gross, former associate general counsel at
the Federal Election Commission, now attorney at the law firm Skadden Arps,
where he leads the political law practice and advises candidates in
corporate clients on campaign finance law. Nick Acocella, editor and
publisher of the political newsletter Politifax New Jersey. We`re also
here with former Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, Mo Cowan, and Steve
Spaulding, counsel for the government watch dog group Common Cause.
So I went through a lot of information there a minute ago, and Ken, I just
want to try to winnow this down for people to really understand. There are
basically two separate rules here, two separate SEC rules. One passed in
1994, one enacted in 1994, that covers municipal people -- groups that
underwrite municipal bonds. And then in 2010 is for pension fund advisers.
And the effect of the 2010 one was to basically double the size of the
market that`s covered by this. We`re talking about like more than $5
trillion of potentially of business that`s regulated under this. So we`re
talking about a huge potential source of campaign contributions for
anybody, but particularly Christie.
KEN GROSS, SKADDEN ARPS: That`s right. First law has been with us, as you
say, for almost 20 years. The second one was actually 2011. And it
affects a huge swath of donations, potential donations, because it not only
affects corporate contributions, permissible at the state level to a
governor or somebody, but also affects their PACs and individual
executives, personal giving, down to very, very low limits, $250 or $350,
depending on what you`re talking about. So tremendous impact. We`re
talking about hundreds of companies, really thousands of companies, and
tens of thousands, millions of dollars.
KORNACKI: So, I remember when this -- we quoted from that New York Post
story from last summer at the start here that said last summer that
Christie did not get on the Romney ticket because of this issue. I
remember reading at the time and being very skeptical and saying, Mitt
Romney didn`t want Chris Christie on the ticket because of his personality
and a lot of these other things. But there is - it`s not just that New
York Post article. I want to put this up on the screen. This is a book
that is going to be coming out in a few weeks by Dan Balz of the Washington
Post, who talks - it has a whole section here about the negotiations over
this. And he basically says that after the Romney campaign talked to
Christie, a Romney adviser said the campaign never found an adequate
solution for the pay to play rules as it might affect sitting governors
running for president or vice president. They came away convinced that the
rule will have a potentially significant effect on sitting governors who
decide to seek the presidency in the future.
And Steve, that raises the immediate issue then of Chris Christie in 2016 -
- if he is re-elected this fall, as people expect, could he run as a
sitting governor for president in 2016?
STEPHEN SPAULDING, COMMON CAUSE: He would likely want to resign.
Otherwise, you know, all of these Wall Street financiers are not going to
finance a campaign if they`re going to lose business with New Jersey. But
there is interesting on Chris Christie, because when he was U.S. attorney,
he was a big proponent of pay to play laws. And he made two points. He
said the reason we have these laws on the books are so that campaign
contributions are not exchanged for these lucrative contracts, where the
state is going to be on the hook for contracts they don`t even want, first
of all, and then they are going to be given to people who are totally
unqualified, just because they have deep pockets.
But there is a way for Chris Christie to run I think in 2016. That`s if we
pass a fix to presidential public financing, so that people that are
running for president are not having fund-raiser after fund-raiser after
fund-raiser and we`re not having our inboxes filled up with more and more
appeals for cash. If we had a fix to presidential public financing, which
worked from 1976 up until -- well, Citizens United. George W. Bush decided
not to use public financing in a primary in 2000. Barack Obama walked away
from public financing. That`s a way out of this. But otherwise I don`t
see how Chris Christie can run --
KORNACKI: My reaction is, well, you know, expanded public financing. Good
luck getting House Republicans to sign off on it. Maybe if it`s to save
Chris Christie act of 2013. Maybe Republicans would. But Nick, you know
Christie well, you know New Jersey so well, can you give us a sense, are
they aware of this issue? What is the thinking? What is their thinking
NICK ACOCELLA, POLITIFAX NEW JERSEY: They are certainly aware of the
issue, and everything you said there is true. The law is even more strict
than I imagined. There are New Jersey law firms that that circulated memos
to clients. I`m sure Skadden Arps has done the same thing. One of -- my
favorite thing is that somebody who contributes money to a governor, a
governor running for something else, who has a current contract with the
state-run organization has to complete that contract and not get any pay
for it. I like that. Wall Street guys don`t like that kind of thing at
all. They`re very much aware of it. And my guess is he would resign if he
decides to run, he would resign if he had to, but you know me. It`s been -
- I made a career out of saying campaign finance reform doesn`t work. And
there`s a way around this. Get all the Wall Street guys to contribute to a
501( c)4. If you win at the convention, then you resign. And I`m pretty
sure they`re at least as smart as I am and they figured that out, too.
KORNACKI: I want to pick up that resignation question, but also, I think,
Nick, maybe you could explain to people. We talked about New Jersey being
the most powerful governorship in the country. How that affects it,
because not every governor who runs running for president would be affected
the way Christie. Can you explain what that means, the most powerful
ACOCELLA: The governor of New Jersey has power of appointment over almost
everything. We - the governor appoints district attorneys, what we call
county prosecutors. He appoints all judges, he appoints all election
commissioners in the counties. I mean, it`s an absolutely -- and there`s
no check on him. There is no other statewide elected official except the
lieutenant governor, who is a cipher, it`s a meaningless job, it`s -- it`s
an all-powerful position. As you said, he appoints nine out of 16 people
on the Investment Advisory Commission, and that covers all the pension
funds for the state. It`s a big deal. And there`s no way he can get
around it without some 501c4 solution.
KORNACKI: And that raises some questions too. In a former life, you were
chief counselor to the governor of Massachusetts, to Deval Patrick, and we
had that example of Bill Weld in Massachusetts in 1996. I know this issue
came up again in the Massachusetts governor`s race in 2010 with an
independent candidate who had somebody from Goldman Sachs who was basically
- turns out was basically running the guy`s campaign from his office. It
was a huge -- Goldman Sachs had to pay a $12 million penalty because of
this. The individual was banned from like five years from working in the
industry. How - I imagine these are regulations you`ve looked at pretty
FORMER SEN. MO COWAN, D-MASSACHUSETTS: Well, it was. Obviously in 2010, I
was the governor`s chief legal counsel, and he was in the midst of his
reelection campaign. This was something we were paying close attention to,
both the older law and the newer law that was making its way through.
I spent a lot of time talking to our staff about what the rules were, and
talking to the governor`s campaign counsel to make sure he was clear on
what the rules were, because I didn`t want the extremes to cross, if you
We had that situation with the then sitting treasurer who was running as an
independent and the Goldman Sachs broker who was working for the campaign
out of his Goldman Sachs office during the day. I mean, that was a fairly
KORNACKI: So we`ve seen this thing -- you don`t have to be running the
campaign. You could give a $300 donation that`s going to --
COWAN: I think that`s the bigger challenge both for candidates and for
investment advisers and others. Although I think investment advisers
wisely, and perhaps this is the advice they`re getting from their counsel,
I think the safest thing to do right now is sort of just pull back.
Obviously, Massachusetts has a huge financial services industry. And for
the most part, you don`t see those players -- those individuals, those
organizations participating in the campaign finance aspect of our elections
anymore. I mean, it`s just a safe bet. It`s a safe bet. And I think for
a governor like Governor Christie or any other governor who`s sitting who
may run for a national office, this is the biggest challenge. How do you
raise the kind of money that one needs to raise with these kind of rules?
And I think it`s dangerous territory to sort of -- to spend a whole lot of
time and energy figuring out how to work around these rules. These are
rules that are hard to work around. And I think if you`re caught, it`s
going to be severe punishment both for the organization and the
KORNACKI: And, you know, it raises -- we talked about this idea of Chris
Christie and maybe resignation ends up being the best bet for him in 2016,
all of this attention on Christie, safe bet for re-election, this sort of
thing, nobody is talking about the lieutenant governor`s race in New
Jersey, and that might actually be a lot more consequential than the
average lieutenant governor`s race. I want to talk about what Chris
Christie`s options are and aren`t, after this.
KORNACKI: I want to make sure to point out, we did get in touch with Chris
Christie`s gubernatorial campaign. We asked them two questions. We asked
them first of all, all of this reporting about conversations between the
Christie camp and the Romney camp about these SEC rules and their impact.
We asked them if they could confirm that those discussions in some form had
taken place. We also asked them if Governor Christie has any problems, any
issues with the SEC regulations. We didn`t hear back from them. But I
want to make sure to put that out there.
You know, and I want to pick up on a point Nick was making about, so a
potential solution for Chris Christie short of resigning. He resigned,
none of these rules apply. You can make all the money you want. Short of
a resignation, though, would be just to rely on a super PAC, because then
all of these donors could pour their money into that. Of course, the super
PACs, there`s always a wink-wink thing, but the super PACs are supposed to
be independent. Seems like an awfully big risk for a presidential
candidate to take if you are going to go that route, though.
GROSS: Yes. You lose control of your campaign basically. A super PAC can
do a certain amount of things. Presumably people you trust are running it.
But you`re not directing it, you`re not supposed to have direction of it.
They could start taking a very negative road because most of the super PACs
sort of go negative on TV, and it could end up backfiring. It`s not a
comfortable position for a candidate to be in. It could be helpful at the
margins, but it`s not a way to run a campaign.
SPAULDING: And I would just say that this goes back to a flaw, I think, in
Citizens United. Justice Kennedy essentially said, well, we can`t prohibit
independent expenditure. We can`t prohibit corporations, wealthy
individuals from spending an unlimited amount of politics independently,
because independent spending doesn`t corrupt, doesn`t even lead to the
appearance of corruption. I don`t think that passes the smell test. The
notion that, I`m a Wall Street financier, I`ll just donate $1 million to
the super PAC, I am not donating, whatever $300 bucks to the campaign, I`m
off scot-free. That just shows the corrosive nature of that decision,
which has no basis in reality. Walk out the street on Rockefeller Plaza,
no one out there is going to say, super PACs, there is no corruption
problem there, people can donate whatever they want, there`s no problem.
KORNACKI: That also raises, Nick, a point about we were saying all these
specific reasons why this affects Christie more than anyone else. Another
one is I think more than most, maybe any other prospective Republican
candidate, Chris Christie`s financial base is Wall Street. When he was
toying with the idea of getting into the 2012 race, it really was Wall
Street that was trying to get him in.
ACOCELLA: Very much so. His brother is a very big Wall Street player.
He`s very much tied to that world. And yeah, a lot of his money would come
I disagree, though. I think you can get away with that, because the
average guy out of Rockefeller Plaza has no idea, has no idea what these
things are. And if I were advising the Christie campaign, they don`t ask
me for my advice, but I would say, if you`re going to do this, it`s a
possibility. Your personality is so strong that you could have it financed
one way and use your personality to overcome the objections to it. I think
you could get away with it.
KORNACKI: But at what point, I wonder, the question then is, you get one
shot at the presidency, get one shot in your life, so maybe resignation,
you don`t have to worry about these issues then.
ACOCELLA: That`s possible, too. I`m sure they`re weighing all of these
things. These people not stupid. They understand the risks on both ends.
KORNACKI: And Senator Cowan, I just wonder, do you look at these rules,
you look at sitting governors anywhere in the country right now, how
severely does it affect any sitting governor thinking about running for the
COWAN: I presume it affects anyone in that office who is thinking about
that highest office tremendously. Think about the amount of money that it
takes now to run a winning presidential campaign. Well, think about the
amount of money it takes to run a losing presidential campaign. A
significant amount of money. And the issue of whether or not we should
have public funding and dealing with Citizens United, those are certainly
major issues. But if you`re sitting in the corner office, in the executive
suite of any state right now and you are thinking about national office,
this is an issue, because where do you get the money from?
SPAULDING: That`s exactly -- that`s exactly the problem. We have these
elections where to run for office, you`re either independently wealthy or
you are only talking to wealthy folks. You are talking to one-third of 1
percent of the population. We have these elections where all we are
talking about is money. This conversation is what is driving Americans
crazy about the system. We`re talking about money, we`re talking about
politicians talking to a very specific subset of the population with an
agenda. We are not talking about ideas. We`ve got to get off the
treadmill. We have got to get folks off the fund-raising treadmill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didn`t Rick Perry just say he`s not going to run again?
KORNACKI: And in fact, there`s more reporting in this Dan Balz book about
the Perry campaign being frustrated by its (inaudible) from Wall Street,
concluding as a sitting governor, he just couldn`t. I want to get his name
out there, because again, we`re talking about - to the extent we talk about
the New Jersey`s governor`s race, we`re saying Chris Christie is in good
shape to win it, but New Jersey voters probably should be aware. The
lieutenant governor`s name, his running mate, is Kim Guadagno. And if you
look at these rules and you look at Chris Christie`s ambition, I`d say
there is a chance that you are really electing Kim Guadagno if you`re
voting for Chris Christie this year. There she is. That could be the real
winner of this year`s governor`s race in New Jersey. I don`t think anybody
ACOCELLA: And lieutenant governors run under the radar in New Jersey.
They`re not nominated in any way except by gubernatorial candidates.
KORNACKI: They`re on the ticket.
KORNACKI: So, what should we know today? My answers after this.
KORNACKI: -- has been virtually paralyzed by allegations of sexual
harassment against Democratic Mayor Bob Filner. Filler, who served 10
terms in Congress before giving up his seat to become mayor last year, has
apologized and promised to seek help, but he`s also insisted that his
behavior stopped short of actual sexual harassment, and he has vowed not to
resign. The allegations remain anonymous, and no charges or claims have
been filed, leaving the administration politically frozen. Nor is Filner
getting much help from his old colleagues in the U.S. House. When Nancy
Pelosi was asked about her old colleague on Thursday, she replied, quote,
"don`t identify him as my former colleague." San Diego County sheriff has
now set up a hot line for people to report claims of sexual misconduct, so
it`s getting harder to see how Filner will survive this.
We should know that the comic book convention, Comic-con, which is taking
place in San Diego this weekend, is featuring a member of Congress. And
not just any member of Congress -- John Lewis. John Lewis, an authentic
civil rights hero. He was beaten within an inch of his life by police when
leading a march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge on bloody Sunday in Selma
in 1965. He represented Georgia in the House since 1986, and he has his
own booth at Comic-con. Why? Well, it`s because Lewis and his former
aide, Andrew Aydin, recently wrote a graphic novel called "March" that
dramatizes Lewis` personal story in the struggle for civil rights. At the
convention, Lewis will probably find himself surrounded by the wild
costumes that Comic-con is famous for, but it`s safe to say that his life
story will stand out.
And we should note that the Catholic Church is trying to merge a centuries
old custom with social media. By following the Vatican`s Twitter during
the pope`s visit to World Youth Day in Rio next week, Catholics will be
eligible for indulgences, meaning less time in purgatory. But there`s a
catch. According to the Vatican social media director, only online
activity that quote, "bears authentic spiritual fruit" will get rewarded.
We`re working on rewards for viewers who skip church for this, by the way,
too. More on that maybe next week.
And finally, we should know that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New
York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be facing off tomorrow in a
whitewater rafting race. The two will be paddling as part of different
teams through the state`s Indian River to boost tourism in New York`s
Adirondack region. We know the smart money here is on Cuomo, who has
considerably more rafting experience than Bloomberg. But of course if
Cuomo gets close to the finish line, Bloomberg could always extend it at
the last minute.
I want to find out what my guests think we should know. Let`s start with
GROSS: Well, we`ve been talking about pay to pay. And while the New
Jersey election isn`t close, there is another governor`s election that is
quite close, and that`s in Virginia. And that race has been clouded by a
pay to play scandal with the sitting governor, with him and his wife
getting gifts of $140,000 or more, allegedly, from various groups that are
seeking business and have their own problems, investigation. So last week,
the latest revelation that is under investigation is the governor`s wife
getting free dental work. So it looks to me like the prosecution is
finally putting some teeth into this. And we`ll see where it goes. But I
guess my prediction is this is not going away. There will be more gifts to
ACOCELLA: This is a story about all the news that`s fit to print. "The New
York Times," which virtually ignores New Jersey, even though a large number
of its readers live there, will, I predict -- and I never make predictions
-- send a reporter across the Hudson to write about Cory Booker again this
week. Because the only time the assignment editor at the old gray lady
ever sends anybody across the Hudson is for a scandal or a celebrity, and
he`s a celebrity.
KORNACKI: Senator Cowan.
COWAN: I think what we need to know is if John Lewis writes his grocery
list on a napkin, you should get it. So if he`s got a book out, you should
read it. I`ll certainly get it for my 9-year-old.
But as we talked about the filibuster reform in the first segment, I think
keep an eye on the Senate in the next couple of weeks. I mentioned the Mel
Watt nomination. As we know, there will be a homeland security secretary
nomination at some point. We`ll see how well that compromise holds. So
we`re not out of the woods yet. But I think we have seen both with this
compromise and with the immigration bill and the farm bill, perhaps we are
returning to some fashion of the days where compromise is the currency of
the realm in the Senate, but we shall see.
KORNACKI: All right.
SPAULDING: We should also know by the end of the week if the third in line
to the throne is going to be a boy or girl. But beyond that, I`ll be
watching the Federal Election Commission in D.C. There are three
Republican commissioners who are pretty much ideologically opposed to
campaign finance regulations, you know, that`s been their bailiwick since
they have been on. Two Republicans. The three Democrats, the three
Republicans are trying to push through, ram through a rule change while
they have this majority. It`s going to make it a lot harder for the rest
of the staff to cooperate, conduct investigations, even pick up the
newspaper to see a story and start an investigation. So big power play
that`s up before the FEC on Thursday, we`ll be watching that.
KORNACKI: All right. I want to thank Ken Gross of Skadden Arps. Nick
Acocella of Politifax New Jersey, former Massachusetts Senator Mo Cowan,
and Stephen Spaulding of Common Cause. Thanks for getting UP, and thank
you for joining us. We`ll be back next weekend, Saturday and Sunday, at
8:00 a.m. Eastern time. Our guests will include Daily Show co-creator Lizz
And coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY." On today`s "MHP," how
protests nationwide are planting the seeds for change. That`s Melissa
Harris-Perry, she is coming up next.
And we`ll see you next week here on UP.
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