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'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, July 27th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Saturday show

UP with STEVE KORNACKI
July 27, 2013
Guests: Lynn Vavreck, Lizz Winstead, Basil Smikle, Jr.



STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: There`s something new about the Republican
opposition to President Obama, it`s got some cracks in it.

On the surface the major speech that President Obama delivered in
Galesburg, Illinois, this week may have seen broad and familiar. He was
back at Knox College where eight years ago in the spring of 2005, Obama
used a commencement address to make his best case for the role of
government in building and supporting the middle class.

It`s a case that he has continued to make sense then when he ran for
president in 2008, when he championed the stimulus in 2009, when he
challenged Republicans to pass the American jobs act in 2011, when he ran
for re-election last year and again on Wednesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This growing inequality is
not just morally wrong, it`s bad economics. Because when middle class
families have less to spend, guess what, businesses have fewer consumers.
When wealth concentrates at the very top, it can inflate stable bubbles
that threaten the economy.

When the rungs on the ladder of opportunity grow farther and farther apart,
it undermines the very essence of America. That idea if you work hard, you
can make it here. And that`s why reversing these trends has to be
Washington`s highest priority.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: In that speech, Obama called for more investment in
infrastructure, in investment in green energy for combatting high college
tuition costs, for making it easier to refinance mortgages and for middle
class workers to save for retirement. But now, the reality check. We know
what the president faces in Washington. The Republican-controlled House
that is not interested in taking action on anything he laid out this week.

Well, pretty much on anything he suggested during his entire presidency.
So, why did Obama go ahead and deliver this speech anyway? Why did he
choose to do it this week? Well, one answer maybe that there are some
important deadlines coming up and more and more Republicans are talking
like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH) HOUSE SPEAKER: We`re not going to raise the debt
ceiling without real cuts in spending. It`s as simple as that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Oh, boy. The debt ceiling. This, again. We are on course to
hit it sometime in the late October or early November and even before we
get to that, to the debt ceiling, there`s another deadline looming, the end
of the fiscal year on September 30th, that there`s no deal to fund the
government by then, we could have a shut down.

And so, there is some enthusiasm on the right. There may be growing
enthusiasm on the right to use those deadlines as leverage on two fronts.
One is budgetary bills to fund key government departments and agencies at
radically reduced levels are now taking shape in the house. House
Republicans want to acts a thirds of the EPA`s budget. They want to cut
funding for the arts in half.

They want to eliminate public broadcasting and grants for low-income
students and funning for the labor department are also due to take serious
hits, at least, under the plans taking shape there. The other front have
to do with, you can probably guess it, Obamacare. The Senate, Utah
Republican, Mike Lee, has drafted a letter demanding that his Republican
colleagues opposed any bill to fund the government that includes money to
implement the Affordable Care Act.

Lee is as conservative as they come, but his letters started to get
traction this week with some less strident Republicans. Republicans like
Illinois` Mark Kirk and South Dakota`s John Thune who were both reported
earlier in the week to have signed it. But that traction is evidently
making some other Senate Republicans nervous. John McCain has now spoken
out against shutting down the government over Obamacare so as Missouri`s
Roy Blunt.

And on Thursday, North Carolina`s Richard Burr called it, quote, "the
dumbest idea I`ve ever heard of." By the time Lee`s letter was actually
released on Thursday, kirk`s name was no longer on it, neither was John
Cornyn, the second ranking Republican in the Senate. He was off it, too.
Notably silent in all this, Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell.

The Tea Party right has never really trusted him, and this week, McConnell
found out that he will be facing a challenge in the Republican primary next
year in Kentucky. It may be an opening in all this for Obama and he
started to hint at it in his speech this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The good news is the growing number of Republican senators are
looking to join their Democratic counterparts and try to get things done in
the Senate. For example, they work together on an immigration bill that
economists say will boost our economy by more than $1 trillion and
strengthen border security and make the system work. Well, you`ve got a
faction of Republicans in the House who won`t even give that bill a vote.

And that same group gutted a farm bill that America`s farmers depend on but
also America`s most vulnerable children depend on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: For Obama and Democrats, that`s the goal here, exploit the GOP
divisions in the Senate, isolate the Republican house and use speeches like
the one Obama gave this week to focus public attention on what`s at stake
in the coming budget battle. It`s not going to get Obama all the new
investments he`s looking for, investment that he`s been looking for for
years, but he could head off another point list in crippling crisis, and by
the standard of the last few years, maybe that`s not so bad.

I want to bring in Frank Thorp, NBC News Capitol Hill producer, Lynn
Vavreck, author of the forthcoming book "The Gamble," about the 2012
election and a political science professor at the University of California
Los Angeles, UCLA, MSNBC political analyst, Joan Walsh, editor of
Salon.com, and MSNBC political analyst, Michael Steele, former chairman of
the Republican National Committee. So, thanks for joining us, everybody.

There`s a lot to get through here. I guess, I want to start with this idea
of sort of holding health care hostage with the money to fund the
government. And, I think the story that`s sort of taking shape in the last
two days. I got two clips here. This is from -- these are conservative
writers from entrepreneurial (ph) saying, you know, drop the disastrous
plan to defund the Obamacare.

This is by (ph) New York and another conservative writer. No, the GOP is
not going to defund Obamacare. It looked like there was a lot of movement,
Michael, earlier in the middle of this week where the Tea Party was
exerting pressure on Republicans, particularly the Senate, to sign this
Mike Lee letter. They were starting to get what they were looking for and
I`m sort of seeing the Republican establishment here really start to push
back on this one.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes. What it speaks to me
is I don`t know what kind of conversations they`re actually having in the
Senate caucus so that they come out with a bifurcated, trifurcated voice.
So, you have opinions here, opinions there. There`s no unity of message.
There`s no confirmation of the direction that they want to take the
country, should they shut down the government, you know, not do the debt
ceiling deal and repeal Obamacare.

So, this to me speaks to a level of confusion. So, you have an opening for
those voices like McCain to now step in and go, OK kids, let`s settle down
here. Let the grownups handle this. We`re going to move into a different
direction. I think at the end of the day, this is going to be a lot of
noise as we`ve seen in this drama before leading up to the end of this
fiscal year and the beginning of the next.

There`s going to be the dance. Obamacare is not going to get the fund at
the end of the day. I know (INAUDIBLE) a lot of excuse, the strong names
as early in the morning. You got to wake up and smell the reality here
that you`re not going to defund Obamacare the way everyone is talking about
it. At the end of the day, you`re going to cut a deal on the debt ceiling.

So, the question for the party is, how do you position yourselves that we
can (ph) on the other side of that going into 2014. Your base is not
sitting there ticked off at you, because you`ve left them on the
battlefield. And you`re pulling the country in a new direction if you
really believe what the president is doing is not good for the country.

KORNACKI: This letter, this Mike Lee letter that we`re talking about, you
know, earlier in the week, it was reported to have 15, you know, Republican
senators signing it. So, Mark Kirk, you know, sort of one of the more
moderate Republicans in the Senate took his name off. Roger Wicker from
Mississippi took his name of. John Cornyn, second ranking Republican took
his name off.

So, it leaves you with largely, you know, conservative -- like the most
noteworthy names on here would be Marco Rubio, you know, from Florida.
Some people think maybe he`s trying to make amends for his immigration.
The most interesting one for me (INAUDIBLE) Jeff Chiesa who is -- he is the
appointed Republican senator from New Jersey by Chris Christie and it may
be sort of a little proxy posturing on Christie`s part for 2016.

But, Lynn, I look at this and I`m saying, I`m wondering if this feels a
little different than we think back two years ago when we had all the debt
ceiling brinkmanship. I`m seeing, am I right, but I`m seeing cracks here
on the Republican side that we didn`t see two years ago. has something
changed in the last couple of years?

LYNN VAVRECK, UCLA DEPT. OF POLITICAL SCIENCE: I think you`re exactly
right. And I think congress at an institution, you know, is at a very
interesting point. There`s good news and there`s bad news. So, the good
news for members of Congress is that their approval rating as an
institution has doubled in the last year. The bad news is is that it`s
still like at 10 percent.

So, if you`re a member of this institution, your personal approval rating
is probably much higher than that. But Congress as a body is not held in
high regard by most voters. And so, one of the things that I think maybe
is happening is here`s a way for the senior members of the chamber of both
chambers, hopefully, to come out and say, you know, let`s not get ourselves
in the position we were in two years ago where we saw our approval ratings
as an institution really plummet.

Here`s some ways that we can compromise and have a solution. But, the more
Tea Party, you know, conservative members can still stand their ground.
And so, everyone sort of enters 2014 where they need to be. People like
John McCain are synonymous with their states. Arizona, John McCain, he
doesn`t have to really worry about people back home not re-electing him.
And so, everybody can play their role.

KORNACKI: What about the president`s role in all this, too, because you
know, we`ve looked at the idea, the idea of the bully pulpit has gotten a
lot of scrutiny in the last few years, because you know, the president, you
know, really -- you know, good at giving speeches.

It hasn`t really moved public opinion and people talk about how, in fact,
in a lot of ways when a president weighs in on something, Democrat or
Republican just kind of polarizes things in a lot of ways. How do you
think the message that Obama is sending this weekend is going to be sending
for the next few months plays into the health care and the budget fights
this fall?

JOANN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it`s important on a
couple of levels. The speech didn`t break new ground, but like, I`m with
James Surowiecki in "The New Yorker" who`s I think the headline was
something like boring is not that bad. Boring is not bad. Boring is not
bad. These are our problems. Did he say many of the same things in 2005?

Yes, because he`s been incredibly consistent about the problem of economic
inequality and what it will take to solve it. So, the speech, itself, was
good enough. But the more important thing is that he`s going out on the
campaign trail. And he needs to be on the campaign trail because what he
has to be about is holding the attention of the Obama coalition, holding
the coalition together, educating the coalition, making them long-term
voters, making sure that they continue to vote.

2010 was a disaster for Democrats, and he can`t afford we, as Democrats,
can`t afford to have voters to say, well, the Republicans are polarizing
him and my vote in 2008 and 2012 didn`t do any good. So, I`m going to sit
this one out. He`s got to be about having a conversation with voters. Is
he going to swing people in the middle? Most research shows that the bully
pulpit doesn`t, but talking to his voters is going to be very important
over the next year and a half.

KORNACKI: And Frank, let me just -- we talk about the cracks within the
Republican ranks on the Senate side, but the House is sort of a player
here, too, the Republican-controlled house. There`s a similar letter to
the Mike Lee letter circulating on the House side. How do they factor into
this? I mean, is the fever to force a showdown over health care dying in
the House, too, or was it a different story there?

FRANK THORP, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL PRODUCER: Well, I think that it`s kind
of, you know -- it`s more about politics than practicality here. I think
that most of this strategy is more to kind of give political cover to
Senator Rubio in terms of, you know, his opposition from the Tea Party for
his immigration reform. But I think that in the House side, they don`t
like this strategy. This is not going to happen over on the house side.

You know, House Republican leadership, they look at this as a losing
strategy they say that, you know, for two reasons. They say that it`s
temporary. You know, it`s a CR. So, it`s a temporary government funding
bill. But number two is if this actually happens and the government were
to shut down, they`re going to be blamed for it. And that`s a terrible,
terrible strategy for them.

I mean, and the only way that they can, you know, possibly definitely lose
in 2014 is if they were to shut down the government.

KORNACKI: Is that a message -- does Boehner and Cantor, the Republican
leaders now, do they sort of the clout with their own members at this point
given all the skepticism that sort of the Tea Party right has towards the
party leadership. Can they deliver that message, sort of authoritative
lead (ph) to the Tea Party rank and file in the House and tell them,
really, don`t do this. Back off. Do they have the clout to do that?

THORP: I think they do, but I think that, you know, more and more that Tea
Party faction is kind of alienating themselves within the conference. I
mean, for instance, you know, on unrelated issues, Steve King made his
comments issues on immigration and kind of gave, you know, the Republican
conference and Republican leadership cover on issues that they can point at
that and be like, OK, well, you know, they feel that way, but that
standpoint is not going to stand.

And so, I think that, you know, Republican leadership cooler heads will
wind (ph) up prevailing here. I think that there will be a lot of talk
about whether or not they want to try to defund Obamacare, but I think in
the end, it`s just not a winning strategy for them.

KORNACKI: So, we`ve got the Obamacare aspect of it, but there`s also just
the broader question of funding the government and all the cuts that we now
see sort of Republicans in the House are going to try to push for. Whether
anything happens with Obamacare, there`s this issue of funding for the
government. I want to get into that after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: I want to put some numbers from the NBC poll that came out
earlier this week. And this was testing attitudes of Americans towards the
tactics of Congressional Republicans. Are they too inflexible when it
comes to dealing with President Obama? Fifty-six percent of voters said
yes, but they too quick to give in. Eighteen percent said no. The
attitudes change a little bit when you limit that to only Republicans or
Tea Party Republicans.

But, again, broadly speaking, that`s how Americans -- that`s what Americans
are thinking when they looked at the sort of strategy that House
Republicans are using. Lynn, I want to take with that in mind look at the
other kind of showdown that`s looming here. We talked about, you know,
this idea of defunding Obamacare if you put that one aside.

We also have all of these funding bills, these government funding bills
taking shape in the House now. The Republican House that make just deep,
deep cuts in all sorts of, for instance, there`s this big fight over
getting a nominee confirmed for the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina
McCarthy, and the Senate filibuster was relaxed then she got through.

And now, the administration has its person in place, and yet, on the House
side, they`re basically talking about stripping out, you know, funding for
the EPA, putting in all sort of new rules that would bar Gina McCarthy from
doing what the president wants her to do. How do you think a number like
this, the poll were seeing, blends with this Republican strategy?

VAVRECK: Yes. The other interesting number is the change in this figure
over time. And I was looking at this yesterday. And people are moving in
exactly the directions that we talked about in the earlier segment. More
and more, in both parties. So, even Republican voters, people who we
identify as Republicans, say that they want more compromise. And so, I
think that`s also going to be an additional component of the pressure that
the things that Frank was talking about, the pressure to not have a repeat
of 2011.

And so, I think this also picks up on what Joan was saying. Why does Obama
go out on a campaign trail to give these speeches? It is to rally his base
and his set of voters, but it`s also to get people to put pressure on their
members. And presidents have done that for a long time. It`s called going
public.

When you lose the power to persuade in the chamber, you have to go to the
people and you have to say put pressure on your members. And I think that
public opinion is there. And Obama is now leading, doing the elite thing.
And so, those two this come together and I think we end up right where he
said we would.

STEELE: But Obama is also a little bit in the tank on his numbers. And
that`s the other reason why the president is out on the road. I mean, he`s
at 45 percent approval in our NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll. So, the
president is feeling the heat inside as well as much as the members may be
hearing from their constituency. The White House was also hearing from
their constituency.

Many progressives, you know, have been upset with certain moves made by the
president over the last and the White House over the last few months. So,
all of this comes to this head where they have to get out. The White House
still has to get out on the road and Republicans, interestingly enough,
don`t feel they need to do that.

I mean, they feel that they`re in tap enough with their base to understand,
particularly, Tea Party Republicans, to understand exactly where they need
to be --

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: That`s what I wonder. Has a mindset sort of taken hold,
especially when you look at the House side for the Republicans that, you
know, they -- yes, their party lost the national election last year by five
million votes to President Obama, but they -- right now, they have the
majority that`s sort of safe in their own districts. They don`t -- worry
more about Republican primary challenges --

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: That`s a really corrosive thing in the big picture, though,
isn`t it?

WALSH: And the power to block.

STEELE: Yes, it can be, I think, in the end. But Republicans are looking
probably more at a legislative strategy, And I`ll be interested in your
thoughts on this since you (INAUDIBLE) these guys a lot. Much more of a
legislative strategy, meaning, we got the House. We want to expand on
that. We`ll get the Senate in 2014 and then, you know, have a legislative
wall where they can propose bills, pass bills in both chambers and put them
on the president`s desk and them -- to veto them.

So, that`s part of that strategy where the White House is looking both an
executive and legislative strategy where they feel, you know, our goal,
Nancy Pelosi, for example, we want to take what we can out of the House and
hold our ground on the Senate. So, it`s a very interesting session.

WALSH: But Michael, I don`t feel legislative strategy. They`re not --

STEELE: For, who, the White House?

WALSH: No. for the Republicans. They`re not standing for anything. The
legislative strategy --

STEELE: No, no. This isn`t about standing, this is about giving control.

WALSH: To do what? So, you`re saying, though, they`re controlled to pass
bills. What would those bills do? I mean, the issue right now is they
want to repeal. It used to be repeal and replace Obamacare. There`s no
talk about replacement. Eric Cantor couldn`t even bring his bill --

STEELE: Yes. But there`s a different dynamic that you have control of the
Senate and you`ve got conservative Democrats who are going to be up in the
next cycle looking at their seats and the Republicans control that Senate
seat, that Senate chamber and the House and you put a bill on the table,
and then it becomes a real legislative versus executive branch battle.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: The question I was asking, though, about, you know, sort of this
Republicans being locked in maybe, you know, for the next few years to a
majority in the House where they have to -- the average Republican member
has to, you know, worry more about the Republican primary challenge than --

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: OK, maybe that can -- that`s enough to keep you in control of
the House. But you talk about even winning back the Senate. You`re
talking about a different electorate there. You`re talking about
Republican candidates having to appeal to statewide electorates where, you
know, you`re going to have to win over some swing states --

STEELE: Yes. The next cycle, they don`t. The seats that are in play for
the Republicans to take control are all red states. They`re not worry
about purple in 2014 in terms of the Senate because, you know, you`re
looking at places like Montana and West Virginia and check them off.

KORNACKI: We`re going to talk (ph) that later -- fine, let`s just say --
they have the House now. They get the Senate in 2014, but do these -- but
don`t these -- what is the value of just getting the Senate if you don`t
have the White House and if the tactics that you`re using right now
preclude you from getting the White House in 2016. I think that`s what I`m
wondering about.

STEELE: Well, I mean, and that`s going to be the challenge. I think
that`s going to be part of the dance that they`re going to have to figure
out exactly if they put those shoes on, do they really fit well enough for
the voters to give them control of the executive branch in 2016 and that`s
going to be a risk.

I think this is more of a set up legislatively to really put the pressure
by getting bills on the president`s desk that he has to veto and that sets
up an argument for 2016.

KORNACKI: But Frank, you know, you cover these guys and you know what --
sort of what they`re thinking. How do they make that balancing act
between, you know, hey, we`ve got these members who want to survive in
these Republican primary challenges, but we`re also leading a party and we
got to win national elections at some point. How do they balance that?
What do you think?

THORP: I mean, I think that, you know -- I think part of the strategy here
is if they were to take the Senate in 2014, you have a situation that if
they were to pass bills out of Congress and President Obama is forced to
veto them, all of a sudden, they can kind of switch this blame. You know,
what President Obama is able to paint Congress as obstructions right now.

If they`re passing bills that continue to go up to the White House and are
vetoed. They can switch that narrative a little bit, and they can be like,
what, the president is obstructing our ability to actually, you know, pass
legislation. We keep on passing legislation, it`s being vetoed.

But I think that, I mean, in terms of the party kind of figuring out
whether or not, you know, they can balancing the different priorities here,
I mean, they don`t have to -- the House of Representatives does not have a
national point of view very much, if you think about it.

They play to their constituencies. And so, they`re not really forced to
think about the big picture other than really House leadership. I mean,
so, for them, I mean, if there passing these bills to defund Obamacare, if
they`re, you know, passing bills that defund different parts of Obama`s
agenda, I mean, that`s a win for them no matter what.

KORNACKI: They`ve certainly, they have certainly passed the bill to defund
Obamacare enough in the house.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: I guess, they could do it in the Senate if they had control of
that. But speaking of the Senate, we started talking a little bit about
the fracture and Republican side. I want to return to that in a minute,
because I want to talk specifically about sort of the source of the
fracture, which likely (ph) John McCain. I want to talk about him when we
come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: So, I want to go back to the Senate side here because we sort of
started this by talking about how pretty evident fracturing on the
Republican side in the senate and one of the sources of this has been John
McCain. You know, John McCain who was not Mitch McConnell, it was John
McCain who sort of cut the deal on the filibuster a few weeks ago.

It`s John McCain who was the first voice, the first Republican voice in the
senate to say, no, this idea of, you know, we`re going to defund Obamacare
with the debt ceiling, that we`re not going to do that. You know, so if
John McCain sort of the old John McCain people knew about a decade ago, I
think I know what this comes from. I want to play a back and forth here
and then explain.

You got to go back a couple months. This is when the Senate, you know, the
big Republican moment (ph) for years was the Democrats who said it wouldn`t
pass a budget. Well, the Democrats passed a budget and then the House
wouldn`t file a suit because there was a concern, I should say, among some
Senate Republicans that doing this would, if you got into a conflict
between a Senate and a House that they became --

So, basically set up a fight where the Tea Party peers in the Senate were
on one side and John McCain was on the other side and there`s this back and
forth between John McCain and Ted Cruz. I will play John McCain first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: We`re here to vote. We`re not here to
block things. We`re here to articulate our positions on the issues in the
best and possible and most eloquent way we can and do what we can for the
good of the country and then let the process move forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: So, he was saying that he wanted the Senate to send conferees to
meet with the House and Ted Cruz was saying, no, we can`t do that. We
can`t trust them. And this was Ted Cruz`s response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: It has been suggested that those of us who are
fighting to defend liberty, fighting to turn around the out of control
spending and out of control debt in this country, fighting to defend the
constitution, it has been suggested that we are wacko birds. Well, if that
is the case, I will suggest to my friend from Arizona, there may be more
wacko birds in the Senate than is suspected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: My theory of John McCain`s politics is that they reflect who he
is most aggrieved with at any given moment. And it was -- he lost to
George W. Bush in a bitter 2000 primary in the Republican, you know,
presidential race and then suddenly he became every Democrats` favorite
Republican and he wanted the patients` bill of rights and, you know, some
gun regulations.

John McCain really started voting with Democrats a lot more after 2000, you
know. When Obama beat him in 2008, he became -- I think we all remember
the John McCain of the last few years. Now, I think Ted Cruz has really
ticked him off and ted Cruz is -- the approach that Ted Cruz has brought to
the Senate and the support that Ted Cruz has gotten from others in the
Senate has really ticked off John McCain.

And I think we`re no longer seeing the John McCain who wants revenge on a
Barack Obama. We`re seeing the John McCain who wants to revenge on ted
Cruz.

WALSH: Well, you know, it`s a very interesting battle over sending --
creating conference committee. That you do not trust the system to work,
that you don`t trust the House Republicans. Look, you got a majority. I
mean, McCain said this, you got a majority over there. They`re very
conservative. It`s not like they`re going to immediately cave in the face
of a Senate budget being more liberal.

Let the system work. This is the way it`s been done. And you know, Cruz
is saying, I don`t care how it`s been done. We`re here to block, not to
create. And that`s the new mantra. And John McCain still has this notion
that, you know, people win elections. You fight it out, and then, you
fight out, fight it out over policy.

This notion that all you need to do is block is relatively new or at a
least it`s new in terms of it being, not majority sentiment, but a widely
held sentiment in the Congress.

KORNACKI: But, Michael, my sense is, you know, within the world of
Washington maybe on Capitol Hill, John McCain maybe is the favorite in
this, the McCain versus Cruz battle. But when it comes to the Republican
base, the message of Ted Cruz seems to be the resonate one right now. That
seems problematic.

STEELE: And the test will be is that message -- an electable message. In
other words, as it translate in the post-2012 dynamics of, you know, going
into 2014 with these Congressional seats on the line, the Senate on the
line, and the polls that are reflecting still a great deal of ambivalence,
if not outright, you know, rejection of the Republicans messaging on
position on some of these issues.

So, the real battle, I think you positive (ph) correctly between a Ted Cruz
and a John McCain is really, I think, a clear example of the fracturing
within the party of where do we go and how do we get there to Joan`s part.

If you can`t point, if you can`t have a conference bill go to the members
of your own party who control the other chamber, that speaks a lot to me,
at least, that within the party there`s still a whole lot of house cleaning
to be done and the question is, will John McCain view prevail ultimately
going into 2014 or will the Ted Cruz view?

KORNACKI: And as -- again, we talk about John McCain, we talk about Ted
Cruz. The name we`re not mentioning in this is the official leader of the
Senate Republicans, Mitch McConnell. There are some reasons for that. One
of them became apparent this week and we`re going to talk about that after
this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: We`re talking about sort of the forgotten man in the Senate
right now to a degree, and it`s Mitch McConnell. And one of the reasons
has to do with what happened this week. He found out he is going to be
challenged in the Republican primary in Kentucky next year. Let`s just
play, first of all, we have sort of dueling ads.

They`re already up on the airwaves in Kentucky for this race. First of
all, this is Matt Bevin. This is going to be his challenger in next year`s
primary. This is his ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitch McConnell has had a long career in politics. But
after 30 years in Washington, is his leadership really the best that we can
do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: McConnell has voted for higher taxes, bailouts, debt
ceiling increase, congressional pay (ph) raises, and liberal judges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m Matt Bevin. I approve this message because America
deserves more than failed leadership. We can do better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Matt Bevin, small town roots, successful businessman,
father of nine, veteran, conservative, Republican for U.S. Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Let freedom ring. There you go. Good Republican primary
slogan. And this is McConnell`s -- this is what McConnell now has up in
Kentucky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I`m Mitch McConnell and I
approve this message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Matt Bevin says he`s a conservative businessman, but
when his Connecticut businesses needed help, Bevin took $200, 000 in
taxpayer bailouts even though Bevin failed to pay taxes. Bevin`s business
was assessed at least eight liens for not paying taxes.

And Bevin`s company was the number one tax delinquent. Bevin`s company
failed to pay taxes, then got a taxpayer bailout. Bailout Bevin, not a
Kentucky conservative.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: There`s a couple -- this is significant for a couple different
reasons. I mean, let`s -- before we even get to Kentucky, let`s look at
what this has done to Mitch McConnell in his role as the Republican leader
in the Senate, because we talk about the sort of stalemate of the
filibusters when it came time to cut a deal there. Mitch McConnell was
not, you know, was not part of that.

It`s really been John McCain and a number of others sort of Senate --
whatever you want to call them, Frank, who have sort of taken the
initiative and it`s Mitch McConnell who`s sort of been in opposition to
them.

It seems to me that this is -- his hands are basically tied in terms of
being a leader until and unless he gets through this primary because
anything he does that go against the Tea Party types, with the Mike Lee,
you know, Ted Cruz folks want is going to get him in trouble in this
primary next year.

THORP: Yes, exactly. And I think that, you know, John McCain`s leadership
on issues such as the filibuster and immigration, you know, it`s
questionable whether or not that will transfer to these fiscal fights that
are going to be coming up here in the next couple months. And the hard
line that Senator McConnell is going to have to take on these issues is
going to have to align more with what he`s going to have to deal with this
primary.

You know, he`s going to have to be taken a more hardline stance on this
which is going to line-up with the more conservative members of his
conference.

But I think that, you know, we`re going to see, it will be interesting to
see whether or not this primary is really going to force him to turn his
strategy to hyperconservative strategy in terms of, you know, when it comes
to CR, and comes to the debt ceiling, which is going to happen here in the
next three months.

KORNACKI: I mean, we`ve got -- there are statements here the club for
growth, you know, which always encouraging Republican primary challenge,
usually is, you know, the Senate conservatives fund which Jim DeMint had
started a couple of years ago, and they`re basically saying, hey, we`re
open to supporting Bevin.

We`re not sure we`re going to back McConnell and it just seems like they`ve
got -- this is a perfect thing for every conservative, for every Tea Party
group in the country because they have the perfect leverage now to dangle
over Mitch McConnell for the next year. I mean, Lynn, what does that do to
the Senate.

We talk about how dysfunctional elections (ph) when the Senate leader,
Republican leader, is facing something like this. What does that do to the
functioning of the Senate?

VAVRECK: Well, I think this is a good reason why you see John McCain sort
of out front doing the things you do, that things that he is doing. It
reminds me of the line from "A Few Good Men," you know, you need me on that
wall. And so, like McConnell needs McCain to be out there, doing the
bargaining and compromising because he now, himself, is constrained and
can`t do that.

But I think the party -- I think they do understand to the extent that
there is a party and it does care about its branding. That they can`t have
2011 all over again. So, I think that a lot of the reason you see McCain.
It`s natural for him, too, as you said. He plays that maverick role. But
a lot of the reason that the opportunity now is there for him to go out and
do this is because of the constraints that are faced by the leadership.

THORP: With that, it points out, though, is that -- I mean, if he
compromises, he`s going to get attacked for it. So, that`s the issue that
he really faces in this situation that if he comes to the table and he`s
like, OK, you know what, we`ll give you a little bit of what you want for,
you know, a little bit of what we want, he`s going to get attacked by it
and he`s going to be incredibly aware of that.

KORNACKI: Michael, what is it that -- I know Mitch McConnell has been in
Washington for 30 years. You know, 1984 he got elected. You know, so, he
sort of -- you know, he sort of wreaks of entrenchment, I guess, you can
say. But is that what it is that conservatives do?

STEELE: Oh, yes.

KORNACKI: Because I mean, if the average Democrat looks at Mitch McConnell
for the last two years and he drives them crazy and this is a guy who said,
you know, our top goal is to defeat President Obama, to deny him a second
term. He`s basically cooperated next to nothing with the administration
and yet he`s vulnerable to a conservative challenge.

STEELE: One of the last meetings I had as RNC chairman was with Tea Party
activists around the country after the 2010 elections. And we were high
fiving and very celebratory, but then, there was a moment in the meeting in
which several of the leaders said the future is in our hands.

And, you know, just as we elected these folks this year, we will unelect
them in outyears if they are not true to the economic discipline that they
said that they`re going to hold, which is why you see in the House, for
example, those members, you know, so strongly hold on to that line.

You look at this race and that`s exactly what you`re seeing play out here
is that that Tea Party element within the party asserting itself in these
primaries to hold the line with the incumbent in the case of a McConnell
and the off chance that they knocked him off, then you`re going to have
that further, you know, expansion of that point of view within the party
within the establishment of the party, which is where a lot of the Tea
Party have their biggest fight.

So, you know, I find it very interesting right now for McConnell, to your
point, that he`s got to sort of do this sort of tight rope walk knowing
that, you know, constantly over his shoulder, he`s going to have this
incoming regardless of what he does.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Regardless of what he does --

KORNACKI: He`s got this on this shoulder. On the other shoulder is, you
know, if he gets through the republican primary, he`s in danger of losing
to a Democrat. It`s one of the few very Senate races in the country where
Democrats have a chance to knock off a Republican and I want to get into
that after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: So, just started to talk there about, you know, there is a
Democrat running, Alison Grimes in Kentucky for Mitch McConnell`s senate
seat and Mitch McConnell polls have shown is the imperialist (ph) shape for
an incumbent, now he`s buttress (ph) in the sense that Kentucky is a red
state. You know, and in 2014, you know, the national tide, if there is
one, is more likely to be, you know, helpful to the Republicans than
Democrats.

So, he`s got a few things or anybody who`d be the Republican candidate in
Kentucky in 2014 has a few things to, you know, going for him. But Alison
Grimes is the rare Democrat who has a chance next year, Joan, to take out
in incumbent, a Republican.

WALSH: Absolutely. And she is tough. I mean, Mitch McConnell came out
with this really cheesy but kind of catchy auto tune ad using one of her
old ads and it was all about what rhymes with Alison Lundergan Grimes, and
it showed her to -- her original ad from two years ago with her two
adorable grandmas and it mocks the ad and it mocks her.

Fine, everybody got a lot of laughs. Well, she came out, people should go
to the web and look at this ad. It`s almost four minutes long, so they`re
going to have to cut it off. She came out with an ad this week that is so
brilliant. It strikes back at Mitch directly. It also features the fact
that one of those sweet grandmas died.

So, the subtext is, how dare you mock my dead grandma, Mitch McConnell.
And it has the surviving grandma saying let`s do this for Thelma, the
grandmother who died. It`s both poignant and hilarious. And it shows she
doesn`t play and she`s not afraid of him and she knows she`s got a big
smile and she talks about what she`s going to do for Kentucky. She knows
that this is a very deeply unpopular man on both sides of the aisle.

KORNACKI: It really seems like -- ancient history now, but in a few months
ago, Ashley Judd was talking about running, you know, in this race against
Mitch McConnell and the McConnell team was super aggressive in trying to
take her out of the race, to put, you know, damaging stuff out there about
her, and I think they were trying to send a message there to other
potential camps (ph) and hey, this is what you`re in for.

You know, but between this grimes video that we have this week, between
Bevin stepping forward now, it seemed like McConnell people were not able
to accomplish that.

THORP: And I think, you know, they have a situation where -- I mean, with
Ashley Judd, they had a lot of awful research on her. They were focusing
on her so much and they didn`t have a primary opponent at that time. And
right now, what they have to do is they -- I mean, right out of the gate,
they`re focusing on Bevin, but they`re not focusing on grimes.

And, they don`t have as much, you know, dirt on Grimes. So, they`re in a
kind of situation where they have to fend off this Tea Party contender, but
-- and then that takes away their focus from who would potentially really
be his opponent, which is Grimes.

STEELE: Well, the issue for me in just looking how this is opening is
having McConnell`s team put out a hit ad, you know, an attack ad on Bevins.
I don`t get it, number one, because all you`re doing is elevating Bevin`s
profile statewide. Two, the substance of the argument, I think, at this
stage in the campaign, who cares? I mean, you know, Connecticut, you know,
businessman.

If the height of the recession has financial problems, OK, that`s news.
So, I think that Bevin has positioned himself through his ad for folks to
really take a good look at him and that`s reinforced by McConnell
attacking. So, the saying or the thinking goes, while if McConnell is
coming after this guy right out of the box, there must be something he
fears. There must be something about him that we should take a look at.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: Well, this is a story 2010-2012, these Republican Senate
incumbents, vetted (ph) in (INAUDIBLE) 2012. You know, I got to feel it`s
going to be somebody in 2014 who loses one of these challenges, and Mitch
McConnell, just as likely as anybody else, I think at this point. The most
important number in the battle for Senate control, that`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: If you had to pick one number to set the stage for the battle
for control the U.S. Senate next year, it would probably be seven. Seven.
That is the number of Democratic held seats that are up in 2014 in states
that voted for Mitt Romney last year. These are Democratic seats in red
states and they make the right these targets for Republicans and there are
going to be seven of those targets for Republicans to go after next year.

What does that mean in the big picture? Well, let`s have a look. Right
now, at this moment, there are 52 Democrats in the Senate, 46 Republicans,
and two independents. Those two independents, Bernie Sanders of Vermont
and Angus King of Maine, they both caucus with the Democrats. So, for all
intents and purposes, Democrats now control the Senate 54-46.

And that number comes with an asterisk because one of those Republican
seats is a temporary senator from New Jersey, Jeff Chiesa, who was
appointed a couple of months ago by Chris Christie and who isn`t running in
the special election. But Cory Booker is running in that special election
and while a few Democrats and Republicans are nominally competing against
him, the polls say they have a snowball chance in Ecuador who actually
knocking him off.

So, let`s stipulate that Booker is probably going to win the New Jersey
special election this October and that means that Democrats will head into
the 2014 elections with a 55-45 advantage in the Senate. And since Vice
President Joe Biden is there to break any ties, that will mean the
Democrats can suffer a net loss of up to five seats next year and still
hang on to the chamber.

OK. So, now, let`s take a look at the battleground with all that in mind.
Here are all of the seats that are going to be up in 2014. There are 35 of
them, and there are only 34 states lighting up there because there`s
actually going to be two races in South Carolina. Lindsey Graham who is
going to be up next year and appointed senator, Tim Scott, who`s going to
be seeking to win the final two years on Jim DeMint`s term.

So, we have those 35 races and we can take a lot of them off the board
right now, because they`re held by one party and there`s no reason to
suspect that party is going to lose next year. We can take 19 of them off
the board, in fact, right there. Nineteen of those 35 off the board. They
are just not going to change hands next year.

And we can actually go a step further than that. Here are states where
it`s looking more and more likely that the incumbent party will hold on.
Seven more seats, those are all seven Democratic seats. They may not end
up being that competitive next year. They could be, but right now,
Democratic incumbents in the states are well positioned and Republicans
have been struggling to recruit strong candidates.

So, if we take all those seats off the board, if we say that the same party
that holds them now hold them after the 2014 elections, that brings us down
to a battleground of nine seats. Nine competitive races in which
Republicans will need to post a net gain of at least six seats if they`re
going to win back control of the Senate next year.

And that sounds like a tall order and it is, but it brings us back to that
all-important number we said at the top. Seven. Because those nine
include all seven of those seats that Democrats now hold from states that
voted for Mitt Romney, those seven targets for Republicans, and here they
are. Each of this seat is at risk for Democrats and some more than others.

Take West Virginia, for example, Barack Obama lost that state by 27 points
last year. And state`s long-time Democratic senator, Jay Rockefeller was
retiring. Republicans have recruited the candidate that they wanted and so
it`s going to be a likely Republican pickup right now. Ditto for South
Dakota where Obama lost by 18 points last year when Democratic Tim Johnson
is retiring.

And maybe from Montana, too, where Obama lost by 14 where Democrat Max
Baucus is retiring and with Democrat`s dream candidate, former governor,
Brian Schweitzer, recently announced that he wouldn`t run. Those matched
(ph) three very gettable seats for the GOP. And there are the four red
state Democratic incumbents who are running for re-election next year.

You`ve got Mark Begich in Alaska. You got Kay Hagan in North Carolina,
Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Mary Landrieu in Louisiana. This is where the
Republicans need to do their damage if they`re going to win back the
Senate.

Unless, they can put one or two of those seats that doesn`t look
competitive right now into play, they`re going to have to win six of these
seven seats, six of those seven red state Democratic seats if they`re going
to win back the Senate and even that might not be enough, because there are
two opportunities for Democrats to win Republican seats next year. One we
just talked about.

That`s in Kentucky with Mitch McConnell. The other one is in Georgia, red
state of Georgia where Republican Saxby Chambliss is retiring where the
crowded GOP primary has attracted no shortage of far right candidates who
have the potential to unnerve general election voters and to give Democrats
a chance of winning.

And just this week, in fact, Democrats go good news in Georgia. So, when
Michelle Nunn, her father, Sam Nunn, you may remember him, he represented
the state for fours terms in the Senate, she announced she`s going to run
for the Senate for her father`s old Senate seat in 2014. Democrats can win
in Kentucky or if they can win in Georgia or if they can win in both, that
would pretty much blow up any chance that Republicans have of taking back
the chamber in 2014.

So, we`re going to talk a little bit about the 2014 Senate landscape, about
some serious self-imposed obstacles that could thwart the GOP, and about
what consequences next year`s outcome will have for the rest of the Obama
presidency and maybe for the presidency after that. We`re going to talk
about that after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)


KORNACKI: We`re talking about the Senate landscape for 2014, what it could
mean for the rest of the Obama presidency.

And we are with: MSNBC political analyst Joan Walsh. She`s also with
Salon.com.

MSNBC political analyst Michael Steele, former chairman of the RNC.

Frank Thorp, NBC News Capitol Hill producer.

And Lynn Vavreck, political science professor at UCLA.

So, I wanted to talk a little bit about some of the trends I think that are
going to define 2014, the thing that, you know, we talked about with
McConnell, that I`m always looking for is, you know, are any sort of
unknown Tea Party candidates going to upend the process for Republicans,
you know, win a primary and make a race that`s not on anybody`s map
competitive.

Sort of part and parcel with Georgia. I want to look particularly to
Georgia. I mentioned it there. It`s a state where the demographics are
changing a lot. It`s becoming more diverse, you know, a less diverse, you
know, less Republican state. It`s still a pretty reliable state for
Republicans but you can see it changing.

There`s an opening there because Saxby Chambliss, the Republican incumbent,
is not running for re-election, and it has attracted a very, very wide
field of Republican candidates who are very, very conservative, in a way
that I think could -- as I said in that piece, could unnerve general
election voters.

To give you an idea of this, this was just a couple months ago. Phil
Gingrey, he`s a congressman from Georgia, one of the candidates. And this
was him on the House floor. This got a lot of attention a couple months
ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), GEORGIA: Maybe part of the problem is we need to go
back into the schools at a very early age, maybe at the grade school level,
and have a class for the young girls and have a class for the young boys
and say, you know, this is what`s important. You know, this is what a
father does that is maybe a little -- a little different, maybe a little
bit better than the talents a mom has in a certain area, and same thing for
the young girls. You know, this is what a mom does. This is what is
important from the standpoint of that union, which we call marriage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: So, Michael, we start with -- he`s talking about basically let`s
have the school teach traditional rules --

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Why do you have to come with me -
-

(LAUGHTER)

KORNACKI: How many -- it just, you think of what happened with Murdoch
last year in Indiana and everybody thinks of Todd Akin and the Republicans
go down and Republican men go down the road of talking about issues like
this. They kind of -- and it seems like, I`m looking at Georgia and I`m
like, I`ve seen the next Missouri, I`m seeing the next Indiana. I`m
seeing, you know, it`s going to be Gingrich. It`s going to be, you know,
Paul Braun is running. One of these guys are going to get the nomination,
and it`s going to be real problems for the Republicans.

STEELE: Mothers and father, husbands and wives, parents of all stripes
will decide what messages they want to send to their children. I don`t
need a congressman from Georgia. I don`t need a congressman in Maryland.
I don`t need anyone in elected office telling me what standards I should
set for my kids.

So, we need to get out of that business, number one. OK? Just get out of
it.

You raise your kids the way you want. If you need to pull you grade
schooler out, and have that conversation. God bless. You have it. I will
do what I want with mine, number one.

Number two, this is not where the country is. We do not need elected
officials telling us how to live our lives. What we need elected officials
to do to get off their behinds and affect policy, to change the structure
of government so that it works for people, as opposed to against people.

That`s what people are looking for. So, the more Republicans stand in the
well of the Congress, whether there`s one person sitting there listening to
that person or not, talk about this stuff, the more people move away from
the party, the more they move away from the message which, again,
conflicted as it is, it`s still a message out there.

And, so, I just, I really am tired of it. I just need --

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: -- Republican primary voters keep rewarding it, too.

JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: And I appreciate you saying that,
Michael. But the problem is this is what a lot of Republicans really
believe.

The problem with the Akin remarks and the Mourdock remarks was that they
were tin-eared and they went into too much detail, which they did. But it
also exposed the fact that this is has been the language of the Republican
Party platform since what? 1992, I think.

Again, you know, you got people. Talk about the nanny state. We`re going
to go into the schools and tell you what the father does is better than
what the mother does and instruct you in ancient patriarchal sex roles.
No, we`re not and you are going to be punished.

I think it`s interesting. I mean, I think she`s facing an uphill battle.
But what you see in a lot of red states is that women may hold the key to
turning those states purple or blue. And so, you`ve got a Michelle Nunn,
you`ve got an Allison Grimes, you`ve got a Wendy Davis in Texas who people
are excited about.

It may not happen in 2014, but that and the emerging Obama coalition is
going to turn a lot of these red states purple.

STEELE: It`s not just Democrat women. I am really looking for Republican
women to tell these men to shut up, as well. And to really step into that
breach and really speak to these -- to speak to the issues that Americans
are more concerned about and send back the message. We don`t need as a
party to go out there and tell people how to live their lives. We need to
be as a party putting in place those structures to help them live those
lives.

KORNACKI: The story in 2010, Democrats walking 2010 elections with a
pretty big advantage in the Senate. But Republicans left seats on the
table. That was the story in 2010. They nominated like Christine
O`Donnell. You know, Sharron Angle, (INAUDIBLE) in Colorado. They left
winnable seats on the table.

2012 at the start of that cycle, the conventional wisdom was -- this is bad
for Republicans. You know, favorable math and they don`t have to make up
that much ground. They end up losing two seats in 2012. Some of it was
because nominating Tom Akin types. But some of it was also, you know, sort
of more establishment type Republicans, like Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin
who lost a Senate race last year. It seemed like the Republican label
itself was an albatross.

LYNN VAVRECK, UCLA DEPT. OF POLITICAL SCIENCE: I think that there are a
couple things going on when you think about these congressional elections.
One of the differences between `10 and `12 is that `12 is a presidential
election year, too. It brings a different set of voters into the
electorate and because the economy was growing, growing slowly, but still
growing and that benefits the incumbent party in the White House, you know,
Democrats get a little bit of push from that nationally. So, there are
coattails.

And, so, those presidential years are really different from the off-years.
And, so, now we`re entering an off year and we know this happens all the
time that the president`s party will surge and pick up seats in the on year
presidential elections and decline in the off years. And, so, you know,
we`re in one of those years where we would expect to see some Democrat
losses.

But I think you`re exactly right at hitting at the sweet spot. If the out
party, Republican Party, you know, they start nominating people who cannot
win general elections, then the surge and decline, that pattern might not
hold.

And so, I think this really is the interesting elections to watch coming up
for 2014 are those Republican primary elections. And I`m not so sure that
the conversation about morals and can women change that, I`m not so sure
we`re going to see a lot of that playing out just because I think most
Americans think that -- you know, there`s a little bit of a change here on
the social questions and most people realize that conversations like that
are not -- they`re not socially desirable. They`re undesirable.

And even though they might hold those opinions, we shouldn`t be talking
about them.

FRANK THORP, NBC NEWS: To Lynn`s point. There is a six-year itch. Every
time there is a president, five of the six times this happened and since
the `50s, you know, the president`s party loses seats. The average is
actually six.

So, I mean, history is going against Democrats in this particular instance.
But, you know, Republicans need to make sure that they do is not make the
same mistakes they made in 2012. Gingrey is a perfect example, though. I
mean, he actually said that, you know, Akin was partly right with his
legitimate comments and that was a big deal back then.

So, not only Gingrey but Paul Broun have kind of made-for-TV quotes for ads
to run against them, and I think that Democrats kind of brag about the fact
that they don`t have any primary opponents for the candidates that they
actually do have. I mean, there a lot of states where they don`t have any
candidates at all. West Virginia is a perfect example of that. I think
that, I mean, Republicans are really trying to focus now on not making the
same mistakes that they made in 2012.

STEELE: The problem with the Gingrey comments is they splatter over the
entire party. So, then you have candidates who aren`t even -- nowhere near
the state of Georgia, having to defend or explain or somehow express an
opinion on the comment that a congressman somewhere else has made.

So, what the party needs to do, which is why I reference women speaking --
Republican women sort of are stepping in this breach, is to break that
cycle where some crazy comment is made over there and standing over here.
I`ve got to now look at this voter and defend something that I knew nothing
about or had anything to do with.

WALSH: Well, it`s also great that you`ve got somebody in your old shop,
the NRC, saying -- defending the lack of female candidates in 2016 saying
the presidential race isn`t a beauty contest.

STEELE: Yes.

WALSH: Where do they get these people?

KORNACKI: You talk about the brand. I mean, that really was -- that
really was the story, I think, of 2012. It wasn`t just Akin, these are
other states that Republicans also lost.

I want to thank MSNBC political Joan Walsh of Salon.com, and Frank Thorp of
NBC News.

Unlike Congress, the Justice Department isn`t waiting around on the Voting
Rights Act. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: A major act of voter suppression, and really, there`s nothing
you can call this except suppression. They moved closer to becoming law in
North Carolina late Thursday night. They`ll replace far-reaching new
restrictions on voting and is widely seen as the most draconian voter ID
law in the country.

This comes two days after the Justice Department took steps to restore some
of the provisions stripped by the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court
last month. The court, as you may recall, gutted Section 5 of the VRA,
which required areas with histories of voter, discrimination, to seek
approval from the Justice Department, before making changes to their voting
laws. Immediately after that ruling, Texas took advantage of the end of
the preclearance requirement to enact a strict voter ID law, and to
formally adopt controversial congressional maps.

Those maps are being challenged by minority groups. And on Thursday,
attorney Eric Holder announced the Justice Department would hold them in
asking a federal court to invoke a different section of the VRA to
reinstate preclearance requirement for Texas.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Even as Congress considers updates to the
Voting Rights Act, we plan, in the meantime, to fully utilize the laws
remaining sections to ensure that the voting rights of all American
citizens are protected. Today, I am announcing that the Justice Department
will ask a federal court in Texas to subject the state of Texas to a
preclearance regime similar to the one required by Section 5 of the Voting
Rights Act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Holder vowed that the Texas lawsuit will not be the Justice
Department`s only effort to protect voting rights in the wake of the
Supreme Court`s ruling. Texas is only one of several states where
Republican efforts to enact voter ID laws are in the news right now.

In Pennsylvania, a trial challenging the state`s voter ID law, a law that
was blocked from implementation by a judge, just before last year`s
election. Trial has entered its second week. Measure in North Carolina
goes farther than most. Among others, it would shorten early voting from
17 days to 10 days, would end the same-day registration during the early
voting period and extend voting hours due to long lines at the polls. That
bill is now going to the desk of the Republican governor of North Carolina,
Pat McCrory. The governor has said yesterday that the law is, quote, "a
fair law" and that he will sign it.

I want to bring in comedian Lizz Winstead, co-creator of "The Daily Show,"
and author of the book "Lizz Free or Die."

Basil Smikle, Jr., a Democratic political consultant and former member of
Hillary Clinton`s staff in the U.S. Senate.

So, Texas and North Carolina, I want to kind of take them separately. We
have the action from the Justice Department, Basil, is in Texas right now.
The idea here is basically section 5 has kind of been stripped away from
the Voting Rights Act and section 3 still exists. This is the bail-in
section of the Voting Rights Act where anybody can position the court and
say, jurisdiction X belongs in the Voting Rights Act.

What do you make of this strategy? Is this something that -- you think it
work in Texas? Do you think it`s a model for elsewhere? Or is this not
really a sustainable long term strategy?

BASIL SMIKLE, JR., DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Unfortunately, I believe it is
the only thing they have left to do -- and I`m not sure it is going to work
in Texas. It might actually work in North Carolina. But, unfortunately,
the Justice Department`s hands are tied here and I`m not sure that there is
much recourse beyond that.

With -- and you mentioned something about early voting early on and you`re
talking about ways in which minorities use early voting and other avenues
that they have at their disposal. You`re cutting out a significant
percentages of communities are probably going to lose their right to vote.
And, unfortunately, as much as the attorney general may say I really do
think his hands are tied.

KORNACKI: Well, I want to talk more specifically about early voting in
North Carolina for a minute. Just to stay in Texas.

Michael, what do you make of this? What do you make of the -- look, the
Republican leaders in Texas, you have Rick Perry immediately issuing a
statement saying, this is Obama`s war on Texas. He`s ignoring the Supreme
Court. Greg Abbot who is the attorney general and Republican attorney
general in Texas, he`s running to succeed Perry`s governor.

You know, they`re basically saying -- he has actually said, I think he`s
defined his job as I wake up, go to the office, I sue the government and I
go home. So, politically, their reaction to this is sort of bring it on,
Justice Department. We like this fight, it plays well with our base.

STEELE: Sure.

KORNACKI: But you as a Republican, what do you make of this when you see
what the administration is doing here?

STEELE: Look, I think the Supreme Court did what the Supreme Court said it
would do five years ago in what early ruling on the Voting Rights Act,
which was to say, look, this needs to be updated. And put it back in the
hands of Congress. That`s one piece, how do the states respond to that?
Is to take advantage of the void that`s been created until there is federal
law that says otherwise. And so, Texas like North Carolina, like many
other states, is going to make that move and that play.

My -- my caution to Republicans in Texas or any place else around the
country will be at the South, the North or the West is keep in mind. Going
into 2014, you do not want the sort of don`t want the Voting Rights Act
hanging over your head, how you treat this issue is being treated very
carefully by members of the minority community, not just the far left or
progressives, white women, those voting center that you so desperately need
and also paying attention on how you respond to this opportunity, one.

Two, the party has to understand and appreciate historically our link to
this issue. Everett Dirksen, the Senate minority leader, Republican,
conservative, was the champion of this law, helped Lyndon Johnson get it
through the Senate and get it passed. Said we must do this now and this is
in the best interest of the country. What changed since 1965?

KORNACKI: Republican parties changed.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: But that`s -- you cannot lose sight of that historic link that we
have to this. So, I just think, you know, Texas is going to do what Texas
is going to do, but I think at the end of the day, the Congress needs to
look at this issue and basically include everybody. Not just segregating
certain states, but include every state in the union under this revised
updated act.

KORNACKI: Lizz, practically speaking, though, we had hearings in the
Senate and the House actually ended up doing some kind of a hearing but I
don`t hear anybody who sort of expects right now that the Republicans and
the House are going to embrace what Michael just talked about.

LIZZ WINSTEAD, COMEDIAN: No. And I think --

STEELE: But there is always hope.

WINSTEAD: Honey, I respect you for your hope. It`s admirable.

If somebody takes in what all you smart people think and take it in and
swallow it, first of all, there is no problem. It`s like this weird, when
I talk in my circles. It`s like there was more women diagnosed with
prostate cancer than there were like voter suppression and problems. So,
the fact this is happening is annoying.

But the second part of it for me is when you look at the laws that have
already started going down in Texas and North Carolina, that have already
disenfranchised people. When you say to 70,000 people who are unemployed,
you know what, you`re not getting any more checks, 100,000 more people are
going to end up screwed. And you just build and build and build to this
point now where we`re saying, and we`re going to make it really awful for
you to vote. They`re counting on people saying, I just can`t.

STEELE: Right.

KORNACKI: I want to pick that point up in a minute and look specifically
at North Carolina, some interesting statistics about what early statistics
have done to North Carolina and specifically, you know, what happened in
2012 with that, with that attitude that Lizz was just talking about. We`ll
pick it up after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

So, I want to talk about what`s going on in North Carolina right now with
this new law. Voter ID, it`s broader than voter ID. There are strict, you
know, voter ID requirements but it also curtails early voting period. It
basically says if you`re standing in line, if the polls close at 8:00 p.m.,
you haven`t voted yet, you may not be able to vote. Standard in most other
states is, if you`re in line at 8:00, you`re going to vote.

It also basically deputizes other voters and encourages other voters to
challenge suspicious-looking voters at the polls. We`re trying to pit
neighbor against neighbor. It really -- honestly, seems like an awful
piece of legislation but, Lynn, if you go back and look at the history of
early voting laws in this country, they date back as far as I can tell to
about 1985, and it was Republicans in Texas in South Texas. It was
Republicans who want early voting because it will make it easier for
members of the community who couldn`t get to the distant poll places.

You know, make it easier to vote. It was a bipartisan really until the
last couple of years. What has happened on this?

VAVRECK: Yes, there`s a couple things that are important to think about
when we have this conversation. And, first, I just want to say that it is,
I think always important to take disenfranchisement seriously. So, let`s
just stipulate that, but when you look back at some of the reforms that
have been made to ease the barriers to turn out.

And most of those are to do with registration. Same-day registration, the
motor voter bill, where you can register at the DMV and all those kinds of
things, and when we look at the effect of those things and the fact is that
they increase participation but among the same group of voters who
typically turn out in elections.

So, the big effect for motor voter was to increase the registration among
white voters in the sort of middle and upper classes. Same thing with
same-day registration, effects of same-day registration mobilize young
voters.

So, we`re trying to get to that core group that has sort of been left out
of the participation, left out of the process and all these reforms are not
getting there. And, so, you know, it`s -- I wish that we could stop on
both sides using scare tactics like voter fraud and voter suppression.

And, you know, really talk about the fact that all these reforms have had
very small effects. And it`s really hard to change people`s habits of
voting. And that picks up on what Lizz was saying, that if we start to get
people interested in politics, interested in politics is a huge predictor
of whether someone turns out in an election. So --

KORNACKI: Well, there`s actually another provision of this North Carolina
thing. There`s a program to encourage to get high school students
interested in politics and to encourage them to vote and help them register
to vote. That`s eliminated under this, too.

SMIKLE: It seems like all the coalition that brought Obama to the table
that`s slowly being whittled away. Young people who -- college students
who Republicans have lost in the last few elections. It seems like North
Carolina is just still upset that Obama won back in 2008.

But in terms of voter fraud, I mean, the instance of voter fraud in North
Carolina is like less than 0.01 percent,

VAVRECK: Exactly.

SMIKLE: And yet, we created a whole set of laws now to essentially go
after that less than 0.01 of a percent. But it`s going to disenfranchise
millions of people.

VAVRECK: I want to like -- this is where I want us to be careful with the
claims that we make. You know, just because you have an early voting
period that`s two weeks and you see people turning out for those two weeks
and then you say, what happens if we shorten it to one week? It isn`t --
it isn`t just a take away that all the people who voted in those first
seven days now will be disenfranchised and won`t vote.

People who vote are interested in politics and they will know that they now
only have seven days and they will figure it out. And they will go --

KORNACKI: I think part of it, though, you looked at like Ohio last year
where they shortened -- the secretary of state shortened the early voting
period and made it a lot tougher than it had been and we saw on the news
these six-hour lines, eight-hour lines and I think the fear there is maybe
the intent to vote still exists for people, but they show up. How many
people can give up eight hours a day to vote? How many people should be
asked to give up eight hours --

WINSTEAD: And I think you`re disregarding the -- when you look at the
totality of a bill like North Carolina, the biggest thing is how people
process that and then what is their motivation? I think that you`re
leaving that out of the equation by saying it`s not necessarily so and we
have to watch what we say.

When people talk about a litany of things, including if your kid votes in
college you can`t no longer use them as a tax credit and if they don`t vote
where they grow up those things make people go, I don`t want to do it and I
don`t want to discredit it.

But the other thing I would like to say is when you look at these voter
laws and you look at how -- it`s like the greed of, let`s add more, let`s
add more and unconstitutional thing, just like they did with shoving in all
these reproductive rights bills. Taxpayers are paying for legislation that
is probably unconstitutional, that judges are going to block and then pay
for that lawsuit and then if they`re also paying for some organization that
wants to fight the laws in court, taxpayers are paying for all sides of
this war. And they should be angry about it.

KORNACKI: All right. I`ve got to cut it off there, unfortunately.

WINSTEAD: I`m sorry.

KORNACKI: No. I would like to -- Anthony Weiner, though, we`ve got to get
him in. He said he was not surprised about the explicit photos and
messages that surfaced this week, and how about the reaction from voters?
That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Here it is. You know it was coming.

Anthony Weiner`s improbable campaign for mayor of New York may be falling
apart before our eyes -- thanks to those new revelations this week about
lurid, online conversations with women he`d never met. New revelations
which hat came to light after a gossip Web site called "The Dirty" posted
messages Weiner exchanged last year with a woman, involved activities that
took place after Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011.

With his wife, Huma Abedin, by his side, Weiner made a defiant statement on
Tuesday. As the week went on, he struggled to address specific questions
about his behavior.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: How many women were there? Can you remember?

ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE : There are more than -
- there are few. I don`t have a specific number for you. It`s not dozens
and dozens. It is six to 10, I suppose. But I can`t tell you absolutely
what someone else is going to consider inappropriate or not.

REPORTER: Were they sexual? How many conversations did you have with
women after you resigned that were sexual in nature?

WEINER: I don`t believe I had any more than three.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: This is already impacting Weiner`s standing in the race. The
Quinnipiac poll taken just before this week`s drama had had him in first
place, leading City Council Speaker Christine Quinn by four points. But in
a snap poll conducted on Wednesday, Weiner plummeted to third place among
likely Democratic voters.

You have Quinn there at 26 percent. The public advocate -- if you don`t
live in New York -- yes, the position exists. The public advocate Bill De
Blasio at 17 percent. Weiner at 16. 2009 Democratic nominee Bill Thompson
at 15 percent. And the city controller John Liu at 7 percent.

Basil, I want to start with you.

(LAUGHTER)

KORNACKI: Now, full disclosure here. You worked on Hillary Clinton`s
staff and you worked with Huma Abedin and I just want to make sure and I
think Anthony Weiner --

SMIKLE: Some client of mine several years ago, yes.

KORNACKI: Glad we brought you in.

So, he is your former client and you know Huma. So, you`re watching this
and what do you think?

SMIKLE: It is very difficult to watch. It is heartbreaking.

Listen, I think Anthony displays qualities that I think a lot of people
have responded to and said we would like him to be mayor because whether
you have paid attention to his policy, you see him being a fighter and
you`ve seen that on the floor of the House.

But I think what`s happening with Huma now and people are starting being of
sort of two minds. On the one hand, they respect her for coming out in the
way that she did because she`s such an extraordinarily private person and a
lot of us who worked with her realize that she`s so private and for her to
come out the way she has, we all sort of respected that because she`s
shouldered it.

On the other hand, it gets to point where you look at him and say, my God,
why did he drag her through this? And that`s where people are right now.
And you`re starting to see these numbers fall. He was doing so well in the
African-American community. I think a lot of that is going to his
opponents like Bill Thompson who is probably the beneficiary of a lot of
that defection.

But I think you see a lot of other folks go to the undecided column. It
was very, very difficult to watch. It was heartbreaking to watch. But I
think he`s still in it. I think he`s going to go full steam.

KORNACKI: Anybody who has been watching this show is probably no secret.
I have not been the world`s biggest Anthony Weiner fan. Even before --
having to do with anything with this, I`ve always found the guy to be --
with all due respect, somebody who he -- he cuts corners. I see him, he
gets a lot of -- he is good at getting attention. He`s god at getting on
TV. He`s got to sort of making a scene.

I`ve never seen him interested in putting in the work behind the scenes.
That 9/11 first responders bill, the famous moment on the House floor
rallying against the Republicans, he didn`t do any work on that. Carol
Maloney, it was Jerrold Nadler, they put in the work behind the scenes and
Anthony Weiner goes to the floor and he makes himself the star of the 9/11
first responders drama.

And I just saw that repeating itself over and over in this guy`s career,
and I just look at that and I see narcissism and I say just --

WINSTEAD: I feel the same way. I feel the narcissism. If this was not a
sexting scandal and it was something where Anthony Weiner just kept
inserting himself in the conversation, I would still be grossed out.

Now, we have a guy who literally has more issues than the city of New York
and all we do is talk about his issues and I`m sorry, when you go on
television and you say, I`m not sure how many people I`ve texted, my junk,
too. It`s like I know exactly how many people I texted my junk to. And,
by the way, when you text your junk -- this is just for everybody --

SMIKLE: Just so we know.

WINSTEAD: It`s a by request situation. It is not on spec.

(LAUGHTER)

WINSTEAD: And that is just something that America needs to know because
this one seems to not even understand the decorum behind it.

And putting your wife in front --

(CROSSTALK)

SMIKLE: But you hit on an important point because in all of this, we`re
not really hearing policy.

WINSTEAD: Yes.

SMIKLE: We`re not hearing policy. All of that is getting lost and New
York has so many problems.

KORNACKI: And his, his claim is, oh, you know, we should get back to the
issues and there are all sorts of other candidates out there in this race.
To say, you know, let`s talk about policy versus let`s just ignore this and
elevate me to mayor in the name of talking about policy seems like a big --

VAVRECK: I keep waiting for him to say, you know, this is just proof that
the NSA really isn`t --

(LAUGHTER)

STEELE: You know as an outsider from the Washington metropolitan area
watching this whole drama --

WINSTEAD: Because they don`t sext down there.

STEELE: They don`t sext down there, no, not all. But just stick a fork in
this guy in New York and move on. I mean, the fact of the matter is he may
stay in this race, but that number will drop from third place to fourth
place to fifth place.

I think the voters here, despite his wherewithal of that sense of urgency
that this guy is always fighting for me, at the end of the day, I think it
boils down to what do you say, what do you produce from that fight? He`s
produced nothing, except for his junk on the web. And I think that is
something that people just don`t want to tolerate.

As to Huma -- you know, I watched her and I had a Bill Clinton moment where
I was thinking to myself. I feel your pain. I could see it in her face.

I wondered and questioned, despite, you know, her cries of I support him, I
love him -- why were you there in that moment? It was humiliating for her
and I really think New Yorkers feel that and that doesn`t help him.

KORNACKI: I think I agree with you that he`s fading out, but he is sort of
like Rasputin. He never fully gets --

SMIKLE: He`s got millions of dollars to burn.

KORNACKI: So, we`ll see. I`ll feel better of that prediction after the
primary.

The one vote that shattered Congress` partisan divided and that pitted
Chris Christie against Rand Paul, that`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Proposal to restrict the National Security Agency`s bulk
collection of Americans phone records was narrowly defeated in the House
this week by just by just 12 votes and dramatic showdown that played out on
the House floor, despite the strenuous opposition of both party`s
leadership in the White House. The amendment to rein in NSA surveillance
activity and the activity that was first revealed by leaker Edward Snowden
was defeated 217-205. They brought together coalition of lawmakers that
we`ve never seen before and we are likely to never see again.

Tea Party newcomer Congressman Justin Amash joined with liberal veteran
Congressman John Conyers, both from Michigan, to co-sponsor the measure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R), MICHIGAN: We`re here today for a very simple
reason, to defend the Fourth Amendment, to defend the privacy of each and
every American.

REP. JOHN CONYERS (D), MICHIGAN: All this amendment is intended to do is
to curtail the ongoing dragnet collection and storage of the personal
records of innocent Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: The coalition that came together to ultimately defeat the
administration also brought together some unlikely allies such as
Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Iowa Republican Steve King,
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

The day after the vote, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie criticized
lawmakers, including from his own party, who have railed against
surveillance programs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: This strain of liberalism that`s
going through both parties right now and making big headlines I think is a
very dangerous thought. As a governor now of a state that lost the second
most people on 9/11 behind the state of New York and still seeing those
families, John, I love all these esoteric debates that people are getting
in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Rand Paul, for example.

CHRISTIE: Listen, you can name any number of people who have obligation
(ph) and he`s one of them. I mean, these esoteric intellectual debates, I
want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the
orphans and have that conversation.

(END VIDEOI CLIP)

KORNACKI: Well, that conversation, Lynn, might be part of the debate over
the next few years in the Republican Party. I`m looking at Chris Christie
and Rand Paul, we might see this conversation play out between them. There
are just interesting numbers that came out this week. The evolution of
national public opinion and particularly Tea Party public opinion on the
question of civil liberties.

Just four years ago when the question was put to Tea Party Republicans
about whether the government is going too far to restrict civil liberties
or not far enough to protect the country, overwhelmingly, it was -- you
know, 63 percent to 20 percent saying not far enough to protect the country
and now, it`s overwhelming the other direction, 55 to 31, too far to
restrict civil liberties.

So, there`s been this huge shift, I don`t think not coincidentally in the
Obama era by Tea Party Republicans but really kind of changing what
traditionally has been the Republican Party`s posture of national security.

VAVRECK: Yes, I think there are a couple interesting things going on here.
One is, how do you feel about your personal information being out there or
being spied upon by people who you don`t know are watching it. That`s an
interesting conversation given that people freely use Google and they
search for things and the internet is forever.

But second to that, does this conversation, does this rhetoric become a
focal point as we go into future elections and in the Republican Party
separate candidates? And I think that, you know, my sense of that is that
not as much as it might look like it will now. I think that, you know,
it`s 10 years or more since 9/11 but we are safer today because of actions
the government has taken.

You see that repeatedly in polls. Americans think that. And across other
countries, too, when they look at Americans, they say Americans are safer
because of what the government has done. And at the end of the day, that`s
an opinion that can`t be discounted. And so, people feel safer and they
credit the government with that.

KORNACKI: Well, they feel safer. Maybe they credit the government, but at
the same time, you know, we talk among that shift of Tea Partiers, there is
a shift, similar shift in the same direction playing out among all voters.

WINSTEAD: And I guess sometimes I get and I know feelings matter and
sometimes facts should present themselves and as somebody like talking
about this on big levels this way about my pay grade, but I just know when
you look at how this is done and you look at the FISA court, the handpicked
John Roberts court, and then you look at some of these Congress people like
Steve King and Michele Bachmann who have questionable -- I don`t know --
I`m going to say intellect.

And, so, when you know that they`re the people supposedly overseeing and
then you hear senators saying, we really don`t have much information. We
really have not been reported to in the way we should, it just as a person
who has that much information as a regular person, I think why not look
into this and why not -- why would you vote against this? I don`t get it.

KORNACKI: Michael, we`re running short on time here. But I want to get
you where the Republicans -- traditionally, the Republican Party has been
the hawkish national security one and want aggressive government on
national security and it really feels how marginalized Ron Paul was in the
past.

It really feels that might be changing right now.

STEELE: I think it is changing and I think that there`s that libertarian
element, which I was surprised to hear Christie call it out the way he did
in sort of negative way because it is going to be I think part of the main
conversation going forward.

I think the poll numbers that you cite reflect something important here.
The first poll reflects what people didn`t know. The second poll reflects
what people now know. And that`s the difference.

WINSTEAD: Yes.

STEELE: When people know the extent to which the government is holding
that information may or may not be using that information, that personal,
private information, their attitudes change because all of a sudden now big
government, big brother, has more on me than I thought they had and Lord
knows what I have been putting on my Facebook page or tweeting out, you
know?

KORNACKI: And we say, you know bipartisan in the House and it`s bipartisan
public opinion. It`s basically the same ratios, Democrat and Republican,
about that balance between civil liberties and a strong national security.

STEELE: Sitting down with those families from 9/11, that`s a nice
emotional appeal that Christie was putting out there. But at the end of
the day, that`s not going to hold sway against my privacy --

KORNACKI: That`s going to be real, because what he was articulating there
was sort of what drove the debate for the decade after 9/11 on national
security. Let`s see how that plays in the next year. That`s going to be
interesting to watch.

What do we know now that we didn`t know last week? My answers are after
this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: So what do we know now that we didn`t know last week?

Well, based on reporting from David Corn of "Mother Jones", we now know
that there is a brand-new conservative group in Washington called
Groundswell. It includes, among others, former Florida Congressman Allen
West, and Ginny Thomas, the Tea Party activist and the wife of Supreme
Court Justice Clarence Thomas. They`ve been meeting privately since the
beginning of the year with the goal of taking on not just President Obama
on the left, but also the Republican Party`s establishment, figures like
Karl Rove.

According to Corn, the group has been trying to develop talking points for
fellow Groundswellers, if that`s what we call them, to use in the media.
In notes from the group`s February 28 meeting, include a rather frank
discussion of the Republican Party`s struggle with non-white voters. One
idea, the notes say, we are failing the propaganda battle of minorities,
terms like GOP, Tea Party, conservative communicate racism. Alternative,
Fredrick Douglass Republican. It changes minds.

Well, we don`t know if that`s the magic solution for the GOP, but we do
know that the next time Groundswell might want to spell Frederic Douglass`
name right.

We now know former California Congressman Pete Stark is having a little
found with his leftover campaign funds. Back in November, Stark, who is a
notoriously prickly congressman, whose behavior had become somewhat erratic
toward the end of his tenure, was drummed out of office by a fellow
Democrat, Eric Swalwell. Remember that California has that new election
system, where candidates from the same party could end up running against
each other in general elections.

Anyway, although Stark has actually outspent Swalwell by a 2-1 margin, he
still had a sizable chunk of change left in the bank when the election was
over, and so, he threw a party. According to "National Journal", Stark
used some of his remaining cash to pay for a tent and a band called the
Hula Monsters as a thank you for his former staff members.

And as "National Journal" points out, federal election rules state that
campaign funds can only be used for political purposes, but the federal
election commission hasn`t said anything about Stark`s party, at least not
yet.

And, finally, we now know the most and least honest places in America.
That`s based on a nationwide test by the beverage maker, Honest Tea. The
company rated an experiment in every state, plus the District of Columbia,
where they set up unattended stands for people to take Honest Tea for $1.
Payments could left in a lock box at the beverage stand.

The test found that Alabama and Hawaii were the most honest, where 100
percent of the people paid their dollar, while Washington, D.C. was the
least honest, where 80 percent of the people -- or only 80 percent of the
people paid.

While no one is probably surprised by these results, we`re waiting for
Snapple facts to confirm them.

I want to find out what my guests know now that they didn`t know when the
week began.

And we`ll start with you, Lizz.

WINSTEAD: If you are overwhelmed by the anti-choice legislation that is
coming in all of these different state legislations, you can go to the
Website, aisfor.com. And they keep this amazing running title about all of
this stuff. So it keeps you informed and lets you know what`s happening in
your state.

KORNACKI: All right. Michael?

STEELE: Last week, Mort Zuckerman wrote a piece in the "Wall Street
Journal" about the jobless recovery and how that`s not really recovery at
all. And I think that that`s going to be a sustaining argument going
forward, into the fall discussion, as you talked earlier in the show.

And one little nugget of that, I think at people need to keep in mind, even
among those who have a job, 77 percent of them are living paycheck to
paycheck. So, a lot of Americans out there are still hurting, and the
Congress and the president had better focus on that, because next year, it
could have more surprises for both than they anticipate.

KORNACKI: And, Basil?

SMIKLE: In cities like New York and Boston, where we`re electing mayors
this year, these cities also have mayoral-controlled of schools. And there
could be some interesting changes in mayoral control, education reform,
particularly school choice and charter schools as the unions start to gain
back power in some of these cities.

KORNACKI: And, Lynn?

VAVRECK: And I think what I know now that I didn`t know then is that even
though everyone agrees the service sector is the next middle class in this
country, that we are a really long way from any kind of public policy that
moves the public and private sectors together to change that service sector
majority to the middle class majority. It`s a big problem and there aren`t
solutions.

KORNACKI: All right. And I know that the pastry plate`s unusually empty
this week. I guess everybody was hungry today.

My thanks to comedian and author, Lizz Winsted, MSNBC political analyst
Michael Steele, Democratic strategist Basil Smikle, Jr., and Lynn Vavreck
of UCLA.

Thanks for getting up and thank you for joining us today for up. Join us
tomorrow, Sunday morning at 8:00 when I have "The Guardians", Ana Marie
Cox, and Josh Barro of "Business Insider," and MSNBC`s very own Melissa
Harris-Perry. She will be here, too.


But before she joins us tomorrow, she`s got her very own show that you
won`t want to miss. That is coming up next.

On today`s "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY", what Eric Holder is doing to combat
efforts to suppress the votes, even as states like North Carolina pass some
of the most extreme measures yet. Plus, the one and only Iyanla Vanzant
joins Melissa live on set. Stick around for that. "MHP" is next.

And we`ll see you right here tomorrow at 8:00. Thanks for getting UP.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, my question: why won`t
Anthony Weiner just go away?

Plus, a pop of the people refocuses the Vatican`s agenda.

And spiritual life coach, Iyanla Vanzant joins us here in Nerdland.




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